From the pastor’s desk
Fourth Sunday of Lent -Year C– To have fullness of life and spirit promised by God, we must be willing and ready to transcend the present life and spirit.
Many times in life we become satisfied and complacent with our present life-flow and situations; we afraid of change. At times, we do not want to bother ourselves with new challenges even when they would bring about progress. Sometimes we want things to continue to be as they were for us before. We say that, that had been the way we were brought up. We do not realize that it is the hand of God that leads us and we want to be in control of our destiny. We should be asking ourselves at all times, ‘what is God saying to me at this time?’ What are the possibilities before me in this place and at the present moments?’ ‘How has God been leading me?’ ‘How do I discern the ways God is directing me?’
These questions and many others are very important for our spiritual life and growth.
Towards the end of their desert sojourn, God spoke to Joshua the son of Nun: “today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you (Joshua 5:9).” With this, God signaled the end of their desert journey which began with the Exodus from Egypt; the crossing of the Red Sea; the covenant with God at Mount Sinai; the feeding of his people with manna in the desert and many other events associated with their desert journey culminating to that present time when they ate for the first time the produce of the Promised Land.
We could recall that that journey began with the celebration of the Passover meal in which the paschal lamb was sacrificed. The people ate the meat hurriedly as people in flight with the meat roasted whole.
The blood was put on the lintel of the houses where the Israelites were so that the destroying angels would not strike them, as they went to strike the first born of the Egyptians. This obtained the freedom of the people, the defeat of their enemies at the Red Sea, their covenant with their God at Sinai and many others. At the end of their journey, to take full possession of the Promised Land, they were asked to re-enact the Passover feast where they encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho.
This was the way God led his people in their history, the celebration of the Passover feast gave them identity and preserved them as the People of God, specially chosen to be his own. That is why they were asked to celebrate it yearly as a living memorial. By celebrating the Passover, they were celebrating the love and mercy of God who takes initiative to save his own. They were recalling the kindness of God who visits the sufferer with love, mercy and compassion. When Jesus was criticized by his contemporarie for associating with tax-collectors and sinners, Jesus taught them with the parable of the Prodigal son, who after squandering his father’s property on dissolute living, made his way back to his father’s house.
The father sighted him from afar and took the initiate to go out to welcome the prodigal son back home and ordered a great banquet to be celebrated for his return. This is what God has done by sending his Son, Jesus into the world to save sinners from their sins. He saves each of us by his life, death and resurrection. By the Paschal mystery, God brings us to a continuous cycle of rebirth and renewal, to grow in the Spirit of son-ship or daughter-hood. He wants us to adopt his characteristics, attributes and attitude of love, mercy, kindness, and compassion towards the erring ones. We must not be like the elder son who is vindictive and unforgiving. That is why St. Paul tells us that God in Christ, was reconciling
the world to himself, not counting anyone’s transgressions against him. He has entrusted to us the ministry and message of reconciliation; and so, we are ambassadors of Christ.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD