Fr Bonnie's Reflections

THE WORRY FACTOR! A REFLECTION FOR THE 8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

no-worries

Considering a world without worry is a weird wish. In my line of duty as a priest, I have met someone whom I can describe as an anxiety factory. She is worried about just anything you can possible name under the earth. When it is hot she is worried, when it is cold she is worried, she worries every day about her children some of whom are parents and even grandparents. When the night is too calm, she is worried, when it is noisy more worry comes. She is worried about on-coming celebrations as if nobody would be alive to celebrate them; I often think that she worries more than worry itself.

Worry seems to be an indispensable part of our human reality. We often claim that we are not worried and even tell people not to worry, but the reality is that we often waste under the weight of worry. However, various people have different degrees of worry; some people worry less while others worry more. Whichever way, the reality is that worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it saps today of its energy. Worry is a worthless work!

There is always a reason to worry. It could be because of lack, an obstacle or because of some conflicting realities. The consolatory words of the First Reading today (Isaiah 49:14-15) presents an example of a worrisome situation anchored on a feeling of abandonment. The opening words read: “Zion said, The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”

Historically, the statement addresses those who survived the exilic experience and who were worried about their situation. In the thoughts of the Israelites, God had totally abandoned them. They lacked divine presence, provision, and protection. While they were losing hope, God speaks to them through the prophet Isaiah assuring them of His presence, provision, protection, and compassion. In fact, God uses the imagery of a mother and child to drive home the point:

 “Can a woman forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

Often, our worry reflects the instance above. We worry when we feel abandoned, we worry when we feel deprived, and we have reason to worry in such situations. However, the important question we should ask ourselves is this: “how does our worry benefit us?”

In the Gospel Reading today (Matt.6:24-34) Our Lord advises us not to worry about our material comforts: food, drink, housing, clothing, etc. He further asks a crucial question: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matt.6:27).

Many people have met their sudden deaths while swimming in the ocean of worry and the problem remains. Worry blinds us from seeing things from the right perspective. Worry retards us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Worry limits us from our goals, and finally, it separates us from God because we become untrusting, hopeless, and faithless.

Worry is a profound expression of our lack of faith, and it is offensive to God to lack faith (Heb.11:6). When we worry, we tell God how big our problems are instead of doing the opposite (telling our problems how big our God is). When we worry, we focus on fear instead of focusing on faith (Matt. 14:30). When we worry, we plan for failure instead of planning for success. Worry diminishes us. The word of God says that worry weighs a person down (Prov. 12:25).

The reflection of this Sunday is a purposeful engagement with the phenomenon of worry. What practical steps could we take to combat the worry factor in our lives since there is hardly any aspect of life that is bereft of worry? Or how can we reduce our worry quotient?

Seek after heavenly realities (Matt.6:33). In the Gospel reading we understand that the elements of worry are entirely material facts: food, drink, clothing, and others. When we worry about these things (like Martha), we lose the better part (Luke 10:41). Our Lord made it clear that when we should seek after the kingdom of heaven, all other (material) things will become ours. God knows how to take care of His own.

Seek after faith in God (Mark 11:22). Faith not only moves a mountain (Matt. 17:20) it also moves God. Faith gives us unseen certainties and hopeful assurances (Heb. 11:1ff) and thus removes worry and fear from us.

Pray and keep praying (Luke 18:1). Often we turn our prayer time into worry time; that is a colossal waste. St. Paul advises us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything (Phil 4:6).

Avoid negative people and situations. The people you flock with and the situations you put yourself determines a lot about your life. Somewhere I read that “a friend sharpens a friend” (Prov.27:17). If your close friends have high-worry-quotients, be ready to become a worry machine.

Seek the brighter side of every circumstance. Somewhere I read that every cloud has a silver lining and that is true. The word of God says that cry may endure at night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). No matter how bad it is, the storm will be over soon; don’t worry!

Be patient and wait on God to act (Psalm 37:7). Do not worry; God has His own time. God told Abraham, “Nothing is too wonderful for God in due season I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen.18:14). Do not worry, be patient and wait for your due season.

Add humor to your life; it is short: Often when we are too rigid with life. We worry and fret over so many things that we do not have time to recreate. Somewhere I read that God laughs (Psalm 2:4). The Book of Proverbs (17:22) says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

As we march into a new week, may our lives be renewed and removed from the destructive hands of worry. Stop worrying and start Worthing.

Fr. Bonnie.

LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS! HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

love-no-limits

On July 7, 2005, London City experienced the worst single terrorist attack to take place in the Great Britain. The summer train (tube) carnage claimed more than fifty lives and left many others injured. Among the victims was the beautiful daughter of a vibrant Bristol preacher, Julie Nicholson. Her daughter Jenny, a musician, was on her way to work when Mohammed Sidique Khan detonated the bomb in the underground train.

A few weeks earlier, Rev. Nicholson was preaching insistently on forgiveness and reconciliation at a Church in Bristol where she was a vicar. After the incidence, her congregation and indeed everyone who knew her expected her to voice out words of forgiveness to the person who killed her daughter. It was shocking to all to hear Rev. Julie say that she will never forgive. In fact, few months after she resigned from her position as a vicar and preacher saying that she does not have the moral strength to preach about forgiveness when she is bearing a hurt in her heart that she cannot let go. Ten years after, in 2015, she said the following to the Telegraph:

  “Can I forgive them for what they did? No, I cannot. And I don’t wish to. I said in the early weeks and still now say the name of my daughter’s murderer, Mohammed Sidique Khan, every day.”

During the fight for the emancipation of blacks in America and the campaign for equality, Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr was in and out jail for his freedom utterances. In one of his essays from jail, “Love your enemies,” he made the following legendary statements:

To our most bitter opponents, we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you.

There is a universal misconception of love. What most people call love is not close to that theological virtue. Love is not lust nor a feeling that is liable to expire. St. Paul tells us that love is eternal. Somewhere I read that love is blind but that is not true. Love sees but does not judge. One musician puts it this way:

Love doesn’t ask why

It speaks from the heart

And never explains

Don’t you know that

Love doesn’t think twice

It can come all at once

Or whisper from a distance (Celine Dion).

We might see sense in loving our neighbors as ourselves but to love our enemies? Does that make sense to anyone here? If love means making a sacrifice for another person and the individual’s welfare, then loving your enemy means going the extra mile for his or her good. Love and loving are both a challenge and a chance for every person. Love is not a feeling as we said earlier; it is an action. The word of God tells us (John 3:16) that “God so loved the world that He SENT (action) his only son.”  Further, John (3:17) tells us that: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to SAVE (action) the world through Him. On his part, our Lord declares: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

An important question that requires an answer in this reflection is “who is the enemy that needs to be loved?” Obviously, some people have more enemies than others just like some have more friends than others.

An enemy could be the person that hurts you in various ways, by words and actions, slightly or grievously. An enemy could be the individual who has become an obstacle to your success. An enemy could be the one who wants you dead the next minute. All these enemies and more need to be loved not tolerated nor endured. How possible is that from our human perspective unaided by grace?

There are still practical situations related to loving one’s enemy for which we are asked to love. For instance, how easy would it be for a Tutsi to love a Hutu after the Rwandan bloodbath that is courteously called genocide today? How could a black South African love a white South African after the dehumanizing experience of apartheid? How could a child love the enemies and murderers of his / her parents?

Consider this, whenever we sin we are disconnected from God and become His “enemies” (James 4:4), but His love for us does not go extinct (Romans 5:7-10). He keeps looking out for us with his love as the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31). On the cross, our Lord Jesus Christ showed love to his executioners (enemies) when he tearfully prayed for them: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing?” Don’t you think that those enemies of yours do not know what they are doing and need your love?

Today’s message of love is a very tough one; it is at the same time the only way. To bring the message closer to us, we are encouraged to love without limits. Your enemy deserves more love and compassion from you than anyone else. To love is not a choice; it is rather a grave instruction. In the Gospel of John (13:34-35), our Lord Jesus presents a new framework for love as he says:

I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.

From the passage above, we learn that love is a normative prescription for our Christian life. Furthermore, it gives those who embrace it an identity “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

“How can you love your enemies?”

  • You love your enemies by your forgiveness.
  • You love your enemies by extending hands of reconciliation.
  • You love your enemies by helping them when and where you can.
  • You love your enemies by praying positively for them (Matt.5:44).
  • You love your enemies by facilitating their salvation.
  • You love your enemies by turning the other cheek (not retaliating).

As we march into the new week, let your minds and heart be built upon love and especially love for our human enemies.

Have a great week and make sure you release your love to someone whom you think does not deserve it; that is what God is demanding from you today.

Fr. Bonnie.

“IT TAKES WISDOM TO OBEY!” HOMILY FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

obedience

In my local African community, it is not uncommon to call someone “ewu” (goat) when the individual does a wrong thing that contradicts a standing social expectation or norm. There are situations when people admit and call themselves “ewu” (goat) when they goof on a situation they should have done something differently. On the contrary, those who keep the law and maintain the societal norms are said to be as wise as “mbe” (tortoise). Laws are often challenging to keep but they serve to make us better in various ways.

The preceding prologue shows that obedience is a product of wisdom; put in another way, it takes wisdom to obey while disobedience is a fruit of foolishness. The difference between the wise and the foolish is their respective ways of evaluating their decisions and actions. The wise person is concerned about the long-term impact and gains while the foolish person is interested in the immediate gain no matter how short it lasts.

In the First Reading, today (Sirach 15:15-20), Jesus ben Sirach tells us to choose between keeping the commandment and obtaining salvation and breaking them to be damned. He explains further by saying that we are free to make a choice between fire and water, life, and death, good and evil. Immediately after this instruction, he tells us that immense is the wisdom of the Lord; hence it takes the wisdom of God to make any choice that will be eternally rewarding for us.

In the Second Reading (1 Cor.2:6-10) St. Paul advances the theme of wisdom by relating it to God’s wisdom which surpasses all other claims to wisdom. According to him this wisdom is hidden and preserved for our glory. It may seem that St. Paul was talking about something very strange. No! He was merely talking about obedience to God’s laws which will lead us to the eternal glory in heaven:

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart what God has prepared for those who love him.

Those who love God are those who keep his commandments (John 14:15).

 If we go to the Book of Deuteronomy (4:1-9), we will see Moses commanding the people to obedience to the laws as a sure way of entering the promised land. Furthermore, he says “you must observe them diligently, for this will show your WISDOM and discernment to the peoples, who when they hear all these statutes will say, surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people” (4:6). It takes wisdom to listen and to obey!

In the Gospel Reading today (Matt. 5:17-37) our Lord Jesus Christ undertakes a systematic exposition on various societal issues using the law as a point of departure. In the discussion, he tells the people that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil them. According to him, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter of the law will pass away. Why and why not? The answer is simply that God’s law is a transcript of His character. Altering the law would mean altering this transcript. Furthermore, God’s law is our manual for life which we see in the scriptures. Following this guide is a wise decision that would ensure eternal life for us.

Our Lord goes beyond what the law states to educate the people on what the law means; if you like, he makes a distinction between theorising and practising the law. He presents four practical instances which show what people were told before and what he is telling us now.

The law on murder:

From the Book of Exodus, we know this as the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:13). God is the giver of life, and nobody is free to take what he or she did not give. According to the law, anyone who willingly kills pays with his (her) life. Our Lord goes beyond physical killing by pointing at the emotional and moral killings going on among the people even up to our time. From him, we learn that anger could be a lethal weapon. Anger goes with bitterness and hate. St. Paul advises us not to allow anger to lead us to sin as it gives the devil a room in our lives (Eph. 4:26-27). Our Lord tells us that it is a more practical observance of the law to let go anger and go for reconciliation. Often, we commit both murder and genocide with our heart though outwardly we may look calm and peaceful.

The law on adultery

We have this divine instruction in the Book of Exodus (20: 14) with a further reinforcement in Exodus 20:17. The people believed (as the law states) that the law punishes only when one physically takes another person’s wife. In our Lord’s instruction, the sin begins from the mind. The sin of adultery starts processing when the mind consents to it; every sin starts from the mind. Wisdom consists in eliminating the thoughts when they come.

The law on divorce

The writ of divorce was recommended by the Mosaic law on the grounds of adultery with the testimony of two males. In that male-dominated culture, most women suffered abuse on this ground, and there was no mention of a man being caught in adultery. In another discourse, our Lord revisited the issue by reminding the people that what God has joined together no person should put asunder. Hence, he maintained the virtue of unity and indissolubility of marriage (Mark 10:9).

The Law on oath-taking

The Israelites were required to fulfil their vows and oaths to God (Num.30:2; Deut.23:21-23). How often do you keep the promises you make to God? On this, our Lord instructs that we should only tell the truth: “yes or no” when it is appropriate.

It takes wisdom to be obedient to God. only wisdom can lead us to God Himself who is the source and summit of wisdom. As you march into the new week, may you be wise in our choices and choose life by obeying God and doing His will. It will be better to enjoy in the long run than to be damned after enjoying for a brief moment.  

Have a wisdom-able and obedience-driven week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

 

BECOME THE LIGHT YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD! HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

light-shine

Once upon a time, a lady got employment in a particular cold storage company as a supply manager. Soon everyone in the company could identify her as “the smiling woman” who would always stop to greet anyone she meets. At first, people felt that she was pretending to be nice to certain people, but it later became evident that she is as real as her smiles and care.

One day, she went into the cold storage compartment to take stock for the end of the work day, but unfortunately, the metal door closed behind her. When she finished taking the stock, she discovered that she was locked in. All the workers had gone, and she did not enter the vault with her mobile phone; she got stuck!

After three hours of banging the sound proof door without a response, she started to lose hope and hypothermia pervaded her. She gave up! Suddenly she heard a noise at the entrance of the vault, and immediately the door opened, and she cold see the company security stepping in with a flashlight.

The lady survived the incidence; thanks to the security man. When she resumed work after a week off, she approached the security man and asked him to explain to her why he came to the vault at that point, and this is his response:

I have been working for 35 years in this company. All these years no worker stops by my post to greet me in the morning and say goodbye to me at the end of the day like you are doing. For most of the workers I am nothing; I do not exist. But for you, I am a human being who also deserve some attention though I am not a corporate staff. Every day, I look forward to your greetings, it brightens my day in the morning and gives me hope in the evening. When I did not see you in the evening of that day, I became uncomfortable and decided to look around for you, and that was how I found you in the cold vault.

The moral of the story is very clear. The lady became a light for everyone in the company and particularly for the security man through her smiles, greetings, and attention. What could have happened to her if she did not make such an illuminating impression on the security man? What if she was a snub?

The teachings on the moral and spiritual powers of light have preoccupied our reflections since the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12). The First Reading today  (Isaiah 58: 7-10) tells us among other things that “our light shall break forth like the dawn.” That statement is a consequence of some actions.

The oracle of Isaiah enjoins us to share bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless, clothe the naked, turn towards those in need, then our light shall break forth and when we call on God he will answer us and when we cry he would attend to us.

Often we ask God to bless and prosper us just for doing nothing. Before something comes down from heaven something must go up from the earth. Our lives become more meaningful when it shines forth as a light for others. The Responsorial Psalm tells us that the just man is a light in the darkness to the upright. The light in the passage comes from positive lives and desirable actions.

To become a light for others does not consist in using too many flowery languages and persuasive rhetorics. In the Second Reading (1 Cor. 2:1-5) St. Paul maintains that being light shows itself on a demonstration of Spirit and power of God. We do not speak of being the light, but we become the light.

In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 5: 13-16) our Lord Jesus Christ gives us two important titles that go with so many responsibilities; “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the Light of the world.” Salt and light are two essential commodities we need in our daily lives. Without salt food is tasteless. Salt also has a lot of healing properties, and it can also be useful as a preservative. As the salt of the earth, we are called to add taste, heal and preserve the earth through our Christian values.

Our responsibility as the light of the world is even more demanding. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “a city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.” This statement shows that all eyes are on us as high placed cities. Often people look up to us to gain moral or spiritual guidance. What messages do we send across to people who see us as their moral or spiritual compass as parents, teachers, guides, superiors and so forth? When the light fails to light what will happen to the city?

Today we are challenged to become the light we wish to see in the world. An old way of saying this would be “do not curse the darkness light a candle.” If every one of us resolved to shine the brightest each of us could, our world would have a greater illumination.

The Gospel Reading talks about lighting a lamp and putting it under a bushel basket. It is a crazy thing to hide a lighted lamp, but that is what most of us do. We hide our lighted lamp when we consciously withdraw love and charity to others (Matt.25:41-46). We hide our lighted lamp when we allow all forms of divisions to wreck our relationship with God and others (Luke 10:27).

On this fifth week in Ordinary time we are invited to light up our lamps and have them sit on stands where everyone would see and appreciate their brilliance. The world is seething in the boiling vat of terrorism, racism, anarchy,  hatred, inhumanity and disaffection because people are hiding their lights or do not have lights at all.

Our lights should be our good works and as our Lord Jesus Christ instructs: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Happy Sunday and have a great week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

WHO IS THE BLESSED? HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

the-blessed-life

“How do you know someone that is blessed?” Put in another way, “what are the indicators of blessedness?” Can we consider laughter and smiles as pointers to blessings? Should we consider wealth and material possessions as determinants of blessings? What about marriage and children, are they signals of blessings. If these and similar material effects are indicative of blessedness then the poor, the suffering, the unmarried (like my kind), the barren and others who are “deprived” in one way or the other cannot be considered in the market place of blessings.

When you take an attentive look into various social media platforms, you will discover that more than 80% of users claim “blessed” with interesting pictures and comments that go in that direction. People are now competing for attention, endorsements and “likes” on Facebook and other social networking sites while projecting images and sounds of happiness even when in reality they are going through fire and brimstone.

Who is the blessed; the loudest person in social or conventional media or the quiet, humble man or woman who may never have the opportunity of public notice? Who is the blessed; the person who says so or the man or woman whom God declares so? Who is the blessed; the one who has material success by human effort or the person whose strength lies in God even when he or she is materially poor?

Today, the Gospel Reading (Matt. 5:1-12a) tells us about one of the most excellent sermons on the mount traditionally known as the Beatitudes. One spectacular reality about the  Beatitudes is the repetition of the phrase “blessed are they who….” Or put in another translation, “how happy are they who….”

The people who were in attendance on the Mount of the Beatitudes were paying rapt attention to hear about the type of individuals that count as those who are blessed. We can also imagine that many of them could have expressed amazement to learn that certain people whom they expected to be on the list were not there. They could have waited to hear about the wealthy and healthy, influential personalities of the time, excellent academics, successful merchants, political figures and even the leading religious celebrities of the time (Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees).

Instead of those listed above, our Lord Jesus Christ gives them a shocking profile by mentioning the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the clean (pure) of heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted and insulted.  Most of these were the ordinary but pious people of the time. We could recall that our Lord Jesus Christ remarked in the Gospel of Luke (18:25) that it would be easier for a Camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

By the end of the sermon, the testimony of St. Paul in Second Reading (1 Cor. 1:26-31) comes to light:

“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God”.

Our initial question remains relevant; “who is the blessed?”. The word “blessed” in the Gospel of today comes from the Greek word “Makarios, ” and it means to be supremely happy, favored, well-off or fortunate. The same word was used by Elizabeth when the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her, and she says: “Blesses are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42).

Blessedness is a divine facility and not a human construction. If it comes from God, it is authentic and endures. Blessedness is a favor God gives to those who come to Him and depend on Him. The First Reading today tell us about the qualities of such people. The word of God says they are humble, lowly and obedient to God’s law. When you take an active look at the Beatitudes, you will discover that they recapitulate these three desirable elements.

Now, we can connect with the fact that real blessedness has nothing to do with material prosperity which is by divine estimation very dispensable. Our Lord Jesus Christ has nowhere to lay his head (Matt. 8:20), but that did not diminish his blessedness. True blessedness and happiness consist in our absolute dependence on God, the real source of all blessings and happiness. True blessedness is an eternal attribute. It can lead us to eternal joy. It often comes after pains, suffering, and persecutions. The apostle Peter says (1 Peter 3:14), “if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” St. James (5:11) supports him by saying that blessed are those who have persevered in suffering like Job.

Looking at yourself through the lenses of the Readings this Sunday, would you say you are blessed? Remember that blessings do not leverage primarily on material favors but on a deep relationship with God to the extent that God becomes everything for you (Ephesians.4:6). You are blessed when God is your refuge and your strength (Psalm 46:1) and not any material element. You are blessed when God is your provider and provision (Gen.22:14). You are blessed when you believe that nothing is too hard for God (Jer.32:27). You are blessed when you accept that joy will come in the morning after the tribulations and tears of the night (Psalm 30:5). You are blessed when you put your trust and confidence in God (Jer. 17:7). You are blessed when your life is positively fruitful (Col.1:10).

The good news is that blessing a facility that is open to you even as you hear these words today; humble yourself, come to God, obey His words, and you are on the path of your blessings. Do not be afraid of sufferings, lacks, persecutions, and tribulations; they do not last forever; there must always be the remnants; the happy ones! You can be among them if you make a decision and arise to your blessedness today.

Have a blessed Sunday and more graces in the week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

THE WALK FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT. HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR (A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

darkness-into-light

Once upon a time, a cave hears a voice calling it to come out from its permanent habitation of darkness in the underground to see LIGHT. The call was coming from the sun! The cave never heard about anything called light and asked what it is all about.  The sun encouraged it to come and see.

One day, the cave made up its mind to leave its underground habitation of darkness, and upon coming out, it was all bright and radiant. From up there, the sun said, “that is the light I am talking about.” In appreciation, the cave invited the sun to come to the underground and see darkness. The sun was curious and asked what darkness means. The cave only said: “come and see.” Immediately the sun followed the cave into the underground, and  there it asked the cave “where is the darkness?” The cave could not understand the whereabouts of darkness until the sun left and darkness returned.

Light is the maternal home of all created reality. At the inception of His work of creation (Gen.1:3), God brought in light before He continued the work of creation. Light has a great affinity with life; in fact, both human and animal lives are impossible without natural light. The principal duty of light is to dispel or render darkness useless; we can connect with this from the opening story of the cave and the sun.

The First Reading (Isaiah 8:23-9:3) tells us that: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone.” The rest of the narratives tells us about the institution of joy, removal of the yoke and the suppressive hands of the taskmaster.

It will be important to establish immediately that the darkness and light in the narrative are not physical. People live in darkness when they disconnect from God. People live in darkness when they prefer to obey the devil and the world to listening to God. Spiritually, darkness is the region of sin and disobedience.

The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ marks the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah as the Gospel of Matthew today tells us (4:12-23). Our Lord goes further to identify himself as the light of the world and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is for our redemption as well as for our deliverance from darkness into light. St. Peter mentions that we are a chosen race, a holy nation, a people set apart by God who delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into His marvelous light (1 Pet.2:9).

In the Second Reading today (1 Cor.1:10-13,17) the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of disunity among the believers in the early Church. The problem of disunity at the time was relevance struggle that gave rise to three sections under three leadership personalities: Peter, Paul, and Apollos.  Paul’s letter has one intention; to demonstrate that those who uphold sectionalism and disunity, are living in darkness.

Unity is a patrimony of light. Even physical science tells us that light is an integration of three perfectly aligned colors (red, green, and blue). Our Lord Jesus calls us the light of the world (Matt. 5:14), and in his priestly prayer, he earnestly asked God to make us one as he is one with the Father (John 17: 1). In the darkness, things fall apart, but light upholds and restores unity.

The Gospel Reading today did not only reinforce the prophecy of Isaiah in the First Reading, but it also went further to show the valuable power of light in in the call to repentance. Repentance is simply a transformation from darkness into light or more aptly a restitution of light after an episode of darkness. It is important to note that our Lord began his ministry, after John’s arrest by preaching repentance. He seems to have continued from where John the Baptist stopped. We urgently need the light of repentance in our day and age.

The Gospel goes further to reinforce St. Paul’s teaching on unity in the Second Reading. We learn that our Lord called two sets of brothers (Simon /Andrew and James / John) to join him in his ministry. These sets of brothers share one common element, and that is unity. If they were not united, our Lord might not have found them together in the same profession. Their demonstrable unity could have earned them admittance into the inner caucus the Apostolic college. Light ultimately leads to unity.

A Guru asked his students the following question: “at what point would you say there is light at dawn?” One of the students says when one could tell a goat from a sheep. “Wrong!” He replies. Another says when you could tell a man from a woman. “Wrong!” He replies. Another says it is when the sun comes and the Guru says no! After all the failed attempts, the Guru says it is when you look into the faces of people around you and could see not a man or a woman but a brother or a sister.

We need an inner light to see beyond the faces around us to discover Jesus Christ living inside those faces. We need light to dispel the darkness of hatred to see the light of love. We need light to break down the walls of segregation to find the spirit of brotherhood and fellow-feeling. We need this illuminative transformation to leave the things of the past and embrace the future realities God has planned for us (Isaiah 43:18-19). We need the light of Jesus Christ to discover that our actual ancestry is not in our bloodline but our faith-line. The light of Jesus Christ is the key to our salvation (Psalm 27:1).

May the message of light we hear today challenge us to discard the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). May your paths be filled with God’s eternal light. Remain illumined.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

 

 

 

THE WALK FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT. HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR (A). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

darkness-into-light

Once upon a time, a cave hears a voice calling it to come out from its permanent habitation of darkness in the underground to see LIGHT. The call was coming from the sun! The cave never heard about anything called light and asked what it is all about.  The sun encouraged it to come and see.

One day, the cave made up its mind to leave its underground habitation of darkness, and upon coming out, it was all bright and radiant. From up there, the sun said, “that is the light I am talking about.” In appreciation, the cave invited the sun to come to the underground and see darkness. The sun was curious and asked what darkness means. The cave only said: “come and see.” Immediately the sun followed the cave into the underground, and  there it asked the cave “where is the darkness?” The cave could not understand the whereabouts of darkness until the sun left and darkness returned.

Light is the maternal home of all created reality. At the inception of His work of creation (Gen.1:3), God brought in light before He continued the work of creation. Light has a great affinity with life; in fact, both human and animal lives are impossible without natural light. The principal duty of light is to dispel or render darkness useless; we can connect with this from the opening story of the cave and the sun.

The First Reading (Isaiah 8:23-9:3) tells us that: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone.” The rest of the narratives tells us about the institution of joy, removal of the yoke and the suppressive hands of the taskmaster.

It will be important to establish immediately that the darkness and light in the narrative are not physical. People live in darkness when they disconnect from God. People live in darkness when they prefer to obey the devil and the world to listening to God. Spiritually, darkness is the region of sin and disobedience.

The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ marks the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah as the Gospel of Matthew today tells us (4:12-23). Our Lord goes further to identify himself as the light of the world and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is for our redemption as well as for our deliverance from darkness into light. St. Peter mentions that we are a chosen race, a holy nation, a people set apart by God who delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into His marvelous light (1 Pet.2:9).

In the Second Reading today (1 Cor.1:10-13,17) the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of disunity among the believers in the early Church. The problem of disunity at the time was relevance struggle that gave rise to three sections under three leadership personalities: Peter, Paul, and Apollos.  Paul’s letter has one intention; to demonstrate that those who uphold sectionalism and disunity, are living in darkness.

Unity is a patrimony of light. Even physical science tells us that light is an integration of three perfectly aligned colors (red, green, and blue). Our Lord Jesus calls us the light of the world (Matt. 5:14), and in his priestly prayer, he earnestly asked God to make us one as he is one with the Father (John 17: 1). In the darkness, things fall apart, but light upholds and restores unity.

The Gospel Reading today did not only reinforce the prophecy of Isaiah in the First Reading, but it also went further to show the valuable power of light in in the call to repentance. Repentance is simply a transformation from darkness into light or more aptly a restitution of light after an episode of darkness. It is important to note that our Lord began his ministry, after John’s arrest by preaching repentance. He seems to have continued from where John the Baptist stopped. We urgently need the light of repentance in our day and age.

The Gospel goes further to reinforce St. Paul’s teaching on unity in the Second Reading. We learn that our Lord called two sets of brothers (Simon /Andrew and James / John) to join him in his ministry. These sets of brothers share one common element, and that is unity. If they were not united, our Lord might not have found them together in the same profession. Their demonstrable unity could have earned them admittance into the inner caucus the Apostolic college. Light ultimately leads to unity.

A Guru asked his students the following question: “at what point would you say there is light at dawn?” One of the students says when one could tell a goat from a sheep. “Wrong!” He replies. Another says when you could tell a man from a woman. “Wrong!” He replies. Another says it is when the sun comes and the Guru says no! After all the failed attempts, the Guru says it is when you look into the faces of people around you and could see not a man or a woman but a brother or a sister.

We need an inner light to see beyond the faces around us to discover Jesus Christ living inside those faces. We need light to dispel the darkness of hatred to see the light of love. We need light to break down the walls of segregation to find the spirit of brotherhood and fellow-feeling. We need this illuminative transformation to leave the things of the past and embrace the future realities God has planned for us (Isaiah 43:18-19). We need the light of Jesus Christ to discover that our actual ancestry is not in our bloodline but our faith-line. The light of Jesus Christ is the key to our salvation (Psalm 27:1).

May the message of light we hear today challenge us to discard the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). May your paths be filled with God’s eternal light. Remain illumined.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF WITNESSING! HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR (A). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

i-shall-be-a-witness

During one of my visits to a prison, I came across one young man who was serving a life sentence for a murder case he swore that he did not commit. According to him, he got a distress call from the wife of his closest friend to come to their house as quickly as he could. On reaching the house, he saw his friend struggling in a pool of blood and his wife crying while holding a zombie killer knife. He sensed they were having an argument and he begged the woman to give him the knife, and she did and ran away.

After some minutes, the woman returned with the police and the young man was arrested. He was charged to court and this woman gave a witness that the man killed her husband while they were having an argument. The ill-fated prisoner confirms to me that the lady’s false witness earned him life imprisonment.

Witnessing is a facility that runs through almost every aspect of life.  Often in life, it takes a voice, a witness, a reference for us to move from where we are to where we ought to be and vice versa. Have you considered why organizations and institutions demand references (referees) for almost all applications? Those are voices beyond your voice. People who can attest to what you claim to be and open the way to your success. Often your success depends on who testifies about you. This idea is right in our reception of most of the sacraments were we need witnesses often nicknamed sponsors like in Baptism, Confirmation, and Matrimony.

God understands the centrality of witnessing and that explains why he grouped it among the ten commandments (Exo 20:16): “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” There are three aspects of witnessing:

  • To experience, something as it happens or being part of it.
  • To give evidence or testimony to favor or disfavor someone like in our opening story.
  • To make an open declaration about someone or something. For instance, declaring one’s faith. We shall see John the Baptist doing all these in the Gospel today.

The relationship between our Lord Jesus Christ and John the Baptist is not what we can summarize with few words; in fact, we can use the word “complicated” to describe it. Though they were cousins, they seem to have a more spiritual connection than biological. Their first “virtual” meeting was when they were in their respective mother’s wombs; John the Baptist had to leap inside his mother’s womb when he heard the greeting of Mary (Luke 1: 41; 44 ). John begins his ministry by presenting the profile of our Lord Jesus Christ as the one who is mightier than him and whose sandals he has no capacity to untie. He did not give these details as one would do to a relation; for instance, he could have added “he is also my cousin.”

At another time, John sent some of his disciples to ask our Lord if he is the messiah or if they should wait for another (Luke 7:18-20). John could not understand how the Messiah could be so simple, unassuming, and even vulnerable. Today, we find John witnessing publicly to Christ after baptizing him in the Jordan. John was not ashamed of making a public recommendation even at the cost of losing some of his disciples (John 1:35-37). We can identify three important points in John the Baptist’s witnessing:

  • The lamb of God takes away the SIN of the world. By this declaration, John the Baptist identifies our Lord as the only remedy to the ultimate sin; the original sin. This proclamation means that we have no other source of expiation of sin apart from the lamb that was slain.

 

  • The lamb ranked after John the Baptist and existed before him. John confirms that he did not know him and that he is baptizing to make him known to Israel.  This statement tells us that his knowledge of Jesus Christ is more of spiritual knowledge than experience based knowledge.  We are not expected to have a physical knowledge about him, but we are required to bear witness to him through the on-going spiritual encounter we are having with him in the word of God and the sacraments. John further made it clear that his reason for coming was basically to bear witness to Jesus Christ. We see this clearly in the Gospel of  John (1: 8) where we learn that John was not the light, but he came to bear witness to the light.”

 

  • He is the one upon whom the Spirit descends. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist did not miss words to indicate that he has seen and testified that he is the Son of God. John the Baptist identified the source of the power; namely the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit like on the day of Pentecost (Act 2:1-4) brings about a new kind of baptism.

Witnessing is at the core of our Christian vocation. Our Lord Jesus Christ assured the post-resurrection apostles that they would become witnesses after their confirmation by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). This declaration takes place after the Pentecost experience (Acts. 2:23; 3:15). In his First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:3-8), St. Paul enumerated the witnesses to the resurrection which included him. The apostle John (1 John 5:8) mentioned that there three witnesses to the message of Christ that agree; the Spirit, Water, and Blood.

In one of his instructions (Matt. 10:32-33), our Lord Jesus Christ mentioned that whoever declares (witnesses) to him in the presence of men would receive his recommendation before his heavenly Father but whoever denies him before men would receive his condemnation before his heavenly Father.

By our vocation as Christians, we are called to be witnesses. In the ending verse of the First Reading (Isaiah 49:3, 5-6), Isaiah declares that God will make you a light to the nations.  Being a light to the nations is a strategic invitation to become a witness. The duty of light is primarily to dispel darkness. This illumination is crucial in our world today that is progressively struggling under many frameworks of darkness.

We become the light of the world when we bear witness to Christ in words and deeds; that means our words must reflect our actions. We become the light of the world by our conscious efforts to swim against the currents in our world that tossed about by the raging storms of sin and disobedience in various modern forms and shapes.

Our witnessing should start from our different families.Often we forget the age-long phrase that says that “charity begins at home” (see 1 Tim. 5:8). We start witnessing in our families when we can forgive the hurts from our mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, husband and wife. We become witnesses in our families when we allow love to lead. In fact, if we cannot witness effectively in our families it will be preposterous to do so outside our families.

We shall end this reflection by consciously adding WITNESS to our individual names and let it not be just a name but an attitude. Have a graceful Sunday and a blessed week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

THE VISION AND MISSION OF THE WISE MEN.HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF EPIPHANY Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

wise-men

Vision is what you wish to accomplish in life and mission is how you can accomplish it with core values as the guiding principles. The mission is useless without a vision; people often face confusion in life when their visions and missions are misguided. You could also have a vision and mission, but without core values, one could be overwhelmed by blunders. A life that is worth living should have a defined vision, a dynamic mission with functional core values.

Today is traditionally known as Epiphany; the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to all nations represented by the wise men from the east. In the Second Reading, today (Eph.3:2-3a, 5-6), St. Paul notes that it is a  revealed truth that the Gentiles are co-heirs of the promise.

The first visitors to the Nativity site wereShepherds and God directed their visit (Luke 1:15). They came with only one virtue; their faith in God. Seeing everything as the angels told them, they instantly became missionaries (Luke 1:16-17). Every divine encounter comes with some defined transformations. Our attention is directed to the wise men and particularly on their vision and mission.

  • The Vision of the Wise Men.

Your vision defines your goals. The story of the wise men began with a description of their vision from their observation of the stars. Some people think of them as astrologers. In their observation, they could notice a great star in the skies. Beyond the sight, they understood the meaning; namely the birth of a great King.

The wise men left the comfort of their location with a vision; to worship the new born king. Their underlying intent was not their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; they could have sent messengers to deliver them. We can identify their vision in the question they asked at the palace of King Herod: “where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage?” Homage or worship motivated the journey of the wise men.

  • The Mission of the Wise Men

The mission of the wise men encompasses their unchanging core values. First, we recognize their determination and commitment towards their vision. From the time, they saw the star to the moment they paid homage (worshiped) there was no respite. Their determination moved them to search for the new born King despite the oppositions on the way.

When they could no longer see the star, they were not discouraged. When Herod could not give them a reasonable information about the newborn King, they were not discouraged. They continued their search, and it ended in adoration (Matt. 2:11).

Wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 2:6). The visitors are wise not because they “tricked” Herod by not giving him feedback about the newborn child as he requested. They are not wise because of the gifts they offered; someone already gave a donation of a manger before they arrived. Their wisdom consists in their relentless search for the King of Kings to worship him. The highest thing we can offer to God is worship. The opening words of the Ten Commandments command sole worship of the God above all (Exodus 20:1-5).

The eastern visitors represent selflessness. True worship demands humility and humility consist in selflessness. They left everything to search for the Lord. They left all their commitments. For them, searching and finding the Lord to worship him is more important than any other preoccupation.

From the Mission of the wise men, we can see that there are two different types of people we could meet in life: destiny helpers and destiny killers. Often in life, we meet people who either help or hinder us. In the narrative, Herod represents destiny killers. Taking a critical look at the attitude of Herod to the visitors we discover a hindering spirit. We learn from the wise men that we need to be aware of the destructive hands of destiny killers and learn to keep our eyes on the goal.

Herod did not know about the birth of the new King. When the men of letters affirmed it from the writings of the prophet he decided to frustrate the wise men by asking them to go unaccompanied in their search. He also leaves them with an assignment to get back to him if they eventually find the child. A further confirmation of the evil mind of Herod was the infanticide he ordered after the exit of the wise men which led to the killing of innocent children.

Patience is a mission accessory we can identify in the story of the magi. Without patience, we have more pains. We need to wait for God’s leading presence and at the right moment. There is what is known as the perfect due season (Lv.26:4; Gal.6:9). We need to be patient and wait for God to act (Psalm 37:7). The men from the east were wise enough to know the value of patience even in the face of trials and challenges from the contending “Herods” in their mission.

The mission of the wise men exposes us to the power and value of humble submission to God. We learn from the narrative that they were instructed in a dream not to return to the destiny killer that goes with the name Herod. It takes humility to listen and to obey. God detests the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). It is also right to imagine that they humbly stayed the night with the newborn child and the parents in the domain of animals.

Celebrating the Solemnity of the Epiphany at the beginning of the calendar year is a gracious happenstance. We learn from the wise men great lessons that would help us to go beyond borders this New Year. We are challenged to formulate gainful visions and to inaugurate enduring mission values. We learn from the wise men the need to search for God above all things as those who seek the Lord shall find Him (Jer.29:13), and they will lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).

Though we may have challenges on the way like the wise men, God will deliver us from them all (Psalm 34:19) and create chances for us. God will send destiny helpers (like the leading star) that will assist us to get to where we shall have enduring encounter will God. Sometimes, your star may seem to go off. Do not give up it will rise again and shine (Isaiah 60:1).

The solemnity of today also challenges us to launch our own respective “Epiphanies.” God manifested his son to the world as the King who will deliver us from the kingdom of darkness and transfer us into his marvelous light (1 Pet.2:9). We are challenged to show forth the goodness of God in our lives. We are challenged to reveal the love of God by searching for God in His words and the sacraments and as He promised to those who seek Him will find Him (Deut. 4:29). The solemnity today also challenges us to the sincere worship of God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). May the solemnity of the Epiphany bring about the inauguration of new and enduring divine encounters in our lives.

Happy Feast day and may you have a wonderful week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

NEW YEAR! NEW YOU!! NEW YIELD!!! A CONCISE NEW YEAR REFLECTION. Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

new-year-you

There was once a young man in a particular town known for his great love for food. In fact, his unbridled attachment to anything edible became a source concern for his immediate family and relations. He is always present at any ceremony or party often uninvited, and his lusting for food brought a bad name to him and shame to his relations. In fact, he became synonymous with celebrations and food in that town and beyond.

After some time, one of his uncles decided to take him to the city to learn a trade. His family and the entire town celebrated the news of his planned mission to the city. People believed that changes could come from his sojourn. When he finally left the city, his relations were relieved; though a majority of the townspeople missed his usual drama with food at ceremonies which were often entertaining.

Two years later, Popolo as the people address him, came back and he was looking transformed from the observation of individuals. His dressing became dapper, and he spoke differently; he appeared mature and sober. During ceremonies, he was no longer scrambling for food like he did in the past.

 Three months after his return, Popolo started changing again to his pre-city life. In fact, by the fourth month of his return, he was fighting over food at several ceremonies and his dressing returned to the Popolo of the past. With this, it became a common saying in the town that you can take Popolo to the city, but you cannot take him away from food.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Our Lord advises us in the Gospel of Matthew (9:17) not to put new wine into an old wine otherwise, the skin will burst, and the wine will waste. The New Year can only be new to the extent we make it new by what we bring into it. Like Popolo, most of us still go back to the former ways after making so many breath-taking declarations about the new year.

The most important element in the New Year is YOU. Often, most of us focus on the New Year as if it is a magical structure we need to run into and pick all the good things of life. There is no physical structure called “2017” for instance. It is a conventional number, but it can become more meaningful to you depending on your spiritual and mental attitude and readiness of the YOU in YOU.

The Sun will be the same just as the moon. It will be same weather, the same house we live, the same people around us. Your money will not automatically increase because it is a New Year. Your house will not become a skyscraper because it is a New Year. The only new reality is our disposition and the fruits we bear.

Often some of us pray with the motive of prodding God to change things for us. God does make a difference or turn things around for us, but we do not get the effect because some of us refuse to change. The saint of the poor, Mother Theresa, once said that prayer ought to change us (not God) so that we can make a difference.

Often our New Year Resolutions do not bear fruits because we deal with the symptoms and not the sicknesses. We deal with the stems and not the roots.  The change we expect cannot be effective unless we address the causes, not the effects. We cannot solve our problems in the New Year with the solutions that failed us in the past years. Whoever removes the cobwebs and spears the spider will come back to remove more cobwebs.

The greatest reality in this New Year is You! You can make a difference by redefining your priorities. The first reasonable thing to do is to put God first in all things. Putting God first in all things means giving him his position because he is the First and the Last; the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13). Putting God first in all things means leaving everything in His hands. Those who leave everything in God’s hands will eventually see God’s hands in everything. Your New Year resolution can only succeed if God is involved.

You need to discover whom you are this New Year. Often people waste their entire lifetime studying biographies of other people without giving proper attention to whom they are. An unexamined life is not worth living this New Year. How much of you do you know? God is right when he says that my people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Lack of self-knowledge can only lead us to a recycle of past mistakes.

We might embark on forty days fasting and prayers for the New Year, but if we do not make an effort to change, our lives we will remain the same. How would you expect a year of abundance when you are insensitive to the needs of people around you? How would you expect countless blessings when you cannot allow others to experience little blessings. How would you expect a year of divine visitation when you are not ready and willing to forgive and let go?

As we enter into a new year, there will be a need for many of us to be conscious and careful about the utterances and declarations we make. Often, we try to impose obligations on God because it is a New Year as if He owes us. We expect God to decorate our world with golden opportunities while we remain disobedient to Him. Is it fair?

  • God did not exclude afflictions, but He promised deliverance from all of them (Psalm 34:19).
  • God did not eliminate sicknesses and wounds, but He promised healing and restoration (Jer.30:19; Ex.15:26).
  • God did not make enemies disappear, but He promised to contend against those who contend against us (Psalm 35:1).
  • God did not exclude us from troubles, but he promised to answer us in the day of trouble (Psalm 20:1).
  • People may rise against you, but God will defend you (Psalm 91:7).
  • People may forget you, but God will take care of you (Psalm 27:10).

The New Year should challenge you to do things new things to have NEW YIELD. There are many new things we need to do just as there are many old things we should stop doing.

  • You complain that you don’t have time to do some meaningful things, but you spend hours every day on Facebook, Whatsapp, IMO, Instagram and other social networking sites.
  • You find it boring to spend five minutes in prayer, but you could spend hours on the phone talking frivolously.
  • You spend a lot of money shopping and buying things you do not need, but you give reasons why you cannot do charity.
  • “ I will watch my weight this year.” Remember that you said the same thing last year, and you may still say it in years to come. You don’t need to register in a gym because it will be money wasted. Take a long walk and watch your diet.
  • You spend hours with friends at parties but five minutes with Lord in the Blessed Sacrament seems like a punishment.
  • You have three phones, but you don’t have a functional bible nor rosary.
  • You want the best for yourself, but you don’t care about other people; that is selfishness.

This New Year will become what you make it; there is no magic nor shortcut to the New Year. If you bring God into your life and your plans for the New Year, He will take you beyond your expectations. Remember you can make New Yield if you Yield to God with a New You in the New Year. Happy New Year! A year of divine visitation (Luke 1:68).

Fr. Bonnie.

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