Believe in,and humbly witness to Jesus in the Sacraments like the two blind men  – Archbishop Antonio Filipazzi

By Padre Mike Umoh, CSN

It was indeed a joyful moment for the people of God in the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia(CADEK) as they rolled out drums on Wednesday December 1, 2022 to welcome the Papal Nuncio, Most Rev. Antonio Guido Filipazzi as he commenced a 3-day visit to the Diocese and the Regional Major Seminary of Pope John Paul II on the occasion of their Silver jubilee. He was accompanied by the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Stefano De Leo.

Leading the people to receive the august guest was the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, His Eminence, Peter Cardinal EbereOkpaleke, supported by His Vicar General, Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Chiegboka, some members of the Diocesan curia and leaders of the various laity formations.The Nuncio is scheduled to ordain 25 Deacons taken from the 8 dioceses within the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province on December 3, 2022 on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebration of the Major Seminary.

At the Holy Mass in St. Joseph Cathedral on the day following his arrival, Archbishop Filipazzi, being the Chief Celebrant and the Homilist, expressed his joy at coming back to the Diocese after two years it was created,and for the elevation of the Bishop of the young Diocese as a Cardinal.He congratulated both the Cardinal and the people of God for all what God is doing among them, reminding them that “such an honour becomes a commitment. Indeed, being a Cardinal calls your Bishop to collaborate more closely with the Successor of Peter for the good of the universal Church. And all of you, who have him as your Shepherd, are asked to have more and more a genuinely Catholic, i.e. universal mentality.”

He urged the people of God to eschew partisanship and “exaggerated particularisms and divisions,” but to striveto “always be deeply united among themselves and give society a message and an example of concord based on truth, justice and charity.”

Reflecting on the readings of the day, the Papal envoy noted that the “Son of David” in Matthew’s Gospel is the Lord Jesus and the expected Messiah who descended from King David. However, referencing S.Grasso, the homilist highlighted that the use of the term ‘Son of God’ in the story of the two blind men went further to reinforce that Jesus is a “merciful Messiah who bends over the misfortunes and poverty of his people,” to raise them up.

Besides being “Son of God” he said the two blind men also revealed that Jesus is “Lord”. Thus, the Church teaches that He is God. “Therefore, Jesus is not only the Son of David but is also and above all, the Lord, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God”. To Him, we owe both adoration and love” (CCC 450).

 

Additionally, the Italian born ecclesiastic said that the two blind men represented “the whole of humanity unable to see God and recognise his plans because of its sinful state of guilty, ignorance of the truth, pride, greed for material goods, impurity, worldly influence, and conscious denial of its blindness. Accordingly, he encouraged the people to learn from the two blind men on how to approach Jesus because they cried to him as a sign of their strong detest about their intolerable state, conscious of their need of God; they followed Jesus in faith and obedience even though they lacked the physical eyes. For this reason, Jesus touched them, as he touches the catechumen at baptism, and the penitent at the confessional.

Archbishop Filipazzi concluded his reflection in the following words: “Believing in Jesus-Following Jesus-Invoking Jesus in prayer-Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments-Witnessing humbly to Jesus is how we too can meet the Lord Jesus, as the two blind men. Moreover, these are the fundamental elements of the Christian life, which we must live permanently, but especially during this Advent season, so that the coming Christmas may flood us with the luminous glory that shone for the shepherds on that holy night in Bethlehem!

In his remark at the close of the Mass, Cardinal Okpaleke thanked God for making the day possible and for bringing all the guests safely to Ekwulobia.  “The memories of this visit will remain ever green in our minds. My prayer is that our coming together today leads to increase in the faith of our people, improvement in our grassroots evangelization, invigoration and empowerment of the weak and the downtrodden.” He prayed that God will lead everyone safely back home.