Local Homilies

February 24, 2018

Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 229

Reading 1 Dt 26:16-19

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“This day the LORD, your God,
commands you to observe these statutes and decrees.
Be careful, then,
to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Today you are making this agreement with the LORD:
he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways
and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees,
and to hearken to his voice.
And today the LORD is making this agreement with you:
you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you;
and provided you keep all his commandments,
he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory
above all other nations he has made,
and you will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God,
as he promised.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
when I have learned your just ordinances.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Verse Before the Gospel 2 Cor 6:2b

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Mt 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
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 Homily 2-24-2018:
Rev. Fr. Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam 
Holy Angels Parish, St. Albans, Vermont 
24TH FEBRUARY
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 118:1-2,4-5,7-8; Matthew 5:43-48
BE YOU PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT
This is a call to “holiness without any distinction of age, profession, race or social standing. There are no followers of Christ who do not have a Christian vocation, a personal call to sanctity.” Francis Fernandez
1~ “All the faithful, whatever their condition or state – though each in his own way – are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father Himself is perfect,” (cf Lumen gentium, 11). We have to ask ourselves whether our lives are in correspondence to our professions or vocations.
2~ When Jesus was urging His disciples and furthermore, we in the present generation, He was aware and still aware that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,”(cf Matthew 26:41). Oftentimes the flesh is only weak when it comes to the things of the spiritual life, but very active when material gains are involved.
3~ Why should the spirit always be weak? We all know the answer – it is starved from what will feed it, constant efforts towards doing the right thing. Why do some great people fall from their citadels of righteousness? It is either because of issues about money or sexual issues or hubris.
4~ No one who is a prisoner to any of the above three will ever attain perfection. This is why Moses in the first reading warned the people of Israel of old and we in the modern generation, that the only way we can claim to be people of God is by holiness, thus we are told, “Be holy, because I am holy,” (cf 1 Peter 1:16).
5~ Dear friend, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness,” 1 John 1:5. “A man becomes a Christian; he isn’t born one.” Robert E. Segal. Let us live above the level of being friendly to those who are good to us. Our love should encompass all, irrespective of religion, race, colour or differences. May God help us, because this is really difficult, but with the Grace of God, we can. Amen
*Where are you in your efforts towards becoming a better person? Have you given up to occasional failures? Unless you constantly practice, you can rarely achieve perfection.*
Have a beautiful weekend!
Fr Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam 
Holy Angel’s Parish and St Mary’s Parish, St Albans, Vermont