“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Today, Jesus gave us two parables where He compares the kingdom of God to a field and a pearl. In both instances, a man had to sell all that he had to buy it. If we must make heaven, we must be prepared to give up all that we have. We cannot get to heaven if we are just average Christians. Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi whose feast we celebrate today is an example of a man who sold all that he had to “purchase” the Kingdom of God.
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, his uncle realized that Tansi only talks to two women; his own mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At a time when his family were looking up to Tansi to provide financial support for them, at a time when his own mother’s health was frail and needed someone to cater for her, Tansi decided in 1925 to enter St. Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam. He never looked back. Tansi was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Onitsha on the 19th of 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” in other words: “it is better not be a Christian at all than to be an average Christian.” During his beatification on 22 March 1998 by Saint Pope John Paul said of Father Tansi: He was, first of all, a man of God: his long hours before the Blessed Sacrament filled his heart with generous and courageous love…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 John Paul II regarding Blessed Tansi are resonated in our first reading this morning. “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.
Bible Study: Philippians 2:1-11, Psalm in Isaiah 12:2-6 and Matthew 13:31-46).