From the Desk of Fr. Joseph
April 12 – April 18
The resurrection of New Birth
Resurrection is a new birth into God’s Spirit. The first birth in the flesh is corrupted by sin and is directed towards death. For those who seek life, the only path to a new beginning is Jesus, the Risen Lord, who comes to call us to share in the light of the resurrection. The Lord said: “Unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:1-8). In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are washed clean of sin and recreated into the likeness of God, becoming His beloved children. As purified children of God, we become the living image of Christ on earth, a people anointed with the oil of gladness, the Spirit of joy that enables us to become true citizens of the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
The Sacrament of Confirmation fills us with the Holy Spirit to become like Christ in all things, a people seeking to do the will of the Father, a people at the service of salvation on earth. The Lord reminds us that “What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:1-8). Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit on earth; God who dwells in them wants to become visible through their hands of love, charity, and kindness. God’s Spirit enables the faithful to become everyday resurrection, the light of the truth that reveals the divine face and goodness present in creation.
The Goal for every Christian, while they are still pilgrims on earth, should be this, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col 31). How do you live your resurrection here and now? The Easter Candle that we have become should continue to burn brightly in our words and shine forth in our deeds, so that those who hear us may say: these people speak the language of God-love and work to build the Kingdom of mercy adorn with the beauty of peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Life in Heaven on Earth
Jesus came on earth to teach us about the things of heaven. We came from above to earth and are here only for a short period. We cannot live our lives as if this is our permanent home and ultimate destination. We are people on the move who should always be prepared for the unannounced recalling back home. As many of us are, a lady who had been afraid of death shared with a group of some faithful how she managed to overcome her fears. She said, “When my husband was about to die, after the family members and the priest prayed for him, and after receiving the Sacraments of the Sick and the Eucharist, my husband looked at us in the eye with the face of gladness and said: ‘I am full of joy, now am ready to go home.'” The lady further said, “I had never thought of death as being a way to going home. My husband’s view of death brought peace in my heart and openness to death since now I know that it is something beautiful, especially when Jesus is invited to be part of our death and life.” Or simply when we share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The life of Jesus, everything that he did on earth, suffering, death, and resurrection is a school of heaven for believers who desire to know the truth about eternal life. Jesus uses earth’s things to teach us about the things of heaven, the good news of the Kingdom of God in our midst. The Lord says, “If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” He explains, “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man” (Jn 3:7-15). Through the gift of resurrection and baptism with water and the Holy Spirit, the faithful, even though they are still on earth, are partaking of heavenly fruits of love, charity, and kindness.
Believers are people who live in the light of heaven on earth. The splendor of faith that believers profess in words and deeds has the power to change and transform the minds and hearts of the people of God when the faithful learn to share their resources, talents, and gifts with others. No child of God should lack basic needs that other believers can provide and share. We overcome the fear and power of death when we begin to share our lives with others through acts of attending to the poor’s needs here at home and abroad (Acts 4:32-37).
The charitable, kind, and hospitable never die because their names are written in the heart of God with the Spirit of undying love.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Be the Light of Resurrection
Jesus has given the mandate to every Christian to be an agent of the good news of resurrection by way of words and deeds. The Lord said, “tell the people everything about this life” (Acts 5:17-36). How are you involved in telling the people about the gift of resurrection? A wonderful young girl, a high school student from St. Bruno Catholic Church, joined the Church this Easter. She shared with her companions in the faith journey what led her to give her life to Christ. She said: “I am a Catholic in my family. I felt within my heart that the right thing to do was to join the Church. Nobody asked me to do that, but I just knew that this is the right thing I wanted to do. “After receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, she expressed how the celebration was beautiful and said: “I am glad I joined the Church.” She also expressed her goal in life as a Christian, saying, “I hope to witness my faith both in words and deeds to my family and friends so that they too may come to know the love of Christ and respond to his gift of mercy.”
The young girl found her vocation in Christ’s resurrection, the fountain of her joy and gladness, the call to live the faith by being at the service of others. The commandment of evangelization: “tell the people everything about this life” is the purpose of our faith and mission of hope. In our own unique ways and circumstances, each of us is consecrated by the Spirit of love to become ministers of charities, teachers of mercy, and witnesses of humility and obedience to the will of God.
The young girl, marked with the oil of courage on the day of resurrection, had an intimate relationship with the breath of the Spirit of God. The change and longing to have complete union with Christ took root within her heart with inspiration to spread the fire of the Gospel. You, too, have received the same Spirit of resurrection; how do you allow the light of new life to shine in your words and deeds? God depends on you to become the lighted candles of peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Living Faith of Resurrection
The Apostle Thomas represents so many people who struggle with faith in Jesus Christ, especially the resurrection message. Some people have closed their hearts to the gift of the light of Christ on the basis that they need evidence of resurrection in order to believe. It is human nature to learn things through the visible and feeding of the senses. The things of the world can be known by analyzing the collected data that communicate to senses. Life is complex, and it comprises what is visible and invisible, material, and immaterial, body and spirit. What is of spirit requires spiritual learning to grasp the depth of truth that becomes available to reality through the power of revelation, a gift of grace.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ has transformed our minds and hearts, giving us light from above to see things with the eyes of God aided by the creative art of the Spirit making all things new. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not an act that can be seen only with the bodily eye, but instead, it springs forth from the waters and Spirit of truth flowing in the hearts of believers to germinate the seed of faith. Resurrection takes place everyday when faith is born in the heart, and love for God is witnessed in the charity of service to the poor. What Jesus said to Thomas is a message for all of us. He said: “You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!” (Jn 20:29).
When the world and its power try to silence the good news of new life, Jesus Christ, the first disciples, stood their ground of faith. They witnessed their belief in Jesus Christ, saying, “We must obey God rather than me” (Acts 5:27-33). Are you also following the principle of obeying God rather than pleasing others? How are you bringing the light of resurrection to others? The evidence that the world long to see, so that to believe in Jesus Christ is yourself when you know the beauty of your faith, contemplate the depth of merciful love, and witness in kindness the joy of hope.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Witnesses of Resurrection
After Jesus’ resurrection, he commanded the disciples to out into the world to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of peace. God’s Spirit was working through the believers, and like Christ, they too were working out signs of faith in people’s lives. Many people who saw how God was working with the disciples began to follow the way of Christ, leaving behind their old beliefs and manner of worship. The number of believers in Christ was increasing day by day, and this unfolding of the events brought fear and concern in society’s leadership system. The teachers and leaders of the people were concerned that if they allowed Christianity to grow, they would lose their influence and authority. The civil and religious leaders of the people conspired to find ways to silence and destroy the faith’s growth. They placed the disciples in prisons, mistreated them, and even killed others, hoping to deter them from perpetuating the new teaching of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.
The leaders realized that as much as they tried to limit the faith’s spread, they failed to contain it since the number of new converts kept increasing. Gamaliel, a wise teacher of the people, cautioned his companions from fighting the disciples’ work. He said, “Have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:34-42). Christianity is still under attack in the present society. The attack is from leaders of institutions who do not want the light of the Gospel to shine forth the truth of justice, peace, and unity and from those who have been baptized but fail to live their faith as faithful followers of Christ.
The worst attack on faith comes from those who have shared in one cup with Christ. When you fail to witness the gladness and joy of God’s love and the gift of mercy and forgiveness, we become agents of crucifixion, nailing the Lord again on the wood of doubt and rejection of his offer of love. The Lord has revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread. The gift of water, blood, and the Holy Spirit has transformed us inwardly to become the witnesses of Christ on earth. Your goal should be, “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord” (Ps 27:4) and contemplate the depth of his love and mercy for all.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Service to the Gospel
When Jesus, the light of the world, is not included as the center of one’s life and ministry, everything becomes evening and night. Where there is darkness, vision is impaired, and all things lose their meaning. Christians are people called to serve at the table of the word of God and the Eucharist leading the faithful to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. Jesus came to the world to open our minds and hearts to the things of heavenly glory, peace, justice, and joy. What Jesus brought from above, gifts of love and mercy that the world needs to make it a dwelling filled with the beauty of divine goodness. It is the faithful’s work and mission to cultivate a spiritual culture that longs for the things of heaven.
The ministers of the Sacraments, preachers of God’s word must not lose focus on faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus, when tempted by the people, who tried to change the path of his mission to do the will of God, stood firm and reminded everyone that the purpose of his life was to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. People wanted him to become an earthly king who would provide for their bodily needs instead of heaven’s spiritual fruits. Preachers and servants of God in this age must strive to overcome this hidden temptation whereby the people we serve seem interested to make us ministers who bring satisfaction to the things of the flesh.
The Apostles realized that they were taking the wrong direction; instead of being ministers of word and Eucharist, they dedicated much time to serve the needy. The ministry to the needy is important, but it cannot be allowed to replace the word, Eucharist, reconciliation. The work of love and charity is a collaborative ministry. The laity should be at the forefront to attend to the needs of the poor. Meanwhile, the ordained should imitate Mary, contemplating Christ and witnessing in words and deeds the power of the Holy Spirit. Before acting, we must be people of prayer, drinking deep at the fountain of the Holy Spirit.
The advice of the Apostles applies equally to the present Church. They said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table” (Acts 6:1-7) of charity.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Light of the Scripture
Do you know that you are the shining and living light of the Scripture? What are you doing as a disciple of Christ to grow in your understanding of the word of God? Christianity is a new way of life that allows believers to know God, embrace Christ, and walk in the light of the Spirit of truth. God is a mystery, hidden, and transcendent, meaning that no one can claim that they already have full knowledge of the things of heaven. Every Christian should remain a constant student of faith. Mary, our Mother, should act as a role model, teaching us how to meditate and contemplate the richness of the power of God’s word. Our Mother in faith was open to growing in her relationship with God when she asked: “How could this be?” What flesh cannot teach us, we must wait in silence and prayer for heaven to reveal.
Ignorance of the ongoing work and power of the Spirit and truth affect how we relate to each other and God. The hidden meaning and purpose of life can be uncovered through the gift of the Spirit and breath of grace. The people of Jesus’ time rejected him because they did not understand the Scripture’s true meaning that identified him as the awaited savior. The people of this present age also continue to put the author of life to death. To refuse to walk in the light of the resurrection, acting “out of ignorance” to the truth of salvation (Acts 3:13-5,17-19), is spiritual death.
Not to know God and not making necessary attempts to grow in the knowledge of the word of God is sin. God’s word is love that must penetrate the hearts of the faithful and be made visible through acts of faith that leads to repentance and conversion of life (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19, 1Jn 2:1-5). God seeks to reveal his face, plan, and will to humanity by opening the Scriptures’ fountain to their hearing and contemplation. In our search for God, we can make this our prayer: “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us” (Lk 24:32).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
April 5 – April 11
Springtime of Resurrection
The Good News of Resurrection of Jesus Christ is springtime for believers, while for non-believers, it is nonsense and winter of life. The joy of the resurrection is great news indeed since it contains the victory of life over death. Humanity still struggles to understand the mystery of death having the power to cause fear and despair. Much of the world’s resources are invested in research and the medical field to try to develop possible ways to tame death. For those who are not Christians, death marks the end of everything, and there is no sign of hope beyond life on earth.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, entered into the world to bring a new narrative of life after death. Jesus of Nazareth shared our human weakness to the cross so that all people who believe in him may find in his death a path to a new beginning of the Kingdom of God. The Risen Lord has brought a new meaning to life, making everyday a springtime of hope with the knowledge that death has no power over us anymore. Light beyond the grave has transformed the face of the earth to realize that creation is directed toward the fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Resurrection is something that can be known by humanity. God, in His loving goodness, has prepared the way for the day when Christ will come to overcome the power of sin and death. Prophets were given eyes to see the vision of resurrection. David spoke the joy of the resurrection, saying: “I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore, my heart has been glad my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption” (Act 2,14, 22-33).
The disciples who lived and walked with the Lord also spoke of his resurrection, saying, “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses” (Mt 28:8-15). The disciples who encountered the Rise Lord were ready to die as witnesses of their faith in the gift and joy of resurrection. The Church’s work on earth is to bring the Good News of Resurrection to everyone who desires to receive the light of hope. How do you share and witness to others the springtime of resurrection?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
I have seen the Lord
Someone once asked me why many people are not interested to hear the word of God? Why are Christians not inspired by the Church’s teaching and do not practice and share the faith they have received with others? People want to meet Christians who can speak with confidence Benedict XVI, assurance, and joy of Mary, saying, “I have seen the Lord.” As Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI like to say, Christianity is not an idea of the mind that has no reality in everyday life. Faith is born of the fruit of an encounter with the Risen Lord who comes to meet us in the breaking of the word of God, sharing in one bread, and touching the poor with hands of love and charity.
When non-believers encountered those, who have the Lord in life experience, their hearts are moved to seek the way of truth. Those who have had an experience with Jesus Christ do not just speak about him, but their deeds become the visible sign of the power of resurrection that shines forth the light of the transformation of life. Those who the Spirit of new life has touched are still on earth but now live for heaven as a people with a vision longing for eternal hope.
The people who have received the Risen Lord in their lives of faith are sent like Mary to break the good news to others who are still battling the darkness of doubt. Faith and the gift of resurrection are not to be received and kept hidden as private property. It is a gift of God given to be shared with everyone. The baptized and anointed with the oil of gladness must respond to the call and sending to be agents of proclaiming the Gospel of Resurrection.
People are hungry for the Word of God and thirsty for the Joy of the Eucharist. What are you going to do to lead them not to the tomb of fear and doubt but to the mountain of faith and transfiguration?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Miracles of Resurrection
Christians can begin to see the signs of change due to the resurrection gift working in the hands of the disciple of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was on earth in the flesh, part of his way of revealing the power of the Word of God was by signs and miracles. It is incredible to notice that the things the Lord used to do are accomplished by the disciples who have experienced the fruit of new life. Jesus Christ died and rose to become the offering, the gift of the Spirit of the Gospel, which now dwells in the hearts of the faithful.
Saints Peter and John witnessed to others the power of resurrection by doing a miracle of faith. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” Then Peter took him (the cripple man) by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong” (Acts 3:1-10). The treasure and the gift that Christianity has for the people of the world is not gold or silver but Christ, the Risen Lord, and Savior of the world. Church loses her meaning and influence in the world if she stops or afraid to share with others the fruits of heaven, the Spirit of joy and peace.
Sin brings about sickness, weakens the heart, and blinds the mind from seeing the vision of truth and hope. The Church’s and her Children’s responsibility is to lead the people who walk in darkness to the way of truth and life, the Risen Lord. Resurrection should not become good news for one day only but instead should be the light of each day that inspires our faith and longing to make Christ known to others.
Each of us is called to participate actively in the work of evangelizing the world by shining forth the light of new life received in the breath of the Spirit of the Gospel and truth. The witnessing of life should reveal to the world that even though we are still pilgrims on earth, we have started to taste heavenly joy.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Resurrection of Faith
The disciples were doing several miracles and signs after their encounter with the Risen Lord. One may even think that Christ was now present and working in them as the instrument of his powerful hands of healing. The people who experienced the wonders of faith that the disciples were doing by the power of the Holy Spirit that filled their hearts were amazed at how simple and ordinary people could do such great wonders. St. Peter took the opportunity to teach the people of his time how they were able to do the same things that the Lord himself used to do.
St. Peter said to the people, “by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you” (Act 3:11-26). After the resurrection, Christ continues to make his presence felt by the gift of the Holy Spirit working in all believers. Resurrection becomes an act of faith in Christ, the Son of and Savior. Resurrection happens every day when faith is born in a person when a person accepts Christ through the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of sin and the reception of the Holy Spirit of new life.
People can come to faith when others who have accepted Jesus in their lives bring the god news of the resurrection to them both in word and deed. People tend to listen and accept the message of the acts of faith more than words that speak only about Christ. People want to see how the faith of resurrection has made us good people, new and hopeful. Our life must have a spark and inspiration that can attract and pull others to Christ whom we love.
You are the sign of ongoing resurrection in the world when you live the faith by witnessing the power of love in simple acts of charity, kindness, and compassion. Let your life be a living witness of the resurrection. Imitate Mary and act like someone who has seen and encountered Christ in the joy of the Eucharist and the light of the Gospel.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Revelation of Resurrection
From the Easter Sunday readings, we heard St. Peter stating that after Jesus’ resurrection, he did not appear to all people but only to his disciples, a people prepared beforehand for the celebration of the joy of the victory of life over death. Some people reject the call to Christianity because they allege that there are no facts to support the idea of resurrection. Some people also tend to say that if Christians prove to them that Jesus was raised, they may consider becoming Christians.
As Christians, what do we understand about the resurrection? Does the teaching about resurrection require visible evidence so that to believe the invisible reality? We should remember that before Jesus was crucified and dead, he lived among people who saw his miracles and signs, listened to his teachings but still, they rejected him. Evidence of resurrection is not enough reason for one to accept the truth that the Lord defeated death on our behalf.
After his resurrection, the Lord appeared many times to his disciples, who believed in him. Resurrection is not just a one-moment fact but instead is a process of living the faith in Christ Jesus. Resurrection is the living and ongoing realization of the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of humanity. Birth, miracles, and teaching, suffering, crucifixion, death were all moments of preparation for the final revelation and fulfillment of God’s power. Nothing is impossible for God, and resurrection is part of His design and plan for sinners’ redemption.
In today’s readings, we hear that “this was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead” (Jn 21:1-14). Resurrection is a gift of revelation, the power of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the faithful to have the light of faith to see what God has accomplished for humanity through His beloved Son. The Lord’s revelation happened to the disciples in sacred hours of the Eucharist, healings of the sick, and through signs and miracles.
We are the resurrection people, a people called to live in the light of new life, to encounter the Risen Lord in the breaking of word and bread, witnessing the Gospel of revelation, and serving the poor with hands of charity. How do you live the joy of Christ’ and your resurrection today?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Power of Resurrection
Before the resurrection, when Jesus was led to the cross to suffer for our sins that finally led to his death, his disciples became afraid and went into hiding and could not be steadfast in their faith. Soon after the resurrection, after having an encounter with the Risen Lord in many appearances, by eating with him, and after receiving the power of the Spirit, the disciples became courageous. They went about witnessing the good news of Jesus Christ. There is power in the resurrection, the capacity to transform lives and inspire faith and fan the Gospel’s flame. It seems that the Spirit that worked with Jesus was now actively present in the disciples’ lives. The disciples became the living faces of Christ and the visible evidence of the invisible mystery of the resurrection.
People were amazed by the many wonders the disciples were able to realize even though they were regarded as a simple and humble class in the world’s eyes. The people’s leaders tried to stop the faithful from speaking the good news of resurrection by threatening them, but the joy and the fire that emerge in their hearts of faith could not be extinguished by fear of suffering, prison, and death. St. Peter, speaking on behalf of all the faithful who had experienced the light of new life, said: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:13-21).
The faith in Jesus Christ and the good news of the resurrection, the light of hope to the world maroon in the darkness of sin, continues to spread in every place because the faithful were willing to witness in words and deeds what God had done for them. Resurrection was a gift of redemptive love and mercy that penetrated the hearts of the faithful, and many responded by giving their lives entirely to Christ. How do you witness the good news of resurrection? Let us imitate the examples of our first parents in faith, who shared in one cup and bread of new life and after that went about doing good, serving the poor, and working for peace and justice.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Resurrection the Gift of Mercy
Today is Mercy Sunday, a gift of resurrection, a sacrament of God’s love for all given in the saving work of the Son, who forgives all sins by his death on the cross. Sin destroys one’s relationship with God, self, and others. Once evil finds a way in a person’s heart, it does not leave easily without the medicine of cross-suffering and death. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). God is merciful love. The faithful are to be like God in all things-to shine the light of mercy, to forgive others their sins just as God has forgiven each of us. We are all sinner and need God’s help. His healing mercy comes to us by the gift of the offering and sacrifice of Jesus, our Savior.
The disciples are given the mandate to become the instrument and hands of mercy. Jesus commands, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, are retained.” It is only God who can forgive sins. Through the resurrection, the disciples are filled with the breath of grace, given the power of the Holy Spirit to live and do the work of God, spread the good news of mercy and love (Jn 20:19-31).
The Church’s mission is contained in the gift of mercy, continuing to follow the directive of the Risen Lord who gave this order: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” to be witnesses of resurrection by shining forth the light of mercy and peace. The call to mercy is an appeal to hearts of humility, obedience to the will of God, and longing to love God and neighbor in all things.
Resurrection is a gift of mercy, calling us to be, according to Saint John Paul II, “Apostles of Mercy,” to become saints of love like Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the solder of mercy. Jesus said to St. Faustina: “My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified” (Diary, 1074). The resurrection of mercy in one’s life is a breath of peace that Jesus brought to the new world as the shining light and source of water and blood streaming from the heart of Jesus Christ for all to dink with contrite and humble hearts.
Let us return to God’s love and mercy, and we too, just like Saint John Paul II, may say with him. “This is the happiest day of my life,” for today, peace has found a dwelling in my heart.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
March 29 – April 4
You Created to Shine
We live in a society that tends to give glory to what is negative in things and people. Many of us are not trained to have eyes that can choose the positive aspect and goodness hidden in every being. God, who is the source of creation, is always positive in his vision of things and sends us the gift of grace, light to help us overcome the blindness that prevents us from being agents and instruments of goodness on earth. Many lives have been destroyed by evil-minded people who find pleasure in inflicting negative words about others. Many young people are ending their lives because of peer pressure coming from those who fail to highlight in them what is good and only amplify and flame what seems in the perpetrators’ eyes to be wanting.
The beauty of God in our life is that He does not count our failures. God continues to be the breath of goodness in us even when we have failed to live according to the design of love that He has given us freely in His Son, Jesus Christ, our friend, and companion in good and bad times. We must learn to return and dwell in Christ who does not forsake and rejoice in our weakness; instead, stand with us to help in healing our wounds and restore us fully back to sharing in the Father’s care and love.
It is refreshing to hear positive words spoken by God about who we are made to be. In these words, we find the meaning of our lives and hope in times of darkness. The Lord said: “I, the Lord, have called you for a victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness” (Is 42:1-7).
You are created for light and salvation, goodness and love, joy and happiness in union with God the Father. Seek God while He seeks you, and you will find peace in your heart.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Called to Serve God
Christians have received a calling to serve the mission of God, salvation of life by becoming the voices of truth and witnesses of the Gospel of love. Priests are called right from their mother’s womb to enter into the life of God and become the embodiment of the gift of grace that the world needs in order to enter the dwelling of heaven. No priest can become a servant of God by his own capacity but are gifts of God to the holy people so that through their anointed hands, the work of redemption may continue. Priests are here on earth, but in divine reality, they belong to the Kingdom of God, nailed with Christ on the cross, died in the waters of new life, and risen in the light of the resurrection. The life and the mission they now partake in are of heaven on earth. The true meaning and purpose of priests’ mission in the Church and the world become more apparent when they serve faithfully at the table of the Word of God and the Eucharist of joy.
Priests come together in their bishop’s presence yearly to renew the seal of the bond of their calling, love for salvation. Without this renewal of their commitment to serve God in all things, the temptation is ripe to deny Christ who comes to meet us in the poor and betray him in times of need to stand for truth and justice. Today, the priests serving in our diocese are going to renew their priesthood calling so that they may continue to attend to God’s people inspired by the fire of love, the joy of hope for eternal life.
We Christians should pray to God to send his Holy Spirit to dwell and guide our priests and bishop. That they may be faithful in the mission of salvation just us our Mother, Mary, has taught us with her example of humility and contemplation of the treasures of divine love. We should ask the Lord to enable the servants of God to imitate St. Joseph, the visionary of hope, who worked to defend and protect the Mother and the Son of God. Like the Holy Family, our priests, too, may shield the Church’s treasures, the poor of Christ. The little ones are the signs of the kingdom of God in our midst, the sunrise of the resurrection.
To all of us, these words are spoken: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God… And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord” (Is 49:1-6).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Cross of Revelation
As we enter into the heart of Holy Week, we turn our gaze to the mystery of the cross of revelation. As we look in wonder and adoration, seeing the body of the Lord nailed on the deadwood, we, too, like Mary, the Mother in agony, ponder with her, “How could this be?” How could the Son of God be rejected by the people of the world and be subjected to the sacrifice of cruelty, jealousy, and sin?
Yesterday, before Palms Sunday Mass, a gentleman spoke with me just a few minutes before the Eucharistic celebration. He said to me, “The passion, the cross of Jesus Christ reminds me of my weakness of not being like Christ who showed us an enduring love.” He explained, “my love for him is not enduring, but his love for me and everyone is faithful and constant. When we look at the cross, what do we see? This man reminds us of the true meaning of the sign and symbol of the cross in our lives as Christians that it is the enduring icon of God’s pure and perfect love and mercy given in a treasure of the only Son of God for the salvation of humanity.
We, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, prisoners of sin, long for freedom, and in Jesus, God of love has responded so that those who believe in the Word of God may come to peace and eternal life. The cross is our path to God. Do you carry your cross everyday and follow Christ? Are you the one Christ is referring to by saying: “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me?” Like the psalmist, we too can look to the cross with eyes of faith and cry with the hearts of hope, saying, “Lord, in your great love, answer me” (Ps 69:14).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
A Model of Love
Today, the first day of the month, ushering in a new beginning for Christians, a people marked by the Blood of the Lamb and sealed by the sign of merciful love of salvation. Jesus Christ became the memorial Symbol and Sacrament of our freedom from sin to a new light of truth. It is a feast of freedom celebrated at the darkest hour of the cross so that those who partake of its fruits with pure hearts may receive heavenly strength of grace to cross over the valley of death, and at the sunrise of resurrection, to emerge to a new day of glory illumined by the light of justice.
It is the holy night of sharing when the poor and the rich all partake of one banquet of love sacrificed and divine. Today heavens open her holy womb to pour forth her treasures of blessings, to give birth in grace to new children of God on earth to shine like stars of joy. It is a night to the world, but a bright day to the hearts of believers who dance for joy in the soul music of praise and thanksgiving for the victory of justice, singing, “Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16).
A holy night when the Church our Mother is born to become the source and summit of graces and blessings for eternal life. A day when Mary, our Mother in faith, contemplated in silence the mystery of love incarnate. A day when the world is transformed by the Spirit of the Eucharist, establishing a new language of communion, a sharing in one body of healing, the Word of God. The Blood of Redemption that endures forever offered by Jesus Christ, saying, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood…Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Cor 11:23-26).
Jesus asks you this: “Do you realize what I have done for you?” His life on the cross is a model of love to follow (Jn 13:1-15).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
On this day of Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, when the Son of God suffered on the cross for your sins and mine, I felt moved inwardly to pay attention to the words that came from the lips of Jesus at the hour of death, crying, “I thirst!” (Jn 19:28). Two simple words but powerful and rich in content summarize the meaning of the cross, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Another person whose life went through change by the light and the spirit of the tears of “I thirst” is our beloved Mother Teresa, the apostle of the poor and the simple of heart. Traveling on a train, the jewel of Calcutta heard the cry of a poor beggar who pleaded with her, saying, “I thirst.” Like our Mother Mary, Mother Teresa did not let these heavenly words pass by like the wind. Instead, she reflected, meditated, and contemplated in prayer, begging for the light of the wisdom to uncover the hidden meaning. Heavens open and, Mother Teresa came to hear the voice of Christ in the face of the poor as the one speaking to her that He thirsts for our love. She understood the depth of the cry of Jesus that it was a pure, perfect, and healing tears of love spoken in a language of mercy and revealed on the tormented face of love-God who loves to the end and longs for our love.
Following Christ on the cross of salvation, may we listen to the cry of “I thirst” with a hearing of love and mercy. The tears seek those who have the hearts of humility, care, and faith to hear and respond to it in charity so that through the hands of love, Christ’s wounds present on the poor’s faces may find healing by our acts of kindness and compassion. If we truly know whom we are looking, if we too are longing for an encounter with “Jesus the Nazorean,” then, in the faces of the poor and suffering, the cry of I thirst, would be transformed in our hearing to become “I AM,” name above all names. (Jn 18:1-19:42).
Listen silently in contemplation to the words “I thirst,” and you will understand the gift of this holy and glorious day that “it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured…by his stripes we were healed” (Is 53:4).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Christ is Risen!
Holy Saturday is connected to Holy Friday by the Holy Night of Easter when the “I thirst” of the cross leads the way to the holy tomb of death in anticipation of the sacred hour of the early morning of the resurrection, the glorious Alleluia of springtime. The women, mothers of the nascent Church that stood at the foot of the cross and heard the cry, “I thirst,” those who listened to the question, “Whom are you looking for?” Now, they turn their inner gaze of contemplation to the mystery of the tomb. Standing at the open door of the illumined tomb, the seekers of truth, those who long to encounter the Risen Lord, the Savior, are “amazed” to hear the good news from heavenly voice: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised” (Mk 16:1-7).
Who has ever escaped the prison of death? Who has returned from the land of the living to share about what happens beyond life? Only the victor of the cross, dying for sinners, has tested the sting of death fully and turned it into sweet medicine of new life accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bond of undying and enduring divine love of eternal life.
Woman of faith and fountains of life, rising early in the morning, in the daybreak, found the path to encounter the Risen Lord. They had a vision of hope that can penetrate the walls of death to see on the horizon of Easter Epiphany, the rising star of Pentecost, the gift of one voice, love.
We, too, pilgrims on the way to a new day of resurrection, seekers of heavenly grace, may now look forward to Easter Sunday of glory, singing the songs of saints “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!”. Open tomb is a sign that the “I thirst” on the cross has become victorious for our salvation, and there is great joy in heaven and peace on earth as a new light rises in the longing of our hearts.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Day of Gladness
Easter Sunday, the day of Resurrection of the Lord, brings full meaning to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It is a day of victory of life over death, hope over despair, joy over sorrow. The Risen Lord has opened the gates of paradise to those who believe in the gift of Redemption. The sting of the tomb loses its power to create and cause fear, for heaven has spoken, and life has emerged. The people who did not flee from the drama of salvation, those who stood on the mountain of revelation, could say with confidence: “Truly, this man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39).
The Son of God became the brightest day of all days when the splendor of love renewed life with the Holy Spirit’s spring. The Kingdom of God that the Lord announced at the beginning of his mission is Easter Sunday, the Mother of all holy days of sacrifice and praise. Today, the Church’s seed, plated on the day of the beginning of creation and nourished on the Advent to the Word of God with the living water of the cross, now bear fruits of witnesses who saw and ate with the Risen Lord.
The Church continues to magnify and sustain the blessings and gift of Easter Sunday so that those who partake of the Eucharist of Resurrection may experience the rising light of eternal life inwardly. For the faithful, a people marked by the same Spirit that removed the heavy stone standing at the door of the tomb, resurrection happens in their hearts at the hour of faith, believing in God who has found favor with us since we too are sons and daughters of Mary of joy and Joseph of hope (Jn 20:1-9).
Like the first disciples who believed in the Good News of resurrection, we must walk in the light of the Word of God. St. Paul invited us, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…then you too will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1-4).
Let us sing the song of resurrection all the days of our lives: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” in it. (Ps 118:24).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
March 22 – March 28
Do not Throw a Stone of Sin
We have all sinned and require God’s mercy and forgiveness. Sin blinds us and prevents our eyes from seeing and accepting God’s truth and love for us. Sin reduces our capacity to become the best version we could be. When evil takes root in a person’s heart, life becomes less satisfying, and a pessimistic vision of life replaces goodness present in all things.
There is a temptation to believe that others are the ones who sin except ourselves. We judge others by pointing accusing figures challenging them to change their ways. It is easy to ask others to change, but we, on the other hand, do not try to change our own evil tendencies. The moment we begin to realize that the main person who needs a change of mind and heart is ourselves, the world around us would be a better place.
Jesus has come to shine the light of the Gospel to teach us that we all need God’s help to overcome the power of sin. Without God’s help given to us by the death on the cross of His Son and the resurrection, the victory over death, we remain in the chains of the power of the evil spirit. It takes a life of humility and trust in God to acknowledge that we have sinned and need God’s help.
Easter celebration is around the corner; it is time to return to God through the path of reconciliation so that we may benefit from the Easter fruits of the gift of the light of new light of truth, the breath of the Holy Spirit, our hope for eternal life.
As we contemplate or decide whether we need God’s forgives or if it is others that require His mercy, let us take to heart this soul-searching word of Jesus Christ, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The sin of lack of Faith in Christ
The greatest sin is a failure to believe in the Son of God. Jesus came to open the way for us to know God the Father and accept His divine plan for salvation. God wants what is good for us, and that is why He is willing to offer the best, His only Son, to sacrifice His own life for redemption and freedom from the power of sin. Divine power is a gift given to all of God’s children, but it is a gift given freely; each person must be willing to accept and received it with an open and generous heart. When we doubt or reject God’s love and mercy in Christ, the effect and power of the Gospel, which can renew all things and restore life, is rendered ineffective.
The gift of the cross is the power of God’s love shining the light of healing to all who approach the wood of new life with faith in the Gospel of forgiveness. Those who seek God must look to the cross with humble and trustful hearts groaning in these words: “O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you” (Ps 102:2). On the cross, God comes to meet us in the simplicity of suffering, taking upon himself all our failures and turning them into blood and water of a new life.
With Christ as our helper in the journey of faith, we can confront any challenges that we can experience in life and transform it into a holy encounter with God. Jesus has come to prepare us for a better life that rises beyond this world. The cross is the key to eternal life, a sign of the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst. Though we still dwell on the earth, our life is made for union with God, peace with Christ, and joy in the glory of the outpouring to the Holy Spirit.
We must carry our cross of salvation every day and follow the crucified Son of God, who is our way, truth, and life. Christ promised to be with us until the end of time. Turn to Him in faith, and he will turn to you in love, the light of hope.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Witnessing Faith in Fire
Three young men are our teachers and models of how to live and witness one’s faith both in good and bad times. When they found themselves living among a people who have abandoned their faith in true God, and begin to worship humanly made gods, they chose to remain faithful and steadfast in their commitment to God of heaven. They were pressured by the king and the leaders of their land, promoters of false gods, to abandon their God, and begin to worship and offer sacrifices of praise to other deities. The faithful followers of Heavenly King were given a chance to choose between death and life, reject the Creator of heaven and earth, and embrace artificial gods. With great courage of faith, the young men stood their ground, trusting in the power of the Lord and refused to give in to the demand of sin.
How many of us can witness our faith without fear of what others around us would say? How many of us are only Christians in private but not in the public arena as well? We live in a society that needs faithful witnesses of Christ; people able to shine forth the light of the Gospel truth. Jesus has said that if we are ashamed of him in this world, he too will be ashamed of us when we before the Father on a judgment day.
Our faith in God of love who gave his Son to die on the cross for all the world should inspire us to imitate Christ in the world that seems not interested in heavenly things. Christians need to demonstrate a sign of transformation in mind, heart, and soul so that everything that they say and or do may become the living reflection of the face of Christ. When we are afraid and ashamed of our identity, as sons and daughters of God, the people we meet in the world would not be attracted to Christ who depends on our willingness to make him known to those still ignorant of his mercy and love.
Even when confronted with the fire of sin, the young men had this to say: “If our God, who we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up” ( Dn 3:14-20,91-92,95). When you are called upon to live and witness your faith in the world, what would you say?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Gift of a Holy Family
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the Feast of a holy family, patterned in heaven but took shape on earth in the form of the trinity of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. The angel of the Lord brought the good news on earth that in Mary and union with St. Joseph, God comes down into the world in humility and simplicity in a family, the backbone of life and a home of love. God could have chosen a different path to reveal Himself to the world but decided to take human flesh, share in our weakness, the darkness of sin, in order to transform us by the light of mercy and the sign of the cross into his children.
We live in an era where families face extreme oppositions, attacks by the enemy of life, love, and truth, the evil spirit. Christianity is a religion that flourishes in families that take after God’s likeness, who is a Family of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The same pattern in God is mirrored in the Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. All the families on earth find their image and model in the imitation of the holy family. The Holy Spirit that filled the hearts of Mary and Joseph enabled them to become partners in the plan of salvation, is the active force that continues to form and create families that are the domestic Church on earth.
An attack on a family is an attack on God; it is an evil plan to destroy life and disrupt the ongoing revelation of God’s love that grows and bears fruits in the believers’ families. Christians must unite with God in this age and defend and protect the dignity of life and marriage’s sanctity. God’s gifts of love and life should be planted in the young person’s heart and mind as they develop in families where they should see and learn from their parents the joy that emerges in a bond between a husband and wife.
The Annunciation of our Lord in the family, Church, and the world calls our attention to become fully aware that God is now present with us, especially where life is cherished, celebrated, protected, and loved beyond death. The Annunciation should arise in our hearts so that we too could become the true children of God, who took flesh and dwelled among us to make us glorious and luminous joy.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God in our Midst
Who do you turn to in times of difficulties and challenges that life brings along? There are certain questions about life that answers could emerge from human discoveries, science, and technology, but at the same time, there are things of the spirit and eternal life that we should learn to see with God’s eye. We, too, can learn from the psalmist and say, “In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice” (Ps 18: 7). Only God, through Christ and in the gift of the Holy Spirit, can help us to see the things of heaven while we are still pilgrims on the earth.
In the Scripture, we notice that the people wanted to stone Jesus for showing them the way to the Father. They could not believe or accept that God could work in a simple, ordinary, and familiar person whom they knew his background and family. According to their human standard, his humble origin disqualified him from becoming a source or an instrument of God. God was present amid the people through the Son incarnate, but the people with stony hearts chose to remain blind to the truth and rejected to have an encounter with God. It is a human weakness to have a preconceived idea of who God should be for us, and anything that does not fit that criterion is rejected. Our God is a God of surprises who reveals His face in seemingly ordinary places that sometimes we do not regard, as necessary.
Many do not believe in Christ because of the path he showed us the way of God, the cross. We, too, like the people of Jesus’ time, say: “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Despite rejecting the Lord, he still requested them, saying, “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:31-42).
In fact, the Lord we seek outside is already dwelling in the hearts of believers; all we need is to learn to have an inner eye of faith and a spirit capable of believing in the mystery of love.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Feast of Unity
Jesus threatened the leaders of his time since many people believed his message and were turning their lives around, becoming his followers. The leaders were afraid that they might become relevant and lose power, so they conspired to destroy, kill Jesus. They thought that by killing the Lord, the message that he propagated would die as well, but they were wrong because no one can silence the light of truth. Even in times of darkness, the light still shines brightly for those who have the eyes of faith to see the things of God.
They wondered if Jesus would come to the Feast of the Passover so that they may have an opportunity to fulfill their evil intention to eliminate light with darkness. Jesus is the center and the embodiment of the feast of freedom. He is the one who has come to reconcile all people with God the Father. In him, there is unity because, by the blood of the cross, he binds the wound that has kept the people of God from participating worthily in the heavenly banquet on earth, the Passover of salvation.
Are we part of the fearful leaders who are afraid of the light of Christ? Or are we the ones who have discovered in him the mercy of salvation and have given our lives to following him? The journey of Lent is almost coming to its climax. How have you walked along the path of purification? If you look back since the start of the 40 days of being with the Lord in the desert of prayer, charity, and fasting, would you say that your heart is now made pure and ready to celebrate the Easter Feast of life over death?
Christ, the King is coming into your city and your life. Would you receive him with an open heart so that he may come into your house and feast with you? Do not be afraid to welcome the Lord into your home since he brings blessings of healing, unity, and joy into your life.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Servant King
Today is Palm Sunday celebrating Jesus as the awaited King who has come to save humankind. Many people were disappointed with Jesus, who did not come with great power to fight and overthrow other oppressive leaders and kings; instead, he appeared as a servant king. Jesus introduced a new form of kingship whereby instead of waiting for others to serve him, he became the one who serves others, humble and friend of the poor and of those treated unjustly.
Jesus is indeed the King of heaven and earth, but his kingdom is not of this earth of eternal life. The Lord came to overcome the power of sin by his gift of life on the cross so that we may all be reconciled with God. Jesus did not come on earth to become the solution to our human problems, which the world can resolve. Jesus announced and made present the love and mercy of God the Father to all. He is the light of the truth that opens the path of justice, peace, and joy.
The kinship of Jesus Christ comes clear only after his death on the cross and resurrection. Those who have shared in the suffering of the cross and partake worthily of the table sacrifice of resurrection are given the eyes of faith to see the victory of the King of heaven and earth. To accept Jesus as our King is to acknowledge him as our savior and the Son of God. It is not enough to believe in him without also beginning to practice his message of love for God and neighbor.
Palm can be a symbol that teaches us how to be like Christ in our journey of faith. We too can learn from him how to pray, to call God Abba, Father, to love God and others with all our hearts, mind, and soul, and to have Mary as our Mother who tells us “do whatever he tells you. He is the King of our hearts.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
March 15 – March 21
Miracle of Love
Jesus did many signs and miracles to reveal his power and to help people to come to faith. Despite these miracles, there are still many who did not change their lives and follow him. Many of his own relatives and those who saw him growing up in a humble family of Mary and Joseph could not accept him as the Messiah coming to save the world. In fact, many became offended by him for saying that he was the Savior of the Word. As a sign to indicate that they did not care about his miracles, some of them only felt entertained and asked for more magic performances. The Lord said that a prophet is not accepted in his own nation, among his own people.
People from other regions received the Lord, saw his miracles and signs as God’s work, and came to faith. Many faithful received God’s blessings in response to their trust in Jesus Christ. The purpose of the miracles was to lead people to see the power of God, and to open their hearts, and inspire them to acts of faith. The acts of charity, mercy, and healing were meant to lead people to seek repentance and begin to walk in the ways of the Lord.
Even now, Jesus continues to do many miracles in people’s lives, but many do not feel moved by them to become Christians. Life itself is a miracle of which we should be grateful to God. There are millions globally who cannot afford even one meal a day, and especially during the Coronavirus, the number of those in dire need keeps increasing everyday. Many of us are lucky to have three meals a day, and to me, this is a miracle that we should give thanks to God.
The perfect miracle is to know that God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son to die on the cross to save the lost. God’s love for us is the greatest miracle that provides us with a reason to live today, knowing that we look forward to a final union with him in eternity.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Healed by God
Jesus was so generous with his gifts of healing. He healed both the people he knew and also strangers. In fact, The Lord did most of his miracles to strangers. For the Lord, anyone in need was not a stranger at all but a child of God who needed God’s mercy and compassion. The Lord did not always wait for people to ask for a sign but gave it out freely since he knew the people’s pain, and he shared in their agony. He had a caring and compassionate heart and only wanted what was good for everyone. Indeed, his blessings and love were meant for everyone unless the people themselves refused the offer of caring and mercy.
Today we see him healing a man who had been sick for more than 30 years, waiting for someone to help him but could not find a kind and gentle heart and hand. Jesus came along and, on seeing him, offered him a gift of healing. Each day provides us with an opportunity to do something good. The leaders of the people were not happy with Jesus since he healed someone on a sabbath day. Jesus used the occasion to teach us that service to God’s people should occur every day where a need has been identified. Sometimes it is easy to be rigid in our ways and limit our capacity to reach out to others in need. Whatever we do to others in the service of God will be rewarded with blessings, so we should always look for opportunities to do something nice for a person or to others. It brings great joy in heaven when one person is made happy on earth.
Serving God also calls us to walk always in the light. The disciples of Christ are now the temple of God and should remain faithful to the law of love of God and neighbor. Sin destroys our relationship with God and others and should be avoided since it can weaken our life of faith and lead to death. God invites us to return to him for reconciliation if we sinned. Still, we are advised to try with the Holy Spirit’s help not to make it a hobby and habit to sin again and again, or else something terrible may happen to us.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Hope in the Lord
Life is full of struggles and challenges. Jesus went through this path of suffering on the cross so that those who follow him may realize that they are not alone, that the Lord is with them. The darkness and suffering that the world is experiencing are because of the power of the Evil Spirit working against God’s people, trying to mislead them from embracing and following the way of truth and love. God has shown his great love for humanity by sending his only beloved Son to die on the cross so that to lead us to freedom, justice, peace, unity, and joy.
The cross that Jesus embraced in order to overcome the power of sin is now our path and ticket to heaven. When Christ is part of the challenges of faith that we all experience in our journey to eternal life, the power of the evil spirit is made ineffective by the effective blood of Christ, our assured cup for salvation. Each of us should always be awake and ready to face the cross that life brings but knowing that our hope of success relies on trusting in the Lord and seeking his helping hand.
Sometimes the darkness of the power of the evil one, the master of death, maybe so scary and overwhelming to the point of doubting if God is still there to help us. The Lord assures us with these words of encouragement and faith: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” The Lord affirms his care, faithfulness, and compassion to us, saying, ‘Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Is 49:8-15). Our hope is in the Lord who is gracious and merciful” (Ps 14: 8).
Turn to the Lord in times of need, and he will save you. Do not give the Evil Sprit a chance to take you away from the love of God, the light of truth. Seek the Lord while it is a day, for the night is approaching in haste and will consume all who do not hold on to the Son of Mary and Joseph.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Israelites had wavering faith in God and Moses despite witnessing great signs and wonders that the Almighty accomplished through his servant in Egypt. In a time of need, people forgot to turn their trust and prayed to God, who had promised to lead them to a land full of honey and peace. The people did not expect the journey to the promised land to be challenging. For this reason, their patience was tested. They became doubtful if God was indeed going to fulfill what He had promised through Moses.
When Moses went to the mountain to receive God’s commandments, he was away for forty days and nights, and the people became worried and thought that he was not coming back. While in slavery, the people become familiar with the Egyptian gods, and sometimes, they worship these handmade deities. Without Moses to direct their path to the one true God, the temptation was strong, and they decided to make gods for themselves like Egyptians to worship, hoping that he would be a god to respond to their needs.
God was not happy with the people after they made a god for themselves, forgetting the true God who had been fighting for them. God wanted to destroy them because of their sin, but Moses pleaded with Him to save them, to forgive them. It is a problem each of us experiences in a time of challenges to question one’s faith and sometimes doubt God if He is truly there to help. It is easy to turn to created things or believe that science holds a solution to all things instead of God and then prioritizes other things rather than God.
We can say that we are developed and cannot worship created things as if they are God, but we always do not put God first in our lives. We may not realize, but when God is not our number one in all things, then we too have started to worship other things as if they are the God of heaven and earth. We are called to do all things for the glory of God, trusting that no matter the situation we find ourselves in that he will not forget us.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Joseph the Dreamer
The year 2021 is dedicated to our Father in hope, Saint Joseph the dreamer, Mary’s husband, and protector of Jesus. Joseph, from the family of David, the King of Israel, was prepared by God inwardly to become the king, a servant of God who does his will in all things. He had a gift to see the vision of salvation, dreaming for a day when God would come to take flesh in the world through the womb of Mary, our Lady of faith.
Saint Joseph, the dreamer, teaches us that God is active in human life even when one goes to sleep. Saint Joseph, who seems to have received most of his vision of salvation from God when he was asleep, reminds us that there are many ways how God can reveal his face and plan to humanity. It is not only the written word that can speak to us the plan of God. Creation also is a natural book that reveals to us the goodness and beauty of God. And in St. Joseph, we understand that our spirit does not go to sleep when our bodies rest but remain connected to God.
We read that when “Joseph awoke” from sleep and dream, he did as God had instructed him, taking Mary and Jesus into his home, creating a holy family on earth, which is the model of every Christian family on earth. The word “awoke” carries depth and is not just waking from regular sleep, but instead is talking about faith realization, becoming aware of the power of God in play in one’s life, and responding in trust to the message. St. Joseph is a role model to all of us, teaching us how to become obedient to the will of God.
What St. Joseph did, doing the will of God, acting on the word of God putting it into practice, is the same advice that Mary gave the disciples at the Cana wedding, “Do whatever he tells you.” As we celebrate St. Joseph, our light of hope in a time of darkness and death, we too must ask ourselves if we are fully awake to the promptings of the Holy Spirit guiding us to the way of eternal life. If not, then we can ask St. Joseph and Mary to intercede for us to become awake to the light of God’s love given to us in Christ Jesus to make us beloved sons and daughters of the Father.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Agents of Goodness
Faith comes to us through the seed of the word of God planted in the hearts of believers. Any seed can become more and more and produce life to benefit the bearer and all people of goodwill. Christians have become the living word of God, a gift of Christ waiting to be revealed to the world through the witness of faith. How do we increase the power of the word of God planted in us? When Christians are afraid to share their faith with others, they limit God’s ability to speak to all those who seek His face.
The Lord said, “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance” (Lk 8:15). Christians have a calling to be partners of Christ in his mission to make the mercy of the Father reach out to all who are still living in the darkness of sin. How are we generous by the word of God? It is not enough to know about God and fail to share that knowledge with others. When we share the Gospel with others, we too find an opportunity to grow and mature in our relationship with God and neighbor.
Each of us, wherever we find ourselves, can transform that vicinity by lighting the fire of love through the act of charity, kindness, generosity, and mercy. We can choose to be agents of a positive vibe, especially when we are with others who always like to concentrate and amplify negative things in life and things. The seed of goodness is present in creation since the Creator is perfect goodness. So, it is our responsibility to be like our Father and bring out the good even in times of darkness. When you begin to hold on to what is good in others, people around you would as well discover the good in you.
Mother Theresa has advised us that in a place where there is no sign of goodness, we must be the face of the goodness that we desire to see.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
“We want to See Jesus”
Christianity on earth should be about leading people to see and encounter Jesus. It is Jesus who has come to lead all people to the Father through the way of the cross. Jesus has said that no one goes to the Father except through him. How are we involved in the work of leading others to Christ? Every disciple should also do the same work that the Lord did on earth, to seek the lost and bring them to God.
What must one do to meet Christ? We cannot come to Christ alone without someone helping us. The Church is the path on earth to heaven that people must join and form a family of God. Through the gift and power of graces that we get in the Church’s sacraments, Christ continues to meet us. The essential Sacraments that open the door to Christ are the Sacraments of penance and the Eucharist, which we all need in this time of Lent in preparation to the celebrate of Easter Feast.
Sin is the wall that prevents us from entering in the presence of God and share in his life. Jesus is ready to receive us back and forgive our sins. Without being set free from sin, no one can participate fully in the life of God since God is holy and does not dwell in a place infected with sin. Jesus gave his life to heal our wounds of sin, and we should take advantage right now when there is time not to miss the opportunity to be received at the table of God.
We cannot worship alone. We need a community of believers to share in the liturgy of salvation. The heavens open when the faithful gather in prayer to receive blessings, and God responds to those who call on Him with a sincere heart. Jesus has said that where two or three are gathered in my name, am there in their midst.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
March 8 – March 14
Christ the Healer
Naaman, a great and successful warrior of his time, excelled in life and was respected and honored by his countrymen. Despite his notable accomplishment in life, the man was ravaged by leprosy. He could defeat enemies of his nation, but one powerful adversary, leprosy, consumed his flesh, disfigured his face, and lowered his self-esteem and pride. He desired to be well and could have paid anything of great value to anyone with the magic to restore him to good health (2 Kgs 5:1-15).
It is so ironic that what a great solder could not battle was conquered by a little girl of faith, a prisoner and servant daughter of Israel. The girl was taken by force from her land of origin and home 0f worshiping true God. Her captors were unable to erase the love of God from her heart. She trusted and believed in the God of her people. She was not letting the influence of another culture of a people who worshiped other deities blind her eyes of faith and obedient to the divine law. Even under pressure, she could not succumb to the temptation of imitating their sinful life. She was not afraid to share her faith with her human masters.
When Naaman listened to the little but truth-filled voice of this girl, and when he obeyed the advice, and when he put into practice the command of the prophet of God, he was healed, purified of his illness. We, too, are the Naaman of this age; we deal with spiritual leprosy, we are not entirely at peace within our hearts and need healing.
Jesus came to be our healing from the leprosy of sin. His message is: “repent and believe in the Gospel.” How many of you are willing to listen to the voice of God calling you everyday to a life of reconciliation? God instructs you to listen to Jesus since he is the cure of all our weakness. Healing happens when we accept being humbled before God and putting into practice his message. Mary, our Mother, has never stopped advising us, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Come Back Home
It is never too late to return to God. Each one of us goes through trials and challenging moments in life when faith is put to the test. Human beings can change depending on the circumstances they experience at each moment in time. One thing for sure is that God does not change, He is merciful to those who seek forgiveness, and He shows pity to all who cried to Him with a sincere heart. All of us have sinned and need God’s help to restore us to His dwelling place of peace.
Jesus came to accomplish the plan of salvation, the mission of redemption, and the work of setting all the captives free from the yoke of sin. Once sin finds its way within our lives, it cannot leave easily without a fight, a war that only Jesus in an offering of the cross could realize for us. Our freedom from the grasp of the Evil One did not come cheaply, but it costed the life of the only beloved son of God. When we returned to our old ways of sin after being purified by the water of new life and made whole by the Spirit of resurrection, we are the ones who continue to nail the Lord on the cross.
God does not give up on us even when we deny him. His message is constant, a call to a change of mind, an invitation to have a gentle and humble heart, and a glorious moment to lift one’s soul to heaven in thanksgiving and praise to the Father. The right time to return to God is this moment when we hear his voice reaching out to us in love, kindness, and humility. God’s message to each of us is, “Even now…return to me with your whole hearts; for I am gracious and merciful” (Jl 2:12-13). Do not delay your response to God’s offer of love, peace, and joy.
Lent is the appropriate time to turn around and come back home, where the Father waits patiently and faithfully to accept us back. What is holding you back today from giving your life entirely to God? Offering your struggles and in return, He will provide you with His Son who has promised to help us in our journey of faith.
Passing on the Faith
Moses, the servant of God, was chosen to lead and guide the Israelites from slavery to freedom. After uprooted forcefully from the land of their inheritance and taken to Egypt to live as slaves in oppression, the people of God could not hear and trust the word of God that had been the apple of their eyes. Living amongst unholy people, a people who worship other gods, is a threat to keeping pure God’s culture. It was not an easy thing for the people of God to continue practicing their faith in a foreign land in the same manner they had done before being matched to paganism.
As a result of the attraction to the riches of Egypt, the hearts and minds of the people were becoming deaf to God. They were tempted to imitate the ways of life of their conquerors. When Moses arrived at the scene to lead his people to freedom, many of them had already lost trust in the word and power of God. It was upon Moses to reintroduce and teach the word of the Lord, words that should find a home in the people’s hearts.
The people of this age also face similar challenges that Israelites dealt with, temptations and allure to sin. Christians, the adopted sons and daughters of God, a people living on earth with those who are not believers, are faced with a dilemma of knowing how to remain faithful to God’s ways and at the same time fit in the civil society. Christians are the light of the world and are called to shine forth the truth that can overcome the power of darkness that keeps many blind and deaf and stops them from encountering Christ, who is present in the world.
The command that Moses gave his people is the same for us today. The faithful’s mission is to listen to the voice of Christ, keep the message pure and holy in their hearts as the guiding principle of all that they do. The truth of the Gospel that opens them to God’s plan should be passed to a new generation.
The Lord warned us, “take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live but teach them your children and to your children’s children” (Dt 4: 1, 5-9).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Listen to the Voice of God
Two Sundays ago, we heard the voice of God on the mountain of transfiguration saying to us, “this is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Today we hear God describes our generation. He says, “This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech” (Jer 7: 23-28). Many voices surround us. How do we know the right and truthful voice to listen to and follow? God, who created us by the word of life, placed within our heart a longing ear that seeks his truth. Only when we train our mind, heart, and soul to hear God would we be at peace.
Human nature is quick to hear and follow other human voices, but the word of life comes from God’s mouth they detest. We have inherited a heart of stone from our fathers in sin, and even now, we are still rebellious to the call of love and mercy. Refusing to seek God’s voice and live according to his law of love and charity is the primary cause of many world problems. God brings us light to help us see all things clearly in their authentic nature, but when we remain blind to his light, then we follow the way of darkness.
There is hope for those who seek God’s path with hearts and minds made pure. God is forgiving and merciful and would like to heal our divisions and restore us to his care and protection. How would you give your life to God today? Even today, he says, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:8). Please do not delay your decision to open your heart for the gift of salvation since we live in a very dark and precarious time.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Healed by love
The world offers us many alternative paths to life, and those who abide by its laws are blind and deaf to the way that God has set before us. There is only one path to God, Jesus Christ. The Lord says, to us, “I am the way, truth, and life…and no one goes to the Father except through me. The different life paths that the world presents to us cannot open the door of eternal life that we are created to vision as our goal.
The law of life, the path of goodness that can lead us to peace and bring meaning, is the one that Jesus speaks cultivate. He says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your hearts, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:28-34). Despite many laws that the world has created, all the laws, rules, and commandments lose meaning if they are not directed toward realizing the perfect and mother of all precepts, the law of love. God, who is love, made us from the outpouring of the richness of his love so that we too may become like him in all things, putting on the image of charity.
The law of love for God and neighbor is what Jesus stood for, and it is the gift of grace that he left us to embrace so that those who see how we care and treat others with the hands of goodness and compassion may be touched and choose God as the light of their life.
Even though human beings are not always faithful to God’s ways for salvation, the Lord, on the other hand, is constant in his love for humanity. The Lord says, “I will heal their defection…I will love them freely.” And “because of me you bear fruit!” of life eternal (Hos 14:2-10). Love is therapeutic and has the power to heal the sin of division and restore hearts to the joy of heaven, the crown of the glory of God.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Humility of Salvation
Humility and acknowledgment of one’s sin is the key to heaven. Jesus came to save sinners. All of us have seen in the eyes of God and require God’s intervention, help, and a gift of healing mercy. No one can claim that they are saved or set free from the power of sin by their own success and power. Sin injects in our hearts a spiritual virus that corrupts every component of our life. Once the poison of sin has infected us, everything becomes paralyzed within ourselves, and we become rebellious to God’s ways of life. It needs an intervention of the Spirit of Jesus Christ on the cross to overcome the power of the Evil Spirit in our hearts.
The humble and meek of heart approach God in tears saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18:9-14). The effect of the forgiveness of sin happens in a person’s life when they begin to accept that they have sinned. There is no forgiveness of sin to a heart that is prideful, a heart that thinks that God owes them some favor or rewards because of anything they might have accomplished in life as an atonement of their sinful life. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can purify the lives of all people. Jesus has brought us the offering of forgiveness once and for all, but we must accept him in our lives and begin to walk with Him in faith. We must also imitate in real life Christ’s humility and obedience to the Father.
Lent is a time to decide who we want to worship and imitate in life. Are you going to choose the ways of the world or chose Christ who loves us to the point of death on the cross? The wise would take to heart this advice of Prophet Hosea. He said, “Come, let us return to the Lord, it is he who rent, but he will heal us… For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:1-6).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Salvation work of Love
Ina creative work of goodness, God reveals himself in creation as the artist of perfect beauty. In the Book of Genesis, God brought into being all things within six days, establishing order and design that everything must emerge. In the Creator’s plan, instead of making things chaotically, he organized everything precisely in a pattern that flowed from the fount of His intelligence. By assigning a particular day and space to every being, the Creator communicated the depth of His intention to reveal the truth that every being is valuable in His eyes and deserves recognition, respect, and care, and protection.
There is a direction in creation, six paths that lead to one central point, to the seventh day, a holy day for rest. Creation is in motion, moving towards the day of God, the day of communion, of entering the bond of community and sharing of gifts and offering that each one brings to the table of praise and thanksgiving. God, who created things on earth, also made heaven. The seventh day is a day set aside for heaven and earth to unite. The seventh day is a time for creation to worship, celebrate, and adore with eyes gazing at the heart of God, having “heart-to-heart conversation. The seventh day is the source of the breath of life and meaning that can sustain and direct each of the six-day paths and bring the connection to heaven.
God, who created all things, is still active globally, leading all things to perfection. Jesus has called us to aim higher, to be holy as our heavenly Father is Holy. The path to holiness is realized by keeping in mind what St Paul teaches us. He said, “We are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” (Eph 4:2-10). We are God’s partners in creation when we learn to do all things for the glory of His praise and thanksgiving. Creation offers a sacrifice of goodness and beauty that adorns heaven with joy and earth with peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
March 1 – March 7
Called to be Merciful
God is kindness, compassion, mercy-a gift of self-love to those who seek him with sincere, contrite, and humble hearts. His nature is to seek the lost in sin and invite them back home into His care and protection. He sends many servants to speak to our hearts the words of hope, healing, and freedom (Dn 9:4-10). He even sends his own Son hoping that the world’s people would listen to him and follow the way that he offers to them, a path of salvation.
The people of the world have always responded to God’s invitation and kindness with closed hearts, rejecting the way of light and choosing to remain in the depth of darkness of sin. An encounter with the Gospel is an experience that inspires an action that calls for a change of life, leaving behind old ways of doing things and acquiring Christ’s manner of life. It is not always easy to embrace a life of change, especially the one offered to us by God, including carrying the cross of Christ. The world tends to provide us with an alternative to the cross, which is to believe only in oneself and rejecting any suggestion that calls us to give ourselves selflessly to others in sacrifice for the greater glory of unity.
God created us to be with him always and image His likeness of justice, love, and forgiveness on earth by our manner of charity and kindness to all people. We should remember that what we refuse to offer those in need of compassion, we likewise deny ourselves. Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…Give and gifts will be given to you…For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Lk 6:36-38).
What can we do differently during this Lenten Season so that to be like our Father, who is mercy and love? Pope Francis teaches us what we can do to benefit from the gift of Lent. He says, “Lent is a desert. It is a time to give up soothing, to distance ourselves from mobiles, and connect to the Gospel. It is the time to give up useless words, gossip, and slander and talk to and be informal with the Lord. It is the time to dedicate ourselves to a healthy ecology of the heart, to cleanse it” through charity, penance, and prayer.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God the Teacher
God speaks to us His message through the ministers of the Gospel. The faithful desire to encounter preachers who are close to the heart of God, who believe what they preach, and witness what they believe. Preaching for a servant of God should not come to an end when Mas is over; instead, it should continue in the world’s pulpit where the Word takes flesh in the preacher and shines forth in people’s lives. The people of God look to their priests, hoping that they will continue to learn from them how to live the Gospel every day effectively. The faithful become disappointed when their ministers do not embrace the Gospel message and fail to be the light of truth-Christ on earth.
Jesus has warned the faithful to be aware that not all who preach the Word of God practice it. Jesus asks his disciples to rise above the minister’s limitations and weaknesses and hear the voice of God able to penetrate all the hearts with the Spirit of love. Jesus has promised to send us the Spirit of truth to help us in our journey of faith. So, it is not enough reason to abandon the faith and not practice the good news of salvation just because the ministers and custodians of the things of heaven on earth have failed in their work.
Each person, both the laity and ordained minister, will have to account before God how they lived their faith on earth. Strive to enter the Kingdom of God and do not allow the failure of others to become a stumbling block. Jesus says, “The scribes and the Pharisees (And preacher) have taken their seats on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example… The greatest among you must be your servant” (Mt 23: 1-12)
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Joy of the Cross
God reaches out to us through His Word communicated by the lips of preachers. The ones called by God to be His messengers and instruments of the Gospel of unity serve at the master’s directive. The word ministers are not people who formulate messages that they then share with God’s people. God speaks to them and commands them to bring the good news of salvation to all. St. John the Baptist understood it better and said: “I must decrease, and Christ must increase.” It should be every preacher’s goal that when preaching is done, they may get out of the way to allow people to encounter Christ in their hearts and lives.
Preaching the Gospel of change and transformation is a challenge for the preacher and the people who receive the message. Not everyone who hears the word of God is going to welcome it with an open mind and heart. Jesus warns that just the same way He was rejected, the ministers of the present age likewise will face the same mistreatment. The Lord says, “My chalice, you will indeed drink” the cross of contradiction will find rest on your shoulder.
Those who serve the Lord and the ones who accept His message will receive the reward of the crown of eternal life. Peace and rest await those who have served God faithfully, but for now, all are pilgrims and must look to heaven with the eyes of hope. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to help believers in the journey of faith.
Those who remain faithful in their service to the Kingdom of God even in times of challenges are the living face of Christ on earth. The faithful who keep the fire of the Gospel ablaze, their struggles and commitment to faith are pleasing to God as they witness to those who need help. Christians can face any challenges that they confront in life because their hope is built on this foundation: “I am the light of the world…whoever follows me will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God of Simplicity
As you live your life on earth, do you stop amid chaos, challenges, and struggles of everyday situations to reflect on these questions: Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? How should I relate with other people who also occupy this earth? What must I do to live my life on earth according to the plan of the creator? Human beings are living questions. We are always trying to make sense of life around us, and at the same time, to understand its ultimate purpose. Life stops having meaning when we stop searching for deeper truths by looking beyond the superficial visible aspects of things.
In order to understand who, we are and live our lives according to the plan of God, we must relearn to return to our childhood state of life. As children, we had eyes that could see the simplicity of things. We had the eyes to look beyond the visible things and touch the invisible, the hidden, the mystery. Children are aware of their surroundings and are curious to know the meaning of things since they are humble by nature, acknowledging that they still have room to learn new things.
Faith calls us to become children of God, to learn from Him how to see the world around us. To recognize others around us that they too are sons and daughters of God and should relate with them as people who bear the goodness of God. At the end of life, each of us will come before the light of truth to account how we had related with others, at the same time, how we had used the resources that God gave us to serve His people.
The rich man who did not have time to extend his hands of love and charity to the poor Lazarus resembles the life of many of us who are busy in life and fail to see the cry of a brother or sister in need. We will be judged by how we were aware of our surroundings and what actions we took, either individually or as a group, to relive the pain and suffering of others. God whom we seek comes to meet us in the suffering of others, stop to look around, and you will see Lazarus of our present age: hungry, stranger, poor, sick, and an orphan (Lk 16:19-31).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Work for life
The earth was created good by God, who is all perfect. He created all things to shine forth his goodness. He created things to become means of unity, to add value to others’ lives by practicing the principle of sharing our unique gifts and talents. We ask what went wrong in our world since we barely see signs of goodness in our society, full of evil. What seems to rule our planet is the darkness of competition, hatred, suspicion of each other.
The world has become more like a factory of death. Now, a nation and a people measure their strength and power by their capacity to destroy life and overuse created things. In the process of killing and decimating each other, we become blind to the true reality of things, not being aware that we can only survive when we remain connected with each other and with every being. Elimination of other members of God’s creation is a disadvantage for each of us because our life cannot be complete without uniting with other beings. We all need the contribution of every being so that what is lacking in one can be supplied by the other member of God’s creation. There is a design, a plan in creation established by God that we are not supposed to move away from or change. We are called to conform our lives to the life of the Creator, who is life and not death.
The Evil Spirit has created a culture of death globally, and many innocent souls are destroyed day and night. Their tears reach the heart of God, and their pain robs us of an opportunity to receive blessings from God. When a society is not bothered when innocent souls are cut short, when life is not valued, they have lost a sense of direction.
How can we be protectors and custodians of life? We must not forget this fact: “Remember the marvels the Lord has done for you” (Ps 105:5). The world can be transformed by returning to God and acknowledging Him in life as the source of love, the gift of the cross of new life.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God’s kindness and compassion are limitless. He welcomes sinners, forgives them, and dine with them at one table. God leaves the door of reconciliation open for anyone who chooses freely to return home. God created us to remain in His presence, to share in grace, and become partners in the work of salvation. But due to our human weakness, the sin of the flesh, we continuously move away from God to seek our own path. When we are separated from God, who is the source of life, then we begin to wilt within our hearts, stop seeing the light of truth, and lose the meaning of life.
Healing happens when we return to our clear senses like the prodigal son who left home, leaving his father, abandoning the family that loved him to venture into a strange world searching for worldly pleasure and satisfaction. God is merciful, always waiting that each of us will realize what H has done for humanity, loving us so much to accept us as His beloved children. He gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so that we may live. Jesus gave his life on the cross as a gift of salvation for all people. Even before we accepted the Lord into our lives, God already accepted us. Salvation is a gift of grace and love that no one has a claim about but should be received with humility of heart. Christians and non-believers have an equal share in the cross.
Salvation is completed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but its full effect is yet to be accepted by everyone. The work of the Church is to invite everyone to share in the life of Jesus Christ. God does not want any of His children to be lost, but He let each of us decide if we want Him to be our Father, to return home under His care, guide, and protection. To return home under the roof of God is to do His will in all things, to serve him by letting others know of redemptive love that sets us free from the chains of sin.
God calls you today to return home. What would you say? Remember that there is greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repented than over 99 people who do not need repentance. Repent and bring joy to heaven and peace to your heart and justice into the world.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Serve One God
There is only One God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God, who is One, reveals Himself through creation as the Creator who works for six days and then rests on the seventh day, a holy day. God created everything so that His goodness and beauty may shine through as they come together in sharing their uniqueness and bring fulfillment of life. God continues to unveil the hidden treasures of creation by working in union and collaboration with human beings. The genius artwork of God emerges from creation when humanity continues to honor and acknowledge Him as the source and summit of all things.
Creation is made to offer praise and worship to God. The seventh day is a day for God when all the members of God’s creation should dedicate themselves entirely to serve God and thank Him for the wonders of His creation, for the gift of the breath of life and care for creation. God is active in the life of all things, especially during worship time; the Lord continues to renew all things and make them worthy of His praise and revelation. When human beings refuse to return to the source of all things and offer Him a sacrifice of praise, they begin to lose the generous gift of grace, divine life. Without the breath of God, whatever is made by human hands and intelligence, may appear to be technologically advanced, but, on its own accord, it cannot improve the quality of inner life, which comes only from the Creator. Human art of work must bow before God at the altar of sacrifice to receive a heavenly seal of divine goodness so that the Spirit of the Almighty may continue to shine and rise forth from creation.
For the Catholics, Sunday Celebration is when we renew our identity as children born of water and Holy Spirit. The Eucharistic celebration enables believers to share in the resurrection of Christ so that they may dwell in the kingdom of heaven while still pilgrims on the earth. The Cross of new life enables the faithful to live and work for the kingdom of God, doing all things for the glory of heaven.
The perfect work of men and women on earth is to do the will of God, to lead others to Christ, to announce the presence of the kingdom of the forgives of sin, and to serve the poor and work for unity and peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
February 22 – February 28
The Chair and Crown of Glory
The Chair of Saint Peter is a leadership position, a servant of Christ who seeks the lost sheep and guides them back home to Jesus Christ who is love, care, and abundant mercy. The throne of St. Peter, now occupied by Pope Francis, is not a place of power to dominate; instead, it is a sign of humility and obedience to God’s will to do all things for the glory of God. It is the Chair where the servant of the poor in spirit cries out, saying: “Christ must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30)
The Holy Chair is the seat of the city on the mountain, a place of greater vision, is a place of “witness to the suffering of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed” (1 Pt 5: 1-4). Celebrating the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter during Lenten journey to the Paschal joy of resurrection reminds us that we need Christ’s help. No one is saved alone. We need help from our brothers and sisters in faith. We, too, must become agents of justice sharing in the suffering of the little ones. Serving the most vulnerable in our society through acts of charity raises us to the foot of the cross- “thrown of glory.”
From the Chair of salvation, the Chief Shepherd “tends the flock of God” with cats of love in response to the master’s question, “Do you love me more than these?” (Jn 21:15). In love, a witness of justice and forgiveness, we receive the grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit, a transformation to become the living signs of the active presence of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Christian’s mission of faith should be about praying for Pope Francis, asking God to protect him and give him abundant wisdom to serve the Holy Church with great devotion to our Mother of peace-Mary of life, and our father in hope, St. Joseph of humility-a protector and master of holy silence.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Return to God of Mercy
Lent is a time to return to God after keeping our distance from him. The nice thing is that God seeks us first before we even think about Him. He is merciful, faithful, and generous to all who approach him with humility and a pure heart. He wants what is good for us since without him as the light of our journey; we become blind to the truth of life. In fact, to be away from God is the beginning of an experience of spiritual drought that can ultimately lead to death. God is life, and those who yearn for a life full of meaning and purpose can find it in union with Him.
To grow in our relationship with God, we must try to desire to know Him. The way we come to know God is by being familiar with his message contained in the Scriptures. It means that one must develop a culture of reading, reflecting, and meditating on the Word of God. The Catholic Church has a system whereby you can access daily readings designed to take only a few minutes to go through in prayer. Daily readings are the energy we need to give us strength for life to confront many challenges that await us in the world. The word of God is a breath of new life that makes each day unique and beautiful, for God seeks to speak to our hearts in a fresh creative manner that makes all things attractive.
It is not easy to hear the voice of God when we approach him with an unclean heart. Repentance and reconciliation with God open the door to his presence. Lent is the time when we seek God with a humble heart and come to our Father, who is love. If we want God to forgive us, we, too, must be willing to forgive others. God cannot give us what we are not willing to share with others.
As you approach God today, cry to him that may be merciful to you. Listen and take to heart his words: “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:7-15).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God of Many Chances
God does not give up on us. Even when we decide to walk away from him, He remains within reach, enticing us, shining his light of love so that we may see and understand the entire plan of our life. Our life is like building a house. It needs an architectural plan before beginning any construction. Once you have the design, then as you give shape to your dream house, you must conform to the original plan since failure to do so means that the entire structure may crumble. God is the artist of life who creates a perfect design that every life must emerge. When people refuse the form of life that God has put in place, we build ourselves on a weak foundation that cannot withstand the challenges in life. We can correct the mistake of not including the Master planner, God, in the story of our lives. He is the main actor and director of all things, who teaches us how to live effectively and prosper.
When Jonah ignored God’s call, the Lord did not give up on him. The reading tells us that God is persistent: “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (Jon 3:1-10). God is not like human beings who sometimes fail to give others a second chance. God is generous with his time; He offers a second chance and many more to eternity. He is a loving Father who does not count how many times He has forgiven us. Each time we ask him to be merciful, it always becomes the beginning of a new experience of peace and joy.
We can do so many things as a sign of our faith in God. But what Jesus seeks most in us is this, “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps 51:19). Our acts of service to charity should spring from the heart, should be about genuine obedience to the will of God. God looks at the heart, and He loves a sincere person who does all things for the glory of heaven.
Now is the best time to return to God. The Lord calls: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart for I am gracious and merciful” (Jl 2:12-13). What is preventing you from giving yourself entirely to God of love and mercy?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Language of God
Prayer is the language of God. People build a relationship by relating with one another through communication. To grow in friendship with others, we must know the language they speak. God also wants to connect with us, build a family, create a fellowship of trust, understanding, and partnership. The language that Jesus taught us to use to communicate with the Father in prayer. There are many forms of worship but what remains constant is that it must be about sharing the love of God.
Prayer is not just about telling God the things we want him to do for us in life. There is nothing wrong with coming to God with a long list of what we want him to do for us, but we should try to deepen our relationship with him. We should come to him both in good and bad times. It does not have to be about asking for things, but also to give him praise, to adore, to thank him, to bless him, to love him. Authentic prayer comes from a sincere, faithful, and obedient heart. The perfect place to offer prayer is in the shrine of our hearts because God in Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, now dwells within the faithful. We, the baptized and anointed with the Holy Spirit, have become the dwelling and temple of God on earth.
We do not have to seek God outside but should return within ourselves to experience him in the Spirit and truth. Prayer is the work of the Spirit within us. We cannot offer God a worthy prayer without the help of the Holy Spirit, so let us ask God to renew the fire of the Spirit within us.
We must be constant in prayer, making it a way of life and not just something we do when we feel like it. God says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you” Mt 7:7-12). God, who knows what is good for each of us, would respond to our prayers according to his divine plan. As you pray for yourself, remember to pray for the salvation of the world. Our mission on earth is to pray in imitation of Christ, who lived a life of prayer to the end.
Sin is a source of suffering and death. When nothing is done about the sins we commit, they begin to rob us of the breath of life, and our spirit becomes sick, and with time, goes to sleep and becomes ineffective.
Sin has the power to separate us from the love and truth of God, who created us with a good plan in mind. Sin is a lie corrupting our minds and hearts to believe that God does not exist; he does not care about the world and its functions or that; he made us and left us to figure out how we want to live our lives without following any rules for our safety. Life has a boundary that we must respect, and when we do not, we begin to experience problems.
We need Jesus to help us reject sin and return to God. It is not easy to overcome the power of sin, and the price paid is the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. God loves us so much that He does not want any of His children to be lost. He sent His Son to ransom us from the prison of darkness back to light.
We have all sin and need God’s help. God reminds us that we should be mindful of others who have sinned against us or the ones we too have sinned against and be prepared with His help to forgive them their trespasses. Anything we want God to do for us, we must first learn to give others before expecting it from God.
Healing begins when we acknowledge that we have sinned and need God’s help. God does not force us to come to repentance. He is kind and merciful, gentle in approach, allowing us to decide on our own accord how we live our lives. Lent is an appropriate time to let the light of the Gospel of truth shine within our hearts to heal the darkness of pride and lack of humility that prevent us from surrendering our lives to God.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
It is common to hear people say: I am not perfect, or who is perfect? Indeed, human beings are not perfect since they must deal with the struggles of the sin of their first parents, Adam and Eve, and of their own making. Sin is attractive, addictive, and appealing to the eye, and it becomes a challenge to resist its unrelenting power to entice, capture, and prison its culprits.
God sends Jesus to help us battle sin, to lead us back to the Father where we should belong. It is God who is perfect, and since He created us, it means that buried within our hearts is the seed of perfection. We are not perfect because of our own making, but because of the one who is pure perfection-God dwells within us in the Son and helps us in our journey of faith by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The goal of life and for every Christian is to aim higher, not to strive to be like other fellow human beings, even to be like saints who we are encouraged to imitate. Imitation of the lives of holy people and saints does not mean that we must become precisely like them. The good examples that we learn from the lives of Saints are to help us discover our own unique qualities, talents, and the purpose that God created us to fulfill here on earth. We are created to be saints in our own image and not in the likeness of another saint, for the same God, who made them holy and perfect, is equally active in our life by the anointing of the Spirit and waters of new life. Our goal in life must be rooted on this rock: “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:43-48).
To be perfect in the likeness of God means that we learn to see the world and all things with his eyes: Seeking goodness present in creation despite the darkness of sin. It is to be a child of God who behaves like the Father, merciful and forgiving to all. We, too, must learn to forgive others and love those who are not of our liking. The light of perfection shines brightly through the darkness of life and the cross of the crown of eternal life.
Your vocation on earth is to be like your Father, to be perfect, to see all things with the eyes of love, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Witness of Faith
How stable is your faith? Christianity is a religion of faith build on the rock of trust, surrender, and obedience to the will of God. We have a Father in faith, Abraham, our teacher in the school of growing in relationship with God. When God asked him to offer his beloved son, Isaac, as a symbol of his trust in God’s power, he did not refuse to give back to God what was so dear and important in his life. When you look at your life, what is the most valuable thing you are hesitant and afraid to surrender to God entirely? (Gn 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18). We can learn from Abraham what inspired him to be ready to follow God’s direction and do his will in all things. Abraham learned that since God is the source of all things and even life, He had the power to take and give life. He believed in God that just in the same way He gave him the gift of a son, He would still bless him abundantly even though Abraham did not know how it would happen, but still, he trusted.
We, too, can learn from Mary and Joseph to become witnesses of faith by serving God’s will. This Lenten season the Lord is asking each of us to find within our hearts the things that we hold so dear and refuse to allow the light to shine through and transform them. Maybe God is inviting you to offer him as a sacrifice of trust your time, talent, gifts, resources, and even your own life. God blesses us with what we bring to him in an offering of thanksgiving and praise. If we come to God with empty hands, we shall go back with the emptiness of hearts and poverty of souls.
God offered His own Son as a sacrifice of our redemption and salvation, teaching us that the way to eternal life must pass through testing of our own faith (Rom 8:31-34). Lent is a time of transfiguration, a time that God wants to lead us to a quiet place to be with Him so that He may speak to our hearts tenderly and reveal the love of His Son for us. How devoted are you to God? God wants to bless you just in the same way He blessed Abraham and those who listened to the voice of His Son. He invites you today to begin a journey that leads to the holy mountain of love. What would you say? He hopes to hear you say: “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
February 15 – February 21
God of Blessings
God is the giver of life and everything in creation. Sometimes we become ignorant, filled with pride, to think that we are the source of everything on earth. God has made human beings with great intelligence and capacity of creativity and innovation to produce new things by using the materials from creation that God has provided. To discover something which was already in existence, though, hidden in creation, does not make us gods, but instead should lead us to humility to realize that we are the servants of the Creator. God wants to work through us to reveal new and unique things present in creation, but the Lord seeks those who would acknowledge him in thanksgiving and praise.
The Psalmist tells us what is expected from each of us, saying: “Offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (Ps 50:14). Our whole life should be a living sacrifice of praise to God for his love and gift of self to come and made a dwelling in us, making all things good and beautiful. In creation, God has provided us with what we need to live a meaningful life and share with others and protect and care for our Mother Universe.
When we fail to recognize God in the creation and replace him with ourselves or created things, the danger is that we begin to become greedy, prideful, unthankful, abusive to creation, and develop jealousy. If we want God to bless us more, we too must learn to bring him perfect sacrifice offering coming from the hands of our works. We cannot come to God empty-handed and expect him to bless us. God uses what we bring to him, multiply it and give it back to us to use and serve others, especially the poor.
If you want God to bring you peace, healing, and contentment, then begin to offer him a worthy offering deserving a loving, caring, and generous God. The perfect offering, we can give God is that which flows from the heart of humility, and obedience to his will, doing all things for the glory of love and charity.
Give God the best of yourself, and he will give you everything, blessing you abundantly with life enriched with the grace of peace and hope for eternity (Gn 4: 1-15, 25).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Remember God’s Blessings
God has blessed us with the gift of life and all that we need and present in creation. When we fail to understand the work of God going on in our lives and the world, we bring grief to God’s heart (Gn, 6-7). We receive abundant grace when we realize that everything in life is a blessing from heaven given to us to service others and offer a sacrifice of praise to the Almighty.
Christians are people who should walk in the light of remembrance of what God has done for us by sending his Son to set us free from the chains of sin. Failure to remember the ongoing work of salvation that God exercises in the world through the Holy Church is unacceptable and an abomination before the Lord. We cannot take the gift of the cross for granted because the Son of God lost his life so that you and I may share the glorious light of the resurrection. The price he paid for our freedom was the pouring forth of his life for us. Remembrance should lead us to change our ways and begin to walk with the Lord, imitating him in all things so that he may become food for the hungry, joy for the sorrowful.
The question that Jesus asked his disciples is the same one that we must confront in our journey of faith and witness of love as we shine forth in our actions the undying light of hope for eternal life. The Lord asks, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand? (Mk 8:14-21).
Please, understand that without Christ, we can do nothing and that he is the one who provides for our needs. Turn to Him in faith, and he would take care of you, and bless you with the Bread of life, and quench your thirst with the Blood of joy and peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Return to me with Your Heart
Today we begin Lenten journey to Paschal Mystery-suffering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a journey of faith that we make with Jesus Christ, who has come to lead us out of sin to a new light of hope and love. Lent allows each of us to look deeply within our hearts to find out sins that we hold dear, and we are not ready to let go so that we may begin to enjoy the gift of God’s presence in the world and in our lives. Sin blinds our eyes and prevents us from clearly seeing God’s goodness and beauty hidden in the creation. Jesus has come to be our help, to guide our path along the way of peace and unity.
What can you do during Lenten Season to prepare your heart so that to participate fully in the life of Christ when he comes again to meet us in the Eucharist, in the poor, and in the sufferings? God calls us to be more like St. Joseph, to live a life of humility, to follow the advice of Mary of Mother: To do whatever Jesus tells us in the word of God and, to imitate Jesus who tells us that he is the “way, truth, and life” for those who seek to do the will of God in all things.
God is kind and merciful, always ready to forgive us when we fail in life and return to him on our knees, crying and praying for his forgiveness. The Lord calls you to return home in these words: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning “(Jl 2:12-18).
Be a sign and source of change in a person’s life this Lent. Mother Teresa spoke of a story that could help us flame the dimming light of charity and the gift of love within our hearts. She said: “I will never forget the night an old gentleman came to our house and said that there was a family with eight children, and they had not eaten, and would we do something for them. So, I took some rise and went there. The mother took the rice from my hands, then she divided it into two and went out. I could see the faces of the children shining with hunger. When she came back, I asked her where she had gone. She gave me a very simple answer: ‘They are hungry also.’ And ‘they’ were the family next door, and she knew that they were hungry.” The beauty of this story is contained in these last words of Mother Terresa: “I was not surprised that she gave, but I was surprised that she knew.”
What can you do to alleviate the suffering of only one person?
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Choose God in all Things
Life is a gift from God, a blessing of life, and a response of love. God created us to be a gift for others so that in our care for human dignity, the face of God’s goodness may shine through our actions of love and charity. How are we authentic images of God’s mercy, justice, and kindness on earth? When we fail to reach out to the poor and those who suffer, we are the ones who lose an opportunity to encounter God who comes to meet us in the little ones and the poor in spirit, dwelling among us. Our God is poor in the image so that those who receive Him in faith may be transformed to share in the rich joy of salvation that Jesus offers, a perfect Sacrifice of the Eucharist of Life.
Everyday, God gives us the gift of life to decide if we want to walk with him as our Father and friend or to reject him and his words of truth and justice and be lost in the darkness of ignorance, fear, and death. God invites us, saying, “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.” What is going to be your choice? God pleads with us, saying, “If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God…loving him, and walking in his ways…you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you” abundantly (Dt 30:15-20).
Lent is time to make good choices in life, to forsake sin, to seek God, and to serve the needy in acts of almsgiving, charity, and compassion in imitation of Christ, who offered himself on the cross as the perfect gift of love for you and all people of God. Choose God and find peace of eternal life.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Mother Teresa, the Saint of the poorest of the poor, teaches us the kind of fasting that pleases God. She said: “There is much suffering in the world – physical, material, mental. She explained, “The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one.” Teresa’s many years of service to the most vulnerable and weak members of our societies taught her how to see and recognize the hidden poverty and suffering that each of us experiences in life. She said, “I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.”
Unless each of us identifies poverty in us, it would not be easy to see others’ struggles in life. During this Lenten Season, we too can look at ourselves and bring to the light of Christ parts of our lives that remain in the darkness of pride, greed, and selfishness. The Lord reminds us that our fasting should go beyond just refraining from eating a particular food, but should be spiritual, the awakening of inner life that can hear the voice of God and see his face and tears on the faces of our fellow brother and sisters.
The Lord calls us to practice a worthy prayer, saying, “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own” (Is 58:1-9). If you look around, even in our small town here, you will encounter the homeless who may need help, especially as we go through these long cold days.
The acts of charity, kindness, and compassion are a holy and acceptable form of prayer that reaches the heart of God and speaks the language of the needy in our midst. If we extend our hands of love to the needy, the Lord assures us of his gracious blessings, saying, “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! (Is 58:1-9)
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Seek the Lord
Now is the opportune time to seek the Lord while he is near. The Church is on earth as our hospital where the sick in soul and spirit may seek healing. When the Church relegates offering treatment of reconciliation, the forgiveness of sin to concentrate more on worldly projects instead of spiritual well-being, the people of God suffer gravely. What makes the Church unique and special in the world is that; She is the only institution that can bring about spiritual healing-forgiveness of sin, purification of heats, and openness to the joy of mercy.
It is a mistake when the Church and her children are trying to be more worldly, imitating the new trends in the present society that seem to uproot them from the source of life, God’s love. Pope Francis says that the Church is a “field hospital that takes the weakest people: the infirm” and makes them whole again by caring with the undivided concern of heart.
Lent is a time for us to renew our intention, priorities in life and return home to dwell in the presence of God, to abide in the Spirit. Jesus says: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23). Sin is the rejection of God’s love or acts of giving in to the allure of worldly attraction by pushing God to the periphery, not allowing him to be part of one’s everyday light of truth- the breath of new life. Use this Lent as an opportunity to seek healing from within so that your world outwardly may begin to change and bring you peace and happiness. The path that leads to God’s fount of mercy is humility and obedience to the Word of God. Humility is healing, and obedience to the command of love is transformative into the likeness of Mary, our Mother in faith, who teaches us the way to perfection, saying: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5)
If we love God in the manner that Christ loves us, then we must show it by being on our knees with eyes fixed to heaven crying out to God, saying, “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps 51). And we know that God is merciful to those who are contrite of heart. Return to God so that you may live and have overflowing peace. The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked person, but rather in one’s conversion” (Ez 33:11).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Love the Word of God
How many of us get time to read, reflect and meditate on the word of God, especially on the readings of the day. There is no way to grow in our faith and love for God and neighbor if we remain ignorant of or less knowledgeable about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. The Bible should be the book of love where we find our dwelling and rest. It should adorn our homes with the light of truth. Further, our homes should be decorated with icons of goodness and beauty that shine forth through the gentle eyes of Mary, our Mother in faith and companion in prayer.
We cannot speak about Christ with others when we do not even know what he has revealed to our hearts. The path to the heart of God begins with the opening of the pages of the Holy Book of love and truth and when we continuously drink deeply from the fountain of the Spirit, the breath of new life and new beginnings. Lent is a time to draw near to God with your mind, heart, and soul in preparation for the Easter wedding feast with Mary at our side, admonishing us to, “Do whatever he tells you.” What is it exactly that Jesus tells us to do when we read or hear the word of God proclaimed? The Lord says, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:12-15).
Pray to God in this time of Lent that He may open your heart to receive the light of hope, which heals doubt and fear with the grace of consolation and humility to the will of God.
God calls us to a new way of living and looking at the world. He says, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember” what God has done for you? He is the Bread of life, and the Word of Peace seek him day and night (Mk 8:14-21).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
February 7 – February 14
Christ the Healer
Jesus came to preach the Gospel of truth, heal the sick from the power of sin, serve the poor, and set prisoners free by the cross of justice. He entered fully into the suffering of people extending his hand of kindness, opening his heart of compassion, and touching intimately and concretely the essence of their pain, yearning, and longing for union with God, the bond of love. God created us for unity, and when people move away from him, they disintegrate, lose focus, become blind, live in fear, and succumb to the power of death.
The Church is the hospital of Christ on earth where the sick can come and receive the most effective vaccine of the virus of sin and death, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, healing, and life. Everyone needs Christ, even those who refuse to acknowledge him to be the physician of new life. The Lord became the sought magic, miracle, and the Sacrament of Salvation on the Cross. By the marks of his wounds, “Christ took away our infirmities and bore diseases” (Mt 8:17).
Both Christians and non-Christian must pass through the way of suffering, pain, and illness. A friend said: “when Christ is invited in every experience of life, he comes to transform its nature of darkness by injecting the Spirit of light that restores all things to their original order and beauty of goodness.” Christ is our only hope to face the cross of life, to carry it with courage and assurance of the victory of resurrection.
The Risen Lord, who announced the heavenly gift of peace and unity, has promised to remain with us in good and bad times, to share in our joys and pains, and to glorify God who thirsts for our faith and love. United with the Christ Jesus, you too can face with the courage of faith any challenges in life when you pray: “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted” (Ps 147:3).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Seek a Permanent Home
St. Paul reminds us that we should live on earth with the full awareness that “the world in its present form is passing away” (1Cor 7:31). He appeals to us to seek the heavenly homeland by engaging and relating with created things with eyes that look to the coming glory of fulfillment in seeing God face to face. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8). In order to be prepared to encounter God here on earth in the mystery of the cross and in heaven in the gift of grace, our hearts must go through the healing surgery of purification, the forgiveness of sin.
Today we celebrate a saint whose heart was truly pure, Josephine Bakhita. She was a slave uprooted from her motherland, Sudan, in Africa and taken to Italy by force to serve her masters. She excelled in her humble service and used the opportunity to grow closer to God, whom she was so pleased to serve at the table of simplicity. She accepted her role as a lowly servant of men and women on earth if only she could use her calling and labor to lead others to Christ who came on earth to serve the will of the Father for the salvation of all.
St. Bakhita is a patron saint of the uprooted people from their own birth counties and taken to foreign lands to be used as sex slaves by their masters. Human beings are created by God for his plan, to have union with each of us, to receive us fully in His Kingdom. Every person is a child of God and should be treated with the same respect, dignity, and love that we owe God. Mistreatment of other human persons is a direct attack on God, who alone has an absolute right over our lives. On the day of final judgment, each of us will account to God how they had treated fellow human beings.
Saint Josephine lived her life on earth, desiring a heavenly homeland, and for that reason, she served her masters as if she was serving God. We can learn from her how to treat others with respect, kindness, and love that we share in Christ Jesus. The shortest path to encountering God of mercy and love is by extending our hands to touch the face of a stranger and embrace Christ in them.
God of Unity, Love, and Goodness
God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1:26). What is it in human beings that represent the image of God? And how are the people after the likeness of God? After God created all things, He proclaimed them good. What is this goodness that God has planted in every being? Seeking an answer to these questions is very important because it enables us to understand our true identity, purpose, and goal in life. Failure to pursue life’s essence leads to haphazard living that violates persons’ dignity and perpetuates an abuse to creation.
It is important to note that God makes man and woman and that they are not self-made; they owe their origin, meaning, and purpose to God. Awareness of this truth is essential since it establishes the foundation upon which everything stands. The image of God hidden in human beings is the image of unity. God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit is unity, and from this source of oneness, everything springs forth. One person standing alone in isolation is not a complete representation of the image of God. The appearance of God emerges when different and unique individuals agree to work together, live side-by-side, and cherish each other.
What is the likeness of God in us? The representation of God is unity and love. Love is the bond that ties all things together, holding them to the source of all things. All things came from love, are sustained by love, and return to the fount of love, God. Jesus prayed that all must be one and that we must love God and neighbor with all our minds, hearts, and soul. We can maintain this structure and pattern of God, a design instituted before creation and made present when we choose to remain in an intimate relationship with the Father, through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When unity and love become obscure, the light of goodness deems leading to blindness to life’s truth and authenticity. The world is divided and needs unity and love from God that flows through us when we remain connected to the vine of goodness. Creation can be renewed and restored to its original perfect form when men and women begin to live again in the likeness of the Father-resting in silence on the seventh day, entering fully into the house of holy dwelling shining the light of the resurrection (Gn 1: 20- 2: 4).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Servants of the Lord
With the rising of science and the advent of technology, numerous discoveries have emerged in humankind’s history. The man continues to explore new horizons for discoveries and greater possibilities. Innovations in media have made communication easy, fast, and widely received by so many people around the world. Exploration of new avenues and growth in man’s capacity is something good that should continue to expand. Creativity is a sign that man is created to become all that he dreams and hopes to realize in life.
Human beings are not self-made; they are created by God, who designed and ordered all beings to exist to reveal the power of His intelligence and plan. Authentic creativity happens when man learns to use his talents and gifts to serve God and neighbor. In fact, a man and woman without God cannot invent anything new worthy of praise and beauty because all things spring from the Spirit of the Lord, breathing new life in all things. The greatest invention that man was able to achieve without God was and is death. In union with the Creator, man can make anything, but only God can bring meaning, purpose, and life to things made from dust.
After God created man and woman, He brought them to a perfect dwelling place, the “garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” according to Divine plan. We are made to become partners of God, continue the work of creation, lead all things along the path of freedom to choose obedience to the Creator’s will and, protect and value all things (Gn 2:4-9, 15-17).
Rejection of God and violation of the order of creation is a recipe for our own destruction that leads to death. The truth of life is that we owe our existence to God and that through the gift of His grace and the Holy Spirit, He continues to work within us to reveal his face in new and unique ways. We are called to remain His core-workers, but at the same time, we are bound by the law obedience and humility, to do all things for the greater glory of His name, saying we are only servants of the Lord.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
“Do whatever He tells you”
At an hour of great need, the Blessed Virgin Mary taught the disciples a perfect prayer, saying, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary, who lived her whole life doing the will of God, learned that the power of the Lord is transformative to the ones willing to obey and put into practice the Gospel message. In fact, doing the will of the Father is the heart of Christianity. Jesus Christ, Mary, and Joseph all practiced the same law of obedience and humility, seeking only one thing: to know, understand, and practice the will of God. Christians must imitate Christ and listen to the wisdom of the Mother of the Church, who calls us to become those who desire to put into practice the word of God. When God’s word is heard but not fully embraced with an open heart, its power becomes less effective.
Today, the Church marks the annual World Day of the Sick. On this day, the Blessed Mother appeared to a young visionary, St. Bernadette Soubirous, in the grotto at Massabielle, 1858 proclaiming her identity, saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Yes, Mary was conceived without original sin to be prepared to become the Mother of God and model of the faithful. Those who come to her in prayer-the sick, the suffering, the lonely, and sinners, find remedy and healing of body, spirit, and soul, for she continues to approach the Son in a humble request saying, “They do not have wine, do not have joy, do not have eternal life (Jn 2:3).
Those who make a pilgrim of faith to Lourdes, both the sick and the thirsty, find joy and peace of great blessing that springs from the fountain of prayer that overflow from the heats of the faithful who trust in God’s mercy, compassion, and pity. The miracle of healing that springs from the holy ground of Lourdes also flows freely from the fountain of Sacrificial Table in every Church where believers gather in faith. The key to healing is this, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Let us unite all our sickness and offer them to God as a token of faith and trust in Christ Jesus as we join our humble hearts with Mary in providing a perfect prayer of hope and love: “Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The mission of Jesus involved setting free the people in bondage, in chains of sickness, pain, and suffering. Many people followed him, asking for his intervention to restore them to good health. After healing a “deaf man who had a speech impediment” by proclaiming: “Be opened!” he commanded him, and all people present not to broadcast the miracle to others. Why would Jesus not want others to hear about the incredible power of God healing those who have been in chains of sickness and suffering? Part of prayer when we come to Jesus is to ask him to heal and protect us from every disease and illness (Mk 7:31-37).
Many people came to Jesus not because they believed him to be the Son of God and Savior of the world who has come to set us free by calling us to follow him by carrying our cross everyday. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to lead us to acknowledge God, to accept his grace and mercy so that united in the bond of love, we too may become the face of God on earth. Miracles that Jesus performed and continues to do in Christians’ lives are supposed to lead the beneficiaries to have faith in Christ and God the Father. The grace and power of a miracle should go beyond healing the physical body but should open people’s minds, hearts, and souls to a new life of transformation-doing all things for the glory and will of God.
Jesus wants people to have a personal and intimate encounter with him so that he may become the source and summit of peace and eternal life. The Lord wants people to seek him for a good reason to love him, to welcome strangers, to do his will, and to imitate his ways in all things.
The joy of the Gospel is a flame that cannot remain hidden. Those who have encountered Jesus Christ have a life-changing experience that they yearn to share with others, a story of faith, revealing to others what God has done in love, mercy, and compassion. People are brought to faith not by word of mouth alone but also by the witness of living the Gospel of justice and unity.
The Gospel of today is: “ephphatha-be opened,” open your heart to the Lord that he may come and make a dwelling within you. Embrace the wisdom of the psalmist, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Ps 95).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God comes to meet us; he calls us to an encounter, to enter into the presence of his light, to see his face so that we may receive the Spirit of transformation into his image and likeness. He comes to have an intimate relationship with us so that He may speak to our heart’s words of peace, comfort, joy, and unity. He comes to invite us to share fully in divine life so that the breath of grace that springs from the depth of His heart may find rest within us. God makes the first initiative to seek us, loving us first before we love him in return. We were made for union with God.
How many of us are prepared to hear the voice of God? How many of us respond when God calls? God called our Father, Adam: “Where are you?” We are the children of Adam, and just as God reached out to him, the Lord continues to humble himself to come down on earth to speak to us tenderly. What would you say today when God calls? Would you say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening?” (1 Sm 3:10) Or would you respond with Adam and say: “I heard you in the garden: but I was afraid…so I hid myself.” Why are you afraid of the Lord? Why do you hide from him? What is it in your life that you do not want to offer to him? (Gn 3: 9)
The Lord comes to meet us not to take away our freedom or limit our capacity, but instead to increase us, make us more, and lead us along the way of justice and charity in the truth of the Word of eternal life. God wants us to join in His mission to spread the good news of salvation, redemption and announce the presence of the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Would you allow him to come to your life and use you as his instrument of peace and justice? Today he calls you by name because He knows who you are even before you were born and, he has a plan for your life.
Do not hide from God who loves you. Say to him: Here, I am Lord, love me, use me, send me, and remain with me in good and bad times, for you are my friend and hope.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
God Who Heals
We need healing of body and spirit. Each of us must find within ourselves what robs us of peace, joy, and happiness. We must first accept that we are all sick and in need of God’s help. Without acknowledging our human struggles and sins, we cannot benefit fully from the healing gift that God gives us through the power of grace and the Holy Spirit. The first step to overcome our challenges in life is to discover our inner demons and confront them with the power of the Gospel’s light, the cross of Jesus Christ.
Each of us needs help. The world wants to make us think that we are self-sufficient and do not require a kind and gentle hand to uplift our souls in times of darkness, pain, and suffering. God comes to help us in our struggles, make us strong, restore us to good health, and bring us peace and wholeness. God continues to be our healing through his ministers of the word and sacrifice, the priests who pray for us. We should come to the priests seeking to be reconciled with God, to receive the Sacrament of purity and healing for eternal life. Sin is a major cause of many of our sickness, lack of peace, and unity (Lv 13:1-2, 44-46).
We need humility before God so that he may restore our bodies and souls to good health. We must learn and imitate the leper who humbled himself before the Lord crying, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The Lord looks at us with the eyes of pity, compassion, and mercy, saying: “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mk 1:40-45). What do you want God to do for you? Would you humble your pride and allow him to touch you with a healing hand? And would you go to a priest to seek the Sacrament of peace, love, and eternal life?
FR. Joseph Oganda
January 31 – February 6
The voice of Love
We are created for God, and the goal of life is to see Him face to face so that what is still hidden from our eyes may be fully revealed. Before committing the original sin, our first parents, Adam and Eve, could enter fully in God’s presence and interact with him, see Him, and follow His ways. Sin brought about darkness and blindness, a loss of the gift of grace that led to separation from union with the Trinity. The children of the first parents are born with the mark of the original sin, a desire to reject God’s offer, and the gift of love.
God is love and mercy. He seeks the lost by sending His only begotten Son to speak tenderly to our hearts. Transformed by the power of His word, we may make an informed choice to forsake sin and embrace the way of truth and light. God seeks humankind by speaking the Good News of redemption. God appeals to us, saying, “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:8). God continues to speak through the proclamation of the word in creation, in our hearts, in acts of charity and kindness, and the face of the poor and suffering. How do you see and hear the voice of God calling you to return to Him?
It is hard to come to faith alone without having someone show you the way and share with you the word of God. God does not abandon us as we search for Him. He instead sends ministers to teach us about His plan of salvation. Those who share in the cross of Christ Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit can now access the voice of God in their hearts when they practice a life of contemplation, entering in God’s presence by the path of silent meditation and adoration.
By God’s grace, the people who sat in darkness have indeed seen a great light. The people anointed with the Holy Spirit have managed to pass through the gate of death, entering into the glory of life (Mt 4:16). Decide today to begin a new life with Christ, to embrace his word, which has the power to heal and transform the lives of those who believe in the power of love and mercy.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Share the Gospel of Life
How many of us are actively involved in sharing the Gospel of life? After Jesus healed a man possessed by a multitude of unclean spirits, he begged the Lord if he could remain with him. In response to his request, Jesus said to him: “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you” (Mk 5:19-20). Like the man healed by the Lord, we, too, have been healed by the waters, blood, and the Holy Spirit, a holy baptism that took away the shackles of our sins, hence, becoming free, children of God. How do we live faith in the world as the people who have encountered the Son of God?
Why do people find it so difficult to share with others about their faith? There are people in our families, friends, and colleagues at work who could immensely benefit if someone were willing and courageous to share with them the joy of the Gospel. If we are fully aware and convinced of what God has done for us, sending His beloved Son to die for us for the forgiveness of sin, we would not be ashamed to speak of Him to others. Jesus, the gift of the cross of new life, became a path of resurrection, salvation for all people. We can help so many of our brothers and sisters who still do not know the gift of God for them to realize that they too are children of a loving and merciful Father who continues to seek them.
In baptism, we have become co-partners of Christ in the mission of healing, witnessing the Gospel of love and a new beginning. His message for us today is: “Go,” be on the move, live the faith, share fully the burning fire of hope that the Holy Spirit breathes in our hearts, lead others to God, be the face of Christ for all to see. The Lord said, Go, “I am with you always, even to the end of age” (Mt 20:28).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
An Encounter with Jesus Christ
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple. Mary and Joseph were God-fearing and law-abiding parents. They brought their First-born Son into the holy ground to offer a sacrifice of purification and a libation of thanksgiving to God for the glorious gift of the Nativity of the Lord. It was a blessed occasion of great joy when God as a Baby in Mary and Joseph’s care became the fulfillment of the gift of the awaited good news for the Israelite.
God comes to encounter us so that to reveal his identity to those who are vigilant and patiently await in prayer for his epiphany. A “righteous and devout” man of God, Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, lived his life to old age believing that his gentle and holy hands will not wither until they hold the King and rejoice in seeing the face of the salvation of the people of God. Likewise, a Prophetess Anna, a woman of great faith and vision, became the caretaker of the temple where the Lord must appear for all to see. The Baby Jesus comes to unite what is old and new by erasing the wrinkle of suffering from the faces that long to experience the glow of a beautiful smile of the joy of a little and tender life that one emerges when God mixes with humanity (Lk 2: 22-40).
Christianity is about an encounter, coming together as one, and rejecting any ideologies meant to divide what God has made one by the blood of the Son. In little things, we come to see the face of God who waits to meet us as the little ones, the humble of heart, and the gentle of souls. God is present in creation, and those who seek him with eyes of faith would definably experience his touch of goodness and beauty. God is richly present in the places of worship, as the light of vision that sees the power of salvation at work in and with us.
Where do you go to seek and find the Lord of an encounter? It is not easy to share the joy of redemption with others if we have not experienced the Baby Jesus.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Power of Faith
Faith is the power that sees the invisible love of God and makes it visible in the act of charity, the art of hope of the light of revelation. In Jesus Christ, faith becomes a Person, a Carpenter, Son of Mary, and a Brother. The Son of God became our teacher of a new life that opens to us the hidden mystery of the life of the Father. He enables us to become children of the Father. As a Person, we are united with him, as a Carpenter, we share in the labor of salvation, as a Son of Mary, we enter into the school of humility and obedience to the will of the Father, and as a Brother, we become one bond, a relationship of a family of life, friendship, and unity (Mk 6:1-6).
Faith is light of vision for those who search for truth and a stumbling block of blindness for those who doubt God as the dwelling among us in the poor, little ones, and the most vulnerable. Most of the immediate family of Jesus, those who grew up with him, rejected and doubted his teaching and power to create a new way of living: releasing prisoners free, proclaiming the Gospel of glad tidings to the poor, forgives of sin, and announcing the kingdom of hope made visible in the Son of a carpenter, a humble and righteous man of the tribe of King David (Is 61:1)
A friend sent me a short statement stating: “when God steps in… miracles happen.” When Jesus stepped into the history of life, everything became a miracle of God, the power to recreate, making all things new and possible. The established authorities, leaders, the intellectuals of the world feel threatened by the wisdom of Jesus Christ. They are afraid to acknowledge him to be the King of the new world, the Savior of the world, for fear that they may lose the grip of power to control others, manipulate the system of justice, and amass ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the poor.
How many of us are still afraid of Jesus because of his light of truth, justice, and faith that he shines in the world? Faith is the power of change, a call to be holy, to be sons and daughters of God. In Christ, all believers are sons and daughters of Mary and a carpenter, Joseph-a people called to embrace a life of humility, faith, and relationship in the bond of love. “He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mk 6:6)
The freedom of Faith
Saint Agatha of Sicily, living in the 3rd century, witnessed her faith without fear to those who were guided by the blindness of sin and determined to destroy Christians and silence the Gospel. She was young in age but very mature in her love for Christ. She was born in a well-to-do family but chose to become a slave of Christ, a darling of the poor and defender of truth. When faith was under attack, when she was arrested and given a chance to deny Christ so that to save herself from persecution, she regarded the opportunity as an honor to share fully in the suffering of Christ. With courage, wisdom, and inspiration, she responded to those who questioned her reason for giving her life to Christ, saying: “The greatest freedom and nobility is here: to prove to be Christ’s servants.”
The saint reminds us that true freedom comes to those who have accepted Jesus Christ in their lives. It is a freedom that makes us children of God, sharers in the nobility of Christ, the kingdom of service. How are we witnesses of Christ? The world continues to move away from the source of life, God, and many are needed to redirect the young minds and souls to know, love, and embrace the way of Christ. Are you ready to become the present age Agatha of faith, a people not afraid to shine forth the light of truth, justice, and peace?
Faith calls us to action, to become witnesses of unity, instruments of peace, and partners of Christ Jesus in the work of salvation and freedom. You cannot hide authentic faith; it must shine in the world for all to see. Do not forget the warning of the Lord, “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk 9:26). Stand up for your faith and be counted among the living saints of this age who are willing to carry everyday the cross of salvation (Lk 9: 23-26).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Go and Preach the Good News
Pope Francis wants a Church that goes out, reaches to the corners of the world, brings the good news to the people at the periphery, the poor, widows, orphans, and homeless. The Pontiff was down recently with a flare-up of a sciatica condition that causes pain in the leg; he united his suffering with the migrants and especially those left to freeze to death in the cold. In prayer, he remembered a Nigerian man named Edwin, 46 years old, who was ignored by all. He died at the periphery of the Holy City, few meters from St. Peter’s Square, succumbing to the cold of the night.
Jesus sent his disciples two- by- two to go out to different places and homes that he intended to visit to bring the Good News of repentance, anoint believers with the Spirit grace, and cure the sick of the power of sin (Mk 6:7-13). Preaching is at the heart of the Church. The disciples are people anointed with the Spirit of the Gospel with a mandate to become the living witness of Christ. Preaching is more than what a preacher does in the Church for others to hear; all the faithful are partners of Christ and must put into practice the message of love.
The word of God has the power to overcome sin and restore believers to the right relationship with the Father. The force of the Gospel to transform life becomes limited if the listeners are unwilling to open their hearts for the Spirit of new life, the water of purification, and the fire of perfection. God wants to use us to reach out to all his children and especially those who still live in denial of the shining light of the Word of God.
Many people still desire to encounter Christ through our witness of life. Failure to live the Gospel is a reminder of the final day of reckoning, an hour when our work of charity, justice, and kindness will be tested and called to question.
Even now, we are called to go out and be signs of life, hands of love, and a holy family of hope witnesses of light of salvation. Can you also say: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will?” (Ps 40).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Gospel of Martyrdom
Paul Miki, a Jesuit novice, led a group of dedicated Christians in Japan, 1597 to witness their faith in God before the leaders who were against the Gospel’s spread. At an hour of death, Miki, full courage, became a living strength to his companions by speaking to their hearts words of comfort and hope for the victory of eternal life. He confirmed his own faith by praying for those who were preparing to persecute him and his friends. He said: “Having arrived at this moment of my existence, I believe that no one of you thinks I want to hide the truth. That is why I declare to you that there is no other way of salvation than the one followed by Christians. Since this way teaches me to forgive my enemies and all who have offended me, I willingly forgive the king and all those who have desired my death. And I pray that they will obtain the desire of Christian baptism.”
As they were nearing death, they turned their suffering into a song of praise, singing the canticle of Zachary. They sang, “because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Lk 1:67-79). They amazed their executioners because they did not show any sign of wavering; instead, they behaved like people who have won a treasure and crown of a lifetime. The Spirit of witness inspired many who observed their passing from this life to eternal glory to the point of becoming a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.
The Saints of Japan lived the Gospel of martyrdom. In death, they led many souls to Christ by the voice of their blood, the beauty of the cross. You and I are called to be saints who witness the truth of the Gospel in this age. How do you carry the cross of faith without fear so that to lead others to Christ? Christ has promised to help us in our journey of faith, and with him at our side, you too can find strength in these words: “Those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing” (Ps 126:5).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
January 18 – January 24
We Have Sinned and Need God’s Help
We are made for God, but the world’s enticements tend to prevent us from seeking the things of heaven. Even though we fail many times to give our lives entirely for the service of God and for doing his will, God is faithful, and he continues to seek us by sending Jesus Christ to lead us back to himself. God speaks to our hearts and mind by the proclamation of his word. St Paul reminds us that “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The word of God is the shining light of the heart to help us see the darkness of sin that blinds our eyes of faith from seeing and accepting the love of God. Once sin takes root in our lives, we become like prisoners and could not get free without help. Jesus is the living mercy and forgiveness of God sent to heal the wounds of our sins.
God calls priests to share in the mission of Jesus Christ, the High Priest to bring about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to become the doctors of souls administering the healing medicine of mercy. The priests are the instruments that God uses to reach out to his children who are held captives by Evil One’s power. The priests are human and weak people who need others to pray for them and God to assist them in everything they are called to do. The priests, too, and the faithful need healing, the forgiveness of sin, because they join the rest of the Christian family in waging war against the enemy of God, the Evil One.
God is the one who calls weak men from the Christian family so that he may use their weakness to lead others to the table of reconciliation. St. Paul makes it clear to us that “Every priest is taken from men and made their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb 5:1-10), for their own sins and for the sins of every child of God who seeks forgiveness in humility and contrite heart. We all need each other to wrestle with sin that always poisons our relationship with God and each other.
No one is entirely immune to sin. We all need God’s intervention through the gift of the Son, who is our Savior and, the Holy Spirit, the light of the truth that comes to our aid in times of need for freedom and redemption.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
We are God’s Blessings
When someone begins a project, there is hope that it would one day come to completion. Great joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction of any work become fully realized at the end of the work itself. Being a Christian is a project and work, and some people ask: When will it come to an end? What is the reward or satisfaction that comes from being a Christian? Many people were once disciples of Christ but later in life gave up the labor of service and prayer. Faith in God is a life-time project; the work of love that comes to an end when all things are finally united to the Father in the Kingdom of Heaven. The reward that we receive because of living the faith is not measured in material value but in essence, is the gift of life, a share in the life of Christ, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit given to all who believe in the Son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus Christ.
St. Paul encourages all Christians to continue living their faith in good and bad times because God, who is love, merciful, and generous, is aware and happy with the work of those who remain at the service of heaven. St. Paul says, “God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones” (Heb 6:10-20). God calls us to become his co-workers in the vineyard of repentance and reconciliation. The work itself belongs to God, but we are his instruments that he uses to accomplish his goal of salvation and freedom from the power of sin.
God can achieve great things through us if we accept to work with him in humility and obedience to his plan and will. Our ultimate satisfaction should be about desiring to do all things for the glory of love. Our hope and joy of the Gospel are magnified and made present by the promise of God contained in these words: “I will indeed bless you and multiply you” (Heb 6:10-20).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Martyr of Love
Today we celebrate the life of a holy and courageous saint, martyr of love, St. Fabian, the Pope in 236. God chose him from the laity by sending his Spirit in the form of a dove giving a sign to the electors that heaven has spoken eloquently, surprisingly, and visibly by anointing a humble farmer to become a witness of love, a defender of the faith who embraced the gift of the cross fully. Saints are our teachers of the faith, reminding us that death cannot separate us from the love of God and that in death, we magnify the victory of Christ and reveal the arrival of the Kingdom of God unveiled by the blood of love, adorned by the gift of grace, and sealed by the sun of glory.
St. Fabian and all the saints are people who lived their lives on earth striving to respond to one question only; a question asked by Jesus: “Do you love me more than these?” (Jn 21:15-17). The meaning and purpose of Christianity, in a nutshell, is an ongoing work of responding to the question of love. The martyrs are people who chose to witness their love for Christ by sharing fully in his cross, by drinking of the cup of joy and redemption. The question that Jesus asked St. Peter is our question too. Christians, each individually and communally, are called to strive to live and love the Gospel of Christ not in words only but, at the same time, in action. A call to share in the martyrdom of suffering and poverty of our brothers and sisters, treated unjustly by the virus of greed and pride that mask God’s generosity, abundance, goodness, and blessings for all.
God asks us to “be examples to the flock” to serve others, not for selfish gain but the glory of love and the Kingdom of heaven (1 Pt 5:1-4). God has sent his Spirit upon all the faithful, asking, Do you love me more than the attractions of this World? Do you love me more than the preservation of your life on earth? How would you respond to God’s call of love? Can you also say without reservation: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will” (Ps 40:8).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The great Treasure of Love
At only age 12, St Agnes found profound and intimate meaning in these words: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23:1). She gave herself entirely to God, who gave himself completely to her in the love of Christ on the cross. She was a stunning girl, and many young men tried to win her heart, enticing, and seducing her with material wealth, but she could not give up her cherished lover, Jesus Christ, who was her greatest treasure. She was fond of telling her admirers, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.”
The bond of love that St. Agnes shared with the Lord was unbreakable, a tender and mature fire of love that radiated within her inmost being with a glow of divine beauty. Her thirst for the heavenly union was quenched by these words: “Remain in my love, says the Lord; whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit” (Jn 15:9, 5). She boasted in the Lord by offering her virginity as a pure sacrifice, a fruit of doing God’s will. (1Cor 1:26-31). She chose to die on her wedding bed of faith than to live in the filth of opulence of earthly honor. Many people pleaded with her to save herself from imminent destruction, to give in to the demand of flesh inflicted upon her by men of wickedness, but she could not disappoint her most beloved, Prince and King of heaven on earth. In response to those who expressed pity for her, she said: “I would offend my Spouse…if I were to try to please you. He chose me first, and He shall have me!” She welcomed the stroke of the sword that dismembered her head with the joy of great peace that mesmerized the gaze of onlookers.
How is your relationship with God? Are you able to choose him above all things? God chose us above all things by offering his Son to die for our sins so that we may be free and have eternal life. St. Agnes, virgin, and martyr is our role model, heroes of our faith given to us as a gift to help us remain steadfast in our journey as God’s holy people. God is our treasure of love worth living and dying for in union with Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Mt 13:44-46). Remain untainted since you are made for glorious love.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Appreciating the Gift of Life
Life is continuous under attack right from conception to the end. A society that tends to move away from the source and summit of life tends to usurp God’s power and change the real path of life as a divine gift that should be handled with care and sanctity. When God is removed from being at the center of life, the rest of creation loses meaning, purpose, and identity. God gives us the light of truth and wisdom to understand the unbreakable bond between the Creator and the rest of creation. Blindness to realize that God created human beings in his own image and likeness leads to reckless and savage behavior that diminishes our responsibility to protect and cherish the goodness and beauty of the handwork of God of which we have been called and mandated respect.
Today we pray for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. We should see ourselves in the suffering and pain of so many innocent lives by realizing that if it were not due to the love, care, and unselfishness of our beloved parents, we would not be breathing today. Prophet Isaiah saw the cry of the weak, the same tears that continue to disturb our conscience with an unrelenting appeal for action. The prophet captured in words the silent prayer that the innocent souls offer to God and summon us to awareness, saying, “Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name” (Is 49:1-6).
The Church’s mission on earth is to protect life for every person, unveil the Creator’s hidden face that makes every being unique and mysterious in the making. Life is a gift given to us for the service of God and the whole of humanity, doing all things for the greater glory of life eternal. St. John Paul the II was a true shepherd and defender of life for all people, especially the most vulnerable. In his Apostolic Journey to the United States of America in 1979, he spoke words of wisdom that never lose their beauty and truthfulness necessary for the people of our age to hear anew. In a homily at the Capital Mall on October 7, he said: “Human life is precious because it is the gift of a God whose love is infinite; and when God gives life, it is forever.” The Pontiff also quoted Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom, who once said: “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the just and only legitimate object of good government” (March 31, 1809). The sole mandate of leaders is to protect life, promote it, and enable it to flourish to the full. On judgment day, we shall give an account of how we took care of God’s gift and blessings of life placed under our care. Do not be careless with what belongs to God, life.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Martyrs of Love
Saints are martyrs of love; they gave themselves entirely to Christ in body and soul, so that in the bond of the cross, they could water and nourish the hearts of God’s seekers by the flow of the blood of their unshakable faith. They are the souls in heaven who, while still on earth, listened attentively to God’s higher calling to see his face in the life of the poor, to encounter him in the vulnerable, and love him in the little ones. The stories of their living the faith, sharing in the cross of Christ, are the hidden treasures of the Church that the pilgrim faithful must consult and follow as the compass of the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
The saints were able to remain faithful to their calling and service to peace, justice, and redemption because, in Christ, they could affirm their covenant and trust in God’s power by saying, “The Lord delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34: 5). Like each person, they were not born saints but became holy men and women by seeking the truth, believing the Gospel of hope, and witnessing the joy of reconciliation. The saints are not unforgotten names of the dead buried in the books of the memories but are the heartbeat, holy calling, and witness of love. They are still active in the Church’s life on earth, a guide of the faithful to choose a path illumined by a heavenly star.
Today the Church invites us to turn our gaze to contemplate the holy life of St. of America, Marianne Cope, who came to the United States from Germany at age one in 1862, later joined the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis. On the day of her canonization on earth and glorious weeding in heaven, Benedict XVI spoke beautifully about her, saying, “Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused.” Her calling was to do what no other person wanted to undertake. In the lepers’ sufferings, her love became one with the love of the later saint, Father Damien, whom she cared for until death. Speaking of her heroic service to the Church, the pontiff said: “At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of the Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.”
We are all called to be saints of God on earth, to be a holy people who seek to do the will of God. Our courage, determination, and hope for service to live the faith is rooted in these uplifting words: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:10).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Repent and Believe in the Gospel
God calls us to turn away from the path of sin and return to him. He sends his messengers to teach us what we must do to reconcile with Him and others. When the Prophet Jonah communicated to the people of Nineveh about their sins, and, after warning them of the coming of God’s judgment, they changed their evils ways. The people believed Jonah and repented their sins. God is merciful, and when he sees that the people have returned to their senses and begin to walk with him in the way of justice and peace, He forgives them and sends the Holy Spirit to help them in their lives of faith (Jon 3:1-5, 10).
Jesus came to heal the wound of sin, to open the path of the cross, the way of redemption. Like Jonah, who called the people of Nineveh to change their lives, Jesus, sent by the Father, also calls the people of the world to choose God. Christ proclaims the Gospel of God, saying “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:14-20). How many would heed Christ’s call and return home by following the path of reconciliation for the forgiveness of sins? It is the Church’s mission to shine forth the light of mercy to people who walk in darkness so that they may begin to experience the healing grace of God, the joy of freedom to captives.
The message of repentance is for every one of us since we are all infected by the original sin of pride that blinds us from seeing and experiencing the love of God, which is the medicine that can allow us to share in the life of God.
The time to respond to God’s call to a change of life is now and today. We cannot delay our response to God’s invitation. We should learn from the first disciples who were summoned from their workplaces and states of life and left immediately to follow Jesus. The response to God’s call, the “Yes” of faith should flow from the imitation of our Mother Mary, who said “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
God wants everyone to have the opportunity to come to the heavenly banquet. While we are still living, God allows us to make choices every day to determine where our souls will find rest after our death. The world as we know it is diminishing, and for that reason, we must be wise and choose what is eternal. The wise will choose Christ. The wise will choose repentance, and then the wise will begin to walk with the Lord, embracing the light of love that makes all things new and beautiful.
God is calling you today to follow him. How are you going to respond? Repent and believe in the Gospel, for your redemption is at hand (Mk 1:15).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
January 11 – January 17
The Kingdom of God is Here: Repent
Jesus began his ministry on earth after thirty years of hiddenness-learning from Joseph the art of work in silence and from Mary the wisdom of faith and contemplation of the things of heaven. He then walked through the waters of baptism, rested in the desert of prayer, a sign of his revelation as the Savior, Light of truth, the font of grace.
The prophets of old saw his coming and spoke eloquently about it by calling those who believe to a life of holiness. St. John the Baptist, the prophet of old and new beginning, encountered Christ and leaped for joy, and later, saw heavens open, heard a voice in the likeness of a magnificent dove proclaimed him the beloved son of God. At last, he introduced him to his disciples, saying: “The Lamp of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).
In union with Saint John the Baptist’s mission, who called people to a change of life, to forsake sin and embrace the way of God, Jesus furthered the same goal by becoming the visible agent of healing and reconciliation. The Son of God laid the foundation of his work by articulating the essence of his mission on earth by proclaiming: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). The Lord is the fulfillment of the prophecies and promises made to our fathers and mothers in faith. Jesus introduces heaven on earth and invites all people to partake at the table of glory by passing through the open gate of reconciliation and accepting to believe in the Son of God, and following in the footsteps of humility, service, and surrender to the will of the Father.
The people who accept to respond to the call of discipleship, willing to learn from him the hidden plan of salvation, and, to live and serve in the light of the Gospel, the Lord summons: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). The Lord has come to make us co-workers in the Kingdom of God; a people who see what God does in Christ, hear what God manifests in the Spirit of truth, and witness to others the light of resurrection by carrying and kissing the cross of love, mercy, and charity.
How do you respond to the invitation of Christ, to the love that sets us free and make us beloved children of the Father? Today the Lord calls you again: The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Jesus-the Teacher of Love
Jesus is a teacher of faith, love, and hope. A call to repentant sin and an invitation to choose the way of truth is a school of new life that seeks to know and embrace the things of God. It is holy teaching that is superior to earthly learning; it is a revelation of the mysteries of salvation, giving eyes to see the things of heaven. Those who listened to the wisdom of the Lord were amazed and asked, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mk 1:28).
God’s word has the power to train minds in the truth of the Gospel, open the hearts to love beauty and goodness present in creation, and inspire the soul to give thanks and praise in worship and celebration of the gift of grace and the light of mercy. God comes to encounter us in the Word made flesh and dwelt among us. Saint Paul, whose life was transformed by consuming and contemplating the richness of the word of new life, said, “Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God” (1Thes 2:13). Believers in the word of God have the path of change, a way of life illuminated by the light of the cross, the sign of the vision of hope, the victory of eternal life.
The word of God proclaimed and lived by Jesus Christ becomes effective in people’s lives only when they receive it with the heart of faith, and when they practice in everyday life the content of the Gospel of change. Those who are not ashamed of Christ, those who are not shy to live and witness the power of God on earth, those who are not afraid to stand their ground to shine the light of Christ on earth by singing, “I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you,” (Heb 2:12).
How do you live your faith in everyday life? Are you afraid to be identified as a follower of Jesus Christ? Can you say with confidence before others that you are a brother and friend of Christ? The faithful are called to practice what we know to be true and to reveal to the world what we love in Christ and receive in the gift of grace and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Living the Faith
In every age, the Church has experienced opposition of faith, dealing with people who try to obscure the teaching and light of the Gospel with false and human ideologies that seek to mask God’s love and justice. Jesus Christ paid the price on the cross for challenging false teachers, a people who taught the word of God but were unable to practice what they propagated. According to Christ’s assessment, they were like blind teachers guiding other blind ignorant to the pit of destruction. The followers of Christ are not immune to the present age “antichrist” (1Jn 2:18-25). The faithful cannot shy away from teaching the truth of the Gospel, living the law of love, and witnessing the justice of mercy and unity.
If we are afraid to live and practice our faith in the world, Christ would be ashamed of us when we stand before the throne of judgment on the last day. Jesus calls all the faithful to become not only those who hear the word but fail to practice it in life. The Lord says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16).
Saint Hilary of Poitiers, whom we celebrate today, was a defender of the faith’s authentic teaching. Living in the fourth century, he challenged Arianism, teaching to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ by highlighting that he was only a super-human but not God. In defending the Deity of Jesus Christ, Son of God, he said, “God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others” (De Trinitate 9, 61).
Jesus reminds us of our identity, that we are united with God, that we are the living light that must shine before others so that in our good deeds of faith and love, they may see the face of Christ and give praise to heaven. The Lord says, “A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden” (Mt 5:13-19). If we are not living the faith and practicing the Gospel of love by being the signs of hope in a world full of despair and negativity, we are then the present age antichrist. It is not those who say that they do not believe in Jesus who is anti-faith, but, instead, it is you I who know the truth of the Gospel only in word without translating it to real-life so that its power of change and transformation may take root in our minds and hearts.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Witnessing the Joy of the Gospel
No one can hide from others the joy of the Gospel, the healing of mercy and forgiveness, the touch of pity and compassion that spring forth from the heart of God. The people who have encountered the love of Jesus Christ, the people who are aware of the gift and power of the cross, the death, and resurrection of the Lord, are the living witness of faith. Like the leper touched by Christ and restored to good health, those who have found favor with God goes out to share the joy of the good news with others (Mk 1:40-45). Sharing the joy of the Gospel with others, giving testimony of a life of what Jesus has done in one’s life, is powerful and can speak to the minds and hearts of those who still hunger for God. Every Christian has a mission on earth to make God known to others by the manner of their lives. An encounter with Christ is a source of change and transformation, leaving behind the darkness of sin and embracing the way of light, Christ the Savior.
Healing happens when we can identify the sins that prevent us from entering fully into the life of Christ. Like the leper who was fully aware of his illness, we too must learn how to identify our sickness and seek proper healing in Christ, the healer. We must go out to meet the Lord, asking him to have mercy on us, to pray in humility and surrender to the power of God, and to trust and believe that nothing is impossible for God (Lk 1:37). Prayer and faith in Jesus Christ are our keys to healing and the seal of peace that the world needs.
We all need the touch and healing of Jesus Christ; we need peace in our hearts and joy in our souls. What must we do to receive the healing power of Christ the Lord? Jesus continues to become the fountain of healing and the source of peace by “preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Mt 4:23). We, too, can benefit from the healing power of the Word of God when we heed this call: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:8).
We must remain vigilant to the Evil One’s temptation by continually praying for the Spirit of God to help us see things clearly and choose what is good and pleasing in God’s eye. Saint Paul pleads with each of us, saying, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin” (Heb 3:7-14). Hold on to Christ to the end no matter the challenges of life, for we are held firmly and gently by the grasp of his holy hand, guiding us to the silence of peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Faith that Heals
Faith in Jesus has the power to heal, forgive sin, and restore oneself to the love of God. It is evident in the Scripture how Jesus Christ brings many people to healing based on their faith. No walls or barriers can limit the power of faith to overcome any obstacle that could block the path of connection to God and receive the gift of grace. When Jesus sees the sign of faith in a person or people, he says, “Child, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:1-12), or “Daughter… “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free of your affliction” (Mk 5:34). Faith reveals itself in the manner of one’s life.
What makes Christianity unique and special and different from any other discipline and ways of acquiring insight in life on earth is the gift of faith and grace that comes from God and enters into the hearts of those who are open to receive Christ in their lives. Faith is a way of knowing and understanding things and life aided by God’s Spirit and wisdom. With faith, one can see things just as God sees them. Faith can see beyond created things and see the things of heaven, just like St Stephen was able to see the vision of the glory of God and rejoiced in the beauty of what was revealed to him by offering a holy sacrifice of his own life as a sign and testimony (Acts 7:54- 8:2).
Sin is an obstacle to faith, and that is the reason why Jesus came to overcome the darkness of evil that blinds our vision from seeing the light of Christ. Jesus is the “great prophet” that “has arisen in our midst,” and in him, we now know and believe that “God has visited his people” (Lk 7:16). Faith is to trust that all things are made possible with God even when there is no visible evidence or reason to lead one to believe.
Faith helps us to become fully aware of what God is doing in the world and in our lives seeking us to restore our lives to himself. The Psalmist warns, “Do not forget the works of the Lord!” (Ps 78:3). Faith enables us to lead a holy life guide by the Spirit of love and the wisdom of hope that seeks to witness and share the joy of the healing Gospel with others.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Jesus-Savior of Sinners
Jesus came into the world to save captives, prisoners held by the power of darkness, sin. The Lord interacted and made sinners his friends to win their hearts to forsake evil ways and choose the path of light. It is common to hear people say that they have stopped going to Church because the leaders and the faithful are just a bunch of sinners. The Church is indeed full of those aware that they are sinners in constant need of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love. It is wrong to think that the faithful are already holy and saints who cannot sin anymore. The goal of every Christian is to remain vigilant in prayer, asking God to send his Spirit and protective angels to assist us in our journey of faith, in our fight against the enticement of the Evil One. While we are still sojourners on earth, we remain prone to sin and in need of Jesus Christ, who alone has overcome the power of sin on the cross by turning the sting of death to life eternal.
Jesus was a sign of scandal to many blind teachers of the people who thought that sinners did not have a place in God’s house, table, and care. Jesus continues to remind us of his mission on earth and the purpose of the Church, saying, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:13-17). It requires humility and sincerity of heart to acknowledge that we need God’s help to lead us to holiness. We all need the gift of the Holy Spirit to come to our aid since the master of sin is an evil spirit that can be fought only by the good spirit of God.
St Paul was a great sinner; he arrested and incarcerated the faithful who believed and witnessed Jesus Christ to others. He tasted the mercy of God, who called him while he was still a sinner to come and become an Apostle of the Gospel of healing and redemption. Due to his experience of living in sin and awareness of the gift of grace that God extended to him in compassion and kindness, he is well-placed to teach us about the way of light. He said: “let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin,” Jesus Christ, Savior of humankind (Heb 412-16).
The Church may be involved in many projects that help people, and the faithful may also be doing many service activities in the world. First and foremost, we must not forget the heart of faith and the Church’s mission on earth as already defined by Christ Jesus, who says, “The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives” (Lk 4:18).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Call of God
God comes to call us to return to him, walk in his light, and work with him to build the Kingdom of heaven on earth. How many are attentive to the call of God? How many people would respond when God calls and choose to do his will? The Church, and especially our own diocese, struggles to find enough men and women who could give their lives for the service of God. The vocations to priesthood and sisterhood has become less attractive to the people of this age. Why is this happening? Does it mean that God has stopped calling young people to serve the vineyard of his mission to the Gospel? God continues to invite each of us to become his partner in the service of the Church. The challenge we face is that many people of this age have become deaf to the voice of God. The noise of the enticement of this world’s material things is louder than the whispering voice of God that can only be heard by the silent heart that awaits the promptings of the Spirit.
Are we awake in faith or asleep in doubt and allure of the world? By being watchful in prayer, we can hear the voice of God, the same voice that called the young Samuel, who responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sm 3:3-10,19). We can hear the voice of God when we continue to respond to the question when Jesus asks each of us “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:35-42) We must choose Christ as our goal of life so that when he responds to our search, we may be ready to hear his word and embrace it in love.
An encounter with Christ brings change and transformation. It fills us with grace, the Holy Spirit, and abundant joy that we cannot hide in our hearts. Once the love and mercy of God touch us, we become like St. Andrew, who went out to announce to his brother Simon, “We have found Messiah” (Jn 1:35-42). Many people are still ignorant of Christ because you and I have not fully encountered him in person and are afraid to proclaim him to others. Jesus is calling you today to come and find rest in him. What would you say to his invitation? Please join me in responding to the call of service of love and charity by making the words of the psalmist our own, a testimony of our faith, when he calls out “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will” (Ps 40:8-9).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
January 4 – January 10
Charity of the Mind and Heart
The Catholic education system in the United States can trace its beginning with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, whom we honor and celebrate today. She was a wise woman with a far-reaching vision to understand that for faith to find a path in people’s hearts; their minds should receive training to reason and think sensibly, intellectually, and responsibly. She is the first native-born citizen of the U.S. to be raised to the chair of sainthood. She is a beginner of many things, a lover of God above all things. Her trademark of living her faith was the imitation of Christ-response to the call of service to charity. She is remembered as the first to establish a Catholic school and founded a religious community of women in the United States of America.
St. Seton was a woman who had encountered the light of Christ through many crosses and trials that she had to experience in her life. She found the purpose and meaning of life in the word of God, proclaiming, “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen” (Mt. 4:12-17, 23-25). She became the living light of wisdom to young people and the comforting hand of kindness to heartbroken widows. She understood the language of the young since she was a mother with children to love and teach. After her husband’s death, she tasted the bitterness of losing a loved one and a breadwinner and soulmate. She became a friend of other widows, helping them find a new and better soulmate in Jesus Christ, the defender of the poor and the lover of the little ones.
Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the work of St. Seton, the charity of educating the mind, heart, and soul of the little ones and the humble. He said, “To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (1Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy. With Saint Augustine, let us say: ‘we who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a single teacher’ (Sermons, 23:2)- Address to Catholic Educators, April 17, 2008).
The people who have experienced the light of truth and anointing with the Spirit of wisdom and love know that we “belong to God” as his beloved children waiting in hope for the final day of redemption. St. Seton’s advice to all the faithful is: “Let your chief study be to acquaint yourself with God because there is nothing greater than God, and because it is the only knowledge which can fill the heart with a peace and joy, which nothing can disturb” (Spiritual Writings, sec, 6.182, 298).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Saint of Love in Action
Saint John Neumann is a fruit of the American Catholic Church to the Universal Church, a saint whose love for Christ was lived by attending diligently to the needs of the poor, immigrants, and young people. He manifested Christ’s light to all people under his care by sharing their crosses, a sign of holiness in the school of the passion of purification and service. In a homily of canonization, Pope Paul VI spoke of the holy character of St. Neumann. He said, “His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for Christ’s flock: to provide their needs, to lead them to salvation (Paul VI, June 19, 1977).
The humble Saint was a true shepherd who made use of earthly things to magnify the power of the Word of God and to glorify the beauty of heaven. He chose to live a simple life in imitation of Christ, Mary, and Joseph, so that he may travel along the way of faith without being distracted and captured by the allure of the passing things. He taught others by his way of life to find satisfaction in loving God and peace in receiving and adoring Christ, and joy in embracing Mary, the Mother of the Church and the faithful.
You, too, are called by God to become the light of love on earth. God is our Father, and we are his children; we resemble him when we strive to remain in union with him by becoming agents of the Good News who plant the seed of justice and kindness in our society. We are called to “love one another because love is of God” and is the source of a meaningful life (1Jn 4:7-10).
Jesus reminds us that loving others means sharing with them what we have and our lives. Nothing is impossible where the seed of love is planted. It is easy when faced with a challenge to hold on to what we think is impossible, but Jesus says to us, in time of need, “Give them some food yourselves” (Mk 634-44). We have all we need to serve God and do his will; we have love, have Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit- we are complete and whole, have faith.
May we too become like St. Neumann, who “once…saw a child going from door to door with a bag on his back. His heart was touched, and in his childlike compassion, he exclaimed, ‘Oh, if I only had a bag, I would go about begging with the poor boy, and then would get more!”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
A Saint of Simplicity
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of light, Epiphany of holiness that Saint Andre Bessette of Quebec, Canada, lived by practicing the charity of simplicity, hospitality, and service to all whose life was like sheep without a shepherd. Today, the Church invites the faithful, all who have walked in the darkness of life to rise, to lift their eyes to heaven and see the star at its appearance because it is the sign of a new beginning brought about by the spirit of love and truth. The holy Saint of Canada and the Church is a teacher of the power of simplicity of love and charity rooted in the contemplation of God’s word.
The root of holiness that St. Andre manifested in his obedience to God’s service and in his peace to serve at the table of humility just like St Joseph, who was his trusted teacher in the ways of heaven, sprang from the font of the heart of love. He lived and breathed in the spirit of these words, “God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 Jn 4:11-18). The Saint of simplicity brought love to perfection when he learned to seek and see the face of God in the suffering, little ones, and the despairing people of growing faith who thirsted for the healing of heart and freedom of spirit.
Epiphany of the Lord, revelation of justice and freedom is a source of life for those who are guided by the light of this wisdom: “if we love one another, God remains in us,” for “he has given us of his Spirit” of truth and redemption (1Jn 4:11-18). The world needs God. How can we become living radiance in the world? We can learn from St. Andre that the path of holiness is marked by the signs of “Suffering and poverty,” “prayer and an intense inner life,” “boundless charity, and submission “through love to the divine will.” His advice to all the children of God is, “Do not seek to have your trials removed,” he said, “ask rather for the grace to bear them well” (Benedict XVI, Canonization, October 17, 2010).
To all who believe, the Lord says: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” For today is the rising star of love for all people.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The breath of love
Jesus gave us a new commandment, a new way of being and living in the world peacefully and happily: the law of love. The Lord said: “Love one another as I have loved you.” The way of love which we have been called to practice is not from us but, first and foremost, is of God, given to each of us as a gift in the Son and in the bond of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s love for us is the measure of how you, too, should love one another. The Lord shows us the model of love by embracing our suffering on the cross by sharing our life so that in his mercy, he may open a path for us to God’s compassionate heart.
Can we say with confidence that we love God with all our minds, hearts, and souls? What signs can we show to prove that we are guided by the principle of love and the Spirit of charity? St John the Evangelist teaches us how to know if we are truly following the way of divine love. He warned, “whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn 4:19-5:4). God whom we seek in books, prayer, and fasting, is in our midst dwelling in our neighbors, especially the poor, strangers, and the little ones. Our hope to grow in a relationship with God must pass through the hearts of the people we encounter because by serving them in charity, we touch the living and holy merciful hands of God.
It is easy to love God, whom we do not see, than to welcome and receive a neighbor or stranger, which we encounter every day. We struggle to deal with a neighbor because they mirror back to us what is hidden within our hearts, the lies and fears we mask, and are afraid to change. But even our relationship with God should lead us to a change of life so that we may resemble his face. Where there is love, the light of life shines forth, and the power of faith attracts others like nectar, enticing the appetite of bees.
Love is the only assured power that could conquer the hearts of people and the world of division and heal all things by the word of truth received with the hearing of faith, humility, and justice for all. (1 Jn 4:19-5:4). Like Jesus, who fully embodied the love of the Father by seeking to do God’s will in all things, we, God’s children, must also imitate our Master, teacher, and walk in the way of peace and salvation. The law of love which we must practice is written in these commands: “The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives (Lk 4:14-22). We must discover our own poverty of the Spirit and look to Christ for help to be more like him, seeking to do what is good in the eyes of God.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Healed by the Epiphany of Merciful Love
What does it mean to say that “Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people”? (Mt 423). Is it true that Jesus managed to heal all the sick in his society? Jesus came into the world to announce the epiphany of a new world, a Kingdom of God. The birth of Jesus, His crucifixion, and His resurrection are the medicine and therapy that heal all people of the infection of sin that infect the human soul and poison the human spirit that wound the unity. The people who receive the Word of God with the heart of faith are the ones who experience the healing power of divine love. Epiphany is a universal light that shines for all the world’s people to see, follow, and believe in the birth of the long-awaited Savior and Redeemer.
Does Jesus continue to heal the sick who asks him for intervention? Many people had abandoned their faith, believing that Jesus failed to respond to their prayer when they asked for healing of their sickness. Jesus is more than just curing sick flesh. Yes, he has the power to heal the human body if he chooses to do so, not for his own glory but to reveal and magnify the power of God. Seeking Christ for the sole purpose of solving human and earthly problems is to mask the original mission of Christ: He came to his own people to bring spiritual healing, to reveal the truth to the mind, and save the soul from damnation, in preparation for the joy and glory of the coming Kingdom of heaven.
Through the Sacraments, the Church uses the power of grace to inspire the faithful who partake at the table of divine healing, not to hide the light of Christ that they have become in faith and love. We, the faithful, are the healing light of Christ when we are not afraid to live, witness, and share the joy of the Gospel with others who seek the Lord. The Lord reminds us of our mission of the Gospel on earth, saying: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Christ the Light of New Life
Baptism allows us to become children of God. Due to our first parent’s sin, Adam and Eve, who turned their back against the light of love, friendship, and union with God, they lost the purity of being in the presence of the Father and became blind to the vision of the things of heaven. Separated from God or by hiding from the sight of heaven, the horizon of their vision became narrow, and they could now see themselves as the center of the universe. We, sons and daughters of Adam, the children of pride and greed, inherited the corrupt mind and heart of our first parents and are in perpetual need of healing, freedom, and redemption.
Only God, the Father, who is faithful to the covenant of love, can bring about healing and reconciliation that we all need to enter into God’s dwelling place. Through the gift of a Son, Jesus Christ, God seeks to restore creation to his original perfect plan as was already designed before the epiphany of sin. John the Baptist arrived ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for his birth. He called people to repentance of sin through the baptism of water of purification. John was not Christ but faithfully spoke of him, served him by way of simplicity, died for him by the manner of witness to the truth. Before he breathed his last, he said: “So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
Jesus arrived in the world as the shining light that takes away the darkness of sin, to lead us into the way eternal life. Christ is the living baptism of the children of the Kingdom of God, a baptism of blood, light, and Spirit of truth. Baptism brings about new life in us so that we may begin to follow in the footstep of the Son of God guided by the light of the Gospel. We, “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen” (Mt 4:16).
Christians who have received new birth in Jesus Christ should live in imitation of Christ, seeking to do the will of God in all things, rejecting the darkness of sin, and glorifying the name of God that he may increase in love as we decease in selfishness, greed, and pride.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
At the beginning of his mission on earth, Jesus affirmed that the way to new life, the path to becoming a child of God, is through the waters of purity. The Son of God did not need baptism since he is light, and the darkness of sin has no power over him. Nonetheless, Jesus was baptized to open for us the way to being renewed and restored into the image of God. At the holy hour of his baptism, the heavens opened, and a voice thundered “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased” (Mk 1:7-11).
The gift of grace has transformed all the baptized into union with Christ. They, too, have become beloved sons and daughters of God, a holy people who are found pleasing to God, a people called to imitate Christ by doing the will of the Father in the service of the Kingdom of heaven. The water purifies sin. The blood becomes the victory of life over death. The Holy Spirit is the bond of love and power of revelation-making present God among us, within us, and for us who believe.
The baptism of the Son of Mary and Joseph should remind us of our own baptism, the day that we became children of God, the day that we responded individually and communally to become members of the Family of God and partners in the holy mission of establishing the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Christians are people who dwell in the world and become inwardly made anew, transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the pattern of God-like living and witnessing the light of the Gospel, the way to eternal life. Jesus is our role model for living heaven on earth since he gave his life entirely for the service of God’s people.
Like Jesus Christ, we, too, must strive to become sources of peace and justice in the world, a people eager to do what is good and pleasing to God. How are you living your baptismal identity as a beloved child of God? What can you do to lead the people living in the darkness of sin into the light of Christ, the Savior of the world? It is never too late to renew our baptismal covenant of love for God and charity to our neighbor in the light of servic`e.
Fr. Joseph Oganda