Homily for January 20, 2018
In our Gospel passage this morning, Jesus gives us two parables wherein he compares the kingdom of God to a field that contains a treasure and a pearl of great value. In both instances, a man had to sell all he has to buy it. The emphasis is on “ALL.”
If we must make heaven, we should be prepared to give up everything else. We cannot eat our cake and still have it. The kingdom of God is not cheap, it demands all we have, our time, our resources, our total commitment.
We cannot get to heaven if we are trying to be average Christians. If we are concerned only about doing the minimum, then we cannot buy this treasure field.
Today is the Feast Day of Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, a man whose life gives us an example of deep trust in God. Tansi was always accused of taking his Christianity too seriously. First a secular priest, he went on to become a Trappist monk because he wanted to completely live out his piety in close communion to God as much as possible.
Born to non-Christian parents in September 1903 in Aguleri, Anambra State, Nigeria, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was sent to live with his uncle at the age of seven. It was his Christian uncle gave him an education. He was baptised at the age of 10 by Irish missionaries. Tansi was a diligent student with a precocious personality and deep piety. He worked as a teacher for 3 years and later served as a headmaster of St. Joseph’s school for one year in Aguleri.
When Tansi expressed his desire to become a priest, his uncle arranged for a very beautiful lady to visit him with the hope that she would make him think twice about becoming a priest. But despite several attempts, he reached a conclusion that Tansi only talks to two women in the world; his own mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1925 against the wishes of his family, he entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Onitsha on 19 December 1937.
For a time Tansi worked tirelessly in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajali before discerning vocation to be a Cistercian monk at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, Leicester, England. He lived this vocation at the abbey for 14 years. Father Tansi used to say, “If you are going to be a Christian at all, you might as well live entirely for God”.
He died on 20 January 1964 and was beatified on 22 March 1998 by Saint Pope John Paul II in Nigeria. The Pope said of Father Cyprian:
He was first of all a man of God: his long hours before the Blessed Sacrament filled his heart with generous and courageous love. Those who knew him testify to his great love of God. Everyone who met him was touched by his personal goodness. He was then a man of the people: he always put others before himself, and was especially attentive to the pastoral needs of families.
The words of Pope regarding Blessed Tansi are resonated in our first reading this morning. St. Paul gives us the clue to sainthood when he said: “Do nothing from selfishness… count others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, I surrender everything to you. Amen.
Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi: Pray for us.
*Happy Weekend. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. (Feast of Blessed Tansi. Bible Study: Philipians 2:1-11 and Matthew 13:31-46).*