You are “Chosen”

22 10 2020

Approximately one year ago, I visited the Jerusalem and the holy land for the first time. One of the feelings one experiences during visits to the Holy Land is the desire to see Jesus, to get a behind the scenes, to turn back the hands of the clock and be there. There comes a time when the rocks aren’t enough, you wish to be transported back in time, to smell Mary’s cooking and watch Jesus  and laugh and play, and sorrowful, you wish to help him with the cross on Calvary. Sadly is only the imagination left to fill in the gaps of centuries, and recreate the scenes and atmosphere and only very few and very gifted people are able to use their imagination so prodigiously, as for the rest of us, any means, or anyone who can assistance us see what happened there many centuries ago is more than welcome. It is craved. Thus you can imagine my joy when I came across the film, Chosen, directed by a young man named Dallas Jenkins recreating the life of Jesus so that the less imaginatively endowed can get close up view of the greatest story ever told.

Chosen

Jenkins must have inherited his father’s knack for telling stories, and I must add, for using stories to try to spread the word of God. Jenkins’ father was a Christian novelist whose bestselling novel, Left behind, sold over 60 million copies and has been adapted to serial television programs. Both father and son, teamed up to start a movie company and intent on producing family friendly Christian movies, they launched several attempt that has been successful such as “What if” a 2010 international bestseller staring Kristy Swanson, a film about a business man whose guardian Angel appeared to him to show him what he would have become if he followed the will of God for his life, a story that is so relevant to all.

Nevertheless, Chosen would appear to be the most successful of Jenkins endeavors and the one that will endear him to the hearts of millions of Christians he would have helped to get to know God and Jesus Christ even if it is only one inch better. The project started as a short film clip called The Sheppard which Jenkins made to help his church members visualize the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the Sheppard. He shot the entire movie clip at a friend’s farm, but the clip was so go that it caught the attention of VidAngel, an online streaming service looking for original content, who encouraged Jenkins to post it up on Facebook to see if people would be interested. The clip received 15million views around the world and gave birth to a multi season series  about the life of Jesus called Chosen, and it is said to be the to be the highest  crowd funded movie of all time.

“I’m trying to justify the faith of those who invested in this project and I’m also trying to, of course, please my Savior, and make sure that we’re doing this project for Him,” Jenkins said.

It’s sad that Christians has been edged out of the competition in the movies to the disastrous consequences and missed opportunities of bringing life savings and healing doctrines too the lost and often deceived people whose only means of knowing the most important truth of gospel comes from what they glean from poor scripts and bad acting in most Christian movie, or from the ideologically manipulated and religiously hostile Hollywood blockbusters. Jenkins has shown a good example of how to use motion pictures to bring the gospel to the hearts and minds of many.

It is the same zeal that burned in the heart of Monsignor Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, when he wrote in 1959, “I found my love for God enkindled by considering Jesus’ zeal to set the world ablaze with his fire. I couldn’t contain the irrepressible ardour that welled up within me, making me cry out with the very words of the Master: I’ve come to set fire to the earth and what will I but that it be enkindled?… Here I am, for you have called me! He encouraged good people, Christians to get involved in the movie industries.  Recalling the first time Escriva saw a color television in 1972, those who were with him wrote this account:

“At Civenna, just over four kilometers from the Swiss border, and less as the crow flies, they could get Swiss television channels. Their house had a color television set, and the first time they turned it on Monsignor Escrivá was as surprised as everyone else. “Isn’t it good?” he exclaimed. “I had no idea the image would be so clear and the color so natural. The color’s so attractive that you’re captivated no matter what program is on.”

After the television set had been turned off, he reflected aloud, “All this progress, great and small, has to bring us to give great glory to God. All noble human work, done well and used properly, is a fabulous instrument for serving society and sanctifying ourselves. I suppose the same thing happened to you as to me a moment ago when we were watching television: it was easy to raise one’s heart to God, thanking him for the technical perfection of the image and the color. And then there’s an idea which is always going around my head. I thought of the good and the evil which can be done with television and with all the media. Good? Yes, because it’s a wonderful vehicle for reaching out to so many people, capturing their attention in such an attractive way. Bad? It’s that too, because images and words can be used to spread bad doctrine and false morals. And people swallow these errors and falsehoods without realizing it, they welcome it like pure gold. That’s why I insist so much that the apostolate through the media will always be very important. And Catholics who have a professional vocation to the media, journalists, people working in the press, radio, and television, have to be present and active: to be absent would be a shameful act of desertion.”

Thus, any Christian who is not eager to share Christ with others, to make his humanity known and loved, using whatever talents, few or many, is not doing well, in fact he is lukewarm. Jenkins striving to use his talents as a movie maker to make Jesus better known is commendable. Jenkins urged on by the burning desire to tell Jesus story the way it should be told, with the pump, brilliance and genius of great masters of the big studios has come up with the brilliant master piece Chosen and on behalf of many millions of Christians the world over, I would like to say a very big thanks to Jenkins for making this effort, for not giving up and for helping us see even if minutely a little more background story of Jesus life. His adaptation are brilliant, his ability to help us visualize the real environment most of us are only able to conjure and some with great difficulty is inestimable.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Dallas Jenkins




I love the movie “Fatima”

7 10 2020
Fatima

I must admit that I have always been fascinated by the story of the 1917 apparition of Mary at Fatima, Portugal to the three little Sheppard children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in the forest and I was excited that a film about the entire episode was released in August 2020.  Though, a bit apprehensive about religious films, especially those that involve Angels and apparitions because somehow, Hollywood directors never seem to get the supernatural aura right,    I finally get to watch the movie and I think it was a great movie. The children were perfect, though I think the woman that played the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary seemed to have a bit too much powder on her face. I guess when you have spent an entire life imagining how Mary looks like; no screen image ever gets close. How wonderful it is to see our Lady. I guess I will have to wait till heaven to find out.

In any case, the movie Fatima tells the story from the point of view of Sister Lucia; one of the surviving children who saw our lady and who later became a nun, as she was interviewed by a journalist (an Atheist)

I liked the banter between Lucia and the Journalist, during the interview. At one point the journalist asked her, “Do you have any regrets?”

Sister Lucia paused for a brief moment before replying, “Does it seem that the world has heeded the words of our Lady?  My only regret is not doing enough to spread her message.”

And that message is to say the Rosary, daily for the conversion of sinners. Such a simple request but so important. According to Fr. Don Collaway, the rosary is so important, that Jesus sent his own mother to Earth to remind us earthlings to say the rosary, and yet many Christians are ever so forgetful of such a powerful weapon.

The rosary has been a bone of contention between Protestants and Catholics. Protestant claim that the rosary is not scriptural yet every single prayer of the rosary can be found in the bible. The Hail Mary is the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to Mary when he came to announce to her that she will be the mother of Jesus. Since the Angels are God’s messengers, then, it truth it is God who addressed Mary. Again, many find the repetitious nature of the prayer irksome, but the truth is that the recommended way to say the rosary is to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary which cover the entire life of Jesus from his birth to his death on the cross. Thus a Christian who says the rosary well each day would be meditating on the life of Christ each day, what better way to grow in love of God.

 Nevertheless, this is not the forum to delve into all the polemic. If you wish to know more about the rosary, you can watch the video below where Fr. Don Collaway speaks about the Rosary as the sword of Christians.  

Fr Don Calloway Rosary, sword of Christians

 I would say that watching the movie Fatima is the closest thing to being there at Fatima when all it happened, although the crowd at the apparitions sites (in the movie) where a bit too rowdy and perhaps not too prayerful (I wish the director had added more prayerful moments) but then, this was a country at the grip of communist at that time and.

There was another scene I found a bit disconcerting. When it was time for the second apparition, Lucia’s mother tried to stop her from going to the apparition site, but Lucia resisted her mother, snatching her hands away and retorting, “I have to go, Mama, because the lady told us to come.”

I thought God would not permit a child to disobey her mother, but then after due considerations, I think she (Lucia) did the right thing. Obedience to God supersedes obedience to parents and that’s what many parents perhaps nowadays fail to grasp. Children are a gift from God, and a parent is nothing but a God’s care taker for a while for the souls of children entrusted to them by God. Hence a parent’s authority ends where God begins. Parent must not stand between their children and God, but rather stand beside and support them. It’s always unfortunate when a parent is opposing God’s call. True, they have the duty to ensure that at least, the call is authentic, but once that is done, they must leave them free to follow their vocation, but even more, they should actively support them. This is common all over the world. In Africa, though Africans have lots of children parents sometimes oppose their children’s vocation simply out of self preservation, because children are a sort of pension scheme for parents due to lack of social security, a child’s vocation, especially when it limits their ability to contribute to parents upkeep can be a real problem. Nevertheless, at the bottom of such opposition lies a lack of faith in God. In Western countries, it is a bit different; parents resist their children vocation by not having children or limiting the number of children by birth control, again out of selfishness or misguided   attempt to save the world from over population. In any case I love the movie Fatima and I encourage you to watch it.





Gay Jesus funny? Netflix is stone cold crazy!

20 12 2019

Movie streaming giant, Netflix, has lost its coconuts by streaming a third rate movie that portrays Jesus as gay.

 The movie, “The First Temptation of Christ,” offends more than 2.18 billion Christians around the world, by depicting Jesus as a homosexual and Mary as a weed smoking trollop?

 According to Citizen.org, the film presents Christ as having relationships with a homosexual while the disciples are alcoholics and unruly. The Virgin Mary is presented as an adulterous woman who has sex with God the Father. Until recently, the anti-Christian works by the small Brazilian producers of the movie were published on their YouTube channel. But this year, Netflix has decided to buy their production and distribution rights in a clear agreement to the group’s blasphemous works.

Why would Netflix want to promote a film that they know offends so many of their customers? A movie based on lies and falsification of historical facts about the life of Jesus Christ? Jesus lived and died in the 6BC-33AD, there are historical records people who lived with him and no such record exist that he is a homosexual, but quite on the contrary, homosexuality is a sin against Christian norms. Not even the Pharisee who hated Jesus so much as to kill him charged him with such. So why would anyone, 2000 yrs latter wish to offend billions believers with such an obvious lie?  But it’s only a movies, they say, nothing serious, a satire, no one should get upset. Really?

Christians have lost lives and properties defending their faith, thousand have died at the guillotine; tens of thousands were thrown to the lions for not denying their lord and savior Jesus Christ. Netflix and Porta must be stone cold crazy.     And their past streaming of hundreds of genuine Christian movies doesn’t make them less culpable for pandering this false narrative, much like a man is not less culpable when he commits murder because he saved hundreds of lives.

They wouldn’t do that to Muslims though

Netflix’s recent outrage has sparked the age-old debate on how Christian can get people to respect what they believe. Muslims have successfully won a fearful respect for their sacred through violence and bloodshed. Christians on the other hand are bound by cast iron rules of non-violence, exploited by vicious men bereft of decency to trample on their feelings with impunity.  CitizenGo, a Christian advocacy group has received two million signatures condemning the movie– significant, but hardly enough. Christians must stop and contemplate Jesus holy anger, when he sees people misusing the things of his Father. What a lesson for us never to be indifferent or cowardly when others fail to treat the things of God with due respect.

Of course violence has been tried by emperors and kings in centuries gone by and it utterly betrayed the Christian faith in spite of the good intentions of the people who deployed it.

Yet a man has the right and duty to defend the honor of his mother even if it means coming to blows. Those who go about heaping scorn on the values people cherish best beware that every man has his limits and sooner or later patience wears thin and they must have themselves to blame for what happens.

If being civilized means behaving reasonably and politely, avoiding hurting other people’s feelings, then Netflix actions are barbaric  

Two sides of the same coin

A woman writing in the punch newspaper, in words couched with thinly veiled disdain for the Christian said that the uptick in false narrative about Christianity is tit for tat for century old false narratives pandered by Christian to destroy ancient pagan religions.

But that’s a muddle up understanding of history of pagan religions. Most pagan practices actually rely on of satanic powers to achieve their purpose, and not a few practice sacrifices of blood of animal or even humans. Their code of ethics is nothing but primal instincts that often strays into outright errors, even evil.  Truth does not molest falsehood when it corrects it, knowledge cannot tolerate ignorance. The Christian faith does not denigrate pagan religion, but perfects and purify them from error to lead men to truth. The Christian faith by purifying pagan rituals from twins, virgin sacrifices and cannibalism brought about civilization.

Women the world over are enjoying the fruits of the untiring of works of Christian missionaries in educate young girls and give them opportunities denied them in traditional pagan societies.

Voodoo Afro-Brazilians pagan religions are replete with fetishes and unhygienic cavorting with dead bodies that sanitary laws demand censuring such practitioners. Still it must be pointed out that Christian ethics demands that errors of paganism must be corrected with charity. To do otherwise would go against Christ’s teaching. Truth is sacrosanct, and promoting a deliberate falsification of historically verifiable facts about Jesus’ life and teaching even as a joke is being mischievous.  When art misrepresents history, it is not illuminating but confusing.

Breaking a norm of decency is not freedom and progress, but that is a caricature of true freedom. A motorist, who thinks he is freer when he breaks traffic laws, is most likely to eventually kill himself and others.  Those applauding the wholesale ditching of good manners may find out that they have ditched civilization itself.

The Christian faith never needed to resort to violence because she never needed violence. Rather, she has been a counterforce against the violence in every man, urging the imitation Jesus Christ who, like lamb that was led to the slaughter, opened not his mouth, who though being God, became man, and went lower still accepted death on the cross, in other to redeemed man.

Those who do violence in the name of the Christ know they are violating the faith they profess. Nowhere in Christ’s teaching is any form of violence toward others encouraged, rather Christ commands love of enemies and doing good to those who hate. The power of the Christ message is the only valid defense of the Christian faith. When Christians put the teachings of Christ into practice, Christians will convert the world, and today’s Christian must convert the world– by truly striving to be saints, for this world’s crisis are crises of saints.

Chinwuba Iyizoba





In God’s Land: Jesus in Prison and Peter Denies

18 09 2019

Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

The band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.

Peter, terrified by the servants, denied having anything to do with Jesus. “I do not know him; I do not know what you are saying; I do not know this man!”
And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed and the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and wept bitterly.
On the door of the Church of Peter in Gallicantu (Gallicantu means “cock crow”) commemorates the triple denial of Peter and the bitter tears he wept after the cook crowed.
It is located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion outside the old Jerusalem wall.

Pictures of the exterior of the Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

Art work on the door of St. Peter in Gallicantu


At the entrance is a joint art work of Jews, Muslims and Christians of Jesus at supper with his discipline and telling them that one of you will betray me.

Inside the Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

In inside the first floor of the Church, is the court of the Sanhedrin, with fresco of 12 Sanhedrin judging Jesus on the altar piece.
Jesus’ trial was illegal because courts do not open at night. And no trails should hold during Passover.

Jesus’ Prison

From here we went down below to the house of Caiaphas proper and the dungeon below. Prisoners arrested at night where usually thrown into the dungeon till the morning when trial could hold. The prisoners, hand tied, were dropped down through a hole and then they are fastened facing the wall with hooks. The prison was discovered accidentally when the hammer of a construction worker dropped accidentally and fell through a hole in the ground.

The hole from which Jesus bound hands and feet was let down into the dungeon

We read the psalm (88) here and touched the wall where Jesus was bound till morning. Next, we climbed back up, and looking at the purity bath, or ritual baths, or micvah which Caiaphas had in his home. This practice has been adopted by the Muslims also.

Where Peter denied Jesus

We then went to where Peter denied Christ three times, outside, at the courtyard. There was a statue of him with the two maids.

The stairs used by Jesus to go from the upper room to gethsemane


From this balcony we could see the garden of Olives and Gethsemane
We also saw the stairs that Jesus used to go to from the Cenacle across the Kidron valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. Also visible from there was the east end of the temple, said to be the spot on which King David was standing when he saw a naked woman bathing and committed adultery with her and subsequently murder.
There also he saw the angel of God standing by the dome of the rock, (rock of Moriah) ready to destroy the city of Jerusalem, and he pleaded with angel to spare the city and kill him(David) instead.
The angels said to him “Go to the Mount and make a sacrifice.”
After he had made the sacrifice, he said to the angle, “Let me build you a temple here. But the Lord said no, since his hands were stained with blood, and told him that his son, Solomon will build the temple. We left the Basilica after staying there for about an hour, pondering the deep love that God has for us, we headed to the Church of the Dormition of Mary, where we were to celebrate the Holy Mass

On our way to the Basilica of Dormition of Mary

We arrived the Church of Dormition of Mary located in the highest point on Mount Zion. The location is identified in Christian tradition as the place where the Virgin Mary died — or “fell asleep”, as the name suggests. Christian sources say that Mary was probably 50 years old when she died. There are claims that Mary died in Ephesus, Turkey, but this is not supported by the early Christians. According to St. John Damascene, “St Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon [AD 451], made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St Thomas [who arrived late], was found empty; wherefrom the apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.”

Pictures of the exterior and interior of the Basilca of the Dormition of Mary

Basilica of Dormition of Mary
Mosiac art work of Mary careing for infant Jesus on the dome
Mosiac floor of the Basilca of Dormition of Mary

On the ground floor of the Church, there is a life size statue of Mary sleeping.

Life size statue of Mary sleeping
Mosiac of six Old Testament women above the sleeping statue
Painting above the statue of Mary sleeping: Jesus caring for Mary in Heaven
Painting on the basilica dome: Mary cared for Jesus on earth

On the mosaic above the statue of our lady Dormition, there are paintings of six women in the Old Testament.

We said the Hail Mary Six times besides the statue of sleeping Mary.
There were more details we could have missed. The painting on the dome in the basilica proper was Mary caring for Jesus which represents the humanity of Jesus. While the painting on the dome above the sleeping statue showed Jesus caring for Mary in heaven which represents the divinity of Jesus.

We heard Mass at the Basilica of Dormition of Mary

It was a great experience to celebrate Mass at the place where Mary the Mother of Jesus breathed her last. We ask her to intercede for us who still remain her till we go to join her in her in heaven where she is.

Pictures after the Mass





Jesus and Mary share an organ?

7 12 2018

I was recently caught by an article on aletia.org titled, “Do you know that Mary and Jesus shared an organ? “

Intrigued, I began reading.

Yes, Mary and Jesus literally share an organ! The PLACENTA!

Have you ever thought about the placenta — what it meant to Jesus and Mary, and what it means to us? asks Anna O’Neil, the author.

Quick refresher, if you’re foggy on what a placenta is and does: It’s the organ that connects an unborn baby with his mother. The baby’s umbilical cord attaches to the placenta, and the mother’s body sends oxygen and nutrients through it to the baby. It also filters waste out of the baby’s blood, regulates the temperature of his environment, and produces the hormones that make the pregnancy possible.

Here’s the best part, though the placenta is an organ that the mother and baby build together. We can’t say the mother’s placenta belongs to her in the same way that her womb is hers; the placenta belongs to mother and child both. Part of it is built by her body, and part by the baby’s body, but it’s one single organ — with both of their DNA.

So Mary didn’t only carry Jesus in her womb during those months leading up to Christmas day. She and he were actually attached — by a human organ that belonged to them both.

Later, when Jesus was preaching, somebody calls out to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!” Luke tells us that Jesus answered: “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Here is a God who wants to be so close to us that he became man — not just showing up out of the blue as an adult, but growing inside of his mother’s womb, sharing an organ with her, letting their two bodies be so intimately united — and now he says to us that those who hear the word of God and observe it can be united with him like his own, immaculate mother was.

We’re not immaculate, but that’s not the point. Jesus wants to share his life with us. We talk like he just wants proximity. He wants more. We talk about bringing Jesus into our life, making room for him in the inn, remembering him through the season, and all of that is good. But Jesus wants to be closer.

Jesus started his human life as every life starts, burrowed into the lining of his mother’s uterus. As he grew, their bodies worked together, God’s body and her immaculate one, building the placenta that attached them until he was ready to be born.

Some of us are mothers, and we remember sharing our body with our children. But all of us have mothers, and even though we don’t remember it, we began our lives connected to them in the most intimate way imaginable. If you’ve ever doubted that Jesus truly wants to be with you, remember that the unity in which your own life began is only a shadow of the unity that Jesus is hoping to have with you.

Worth keeping in mind this Christmas








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