I Will Give You The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

08-27-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

In both the Old and the New Testaments, God has always chosen individuals and conferred on them the authority to teach, to correct and to govern His people. In the Old Dispensation, these offices were distributed among the priests, the prophets and the kings. In the New Dispensation, Christ conferred these privileges on the Apostles and, in a particular way, on Simon Peter and his successors. In a way, we are safe to observe that the Readings for this weekend demonstrate God’s faithfulness to His covenant with David. While God pledged to replace an overbearing steward whose prideful actions threatened the integrity of the Davidic dynasty in the First Reading, in the Gospel passage Jesus appointed and conferred authority on Simon Peter to become the Royal Steward of the renewed Kingdom of David in the New Israel called ekklesia, the Church.


For My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer For All People

08-20-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The Mother Church of the Via Christi Society in Makurdi, Nigeria, is dedicated to, and called, the Church of God the Father of All Mankind. This name is both unique and true; it is the only church I know which bears that name, and the name aptly describes God. In Holy Scripture, there exist numerous prophetic declarations that clearly suggest God’s intention to effect a change in the covenant economy that would create room for the Gentiles, non-jews who were originally not part of the First Covenant, to become beneficiaries of a second and universal Covenant. The First Reading is one of such scripture texts.


Take Courage, It Is I; Do Not Be Afraid

08-13-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

This weekend, the Readings from Holy Scripture remind us that though we journey in a troubled world full of difficult times and experiences, God’s benevolent and reassuring presence is guaranteed for all who call onto Him for help. We are also exhorted not to be distracted by the transient and spectacular manifestation of material things in our search for purpose, but to seek the presence of God in faith.

In the First Reading, Elijah the prophet was threatened by Queen Jezebel, a foreigner and idolatress, who brought into Israel the worship of Ba’al, a foreign deity. He suffered tremendously and was on the verge of despair when he arrived at Horeb (Mount Sinai), the mountain of God where Moses encountered God. His intention was to seek the face of God in the midst of a stormy life and national situation. The prophet soon discovered that the Lord was not in the spectacular manifestations of a heavy wind, an earthquake or fire that preceded the coming of God. Rather, God came to him in a tiny whispering sound.


This Is My Beloved Son, With Whom I am Well Pleased; Listen to Him

08-06-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain is one of the few events where Jesus revealed His Divine glory for the benefit of those who were privileged to behold it. Recall that at His birth, Jesus revealed His glorious Divinity to the whole world through the visit of the Magi who brought Him prophetic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Again, the Divine Redeemer manifested Himself to His Disciples at the event of His Baptism at the hands of John the Baptist at the River Jordan, where Trinitarian collaboration was visibly manifested to the amazed spectators. The transfiguration of Jesus Christ, the feast we celebrate this weekend, is also a self-manifesting event of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Give Your Servant An Understanding Heart

07-30-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

You may have noticed that the whole Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel provides different parables with which Jesus explains the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. You may also have noticed that during this part of Ordinary Time in Year A, the season of growth in our knowledge of God, the Church is pursuing a lectio continua (continuous Reading, Reading in a particular order) of both Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Gospel of Matthew. The Readings of the previous Sunday were themed around the seamless application of God’s mercy and justice. This weekend, the Church invites us to meditate on what actually constitutes true wisdom and what we need to do in order to gain it.


The Wheat and the Weeds

07-23-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

Jesus presents us with three parables in the Gospel this weekend to explain the nature of the Kingdom of God and those who merit to enter it. Some of us who experience weeds in our gardens or lawns may relate well to these parables. However, the parables communicate a much deeper message: they speak to the reality of the coexistence of good and evil in the world. Many beautiful inventions in the world, like sowing good seeds, were created with good intentions; however, the devil knows how to sow weeds. For instance, the invention of the internet and social media was a wonderful breakthrough in human history, but the devil has sown weeds into the minds of people who now use them for harm and deceit. The invention of money was a beautiful thing, but as St. Paul says in his letter to Timothy, “The love of money is the root of many evils” (Tim 6:10). Medical advancements are wonderful, but we have seen how the devil has used the same avenue to destroy many lives. Originally, weapons were developed for hunting food and personal protection, but we see how they are now used as weapons of mass destruction. As a result, we kill ourselves more than any other species in the world.


Bearing Fruits for the Lord

07-16-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

Four key images: Rain, soil, seed, and fruit, are used in the First Reading and the Gospel this weekend to explain the impact the Word of God has on our lives. In the First Reading, God speaks through His prophet Isaiah, saying the Word that goes out from his mouth shall not return to him empty. The parable of the sower that Jesus gives in the Gospel today is about the only parable where He explains its meaning to His disciples. The parable compares the teaching of God’s Word to the sowing of seeds. The seeds fall on different types of soil: the pathway soil, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil. Jesus’ explanation of the parable shows that both the seeds and the soil represent the different disposition of our hearts to receiving the Word of God and what we do with it. However, the key difference here is that while the seed and soil cannot help being what they are, we can.


Come to Me, All You Who Labor and are Burdened

07-09-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

The account presented in today’s First Reading occurred approximately one century after the Israelites returned from exile and rebuilt their Temple. Prophet Zechariah offers words of hope and comfort to the people to strengthen their aspiration for the fulfillment of God’s promise of the coming of the Messiah. Zechariah prophesied the coming of an eschatological king who would return to Jerusalem to end the war and division, to proclaim peace to the nations. He describes the Messiah King as riding on a donkey as a demonstration of humility in contrast to the image of a warrior king on horseback. In the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy when Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey (Mt 21:5), a sign of a humble King who comes to bring peace on earth.


Hospitality of the People of God

07-02-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

The stories in the First Reading and Gospel today remind us that in welcoming ministers and strangers into our homes, we inevitably welcome God. In the First Reading, the widow of Shunem and her husband welcomed the Prophet Elisha to their house. They were kind to him and provided for him without expecting any reward. Prophet Elisha, on the other hand, paid attention to their deepest need and prayed for them asking God to grant them a son. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the people, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.”


Do Not Be Afraid

06-25-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

In our First Reading today, God calls on the prophet Jeremiah and sends him to tell the people of Israel to repent of their sins of idolatry and immorality and turn to God. The godless people do not want to hear the truth from God through Jeremiah, so they plot evil ways to get rid of him. Facing the opposition and the death threat against him, Jeremiah is tempted to keep quiet and let things be. Then God stirs up the fire of the Holy Spirit within his heart until he can no longer withhold the warnings of the Lord and continues to speak up on behalf of the Lord.


Sheep Without A Shepherd

06-18-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

Let me begin by wishing all fathers a Happy Father’s Day! The Gospel reading this weekend is quite timely. It presents Jesus as a father. We are told that Jesus looked at the crowd coming to Him, and His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” What an image that describes the situation of fatherhood in our society today. The joy of fatherhood is facing unprecedented challenges in our time. One can hardly talk about fathers these days without sounding “old fashioned” or off ending someone. We have seen, and studies have shown, that the absence of fathers, or father-figures, in a family has a signifi cant negative impact on the emotional, social, spiritual, and psychological development of many children leading to increasing stress, drug abuse, suicide ideation, and crime among young people. We have many young people in our society today who are like sheep without a shepherd.


Whoever Eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood Remains in Me and I in Him.

06-11-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The early summer liturgical “trifecta” of Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi that follows the celebration of the Easter Season and provides focus on the three fundamental realities of Christian life: the Church, The Triune Godhead, and the Holy Eucharist is completed this weekend with the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the joyful celebration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The annual celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi gives us the opportunity to adore and expose the content of our belief in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the visible perpetuation of Christ’s presence in His Church. The Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with His Soul and Divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

06-04-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The celebration of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church fifty days after Easter, is immediately followed by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Thus, this weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the liturgical feast that celebrates the central mystery of the Christian faith. This is the most singularly distinctive belief that separates Christianity from all other religions. For instance, Islam and Judaism hold firmly onto mono personal monotheism that does not admit the multiplicity of persons in the one true God. As a consequence, for strict adherents of Judaism, the doctrine of the Trinity is both erroneous and heretical, the same doctrine is judged extremely offensive to strict muslims.