God Is Merciful

03-27-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Tony Okolo

Traditionally today being the fourth Sunday of Lent is known as Laetare Sunday. Calling us to rejoice having gone mid-way into our Lenten observance. The color of the vestment is rose but if for any reason the church cannot afford it they could still use purple. The first reading from the book of Joshua presents us with Joshua who finally led the people of Israel into the promised land. They reached the promised land after many decades of challenges, doubt, loss of hope and difficulties. God kept the promises He made with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would be their God and they would be His people. God has kept the promise He made to them long ago that He would bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. This finally happened under the leadership of Joshua. Thus, Joshua becomes like a pro type of Jesus who comes to bring salvation, that’s why the meaning of Joshua in Greek is salvation.


Remove The Sandals From Your Feet

03-20-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The first reading from the Book of Exodus presents to us the encounter of Moses in the burning bush where the bush is being burnt but not consumed. Thus, out of curiosity he went to find out the meaning of such events. Incidentally, as he approaches the place, God calls not to come nearer but that he remove his shoes for the place he is standing was a Holy Ground. In most Eastern countries when you are entering Sacred Places like churches or temples you are required to remove your shoes or sandal because it signifies reverence for a Holy place. In the same way, in most western countries when entering the Sanctuary or Holy Places one is expected to remove his hat as a sign of respect for the Holy place. Thus, the removal of shoes is a confession of personal defilement and conscious unworthiness to stand in the presence of a Holy God.


No Cross, No Crown

03-13-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today’s gospel presents us with the account of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus. The account of the Transfiguration appeared in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Each time we see an event in the Bible recorded in the three synoptic Gospels it points to the fact that those particular incidents actually happened in reality. That is to say that Our Lord Jesus was transfigured and His glory shown in greatness on the mountain while He was with His three chosen disciples. The reading says that Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain to pray and as He was praying, He was transfigured before them. This particular incident happened or took place over 8 days, according to Luke’s account, after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah. The other two Gospels said it was after 6 days. The difference in the number of days after the confession that happened is not a major concern because the Gospel writers were not writing chronological history.


The Temptation of Jesus

03-06-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Tony Okolo

Today’s Gospel presents us with the temptation of Jesus at the end of His forty days fasting in the desert. The gospel states that it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the desert. As we begin our own Lenten season which started on Ash Wednesday this past week, we are called to allow the Spirit of God to lead us during this grace period of Lent. Lent is a special season when we go into the desert of our lives to stay more closely with Jesus. Lent is a gracious moment in our lives as Christians when we seek the face of God more closely. It is a time God pours out His blessings in the most amazing way because we are journeying with Him in the desert. It is a time of deeper reconciliation with God and with our family members and those we have issues with. It is a time of prayer; when we make our time to be with God more in prayer. It is a time of fasting when we abstain from over-eating, drinking, spending too much time on the television and getting distracted from social media. It is a time to give alms and be generous with our gifts.


Pray for Those Who Mistreat You

02-15-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Tony Okolo

The first reading presents us with the story of Saul who seeks David to kill him because David’s fame has grown more than his. David’s popularity created so much anger, bitterness and jealousy inside Saul that he was after David’s life. Questions that may demand our individual responses are: Does the progress, achievement, or success of other people create bitterness and jealousy in me? What is my response to friends, relations and colleagues who have got more than I have? How do I handle jealousy when I see it making an entrance inside?

Saul and his men went to the camp to look for David, and as things turned out, David and his men found Saul sleeping and David’s men wanted to slay Saul since God had delivered him into their hands. David had every reason to slay Saul, after all Saul was in the camp to kill David, but instead restrained him because according to him, “for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed and remain unpunished.” The action of David calls us to reflect on our own attitude to people who are out to destroy us out of hatred or bitterness. David’s action teaches us to restrain from revenge of any hurt or injuries done to us. The example of David also brings to mind that God is always on the side of those who pay hatred with love. We equally learn from David’s action to leave judgment to God.


Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

02-13-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp.

Jeremiah in the first reading of today invites the people to trust in God for there is no other way ofsurvival except through God. He calls them to recognize there is strength in the power of God. In everysituation, God remains our strength and when we trust in Him, He gives us the grace to survive anysituation no matter how challenging that may be. The metaphor Jeremiah uses to describe a personwho trusts completely in God is that of a tree planted beside the water and stretches out its roots to thestream. Since the roots of the plant stretch deep into the stream it means that such a tree would alwayssurvive any drought because its roots are deeply inserted into the stream. In the same way, anyonewho trusts in God would survive any challenging times because God would cover the person with Hisgrace. The one who trusts in humans is described as a barren bush in the desert that enjoys nochanging season but stands in a lava waste of salt and empty earth. Paul in the second readingreminds the Church at Corinth that our faith as Christians is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ rosefrom the dead. If Jesus had not risen from the dead our preaching would have been in vain and thatwould have made us the most unfortunate people but since Christ died and rose from the dead, ourfocus should be to live with Him in heaven.


God Called Us to Follow Him Despite Our Unworthiness

02-06-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp.

Today’s liturgy focuses on God’s call, which comes in different situations, circumstances and backgrounds. In each of the calls we heard today, there is the divine invitation to respond to God with openness the way we are and not as we think or as would want to be. Hence, the three readings and the three figures we encounter in today’s liturgy demonstrates that God does not consider our perceived unworthiness and sinfulness before He calls us. Our response should be to say “here I am and ready to do your will”. Our unworthiness does not constitute an obstacle to God as He does not look for our weakness, but rather to our desire to follow Him wherever He leads us.


The Challenge of a Prophet

01-30-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

According to “Living Liturgy” the first reading is one of the most tender and personal moments in all the scriptures. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”. God in this passage speaks very personally to each of us that even before we were conceived in the womb, He knew who we were and what we are to become. We are not accidents of creation but designed individuals with God’s mark and seal.


The Spirit of the Lord Has Come to Set Us Free

01-23-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The first reading recalls the rebuilding of the people of Israelites after their return from exile. The events in today’s first reading are the efforts of the priest Ezra to unify those returning from exile and restore the consciousness of the covenant with God, which had always been the foundation of Israel’s life. At this time the rebuilding of the temple is delayed, the houses and properties of the returnees are still occupied by foreigners and the monarch is no longer in existence. The only thing still standing that can foster this unity is God’s law transmitted through Moses. It is this law or God’s commandments that Ezra the priest stands before the people to read publicly in the assembly of the people. For the first time after the exile, the Israelites gather as a people to celebrate the proclamation of the word of God and share in a festive meal. The proclamation of the word by Ezra the priest was to call the people to true repentance and good relationships with God and assure them of hope in God who has established this covenant with them.


God Intervenes in Our Situation

01-16-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading of today took place after the exile. At the time of the prophecy the exile is officially over and the people were returning to their home country, but there wasn’t much joy or enthusiasm because they had expected immediate fulfillment to the promises of God. The people were feeling that the recent disaster, especially with the destruction of the temple remains a palpable distance of God from them. So, they were depressed.


The Power of the Holy Spirit

01-09-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today marks the end of the Christmas season with the celebration of the baptism of Our Lord. It tells us how Jesus received baptism from the hand of John the Baptist. “Why should Jesus bother getting baptized, if He is one with the Holy Spirit already? Because the very act of God entering into humanity is to participate into fully, unto death, and thus dignify human life and make it worthy of heaven. Because God is fully human and fully divine, it is through this act of living as one of us, alongside other humans, that our lives are sanctified.”


Jesus is the Star that Guides all People

01-02-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today is the feast of Epiphany, where we celebrate Jesus the incarnate word being revealed to all the nations of the world. The Church calls it, the feast of appearance or manifestation of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word and means “Manifestation”. The Church celebrates the light of God’s revelation of His Son as human in Jesus Christ. The story of the magi is the story of the ways in which God reveals Himself to us and the different responses and reactions this revelation receives. The Lord of the universe who reveals the star of Bethlehem to the Gentiles of the East so they could come and worship Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Kings of Kings gives each one of us the same light of revelation to recognize and accept Jesus as Our Lord and Savior.