Posted in Uncategorized

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Lay Reflections on this Sunday’s Reading from the Catholic Liturgical Calendar

By Noel Ihebuzor

All the three readings and the responsorial Psalm speak to the Nigerian situation today.

The first reading speaks of the plans of the wicked to oppress and dispossess others. It also speaks to specious arguments to rationalise or justify dispossession, be these of lands or of resources.

The second reading examines the drivers of such injustice – envy, jealousy, covetousness, selfish ambition, insincerity and sinful passions – these negatives and the bludgeoning arrogance of the ignorant (certified and uncertified) and their poorly founded entitlement mentality resonate with the sad situation in our country where dishonest debates, inconsistency, lack of constancy, insincere opinions, nepotism inspired policies and misguided executive interferences push the country closer and closer to the edge of social abyss.

The third reading puts the finger on one of the causes of our “wahala” – elected officials (including judicially handpicked ones) who see themselves as masters (magisters) instead of as servants (ministers) of the people.

Psalm 54, the responsorial Psalm, provides hope for all the oppressed, for all the downtrodden and for all whose existence are likened by the arrogant to dots. God above listens and hears their groans and bids His time.
Noel Ihebuzor

Posted in Uncategorized

Knot that dot, not the nought by Noel Ihebuzor

Onwa gbama, ije aguma! In moments of either apparently misunderstood communication, or deliberately misinterpreted communication or outright miscommunication, indulging in poetry becomes powerfully tempting! So here goes –

A visit to the land of dot
ought to handled
with care, if not
nought may come from it

nought is a hot cipher,
Worse than dot,
a zero is a cipher,
not hard to decipher

It signifies emptiness
and nothingness!

Posted in Uncategorized

Reflections on people by Noel Ihebuzor

One of the worst afflictions that a people can suffer from is that disease that prevents them from knowing who their true friends are!

Another equally damaging affliction that can visit a people is the sickness which traps them in narrow span and short term thinking.

A people without a long term social vision that is guided by a moral-ethical consciousness will end up becoming servants and errand boys/girls in any assembly of nationalities!

A people who opt for quick profits in the short term without sufficient consideration for the medium and long terms will end up short changing itself.

Posted in Uncategorized

Stop spot dot by Noel Ihebuzor

can you spot
the dot
when you stop
on top of a tilted pot

where you stop
matters, as a dot
is a particle just like you
a particle in a circle
is hot, a core spot
if at the centre of
that circle the dot
inhabits and roams
randomly within

do you not know
not every presidot
smokes pot to port
to unknot

some port to unknot
simply because of rot
they speak thoughts
like a horde of noughts

empty thoughts, no core just hollow
and hollowing
blank thoughts
no nucleus, just
inyo, more inyo
nested in incoherence

circles of blankness
prodigy in void,
nought in form
format and content

a random effluvia
rich in rot, riot
like droplets and
dribbles and drivel
from the tongue
of Bob Loco

Loco smokes pot
goof and ganja
plus oza echetaram
echetaram hot stuff
(takes jabs and sniffs in secret)

our circle-dotter
like Loco cannot spot
the boundaries of
today and tomorrow
nor of the past, the present and or the future……

and the drift continues
Onyemaechi and
Onyemauwa ask
when the end will begin
or whether this is the
end of a beginning
or the stop of the end
or the end of a pot

Posted in Uncategorized

Gospel Reading of the 28/05/2021

By Noel Ihebuzor

interesting Gospel reading – Christ and the fig tree, Christ responding to persons desecrating the temple and Christ’s reaffirmation of the supremacy of faith.

For the encounter with the fig tree, read the importance of bearing fruits in the seasons of life.

For the clash in the temple, read as a critique and condemnation of the commercialisation of religion and religious spaces

And the last section of the gospel deals with the importance and necessity of faith. it affirms the empowerment and transformational role that faith can play in our lives.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reflections on parables and communication


Noel Ihebuzor

Reading the christian scriptures, especially, the New Testament, one comes across the parables and the generous use of parables to instruct and edify. In the coming days and weeks, we are going to keep coming across parables from the New Testament commencing with today’s gospel readings from Mark 4.

We are going into a season of a “feast of parables”. Each one of us can remember at least one parable that has left a lasting impression on him or her. Here is just a quick pick from some of the parables that have left almost permanent footprints on the tissues of my mind – The good Samaritan, the parable of the sower, the parable of the wedding feast, the parable of the foolish virgins, the prodigal son, etc. From these rich array of parables, two stand out for me and their central messages are permanently etched in my soul. yes, you are correct – they are the parables of the Prodigal son and the parable of the good Samaritan.

The former conveys the immensity of a father’s love, the contrition of someone who has done wrong and the reconciliation that follows, whilst the latter narrates genuine love expressed in genuine acts of love and sacrifice and stands in sharp contradistinction to the hollow religiosity and sham piety of uncaring persons of whatever persuasion and calling in life.

Even after several years of reading a favorite parable, echoes of it and snippets of its key messages still keep on streaming through our minds and our subconscious and influencing our comments and our actions even without our knowing this. And so the question is this – why is that parables have the power? what is it in parable that makes them so endearing and their messages so perduring?
what follows below are some of my guesses why!

Parables reflect simplified and effective communication and usually involve using the concrete to convey to abstract. They simplify but they also create the “aha” effect
Parables use comparisons to instruct ….notice that some parables start with the construction “to what shall we compare”
They then use comparisons drawn from the world view of the listeners, and exploit comparisons/events based on the known to arouse curiosity, to encourage enquiry and incite reflection.
Notice also their use of a simple and unique story line to illustrate a complex point. Notice also that in doing so, they deepen understanding, increase receptivity and open the minds to faith and to God. In doing all of this, the parables also invite the listener to reflect.
Parables involve dramatic use of symbols and imagery to convey, to call attention, to evoke either pity and compassion or strong distaste – wasting his money on riotous living and women, birds coming to pick up seeds, seeds falling on rocky soil , brigands setting on a traveller and dispossessing Him (sounds familiar?)
They also appeal to the experiences of the listeners……at that time of the writing of the scriptures, kingdoms, farming, wine growing and sheep rearing were key features of the society. The examples in parables thus exploit these realities as the stories are woven around kings, feast, vine, shepherd, sowing. In doing this, parables are exploiting points of interest, finding a good grip point to engage with the audience and using centres of interest as effective communication and interest arresting hooks/grips.
Notice one other special feature of parables – they are non threatening directly by their reference to events/peoples that are some distance removed (temporally and spatially) from the immediate listeners. This has the effect of engaging and retaining attention of the listeners till the killer punch is delivered! It is this ability of parables to use a specific to send a message that has both a specific audience and universal timeless application that represents their greatest beauty for me. It is indeed amazing – a specific story told to educate a specific audience but which still retains its potential for universal reference and use.
Most parables tend to have a central message and key theme – and it is this key message and the obviousness of meaning which provide the thread that bind all the events in the parable. By being simple and focusing on a key message and only the necessary and essential details, parables avoid information clutter and distractions which have potentials to impede the effective delivery of any message.

The other appeal of the parables is that though they convey a simple story, a close reading of some of the stories reveals their potential to communicate on multiple and hierarchical levels. Prima facie, they convey a direct message as I have said earlier, instructing us on a desirable virtue, in contradistinction to a related vice. They then rest their case, or so we think but we soon discover that the story does not end there because at the subconscious level, some aspects of the story continue to challenge us to reflect on their ramifications and invite us to ask to certain questions! And some of these questions can be very troubling, indeed agonizing as we reflect on the right and wrong of some aspects of the stories. As these questions arise, and they sure do arise. we begin to find that all is not so clear after all. And soon, we find ourselves being drawn outside our comfort zones as we begin a reflection which can be agonizing and lonely at times! We begin to ask questions. Suddenly we are worried because we begin to think that such questionings amount to doubts that betray a lack of faith. But this should not really be so. For to ask questions in search of deeper understanding is not synonymous with a loss of faith or incipient irreverence. Indeed such questions can lead to deepening of faith, for they ultimately and ever so often bring us face to face to situations where logic confronts faith and cedes gracefully to faith as a result of the acceptance of the limitations of logic. We also grow in religiosity and faith each time we are able to use a blend of rational and faith to understand the scriptures and are thus able to reconcile what appears to conflicts and contradictions in our spiritual journey on this earth.
Let me illustrate with a few examples of parables where the story line suddenly thrusts questions at us. Take the parable of the Good Samaritan, The Levite was headed to the Temple to officiate. If he were to stop and attend to the unfortunate wayfarer, he would be defiled and so not able to perform his Temple duties. Take the case of the son who stayed back and toiled with his father in the parable of the prodigal son. How fair is the denouement of the story to him? He and his friends do not get as much as a kid goat or small calf to party with but his rascal of a brother comes home to a grand reception, to what in igbo we call oriri na nkwari! So what is the point here here? Should we then all go live it up first, sow our wild oats, paint the town red and blue and then repent? And the Wedding Feast. Ordinary townsfolk were just going about their business and, all of a sudden, got invited to a banquet – obviously as an afterthought since the guests Mr. Rich had in mind failed to attend. They show up anyway, only for one of them to be cited for dress code violation and thrown into the dungeon. All parables reveal an uneasy dimension upon close scrutiny. Our challenge, is to reflect on them in an effort to arrive at a deeper truth. I have tried to resolve these conflicts and apparent contradictions by appeal to a message strategy which I will call over-riding dominant principle and core message focusing approach. This approach has the dramatic effect of either heightening the pathos in the event being narrated or increasing the salience and worth of the virtue in question or both! What then is the over riding dominanrt principle and core message focusing approach in each of these parables I have just mentioned? For the Good samaritan, it is the superiority of concrete and instant manifestation of love over a narrow focus on religious observances. For the prodigal son, it would appear to be a demonstration of the profundity and prodigality of a father’s love, in this case, God’s love for our world. The wedding feast – very troubling but less troubling when seen as an invitation to be ever ready to respond at any moment that God will choose to invite us to His royal banquet.

Seen in this way, these troubling instances in these parables become appreciated as narrative techniques that are employed to improve the efficacy of message flow and communication, among many other possible interpretations.

Experts on Effective Communication advise us to do the following when engaging in verbal communication

use variety, be credible, use a hook, attract attention, hold attention, keep attention, gauge response, and to start with the most exciting part. A close look at the parables shows that they contain all these aspects. The same experts on effective communication also point out to us the barriers to communication. These include

a) Language – speech and accent, dialect, non-specific meaning of words, double meaning jargon, technical language, woolly use of language, rambling, insufficient information given

b) psychological – emotive words, personality clashes, lack of interest; audience hostility

c) bias, prejudice and assumptions

d) content not suited to education, status and intelligence levels of your listeners

e) physical environment – noise and distraction from the environment

Again you will notice that the parables anticipate and avoid most if not all these barriers and succeed in delivering winning presentations
Our age is obsessed by the power point presentations, where illustrations and fly-in effects and the jazzing up the presentation often mask inadequacies in content, logic and flow, we would do well to read the parables and learn from them. In an age where verbose usage is often used to mask cognitive deficiencies, platitudes, the social irrelevance of the message or the lack of preparation of the speaker, we would do well to go to the parables and learn how to communicate…and to communicate with interest, focus and effect…and with economy, things which I know I will need to learn!

Hope I was at least able to communicate something to you in this lengthy and rambling scribble. Have a great day.

Noel Ihebuzor – Onye Nkuzi

Posted in Uncategorized

Reflecting on the Readings of the 5th Sunday of Easter by Noel Ihebuzor

Interesting readings, all three of them. But the first and the Gospel readings are particularly interesting.

In the first reading, it would appear that Paul’s earlier persecution of the early Church had finally caught with him. The disciples kept him at a distance, doubted the sincerity of his conversion and were suspicious of his real motives and intentions. Luckily, Barnabas comes to Paul’s rescue with evidence of Paul’s “blinding” and eye opening encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, his instant conversion and his renunciation of the follies of his past. How often are you willing to speak up for someone when you have solid evidence that they have really changed. Do you have the courage or “the liver” as we say in Nigerian English to do that? Or do you succumb to mass pressure and keep quiet? Ditto for situations when you are confronted with the need to speak up for the truth, for the right, for the oppressed, against glaring injustice. What do you choose? Check well!

There is also a way in which Paul’s spree of persecuting the early church in his past resonates with a recent happening in Naija’s socio-political space. Some remarks a current high political appointee made in his youth are acting forward and creating serious doubts as to his continued suitability for the elevated position he currently holds. A number of “Barnabases” have come forward with what can be described as the most shallow demonstrations of affected contrition to explain away that folly and dangerous utterances and are doing so with irritating degrees of puerile arrogance compounded by a mix of crooked thinking and debilitating ignorance.

But the fake affected contrition is not getting much traction as observers are unable to spot any genuine change on the part of the offender from those pushing his defense with what amounts to egregious logic. In Paul’s case, Barnabas was able to tell us how Paul disputed with Hellenists after his conversion. (Hellenism is essentially rooted in polytheism – a polytheism that enabled mortals, if you ask me, to project and blame most of their follies on a pantheon of gods. Remember Appollo, Zeus, Poseidon, Jupiter, Athena, Artemis etc? A bit like ATR, especially Igbo religion, with our pantheon of gods, unlike Christianity which preaches monotheism!) And for someone like Paul to speak against and dispute with Hellenists meant that he had truly recanted and moved beyond the religion and beliefs of his younger days. Has our high level government appointee done something similar? Has he challenged and renounced the religious extremism and bigotry that were the hallmarks of his youth? The answer is NO! Case closed. He either recants or he resigns or he is removed.

The gospel reading brings in the concept of the Vine. Christ is the Vine, God the father, the keeper of the Vineyard. We are the branches. And the keeper of the vineyard prunes the Vine, thereby removing from the growing tree all signs and traces of unproductivity, clutter and death. Cut off from the Vine, the branches have no life. On the Vine, and with the Vine, the branches have life and are productive, and being productive bear fruits in season and in plenty.

And what are these fruits that the attached and live branches of the Vine produce? Certainly, not the grapes that yield Beaujolais or Chardonnay, and sorry if this info is not to your liking. And certainly not the sweet saps of ngwo or nkwu enu, the types one of my Canadian friends that I introduced to these inebriating fluids described as the nectar of the gods! No, I believe that these fruits are the same ones that you come across in Gal 5 : 22-23…, joy, peace, patience, self control, gentleness, kindness. These are the fruits that grow on the true Vine that God has planted in His vineyard. May we remain attached to that Vine and bear fruits in all the seasons of our lives, through Christ our Lord, the true Vine.

Happy Sunday

Onye Nkuzi