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Fr Ernest Munachi Ezeogu is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Holy Ghost Missionary Congregation (Spiritans).  

Born and educated in Nigeria and ordained in 1983, Fr. Munachi served as a missionary in Zambia before going for higher studies in the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.  Following these accomplishments, he taught Scripture (OT and NT) and biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) in the Spiritan International School of Theology, Enugu, Nigeria.  He holds Bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Theology and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture. Presently he is completing doctorate studies in New Testament at the University of Toronto, after which he will return to Nigeria. Fr Ezeogu has been sharing his weekly homilies online since 1997.  His homilies are known to be humorous and yet thought-provoking, deeply researched and yet practical, brief and yet comprehensive. Fr Munachi, as he is popularly known, is particularly interested in bridging the gap between the academic study of the Bible and the use of the Bible in pastoral ministry and personal spirituality. You may visit Fr Munachi at his website using the link at the end of his article below.

A friend of mine hired a carpenter to help him restore his old farmhouse. The carpenter’s first day on the job was a rough one. He arrived late to work because he had a flat tire, halfway through the work his electric saw broke, and at the end of the workday his old pickup truck refused to start. My friend had to drive him home. On arriving he invited my friend in to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, the carpenter paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. He then opened the door and was beaming with smiles as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward he walked my friend to the car. As they passed the tree my friend’s curiosity got the better of him. So he decided to ask the carpenter about what he had seen him do earlier. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again. Funny thing is when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

Having a trouble tree is the carpenter’s way of dealing with daily failures and problems which can sometimes seem overwhelming. Because problems and failures are a part of life, we all need a trouble tree. That is why Jesus, as he sends out the apostles to evangelize the world around them, thought it wise to provide them with a trouble tree. “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). In other words, if you try to teach the people in a particular village and you meet with failure, do not let the failure get you down. No, shake off the dust from that village, go to a new village and start again on a fresh page. Shaking off the dust from their feet is their own way of hanging their problems on the trouble tree.

Like the apostles and the wise carpenter we need a trouble tree. Why? Because, to start with, problems and failures are inevitable in the life of anyone who seeks to make a difference. But sometimes we dwell too long on past failures and allow them to rob our lives of enthusiasm and joy. Sometimes we allow the problems and pressures of the workplace to ruin the peace of our family life. In order not to let this happen we need a trouble tree where we can hang and forget our troubles, at least for a while. We need, at the end of the day to be able to shake off the dust of worry and failure from our feet knowing that tomorrow will bring with it a brand new day with brand new opportunities. It’s like baseball. Even if you lost 12-0 in yesterday’s game, today it is a whole new ball game and the scoreboard starts at 0-0.

What happens when we do not have a trouble tree? If we have no way of shaking off the dust of yesterday’s failure from our feet, the dust clings to us and accumulates and weighs us down. The result is depression and despair. We give up. We quit instead of going on to a new village, to a new project. But Jesus does not want us to be quitters. He wants us to be women and men who begin again each new day. New day, new challenges, new opportunities!

As the people of God, today is a good day to thank God for making provision for our failures, our weaknesses, our imperfections. Faithful men and women of God are not those who are perfect and make no mistakes, they are those who realize their mistakes, acknowledge them, deal with them, put them behind and move on, beginning again each dawning day with a new hope. God in his mercy has provided us with a trouble tree; Christ. He himself carried up our sins in his body to the tree of the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Through the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have access to this tree of life. We can also do it through daily prayer when we do as St Peter tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).



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