Read Philippians 2:1-11, Isaiah 12, Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

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 seven. It was his Christian uncle who educated him. 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 three years and later served as a headmaster of St. Joseph’s school in Aguleri for one year. In those days, being a school headmaster translated to economic stability, yet at this point, Tansi opted for the priesthood. This brings us to our lessons today:

1. Be Detached: When Tansi expressed his desire to become a priest, his uncle arranged for a very beautiful lady to visit him, hoping she would make him think twice about becoming a priest. But despite several attempts to discourage him, there was no going back for Tansi. In 1925, against his family's wishes, he entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Onitsha on December 19, 1937.

2. Desire to Fulfil All Righteousness: In Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, we see a priest who lived out the selflessness required of the priestly vocation. As we read in today’s Gospel passage, Tansi “sold everything he had to purchase the kingdom of God.” Blessed Tansi was often accused of taking his Christian faith too seriously.

For a time, Tansi worked tirelessly in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajali before discerning his 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”.

3. Be Devoted to Prayer: Pope John Paul II, in his homily during the beatification of Tansi, noted that 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 testified to his great love of God.

4. Consider Others as Better than Yourself: Pope John Paul II states, “His goodness touched everyone who met Tansi. He was then a man of the people: he always put others before himself and was especially attentive to the pastoral needs of families. He took great care to prepare couples well for Holy Matrimony and preached the importance of purity….”

This aspect of Blessed Tansi is what St. Paul speaks about in today’s first reading. When you consider others better than yourself, it will be easy to sacrifice for them. You will not think of what to gain from them but how to improve their lives.

5. Sainthood is For Everyone: Saints are not extraordinary people but ordinary people who live extraordinary lives by loving God and their neighbours as themselves. Blessed Tansi did not write an application letter to be beatified. The testimony of those who met him made the church recognise him. What will people say about you when you die?

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach me to trust more and live entirely for you. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, Priest - Feast. Bible Study: Philippians 2:1-11, Isaiah 12, Matthew 13:44-46).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu