(DEUTERONOMY 4:1-2,6-8; JAMES 1:17-18,21-22; MARK 7:1-8,14-15,21-23)


A story has it that in Malawi a south-eastern country of Africa with a population of 20 million, a book titled: “HOW TO CHANGE YOUR WIFE IN 30 DAYS” sold two million copies in one week after its’ publication, before it was discovered that the title had a spelling error! The correct title was: “HOW TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS”. So after the correction, for the whole month, only 3 copies were sold. Does it not fascinate you that in life, “nobody wants to change himself/herself, but they’ll do everything to change someone else” this is a blatant reality of life.
We live in an age of finger pointing. Look at our politics or political appointments, it is all an exercise in finger pointing, blackmailing and backbiting. Whether the candidates are national or local, issues are replaced by accusations. They are more or less an orchestrated promotion of people’s criminal agender. These point to the simple truth that no one of us has the capacity to change another person. The only person we can change is ourselves. When we learn that lesson well, we begin to realize that pointing fingers at the behaviour of others is an exercise in futility because it prevents us from pointing our fingers at the one person that we have a right to criticize – ourselves.

Today we resume our readings from Mark’s gospel again and Jesus warns about what flows from us. The quality of our life is measured by the quality of our heart and mind. If our mind and heart are infested and sick, our body would be sick a thousand time more, even without one knowing it. That is why the church teaches us these three conditions for a sin to be mortal

a. GRAVE MATTER: the act itself is intrinsically evil and immoral.

b. FULL KNOWLEDGE: the person must know that what they are doing or planning to do is evil and immoral.
c. DELIBERATE CONSENT: The person must freely choose to commit the act or plan to do it.
We now see why the issue of what we think in our hearts is far more important to Jesus than a detail of ritual observance. So, the most important thing that God needs from us is a pure heart as Christ taught us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). And as the Response to the Psalm expresses well the message: ‘The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord’.

My brothers and sisters, Christ calls us today to a self-evaluation. The malicious intentions, the hatred, pride, greed, envy, the corrupt tendencies we harbour in our hearts are really what define and make us who we are. They are the vices that make us bad. We must evict them before they rock our spiritual boat. They are the real and hidden enemies that we must fight and defeat daily.

Therefore, what do you produce, in your home, in your place of work, in your neighbourhood? Are you the smiling angel or is your environment always tensed? Change begins with you! Your thoughts, your attitudes, your actions and inactions, your vibes most always be positive. Let us strive to change ourselves first. Let us be patient and tolerant with one another. We are born to live together. Love is life and life is love. Never forget, change begins with you!

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara

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