Archive for the 'BIBLICAL EXEGESIS' Category

The Manner of Manna – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time

By

Noel Ihebuzor

The 18th Sunday readings speak to our times.

These are hard times.

Food insecurity stalks the globe. Humanity grapples with the challenges of moral choices, consumerism holds the hearts and minds of men and women hostage, and rising savagery and wars with heavy undertones of bestiality bedevil our world. Merchants of misinformation and disinformation, of division and gain seeking distortion deceive people and lead them blinkered on to slippery slopes of false boundaries and exclusions.
The “Moseses” we see around us are false ones, all big talk and no action. They are sellers of false promises and dope, experts in denials, double talk, retractions and somersaults. The few “Amoses” we had have become compromised and most have abandonned themselves to selective amnesia and expedient associations.
We are in the desert. The desert seeks to invade us with its aridity and sterility.
Yes, these are hard times, but we must hang on there in faith, refusing to surrender to despair. We must stand firm against the invasion of any sense of futility.
God is there for us. Just like He heard the pleas of the Israelites, He will hear ours. In the same manner that He fed them with Manna will He also feed us. But ours will be a manna that feeds the body, nourishes the spirit, removes despair and restores the buoyancy of the soul. Positivity will return and in time, true leaders will emerge who will lead us to inclusive development, a development that welcomes us all, includes us all and where dividends and benefits of democracy are shared not by how one voted but by a spirit led sense of equity, justice, fair play and love.
Happy Sunday
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Wishing you a Wonderful Valentine Day

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

14 February, A Special Day dedicated to Love, a badly needed commodity in our present day world where petty ambitions, greed, short-termism, myopia, concupiscence, materialism, commercialism, ethnicity and all forms of bigotry conspire to strangle all the vestiges of this decent emotion called LOVE in all of us, and to dessicate us and to make us hollow and hollowing men and women. A world without love celebrates the triumph of sterility, hopelessness, emotional drought, angst,  social disconnect in manners that remind us of portions of TS Eliot’s “WASTELAND” or Bob Dylan’s “A hard Rain a-gonna fall” – and this is the general direction of our drift in a world now marked increasingly by impersonality, indifference, violence, anonymity and consumerism – all of this because of the death of true love

Without Love, we are thus nothing. Let us then commit today to rediscover, to reinvent, to refresh and reactivate LOVE in each of our individual lives, to show it to all around us, to share it with all we meet and to convert this world to a beautiful peaceful garden filled and blessed with LOVE, a garden in perpetual bloom and blossom, where harmony becomes the background rhythm that inspires, challenges and animates all humanity. As economists and public policy experts would tell us, LOVE is one of those items whose sharing and consumption are non-rival in nature. The quantity of LOVE in the world does not decrease the more you share it with people – rather it increases!
Share LOVE today. Happy Valentine Day……and just to remind us all what love is, here is a link line to one its best descriptions in the new testament of the Christian scriptures. I have also printed it out in full for friends who may not have internet connection. It is a beautiful passage, worth committing to memory and to be called up in each of life’s encounters . One amazing feature of love is this – Love never ends.
The Way of Love
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Beautiful passage! Now apply it! Go on, show some love today. Share some love today – I mean real love, not those narcissistic and self serving displays we often call Love. Real love involves giving “a la Mother Theresa”. It demands the control and domestication of our impulses and the recognition of the needs and interests of others. Real love involves sharing and caring. It involves the recognition of a shared humanity with others, a shared humanity which then makes us see God in the faces and needs of those around us. To love is to sacrifice. It is to give in humility and to find love and joy in so giving and helping others to grow, to self actualize, to bloom and to blossom.
Go on, share and show some love today – to your spouse, your partner, your children, your family, your neighbours, your parents, your colleagues etc.. The world will be hapier because you did.
Noel

Readings and Reflections -26th Sunday ordinary time – on Sin and Death

By

Noel A Ihebuzor

The readings today deal with sin and its consequences, the first reading in particular. Sin leads to death. Iniquity leads to death, some slow on-set, some instant and some others gradual, and yet some others death by increment and accretion, often times invisible to the eye. And by death here, I mean death in its several forms – physical, emotional, spiritual, economic social and communal death. There is also the death of the conscience, a death that then unleashes other forms of deaths and which spawns unimaginable deviance. Sin and vice in whatever form lead to destruction, decay and death. In communities, they lead to a decline in social capital, the destruction of bonds, the extinction of trust, the erosion of values and the suffocation of good sense, decency, equity and balance. Bad becomes good, good is mocked at and derided, social pressure draws more converts to evil, evil is praised and sin and its proceeds are celebrated.  Man, “homo superbus” reaches for the dial on the control box and dims the voice of God, snuffs out the light of truth and puts shades on the candle of love. The voices of victims of violence and violations are choked, the innocent are injured by the mighty and impunity is unleashed and struts around a demoralized world.  Look around you for proofs of these very broad statements that I have made. The wages of sin is death. Whilst sin is a violation of God’s statutes, its immediate consequences are always social and are felt in the here and now in this material earth. For every sin, there is a spiritual loss followed by a socio-economic debit. When you sin you offend God and hurt man.

Righteousness redeems a nation and a people. It leads to life. Righteousness is simple. It simply consists in knowing God and in living His living and life giving words. The sinner who renounces his/her life of sin, of cruelty, of stealing, of lying, of defaming, of distorting, of purveying partial truths, and packaging opinions to the unwary as if these were truths and returns to God is readmitted to God’s favors and God’s love and to Life. But this return, repentance and reconciliation must go beyond theatrics and verbal display. Words accompanied by action, action driven by the spirit of God and His laws. Love God, Love your neighbor. If you love God, you will not break His commandments. If you love your neighbor, you would not cheat him/her, you would not tell lies against him/her. If you love God, you would not commit idolatry. Demoting God from the top of your value system is a form of idolatry. Putting money and power at the pinnacle of your value system is a form of idolatry as these become your new gods. These new gods lead you to all forms of aberrant and emptying behaviors – they lead you to things like election rigging, graft, rent seeking behavior, cronyism, grabbing public assets, false declarations, looting, importing sub-standard items, free-riding behavior, contract inflation, unprofessional project monitoring/evaluation, biased audits, skewed and dishonest Op-Eds etc. Let me give a very trivial example concerning love of neighbor – If you love neighbor, you will not drive in such a manner as to push him or her off the road, but most of us who come to public podiums to sound off on the ills of society do this on end! When last were you polite to the other road user? If you loved your neighbor, you would demonstrate courteous road behavior. In the work place, you would be polite and fair to all your staff, you would deal with an even hand with all. The second reading contains a listing of attributes that conduce to a life free from sin – humility, kindness, compassion, mercy, saying no to selfishness, resisting vainglory behavior and recognizing the needs and the rights of others.

Christ reminds us in very strong words of the need for a return to God in word, in truth and in action. His strong words underlie the importance of true repentance. The truly repentant reap the rewards of paradise. Let this assurance challenge and drive us to turn away from the evils and iniquities of this world.  Let it challenge us to reject the false and cheap values of the devil and to embrace the eternal and life giving values and laws of God, the summary of which are – the discipline and mastery of self based on and driven by a love of God and neighbor.  May we set about achieving this critical, live saving and spiritually elevating behavior change from this Sunday – and may God’s spirit guide, strengthen and animate us in this venture, Amen!


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