May 31, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:2-4

Do you think there was really a "noise like a strong driving wind" at this first outpouring of the Holy Spirit? And do you think there really were "tongues as of fire" that came and rested on everyone? Well, there most likely was! Why else would have it been recorded that way in the Scriptures?

These physical manifestations of the coming of the Holy Spirit were made present for numerous reasons. One reason was so that these first recipients of the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit would have concretely understood that something amazing was happening.

By seeing and hearing these physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit they were more properly disposed to understand that God was doing something awesome. And then, upon seeing and hearing these manifestations, they were touched by the Holy Spirit, consumed, filled and set on fire. They suddenly discovered within themselves the promise Jesus made and they finally began to understand. Pentecost changed their lives!

We most likely have not seen and heard these physical manifestations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we should rely upon the witness of those in the Scriptures to allow ourselves to arrive at a deep and transforming faith that the Holy Spirit is real and wants to enter our lives in the same way. God wants to set our hearts on fire with His love, strength and grace so as to effectively live lives that effect change in the world.

Pentecost is not only about us becoming holy, it's also about us being given all we need to go forth and bring the holiness of God to all those we encounter. Pentecost enables us to be powerful instruments of the transforming grace of God. And there is no doubt that the world around us needs this grace.

As we celebrate Pentecost, it would be helpful to ponder the primary effects of the Holy Spirit in a prayerful way. Below are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These Gifts are the primary effects of Pentecost for each and every one of us. Use them as an examination of your life and let God show you where you need to grow more deeply in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, send forth Your Spirit in my life and set me on fire with the Gifts of Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, I invite You to take possession of my soul. Come Holy Spirit, come and transform my life. Holy Spirit, I trust in You.

May 29, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." John 21:17

Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Why three times? One reason was so that Peter could "make up" for the three times he denied Jesus. No, Jesus did not need Peter to apologize three times, but Peter needed to express his love three times and Jesus knew it.

Three is also a number of perfection. For example, we say God is "Holy, Holy, Holy." This triple expression is a way of saying that God is the Holiest of all. By Peter being given the opportunity to tell Jesus three times that He loved Him it was an opportunity for Peter to express His love in the deepest of ways.

So we have a triple confession of love and a triple undoing of Peter's denial going on. This should reveal to us our own need to love God and seek His mercy in a "triple" way.

When you tell God that you love Him, how deep does that go? Is it more a service of words, or is it a total and all-consuming love? Is your love of God something that you mean to the fullest extent? Or is it something that needs work?

Certainly we all need to work on our love, and that is why this passage should be so significant to us. We should hear Jesus asking us this question three times also. We should realize that He is not satisfied with a simple, "Lord, I love You." He wants to hear it again, and again. He asks us this because He knows we need to express this love in the deepest way. "Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You!" This must be our ultimate answer.

This triple question also gives us the opportunity to express our deepest longing for His mercy. We all sin. We all deny Jesus in one way or another. But the good news is that Jesus is always inviting us to let our sin be a motivation for deepening our love. He doesn't sit and stay angry at us. He doesn't pout. He doesn't hold our sin over our heads. But He does ask for the deepest of sorrow and a complete conversion of heart. He wants us to turn from our sin to the fullest extent.

Reflect, today, upon the depth of your love for God and how well you express it to Him. Make a choice to express your love for God in a triple way. Let it be deep, sincere and irrevocable. The Lord will receive this heartfelt act and return it to you a hundredfold.

Lord, You do know that I love You. You also know how weak I am. Let me hear Your invitation to express my love for You and my desire for Your mercy. May I offer this love and desire to the fullest extent. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 28, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." John 17:20-21

"Lifting His eyes to Heaven…" What a great phrase!

As Jesus lifted His eyes to Heaven, He prayed to His Father in Heaven. This act, of lifting His eyes, reveals one unique aspect of the presence of the Father. It reveals that the Father is transcendent. "Transcendent" means that the Father is above all and beyond all. The world cannot contain Him. So, in speaking to the Father, Jesus begins with this gesture by which He acknowledges the transcendence of the Father.

But we must also note the imminence of the Father's relationship with Jesus. By "imminence" we mean that the Father and Jesus are united as one. Their relationship is one that is profoundly personal in nature.

Though these two words, "imminence" and "transcendence," may not be a part of our daily vocabulary, the concepts are worth understanding and reflecting upon. We should strive to be very familiar with their meanings and, more specifically, with the way that our relationship with the Holy Trinity shares in both.

During this time of pandemic, we are called and expected to lift our eyes up to heaven where our help will come from. The abilities of the human person will fail but God's greatness is unquestionable. It is also time for us to have and maintain an intimate relationship with God. Jesus prays to his Father, asking that all of the faithful be united in the Father. The unity of which Jesus speaks is based on our faith in him and our commitment to do his Father's work on earth to build up the kingdom.

Jesus' prayer to the Father was that we who come to believe will share in the unity of the Father and the Son. We will share in God's life and love. For us, this means we start by seeing the transcendence of God. We also lift our eyes to Heaven and strive to see the splendor, glory, greatness, power, and majesty of God. He is above all and beyond all.

As we accomplish this prayerful gaze to the Heavens, we must also strive to see this glorious and transcendent God descend into our souls, communicating to us, loving us, and establishing a deeply personal relationship with us. It's amazing how these two aspects of God's life go together so well even though, at first, they can appear to be complete opposites. They are not opposed but, rather, are wedded together and have the effect of drawing us into an intimate relationship with the Creator and sustainer of all things.

Reflect, today, upon the glorious and all-powerful God of the Universe descending into the secret depths of your soul. Acknowledge His presence, adore Him as He lives within you, speak to Him and love Him.

Lord, help me to always lift my eyes to Heaven in prayer. May I constantly turn to You and Your Father. In that prayerful gaze, may I also discover You alive in my soul where You are adored and loved. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 27, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth." John 17:14-17

Jesus' prayer for us to have unity with the Father reminds us of the importance of prayer in our own lives. Let us pray that we are able to listen more carefully to God's plan for us, so that we can more effectively do his work in the world. Jesus prays for all of us - that we might be made one with Him. He prays for those he has come to save - asking that they may share in his joy, be consecrated in truth, and be one with the Father.

"Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth." That's the key to survival! Scripture reveals three primary temptations we face in life: The flesh, the world and the devil. All three of these work to lead us astray. But all three are conquerable with one thing…the Truth.

This Gospel passage above specifically speaks of the "world" and the "evil one." The evil one, who is the devil, is real. He hates us and does all he can to mislead us and ruin our lives. He tries to fill our minds with empty promises, offers fleeting pleasure, and encourages selfish ambitions. He was a liar from the beginning and remains a liar to this day.

One of the temptations that the devil threw at Jesus during His forty day fast at the beginning of His public ministry was a temptation to obtain all the world has to offer. The devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the Earth and said, "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me."

First of all, this was a silly temptation given the fact that Jesus already was the Creator of all things. But, nonetheless, He allowed the devil to tempt Him with this worldly enticement. Why did He do this? Because Jesus knew we would all be tempted with the many enticements of the world. By "world" we mean many things. One thing that comes to mind, in our day and age, is the desire for worldly acceptance. This is a plague that is very subtle but affects so many, including our Church itself.

With the powerful influence of the media and the global political culture, there is pressure today, more than ever, for us as Christians to simply conform to our age. We are tempted to do and believe what is popular and socially acceptable. And the "gospel" we are allowing ourselves to hear is the secular world of moral indifferentism.

There is a powerful cultural tendency (a global tendency due to the Internet and media) to become people who are willing to accept anything and everything. We have lost our sense of moral integrity and truth. Thus, the words of Jesus need to be embraced more today than ever. "Your Word is Truth." The Word of God, the Gospel, all that our Catechism teaches, all that our faith reveals is the Truth. This Truth must be our guiding light and nothing else.

Reflect, today, on how much of an influence the secular culture has on you. Have you given into secular pressure, or the secular "gospels" of our day and age? It takes a strong person to resist these lies. We will resist them only if we stay consecrated in the Truth.

Lord, I do consecrate myself to You. You are the Truth. Your Word is what I need to stay focused and to navigate through the many lies all around me. Give me strength and wisdom so that I may always remain in Your protection away from the evil one. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 26, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you." John 17:1

There is a tenderness in Jesus' words as he turns in prayer to his Father. Knowing what is to come, as his days on earth draw to a close, he seeks to glorify God. He affirms the deep faith his followers have exhibited, and acknowledges that they believe all he has told them. He entrusts them, and us, to God's care.

Jesus speaks to the Father and prays that he may glorify God. He also prays for his disciples who will remain in the world. Giving glory to the Son is an act of the Father, but is also an act to which we should all be attentive!

First of all, we should recognize the "hour" that Jesus speaks of as the hour of His Crucifixion. This may, at first, seem like a sad moment. But, from a divine perspective, Jesus sees it as His hour of glory. It's the hour when He is glorified by the Father in Heaven because He perfectly fulfilled the Father's will. He perfectly embraced His death for the salvation of the world.

We must also see this from our human perspective. From the standpoint of our daily lives, we must see that this "hour" is something that we can continually embrace and bring to fruition. The "hour" of Jesus is something that we must constantly live. How? By constantly embracing the Cross in our lives so that this cross is also a moment of glorification. In doing this, our crosses take on a divine perspective, becoming divinized so as to become a source of the grace of God.

The beauty of the Gospel is that every suffering we endure, every cross we carry, is an opportunity to manifest the Cross of Christ. We are called, by Him, to constantly give Him glory by living His suffering and death in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the hardships you endure. And know that, in Christ, those hardships can share in His redeeming love if you let Him.

Jesus, I surrender my cross and my hardships over to You. You are God and You are able to transform all things into glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 25, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone." John 16:30-32

Have you come to believe in Jesus? How deep is that faith? And why do you believe? Are you ready and willing to hold on to that faith no matter what comes your way? Are you ready to follow Him even if it's difficult and unpopular? Are you ready to suffer as a result of your faith? These are important questions. They are questions that we must answer both when it's easy to be a Christian as well as when it's hard.

It's easy to be a Christian and to follow Jesus when everyone else is doing it. For example, at a baptism or wedding it's normal to want to belong and to let others know of our support and belief in what they are doing. But what about those moments when your faith is ridiculed or put down? Or when you have to make the difficult choice to turn from cultural pressures and stand out for your faith? These are more challenging times to be a follower of Christ.

In today's Gospel, there were many who had been analyzing Jesus' teaching, listening to Him and talking about Him. It seems clear that the consensus was that Jesus was a man of holiness and a great prophet. Many were even coming to believe He was the Messiah. So there was a sort of positive momentum present that made it easier for many people to say that they believed in Him and they believed that He came from God.

Jesus quickly points out to them that, though they believe now, there will be a time that comes soon when most everyone will abandon Him, when they are scattered, and they will leave Him alone. This is obviously a prophesy of His coming persecution and Crucifixion.

One of the greatest tests of our faith is to look at how faithful we are when following Christ is not all that popular. It is in these moments, more than the easy moments, that we have an opportunity to manifest our faith and deepen our resolve to be a Christian.

Reflect, today, on how deep your commitment to Christ goes. Are you ready to follow Him to the Cross? Are you willing to give up everything to Follow Him? Hopefully the answer is a definitive yes. It must be a "Yes" that directs our lives no matter the situation of life we find ourselves in.

Lord, I do believe. Help me to let that faith in You stay strong at all times. Help me to say yes to You and to live that yes always. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 24, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Matt. 28:19-20

Jesus completes His mission on Earth and ascends into Heaven to take His seat on His glorious throne for all eternity. Or does He? The answer is yes and no. Yes, He does take His seat on His glorious throne, but no, He does not complete His mission on Earth. The Ascension is both the end and the beginning. It's a transition to the next phase in the perfect plan of the Father. And understanding the way this plan unfolds should leave us in wonder and awe.

Sure, the Apostles were probably somewhat frightened and confused. Jesus was with them, then He died, then He rose and appeared various times, and then He ascended to the Father before their eyes. But He also told them that it is good that He goes.

In fact, He said that it's better that He goes. They must have been confused. Jesus also told them His Advocate would come to lead them into all Truth. So the Apostles went from joy, to fear, to relief and more joy, to confusion and sorrow, to curiosity and uncertainty.

Sound familiar? Perhaps that's the way some find their lives to be. Ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and sorrows. Each phase reveals something new, something challenging, something glorious or something sorrowful. The good news is that the Father's plan is unfolding perfectly.

The part of the perfect plan we find ourselves in with this solemnity is the part where Jesus begins to direct His mission of establishing the Kingdom of God from Heaven. His throne is, in a sense, the driver's seat of our lives. From Heaven, Jesus suddenly begins to descend continuously into our lives fulfilling His mission in and through the Apostles, as well as all of us.

The Ascension does not mean Jesus is gone; rather, it means Jesus is now present to each and every person who turns to Him and surrenders their life to His mission. From Heaven, Jesus is able to be present to all. He is able to live in us and invites us to live in Him. It's the new beginning of the Church. Now all the Apostles need to do is wait for the Holy Spirit to descend.

Reflect, today, upon the abiding and intimate presence of our Lord in your life. Know that Jesus invites you to share in His mission. From His glorious throne He wants us to "preach everywhere." He wants to invite each one of us to do our part. The part of the Father's plan entrusted to each one of us is not entrusted to another. We all have a share in that plan. What is your part? How does Jesus direct His mission through you? Ponder this question today and know that He accompanies you as you say "Yes" to your part in the glorious unfolding of His perfect plan.

Lord, I do find that my life is filled with many ups, downs, twists and turns. There are joys and sorrows, moments of confusion and clarity. In all things, help me to continually say "Yes" to Your plan. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 23, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father." John 16:25

Why does Jesus speak in "figures of speech" rather than speaking clearly? Good question.

We see this same fact in the many parables that Jesus spoke. Most likely, when people would hear His parables they would walk away asking, "What do you think He meant by that?" So why does Jesus speak in a veiled language rather than speaking clearly and directly?

The answer has to do with us and our lack of openness to the Truth. If we were fully open to the Truth, and if we were completely ready to embrace the Truth no matter what it was, Jesus would be able to speak to us clearly and we would respond immediately. But this is so rarely the way it happens. The key to understanding this is to understand the connection between knowledge of God's will and the willingness to immediately fulfill that will.

So often, we want Jesus to tell us His will, mull over it, consider it, and then come back with our response. But it doesn't happen that way. Rather, if we want Jesus to speak to us clearly, we must say yes to Him even before we know what He wants. Willingness to embrace His will is a prerequisite to understanding His will.

Of course our Blessed Mother is the perfect example of this in her fiat. Prior to the angel coming to her, she continually said "Yes" to the will of God. Then, when the angel came to her and told her what would happen, she asked for clarity. And she did indeed get that clarity as a direct response to her question.

"The Holy Spirit will overshadow you and the power of the Most High will come upon you…" the angel said. But the only reason the angel, as a messenger of God, spoke so clearly was because she had already shown her heart to be fully compliant with God's plan no matter what it would be.

Reflect, today, upon how clearly you hear God speak to you. Do you want Him to be clearer to you? Do you want Him to speak to you with greater clarity? If so, work on surrendering your will over more completely to that which you do not even know. Say "Yes" to that which God wants of you tomorrow, and say "Yes" to it today. Building this habit of saying yes immediately will open the door to greater clarity in all God wants to say.

Lord, the answer is "Yes." I choose Your will today, tomorrow and always. I choose nothing but Your will. As I say "Yes" to You, help me to grow in greater clarity of all you ask of me. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 22, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." John 16:21-22

Anguish in life is common. In small ways, we will experience anguish each and every day. And, from time to time, we will experience the very heavy pains of a particular anguish in our lives.

Does an experience of anguish mean you are not in God's grace? Does it mean that God has left you? Or does it mean that you are doing something wrong? Certainly not. In fact, all we have to do is look at the life of Jesus to see this is not the case. He was in constant anguish throughout His earthly life as He continually entered more deeply into the mission of His Father.

Just prior to His public ministry He was in anguish for forty days in the desert. Throughout His public ministry, He experienced the anguish and exhaustion of His earthly life. He experienced the criticism of others, misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, harsh treatment, and so much more. In the end, we know His fate on the Cross.

Our Blessed Mother had the "sword of sorrow" pierce her heart. She was misunderstood and ridiculed from the beginning as a result of her mysterious pregnancy out of wedlock. She carried a perfect love of her Son and anguished over His future as He grew. She watched many love Him and others harass Him. She watched His mockery of a trial and His Crucifixion.

But think of their lives now. They now reign from Heaven as the glorious Queen of All Saints and the King of the Universe. They live in glory now for eternity. Their anguish has turned to perfect joy.

Reflect, today, upon your own trials in life. The Scripture passage above reveals the promise that God makes to those who endure them with faith. If you feel as though you have been dealt an unfair hand or have been treated unfairly, you are in good company. The key is to walk through this life with grace and dignity. Do not let the trials of this life or its pains get you down. Know that as you remain faithful walking down the path God has set for you, the end result is that you will rejoice! This is simply a fact. Hold on to that hope and keep your eyes on the finish line. It's worth it in the end.

Lord, I surrender my anguish and burdens to You. I unite them to Your Cross and trust that You will be there in all things walking with me through my life. May I keep my eyes on the goal and rejoice in Your steadfast love. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 21, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy." John 16:20

Grief, mourning and even weeping sre part of life. Children will often weep at the slightest difficulty, but all of us face grief and sorrow throughout life. Our present Covid-19 pandemic has caused us so much pain, sorrow and grief.

In this passage above, Jesus informs His Apostles that sorrow and grief will be a part of their lives. This is a very sober but realistic statement on the part of our Lord. It's an act of love, on His part, to be up front with His Apostles about the coming hardships they will face.

The good news is that Jesus follows this statement with the hopeful news that their "grief will become joy." This is the most important part of what Jesus says. So in our situation let us be hopeful for the light and joy that will return after this time.

Jesus does not promise us that our lives will be free from hardship and pain. He does not tell us that following Him means that all will be easy in life. Instead, He wants us to know that we will follow in His footsteps if we choose to follow Him.

He suffered, was mistreated and ultimately killed. And this would be tragic if He did not ultimately rise from the dead, ascend into Heaven and transform all prior grief and pain into the very means of the salvation of the world.

If we follow in His footsteps, we need to see every bit of grief in our lives as potentially a means of grace for many. If we can face the hardships of life with faith and hope, nothing will ultimately keep us down and everything will be able to be used for God's glory and will result in great joy.

Reflect, today, upon these words of Jesus. Know that He was not only speaking them to His Apostles, but also to you. Do not be scandalized or shocked when life deals you some difficulty. Do not despair when suffering is placed before you. Surrender all things to our Lord and let Him transform it into the joy that He promises in the end.

Lord, I surrender to You all suffering in my life. My grief, hardships, sorrow and confusion I place in Your hands. I trust that You are all-powerful and desire to transform all things into a means of Your glory. Give me hope in times of despair and trust when life is hard. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 20, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth." John 16:12-13

As we continue to get closer to the wonderful Solemnity of Pentecost, we continue to focus in on the Holy Spirit. This passage specifically points to the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Truth."

It's interesting how Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit under this title. He explains that He has much more to tell them, but they cannot bear it now. In other words, the "Truth" is too much for them to bear unless the Holy Spirit is alive within them and teaching them. This gives us two wonderful insights worth pondering.

First, if we have not truly opened our lives to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we can be certain that we cannot bear the Truth. We cannot understand the deep truths of God and we cannot believe them unless the Holy Spirit is alive within us.

That's a frightening thought in that, when the Holy Spirit is not fully immersing someone, that person is left in the dark regarding all Truth. And, sadly, they will not even realize they are in the dark! If that does not make sense then perhaps you, too, suffer a bit from a lacking of the Spirit of Truth. Why? Because when the Spirit of Truth is alive within, you will know that you know the Truth.

Secondly, when you have fully opened your mind and heart to the Holy Spirit, you will become hungry for the Truth. The Holy Spirit will "guide you to all truth." And one of the effects of being guided into all truth is that you will be amazed with the journey. You will be in awe at the understanding of things that open up in your mind. You will be able to make sense of things in a new way. The Holy Spirit is the perfect "guide" and the journey toward the Truth is glorious.

Reflect, today, upon the Truth as it resides in the mind of the Father in Heaven. How open are you to the Truth? How fully do you embrace all that God wants to reveal to you? Open yourself more fully to the Holy Spirit and seek all that He wishes to reveal to you.

Holy Spirit, come consume my life. Teach me and guide me into all Truth. Holy Spirit, Divine Lord, Merciful Father, I trust in You.

May 19, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7

The hearts of the Apostles were conflicted. They were filled with grief, but they were also trying to trust what Jesus said to them. Jesus told them He was ascending to His Father and that it was better for them that He go. Why? Because if He goes, He will send the Holy Spirit to them.

On a human level, it would have been quite hard for the Apostles to let go of their daily interactions with Jesus. They certainly missed seeing Him with their eyes, touching Him and hearing Him. But Jesus made it clear that even though He was leaving He would be with them always. And He would also send the Holy Spirit upon them to lead them, give them courage, and teach them all truth. They would now be His presence in the world by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We never had the privilege of seeing Jesus in the way the Apostles did. But we do have the same privilege of Him being with us always. And we have the same privilege of receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is good. It is very good. But it is a good that we often miss. We may have been confirmed, but we may also still fail to let the Holy Spirit in and transform our lives.

In less than two weeks, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. This is the annual celebration of the fulfillment of this promise of Jesus. On that day we commemorate the fact that the Holy Spirit has come and that we are now in the time of the Holy Spirit.

Reflect, today, and over the next couple of weeks about the Holy Spirit. Humbly admit to yourself if you need to let the Holy Spirit become more alive in your life. Trust that Jesus wants you to receive Him in His fullness. And be not afraid to let this union take place.

Holy Spirit, please come to me. Help me to fan into flame Your presence in my life. May I receive You who was promised by Jesus in Your fullness. Holy Spirit, Divine Jesus, Merciful Father, I trust in You.

May 18, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you." John 16:2-4

Most likely, as the disciples listened to Jesus tell them they would be expelled from the synagogues and even killed, it went in one ear and out the other. Sure, it may have disturbed them a bit, but they most likely moved on rather quickly not worrying too much about it. But this is why Jesus said, "I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you." And you can be certain that when the disciples were persecuted by the scribes and Pharisees, they did remember these words of Jesus.

It must have been a heavy cross for them to receive such persecution from their religious leaders. Here, the people who were supposed to point them to God, were wreaking havoc in their lives. They would have been tempted to despair and lose their faith. But Jesus anticipated this heavy trial and, for that reason, warned them that it would come.

But what's interesting is what Jesus did not say. He did not tell them they should fight back, start a riot, form a revolution, etc. Rather, if you read the context to this statement, we see Jesus telling them that the Holy Spirit will take care of all things, will lead them and will enable them to testify to Jesus.

To testify to Jesus is to be His witness. And to be a witness to Jesus is to be a martyr. Thus, Jesus prepared His disciples for their heavy cross of persecution by the religious leaders by letting them know that they would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to give witness and testimony to Him. And once this began to take place, the disciples began to recall all that Jesus had told them.

You, too, must realize that being a Christian means persecution. We see this persecution in our world today through various terrorist attacks upon Christians. Some see it also, at times, within the "Domestic Church," the family, when they experience ridicule and harsh treatment for trying to live out their faith. And, sadly, it's even found within the Church itself when we see fighting, anger, disagreement and judgment.

The key is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit plays a significant role right now in our world. That role is to strengthen us in our witness to Christ and to ignore any way the evil one would attack. So if you feel the pressure of persecution in any way, realize that Jesus spoke these words not only for His first disciples, but also for you.

Reflect, today, upon any way that you experience persecution in your life. Allow it to become an opportunity for hope and trust in the Lord through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He will never leave your side if you trust in Him.

Lord, when I feel the weight of the world or persecution, give me peace of mind and heart. Help strengthen me by the Holy Spirit that I may give joyful witness to You. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 17, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept…" John 14:15-17

On this, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we begin to turn our eyes toward the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this passage above, Jesus speaks of asking the Father to send another Advocate to be with us always. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, Jesus uses the title, "Spirit of Truth" to refer to the Holy Spirit. He also points out that the world cannot accept the Holy Spirit.

We are currently living in what we may call the "Age of the Holy Spirit." This is the age that Jesus spoke about with His Apostles. Therefore, it's good to look at the coming of the Holy Spirit in the way Jesus revealed it.

First, regarding the title, "Spirit of Truth," we should ponder whether we are able and willing to accept the full Truth that comes with receiving the Holy Spirit.

If we are of the world, embracing worldly ideas and values, then we will not be able to accept the Holy Spirit. However, if we are able to see the errors of our world and the many false values within it, we will more easily be able to reject those values and embrace the Holy Spirit and the many truths that the Spirit reveals.

Furthermore, if we are open to the coming of the Holy Spirit, we will receive the greatest Advocate we can have in life. The Holy Spirit is THE Advocate, meaning, the only helper we need. Becoming consumed by the Holy Spirit provides us with every grace necessary in life.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus' promise to His Apostles has been fulfilled and that you have the ability to receive that promise here and now in your life. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and anticipate celebrating Pentecost Sunday in two weeks.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 16, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." John 15:20

Today's Gospel message is a sobering reminder that if we are following Christ in an authentic way that truly exemplifies his teachings, we will meet opposition. Yet the hope that sustains us - which comes with being chosen by Christ - gives us the strength to carry out the mission of the Kingdom.

Do you want to be like Jesus? If so, beware of what that means. It's easy to think that the closer we grow to Christ the more we will be loved and understood by the world. We can think that everyone will see our holiness and admire it and all will be good and easy in life.

But all we have to do is look at the life of Christ to know this is not the case. He was obviously perfect in every way. As a result, He was treated with great malice and persecution. It's hard to fathom the dark truth that they actually killed Him. In the dark of the night, He was arrested, given a mock trial, found guilty and sentenced to death. His punishment was then carried out immediately.

Why did they do this to the Son of God? Why would someone so perfect and merciful in every way be so cruelly treated?

If we were there, as His first followers, we would have most likely been shocked, frightened, scandalized and confused. We may have thought that Jesus messed up and lost hope in Him. But His plan was perfect in every way and His plan did centrally involve Him enduring false accusations and malicious persecution. And by freely accepting this abuse, He redeemed the world.

So back to the original question, "Do you want to be like Jesus?" This is a tough question when we look at it in the light of what happened to Him. "No slave is greater than his master." "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." These are tough sayings to accept and agree to.

Persecution is something from which we should not run. We should not despair if it happens and we should not hold our head low. Why? Because persecution is a clear sign that we are following in the footsteps of our Master. We are more deeply united to Christ as a result of persecution than we could ever realize.

The key is to know that God intends to use all maltreatment for good if we let Him. And we let Him use it for good when we surrender it to Him and receive it freely, not begrudgingly. Our response must be to "rejoice and be glad" that we have been found worthy to follow in the steps of our Divine Lord.

Ponder today any form of persecution or injustice you suffer for the sake of your faith and embrace of the Gospel. The Lord wants to use that if you let Him.

Lord, I do surrender to You all that weighs me down. I give any suffering I receive for being Your follower. May I not only imitate You in Your suffering, but also in Your willing embrace of it. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 15, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain." John 15:16

Children love to play games. When a game is organized between two teams, kids will often line up and wait to be chosen. Each child hopes to be chosen first. It is affirming to be wanted for the team. When a child is chosen last this can be difficult and hurtful.

This reveals the desire within each of us to belong and to be wanted. The good news is that God does choose each one of us. We have been chosen by God to make a difference in our society. God wants us as a member of His family and He wants us to belong to Him. This is essential to understand and, when it is understood, it is very affirming.

It is a good spiritual practice to regularly reflect upon the fact that God chose us even before we were born. He knew us from all eternity and set His eyes upon us, longing to bring us into His fold. We need to understand this, accept it and believe it. We do belong.

God not only chooses us to belong to Him, He also chooses us for His mission. He wants to use us to go and bear fruit for His Kingdom. We have be chosen to bear good fruit for the kingdom. God wants to use us for a sacred purpose and a divine calling.

Being a member of His "team" means that our lives have purpose and meaning. No matter how "unqualified" we may feel at times to make a difference, we must remember that God does not see us that way. Rather, He sees the infinite potential within each of us and chooses to use that potential for the building up of His Kingdom.

Reflect, this day, on two short phrases: "I have chosen you" and "Go and bear fruit." Accepting your call from God will change your life and will also change the lives of those whom you are called to serve.

Lord, I know You have chosen me. I accept Your call in my life. I accept the fact that You have appointed me to fulfill Your mission in a unique and glorious way. Help me to continually say "Yes" to Your call. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 14, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love." Jn. 15 :9-10

As Jesus at with his disciples, he knew this could be the last evening together. Of all the things he would have shared with them, he decided to tell them about the Father's love - a love that they seemed so slow to learn or understand. Can the human person fully understand or grasp this glorious reality?

That same love with which the Father loves Jesus - the intimate, self-giving, abundantly creative love shared among the Trinity - is now our inheritance as Christians through Jesus. Can we ever grasp that Jesus loves us just as fully and completely as the Father loves him? There are some life situations we find ourselves as Christian that we tend to doubt Jesus' love for us. In our present Covid-19 pandemic situation, some of us Christians mourn and in our grief question Jesus' love. Jesus still loves us just as the Father loves him.

How does the Father love Jesus? Throughout history, we see God working to bring glory to his son, beginning with his decision to create a universe that would reflect His splendor. Even when the human person fell into sin and darkness, God promised a restoration and redemption through his Son.

When Jesus offered himself up for our salvation, God raised Him from the dead and enthroned Him in glory, once again lavishing honor and love to Him. Jesus' heart of humble obedience so pleased the Father that he held nothing back from him. This is the love Jesus has for us. Everything Jesus does, both in the world and in our lives arises from his love for us. Our present condition of Covid-19 is not Jesus' making.

Everything happening is man-made. This condition is born out of human's greed and quest for adventure. God has given the human person the gift of freedom He would not take back. How do we use our freedom today? Jesus calls us today to remain in his love. when we use our freedom in a self-giving way, we remain in Jesus's love. The experience of Jesus' unwavering love for us can melt any hardness in our hearts. It can move us to obey God's commands when we don't want it. It can teach us to share His love with others when we would rather withdraw into self-concern.

Reflect today on the Father's love for Jesus expressed all through history. Reflect on how this love has propel Jesus to keep the Father's command in self-abandonment and self-giving all through his work of redemption. Seek to abide in Jesus' love as he asks only this from you.

Lord Jesus, enkindle in me the fire of your love. Open my heart to receive the love which the Father has for me, the same love He continuously bestows upon you. Jesus I trust in You.

May 13, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit." John 15:1-2

Are you willing to let yourself be pruned? Pruning is necessary if a plant is to produce an abundance of good fruit or beautiful flowers. If, for example, a grapevine is left to grow without pruning, it will produce many small grapes that are good for nothing. But if care is taken to prune the vine, the maximum number of good grapes will be produced.

Jesus uses this image of pruning to teach us a similar lesson in bearing good fruit for His Kingdom. He wants our lives to be fruitful and He wants to use us as powerful instruments of His grace in the world. But unless we are willing to go through the purification of spiritual pruning from time to time, we will not be the instruments that God can use.

Spiritual pruning takes the form of letting God eliminate the vices in our lives so that the virtues can be properly nourished. This is especially done by letting Him humble us and strip away our pride. This can hurt, but the pain associated with being humbled by God is a key to spiritual growth.

By growing in humility, we grow ever more reliant upon the source of our nourishment rather than relying upon ourselves, our own ideas and our own plans. God is infinitely wiser than us and if we can continually turn to Him as our source, we will be far stronger and better prepared to let Him do great things through us. But, again, this requires that we let Him prune us.

Being spiritually pruned means we actively let go of our own will and our own ideas. It means we give up control over our lives and let the master grower take over. It means we trust Him far more than we trust ourselves. This requires a true death to ourselves and a true humility by which we acknowledge we are completely reliant upon God in the same way a branch is reliant upon the vine. Without the vine, we shrivel and die. Being firmly attached to the vine is the only way to life.

Pray this day that you will let the Lord prune away all that is not of Him in your life. Trust in Him and His divine plan and know that this is the only path to bearing the good fruit God wants to bear through you.

Lord, I pray that You prune away all my pride and selfishness. Purify me of my many sins so that I can turn to You in all things. And as I learn to rely upon You, may You begin to bear an abundance of good fruit in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 11, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"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." John 14:23

Children seem to get it. They seem to understand that God dwells in their hearts. Of course if you asked them how they know this they may look at you with a confused look and not know how to respond. But, nonetheless, somehow they do understand that God dwells within them.

So what would you say if someone asked you, "How do you know that God comes and makes His dwelling within you?" Perhaps you also may be at a loss for words to describe this incredible mystery of our faith. Do you believe this to be true? That God wants to make your heart and soul His dwelling place? If so, how does this happen?

By the gift of faith we, like little children, just know that God wants to dwell within us. We know that He wants to possess our souls, speak to us, strengthen us, lead us and guide us. We know, by the gift of faith, that God is real and desires the deepest and most intimate relationship with us. We just know.

The good news is that faith leads to understanding. This means that the more we are attentive to the voice of God speaking within us, leading and guiding us, the more we begin to understand His indwelling presence.

As St. Augustine said, "Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of faith is to see what you believe." Faith in God's indwelling presence leads us to the answer of the question above. The answer is one that God and God alone can give to us. We can share our faith with others, give witness to His presence in our lives, and give those around us the answer to that question through faith. How do I know God dwells within me? The answer: Because I see Him there, I speak to Him there, and He speaks to me.

Reflect, today, upon the Lord living within you. Let Him speak to you and, in that ever deepening conversation, allow His Indwelling Presence to grow and to become manifest to others. God wants to not only dwell within you, He also wants to shine through you.

Lord, come live in my heart. Make my heart Your dwelling place. Help me to see You there, to meet You there, to converse with You and to love You in my soul. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 9, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own." John 14:10

These words from Jesus, once again, reveal the intimate unity He has with His Father. He and the Father are one and what He says also comes from the Father. John's Gospel is filled with this language as a way of highlighting their perfect unity.

Though there is much we could say about the unity of the Father and the Son, it's important to remind ourselves that these words spoken by Jesus should also ideally be words we speak. How wonderful it is to be able to say that WE also do not speak on our own but that the Father speaks through us. This should be our constant goal.

If we speak words to others on our own, relying upon our own wisdom and insights, then we must also humbly admit that our words will not be that powerful. This is hard to admit but is true. We can easily fall into the trap of thinking our opinions are right and that others need to listen to us.

If, on the other hand, we are able to speak words that have the backing of the Father, words that are spoken from His heart, then we will begin to see that those words make a true difference in the lives of others. Words matter and we should always be very careful as to what we say and how we say it.

Allowing the Father to speak in and through us suddenly gives our words new conviction and power. They become words that God speaks to others and words that enable God to make a difference in their lives.

Reflect, today, upon your daily speech. If you struggle with not knowing what to say, or how to say it at times, then a good prayer to pray is for the grace to speak only that which the Father gives you to speak; nothing more and nothing less. Pray that prayer and be confident that God has a lot to say through you.

Lord, give me Your words to speak. Help me to always turn to You in my heart in confidence so that You are the source of all truth and goodness. May that truth and goodness come forth from me each and every day. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 8, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be." John 14:2-3

From time to time it's important that we focus in on the glorious reality of Heaven! Heaven is real and, God willing, one day we will all be united there with our Triune God. If we properly understood Heaven, we'd long for it with a deep and burning love and we'd look forward to it with a powerful desire, being filled with peace and joy every time we think of it.

Unfortunately, however, the thought of leaving this Earth and meeting our Maker is a frightening thought for some. Perhaps it's the fear of the unknown, the realization that we will leave our loved ones behind, or possibly even a fear that Heaven will not be our final resting place.

As Christians, it's essential that we work at fostering a great love of Heaven by gaining a proper understanding of not only Heaven itself, but also the purpose of our lives on Earth. Heaven helps order our lives and helps us stay on the path that leads to this eternal beatitude.

In the passage above we are given a very consoling image of Heaven. It's the image of the "Father's house." This image is a good one to reflect upon because it reveals that Heaven is our home. Home is a safe place. It's a place where we can be ourselves, relax, be with loved ones, and feel as if we belong. We are God's sons and daughters and He has decided that we belong there with Him.

Reflecting on this image of Heaven should also console those who have lost a loved one. The experience of saying goodbye, for now, is very difficult. And it should be difficult. The difficulty of losing a loved one reveals that there is true love in that relationship. And that is good. But God does want the feelings of loss to also be mingled with joy as we ponder the reality of our loved one being with the Father in His home for eternity. They are happier there than we will ever be able to imagine, and we will one day be called to share in that joy.

Reflect, today, upon this image of Heaven: our Father's House. Sit with that image and let God speak to you. As you do, let your heart be drawn to Heaven so that this desire will help to direct your actions here and now.

Lord, I do long to be with You eternally in Heaven. I long to be comforted, consoled and filled with joy in Your home. Help me to always keep this as my goal in life and to grow, daily in a desire for this final resting place. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 6, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me." John 12:44-45

Now on a literal level, this is hard to comprehend. How is it that those who looked at Jesus were looking also at the Father? How is it that seeing Jesus was seeing the Father in Heaven?

The answer is quite simple. The unity that the Father and the Son share is a perfect unity. They remain distinct Persons but they are also united as one. They are united in their perfect love and in the perfect communion of their wills.

For that reason, knowing Jesus is also knowing the Father. But the truth is that the Father's presence is veiled just as the divinity of the Son is veiled. Though we do not have the experience of seeing Jesus walk the Earth as the first disciples did, we find the same reality every time we come before the Holy Eucharist.

When we enter a church and genuflect before the tabernacle, it's important to always be exceptionally cognizant of the fact that we are in the full divine presence of God the Son. And for that reason, we are also in the full and divine presence of the Father! Their presence is real and absolute. It's just that they are hidden from our five senses.

But one key thing to ponder here is the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Prayerfully reflecting upon their unity is a very healthy meditation for our prayer life. Why? Because we are called to share in their unity, and we are called to share in unity with one another.

Unity is hard. It takes a tremendous amount of love. It means being fully present to the other, seeking to fully understand, accept and know them. And the Trinity is our model for this. Be it parents and children, spouses, friends or others, we are called to a deep and abiding unity.

Think about someone you know well. And think about someone that person knows well and loves. To a certain degree, you may feel you know that other person just by knowing the one who knows them. For example, say you have a very close friend who has a child and your friend shares much with you about their child. What you're experiencing is the unity of that parent and child in your relationship with your friend.

So it is with God. As we come to know God the Son, we automatically come to know God the Father. And the good news is that if we know God, and then let another get to know us, the effect is that we will be letting them come to know God through us. This is one of the wonderful ways to evangelize and bring God to those whom we know and love.

Reflect, today, upon your relationship with God and how that relationship shines through in all other relationships you have. Commit yourself more fully to knowing and loving God so that others around you may also benefit from your love of Him.

Lord, help me to come to know and love You and, in that relationship, to come to know and love the Father and the Holy Spirit. And as I grow in love for You Most Holy Trinity, help me to bring that love into every relationship I have so that I may be an instrument of Your love to others. Most Holy Trinity, I trust in You.

May 5, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe." John 10:24-25

This statement of Jesus may have left His followers confused. They wanted to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and so they asked Him to tell them plainly if He was the Messiah. And how did He respond? He tells them that He already told them and they failed to believe. This is an interesting situation.

The first thing to say about this is that Jesus was not being critical. He was helping them to understand His language. He was helping them to understand that the answer to their question was not a matter of Jesus simply telling them, "I am the Messiah!"

Rather, the answer to their question had to come to them from the Father in Heaven, spoken to their hearts as they listened to Jesus and witnessed His miracles. The answer was to be given to them by the gift of faith that had to be received from within. This gift of faith would give them the certainty they so desired.

The same is true with us. Perhaps you've wanted God to come down from Heaven at times and tell you "plainly" the answer to this or that question. For instance during this covid-19 pandemic, we may have different questions and are waiting for answers. God answers but our understanding of God speaking to us is different from the way God does. He does not do speak in our language.

He does it in His perfect way with His perfect language. It's the language of faith and it requires a complete submission of our minds and wills to God to hear and understand. This is the only way to become converted in the way God wants us to be.

Reflect, today, how well you listen to God speak. You most likely can learn to listen to Him more clearly, discerning His voice of Truth. As you hear Him, let yourself become completely convinced of all that He says. And let that deep conviction rule your life.

Lord, I so often do not let myself hear You plainly through the gift of faith. I so often want the easy answer to the difficult questions. Help me to grow in patience so that I may know You and allow You to become my true Shepherd. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 4, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep." John 10:11-13

What are you most familiar with in life? What voice or voices echo in your mind most of the time? There are many influences we receive on a regular basis. Some are good and some are not so good. Often times we can talk ourselves into believing that the many "voices" or influences that we encounter on a daily basis do not affect us. We are pressured by the voice of the media, pop culture, love of money, a desire for recognition and so much more. These are powerful influences and, whether we want to believe it or not, they do affect us.

The Gospel above gives us insight into this internal struggle in that it contrasts the voice of the Shepherd with the voice of a stranger. The sheep are easily taught and conditioned. They learn the voice of their shepherd because it was common practice for shepherds to regularly speak to their sheep. Once the sheep became used to the shepherd's voice, they would turn and follow him when he called.

So it is with us. We will follow the voice of that which we are most familiar. Whatever it is that we immerse ourselves in each and every day will grow on us and draw us, even unknowingly, to follow.

This begs the question, "What are you most familiar with?" Ideally, we spend sufficient time in God's Word, learning His language, tone and voice. Ideally, we dedicate some portion of our day, every day, to silent contemplation of God. As we do this, we build a habit of hearing Him speak and we become comfortable with and comforted by His voice.

Once this habit is established in us, it will be much easier to go about our busy day hearing God whenever He chooses to speak. We will immediately recognize it is Him and we will follow.

Reflect, today, upon that which calls to you the loudest. Don't let the many other voices in our world drown out God's voice. Instead, prepare yourself for the moments He chooses to speak. And when He does speak, let that voice grab your attention so that you can follow.

Lord, help me to know and love Your gentle voice throughout my daily life. May that voice overwhelm all others that compete for my attention. I choose You, dear Lord, as my one Shepherd and guide. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 3, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. " John 10:2-4

Four things happen in this story:

First, the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd.
Second, the shepherd calls his own sheep by name.
Third, the sheep hear his voice.
Fourth, the shepherd leads the sheep through the gate.

Who is the "gatekeeper?" Saint Augustine says that one answer to this is that the gatekeeper is the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit is to open our minds to the truth, to a deeper understanding of Scripture, and therefore, to a deeper understanding of Christ Himself. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will open your mind and your heart to know and love Christ as your shepherd, if you let Him.

Once this happens, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will speak your name, personally. Not audibly, but through the gift of faith. You are not only one of many sheep; rather, you are His dear one whom He knows and loves on an intimate and personal level. Therefore, this passage calls us to an intimate and personal relationship with Christ the Good Shepherd.

Knowing we are personally and intimately loved by Christ, that we are called by name, invites and encourages us to listen. Do you listen? And if you listen, do you hear? "Hearing" Christ speak to us in this personal and intimate way should motivate us to action.

What action? To be led. Normally a shepherd walks behind the sheep and they run on ahead. But in this story, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who calls you by name, leads you "through the gate." Jesus Himself is the Gate. We are called to become one with Him and, through Him, to enter into the bosom of the Father in Heaven. Through Him we enter into new life itself, life of union with Him Who is our Shepherd.

Reflect, today, upon this fourfold journey to which you are called. Pray to the Holy Spirit that your mind and heart will be opened to know and love Christ. Then prayerfully listen for Christ to speak to you. Hear Him, respond to Him and allow Him to draw you into His open heart of perfect love.

Holy Spirit, please open my ears to the Voice of the Good Shepherd and my mind to all that He speaks. My precious Lord Jesus, You are my Shepherd, I choose, this day, to follow Your voice when You speak, and to do so with complete trust and abandon. I love You, my Lord, and I thank you for loving me with such tender and intimate care. Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I trust in You.

May 2, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:66-68

What a perfect response from Peter. The context of this story is quite fascinating and revealing. Jesus had just completed His beautiful and profound discourse on the Holy Eucharist stating clearly that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink and that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.

As a result of His teaching on the Eucharist, there were many who "returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with Him." In other words, Jesus' teaching on the Eucharist was difficult for many to accept and believe.

Interestingly, after Jesus speaks this profound teaching on the Eucharist, and after many leave Him as a result, He does not backpedal or change what He said. Instead, He asks His Apostles if they wish to leave also.

This question by Jesus to the Apostles is important to understand. By asking it of them in a very direct way, Jesus is giving them complete freedom to choose. He does not pressure them to believe what He just taught.

This is significant because the level of detachment that Jesus offers is a way of inviting a completely free acceptance, on the part of the Apostles, of His glorious teaching on the Eucharist. They are truly free to accept or reject it. It is this freedom that allows them to radically deepen their faith in Jesus.

Peter speaks up and gives a wonderful response. "Master, to whom shall we go?" These words of Peter reveal clearly two things. First, this was a difficult situation in that people were walking away from Jesus. But secondly, Peter and the other Apostles were aware that they must believe despite the difficulty.

Just because many left Jesus and refused to accept His words was no reason for the Apostles to leave Him, also. In fact, we can hear in Peter's words a manifestation of faith that they have come to believe in Jesus so completely that leaving Him would be utter foolishness. Where would they go? Why would they leave? Peter reaffirms his faith in Jesus even though following Him at that moment was not the "popular" thing to do.

Reflect, today, upon your own level of commitment to Jesus. Know that you are completely free to follow Him or to leave Him. But if you choose to follow Him, do not do it half way. Know that Jesus' words are powerful, challenging and demanding. He wants you to believe in Him and follow Him with your whole heart and with profound commitment. Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and we must accept and believe those words with all our might.

Lord, to whom else shall I go if I do not follow You? You and You alone are the one whom I choose to believe in and follow. Help me to embrace all that You have taught and help me to freely choose You each and every day of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

May 1, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you." John 6:52-53

Certainly this passage reveals much about the Most Holy Eucharist, but it also reveals the strength of Jesus to speak the truth with clarity and conviction.

Jesus was facing opposition and criticism. Some were upset and challenging His words. Most of us, when we find ourselves under the scrutiny and wrath of others, will back down. We will be tempted to be overly concerned about what others say about us and about the truth we may be criticized for. But Jesus did exactly the opposite. He did not give in to the criticism of others.

It's inspiring to see that, when Jesus was faced with the harsh words of others, He responded with even greater clarity and confidence. He took His statement about the Eucharist being His Body and Blood to the next level by saying, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you." This reveals a man of the utmost confidence, conviction and strength.

Of course, Jesus is God, so we should expect this from Him. But nonetheless, it is inspiring and reveals the strength we are all called to have in this world. The world we live in is filled with opposition to the truth. It's opposed to many moral truths, but it is also opposed to many of the deeper spiritual truths. These deeper truths are things such as the beautiful truths of the Eucharist, the importance of daily prayer, humility, abandonment to God, putting God's will above all things, etc. We should be aware of the fact that the closer we grow to our Lord, the more we surrender to Him, and the more we proclaim His truth, the more we will feel the pressure of the world trying to steal us away.

So what do we do? We learn from the strength and example of Jesus. Whenever we find ourselves put in a challenging position, or whenever we feel as though our faith is being attacked, we must deepen our resolve to be all the more faithful. This will make us stronger and turns those temptations we face into opportunities for grace!

Reflect, today, upon the way that you react when your faith is challenged. Do you back down, give into fear and allow the challenges from others to affect you? Or do you strengthen your resolve when challenged and allow persecution to purify your faith? Choose to imitate the strength and conviction of our Lord and you will become a greater visible instrument of His grace and mercy.

Lord, give me the strength of Your conviction. Give me clarity in my mission and help me to serve You unwaveringly in all things. May I never cower when faced with the challenges of life but always deepen my resolve to serve You with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.