July 30, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." Matthew 13:49-50

Jesus says the Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, collecting fish of every kind. When the net is brought ashore, the good and bad fish are separated: Thus it will be at the end of the age.

The passage above is not all that inspiring of a statement at first read, is it? But it should be inspiring in the way that it was intended. It was intended to put a certain "holy fear" in us as well as reassure us of God's justice. This is inspiring, just not in the usual way we think of being inspired.

But sometimes we need a little holy fear of God and His justice in our lives. In our day and age sin is becoming continually more accepted and "normal." Our worldwide culture seems to be growing steadily more secular. Immoral living of many types appears to be on the rise. As a result, it is easy for us to start seeing sin as normal and even acceptable. In fact, when we name sin as sin, our world often calls us judgmental and hateful.

If you find yourself at times feeling pressured to give in to the sins and immorality all around you and just "accept it," then perhaps the passage above will inspire you to do just the opposite. The absolute truth is that Jesus has named some things as sin and committing those sins brings grave consequences.

It could be the very subtle cultural practice of turning the Lord's Day (Sunday) into anything but a day of rest. Or it could be grave violations to the sanctity of married and family life through the redefinition of marriage.

Each of us will certainly notice various ways in which we feel our faith is challenged and even attacked. If that's you, then this Scripture is for you. Jesus is serious about sin and the consequences of sin. That should inspire us to not only live holy lives, but also to do all we can to assist those caught up in the disordered cultural tendencies to change their lives.

Reflect, today, on how strongly you are opposed to sin. Sin is evil and destructive. You must always love the person who commits sin, but you ought never offer support or approval for their actions that are contrary to the law of God. Standing strong in the face of cultural opposition is a great act of love and may free some, one day, from the "wailing and grinding of teeth" of which Jesus spoke.

Lord, where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. Your grace is so needed today in our world and in my life. Help me to stay strong in my opposition to evil and sin so as to be among those who are gathered into Your Kingdom. Give me courage to do all I can to help those on the path of destruction. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 29, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." Luke 10:41-42

The Lord asks for our complete trust in him. The story of Mary and Martha allows us to ask ourselves if we, too, are anxious and worried about many things. Instead of anxiety, Jesus asks for our trust in him. To know that God is the sovereign Lord brings us comfort in an anxious world. Today the Lord asks for our trust, so that He can bring healing and peace into our hearts and lives.

As we honor St. Martha, today, we should acknowledge the fact that most of us are probably much more like her than Mary. Mary chose the better part. We, too often, choose the anxious and worrisome part.

Martha was deeply loved by Jesus. This is evident even in the small detail of Jesus saying her name twice. "Martha, Martha…" This is a sign of affection. But His love for her was such that He wanted to point her to the better part, too. He wanted her, like Mary, to rest from her anxiety and worry and rest with Him.

Sure, there was much to be done. There was a dinner to prepare and guests to feed; Jesus being the most important guest. But Jesus cuts through all the normal parts of hospitality and focuses in on the most important part. He focuses in on love. He honors Mary for kneeling before Him and encourages Martha to do the same.

Perhaps there are many times during our busy days that this invitation from Jesus should be listened to. There are many times when we simply need to stop and listen, be present and adore.

Entering into quiet and stillness with Jesus is most often far more "productive" than doing, doing, doing. We often can strive to find our worth in all that we do when Jesus is saying that our worth is actually found in who we are. And who are we? We are people called to be in the constant presence of our Lord, loving Him and being fed by Him.

Reflect, today, upon your daily prayer life. Do you pray? Perhaps you say a few prayers here and there. But do you pray? Do you take time to stop everything else, fall on your knees and be still in the presence of our divine Lord? Doing this will do more for your life and the lives of others than if you worked non-stop 24/7.

Lord, help me to seek Your still silent presence. Help me to surrender over my anxiety and worry. Jesus, bathe me in Your grace and help me refocus each and every day on You. Jesus, I love You. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 28, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear." Matthew 13:40-43

There are many challenges to a life of discipleship. When we wonder about God's presence, we can think about two things: The first is that God has, and always will, remember his covenant with us. The second is, if we're not seeing God, then it is we who are surrounded by weeds that need removing. To cultivate the seed, the word of God, in our lives is to focus on bearing good fruit in his name, and not allowing the things of this world to get in our way.

Jesus explains the parable of the weeds in the field to his disciples. He attaches its meaning to the end of the age when the righteous will shine like the sun and be separated from all evildoers.

Imagine that day! Imagine if that day were tomorrow. If Jesus were returning tomorrow and executing all justice upon the world, would you worry about any injustice today? Probably not. Instead, there would be an ability to sit back and be at peace knowing that justice was coming.

Well, that day is coming soon. That's what Jesus said. Granted, that was said almost 2,000 years ago, but for Him it is still soon. Time, for God, takes on an eternal perspective. Therefore, the end of the world is as real for God today as it is when it actually happens.

This is a good thing to keep in mind when we see evil thrive and injustice grow. It's so very easy to get angry and upset about the daily victories of the evil one. But fear not and worry not. God truly is in control. He knows what He is doing and He will have the final glorious victory over all things.

So think about that. When Jesus does return in all His glory and sets all things right, will the evil we now endure even matter? In fact, from the eternal perspective, the evil we endure should only serve to give us holy endurance. It has all potential to be used by God to manifest His grace and strength in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the eternal perspective. If you persevere through all things now, and you strive to do so with patience and grace, you can be certain that all the struggle and all you have to endure will be worth it in the end. In the new glorious Kingdom of God you will be at peace, and joy will fill your life forever. Every wrong will be made right and God will be victorious. Make sure you have "ears to hear" this truth and hold on to it through all things.

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your final victory. Help me to patiently await Your final victory and to endure the evil of this world with the grace and strength You give me. May I never forget the final promise that You have spoken to me. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 27, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches." Matt. 13: 31-32.

God's kingdom is built up in many ways, often from the smallest of beginnings. Today we reflect on how our efforts, no matter how insignificant, can contribute to building the kingdom of God. Similar to the transformation that takes place from a tiny mustard seed or a speck of yeast, God can bring about great things from the smallest starting point.

Too often we tend to feel as though our lives are not nearly as important as others. We can often look to others who are far more "powerful" and "influential." We can tend to dream about being like them. What if I had their money? Or if I had their social status? Or if I had their job? Or was as popular as they are? Too often, we fall into the trap of the "what ifs."

This passage above reveals the absolute fact that God wants to use your life for great things! The smallest seed becomes the largest bush. This begs the question, "Do you feel like the smallest seed at times?"

It's normal to feel insignificant at times and to wish we were "more." But this is nothing more than a worldly and erroneous daydream. The truth is that each one of us is capable of making a HUGE difference in our world. No, we may not make the nightly news or receive national awards of greatness, but in God's eyes we have potential beyond what we could ever daydream about.

Put this in perspective. What is greatness? What does it mean to be transformed by God into the "largest of plants" as the mustard seed is? It means we are given the incredible privilege to fulfill the exact, perfect and glorious plan God has for our lives. It is this plan that will produce the best and most abundant eternal fruit. Sure, we may not get the name recognition here on Earth. But so what?! Does that really matter? When you are in Heaven will you be depressed that the world did not recognize you and your role? Most certainly not. In Heaven all that will matter is how holy you became and how completely you fulfilled the divine plan for your life.

Saint Mother Teresa often said, "We are called to be faithful, not successful." It is this fidelity to the will of God that matters. St Augustine said, "the God who created you without your knowledge will not redeem you without your cooperation." Your working out you salvation in fidelity to who you are really count.

Reflect, today, upon two things. First, reflect upon your "littleness" before the mystery of God. By yourself you are nothing. But in that humility, reflect also upon the fact that when you live in Christ and in His divine will you are great beyond measure. Strive for that greatness and you will be eternally blessed!

Lord, I know that without You I am nothing. Without You my life has no meaning. Help me to embrace Your perfect and glorious plan for my life and, in that plan, to achieve the greatness to which You call me. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 26, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:44

In our gospel reading of today, Jesus describe the kingdom of heaven like a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price which when found, becomes a cause of joy that will mean selling everything to possess it.

What "pearl of great price" does God have in store for you today? Obviously, it is not winning a lottery ticket or an actual pearl. It is an opportunity to bring the reign of God into our world today. Jesus continue to speak about the kingdom of heaven. Like the pearl of great value or great treasure, the kingdom of heaven is worth giving up everything to obtain

There are three things to reflect upon in regard to this passage: 1) The Kingdom of God is like a "treasure;" 2) It's hidden, waiting to be found; 3) When discovered, it's worth giving up everything we have to obtain it.

First, it's helpful to reflect upon the image of the Kingdom of God being like a treasure. The image of a treasure brings with it various lessons. A treasure is often considered enough to make one rich if found. If it were not of such great value it would not be considered a treasure. Thus, the first lesson we should take is that the value of the Kingdom of God is great. In fact, it's infinite in value. Yet so many people see it as something undesirable and choose many other "treasures" in its place.

Second, it's hidden. It's hidden not in the sense that God does not want us to discover it; rather, it's hidden in the sense that God does want us to discover it. It's waiting for us, waiting to be discovered and rejoiced in when found. This also reveals the great excitement one has in making this authentic discovery of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Third, when someone discovers the riches of the Kingdom of God and the riches of the life of grace, the experience should be so awe-inspiring that there is little hesitancy in making the choice to give everything up so as to obtain that which was found. What joy there is in coming to an awareness of the life of grace and mercy! It's a discovery that will change one's life and lead one to abandon all else in pursuit of the new treasure that has been discovered.

Reflect, today, upon your own experience of discovering the Kingdom of God. Have you allowed yourself to be drawn into amazement at the value of this treasure? If so, have you also allowed the discovery of this life of grace to so deeply attract you that you are ready and willing to give up everything to acquire it? Put your eyes upon this gift of infinite value and allow the Lord to direct you in its pursuit.

Lord, I love You and I thank You for the treasure of the Kingdom that You have prepared for me. Help me to make this hidden discovery each and every day in a more complete and awe-inspiring way. As I discover this treasure, give me the courage I need to abandon every other selfish endeavor in life so that I may seek this one and only gift. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 25, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" They said to him, "We can." He replied, "My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." Matt. 20: 22-23.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee asks Jesus to grant her sons a high place in his Kingdom. But in God's kingdom one's greatness is measured by one's service. So, Jesus says that whoever is to be great in God's kingdom must be a servant to others. This stands in stark contrast to the ways of the world.

The above reference was a very gentle rebuke by Jesus. The mother of James and John asked Jesus for a favor. She wanted her sons to sit at His right and left in His Kingdom. Jesus gently said, "You do not know what you are asking" and then went on to speak the passage above.

"You do not know what you are asking." Why did Jesus say this? In part, it's because the path to glory, that is, the path to sitting at His right and left in the Kingdom, is the path of the Cross. It's the path of freely embracing the sufferings of the Cross with Jesus. It's not possible to enter into His glory without first walking with Him through His death.

So He asks these Apostles, "Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" In other words, can you embrace my Cross? Can you embrace my suffering? Can you walk with me through my ultimate sacrifice and participate in that sacrifice by also offering your lives?

The Apostles affirm that they can and, indeed, they eventually do follow Jesus in His sacrifice by giving themselves completely to others.

Reflect today on the following questions:Can you drink that chalice? Can you willingly accept the Cross in your life? Can you endure hardship, sacrifice and, perhaps, even persecution for being a follower of Jesus? Can you walk with Him through His suffering? If the answer is "Yes," then you will share in His glory. Perhaps that glory will not be to sit at His right and left, but it will be a glory beyond your wildest imagination. It's worth it and it's an invitation that you will never regret accepting.

Lord, I do desire to drink the chalice You drank. I desire to receive Your Precious Body and Blood and in that reception to receive the strength and grace I need to follow You in Your sufferings. As I follow You in Your sufferings, help me also to share in Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 24, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away." Matthew 13:20-21

God's word, falling on rich soil, bears fruit and nourishes his people. Jesus uses parables to help explain his truth to all who listen. Like the rocky ground or the thorns in the parable, the seeds of God's word may not take root if the ways of the world distract us. Rather, we should strive to become the rich soil allowing the word of God to prosper.

What kind of a Christian are you? Are you a "pop-Christian?" That may be a new word. But it gets at the heart of this particular Christian described above. This passage is one of four types of Christians identified in the Parable of the Sower. There are some who are like seed sown on a path, some like seed sown on rocky ground, some who are like seed sown in thorns, and some like seed sown in rich soil. Each one of these descriptions provide much to think about.

Let's look at the Christian who is like seed sown on rocky ground, the one who has no roots. Practically speaking, this is the person who could be described as a "pop-Christian." It's the person who professes faith in Christ when it's popular and well accepted by others. When it's easy and convenient, this person is all in. But as soon as there is some challenge given to the Gospel, to the Word of God, and suddenly following Christ is not popular within the culture, this person is quick to choose the culture over the Truth.

This is a very real phenomenon in our day and age. The culture and the world as a whole are becoming more and more hostile toward the truth of our Christian faith. The world is becoming stronger, more influential, more of a bully, and appears to be winning the battle. This is a problem. And the real problem stems from too many Christians who lack deep roots in their life of faith.

The ideal is to have the Word of God sown deep into our hearts where there is rich soil. When this happens, the Word grows and becomes strong and stable. And in the midst of a cultural or social "storm," the Christian with deep roots and deep faith will not waver.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you are absolutely willing to stand with Christ and for the Truth no matter how hard or unpopular it may be. Are you willing to endure the ridicule and misrepresentation the world gives to the Truth? Are you willing to stay strong in your faith in the midst of an increasingly secular society? If you struggle with being a "pop-Christian," pray that God will sink His roots down deep into your heart so that you will be unwavering no matter the cost.

Lord, I desire that Your Word sink deep into my heart. I desire to stay strong in my faith no matter the cost. Help me to be radical in my faith and in my love in all things. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 23, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Matthew 13:10-12

Does that seem fair? At first read, it may not. Why would Jesus promise more to those who have more, and less to those who have not? This goes to the heart of the mystery of grace, and the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven!

First of all, we see that Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds but spoke clearly and directly to His disciples. Jesus explains that this is "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted." So, for that reason, Jesus speaks in veiled speech when speaking to the vast crowds.

To speak plainly here, what Jesus is saying is that some people are simply more open to the truth than others. When someone is not open, Jesus is limited and, thus, He must speak in parables. One goal of a parable is to get someone thinking. It's a way of drawing them in so that they can engage their minds with the Word that was spoken.

When someone is open to the Truth, such as the disciples, Jesus is able to lift the veil and speak clearly, deeply and beautifully about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. This must be our goal. We must seek to be those who "get it." We must seek to understand all Jesus speaks and believe it wholeheartedly. In fact, once we do begin to believe and, subsequently, live what we come to believe, we will begin a wonderful journey of faith and understanding that we never knew existed before.

This is what Jesus means when He says, "to anyone who has, more will be given." The life of grace is such that, once we begin to accept all that is true and then allow it to transform our lives, we will be given exponentially more than we ever imagined. And, on the flip side, when we refuse to listen and understand, even the little faith and understanding we have will slowly slip away into confusion.

Reflect, today, on how open you are to the Word of God and all that God wants to say to you. Seek to listen and understand. If you do this, you will discover that there is a glorious life of grace just waiting to be lavished upon you in full force.

Lord, I do want to know You. I do want to seek You and to discover all that You have to say. Help me to turn to You in all things and to grow continually deeper in the life of faith. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 22, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." John 20:15-17

We have the power and strength to share Christ's love with others. Jesus, had power during his earthly life to draw people to himself, and imparted that power to them when they showed their faith. Just like Mary Magdalene, Jesus calls us to be his disciples and to spread the word of his life and love to everyone we meet.

What a privilege! Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Lord, and there is no doubt that many would have concluded that she was the most unworthy person to receive such a blessing.

Scripture states that Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Clearly, one who was possessed by seven demons had lived a sinful life. In the late 6th century, Pope Saint Gregory the Great also identified her as the sinful woman who was almost stoned. Jesus did not condemn this woman and told those who wanted to stone her that the one without sin should cast the first stone. One by one they left, and Jesus forgave her and reconciled her to the Father.

After encountering our Lord, Mary became His faithful follower, being one of the holy women to daily serve and care for His needs. For that reason, we now call her "saint." But this passage above tells us even more about Jesus and His mercy.

This passage is taken from the account of Jesus' Resurrection. Mary had gone to the tomb only to find it empty. She sat there weeping thinking that someone took Jesus' body away. But suddenly, before her eyes, Jesus was there and alive. His words were piercing and profound. He said, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." There are two things to say about this passage.

First, it was indeed a wonderful blessing that Jesus appeared to her first. This sinful woman was now the first witness and first messenger to the Resurrection. This tells us that Jesus does not discriminate against us because of our past sins. He does not have a long memory holding us forever accountable for what we've done in the past. His forgiveness is absolute when given and it completely restores us to grace if we are open. This is what happened with Mary. Jesus chose her, this formerly sinful woman, to be His first witness of His Resurrection.

Secondly, this passage reveals that Jesus does want us to cling to Him, just not in a purely human way. Mary had come to know Jesus on Earth and now Jesus wanted to deepen His bond with her once He ascended into Heaven. At that time, He wanted to be more than just physically present, He wanted to dwell within her soul and unite Himself to her, and to us, in the most intimate and profound way.

Reflect, today, upon the desire in the Heart of our Lord that we cling to Him in Heaven. Hear Him say to you, "I have now ascended to my Father and I invite you to cling to me with your whole heart. Let me in and allow me to dwell within you in all intimacy. I love you and want to be one with you. Will you let me into your heart?"

Lord, I do want to cling to You. I do choose to be one with You in every way. Come live in my heart and make me one with You. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 21, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matthew 12:48-50

There is mercy and forgiveness for all who do the will of the Father. God desires salvation for us, and is merciful and compassionate toward the sinner. Those who repent and follow the Lord's commands are part of God's family and will not be left behind. Jesus asks, Who is my mother… [and] my brothers? And then answers, it is whoever does the will of my heavenly Father.

The passage above offers a wonderful opportunity to speak about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some who read this passage fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus was in some way distancing Himself from His mother. It's as if they conclude that His statement ignores her special role in His life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that His statement affirms her motherhood more than anything. Why? Because He is speaking about how one becomes a true member of His family. And that happens when one "does the will of my heavenly Father."

Think about that line. Who better fulfilled the will of the Heavenly Father? Who was more obedient in all things than the Blessed Virgin? No one was. She acted in perfect obedience throughout her life and, therefore, she perfectly fulfills the requirement of being Jesus' family.

One thing we should take from this passage is that our Blessed Mother's relationship with Jesus was lived on two levels. First, there was the physical motherhood she was blessed with. This was an incredible grace and one for which she deserves great honor. But her physical motherhood was not the primary reason for her blessedness.

The primary reason was a result of her spiritual motherhood. And this spiritual motherhood is seen in this passage above. It is the result of her perfect "Yes" to God in all things. This is the primary reason she is to be honored and called "blessed" for all ages.

Reflect, today, upon the role that our Blessed Mother holds in your life. God wants you to honor her, to imitate her and to make her part of your family. He wants you to receive her as your spiritual mother insofar as you are a member of Jesus' family. If you strive for obedience to the will of the Father in your life you will also share in the blessings of His life. One of those great blessings is to share His mother.

Lord, I do desire to be obedient to You and Your will in all things. I desire to embrace the Father's perfect plan for my life. In that will, help me to share in Your divine life and become a full member of Your family. In that family, help me to take Your mother as my own. Dear Mother, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 20, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet." Matthew 12:38-39

Jesus refuses to give the scribes and Pharisees a sign, telling them that their generation will be condemned at the judgment.

Jonah was the sign. He spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale. He certainly was presumed dead by those who threw him over the side of the boat. But the whale acted as an instrument of God's will in that it brought Jonah to Nineveh to preach repentance. And they did repent and change their lives! The darkness of the belly of the whale, in the end, became a blessing and a sign for ages to come.

Fast forward from the story of Jonah to the story above when the followers of Jesus seek a sign from Him. They want some sort of "proof" of who He is. Or perhaps they are just curious and want to be "entertained" by a miracle. Whatever the case may be, Jesus makes it clear that the sign He will give is the sign of Jonah.

Clearly, the story of Jonah is a prefiguration of the death of Jesus; His three days in the tomb and His Resurrection. This is the sign that Jesus will offer and the sign that He continues to offer. It's a sign of great hope when we perceive it properly.

However, very often we can fall into the same temptation as the followers of Jesus in the story above. Very often we also want a sign other than the signs Jesus gave us. We want some other proof from God of His will. We want Him to speak loudly and clearly. But that doesn't always happen. More often what we experience is what appears to be silence from God.

We may wonder, and ask "Lord, where are You? Why don't You speak to me?" But Jesus will speak to us in the same way. He will gently remind us of His life, death and Resurrection. He will remind us that we must believe in all that He has spoken, and even if we feel like we are in the belly of a whale or dead in a tomb, hope is not lost. God is present in all things and He is active and present to us even when He seems to be silent.

Reflect, today, upon how strong your faith is even though you may not get the sign from Heaven that you may want. You must be reminded that the Father spoke to you clearly through the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus and this is the way He continues to speak to you today. Listen to that lesson and embrace the truths it proclaims. Even if you feel like you are in a tomb or God is silent, know He is not. He is speaking to you all the time. You just need to discern His voice.

Lord, help me to believe in You even though I do not see miracles or signs from Heaven. Help me to believe in You despite any doubts or weaknesses I have in life. Give me a firm faith to answer Your call in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 19, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well." Matthew 13:24-26

God is patient and kind. Growing in faith is like striving to grow as wheat in a field mixed with weeds. We are faced with temptations, we do not pray as we ought, we are weak and in need of forgiveness. But God is just and kind; he judges with leniency, sends his Spirit to our aid, lovingly nurtures us, and patiently awaits our growth.

The introduction to this parable should wake us up to the reality of the evil one in our midst. The specific action of the "enemy" in this parable is disturbing. Imagine if this story were true and you were the farmer who worked very hard at sowing the seed throughout your field. Then, if you awoke to hear the news that weeds had been sown also, you would be quite saddened, angered and disappointed.

But this parable is especially about the patience of God and the Son of God. Jesus is the one who has sown the good seed of His Word and watered that seed with His Precious Blood. But the evil one, the devil, has also been at work trying to undermine the work of our Lord.

Again, if this were a true story about you as a farmer, it would be hard to refrain from much anger and a desire for revenge. But the truth is that Jesus, as the Divine Sower, does not allow the evil one to steal His peace. Instead, He has allowed this action of the evil one to remain for now. But in the end, the works of evil will be destroyed and burned in the unquenchable fire.

What's also interesting to note is that Jesus does not root out all evil in our world here and now. According to the parable, He refrains so that the good fruit of the Kingdom will not be negatively affected. In other words, this parable reveals to us the interesting truth that the "weeds" all around us, that is, the evil alive within our world, cannot affect our growth in virtue and entrance into the Kingdom of God.

We may have to endure evil on a daily basis and find ourselves surrounded by it at times, but our Lord's willingness to allow evil for now is a clear sign that He knows it cannot affect our growth in virtue if we do not let it.

Reflect, today, upon the reality of evil in your world. It's essential that you name evil activity for what it is. But evil cannot ultimately affect you. And the evil one, despite his malicious attacks, will ultimately be defeated. Reflect upon the hope that this truth brings and renew your trust in the power of God this day.

Lord, I pray that You do deliver us all from the evil one. May we be freed from his lies and snares and always keep our eyes upon You, our Divine Shepherd. I turn to You in all things, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 18, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. Matthew 12:14

We must follow Jesus' example of humbly doing the Father's will. We place our hope in Jesus, who humbly fulfilled his Father's will. This contrasts with those who cheat and scheme to enrich themselves at the detriment of others.

However, if God in his justice sees to it that the wicked are repaid, how much more will his servants be rewarded for following his will? The Pharisees plot to put Jesus to death. Jesus withdraws from the area, and cures those who followed him, but he warned them not to make him known.

If you really sit and think about this, it's shocking, sad and even scandalous. Here, the religious leaders of the time were actively, intentionally and calculatedly plotting to kill the Savior of the world. The very One whom they were supposed to be preparing for and hoping for became their object of malice, hatred and ultimate persecution.

It is shocking and, therefore, we should have a deep sorrow at their actions. But sorrow at their actions does not mean we need to fall into an irrational anger, despair or a mindset of revenge. Sorrow at the malicious actions of the Pharisees is actually a form of love toward them in that a deep sorrow at their actions is a way of calling them to repent.

Sure, this happened many years ago and the actual Pharisees who acted in this calculated and malicious way are no longer with us. Nonetheless, Jesus continues to be persecuted in numerous ways, and sometimes this persecution is even found among those who claim the name Christian and even those who act in leadership within our Church and world.

Practically speaking, we all may be able to identify in some way with the plotting and planning of Jesus' persecution. It would be highly unlikely that we experience this malice to the extent that Jesus did, but all of us have most likely experienced it to one extent or another.

Sadly, when we radically commit ourselves to Christ and His mission, we often become a target of the evil one. And very often, we experience the arrows of the evil one from those who should be our greatest supporters.

If this is your experience in some way, do not be scandalized or overly shaken. It's appropriate to be saddened by it, but don't give in to irrationality as a result. Persecution is a part of following Christ. It happened to Jesus and we should, therefore, expect it to happen to us.

Reflect, today, upon how you deal with the hurt and malice of others. You are not the one who is given the right to judge or condemn them. But you are called to experience the same sorrow that Jesus did. This sorrow is a holy sorrow which is spoken of in the Beatitudes. It's a sorrow which will enable you to reject the errors you encounter and grow in patience and endurance.

Lord, when I feel ridiculed or persecuted by others, help me to stand strong in my faith and, especially, in my charity. Help me to allow a holy sorrow to strengthen me to have hope and to move forward in the mission You have given me. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 17, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men." Matthew 12:7

The Apostles of Jesus were hungry and they picked heads of grain as they walk along to satisfy their hunger. As a result, the Pharisees condemned the Apostles for doing what they claimed was "unlawful" on the Sabbath. They claimed that picking heads of grain as they walked along was considered "work" and, thus, they violated the law requiring rest on the Sabbath.

Really? Did the Pharisees seriously think that the Apostles sinned by picking grain as they walked along to satisfy their hunger? Hopefully it's not hard for us to see the absurdity and irrationality of this condemnation. The Apostles did nothing wrong but were condemned nonetheless. They were "innocent men" as Jesus points out.

Jesus responds to the irrationality of the Pharisees by reminding them of the Scripture, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." And He points out that the Apostles were wrongly condemned because the Pharisees do not understand this passage and this command from God for mercy.

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, calls for mercy and not simply adherence to the law. As people of faith, we are called to be people of prayer. Yet developing and growing a life of prayer can be a great challenge. To begin we need to be honest before the Lord and to ask for divine help in our endeavors, remembering at all times that our prayer must be matched by the witness of our daily lives.

The Sabbath commandment to rest was from God. But the commandment to rest was not a requirement for its own sake. This was not some legal requirement that somehow honored God just by strictly keeping it. The Sabbath rest was primarily a gift from God to humanity in that God knew we needed rest and rejuvenation. He knew we needed time each week to slow down, offer special worship to God and enjoy the company of others. But the Pharisees turned the Sabbath rest into a burden. They made it out to be a strict legalistic observance that did nothing to glorify God or refresh the human spirit.

One key truth we can learn from this passage is that God calls us to interpret His law through the eyes of mercy. Mercy always refreshes us, lifts us up and fills us with new energy. It motivates us to worship and fills us with hope. Mercy does not impose a heavy legalistic burden upon us; rather, God's mercy and law together rejuvenates us and refreshes us.

Reflect, today, upon how you look at God's commands and His law. Do you see it as a legalistic and burdensome requirement? Or do you see it as a blessing of God's mercy meant to lighten your load?

Lord, help me to love Your law. Help me to truly see it in the light of Your mercy and grace. May I be refreshed by all You command and be lifted up by Your will. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 16, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

God's love brings strength where there is weariness, and life where there is death. Often, we can see our struggles, weaknesses, and sufferings as obstacles to closeness with God.

Today we see a God who invites the weary and brokenhearted to come to him, whose love is stronger than death, and who will cause the dead to rise.

The invitation from Jesus is one that we may need to hear far more often than we realize. It's a gentle invitation to let our Lord lighten our daily burden, relieve our worries, our stress, our concerns and all that weighs us down. It's an invitation of love and mercy and is one we should always accept.

What is it that burdens you? What is it that weighs you down and tempts you to fall into depression, sorrow or even despair? Is there something that you tend to think about obsessively? Is there some concern that you can't seem to shake? Whatever it is that troubles your heart, Jesus wants to lift it.

Sometimes we can go through life with heavy burdens that we are afraid to let go of. We can be fearful of coming to Jesus and fearful of letting Him in. Coming to Jesus means we must face whatever it is that burdens us with honesty and openness and we must face these burdens in the presence of Jesus.

But the key thing we need to know is that Jesus is gentle, merciful and generous in forgiveness and grace. He longs to lift our burdens far more than we long to have them lifted. He sees the oppression many face and so deeply desires to have that oppression eliminated.

Reflect, today, upon that gentle invitation from Jesus: "Come to me." Come to Him without fear and without hesitation. Turn everything over to Him and let Him sort things out. He loves you more than you know and will set your feet on the right path.

Lord, I do come to You and I do lay down my life and every burden before You. I give You my life, my hopes, my fears, my past, my future and everything that worries me. Jesus, I give You everything. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 15, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Matthew 11:25

Is Life not complicated.? That’s a good question. At times things can seem very complicated. For instance the covid-19 pandemic of the past months. Other situations we find ourselves in, relationships with family and friends, our future, our past, etc., can all seem burdensome and complicated at times.

But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be. The truth is that God’s answers to the most “complex” questions in life are often simple enough for a child to understand. Jesus tells us that God reveals himself not to the wise but to the childlike.

In the passage above, Jesus affirms that the Father reveals His answers and wisdom to those who are childlike. Interestingly, He also states that the Father has “hidden these things from the wise and learned.” So this begs the question…is it better to be “wise and learned” or “childlike?” Obviously the answer is that it’s better to be childlike.

This may seem confusing at first. It can seem strange to say that it’s not good to be “wise and learned.” But what that means is that it’s not good to be a person who thinks they have it all figured out. It’s not good to be arrogant and a know-it-all. It’s not good to be so filled with pride that we think we have all the answers.

The ideal is to have certain characteristics of a child. In particular, it’s good to be one who is open, curious, and willing to learn. It’s good to look at life in the simplest of ways and to stick to the basics. Sure, it’s good to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the things of God.

But true wisdom and knowledge always maintain a certain innocence and simplicity. They maintain a basic goodness and acceptance of right and wrong. Life does not have to be complicated, it needs to become exceptionally simple. The virtue of humility is what helps us to look beyond ourselves and our abilities to see God, who is goodness itself.

Reflect, today, upon how ready and willing you are to turn to God for the simple and clear answers to life’s most difficult questions. Reflect upon how willing you are to turn to God in trust and hope knowing that God has all the answers to your life.

Lord, once again I turn to You in trust. Help me to realize that all wisdom comes from You rather than myself. Help me to always turn to You as a child would and help my life to remain simple as You desire. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 13, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household." Matthew 10:34-36

Jesus tells his disciples and by extention all of us that he has come to bring not peace but the sword, and that following him requires taking up one's own cross.

Can these words really come out from Jesus who is the prince of peace? Did Jesus really say this? This is one of those passages that can leave us a bit baffled and confused. But Jesus does this all the time so we shouldn't be surprised. So what does Jesus mean? Does He really want to bring the "sword" and division rather than peace?

It's important when reading this passage that we read it in light of everything else Jesus has ever written. We must read it in light of all His teachings on love and mercy, forgiveness and unity, etc. But with that said, what was Jesus talking about in this passage?

In large part, He was speaking about one of the effects of the Truth. The Truth of the Gospel has the power to deeply unite us to God when we fully accept it as the Word of Truth. But another effect is that it divides us from those who refuse to be united to God in the Truth. We are not intending this and we ought not do so by our own will or intention, but it must be understood that by immersing ourselves in the Truth, we are also putting ourselves at odds with everyone who may be at odds with God and His Truth.

Our culture today wants to preach what we call "relativism." This is an idea that what is good and true for me may not be good and true for you but that, in spite of all having different "truths," we can still all be one happy family. But that's not the Truth!

The Truth (with a capital "T") is that God has established what is right and what is wrong. He has set His moral law over all of humanity and this cannot be undone. He has also set forth the truths of our faith and those cannot be undone. And that law is as true for me as it is for you or anyone else.

This passage above offers us the sobering reality that by rejecting all forms of relativism and by holding onto Truth, we also run the risk of division, even with those in our families. This is sad and this hurts. Jesus offers this passage especially to strengthen us when this happens. If division happens as a result of our sin, shame on us. If it happens as a result of the Truth (as offered in mercy), then we should accept it as a result of the Gospel. Jesus was rejected and we should not be surprised if that happens to us, too.

Reflect, today, upon how fully you are ready and willing to accept the full Truth of the Gospel no matter the consequences. The full Truth will set you free and will also, at times, reveal the division present between you and those who have rejected God. You must pray for unity in Christ, but not be willing to compromise so as to bring about a false unity.

Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to accept all You have revealed. Help me to love You above all things and to accept whatever the consequences are of me following You. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 12, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. Matthew 13:1-2

This is not a common experience. It is clear that people were in such awe of our Lord that they were drawn to Him with a holy and divine attraction. The crowds were mesmerized by Jesus and they hung on His every word. They were so drawn to Him that they crowded along the shore to listen as Jesus spoke from the boat.

This Gospel story should pose a question to you on a personal level. Are you drawn to Jesus in a similar way? There are many things we find ourselves drawn to. It may be some hobby, or a personal interest, perhaps it's your job or some other aspect of your life. But what about our Lord and His holy Word? How drawn to Him are you?

Further in this gospel, Jesus taught the crowd in the parable of the sower. A parable that speaks about the generosity of God and the different soil types. When attracted to Jesus, do we just hear him or listen to him. What kind of soil are we? What kind of fruit do we bear?

Ideally, we should discover within our hearts a burning desire to be with Jesus, to know Him, love Him and encounter His mercy more fully in our lives. There should be a tug on our hearts that is placed there by Jesus Himself. This tug becomes a divine attraction that becomes the central motivation for our lives. From this attraction we respond to Him, listen to Him and give our lives more fully to Him. This is a grace given to those who are open and are ready and willing to hear and respond.

Reflect, today, upon the merciful Heart of our Lord calling you to turn to Him with all the powers of your soul. Allow Him to draw you in and respond by giving your time and attention to Him. From there, He will lead you where He desires you to go.

Lord, my life is Yours. Please draw me into Your most merciful Heart. Help me to be mesmerized by Your splendor and goodness. I give to You all the powers of my soul, dear Lord. Please take me and lead me according to Your most holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 11, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known." Matt. 10 :26

Jesus tells his disciples to proclaim what they have heard from the housetops and not to be afraid. He encourages them not to be afraid and assured them of the Father's love.

The passage above is either a very consoling thought, or very frightening depending upon what you may have "concealed" or what you hold "secret" within your heart. What is there, in the depth of your conscience? What is hiding that only God sees for now? There are two extremes into which people can fall in this regard, and many places between the extremes.

The first extreme is that person who lives a phony public persona but secretly lives a very different life. These are those who fall into the sin of hypocrisy, or are what we may call "two-faced." This is a frightening situation to be in. It's frightening because those living this sort of life are never truly at peace. They are completely caught up in what others think and what their public image looks like. Interiorly, they are filled with much sorrow, anxiety and fear. This person struggles greatly with any and every form of true humility, honesty and integrity.

But with that said, there is also another form of person who lives a hidden life. This is the hidden life of the saint! Take, for example, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was seen as a fornicator early in her life and this "public image" of her was never corrected in this world. How else would she have gotten pregnant with Jesus? many thought. But the truth was that her soul was the most beautiful, pure and holy creation God ever made. And now, the beauty of her interior life is manifest before the angels and saints and will be made manifest for all eternity!

The promise of the Scripture above is that everything within our heart and conscience will be made manifest for all eternity. Therefore, those living truly holy, humble and sincere lives of virtue now will be seen in this light for eternity. Those living hidden dark lives will have those lives visible for eternity in some way in accord with God's mercy and justice.

Again, this will most likely be either consoling or frightening, depending upon our hearts. But what we should take from this, more than anything, is the importance of striving for a truly holy and pure heart here and now. It doesn't matter if no one sees your holiness, only God needs to see it. The goal is to allow God to form a beautiful interior life for you and to allow Him to make your soul beautiful to Him.

Reflect, today, on how well you do this. How well do you daily allow God to treat your heart and conscience as His possession, making it a place of true beauty that gives His heart, and yours, much delight.

Lord, please come and make my heart Your dwelling place. Make my soul pleasing to You in every way. May Your glory be made manifest there and may You allow this glory to be made manifest for all eternity. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 10, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus said to his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans." Matthew 10:16-18

Jesus urges trust in God's protection in the face of suffering. Jesus is forthright in recognizing the suffering that his followers will endure. He recognizes that to follow him will result in pain. Yet he promises the protection of God, which is deeper than any worldly suffering.

Imagine yourself being a follower of Jesus at the time He was preaching. Imagine that there is much excitement about Him and great hopes that He will be the new King and is the Messiah. There would be much hope and excitement about what is to come.

But then, out of the blue, Jesus gives this sermon. He says that His followers will be persecuted and scourged and that this persecution will continue over and over. This must have made His followers stop and seriously question Jesus and wonder if it was worth following Him.

The persecution of Christians has been alive and well throughout the ages. It has happened in every time and in every culture. It continues to be alive today. So what do we do with that? How do we respond?

Many Christians can fall into the trap of thinking that Christianity is all about simply "getting along." It's easy to believe that if we are loving and kind then everyone will also love us. But that's not what Jesus said.

Jesus made it clear that persecution is going to be a part of the Church and that we should not be surprised when this happens to us. We should not be surprised when those within our culture step on us and act maliciously. When this happens it is easy for us to lose faith and to lose heart. We can get discouraged and feel like turning our faith into a hidden life we live. It's hard to live our faith openly knowing that the culture and world does not like that and won't accept it.

The examples are all around us. All we have to do is read the secular news to be made aware of a growing hostility toward the Christian faith. For that reason, we need to heed Jesus' words today more than ever. We need to be aware of His warning and have hope in His promise that He will be with us and will give us the words to say when we need it. More than anything, this passage calls us to hope and confidence in our loving God.

Reflect, today, on how ready and willing you are to face the hostility of the world. You should not react with similar hostility, rather, you must strive to have courage and strength to endure any and every persecution with the help, strength and wisdom of Christ.

Lord, give me strength, courage and wisdom as I live my faith in a world hostile to You. May I respond with love and mercy in the face of harshness and misunderstanding. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 9, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Matthew 10:8

Everything we have and are, our very existence and breath, is a gift from God. As the gift of faith brings us together, so then are we also sent out to heal and proclaim the Good News, as Jesus' disciples were. Our humble gratitude can allow us to freely share God's goodness - a goodness overflowing in love and care.

What is the cost of the Gospel? Can we put a price on it? Interestingly, we should put two prices on it. The first price is how much it should cost us to receive it. The second price is how much we "charge," so to speak, to give the Gospel.

So how much should the Gospel cost us? The answer is that it's of infinite value. We could never afford it monetarily speaking. The Gospel is priceless.

As far as how much we should "charge" to give the Gospel to others, the answer is that it's free. We have no right to charge or expect anything so as to give away something that we do not own. The saving message of the Gospel belongs to Christ and He offers it freely.

Let's start with the second half of the Scripture above. "Without cost you are to give." This tells us that we are to offer the Gospel to others free of charge. But this action of freely giving the Gospel brings with it a sort of hidden requirement.

The giving of the Gospel requires that we give of ourselves. And that means we must give of ourselves freely. What's the justification for giving everything of ourselves freely? The justification is that we have received everything "without cost."

The simple fact is that the Gospel is all about a total free gift to us which requires a total free gift of ourselves to others. The Gospel is a person, Jesus Christ. And when He comes and lives in us freely, we must then become a total and free gift to others.

Reflect, today, on both your complete receptivity of the Gospel as well as your complete willingness to give. May your understanding and reception of this glorious gift of God transform you into a gift for others.

Lord, may my heart be open to You in a total way so that I may receive You as the Living Gospel. As I receive You, may I in turn give You to others in my very person. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 8, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Matthew 10:1 Jesus gives His Apostles a sacred authority. They were able to drive out demons and heal the sick. They also won many converts to Christ by their preaching.

It's interesting to look at this extraordinary charism the Apostles had to act miraculously. It's interesting because we do not see this happen that often today. However, at the beginnings of the Church it seems that miracles were quite common. One reason for this is that Jesus made quite a statement in the beginning to set things in motion.

The miracles He did and those of His Apostles were powerful signs of the power and presence of God. These miracles helped the preaching of the Apostles to be more believable and bring forth many converts.

It seems that, as the Church grew, miracles in such great numbers were not as necessary for the authentication of the Word of God. The personal lives and witness of believers eventually were sufficient to spread the Gospel without the help of numerous miracles. Martyrdom and acts of great faith became the true signs of God's presence.

This is helpful to understand because we see something similar in our own lives of faith and conversion. Often times, in the beginning of our faith journey, we have many powerful experiences of God's presence. There may be deep consoling spiritual feelings and a clear sense that God is with us. But over time, these feelings can start to disappear and we can wonder where they went or wonder if we have done something wrong. There is an important spiritual lesson here.

As our faith deepens, the spiritual consolations we may receive at the beginning can often fade away because God wants us to love and serve Him out of a more purified faith and love. We should believe and follow Him not because He makes us feel good, but because it is good and right to love and serve Him. This can be a difficult lesson to learn but an essential one.

Reflect, today, upon how deep and sustaining your faith is. Do you know and love God even when things are hard and when He seems far away? Those moments, more than any, are the moments when your personal faith and conversion can grow the strongest.

Lord, help my faith in You and my love of You to be deep, stable and strong. Help me to rely upon that faith more than upon any external "miracles" or feelings. Help me to love You first and foremost out of a pure love for You. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 7, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He drives out demons by the prince of demons." Matthew 9:32-34

What a stark contrast we see in the reaction of the crowds compared to the reaction of the Pharisees. It's actually quite a sad contrast.

The reaction of the crowds, meaning normal everyday people, was one of amazement. Their reaction reveals a simple and pure faith that accepts what it sees. What a blessing it is to have this form of faith.

The reaction of the Pharisees was one of judgment, irrationality, jealousy and harshness. Most especially, it is irrational. What would lead the Pharisees to conclude that Jesus "drives out demons by the prince of demons?"

Certainly it was nothing that Jesus did that would lead them to this conclusion. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that the Pharisees were filled with a certain jealousy and envy. And these sins led them to this ridiculous and irrational conclusion.

The lesson we should learn from this is that we must approach other people with humility and honesty rather than jealousy. By seeing those around us with humility and love, we will naturally arrive at genuine and honest conclusions about them.

Humility and honest love will enable us to see the goodness of others and rejoice in that goodness. Sure, we will also be aware of sin, but humility will help us to avoid making rash and irrational judgments about others as a result of jealousy and envy.

Jesus miraculous healing continues to be met with great suspicious and accusations from the Pharisees. But Jesus is not troubled. Moved with compassion from what He sees in the crowd, He ministered to their needs. As we minister to the needs of others let the compassion of God help us overcome all the challenges and obstacles that may come our way.

Reflect, today, on the way you normally think and speak about others. Do you tend to be more like the crowds who saw, believed and were amazed at the good things Jesus did? Or are you more like the Pharisees who tend to fabricate and exaggerate in their conclusions. Commit yourself to the normalcy of the crowds so that you, too, can find joy and amazement in Christ.

Lord, I desire to have a simple, humble and pure faith. Help me to also see You in others in a humble way. Help me to see You and to be amazed at Your presence in the lives of those whom I encounter every day. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 6, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping." And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land. Matthew 9:23-26

Jesus performed many miracles. He overwhelmed the laws of nature time and time again. In this Gospel passage He overcomes death by bringing this little girl back to life. And He does it in such a way that it appears to be quite normal and easy for Him.

It's insightful to reflect upon Jesus' approach to the miracles He performed. Many were amazed and in shock of His miraculous power. But Jesus appears to do it as a normal part of His day. He doesn't make a big deal about it and, in fact, He often tells people to keep His miracles quiet.

One obvious thing this reveals to us is that Jesus does have complete power over the physical world and all the laws of nature. We are reminded in this story that He is the Creator of the Universe and the source of all that is. If He can create all things by simply willing it, He can easily recreate and transform the laws of nature by His will.

Many Christians today are living in fear of the unknown. The Covid-19 pandemic has directly or indirectly impacted and affected us. Where do we go from here could be a necessary question? There is just one place we can go for the right solution. That place is, Jesus. We need to go to Jesus trusting in His power to heal and restore.

Understanding the full truth of His complete authority over nature should also give us confidence in His complete authority over the spiritual world and everything that makes up our lives. He can do all things and can do all things easily.

If we can arrive at a deep faith in His almighty power, and also arrive at a clear understanding of His perfect love and perfect knowledge of us, we will be in a position to trust Him on a level we never knew possible. Why wouldn't we completely trust Him who can do all things and loves us perfectly? Why wouldn't we trust Him who knows everything about us and desires only our good? We should trust Him! He is worthy of that trust, and our trust will unleash His almighty power in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon two things. First, do you understand the depth of His power? Second, do you know that His love compels Him to use that power for your good? Knowing and believing these truths will change your life and allow Him to perform miracles of grace.

Lord, I do believe in Your absolute authority over all things and Your complete authority over my life. Help me to trust in You and to trust in Your love for me. Jesus, I do trust in You.

July 5, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones." Matthew 11:25

What a profound truth to understand! For many, if given the choice to be either a "little one" or "wise and learned" it can appear that being wise and learned is more attractive. The problem is that, according to Jesus, those who are little children are in fact far more wise and learned than those who simply act this way.

Those who are childlike are the ones who have the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven revealed to them. They are given a special grace to penetrate the truths of God's inner life. This reveals, in part, the simplicity of God's inner life. God and His will are never confusing and complex. We may make Him seem confusing and, as a result, experience God's wisdom as overly complex. But in reality, the truth and beauty of God is only discernable by the simple mind who lives in a humble way.

One tendency we can all have is to spend excessive time and energy trying to "figure out God's will." We can think and think and think, talk and talk and talk, and in the end remain in confusion about this or that. If you find yourself in this situation, of thinking too much and ending in confusion, then this is a sign that you may not be properly discerning the will of God and may not be allowing yourself to properly hear Him speak.

God speaks to us simply, clearly and only what we need to know, when we need to know. Therefore, it's important to always approach our Lord in a humble and simple way, waiting for Him to speak the simple and profound truth we need to hear in His time. Ultimately, it comes down to patience with our Lord.

Reflect, today, upon whether you find yourself spending excessive time thinking about the mysteries of life only to be left confused. If so, seek to grow in humility so as to allow the Lord to reveal the simple yet profound truths He desires to reveal. Strive to be childlike in God's eyes and you will become wiser and more learned than you could ever become on your own.

Dear Lord, help me to have a simple and childlike faith in You and, through this simple faith, come to know the beautiful mysteries You desire to reveal to me. Give me wisdom and knowledge, dear Lord, beyond what I could ever obtain by myself. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 4, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." Matthew 9:14-15

In the strict sense of the word, are we free today in our world? Do you want to be free? Do you want to discover true freedom in your life? Most certainly you do. But what does that mean? And how do you obtain it?

Freedom is what we are made for. We are made to be free to live life to the fullest and to experience the unfathomable joys and blessings God desires to bestow upon us. But all too often we have a misconception of what true freedom is all about. Freedom, more than anything else, is an experience of the joy of having the Bridegroom with us. It's the joy of the wedding feast of the Lord. We were made to celebrate our unity with God for eternity.

In today's Gospel, Jesus clearly states that the wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them. However, "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

It is helpful to look at the relationship between fasting and freedom. At first this may seem like a strange combination. But if fasting is properly understood, it will be seen as a pathway toward the glorious gift of true freedom.

There are times in our lives when "the Bridegroom is taken away." This can refer to many things. One thing it particularly refers to are the times when we experience a sense of the loss of Christ in our lives. This can certainly come as a result of our own sin, but it can also come as a result of us growing closer to Christ. In the first case, fasting can help free us from the many sinful attachments we have in life.

Fasting has the potential to strengthen our will and purify our desires. In the second case, there are times when we are growing very close to Christ and, as a result, He hides His presence from our lives. This may seem strange at first but it is done so that we will seek Him all the more. In this case, also, fasting can become a means of deepening our faith and commitment to Him.

Fasting can take on many forms, but, at the heart, it is simply an act of self-denial and self-sacrifice for God. It helps us overcome earthly and fleshly desires so that our spirits can more fully desire Christ.

Reflect, today, on how deeply you desire Christ in your life. If you see that there are other competing desires that tend to drown out Christ, consider offering acts of fasting and other forms of self-denial. Make them small sacrifices for God and you will see the good fruit they produce.

Lord, I desire You in my life above all things. Help me to see the things that compete for Your love and to offer sacrifice so that my soul can be purified and live in the freedom You desire for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 3, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." John 20:24-25

God calls us. When we hear it, we answer in faith and begin to experience an authentic missionary journey. At times, many of us doubt; both the call itself and the path laid before us. As Thomas did, we find ourselves longing for proof. Moments of courage are interrupted by moments of fear. In John's Gospel, we hear Thomas' initial courage as he spoke to the other disciples, "…'Let us also go, that we may die with him'" (Jn 11:16). Yet, shortly after, we hear St. Thomas' anxiety, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Thomas' human emotions remind us that we need a Savior. At these times, may we remember Jesus' mighty answer to St. Thomas when He said, "...I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (Jn 14: 5-7).

Doubt can give way to fear, but faith gives way to action. Once the Apostle Thomas sets aside his doubt and embraces Jesus after the Resurrection, he is emboldened to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Likewise, we are emboldened by Christ's presence in word and sacrament, and can allow faith to overcome fear and doubt.

It's easy to be critical of St. Thomas for his lack of belief reflected in his statement above. But before you allow yourself to think poorly of him, think about how you would have responded. This is a difficult exercise to do since we know clearly the end of the story. We know Jesus did rise from the dead and that Thomas ultimately came to believe, crying out "My Lord and my God!" But try to put yourself in his situation.

First, Thomas probably doubted, in part, out of extreme sadness and despair. He had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah, he had dedicated the last three years of his life to following Him, and now Jesus was dead…so he thought. This is an important point because very often in life when we encounter some difficulty, disappointment or painful situation, like the covid-19 pandemic or the racial injustice, our faith is tested. We are tempted to allow despair to draw us into doubt and when this happens we make decisions based more upon our hurt than upon our faith.

Second, Thomas was also called to deny the physical reality that he witnessed with his own eyes and believe something that was completely "impossible" from an earthly perspective. People simply do not rise from the dead! This simply doesn't happen, at least from an earthly perspective alone. And even though Thomas had seen Jesus perform such miracles before, it took much faith to believe without seeing with his own eyes. So despair and an apparent impossibility went to the heart of Thomas' faith and extinguished it.

Reflect, today, upon two lessons we can take from this passage: 1) Do not ever allow despair, disappointment or hurt to be the guide of your decisions or beliefs in life. They are never a good guide. 2) Do not doubt the power of God to be able to do anything and everything He chooses. In this case, God chose to rise from the dead and so He did. In our own lives, God can do anything He wills. We must believe that and know that what He reveals to us in faith will come to be if we but trust in His provident care.

Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief. When I am tempted to give in to despair or to doubt Your almighty power over all things in life, help me to turn to You and to trust in You with all my heart. May I cry out, with St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God," and may I do so even when I see only with the faith You put into my soul. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 2, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." Matt 9: 2

Turn to Jesus and ask for his help in increasing our faith is very important in our Christian live. To forgive another person can be hard. But to forgive ourselves can be even harder. Not to do so is a way of rejecting Christ's authority to forgive us, much as the religious leaders did. But when we struggle with this challenge, we can turn to Jesus and ask for his help in increasing our faith. He has already redeemed us from the consequence of sin; let us allow him to help us.

Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed young man. When the religious leaders say he is blaspheming, Jesus cures the man of his paralysis as a sign that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

The above passage concludes with Jesus healing the paralytic and telling him to "rise, pick up your stretcher and go home." The man does just that and the crowds are amazed.

There are two miracles that happen here. One is physical and one is spiritual. The spiritual one is that this man's sins are forgiven. The physical one is the healing of his paralysis.

Which of these miracles are more important? Which one do you think the man desired the most?

It's hard to answer the second question since we do not know the man's thoughts, but the first question is easy. The spiritual healing, the forgiveness of his sins, is by far the most important of these two miracles. It's the most significant because it has eternal consequences for his soul.

For most of us, it's easy to pray to God for things like a physical healing or the like. We may find it quite easy to ask for favors and blessings from God. But how easy is it for us to ask for forgiveness? This may be harder to do for many because it requires an initial act of humility on our part. It requires that we first acknowledge we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Acknowledging our need for forgiveness takes courage, but this courage is a great virtue and reveals a great strength of character on our part. Coming to Jesus to seek His mercy and forgiveness in our lives is the most important prayer we can pray and the foundation of all the rest of our prayers.

Reflect, today, upon how courageous you are in asking God for forgiveness and how humbly you are willing to acknowledge your sin. Making an act of humility like this is one of the most important things you can do.

Lord, give me courage. Give me courage, especially, to humble myself before You and to acknowledge all my sin. In this humble acknowledgment, help me to also seek Your daily forgiveness in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 1, 2020

By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA


When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Matthew 8:28-29

This Scripture passage reveals two things: 1) Demons are ferocious; 2) Jesus has complete power over them.

First of all, we should notice that the two demoniacs "were so savage that no one could travel by that road." That's a very significant statement. It's clear that the demons possessing these two men were vicious and filled those in the town with great fear. So much so that no one would even come near them. This is not a very pleasant thought, but it is reality and it is worth understanding. True, we may not encounter evil in such a direct way very often, but we do face it at times. The evil one is alive and well and is constantly striving to build his demonic kingdom here on Earth.

Think of times when evil appeared to be manifest, oppressive, malicious, calculated, etc. There are times in history when the evil one appeared to triumph in powerful ways. And there are ways that his activity is still manifest in our world today.

That brings us to the second lesson of this story. Jesus has complete authority over the demons. Interestingly, He casts them out into the herd of swine and the swine then run down the hill and die. Bizarre. The towns people are so overwhelmed they then ask Jesus to leave the town. Why would they do that? In part, the reason seems to be the fact that Jesus' exorcism of these two men causes quite a commotion. This is because manifest evil does not depart quietly.

This is an important lesson to remember in our day and age. It's important because the evil one appears to be making his presence known to a greater and greater degree today. And he certainly has plans to make his presence even more known in the coming years. We see this in the moral downfall of our societies, the public acceptance of immorality, the secularization of the various world cultures, the increase of terrorism, etc. There are countless ways that the evil one appears to be winning the battle.

Jesus is all-powerful and will win in the end. But the hard part is that His victory will most likely cause quite a scene and it will make many uneasy. Just as they told Him to leave their town after He freed the demoniacs, so also there are many Christians today who are all too willing to ignore the rise of the kingdom of the evil one so as to avoid any contention.

Reflect, today, if you are willing to face the "consequences," so to speak, of confronting the kingdom of the evil one with the Kingdom of God. Are you willing to do what it takes to stand strong in a culture that is continually deteriorating? Are you willing to remain steadfast in the face of the noise of the evil one? Saying "Yes" to this will not be easy, but it will be a glorious imitation of our Lord Himself.

Lord, help me to remain strong in the face of the evil one and his kingdom of darkness. Help me to confront that kingdom with confidence, love and truth so as to bring forth Your Kingdom in its place. Jesus, I trust in You.