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CATHOLIC WORLD

27 Oct 2021

FORMER ANGLICAN BISHOP, MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI, ORDAINED A CATHOLIC PRIEST.

English Cardinal Vincent Nichols on Saturday ordained a former Anglican bishop as a Catholic priest. The archbishop of Westminster described the ordination of Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali at an Oct. 30 Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street, London, as “a moment of great joy.” “The Church places such trust and confidence in the effectiveness of the ordained ministry. So that is why this ordination is a moment of great joy,” the cardinal said in his homily at the live-streamed Mass. “It is a moment in which we ask the Lord to effect in you, Michael, a full inclusion into the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church. As the prayer we have just offered stated, here we seek to build on the fruitfulness of the priestly ministry you have faithfully exercised for so many years now.”

Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England, entered into full communion with Rome within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on Sept. 29. The personal ordinariate was created by Benedict XVI in 2011 for groups of former Anglicans seeking to preserve elements of their patrimony. The 72-year-old who was once considered a possible future Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the world’s 85 million Anglicans, was ordained as a Catholic deacon on Oct. 28 by Archbishop Kevin McDonald, the emeritus archbishop of Southwark. “For you, Michael, this journey has been rich indeed, in its geography, in your journey of learning, of prayer, of public ministry, and of decision,” Nichols said. “We welcome you most warmly on this day, especially into the very unique company of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

Nazir-Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1949, and attended Catholic schools. He has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and holds British and Pakistani citizenship. He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1976, working in Karachi and Lahore. He became provost of Lahore Cathedral and was consecrated the first bishop of Raiwind in West Punjab. Nazir-Ali was appointed bishop of Rochester, southeast England, in 1994. Married with two children, he served as a member of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house of Parliament, from 1999. He took part in the second phase of the Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-II) and was a member of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). In 2002, the U.K. media identified him as one of the favorites to succeed the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey. He was quoted at the time as saying that he was the target of a racist smear campaign and he remained as bishop of Rochester until 2009. He has served as president of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy, and Dialogue (OXTRAD) since stepping down as bishop of Rochester. In his homily, Nichols reflected on “two key characteristics of the Church: its cohesion and its mission.” He said that neither quality was “easy to put into practice and sustain.” “Indeed, we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the first practical problems emerge immediately for the infant Church. The first: how to replace Judas, whose heart had been totally corrupted by greed?” the 75-year-old cardinal said. “It is not without consequence that the first words spoken on this matter were the words of Peter, leading decisively to the course to be taken. The Petrine ministry is part of the gift given to the Church to sustain its cohesion of life and action.” He went on: “So too in its mission. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that after the great event of Pentecost, as the mission of the Church explodes into life, it is Peter who ‘stood up with the Eleven and addressed them (the crowd) in a loud voice’ (Acts 2:14). Already the challenge of the mission of the Church is clear, for that crowd consisted of people ‘from every nation under heaven.’” “Our mission is always shaped, then, by the interface between the joy of the Gospel truth and the history and cultures of those to whom it is being addressed. And that dynamic, too, comes under the guidance of the Successor of Peter and those around him, and one with him, in the ministry of oversight.” Looking toward Nazir-Ali, he said: “Michael, you have so much experience in this interface and I am confident that your insight and learning will enrich this mission, from within the visible unity of the Catholic Church.” The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street, is the central church of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Msgr. Keith Newton, the ordinariate’s leader, who is based in the parish, took part in the Mass, which was also attended by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, as well as three Anglican bishops. The Ordinariate Use Mass featured the well-known Prayer of Humble Access, composed by Thomas Cranmer, a leading figure in the English Reformation. Speaking at the end of the Mass, Newton said: “Let me congratulate Fr. Michael on his ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. We welcome you particularly to the presbyterate of the personal ordinariate of Our Lady Walsingham.” “Know, Michael, that you are amongst friends here, because all of us have made the journey that you’ve made. It’s not always easy. But we’ve done it in the pursuit of truth and the unity of the Church for which we prayed for so long.”

Addressing the congregation, Nazir-Ali reflected on his decision to become a Catholic. He said: “There are many reasons, of course, I don’t want to give them all, but first of all, to belong to a Church where decisions that affect everyone are actually made effective in the whole Church, where decisions stick.” “Secondly, where there is a clear body of teaching to which appeal can be made when that is necessary to do.” “And thirdly, where there is an adequate, sufficient teaching authority to guide the faithful in matters that are contentious in this culture, or that. Cardinal Nichols, of course, alluded to this in his homily.”

Explaining why he chose to become a Catholic “the ordinariate way,” he suggested that the Anglican and Catholic traditions could be mutually enriching.  “Whatever else Archbishop Cranmer’s gifts may or may not have been, I think beauty of language was certainly one of them. And I commend such beauty to liturgists today. It is not always a gift that is found among them in recent years, may I say,” he joked. “Secondly, an approach to the study of the Bible that is inductive, historical, and devotional at the same time.” “Thirdly, an approach to ministry that recognizes the wider community and is not simply restricted to the congregation.” He concluded: “So that is why I’ve done it and that is why I have done it in this way. Thank you for your love and your prayers and your patience. God bless you.”

The ordinariate priest Fr. James Bradley noted on his Twitter account on Sept. 5 that the following Anglican bishops have been received into the Catholic Church since 1992: Graham Leonard (London); Conrad Meyer; John Klyberg (Fulham); Richard Rutt (Leicester); John Broadhurst (Fulham); Edwin Barnes (Richborough); Keith Newton (Richborough); Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet); David Silk; Paul Richardson; John Goddard (Burnley); and Jonathan Goodall (Ebbsfleet). Many converts come from the Anglo-Catholic branch of the Church of England, which stresses Anglicanism’s Catholic heritage, but Nazir-Ali has long been associated with the evangelical wing. In an article for the Daily Mail newspaper on Oct. 17, Nazir-Ali said he hoped that by becoming a Catholic he could help the persecuted worldwide and Christians in Britain. “Hopefully, becoming an Ordinariate Catholic will enable me to support Christians closer to home who are marginalized and hounded by a liberal totalitarianism that demands total consensus,” he wrote. Nazir-Ali told the National Catholic Register on Oct. 25 that he would continue his “work of supporting and developing leadership among persecuted Christian communities” as he waits for ​“guidance from the ordinariate and Vatican authorities about the next steps.”

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EVENTS

23 Mar 2022

ST. MARY’S CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AGOG OVER 20 YEARS OF EXISTENCE

The 18th day of March 2022 will remain ever green in the memory of the staff and management of St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital Umuowa, as they marked the 20th anniversary of the hospital’s existence in grand style. The grandiose celebration spawned an aura of joy among the hospital management and patients of the hospital and attracted the Catholic Bishop of Orlu, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, and some dignitaries that include: Dr. Barthy Okorochukwu (commissioner of Agriculture), Mr. Tony Ekpeogu (Technical assist. to commissioner of Agriculture), Dr. Ajiero Norbert, Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu (Minister of Women affairs & vulnerable group).

The event commenced with a Holy Mass presided over by the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese Of Orlu, Very Rev. Fr. Emma Okonkwo who represented the Catholic Bishop of Orlu, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma.

Speaking at the beginning of the mass, Fr. Emma hinted on the importance of the medical profession as an extension of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Lastly, he thanked the proprietor, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Sergius Duru, for the wonderful work towards alleviating sickness and suffering of the people.

Preaching during the homily, Msgr. Simeon Eboh maintained that medical practitioners are the hands and feet of Jesus in His healing ministry. He charged them never to see their duty as mere profession geared towards profit making, but as a vocation. He went further to admonish the staff of the hospital to work in harmony with the patients who are placed in their charge. Finally, he urged all to use their God-given talent to help alleviate the suffering in the world.

After the post communion prayer, were brief addresses by the proprietor, Very Rev. Fr. Sergius Duru, and the Board chairman, Pharm. George Nwagha.

After the mass came the blessing and commissioning of the Children and Adolescent complex in honor of Ezinne Priscillia Urenwa Duru, Endoscopy and physiotherapy departments. The medical director ……………… led the guests on a tour round the hospital while displaying the different state-of-art machines of the hospital.

Other event featured, photo moments, refreshments, cultural display by different groups and schools. Other activities include unveiling, reviewing and launching of book titled ‘FOOD SAFETY AND HYGIENE FOR HEALTHY LIVING’, a publication of St. Mary’s Children and Community Hospital Umuowa. At the end was a vote of thanks

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LOCAL NEWS

31 Jan 2022

Suspected armed robbers face jungle justice at Eziama-Obaire 

Two suspected armed robbers were, on Thursday 27th January 2022, burnt alive by youths at Eziama-Obaire Community in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State.

The Forum Newspapers correspondent learnt that the suspected armed robbers, who were four in number, snatched a motorcycle from a man at gun-point within Isunjaba community.

An eyewitness account on the promise of anonymity said, “They (suspected robbers) snatched the motorcycle from a man at gunpoint at Isunjaba and unknown to them, they were trailed by the local security operatives (community vigilantes). Still narrating his story, our reporter gathered that “On sighting the vigilantes, they opened fire but had to succumb to superior firepower of the vigilantes and fled the scene. Two of the suspected robbers were apprehended instantly at Eziama-Obaire and set ablaze while the other two escaped with gunshot wounds.”

 Some locally made weapons were recovered from the suspected armed robbers.

As of the time of filing this report, the charred bodies were still lying along the road.

Some members of the community complained about the criminal activities of the suspected robbers who have terrorized the community for a long time.

Our correspondent also gathered that, on Sunday 23rd January 2022, two suspected robbers were also apprehended and set ablaze at Eziama-Obaire at night. They were apprehended while trying to snatch a motorcycle from a young man. A locally made pistol was also recovered from them.

It was gathered that the suspects were among a gang of notorious armed robbers from Njaba area that have been terrorizing the Njaba and Isu parts of the state in recent times. 

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Editorial

25 Nov 2021

INSINCERITY OF HEART IS THE BANE OF NIGERIA

It is very common to read certain messages at the end of calls, whether answered or unanswered, some short wishes to Nigerians like: “happy independence day celebration” and some other glib pieces of advice like: “No nation is perfect. It can only be made perfect by me (sic) and you”. One finds it difficult to fathom such glib talks from faceless “patriots”. How can this country be made perfect by “you and me”; not “me and you”, as used in the above example, when in practice leaders of Nigeria treat “you and me” as mere pawns in their political chessboard? “You and I” go to the polls to elect leaders “according to our conscience”. University professors are enlisted to pronounce near perfect or near genuine results. Those who offered themselves for elective posts convert courts to INEC, and as soon as the law courts had dealt with the electorate by standing truth on its head, the churches are swarmed with platitudes of “leadership is, or rulers are, ordained by God”. The next we would hear is: “pray for our leaders/rulers for they are representatives of God on earth”. What a mockery and misrepresentation of God’s dignity and His real intention for appointing those “Judges” anointed with a miniscule portion of the Holy Spirit in Moses for His chosen race.
When God instructed Moses to select 70 elders of Israel for them to be imparted with only a “miniscule” of the prophetic power Moses had, the implication was that God of all creation, is interested in the leadership pattern known as ‘gerontocracy’ which in itself has been the natural way of acceding to leadership that can claim its ‘representation coming from God’ and not this mangled political leadership of our day, leadership negotiated and imposed to serve particular interests at the expense of the larger group. The quoted self-appointed nation-builder’s pep talk presents him as a sincere patriot trying to do all he could to make the masses of the people imbibe a warped opinion that “no nation is perfect” and that if any nation is to be perfect, that the status envisaged must be the duty of “you and me”. Ab initio, the glib talk portrays the insincerity of heart of a Nigerian image-maker, since it is the hallmark of a cheat. If that flier comes from MTN, as its own contribution to making its users fall in line with a country that is lying prostrate, then the strategy has fallen flat. If this style of marketing or advertisement had said: “it can only be made by ‘them(those who appropriate leadership), then ‘you’ and ‘I’ can only queue up to help make the proposition work, that is, if understood to mean that “all hands must be on deck” to improve the lot of this nation in chaos. This giant country of Africa with the foot of clay has, on several occasions, caused herself to stumble over in a bid to make honest efforts in building a virile nation.
This glib talk has been the pattern of building this Nigeria since the Igbo had been eye-marked to overlabor like monkeys doomed to work and build a nation that has defied all efforts to make it perfect, so that the over-pampered baboons should continue “to chop” even at the expense of true democracy in a truly federated union. Oh Nigeria! Our Nigeria, their Nigeria, who has brought you to this present imperfect state where it has become safer and more realistic to say: “Indeed there was a Country”?
There was a country called Nigeria because it is no longer feasible to continue in the present manner where life is daily wasted with live ammunitions by the supposedly professionally trained soldiers in a state already adjudged “a failed country”. Soldiers and armed policemen are drafted to subjugate and oppress Igbo and other native communities by show-casing ruthlessness of a wicked, unforgiving and authoritarian tribal warlords/cabals. Any person blaming the massacres going on presently all over Igboland on IPOB/ESN, has not been in touch with trending events of our time since 29th May 2015 and cannot claim to be honest with himself/herself. The glib platitudes are pointing out one major characteristic of Nigeria, to wit: INSINCERITY OF HEART when considering national existential realities. This present APC-led Federal Government has not hidden its inclination to use force as the only option that can stop separatist agitations as witnessed in the handling of issues related to Biafra and Oduduwa “republics” which the international community under the UNO has said is of inalienable human rights and not in line with criminal acts. Mr. President’s first public statement about Biafra movements talked of another looming war that must be launched and that was after he had circumscribed MNK as a terrorist and clamped him in prison. 
Our Editorial opinion is that a nation could be made perfect if the leadership is tolerant and very sensitive to the yearnings of the youths to whom the future belongs. Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as the acclaimed leader of Federal Government of Nigeria by the Fulani tribe of West Africa, cannot keep Nigeria one by endorsing tacitly the elimination of autochthones from their ancestral homes and we aver that it is impracticable going along with what was practiced in Rwanda as “ethnic cleansing”. Many youths, especially the many unemployed graduates, have resigned their fate to anything goes. Would you want to go down in history as Pontius Pilate did? And are you okay being recorded by history as that President of Nigeria whose government made it possible for the quick disintegration of his country?
 
MBACHU ARTICLE
BLESSED PERSONS IN THE NT BIBLE
10.0 JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND BELOVED DISCIPLE IS BLESSED: John and his brother James, the sons of Zebedee, were called boanerges (sons of thunder) for their hot temper. Like their father they were fishermen before the Lord Jesus called them to be his disciples. Being the beloved disciple of Jesus, John enjoyed special favours not given to his brother James and to Peter the prince of the apostles. At the Last Supper John reclined next to Jesus and at the instance of Peter leaned close to Jesus’ chest to find out from him that Judas Iscariot was to betray him (cf. John 13:2-26). At the trial of Jesus all the apostles fled but John flowed him into the high priest’s palace and also facilitated Peter’s entry (cf. John 18:15-16). WithPeter and James John formed the inner circle of the three apostles that witnessed the special moments in the life and ministry of Jesus: at the healing of the daughter of Jairus (Mark5:7), the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matt 17:1; Luke 9:28), and his agonized prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33; Matt 26:37). John was with Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross on Calvary where Jesus gave his Mother over to John as his “new” mother and John took her into his protection as her “new” son (cf. John 19:25-27)). As seven of the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus were at an unsuccessful toil of fishing, only the beloved disciple John recognized Jesus who from the shore commanded them to cast their net for a haul of fish (John 21:4-7). Of the twelve apostles only John survived his being martyred and his feast is celebrated by the Church with the Liturgical white colour. John wrote the Book of the Revelation, the Gospel and the three Letters that bear his name. He is truly a blessed apostle.
11.0 BARNABAS IS BLESSED: The early Acts narrative singled out and extolled the holiness and superb charitable life of Barnabas: He “was a Levite of Cyprus origin called Joseph whom the apostles surnamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He owned a piece of land and he sold it and brought the money and presented it to the apostles” (Acts 4:36-37). When the news of the nascent, flourishing Gentile believers at Antioch came to the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, Barnabas described as “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:23) was sent to Antioch to encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion. From Antioch he went to Tarsus and brought Saul with him to Antioch where two of them spent a whole year successfully instructing a large number of the faithful in that Church (cf. Acts 11:25-26). Under their tutelage the Antioch disciples were called Christians. Barnabas with Saul delivered to the elders of Jerusalem the relief materials from Antioch for the famine stricken Christians of Judaea (cf. Acts 11:27-30). On their return to Antioch and while with other prophets and teachers they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit chose Barnabas and Saul for the work to which he had called them. After prayer and fasting they were ordained and sent off on their first missionary journey (cf. Acts 13:1-3). On their return to Antioch Barnabas and Paul were sent to Jerusalem to settle the circumcision controversy at the first Christian Council (cf. Acts 15:1-35). At the inception of their Second Missionary Journey, Barnabas sharply disagreed with Paul and separated from him because of his refusal to allow John cousin and their erstwhile deserter John Mark to accompany them (cf. Acts 15:36-40). Paul recruited Silas for his Second Missionary Journey while Barnabas sailed off with Mark to Cyprus. This quarrel exposed the weak side of the good, very generous, inspired Barnabas, But thanks to God that both ended up as blessed Saintly men celebrated annually by the Church.
12.0 SILAS IS BLESSED: Silas or Sylvanus (wooded) was a Roman citizen. With Paul Silas was imprisoned in Philipi (Acts 16:25-39). He was a leader in the JerusalemChurch and a Christian prophet (Acts 15:32). Silas and Judas Barsabbas in the company of Paul and Barnabas took the apostolic letter of the Council of Jerusalem to the Gentile Church at Antioch to resolve the heated controversy over the non-circumcision of male Gentile converts to the Christian faith (Acts 15:22-35). He became Paul’s missionary companion after his separation from Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41). Silas with Timothy was commended by Paul for their work in Corinth (2 Cor 1:19) and both were associated with Paul’s writings (cf. 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1). Sylvanus was also Peter’s helper in his writings to All Christians (1 Pet 5:12). The profile of Silas depicts him as a very impressive Church leader, prophet, patient suffering missionary, an apostolic delegate and helper to Peter, the prince of the apostles. Silas is simply a blessed man of God.
13.0 JOHN MARK THE EVANGELIST IS BLESSED: John Mark (large hammer) was the son of Mary who had a house Church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10). John Mark followed Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 12:25), was the attendant of Barnabas and Paul in their First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:5) but deserted them at Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). Paul rejected John Mark for their Second Missionary Journey (cf. Acts 15:37-39) and for his sake Barnabas quarreled with Paul and parted ways from him. In the eventide of his life Paul approved of John Mark as a useful helper in his work (cf. Tim 4:11). Peter also adopted John Mark as his son and companion (1 Pet5:13). Blessed Mark wrote the Gospel that bears his name and is annually celebrated by the Church on April 25 as Saintly Martyr.
14.0 LUKE THE EVANGELIST IS BLESSED: Luke [another name for Lucius (of light)] was the author of the Gospel that bears his name and of the Acts of the Apostles. He gave us the fascinating story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the conception and birth of their son John the Baptist and most of the infancy narratives of Jesus (cf. Luke 1 & 2). Without him all these would have been lost in oblivion and our Church would have been totally bereft of her vital early history and mission as narrated in the Acts. Paul calls Luke his “dear friend the doctor” or physician (Col 4:14) and journeyed with him at some points of his missionary enterprise (cf. Acts 16:10-15; 20:6). When all deserted Paul only Luke clung to him as his faithful companion: “only Luke is with me” (2 Tim 4:11). Luke’s Gospel depicts him as a hymnologist: the Gloria in the highest sung by the Angels at the birth of Jesus, the Benedictus Canticle by Zechariah, the Magnificat by the Virgin Mary and the Nunc Dimmitis by the aged priest Simeon were all from him. Luke is a lover of prayer; he is a picturesque narrator of God’s love for the poor, widows and sinners (cf. Luke 15). Luke the Evangelist is the blessed physician and kind missionary whose feast is annually celebrated by the Church on October 18 as a Saintly Martyr.
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ARTICLES

31 Jan 2022

THE “BLESSED-IN-GENERAL” IN THE NT BIBLE
Very Rev Fr Dr Hilary Mbachu

1.0 INTRODUCTION: The blessed are the people favoured by God. They are all the holy men, women, prophets and apostles called by God and his Christ or are so called in the Bible. Many are called or declared “Blessed” by the Lord Jesus. His Mother Mary is first called blessed by Elizabeth and later by a woman listening to his inspiring and marvelous preaching. Joseph the husband of Mary is blessed by his holy and just life. The twelve apostles are called blessed by their Master Jesus. Paul and his missionary companions are a blessed group. The reason for being blessed is that they are chosen or are a people of faith or are forgiven or justified or chastened or kept God’s word. The  Letter to the Hebrews calls them our ancestors in faith and pays glowing tribute to them for their tenacity and steadfastness in faith in the face all vicissitudes of life (cf. Heb 11:4-40). The Letter of James proclaimed blessed the person who endures trials. The Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse calls nine groups of persons blessed. They are the innumerable people from every nation, race, tribe and language dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (Rev 7:9). They “have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus). That is why they are standing in front of God’s throne and serving him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them” (Rev 7:14-15). After their earthly ordeals the blessed happily enjoy God’s beatific vision in heaven. In general the Blessed are the numerous holy persons mentioned and unmentioned by the Bible.

 

2.0 THE BLESSED (MAKARIOI) EIGHT VIRTUOUS GROUPS OF PERSONS [Matt 5:1-11]: In Matthew’s Gospel the Lord Jesus makes a list of eight virtuous groups of persons who are blessed or happy – classically known as the Eight Beatitudes. They are: “the poor (ptochoi) in spirit” to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven; “those who mourn (penthountes)” who shall be comforted; “the gentle / meek (praeis)” who shall have the earth as their inheritance; “those who hunger (peinontes) and thirst (dipsontes) for uprightness” who shall have their fill; “the merciful (eleemones)” who shall receive mercy; “the pure (katharoi) of heart” who shall see God; “the peacemakers (eirenepoioi)” who shall be called the children of God; “the persecuted (dediogmenoi) in the cause of uprightness” to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven”. The ninth round-up blessing is for those whom people persecute, speak all kinds of calumny against them falsely on account of Jesus; they should rejoice (chairete) and be glad (agalliasthe) for their reward will be great in heaven for it is how they persecuted the prophets before them. In his Letter Peter stressed this ninth blessedness for uprightness in suffering persecutions, slander and insults for Christ (cf. 1 Pet 3:14; 4:14). These are the abundant blessings for virtuous men and women who shall be rewarded with eternal happiness in heaven. The blessed (makarioi) are happy people. In Luke’s Gospel the blessed virtuous are reduced to FOUR [Luke 6:20-22]: those who “are poor” to whom belongs the kingdom of God; “the hungry now” who shall have their fill; those “who are weeping now” who shall laugh; those whom people hate, drive out, abuse, denounce their names as criminal on account of the Son of man (Jesus himself) should rejoice and dance when that day comes for their reward will be great in heaven, for it was how their ancestors treated the prophets. At face value the four blessings in Luke seems to repudiate earthly or human wellbeing. They are counter posed by corresponding four curses [Luke 6:24-26]: the rich are cursed for their consolation; those who have plenty to eat shall go hungry; those who are laughing now shall mourn and weep; those whom everyone speaks well of shall suffer the woe that befell the false prophets flattered by their ancestors. Whatever may be our reservations about the blessed or cursed groups in Luke’s Gospel, the fact remains that there are blessings or happiness (makarioi) reserved in heaven for people who live virtuously on earth and punishment hereafter for those who now live viciously.

 

3.0 THE BLESSED CORPORALWORKERS OF MERCY [Matt 25:31-46]: The scene of the Last Judgment by the royal Son of man in his glory with his angels is like a follow up to the four blessings for the upright and the four curses for the unrighteous in Luke 6:20-26. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep are placed on his right hand and the goats on his left. The sheep represent the blessed of his Father, while the goats are the cursed ones. The Kingly Son of man will say to those on his right hand: “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34) because they fed the King by feeding the hungry, gave him drink by giving the thirsty to drink; received him by receiving the stranger, clothed him by clothing the naked, visited him by visiting the sick, and visited him by visiting the imprisoned (Matt 25:35-40). Then he will say to those on his left hand: “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt 25:41) because they denied the King food by not feeding the hungry, denied him drink by denying the thirsty drink, refused him welcome by nor welcoming the stranger, never clothed him by not clothing the naked, refused to visit him by not visiting the sick and those in prison (Matt 25:42-45). The last verse is the summary: the non-merciful or the cursed (goats) will go to eternal punishment, and the merciful or the upright (sheep) or the blessed to eternal life.

 

*** The blessedness of the eight beatitudes and the blessedness of the six corporal workers of mercy are the specified bulk happiness (makarioi) for the upright. Now let us turn to the other blessedness-in-general for unspecified groups of persons.

 

4.0 “BLESSED IS ANYONE WHO WILL SHARE THE MEAL IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD” [Luke 14:15]: This was the saying by one of the guests gathered around the table and listening to the Lord Jesus as he taught his host on the choice of those to be invited to a launch or dinner: He should not invite his friends or brothers or relations or rich neighbours who may invite him back and so repay him. Rather he should invite to his party the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then he will be blessed, for they have no means to repay him and so he will be repaid when the upright rise again. In effect Jesus teaches that our acts of charity should be done for the miserably and pitiably poor who will be unable to repay us in this life. Our reward for our charitable acts shall come when the righteous shall be raised up in the world to come. This is akin to the teaching on the reward for the corporal workers of mercy in Matt 25:31-46. Sharing in the meal in God’s kingdom is another form of saying that we enjoy his beatific vision.

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