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The Third Sunday of Easter (A): 30 April 2017

Readings

Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22-33

Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

1 Peter 1:17-21

Luke 24:13-35

Biblical Reflection

Peter’s Pentecost discourse in Acts is essentially the proclamation of God’s plan of salvation. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Peter explains that the suffering, the crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus are part of God’s promise to all of liberation from sin, so that each one of us can experience the great love that God pours out in Jesus Christ.

In the reading from the first letter of Peter, the Apostle reminds us that we share in the grace of our risen Lord, in whom our faith and hope are centered. Such spiritual knowledge summons us to a close relationship with God, of whose presence in the world we are called to be signs.

Today’s reading from Luke’s gospel can evoke contrasting human emotions. The two “downcast” disciples must be desolate of heart, hapless, confused, sad, disillusioned, and demotivated as they walk on the road to Emmaus. Later hapless, full of joy after having encountered and recognized the risen Lord at the breaking of the bread, they encounter the group of the apostles. After they have spent time with the Lord, whom they confused with a stranger, their hearts are fully consoled and filled with joy.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel [1]

“In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt. 28:19). ... The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’”

Thus does Pope Francis remind us of our missionary mandate as the bearers of the good news of the resurrection, the message of love. As Francis reiterates our call to become “missionary disciples,” we can easily picture the example of the two disciples of Emmaus. What then is “the Joy of the Gospel” if not simply the Good News of the Resurrection, which fills our hearts and renews our commitment to love God by loving each other?

In opening the eyes of the two men from Emmaus, God reveals himself to us too, so that we can recognize him in those we consider as strangers, in those who have lost their sense of the future, and in those discouraged by the events of life: economic crises, loss of job, high cost of education, and unequal distribution of opportunity.

Christian Wisdom

The French Catholic novelist François Mauriac has written, “If you are friends with Christ, many others will warm themselves at your fire…” Quoting St. Bonaventure, he continues, “On the day when you no longer burn with love, many will die with cold.”

Easter calls us to burn with the fire of Christ so that we can warm many others.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How is Jesus alive and present in your community, in your family, and at your workplace?

How can your friendship with Christ influence your social environment?

How is your heart responding to the Easter readings?

What concrete actions can we take to make the journey from our own “Emmaus,” leaving behind unpleasant habits, routine, and apathy in favour of greater commitment to our obligations and responsibilities as Christians and as citizens?

Considering your daily life as an “Emmaus journey,” where do you find answers to issues you face such as disappointments at your workplace or broken relationships in your family?

Outline prepared Father Stephen Muriungi, OMI, of the Formation House of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in Karen, Nairobi. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.                                                                               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy (A): 23 April 2017

Readings

Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47

Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24                                                                                                                                         

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Biblical Reflection

Joy, Trust, Surrender, Faith, and the Mercy of God are the themes of this week’s readings.

The passage from Acts relates the consequences of Joy among the first believers: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” The source of this Joy is the Resurrection of the Lord. A new way of life has started and they can feel it, they can experience it. Their faith and their trust have grown to the point where they need not fear the future or fear insecurity. No one in the community remains needy. This joy has brought many others to join the community and has given assurance of salvation in the Name of Jesus. Easter brings all Christians to experience a Joy that increases commitment to preaching the Good News and to sharing the faith.

In the second reading, St. Peter links the Resurrection of Christ to the Mercy of God: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” Here is another reason for Christians to rejoice during Easter: to celebrate the redemptive deeds of God through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This mercy is received and shared among the believers. The Mercy of God always renews our life.

The Gospel invites us to faith and trust in the Resurrection. Jesus himself confirms his resurrection by revealing himself to the apostles. The doubts of Thomas are cleared away! We need to believe unconditionally in Jesus’ words: “…..Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Easter is a time for growth in faith and trust in Jesus. We can then experience the true peace and true joy of the Resurrection.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘disposable’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” No. 53.

The first Christian community lived the true faith by sharing the word of God and sharing with the community all that they had. Modern Christians are challenged by the lifestyle of the first Christians. In The Joy of the Gospel No. 53, Pope Francis has invited us to say No to an Economy of Exclusion.

African Wisdom

Umoja ni nguvu! ‒Swahili.   = Unity is strength.

The first Christian community grew stronger through its unity: one body and one heart! Our church and our country Kenya will grow stronger if we promote unity and communion.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How can we revive the spirit and the lifestyle of the first Christian community in our church today?

What are the main obstacles that prevent Christians from experiencing the Joy of the Resurrection in their lives?

Are the Christians of today’s world different from Thomas?

*Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Outline prepared by Fr. Fidèle Munkiele, OMI, formation director of the Kenya Mission of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and a prison chaplain. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.                                                                   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The Resurrection of the Lord, Mass of Easter Day (A): 16 April 2017

Readings

Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-9

Biblical Reflection

Acts ‒ Seeing. “We are witnesses of all that he did…” Witnesses must speak of what they see, for the good of themselves and of their communities.

Psalm ‒ (Thanking). “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,…” Genuine thanks leads to acts of imitation as expressions of gratitude.

Colossians ‒ Judging. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,…” This is not so much about pious thoughts of never-ending banquets and peaceful, restful homes to live in. What is “above” is God’s desire for justice and the liberation of those who are enslaved, persecuted, abused, or lost.

Gospel of John ‒ Acting. “They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter...he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb…”

How often do we encounter situations where we stop to “look” but don’t “go in”? How often do we “see” an injustice but just talk about what should be done (usually by the Government or others), and we never actually do anything? Every community needs a variety of personalities. We must embrace the impetuous, those who have the initiative to take the first step. They’ll not always get it right, but after the first step is taken, others can make the necessary corrections.

Overall, the flow of the readings can be seen as See, (Thank), Judge, and Act. Most Christians spend a lot of time rejoicing at Easter. Do we help them to see this celebrating – a form of thanking God – as a precursor, a stepping point, to judging what to do about the injustice around us, and then to doing something to change it?

The Resurrection, to be meaningful, must lead us into actions that liberate those who are trapped in our societies, e.g., street children, victims of human traficking, or the men, women, and children suffering in South Sudan who call out for intervention by forces of justice. The Resurrection is not a personal “get-out-of-jail-free” card that lets us go on living “for ourselves.” The Resurrection calls us to action, injecting courage in our arms and helping us bring healing and real resurrection to the poor of society.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel

“Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good” No. 9.

World Wisdom

An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. ‒ Alexander the Great

Q: Are you willing to be the lion? It takes only one to start the action.

An untouched drum does not speak. ‒ Liberia or Shona / Zimbabwe

You've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. ‒ France

Q: Will anything change if we are silent or stand at the door of the tomb?

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Q: Can we be the light of the Resurrection, and speak and act against injustice?

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Have you ever had a deep feeling of starting again? A resurrection experience?

Has anyone ever helped you leave the past behind?

How do you express your gratitude or sorrow? In words? In actions? Or both?

What are the difficult topics in your community that no one wants to discuss?

Have you ever been brave and tried to deal with abusive situations “next door”?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

** Cf. http://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/news/catholic-university-financial-crisis-loss-sh400-million/

Outline prepared by Fr. Gerard (Gerry) Conlan, OMI, Kenya Mission Treasurer of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Karen. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

6th Sunday of Lent / Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (A): 09 April 2017

Readings

Matthew 21:1-11

Isaiah 50:4-7

Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

Philippians 2:6-11

Matthew 26:14 ‒ 27:66

Biblical Reflection

Palm Sunday is viewed as Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem. But a question lingers: Was the entry really “triumphant”? Maybe it was. But we recall from Mark 10:32-34 that Jesus had already predicted to his disciples what would happen on that day. In Jerusalem, the Son of Man would be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes and would be condemned to death. Still, the disciples did not grasp his meaning. What then is the meaning of Palm Sunday?

The readings set us in motion to decipher the meaning. The passage from Matthew that is read before the procession shows us who Jesus really is. First, Jesus chooses a donkey, a “beast of burden.” At the time of Jesus, a horse would have been more appropriate for a King, more prestigious, symbolizing power. He chooses a donkey, although he does not even own one. The meaning for his choice is made explicit: “This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (Mt. 21:5).

The crowd, however, does not let Jesus enter the city in the simple way he had planned. They come singing, spreading cloaks and branches in his path, and proclaiming, “Hosanna to the son of David.” Most striking, much of the crowd are aware of who Jesus is, for when the people of the city ask, "Who is this?” the crowd answers, “This is Jesus the Prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Shortly thereafter Mt. 21:15 recounts, “When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.” Of course, they do not accept that Jesus has come to do the will of his father, and that his kingdom is not of this world.

Essentially then, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem demonstrates, first of all, his strong obedience to do the will of his father. Even in the face of hostility, Jesus does not abandon his mission and in his resolve he fits well into the words of the Prophet Isaiah (50:4-5) from today’s reading, “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” Jesus also demonstrates a strong trust in God the Father, without fear of being disgraced or shamed, because he knows that God cannot abandon him and will help him be victorious.

A second lesson of Palm Sunday flows from Jesus’ demonstration of humility. Jesus is so profoundly humble that even those in authority are confused. The Apostle Paul clearly elucidates the humility of Jesus: “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself…” Yes, Jesus triumphs in virtue and is victorious in defeating evil. Thus is he recognized as light of the world.

Link with the Social Doctrine of the Church

The virtues revealed in the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem reflect his firm yet non-violent approach to transforming society. Since its inception the Church has continued this approach in its social doctrine and continues to enlighten the faithful on the importance of being “the light and the salt of the world.” Following Christ as their model, Christians are called upon to build a society that is more just and more peaceful. The Church itself becomes a precursor to the establishment of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

“In effect, to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour.” [1]

Questions for reflection in SCC;

What are the qualities of a good leader?

What should guide the choice of one candidate over another?

Is service delivery a measure of good leadership?

 [1] Pope St. John Paul. Centesimus Annus, 1991. (Encyclical letter on the centenary of Rerum Novarum.)

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_01051991_centesimus-annus.html

Outline prepared by Fr. Dionisius Mwandiki Ananua, OMI, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

4th Sunday of Lent (A): 26 March 2017

Readings

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

Ephesians 5:8-14

John 9:1-41

Biblical Reflection

1 Samuel: “God looks at the heart, not the appearance...,” Samuel is told by the Lord. We live in a world in which appearances count more and more every day: capacity to attract others, eagerness to capture attention, ability to look “cool” in the eyes of others, mastery of techniques of glamour, enchantment, and seductiveness. The virtual world has swallowed up the real world. Both male and female need to appear better than the reality. Many of our life expectations seem to turn round whether we appear good to others…, which becomes a central worry for today’s youth. How difficult it is to look to the heart of people in a world like this…

Ephesians: “We are the children of light; we are no more in darkness,” says St. Paul. Those who discover the joy of the Gospel, those who have met Jesus in their lives, are no longer in darkness and live no more in despair. Light allows us to see and removes our blindness; the light that comes when embracing Jesus in our lives helps us look deeper into the hearts of people. It is this light that diffuses appearances and lets the goodness, the righteousness, the truth, and the beauty that come from inside shine out.

John: The story of the cure of the blind man of today’s Gospel is the story of our journey of life and faith. We are blind when we are conceived and then nurtured in our mother’s womb. We can hardly see when we are physically born. The miracle of nature ‒ step by step, as light appears in our life ‒ brings about the faculty of vision. “[I]t is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” What happens in nature is reflected in our faith. Belief is the process of seeing and understanding our singularity and purpose and the real truth of life, i.e., the works of God.

And yet the world does not see, does not perceive this intimate experience, but challenges it. The world is guided by rules, scientific procedures, and standardised systems. Our journey of faith is constantly challenged, just as the Pharisees challenge the blind man who now sees. Not even the evidence of “seeing” and believing is recognised. It is unacceptable, it cannot be… The Pharisees taunt the man who now can see, asking, “Do you dare to teach us?”

As in last Sunday’s account of the Samaritan woman, here comes a new life, a new sight, as happens at baptism. In fact the blind man recovers his sight when he washes his eyes in the pool. Similarly, after baptism, Christians receive new life, new vision.

We cannot be blind to the harsh reality of life. We must not let ourselves be flattered by the evidence of the powerful and the persuasiveness of the so-called righteous. What we see and live, we have to communicate.

African Wisdom

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. ‒ Ashanti Proverb

Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you. ‒ African Proverb

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. ‒ Augustine of Hippo

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How can we choose good leaders without looking at appearances only but by knowing them from the heart?

What can we see to strengthen our belief that we are children of light who can defeat darkness?

What tricks do the powerful use to make us believe what we cannot see?

This outline was prepared by Fr. Alex Campón Brugada, MCSPA, the Director of Caritas-Lodwar. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

3rd Sunday of Lent (A): 19 March 2017

Readings

Exodus 17:3-7

Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-42

Biblical Reflection

Exodus:

During the long pilgrimage in search of the Promised Land, the people of God went through many temptations. Especially in times of serious difficulties such as the lack of water, they doubted the presence of God in their midst. For instance, instead of accepting the consequences of their own decision when they left Egypt, they looked for someone to blame, Moses in this case.

Romans:

Paul presents us with solid foundations for our hope of salvation. It is not to be found in our human understanding, or in our logical thoughts, but in the unconditional love of God revealed to us through faith in Jesus Christ. And this hope is not the product of our fantasy or wishful thinking; it is not deceptive, because Christ truly died for us.

John

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is a cross-gender, cross-cultural and inter-religious event: Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, engages a woman, a Samaritan, of a distinct religious belief. At the beginning, they seem to be talking about two different kinds of water. At the end, even others who were “different” recognise the grace of God and a unique opportunity for salvation in the presence of Jesus.

Link with the Social Doctrine of the Church and the current situation in Kenya

In the current situation of drought in Kenya and several East African countries, water again takes centre stage as a basic and undeniable human right that must be secured for all.

Where can we strike the rock so that water may flow unreservedly for all? How can we reach the inner well so that we may never struggle again?

An invitation from the Scriptures today would be to gather peoples of all faiths, all genders and cultures, to confront the problems of water resources at local, regional, national, and international levels. Water is a basic necessity for us all. Together we can analyze the current and future demands, study the best methods to enhance water supplies (rain harvesting, damming, drilling of boreholes, pumping with renewable energy sources) and seek the funds and technical means to achieve this dream. Wednesday this coming week is the International Day of Water, proclaimed by United Nations. Let us encourage each other to mobilize our communities so that conflicts around water scarcity can be avoided, and the vision of “clean water for all” can be implemented. When we strive to provide water for all, many others will come to believe in what we believe.

Besides all the external factors that need to be tackled to provide water for all, the Gospel reminds us of the inner motions each one of us must develop: unless we discover the well that is hidden within our hearts and allow it to flow, in vain shall we be working out there! The God of compassion and consolation silently awaits each one of us to direct our attention to him, to show us the way with tenderness and steadfastness. We need to set aside times and spaces daily to listen to His voice, guiding us through all the confusions and bombardments of our times.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

What is the current situation of water resources in our area? Can we take a small initiative to secure water for all, and to promote a fairer distribution of the available water?

Can I spare some minutes every day, to beg God to show me the well within me that will flow with blessings in good and bad times alike?

Outline prepared by Fr. Albert Salvans, of the Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle, Lobur Mission (see http://mcspa.org/10th-anniversary-of-lobur-mission/).

It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

2nd Sunday of Lent (A): 12 March 2017

Readings

Genesis 12:1-4a

Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

2 Timothy 1:8b-10

Matthew 17:1-9

Biblical Reflection

In Genesis, the call of Abraham and the subsequent promises mark a dramatic transition in the Old Testament story. In today’s reading, God’s words to Abram begin with a command: “Go out of your country and father’s household…” Abram is commanded to “cut ties” with his close blood family, kinship, and household. God’s calls Abram to loyalty and commitment; it is a unique call, superseding what was considered the most important bond in the ancient world, that of family ties. This call offer abundance of land, offspring, and blessings. Abram is called to a wider mission, a universal mission, aimed at changing the entire world by bringing new hope, settling new territories, and creating new promises.

In the second reading, Paul reminds Timothy that as a result of his call as a witness of Christ’s Gospel, and with the gifts of strength, holiness, grace, life, and immortality, he is challenged to bear every hardship, deriving power from the Gospel of salvation. In v. 8a, Paul has implied that giving public witness without shame for the sake of the Gospel is the call of every Christian.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain where he is to be transfigured in their presence. This occurs six days after Jesus’ foretelling his death to the disciples. These three disciples have been with Jesus the longest, and a strong bond of friendship and trust has formed. In their presence, the magnificent transfiguration takes place, and they are astonished, speechless, and unable either to comprehend or explain the event until later, i.e., until after the resurrection. With Jesus and the disciples appear Moses and Elijah, who represent respectively Law and Prophecy. Thus does Jesus signify the fulfilment of the two most important components of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Law and the Prophets.

In the event of the Transfiguration, which foreshadows Easter, the glorified and glowing Christ reaches out to the three disciples and raises them up, assuring them of his protection: Rise, and do not be afraid....” In the Transfiguration, we see Jesus, his clothes and face shining with glory like the sun, surpassing Elijah and Moses and assuring his disciples that he will not leave them.

The disciples’ reaction ‒ particularly Peter’s ‒ indicates clearly that the way Jesus has manifested himself during the event is extraordinary; Peter feels compelled to react, to do something, and he suggests erecting a booth (a tent or tabernacle) to preserve the experience in memory. He wants to prolong the stay “on the mountain top.”

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel [1]

“Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction’” No. 15.

Pope Francis here reminds us that we can experience the wonder of a personal encounter with Christ once we go out of our daily routine. This personal experience never leaves us the same as before; it transforms us and fills us with a joy that we cannot help but share with our brothers and sisters. Pope Francis invites us to be evangelizers, especially after being transformed by the encounter with Christ through the Gospel. We are invited not ‘to build booths’ on the mountain top as Peter opted, but rather, to go down the mountain and make known to others what we have seen and heard from the Lord. Moving out of our comfort zones, whether our homes, our places of work, our schools, colleges, or universities, we are spurred to take first steps to make other people share in the joy that Christ brings us.

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’ The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms” No. 3.

The first requirement for this personal encounter is a desire: something that keeps stirring within us, creating the urge to move out and embrace Christ’s invitation. We have to be open and humble to let Christ in our lives so that the encounter with him may materialize.

African Wisdom

Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa. (One finger cannot kill a louse.) ‒ Swahili (Kenya). This proverb emphasizes the need for unity if we are to achieve great things in life.

If you want to walk fast, go alone; if you want to go far, walk with others. ‒ Uncertain origin. The support of others, even different from us, can help us achieve greater goals.

Milk and honey have different colours, but they share the same house peacefully – African Proverb. This saying encourages mutual co-existence, regardless of differences in (we may infer) tribe, background, or religious affiliation.

Palipo na wengi, hapaharibiki jambo. (Where there are many, nothing goes wrong.) ‒ Swahili. This maxim highlights the importance of unity and community: many heads can bring rich ideas and make constructive contributions.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Can I recall any moments of personal encounter with Christ? What were the circumstances?

How can I prepare myself for this personal encounter with Jesus?

Have I experienced the joy of the Gospel in other people’s faces? In priests, religious, Church elders, etc.?

How have I shared this joy with others and has it brought any transformation in me and in those who heard it? Mention some of these changes if any.

Am I ready to go beyond my tribal borders for the sake of the Gospel? How have I done this with my neighbours who are not of my tribe or ethnic group?

How am I an agent of change, based on the Gospel values of unity, peace, and brotherhood?

Outline prepared by Fr. Wycliffe Ochieng Owiye, MCSPA, Assistant Parish Priest, St. James- Kaikor Parish, Diocese of Lodwar. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

1st Sunday of Lent (A): 05 March 2017

Readings

Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17

Romans 5:12-19

Matthew 4:1-11

Biblical Reflection

In the creation account in Genesis, mankind turned what was originally a free gift from God, creation itself, into a possession. This act and attitude affect both nature and our own humanity: My life belongs to me and I can do with it whatever pleases me; I can decide over good and evil, and whatever I do is my own business. Thus, the world becomes a war zone, everyone against everyone else, each one blaming the other, while hiding our faces from God.

Paul in his letter to the Romans insists on this topic: sin has entered into the world. The world is no longer the perfect society from paradise, but is riddled with injustice, violence and oppression. Jesus would be put to the test by this world precisely and by the powers and tendencies controlling it. He has not come to proclaim the Kingdom in a happy world, but in a world that is cunning, a world of competition, falsehood, and deceit.

First, Jesus is told by the Tempter that to satisfy his own needs he could use his own powers. Nobody will notice, so there is no problem. That is a deadly trap. Jesus has power, and we all have power, though limited. The temptation is to use our power for dominion, even when we believe that we are doing good and, indirectly, for our own benefit. Charity towards the poor, if done from a position of dominion, exhibiting oneself, for one’s own recognition and inner satisfaction, becomes self-destructive. Jesus will never take a short cut and exploit the suffering of the poor for his own benefit or recognition.  

Second, he is told that he could throw himself down from the parapet of the temple, the highest point in Jerusalem, with impunity. The setting implies egoism: from there, one stands above everyone else. From there, one cannot look into the eyes of the people, only over their heads and shoulders. We look no longer into the eyes of the poor, but from a position of dominion, only pretending to be there for the poor.

The movement of the Tempter is always upwards, trying to climb the heights, as in climbing the Tower of Babel. The movement of God is always downwards, emptying himself and becoming human. We cannot find Jesus by moving upwards, up to the summit of power, position, and authority, but only by moving downwards, towards the little ones, those who suffer, looking into the eyes of the so-called “poor of the Gospel.”

Third, Jesus is presented with all the Kingdoms and peoples of the earth: all could be his. Jesus, you want to be successful? Use the strategies of this world, that is, manipulation, dominion, blackmail, to submit all creatures to your power. The Kingdom of God, in contrast, is not imposed by force and dominion but is a free gift.

We have to move away from the traditional view of Jesus being tempted by the “devil`” to realise that what the Gospel narrators are trying to tell us is that Jesus was never overtaken by the evil currents of this world, where human strategies, dominion, and oppression take the lead. In the beginning of his public life he had to confront these currents and move away from them. Paul portrays him as the one who has overcome this sinful world with its cunning devices and brought acquittal and life for everyone. From now on, we will not find him in the positions of dominion, in the Temple in Jerusalem, but among the poor, on the roads of Galilee.

Link with the teaching of the Church: Encyclical Letter Laudato si’

“The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. The rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations” Laudato si, No. 66

“Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for ‘instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature’” Laudato si, No. 117.

“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts” Laudato si, No. 205.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Our churches and our communities are trying to achieve self-reliance. In doing so, are we building a church that is at the service of the poor, or are we more moved by human strategies?

Jesus says, when doing charity let your right hand not know what your left hand is doing (Mt 6:3). In harambees for social activities in our communities, are we ready to contribute freely and generously, or do we insist that our names and our donations be recorded and made public? Do we help out of our heart, or for some self-interest?

How do we behave in our families/parishes/communities? Do we respect the different opinions and give space for plurality of thought, or are we rather moved by a desire for dominion and control?

Outline prepared by Fr. Avelino Bassols, Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

7th Sunday, Ordinary Time (A): 19 February 2017

Readings

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

Biblical Reflection

This Sunday we continue listening to the Sermon on the Mount, and today the Lord addresses this invitation to us: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For many of us this is a demanding request that we can even consider an impossible task. The truth is that if we are genuine followers of Jesus we are people who forgive and who have mercy.

Everywhere on our continent, testimonies of forgiveness and reconciliation abound and Jesus’ invitation has been deeply accepted by many African peoples. It is enough to hear Nelson Mandela describe the ways he dealt with his “enemies” to understand that the words of today Gospel resound in the African soul.

A story comes to mind from one of the latest books by Fr. Laurenti Magesa on African Spirituality[1], concerning Marcel Uwineza, a young Rwandese Jesuit priest, whose testimony follows:

“The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi was not just a tragedy for me; it left me with wounds that took time to heal. I remember after July 1994 when the genocide ended, it was so hard to love or see anything good… (in) a Hutu. Some of our Hutu neighbors killed my father, buried him and later exhumed his body for (the) birds of the air and dogs to feast on … They threw my two brothers and my sister in a pit latrine alive and (they) died inside. They led my maternal grandma and many cousins to the big River Nyabarongo and threw them there (to drown). I am sure the fish of Lake Victoria ate them. They raped my aunt and gave her HIV. They seriously beat and wounded my mother… this was to develop into something she would not survive after the genocide. How on earth was I to live and love these people again? No! This was not something I was ready to do. The God who ask us to love our enemies, no, I was not ready to listen to him! Why had he let my beloved people be killed like cockroaches? Why had Nkurunziza and Kanani killed my beloved relatives? I… remember how my father had given them land and paid school fees for their kids.

“Yet this God got hold of me! Why did I survive? Why was I still alive? Am I better than those who were killed? Why had they (the genocidaires) not discovered Mr. Kabera’s big empty beehive in which he hid me during the genocide? These questions troubled me for years. I could not see a future without my father, mother and brothers. I had become a prisoner in myself. It was not until I read Psalm 116:12, where the Psalmist says: ‘How can I repay the Lord for all the good done for me…?’ that I realized that I have been given more time (to live) and so I should use it well for God.

“A few years later I went back to the village (Kabirizi, Gitarama) where we lived and to my surprise I met one of the killers of my brothers and sister. I could not believe my eyes. Upon seeing me, he came towards. I thought he… (was) coming to kill me too. But I could not believe what happened….; it appeared like a movie…; he knelt before me and asked me to forgive him. If there is one time I felt God invading my life (it) was this time. I…(took) him and embraced him and said: I forgive you; the Lord has been good to me. Ever since (then) I (have) felt free! My wounds were able to heal the wounds of others. That is how I later found myself desiring to give the gift of my very self to the Lord as a Companion of Jesus (Jesuit), who I am as I write…”

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Do you know of similar testimonies in your family or in your community?

Why does hate make us prisoners of ourselves?

Why does forgiveness make us free?

How can our wounds heal the wounds of others?

Before the general elections, how can we, as Children of God in Kenya, work to heal the wounds of the post-election violence of 2007-2008?

Outline prepared by Fr.Jairo Alberto, MXY, of the Yarumal Missionaries. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



[1] MAGESA, Laurenti, What is Not Sacred?: African Spirituality, Acton Publishers, Nairobi, 2014, p. 162-163.

 

6th Sunday, Ordinary Time (A): 12 February 2017

Readings

Sirach 15:15-20

Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Matthew 5:17-37

Biblical Reflection

Today’s first reading and Gospel have a close link. The importance of the Law in the life of the people of Israel also seems to be central to Christian life. It is valuable to look at this passage from Matthew in its context, the Sermon of the Mount — the foundation of Jesus’ other teachings — which leads the Matthean community to recognize Jesus as the new Moses and portrays a particular way of being Christian that is rooted in the Torah. However, the Law that Jesus interprets here has a special condition: this Law is not to be abolished but to be fulfilled.

Introduced by the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12), the Sermon on the Mount moves on to the simile of Salt and Light (Mt 5:13-16) and then to today’s Gospel. The Lectionary apportions these passages over successive Sundays.

This week’s passage presents the sense in which believers of Jesus should accept the law. Anger results in killing, lust in adultery, etc. The intention of Jesus, in the writer’s eye, is to move from merely external obligation to an internal comprehension rooted in a sense of righteousness that envisions the Kingdom of heaven (v. 20).

Here we find four antithetical statements drawn from the Torah that move listeners to act in an unprecedented way. Jesus offers a new interpretation of the law, placing at its heart one’s relationship with the other. The structure is clear. The enunciation of the statement of the law is followed by a small (or longer) explanation of the principle that is surpassed by Jesus’ contrasting and innovative claim of authority: “But I say to you…” He illustrates finally how the hearer should move from an external observance to an internal attitude that views the other as being close, as being a neighbour.

These four statements can be summarized as follows:

First (vv. 21-26), a teaching about respecting the integrity of our brothers and sisters, with worship and interior attitude towards the other intertwined;

Second (vv. 27-30), a teaching about desire, in which any assault on the dignity of the other reflects the internal impulse to desire, with fault impugned to one who reduces the other to an object of desire rather than valuing the other’s humanity;

Third (vv. 31-32), a teaching on the relationship of couples, in which — many scholars would assume — for disciples of Jesus, divorce is no clear option, although divorce could be accepted on grounds of unchastity, which might refer either to a libertine way of life or to consanguinity of a couple, something common in the Greek world; the main point being that the marriage relationship of man and woman should be long lasting and should favour mutual support, and it is not to be dismissed at whim.

Fourth (vv. 33-34), a teaching about oaths, by which Jesus stresses the rectitude of intention that should be demonstrated in the actions we perform; oaths invoke a higher authority to witness to and judge one’s actions, yet Jesus wants each one’s action to be measured by no outside authority, but by one’s capacity to do good to others.

These readings, especially the Gospel, insist that our actions be motivated by inner freedom.

Link with the Social Doctrine of the Church [1] and the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel [2]

“The proper exercise of personal freedom requires specific conditions of an economic, social, juridic, political and cultural order that ‘are too often disregarded or violated. Such situations of blindness and injustice injure the moral life and involve the strong as well as the weak in the temptation to sin against charity. By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighbourly fellowship and rebels against divine truth.’ Removing injustices promotes human freedom and dignity: nonetheless, ‘the first thing to be done is to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the individual and to the permanent need for inner conversion, if one is to achieve the economic and social changes that will truly be at the service of man’” (CDSC, No. 137).

The Gospel also insists on an ethical way of behaving, where the common good is upheld at all costs. As Pope Francis has said, “In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement” (Joy of the Gospel, No. 57.)

Questions for reflection in SCCs

  • Does the idea of making Kenya a better place for all of us as God’s children motivate our actions?
  • How do we view the ongoing political campaigns in our neighbourhoods and constituencies? Do they really promote peace and reconciliation?
  • Are we avoiding hate speech, so as to form the conscience of the electorate clearly?

Outline prepared by Fr. Ramiro Reyes, MXY, of the Yarumal Missionaries, Nairobi. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

4th Sunday of Advent (A): 18 December 2016

Readings

Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 24:1-6

Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-24

Biblical Reflection

In the reading from Isaiah, the promise of a saviour for Israel is revealed to King Ahaz. Generations later, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, shows that this promise had never been forgotten by the Jews.

In Jewish mentality at the time of Jesus, it was the man who generated, while the woman offered her body for the development of life. Matthew knew all that; and yet – after describing 39 generations of men – he says that Jesus is generated by Mary. This is a sharp break with tradition and the scientific knowledge of the time.

Mary is legally married to Joseph, but they were still in the period that separated formal wedding from cohabitation, a period that usually lasted one full year. During this time Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant by the work of the Holy Spirit.

We might understand what Joseph felt. His dreams of building a happy family were shattered. According to the Law – and Joseph was a just and law-abiding man – he had to renounce Mary publicly, for she had conceived out of wedlock. She would either be stoned to death because of adultery, or sent away from the village, only to end up as a concubine or a prostitute.

Joseph cannot continue with this marriage, but he does not want the death of a person: God wants the sinner to repent and live, not to die! Joseph decides to send Mary away in secret. However, he has no clue how to do so.

When the stubbornness of the Law is cracked by love, there is enough space for God to intervene. And God does intervene. In a dream – a tool to describe God’s mystical encounter with Joseph – Joseph is told to change plans, to remain with Mary and be a father to Jesus, whose name is now given.

Once again, tradition is broken. A first-born son was always called by the name of his grandfather. But here, God invites Joseph to call the son Emmanuel, God with us. Joseph wakes up and, silently, does what he has been told.

Link with the Social Doctrine of the Church

The universality and integrality of the salvation wrought by Christ makes indissoluble the link between the relationship that the person is called to have with God and the responsibility he has towards his neighbour in the concrete circumstances of history. … This link finds a clear and precise expression in the teaching of Jesus Christ and is definitively confirmed by the supreme witness of the giving of his life, in obedience to the Father's will and out of love for his brothers and sisters (CSDC 40).

Wisdom for Advent from Wisdom 2:12-15

Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law

and charges us with violations of our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways.

Questions for SCCs

In what ways can Jesus “annoy” us?

How does his “opposition” make our lives better?

Do traditions sometimes conflict with God-given personal rights?

What are some changes that society needs to stop resisting?

 * CSDC: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Pauline Publications Africa.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

This edition of YKM was first published in December 2013. It was prepared by Fr. Joseph Caramazza, MCCJ, a Comboni Missionary who teaches at the Institute of Social Ministry in Mission (ISSM) of Tangaza University College, and it has been edited and slightly expanded by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2nd Sunday of Advent (A): 04 December 2016

Readings

Isaiah 11:1-10;

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17;

Romans 15:4-9;

Matthew 3:1-12

Biblical reflection

While the reading from Isaiah proposes a prophecy with a positive vision of the Messiah, the gospel shows both positive and not so positive aspects. John the Baptist is seen preaching in the desert. He asks for conversion because the kingdom of heaven is close. In Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven is a synonym for the Kingdom of God; in Chapter 5 Matthew insists the Kingdom is here now. We realize then that this conversion is not a moral change to enter into a future reality. This conversion must be a change of attitude that starts now and is geared to change society, its structures, and the relationships between people. All these change point towards building a new reality.

John’s preaching seems to be well accepted, and many come to receive his baptism. Even the elite come to him ‒ the Pharisees and the Sadducees. John invites them to a real change of life: “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” This is something the elite are not willing to do.

At this point we find a negative aspect in John's preaching. He prophesies a Judging God, which is something that Jesus will not do later on in his ministry. However, John recognizes that he himself lacks the ability to bring about a deep change.

A new reality that is coming will be able to baptize with Spirit. John's baptism is a symbol of repentance. Jesus' baptism will be a complete change of reality. Baptizing with the Spirit means immersing the person in the reality of God.

John's preaching is heavily influenced by his vision of God as a Judge, supporting those who follow him, while punishing the others. Jesus will open a new scenario: God loves all, for He is a loving God.

Link with the Social Teaching of the Church [1]

“The Church teaches that true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not easy to forgive when faced with the consequences of war and conflict because violence, especially when it leads ‘to the very depths of inhumanity and suffering,’ leaves behind a heavy burden of pain. This pain can only be eased by a deep, faithful and courageous reflection on the part of all parties, a reflection capable of facing present difficulties with an attitude that has been purified by repentance. The weight of the past, which cannot be forgotten, can be accepted only when mutual forgiveness is offered and received; this is a long and difficult process, but one that is not impossible” No. 517.

African Wisdom

If you offend, ask for pardon; if offended, forgive. ‒ Ethiopia                        

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Is our SCC geared to service (huduma), or are we afraid of giving of ourselves for the good of others?

Do we have a welcoming attitude towards our neighbours, or do we structure our community along different lines?

In closing the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invited all Catholics to reflect the Mercy of God in their encounters with other people. Are we taking this invitation seriously?

This edition of YKM has been prepared by Fr. Joseph Caramazza, MCCJ, who specializes in textual criticism of the New Testament and who teaches at the Institute of Social Ministry in Mission (ISSM) of Tangaza University College. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



 

1st Sunday of Advent (A): 27 November 2016

Readings

Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm 122:1-9

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:37-44

Biblical reflection

Isaiah starts his ministry with a vision: All nations shall be attracted to Jerusalem, which in turn will be raised to become the highest mountain of all. This meeting of people will herald a new era of peace. The reading ends with the invitation to the house of Jacob, the very People of God, to walk in the light of the Lord.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul puts forth what has become a traditional theme of Advent, the call to be awake, for light and salvation are close at hand.

In the Gospel, Jesus links the coming of the Son of Man to the events at Noah’s time. The Flood was not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new community, renewed by those events. So the time of the Son of Man is also a time when God proposes not death, but Salvation. Yet most people do not recognize the signs of the time.

They were eating and drinking … the people were so taken by ordinary life that did not realize the importance of their time, and the Flood took them by surprise.

The same will happen to this generation. People will be working in the fields, or grinding at the mill (i.e., normal, everyday activities). One will be taken, the other left. The word used for ‘taken’ (paralambano) means ‘to take’ in the sense of ‘to welcome,’ ‘to accept.’ This should not be read as ‘taken away’; it has a positive meaning.

Just as few entered the Ark, few also will accept the message of Christ. God prepares Salvation for all, yet not all welcome it. To enter the Kingdom one has to recognize God as King, and this can be done only by welcoming the teaching expressed at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, the Discourse of the Mount, when Jesus invites his disciples to embrace total self-giving and commitment in life. There he also warns about persecution on account of his name. This is why we need to be awake, ready to give testimony of our faith in Him.

Link with the Social Teaching of the Church

The Magisterium condemns “the savagery of war” and asks that war be considered in a new way... War is a “scourge” and is never an appropriate way to resolve problems that arise between nations (CSDC No. 497*). 

The laity must ... work at the same time for the conversion of hearts and the improvement of structures, taking historical situations into account and using legitimate means so that the dignity of every man and woman will be truly respected and promoted within institutions (CSDC No. 552*).

Questions for SCCs

Can the Church’s teaching on war also be applied to our lives as individuals and as neighbours and members of small communities?

How can a Small Christian Community help its members “read the signs of the times”?

When have you recognized the Lordship of Jesus in another person?

*CSDC: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Pauline Publications Africa.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

This issue of YKM was prepared by Fr. Joseph Caramazza, MCCJ, and was first published during Advent 2013. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.                                                        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (C): 20 November 2016

Readings

2 Samuel 5:1-3

Psalm 122:1-2.4-5

Colossians 1:12-20

Luke 23:35-43

Biblical Reflection

This week’s readings first recall Saul and David, then explain Christ as the firstborn of all creation, and present him as King of the Jews, but more. The readings invite us to an understanding of Christ’s kingship that goes beyond our human understanding. Because of their authority, kings are highly respected in society. We are challenged to reflect on the kind of authority Christ has, and on what kind of territory he owns. A worldly king (or queen!) controls a territory with boundaries, and has authority limited to a certain level, but Christ’s authority is borderless, without limits; his territory surpasses human territory, and this is the essence of His kingship.

In his words to the Colossians, Paul establishes titles for Christ’s royalty over humankind. Christ is the image of the God whom we do not see, and the tool through whom God has created the universe; hence, Christ wields a supreme power over all things by making all cohere, by holding creation together. Through his precious blood he reconciles all. Not only has all been created through him, but he is our redeemer; he has purchased us and made us his property and possession. Christ is the head of the Church. God has bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as his special possession and dominion.

The reading from Paul alludes to our inheritance as a chosen race of God. Paul emphasizes whose authority qualifies us to share in the inheritance of this unique kingdom, a kingdom of light. What makes this kingdom most appealing is that it is the place where redemption and forgiveness are found. The late Dr. Maya Angelou, in her definition of who God is, proclaimed simply, “God is all.” This idea gives an insight into what Paul is trying to make the Colossians understand, that even while God is all, God is manifested in the Son, who is the firstborn of all creation, and all were created through him. The universe is the unique territory where Christ is king. And Christ’s authority flows from God the Father; that is to say, God’s authority is manifested in his Son Jesus, the Christ.

“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” The taunts of the rulers and the soldiers demonstrate how the powers of that time understood the kingship of Christ in a merely human way. The king they have in mind is one who uses his authority to glorify himself. But Christ, whose authority as king is inherent, whose kingship is used to glorify God, had said earlier, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Luke 10:21). Now he has no retort, choosing humility over self-glorification. Thus is he mocked and sent to the cross.

World Wisdom

“The kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.” ‒Frederick Buechner

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Do you believe that Christ has set a good example for us to practice our authority as Christians in humility, in our own little ways?

We all practice authority in our own different ways. How do I practice it as a follower of Christ, who is a true king, who rules in humility?

When you compare earthly kingship and heavenly kingship, what kind of kingdom do you find ideal?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Sr. Delvin C. Mukhwana, DHM, a Daughter of the Heart of Mary, who works with the Justice and Peace Commission of AOSK. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                 www.rscke.org

 

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 06 November 2016

Readings

2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14

Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

Luke 20:27-38

Biblical Reflection

This week’s readings bring us face to face with the supreme mystery of our faith, the resurrection of our body from the dead. In fact, the question of the resurrection is vital not only to the Christian faith but also to all who reflect on life and death.

The first reading recounts the martyrdom of the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother, with each encouraging the others to die for the sake of faithfulness to God’s law, while hoping for the afterlife. Clearly, faith in the resurrection of the body already constituted a belief amid pious Israelites, even before the coming of Christ.

In the time of Jesus, however, one of the political-religious parties within Judaism, the conservative Sadducees, opposed belief in resurrection. In today’s Gospel reading, to make this idea of resurrection look absurd, some of them come to Jesus with a loaded question based on the tradition of Levirate marriage (29-33).

Jesus’ reply highlights two ages: marriage is an institution of this age, necessary for the continuation of the race; but in the world to come there will be no marriage, because those who have risen are like the angels.

While Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees may have been employed to counter doubts about resurrection, it is clear that the primary attention was to be not on resurrection as such but on the resurrection of Jesus. On that belief depends the understanding of both the present and the future life of the followers of Jesus.

Therefore, the belief of the followers of Jesus in eternal life—which would become the belief of all Christians—is not founded on some metaphysical principle of immortality as such, but on the central reality of the history of salvation, i.e., on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

“...Christ, risen and glorified, is the wellspring of our hope...” (No. 275).

“Christ’s resurrection contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force...” (No. 276).

“Christ’s resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds of the new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!” (No. 278).

World Wisdom

Death is only a level crossing from one life to another, from life in its beginnings to life in full achievements. From this incomplete life to that transformed one.... ‒Raoul Plus, SJ, 1882-1958)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ‒Norman Cousins                                          

Questions for reflection in SCCs

  • Do you find any reason to believe in afterlife except as a consequence of a relationship of faith in the Risen Christ?
  • How convincing do you find arguments for immortality based on natural reason?
  • Do you find Christian teaching too preoccupied with the afterlife?

**http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Jean Bosco Kambale Kanyama, AA, an Augustinian of the Assumption, who is studying Theology at Hekima College. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 30 October 2016

Readings

Wisdom 11:22 - 12:2

Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14

2 Thessalonians 1:11 - 2:2

Luke 19:1-10

Biblical Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Luke shows, as he does at many instances, that Jesus cares for those who are in need and are rejected by society. In this episode, as Jesus is nearing the end of his journey to Jerusalem, he passes through the border town of Jericho. A local man named Zacchaeus is not just a tax collector but a chief tax collector, which is to imply that he is rich. He wants to see Jesus, but he is too short to see over the crowds, and so he climbs a sycamore-fig tree. Arriving at the place where Zacchaeus has perched himself, Jesus calls him down and invites himself into Zacchaeus’ home. Jesus’ call simultaneously heartens Zacchaeus and scandalizes the crowd, which judges Zacchaeus a sinner.

In this incident we witness Jesus doing the unexpected. He calls the chief tax collector by name, saying, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly for today I must stay at your house.” The summons by Jesus is at once deliberate and urgent. As throughout the gospel of Luke, Jesus sides with the marginalized, with those who count as nothing in the eyes of the world. This prominent and rich Zacchaeus is nonetheless despised by his neighbours, who count him as nothing. Even so, Jesus singles him out, sees him, calls him, stays with him, and blesses him, declaring to all that even this chief tax collector is a son of Abraham and above all a son of God. Jesus evokes the tax collector’s spiritual heritage and his descent from the great patriarch of Faith (cf. Rom. 4:11-18, Gal. 3:9, 29). Moreover, it is through faith that Zacchaeus will gain access to God’s blessing.

The response of Zacchaeus to his encounter with Jesus at his house is striking: “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” Two actions back up this new outlook of Zacchaeus: not only will he give half his wealth to those in need, but he will reimburse fourfold anyone he may have cheated (cf. 2 Sam. 12:6). Touched by Jesus, the tax collector responds with faith: the lost one has been found, his heart is opened, and his wealth is shared with others. He is not constrained to sell everything to receive Jesus’ commendation. Because Zacchaeus adopts a wise attitude toward his possessions, he offers, it appears, a good example of how the rich can also be disciples of Jesus.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

“If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbours, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, ‘those who cannot repay you’ (Lk 14:14) No. 48.

"Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel" No. 20.

African Wisdom

A man’s wealth may be superior to him. ‒Cameroon

Make some money, but don’t let money make you. ‒Kenya

Questions for reflection in SCCs

In the Gospel, Jesus disregards the crowds who deem Zacchaeus an outcast. Do we at times assume this kind of crowd mentality?

Can the rich become true disciples of Jesus?

Can the Rich and the Poor unite in the extension of God’s Kingdom? How?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Cayus Maticha Nyarombe, AA, an Augustinian of the Assumption who is studying Theology at Hekima University College, Nairobi. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.           www.rscke.org

 

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 23 October 2016

Readings

Sirach 35:12c-14, 16-18b

Psalm 34

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Luke 18:9-14

Biblical Reflection

Again and again Jesus taught through stories. The parable in today’s Gospel from Luke may be among the shortest, but it is also one of the deepest: the Pharisee and the Publican. The evangelist clearly indicates, “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else” (18:9).

A lesson from Wisdom literature will have prepared us for this parable. Sirach teaches that God hears the orphan, the widow, and the one who serves faithfully. It is made clear: “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” Yes, “The Lord is a God of Justice who knows no favourites.”

In the second reading, Paul speaks of his own sufferings and encourages his disciples to persevere in their apostolic labours. Though he knows his earthly life is drawing to a close, he is confident that God will judge him justly and give an eternal reward. The special attention that God pays to the prayer of the lowly connects the two readings and the Psalm to the Gospel of the day.

When the Pharisee and the tax collector go to the Temple to pray, both are convinced of the truth of what they say in their prayers. What the Pharisee says is an accurate reflection of his deepest disposition. The thanks he offers to God reveal his self-righteousness and the contempt he feels for others. But God is completely overlooked in his prayer, which is principally aimed at satisfying his own ego: “I am not like the rest of men…” The tax collector, on the other hand, is something else. He stands apart, not even raising his eyes to heaven, beating his breast and saying: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” He hopes only that God will accept the offering of his contrite heart and, in mercy, forgive his sins.

In contrasting the prayer of the Pharisee with the prayer of the tax collector, Jesus teaches us several important lessons: no one who despises others can pray. In prayer we do not lift ourselves above others; rather, we must remember that together we form a vast humanity that sins, suffers, and sorrows, but which also kneels before a merciful God. Though we may be clear of open and scandalous sins, all the while we may be full of inward spiritual wickedness, pride, envy, malice, and hypocrisy. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul reminds us, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ...” We depend on God’s mercy.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy *

“Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups – the just and sinners – Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation” No. 20.

“Mercy is not opposed to justice but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner... God does not deny justice. He rather envelopes it and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice. We must pay close attention to what Saint Paul says if we want to avoid making the same mistake for which he reproaches the Jews of his time: ‘For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified’ (Rom 10:3-4). God’s justice is his mercy given to everyone as a grace that flows from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” No. 21.

Thus does the Pope invite us to pay close attention to what Saint Paul says, if we want to avoid making the same mistake for which the Pharisees were reproached.

African Wisdom

It’s those ugly caterpillars that turn into beautiful butterflies after seasons. ‒ African Proverb

A pretty face and fine clothes do not make character. ‒Congo

If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness. ‒Nigeria

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How can we avoid thanking God that we are not like the corrupt tax collector?

Is it important to us that we look good in the eyes of others?

Do we ever compare our own observance of the externals of religion with that of others? Consciously? Unconsciously?

*     Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html

 This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Kambale Kanyama Jean Bosco, AA, an Augustinian of the Assumption who is studying Theology at Hekima University College, Nairobi.            It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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29th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 16 October 2016

Readings

Exodus 17:8-13

Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

Luke 18:1-8

Biblical Reflection

The confrontation of Israel with the Amalekites shows that the same God who fed his people with manna in the wilderness continues protecting Israel from its enemies. The books of Numbers 24:20, Genesis 14: 7, and Judges 1:16 indicate that the nation of Amalek was spread all over the North of Sinai, the Negeb, and the south of Canaan and controlled the caravan routes between Arabia and Egypt. In the books of Deuteronomy 25:17-18 and 1 Samuel 15:3, Amalek appeared as the perennial enemy of Israel.

The first reading shows Joshua to be leading the battle, while Aaron and Hur are helping Moses to pray. These roles are highly meaningful and the text can even be interpreted as showing the complementarity of action and contemplation. The rod in the hand of Moses is also replete with meaning. Moses is shown interceding for his people, asking God to give them victory. The passage reminds us that our help and victory come only from God. We can do nothing if we do not rely on God.

In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist sings: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). The Lord’s help, however, is here understood as the blessing that comes only upon the faithful. The idea seems to relate to Psalm 34:16, which says: “The eyes of the Lord are directed toward the righteous and his ears towards their cry.”

Many times faithfulness moves in parallel with persistence, as the first reading demonstrates. Surely, it must not have been easy for Moses to stand on the top of the hill and keep his hands raised up until the battle was over. Verse 11 says that as long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better. Moses had to keep his hands raised up so that God’s people could emerge victorious over Amalek. Is this not persistence?

Faithfulness and persistence, as illustrated in the first reading, connect nicely with the second reading, from 2 Timothy 3:14—4:2 where the same themes are also found. Paul asks Timothy to remain faithful to what he has learned and believed, because he knows from whom he learned it. And in 4:2, calls exhorts Timothy to be persistent.

In the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. Luke, 18:1-8, a parable of Jesus calls us to be persistent in prayer. It is tempting to think the evangelist has missed the point, when he compares God to the unjust judge. But the moral lesson we can draw from the comparison is that God is beyond everything. If even the unjust judge responds to the persistence of the widow, how much more then will our God be glad to listen to our prayers! Truly, when God listens to his people’s cry, he does not hesitate to respond to them and act generously. Only persistence is needed.

In the parable, the widow was poor, with no money to bribe the judge, as was the custom. And again, like all women of her time and society, she occupied the lowest social status. Still, her insistence and persistence overcame the resistance and stubbornness of the judge. It is part of the human condition to lose hope, especially when it comes to prayer, and to accuse God for not responding immediately. Today’s gospel calls on us to persevere in prayer like the widow.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

In Misercordiae Vultus Pope Francis affirms that corruption “...is a work of darkness, fed by suspicion and intrigue. Corruptio optimi pessima, Saint Gregory the Great said with good reason, affirming that no one can think himself immune from this temptation. If we want to drive it out from personal and social life, we need prudence, vigilance, loyalty, transparency, together with the courage to denounce any wrongdoing. If it is not combated openly, sooner or later everyone will become an accomplice to it, and it will end up destroying our very existence.” No. 19.

The Pope continues to say ‒ and here we summarize ‒ that this is a good moment to change our lives, the time to allow our hearts to be touched! When faced with evil deeds, even in the face of serious crimes, it is the time to listen to the cry of innocent people deprived of property, dignity, feelings, and their very lives (cf. No. 19).

Everyone, sooner or later, will be subject to God’s judgment, from which no one can escape. In proclaiming the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis recalls also the relationship that exists between justice and mercy: “These are not two contradictory realities, but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love. Justice is a fundamental concept for civil society, which is meant to be governed by the rule of law. Justice is also understood as that which is rightly due to each individual.” (No.20).

World Wisdom

  • An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.
  • Make some money but don’t let money make you.
  • Patience is the key which solves all problems.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

  • How can I keep praying without giving up?
  • What is the relationship between praying and giving up?
  • Is there any reason for an unanswered prayer?
  • Why do I sometimes give up too soon?

*     Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html  

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Kathembo Tsongo Dieudonné, AA, of the Assumptionists, a student of Theology at Hekima University College, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 09 October 2016

Readings

2 Kings 5:14-17

Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Luke 17:11-19

Biblical Reflection

Leprosy was a curse in Israel. The leper had to live outside of the village and warn people to stay away, so that they would not get ritual impurity by being in contact with the disease. Such an outcast had a miserable life and no cure was available. Only an intervention from God could release a person from that terrible situation.

Naaman, the army commander of the King of Damascus, was hit with leprosy, and a young servant of the King was instrumental in telling his master that Naaman could be saved by the God of Israel. Indeed, the prophet Elisha will intercede in favour of Naaman who will be cured and will bring soil back to his own land so that he can worship the Lord God in thanksgiving.

The story of the ten lepers is proper to the gospel of Luke. It puts to the fore the faith of these people who recognize in Jesus the messenger of God’s mercy of God toward them. Jesus does not touch the lepers, but sends them to the priests as prescribed in the Law, and it is only on their way that they are cured. So did they believe in the words of Jesus with no hesitation. As in other instances in the gospel, Jesus teaches that our disposition to prayer should always be perseverance and gratitude.

The lepers are a mixture of Jews and Samaritans, which is quite unusual since these two groups are in opposition most of the time. But here Jesus praises the attitude of the Samaritan who comes back to thank him as soon as he realises that he has been cured, and he at the same time condemns the others for taking for granted that the Lord has only done his job. Luke wants to stress that the Messianic time has come: ‘Tell John what you have heard and seen: the blind can see, the lame can walk, the leper is made clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised and the Good News is preached to the poor” (Lk 7:22). The lepers were given back their dignity but only this Samaritan returned to show thanksgiving to Jesus. (See also Lk 5:12-14 for another story about Jesus healing a leper.)

Two things may seem quite strange in this passage from Luke. First, it is not clear whether Jesus is travelling north or south. He passes through Samaria and Galilee, yet he is going to Jerusalem. Luke has a poor notion of the geography of Palestine; maybe Luke never visited these areas, or else he would have written that Jesus was going south to Jerusalem via Samaria. Still, this might even be a theological statement: Jesus is going to the Holy City, where he will suffer his passion and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

Another thing is surprising: the miracle stories usually end up with the crowd surrounding Jesus in awe, in light of the marvel worked by Jesus in the name of God. No such thing here. The passage is designed more like a parable that calls for a lesson. Here the lesson is gratitude.

In our spiritual journey, we might look like these lepers, who are eager to ask favours of the Lord but who forget to thank him appropriately. Yet, the peak of the text of Luke is the pure faith of the lepers who beg Jesus to be purified, to be cleansed, and who need nothing other than his word in order to believe that they have been cured.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy *

This gospel story is most appropriate during this year dedicated to mercy. We celebrate the merciful God who always gives his people signs of compassion, knowing only too well our struggles, our complicated lives, our limitations, and our sinfulness. It is out of an unlimited and undeserved love that God cares for us at all times.

Pope Francis has reminded us of the corporal works of mercy that we should make ours during this year: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the prisoners, and bury the dead. ‘What you have done to these, my children, you have done to me.” (Mt 25:31-45); and the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead. We have a whole program set before us during this Jubilee year.

But whenever Jesus heals a person in the gospel, he is giving us a concrete sign of the compassion of the Father towards those most in need; he is the face of the mercy of the Father, as Pope Francis puts it. If one wants to be a true disciple of Jesus, this is the way forward.

St. Mother Teresa, who was canonized just last month, is an icon of compassion towards those people left out, at the margin of society and prosperity. It is not a coincidence that the Pope has chosen to set her up as a model of charity for today: simplicity, devotion in the service to the poor, and a deep faith in the Saviour and Healer of the wounds of this world.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Do I try to find spare time in my life?

Have I found ways to put my spare time at the service of others? In what ways?

When I have I remembered to turn to the Lord and say Thank You?

*     Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html  

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Gilles Blouin, AA, of the Augustinians of the Assumption. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 02 October 2016

Readings

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

Luke 17:5-10

Biblical Reflection

Human life is made up of joys and of trials. Trials, most of the time, lead us to lament to God so as to get help. But to get God’s help requires both patience and faithfulness to Him. This is, in fact, the attitude of Habakkuk, through whom God urges the people of Israel not to give up because of difficulties that shake their faith in God. Out of his weakness, Habakkuk complains to God about the sufferings, injustice, destruction, violence, strife, discord, and iniquity of his country. These issues have shaken the faith of the Israelites. Unfortunately, God remains silent and inactive. The prophet’s cry for help receives no answer. Despite God’s attitude, the prophet stands firm in his faith and keeps on asking for God’s aid, as He promises (Hb 2:3). The passage gives a vision of the appointed time ‒ God’s time ‒ in which His promise will be fulfilled. In today’s world, many countries are incontestably undergoing spiritual, political, and social deterioration, basically caused by the quest to gain and maintain power. In the course of such trials, Habakkuk invites us to hold on to our faith constantly, for it makes possible all that we need.

When confronted by the oppressor, “...let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God” (Ps 95:6-7), because the just lives by faith.

Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy was written from prison in Rome at a time when Paul seems to be deserted by his friends and finds himself in the certainty of being put to death. It represents Paul’s last testament addressed to his faithful companion Timothy. By receiving God’s power through Paul’s imposition of hands, Timothy is called to preserve and transmit the Gospel, for he is gifted with God’s grace. To fulfill this mission, Timothy counts on the Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline enacted in Jesus Christ, received through Paul ‒ the Gospel ‒ and the motivation model provided by the Paul’s example. Despite sufferings he endured for the sake of God’s Kingdom, Paul remained faithful to Christ until death. Timothy is subsequently urged not to be ashamed of bearing witness to God by, in fact, relying on God’s strength: discipleship and leadership in the Church. For these to be effective and for Timothy to continue the apostolic teaching entrusted to him, Timothy must remain faithful to God. Faithfulness to God is much relevant in Christian life. Like Paul, whose faith was rooted in Christ, let us also be always faithful to God for the extension of his Kingdom.

Today’s Gospel passage from Luke brings out Jesus’ instruction to his followers about faith and discipleship. Jesus has just finished instructing them about sin and forgiveness. After realizing that forgiveness is difficult, Jesus’ disciples cry out to Him to increase their faith (v. 5). Jesus replies that faith cannot be measured. Rather than waiting for more powerful faith, what God requires is a faith that is pure and simple, that is, faith with integrity (vv. 6-10). In other words, Jesus would like to remind his followers that faith, though little, will help them do incredible things for God’s Kingdom. But this can only be workable for those who know their place in God’s plan. Gifted with God’s power through our faith so as to cooperate with Him, we will therefore see ourselves simply as servants of God who, after performing miracles or doing wondrous things, are not to seek for praise or to be rewarded. We have done only what we ought to do as God’s faithful stewards. This implies that despite our mustard-seed-sized faith, God works wonders through us. Faith is thus a powerful force that helps us get unhoped-for results. Elsewhere we will read that if we have faith, the impossible becomes possible: “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God” (Lk 18:27).

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy [1]

Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the father with two sons portray God’s nature as a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy. In these parables, as Pope Francis observes, “We find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon” (No. 9).

Moreover, Jesus’ parable of the ‘ruthless servant’ is a call to show mercy because mercy has been first shown to us by God. All in all, the Holy Father calls us to “listen to the words of Jesus who made mercy an ideal of life and a criterion for the credibility of our faith.” Showing mercy demonstrates one’s faith in God (No. 9).

African Wisdom

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ‒ Nigeria

A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ‒ Kenya

Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others. ‒Hema / D. R. Congo

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. ‒ African Proverb

When God cooks, you don't see smoke. ‒ African Proverb

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How can we preach the Gospel in places where people’s faith is shaken due to conflicts, wars and so forth? What are the means?

We are gifted and empowered by God, but do we really put our faith into practice?

Does our faith help us find happiness in life?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Brother Kambale Kulala Janvier, AA, of the Augustinians of the Assumption, currently a student of theology at Hekima University College. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 25 September 2016

Readings

Amos 6:1a, 4-7

Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

1 Timothy 6:11-16

Luke 16:19-31

Biblical Reflection

The prophet Amos delivers a diatribe against society’s rich and complacent who, it can easily be inferred, oppress the poor and the weak (cf. Amos 8:4, in last Sunday’s first reading). Their comfort, self-indulgence, and self-deception are vehemently denounced. Not even the imminent “collapse of Joseph” can distract them from their meat and wine and oil. Their wild revelry will be followed by a harsh judgement: exile.

Paul calls upon Timothy to remember without fail and without grumbling the duty to do all that is ours until the return of the Lord Jesus. Paul’s prayer urges each Christian to be faithful to what we have nobly confessed. So must we measure our lifestyle, relationships, and faith. Paul’s words reached Timothy during a time of persecution, when believers had to fear for their lives if they confessed their faith. God gives life to all, Paul reminds Timothy, and this includes the promise of immortality. Timothy must confess his faith without fear, even as Jesus did before Pilate. The pursuit of righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness will lead to the crown of eternal life. And indeed, Timothy heeded Paul’s call. Tradition recounts that in the year 97 ad the idol-worshipping pagans to whom Timothy was preaching turned on him and put him to death.

Luke’s Gospel focuses on the importance of care for the poor in the life of Christ’s disciples. This parable contrasts the lives of a rich man and the poor man living in his shadow, Lazarus. When the two die, Lazarus finds himself in “the bosom of Abraham,” i.e., heaven; the rich man is consigned to torment in the netherworld, i.e., hell. The rich man pleads that Lazarus may assuage his suffering. But Abraham gently reminds the rich man ‒“my child”‒ that life’s unjust fortunes have been reversed. The rich man’s next request, that Lazarus might go and warn his family, is denied with a reminder that Moses and the prophets had already warned of judgment, and that even someone returning from the dead could not persuade those who refuse to listen.

Wisdom from the Saints

In his commentary on this text, Blessed John Henry Newman cautions against making too much distinction between those who have riches, and those who trust in riches.[1]

St. Teresa of Calcutta has said, “It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” She also said “Give, but give until it hurts.”[2]

African Wisdom

While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary. ‒ Chinua Achebe. [3]                      

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Where do I fail to reach out to those who need me, whether because of my own protectiveness of my time and money or simply because of my own fears? 

Are there people in my own life or beyond my daily life that I am being asked to tend to, to feed, or to forgive?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Joseph Kamau Bosco, SPS, of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 18 September 2016

Readings

Amos 8:4-7

Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8

1 Timothy 2:1-8

Luke 16:1-13

Occasionally, people say things like “Oh, this nonsense would never have happened in the time of President Moi!” or “If President Kibaki were here, this problem would have been solved!” Indeed, we do look back with nostalgia at past leaders in the light of the new situation. As elections in Kenya approach, in this short reflection let’s try to link the readings of the Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (C) with some insights on national leadership.

Biblical Reflection

Amos is the undisputed flag bearer for social justice in the scriptures. In this first reading, the prophet berates the wealthy and powerful for using every possible trick and tact to enrich themselves. Enriching oneself is not on its own an evil thing, but unfortunately many people can enrich themselves only at the expense of the vulnerable and marginalized. This is the pain of Amos. Amos stands on behalf of God to warn such unjust people that their acts are unacceptable by our God, who is a just God. Amos prophesied around the middle of the 8th century BC, when Uzziah was King of Judea and Jeroboam, King of Israel. We are told that Amos was also a keeper of livestock and a grower of sycamore trees. This means that he knew how traders did business in the society, and he was able to challenge them.

The second reading, from 1 Timothy, opens with a passionate appeal from Paul that the community offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for kings and for those in high position. This attitude, according to Paul, should lead to a quiet and peaceable life, and it is godly and respectful in every way. He goes on to say that God desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Paul knew that the new Christians would be left in peace from the Roman authorities if they agreed to pray for the Emperor.

In this Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus tells us the parable of the astute servant who, on learning of his pending dismissal, reduces the debts of his master’s debtors, hoping to find favour when dismissed. Jesus Christ, in a strange way, advises his listeners to make friends by means of earthly goods, so that when those goods fail, the friends made will be beneficial. We cannot serve both God and money, Jesus goes on to say.

Wisdom from a Saint

“When those who are ever ready to criticize do not usurp authority which they do not possess, as a rule they are very useful to the community because they cause everyone to be on the lookout.” ‒ St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists.

A healthy dose of criticism of the government can be good for the nation’s progress. However, one should consider affirming the government once in a while and perhaps pray for them.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Are we willing to vote for someone from another tribal or ethnic group?

What effort might be necessary to pray for politicians we do not esteem?

Can it make any difference when a whole community joins in prayer?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Joseph Archibong, SPS, a Kiltegan Father, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 11 September 2016

Readings

Exodus 32:7-14

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19

1 Timothy 1: 12-17;

Luke 15: 1-32

Biblical Reflection

The Hebrews were liberated from slavery and bondage. But that was just the first step in the journey to freedom and salvation. They soon copied the behaviour and enslavement of their oppressors. They worshipped wealth and false Gods and forgot their destiny. Moses intercedes again on their behalf.

Today’s psalm response is the confident plea for mercy of the repentant sinner: "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."

Addressing Timothy, Paul praises the mercy of the God who redeemed him.

The Gospel story of the Prodigal Son ‒ perhaps better put, of the Merciful Father ‒ teaches us that we worship a God of Justice and Mercy.

Liberation is not an event, but a lifetime process. The Jews were liberated from slavery in Egypt, but slavery’s victims succumbed to temptations of wealth and worshipped money in the shape of the molten calf. They forgot their origins and their calling. They thought it was now their ‘turn to eat.’ They became corrupted and ignored their mission.

Paulo Freire said, “Liberation is a childbirth and a very painful one.” Moving from Liberation to Maturity makes great demands and requires another force if a people wants to be free from slavery and oppression. But many cannot embrace freedom or have chosen slavery to sin. Many indeed are not even aware of the need for liberation. The American abolitionist Harriet Tubman once said, ‘I could have freed more if only they knew they were slaves.’

The question is how to deal with the past in order to have a better future. Globally, transitional justice has become a whole new discipline and scholarly work. What do you do with the looters? What about the instigators of election and ethnic violence? How do you achieve a balance between justice and peace, or justice and forgiveness? How do you apply the Gospel message to address the past? These are painful and challenging questions for followers of Jesus.

We are often very strong on issues of justice, but weak on mercy. Today’s readings tell of a God of Mercy. We are forgiven even when we don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf of his people ‘and the Lord repented of the evil which he thought of doing to his people.’ God repents and changes his mind. Our God is humble and was humbled. Extraordinary.

The Gospel is really the story of the Merciful Father. The son did not get the punishment he deserved. He was forgiven by a father who went in search of him. But the older son was not happy: he demanded justice. According to him, how his father treated them both was simply unfair. Is Mercy unfair? We don’t know if the older son ever returned and celebrated with his kid brother. Jesus leaves us hanging, deliberately so. He wants us to agonise over the matter.

While mercy may have been undeserved, both Moses and the younger brother had a repentance of sort and acknowledged their sins – even if it was in self-interest. Maybe that is the beginning of healing in Kenya, when there is an admission of guilt. Mercy follows.

Wisdom

Let us remember these words of the Irish writer Oscar Wilde: “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.”

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Gabriel Dolan, SPS, of the Kiltegan Fathers, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 04 September 2016

Readings

Wisdom 9:13-18b

Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17

Philemon 9-10, 12-17

Luke 14:25-33

Biblical Reflection

Chapter 9 of the book of Wisdom has a wonderful prayer that beseeches God to grant us His wisdom. The first reading today is the third and last part of this prayer. To find the right answers to the most important questions of life, we need wisdom, the light that comes from God.

The letter to Philemon contains only one chapter. Paul is sending a runaway slave, Onesimus, back to his master, Philemon. Paul requests Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave, but “as a dear brother, especially dear to me.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus makes a number of demands on those who wish to follow him. Jesus points out the cost of discipleship. To emphasise this point, Jesus uses two short parables. Anyone intending to build a tower would first “sit down and work out the cost.” Likewise, the king who finds that his forces are heavily outnumbered may decide to sue for peace rather than commit to battle.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

“The gospel is about the kingdom of God; it is about loving God who reigns in our world. To the extent that he reigns within us, the life of society will be a setting for universal fraternity, justice, peace, and dignity. Both Christian preaching and life, then, are meant to have an impact on society” (No. 180).

“An authentic faith ‒ which is never comfortable or completely personal ‒ always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it” (No. 183).

“The Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.’” (No. 183).[1]

“Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society” (No. 187).

“‘The Church, guided by the gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might.’” (No. 188).[2]

“Inequality is the root of social ills” (No. 202).

African Wisdom

No sweat, no sweet. ‒ Perhaps inspired by 2 Samuel 24:24, “Wala sitamtolea BWANA, Mungu wangu, sadaka za kuteketezwa nisizozigharimia.”                                           

Mwenye nguvu, mpishe. = Might makes right / Give way to the strong – Stands in contrast to “Blessed are the meek.” / “Heri walio wapole.”                                              

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How can we work to eliminate the structural causes of poverty?

What are the sources of favouritism and nepotism in my life? Who do I discriminate against?

* Pope Francis. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Niall Geaney, SPS, of the Kiltegan Fathers, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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[1] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est.
[2] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Libertatis Nuntius.

 

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 28 August 2016

Readings

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

Psalm 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11

Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Biblical Reflection

Today’s reading from Sirach calls on us to be humble, proposing that the humble are easily accepted and have no challenges as they interact with others. The proud can end up being loners or being sidelined, as people are easily put off by their condescending attitude. Jesus is the model of humility: he was humble to the point of death; he did not proclaim from the rooftops that he was the son of God.

Those who work even in menial jobs may put on airs as if they were the owners of the company. Just to illustrate the point: a man was promoted to the position of Vice-President of the company he worked for. The promotion went to his head, and for weeks on end he bragged to anyone and everyone that he was now VP. His bragging came to an abrupt halt when his wife, so embarrassed by his behaviour, said, “Listen Bob, it’s not a big deal. These days everyone’s a Vice- President. Why they even have a Vice-President of Peas down at the supermarket!” Somewhat deflated, Bob rang the local supermarket to find out if this was true. “Can I speak to the Vice-President of peas, please?” he asked, to which the reply came, “Of fresh or of frozen?”

To be a good listener, one has to be humble, accepting that the other person might have a better idea. The proud have no time to listen because they think they have the best mind, best plan, best idea, and best solution. And in the end they just ruin themselves. Psalm 51 reminds us: A contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

The Letter to the Hebrews presents two images. The first is that of Mt. Sinai, where God gave the law to Moses. When Moses went up the mountain, the people had to fear the mighty thunder and lightning, and the shaking earth. Even Moses was too afraid to look up, but covered his face. The second and contrasting image of Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is inviting, an image of joy, celebration, and banquet. The writer was trying to demystify God, so that people could accept Jesus without apprehension or fear, but feel that they are loved and accepted as children of God. It is an image of one who is loved and cherished, for the firstborn among the Jews was a privileged person. By virtue of being Christians, we are pre-eminent in God’s sight. This reading also asks us to look at our image of God. We should have a healthy image of God, not of a God who instils fear and terror, but of a God who instils love, forgiveness, and letting go.   Ours is a God who is “nearby,” as sung by David Kauffmann.[1]   We are invited to a communion with the saints and with all who are in the Lord as spirits, to the great banquet to come where we shall be together with our loved ones in the Lord. In Jesus, God stripped himself of his mighty power and took on human form, to the point of being spit upon, being jeered, and being insulted, with no flourish of thunder and lightning. Why so? Because of his love for us, his children.

In the Gospel we meet Jesus with his ‘erstwhile enemies,’ the Pharisees. The Pharisees have received bad press but for a reason. Luke says they closely watched him. They wanted him to do something that would show he either broke the Law or broke the taboos. So in a way there was no good faith in the invitation. Someone today would complain, “They set me up.” Jesus fires a salvo to respond to this set-up. He establishes that the Sabbath is meant to give life, not end it. For the Pharisees, the Law took precedence, but their outlook bordered on hypocrisy when it denied comfort and help to others. In the parable, Jesus also chides the Pharisees for their glorying in the law rather than in doing good for others. They were a proud lot, seeking exclusivity, extending invitations to their own elite, and maintaining their own pecking order. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict those who feel comfortable. Certainly it did not settle well with the host, and yet Jesus did not mince his words. He wanted the Pharisees to see the bigger picture, God’s design, not their own myopic viewpoint. In a way, Jesus must have felt used by these Pharisees for their own selfish pride. He challenges us not to use people but to love them. No wonder the Pharisees were watching him closely, as if they wanted to win medals from their peers at his expense. He challenges their pride for seeing themselves as the elite and so deserving high places. In the kingdom of God we are all equal and so we should be humble and not exalt ourselves. We are challenged not to do things to impress others, but to have the common good at heart. It is seen these days, when people want to have the latest gadget, the latest car model, the best place in town, the loudest ovation in the arena or whatever, just to impress the world around them. The Pharisees wouldn’t have invited the physically challenged, because for them this was an accursed lot, who could bring bad luck on them.

Jesus challenges such motives knowing they are vain and gain no spiritual mileage. Why didn’t the Pharisees invite the poor and physically challenged in their society? Because they were more worried about public censure and they did not want to lose the trust of their colleagues. Pope Francis, in one of his homilies on humility, said: “There is no humility without humiliation, and if you are not able to put up with some humiliations in your life, you are not humble." It’s simply "mathematical." [2]

Only God can exalt us; we cannot exalt ourselves. Jesus killed several birds with one stone: the bird of religious hypocrisy, the bird of self-pride, the bird of using others rather than loving them, and the bird of social exclusivity.

African Wisdom

Gudo guru peta muswe vadiki vakutye. ‒ Shona, of Zimbabwe

Big baboon, coil your tail so the young ones can fear you.” Young baboons try to be bossy by bullying the younger ones. And yet the real leader sits at ease, knowing he is in charge. A leader has to earn respect, not demand it. Pride precedes a fall.                  

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Am I in the habit of looking at others closely to find fault?

What is my reaction to those who are proud, especially when I try to work with them? How can they be helped to be humble?

Invite the lame, the poor the destitute. How have we been reaching out to the disadvantaged in our community?

When we celebrate family days, feasts, and other events in our parish, how inclusive are we? What is Jesus’ message calling us to do?

Do I ever use people rather than love them?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Martin Chivige, SC, of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 14 August 2016

Readings

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18

Hebrews 12:1-4

Luke 12:49-53

Biblical Reflection

The experience of Jeremiah is like a replay of the experience of Joseph the son of Jacob, when his brothers threw him into a well because they could not stand his dreams and his interpretations of them. In other words, he did not say what they wanted to hear. At the time when the Israelites were under the Babylonian captivity, tempers were high and nostalgia was widespread. The words of Jeremiah were a sting. He invoked the wrath of the zealous officials who thought they could fight Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah knew better and so averted what might have been a national disaster! Most of the time we would rather be pampered by lies than be told the painful truth. Just as Joseph was saved from the well, Jeremiah too is saved by the foreigner Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian, who intercedes for the prophet before King Zedekiah. The prophet is saved from what could have been imminent death. The rescue of Jeremiah is a consolation that God will come to our aid, even if late by our own standards. We see this in the story of Susanna, in the story of Joseph, in the story of Peter when he was rescued by an angel while in prison. At times we are afraid that our single voice will not make an impact, but Ebed-melech teaches us to persist and insist on doing what is right. As witnesses to Christ, we will face challenges and opposition. Knowing this will happen should help us to remain focused and stay on course.

The Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to “persevere in running the race that lies before us,” and encourages us to stay focused and not be perturbed by all the negative things we see around us, that is, not to grow weary or lose heart. Although things may seem to be getting worse in whatever direction we turn, God is still with us, even in what we perceive to be the darkest moments of our times.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” We know the effect of fire: it can burn everything in its path, without discriminating. In the same way, the word of God is like this fire: it affects everyone for better or for worse. When fire burns, there are some who benefit and others who cry. The word of Christ would change some and make others harden their hearts. The word of Christ transforms our society. Jesus wanted so much to see change, where the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, and the dumb speak. The Gospel is a burning torch that wants to reduce to an immense fire all unjust structures, inhuman situations, discrimination, greed, and madness for power. The one who feels threatened by this “fire” does not remain passive. He opposes by all means. He reacts violently because he wants to perpetuate the world of sin. It is at this point that misunderstandings first arise, then division and conflict, and finally persecution and violence.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Have I had experiences in my life where I feel I am in the pit or isolated from everyone else? How did I get out of the rut or the situation?

Have I been an Ebed-melech for others, where I have pleaded or negotiated for better working conditions or where I have raised concern for better life for others, especially for the voiceless?

When in leadership, do I abdicate my responsibility to the detriment of others by letting injustice take its course?

When I reflect on my life, am I running the race well? Or are there things that want to pull me off the track, or things that obstruct me?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Martin M. Chivige, SC, of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 07 August 2016

Readings

Wisdom 18:6-9

Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19

Luke 12:32-48

Biblical Reflection

And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noon-day upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
'These are their reasons; they are natural;'
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.

‒ From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 1 Scene 3

Today’s readings speak to us of faith, trust, patience, preparedness, and accountability. We live in interesting times, where police shoot each other, where young men ask for their inheritance only to waste it and commit suicide, where belligerents sign a peace deal only to resume fighting immediately, where students burn schools and their notes and clothes… Interesting not because it is cause for mirth but because of the strangeness… At such times people ask: What is happening to our world? There is no security guaranteed nowadays. While it is a time to seek answers to many questions, it is fertile ground for faith. Despite the challenges of financial meltdown, political instability, and social chaos, today’s readings point to faith in God.

We can learn much from our ancestors in faith, the patriarchs and the Israelites. God always calls us to himself, especially through his saving acts. The events unfolding in our midst are an expression of God’s invitation, where we find a reason to live, where our anxiety is quelled, and where consolation is to be found. Like the saints, we have to embrace both the blessings and the dangers. As someone has put it, by his right hand God blesses us and by his left hand he chastises us.

Like the Israelites, we should commemorate God’s action in our lives, and not just focus on the negatives or on the tragedy we see all around us. The Israelites always went back to God, even as they struggled to keep his Law and the Covenant.

In the Gospel, we hear the assurance of Christ that we should not be afraid, despite all the fiasco we see around us in our world. We can recall such words every time we meet tragedy, opposition, failure, stumbling blocks, and persecution. Despite the race to get rich, we should heed the invitation of Christ, which saints like Antony of Egypt heard, to sell all and follow him. Christ should be our focus and his kingdom our priority. We see how the kingdoms of this world crumble. We have already seen banks collapsing, which can remind us that even our own lives will reach their end.

We need to be astute and invest in our spiritual lives. For just as we account for other things, there will also be a time to account for how we have spent our life. Our basic catechism teaches that we are made for God and to serve God and that in God we have our end. We are called to a constant vigilance, which is not fruitless but has its fulfilment in Christ. No one wants to be caught napping when on duty; those who work at night know how they can easily lose their jobs if they are found sleeping. Like an investor who does not want to miss a business opportunity, we are called by Christ to be ready and prepared for his coming. We can be overtaken by so many things and forget what is of prime importance. The Pope has called us to open our doors to refugees, the poor, and the needy. Such opportunities are blessings in disguise, and they assure our meeting Christ in his poor. No one can say he or she cannot help: we can all lend a hand.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

When was the last time I sat down to reflect on what God has done for me in my life, family, community, and society?

How has God blessed me this year?

When was the last time I gave gratitude to God for all I have received?

Do I see God’s presence in the suffering, loss, terrorist threats and attacks, and tragedy around me or in our world?

How can we give hope to those who have lost faith, trust, and patience with God?

Am I accountable to my family, community, place of work, country and world by virtue of my actions?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Br. Martin M. Chivige, SC, of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a member of the ESA Provincial Council, who is currently working as director of their scholasticate. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.            This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                    www.rscke.org

 

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 24 July 2016

Readings

Genesis 18:20-32

Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8

Colossians 2:12-14

Luke 11:1-13

Biblical Reflection

The theme of today’s liturgy is prayer. Jesus and his disciples are still on the way to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus continues to teach them.

Today Jesus teaches us about persistence and perseverance in prayer. We should not be afraid of disturbing God, because our God is a patient God who always answers our prayers in his time (God’s time); perseverance in prayer is always a sign of trust in God.   A person who does not trust enough gives up easily. And so we are being encouraged to keep on praying, to keep on asking, to keep on seeking, and to keep on knocking. God will surely reply.

In the first reading we are given the example of Abraham. Though he knew that he was disturbing God with his persistent request, he was not afraid of him. He knew that God is a patient Father, who is slow to anger and abounding in mercy (cf. Ps 145:8). For the sake of a few righteous people, God will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a generous and forgiving God.

In the second reading, St. Paul tells us how God, through Jesus Christ, has forgiven all our trespasses. He has cancelled all our debt. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, he has also raised us to new life. As we gaze on the cross, we see the image of a merciful God who has nailed all our sins to the cross of Jesus. What a powerful image! The cross becomes a symbol of the resurrection and of new life in Christ. Why should we fear such a merciful and loving God?

Psalm 138 expresses well the total trust in a God who answers our prayers. It is a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving to a faithful, loving, and merciful God.

In the Gospel, Jesus attracts the attention of his disciples by the way he relates to God.   He is so familiar with God that the disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. His prayer is a prayer of gratitude and total surrender to the Father. No one knows more than Jesus himself who God is. He knows the heart and the mind of God. That is why he can confidently tell us, “When you pray, say: Father hallowed be your name…”

The image of God that Jesus invites us to contemplate is the image of a Father and a friend. We should address God in complete trust and confidence. We should not be afraid of him. If an earthly father or friend can rise up and attend to the needs of a child or a friend, how much will God our Father and our Friend answer us when we call him!

Jesus invites us to enter into the same kind of familiarity with God: not a far distant God, but a God who is so close to us because he is a Father and he is a Friend. As a Father, God knows and provides for our needs! He cares for us! He loves us! How transforming it is to realise this truth in our lives.

African Wisdom

Asiyetua hupata alitakalo.                 ‒ Swahili Proverb                                                 

One who does not rest will get what he wants. Keep trying, keep working, keep striving.

Atakaye hachoki.                                ‒ Swahili Proverb                                                 

One who really wants something does not give up.

Muomba Mungu hachoki.                 ‒ Swahili Proverb                                     

The person who prays to God does not tire. (Do not lose hope praying, and try different ways of solving your problems.)                              

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How does the image of God as Father (Daddy) and Friend speak to me personally?

How persevering am I in my prayer?

Do I give in or give up easily when my prayers are not answered immediately?

How much am I concerned about Kenya?

Do I believe that prayer can change my life, thus change the destiny of this country?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Innocent Halerimana Maganya, of the Missionaries of Africa, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 17 July 2016

Readings

Genesis 18:1-10a

Psalm 15:2-3, 5

Colossians 1:24-28

Luke 10:38-42

Biblical Reflection

The main theme of today’s liturgy is hospitality. It concerns welcoming God in our lives, listening, and opening our hearts to the Word of God.

The first reading shows the generosity of Abraham, who welcomes three strangers. He does more than just entertain them. He invites them to rest, while he attends to the menu, and then he waits on them at table. Though he does not know who these strangers are, he just opens his house and generously invites them in. Little did he know that he was welcoming God himself. In the strangers, it is God who has come to visit him. The strangers bring with them good news: God will visit Sarah. He will open her womb and she will bear a child. This is God’s response to a generous and hospitable heart. The hospitality of Abraham and Sarah is rewarded as God answers their deepest desire.

In the Gospel, we see two different attitudes of hospitality. Bethany is a house where Jesus often stopped to greet his friends. There he was welcomed by Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus. He felt at home. Both Martha and Mary attend to Jesus, but in different ways. Martha shows hospitality by taking care of the material needs of the visitor, while Mary shows hospitality by listening carefully to the wisdom that comes from the mouth of Jesus.

Tradition has often opposed these two types of spirituality. Martha is associated with the busy life of the active missionary, while Mary is associated with the silent prayer of the contemplative. We do not need to oppose the two. Each needs the other. In fact, St. John Paul II tells us a missionary is a contemplative in action. In the Church we need both Martha and Mary.

This Gospel is written in the context of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, together with his disciples. So we must understand it within the context of discipleship. A disciple is the one who welcomes Jesus, the guest, who listens to him, and who acts accordingly. Any busy-ness of our daily activities should draw its source from an attentive listening to the word of our Lord Jesus. What Jesus is saying today is that his disciples must have their priorities right. Nothing should excuse us from meditating on and listening to the word of Jesus. We cannot dissociate or separate our service to Christ from the hearing of his word.

By our listening to, meditating on, and sharing of the word of God, it is Jesus himself that we welcome into our houses and into our small Christian communities. Jesus himself said: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” When we gather to pray, Jesus is our guest. His presence is real not only in the breaking of the bread but also in the breaking of the word.

During this week, let us be aware and attentive, in a special way, of the many forms in which Jesus comes to us as a guest. Let us recognise the moments when he has visited us.

Questions for Reflection in SCCs

How welcoming am I to God?

How conscious am I of His presence in my life?

How personally attentive am I to God’s presence, power, and love in my life?

Am I too busy to pay attention to God?

What if God were also too busy to pay attention to me?

African Wisdom

Mgeni aje, mwenyeji apone.                           ‒Swahili proverb                                     

May the guest come and bring some relief to the host. The arrival of a guest is a blessing.

Unapopokea mgeni, usifunge uso.                 ‒Swahili proverb                                     

When you receive a visitor, do not frown.

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Innocent Halerimana Maganya, of the Missionaries of Africa, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 10 July 2016

Readings

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

Colossians 1:15-20

Luke 10:25-37

Biblical Reflection

The text from Deuteronomy is an extract of the final speech of Moses (Chap. 29-30) with an insistence on the nearness of the Law of the Lord: “Something near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out,” which is also affirmed by Jeremiah (31:33): “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.” The law summarized in the words “You shall love the Lord… and your neighbour as yourself” could have inspired the Good Samaritan’s merciful and generous care of the mugged traveller.

The Psalm is a lamentation in time of affliction and pain. Its words could be put on the lips of the mugged traveller. The Good Samaritan will be the instrument of God’s merciful answer to the traveller’s needs.

The text from Colossians is an early Christian hymn that celebrates Christ Jesus as the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. In him were created all things… He also came down to earth to become one of us, so that in his mercy, he made peace by the blood of his cross, becoming the Good Samaritan for every human being of all times. Being the head of the Church, he has a responsibility to care for each one of us, his members, particularly when we are wounded by sin and pressed by the difficulties of daily life.

The core of today’s message of Good News is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which summarizes in a concrete way the message of the Year of Mercy. (Remember its logo, where Jesus himself becomes the Good Samaritan carrying humanity, each and every one of us). This well known story invites us to ask ourselves first the scribe’s question: “Who is my neighbour?” Then turning the question around, following the answer of the scribe himself to Jesus’ question, we should ask ourselves: “Whose neighbour am I?”

It is useful to consider the etymology of the word neighbour. It means near-dweller, a person who lives near to another one. This is real physically, but also spiritually. In Christ Jesus, Creator and Saviour of all humanity, each human being is a neighbour to each brother and sister, whether living next door or on another continent. In Christ Jesus, neither sex, social status, race, nationality, tribe, religion, nor philosophical and political views should erect walls between me and my fellow human beings, especially when they are in need.

Link with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy *

Faithful to the message of his Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis has several times commented on the need to assist our neighbours. Two examples:

At a general audience, on 27 April 2016, in one of his catecheses on the theme of mercy, he commented on the parable of the Good Samaritan. “The parable offers us a first lesson: those who attend the house of the Lord [the Levite, the priest] and know his mercy do not automatically know how to love their neighbour. It is not automatic: loving has another path, it requires intelligence but also something more...” Francis concluded: “This parable is a splendid gift for us all, and also a task! To each of us Jesus repeats what he said to the doctor of the Law: “Go and do likewise” (v. 37). We are called to follow the same path of the Good Samaritan, who is the figure of Christ bent down to us; he became our servant, and thus he has saved us, so that we might love as he has loved us, in the same way” [L’ Osservatore Romano, 29 April 2016].

More recently, during the Jubilee audience on Works of Mercy, Pope Francis commented: “How many times during these first months of the Jubilee, we have heard talk of the works of mercy. Today the Lord invites us to make a serious examination of conscience. In fact, it is good never to forget that mercy is not an abstract word but a style of life… I choose to be merciful or I choose not to be merciful. It is one thing to speak of mercy and another to live mercy. ...What renders mercy alive is its constant dynamism going to meet the needs and necessities of all those in spiritual and material hardship. Mercy has eyes to see, ears to listen, hands to resolve” [Jubilee audience on Works of Mercy, 30 June 2016, in Zenit].                                        

Questions for reflection in SCCs

After several months in the Year of Mercy, has each one of us developed a greater spirit of mercy? Has being merciful and compassionate become, as Pope Francis says, part of our Christian “style of life”?

Have we reflected on and been inspired by the words of Pope Francis: “Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples” [Misericordiae Vultus, No. 15].

As an SCC, have we undertaken any common activities or services of mercy, starting in our own neighbourhood? Which ones? What else could we do, particularly outside of our own neighbourhood?

As an individual disciple of Jesus, what have I done to express my concrete solidarity with those in need? What more could I do by myself or with others?

To help us in our activities of mercy, let us remember the list of works of mercy, as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2447), that is, charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbours in their spiritual and bodily necessities. See also Matthew 25:31-46.

These lists are only indicative, and could be completed by other “works.” What could we add in our own context of life in 2016 ‒ at home, in the neighbourhood, at work, at school, at play?

Let us not forget the larger neighbourhood ‒ the ward, the village, the town, the county, the country ‒ where social action is needed in collaboration with the wider community. What are we contributing to the social and political life and the welfare of the community? Are we involved more than by simply paying our taxes?

For more about works of mercy, see The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy: Pastoral Resources for Living the Jubilee, one of the booklets created by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization at the request of Pope Francis. Misericordiae Vultus, No. 15, is quoted on pages 9-11.

* Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Roger Tessier, of the Missionaries of Africa, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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5th Sunday of Easter (C): 24 April 2016

Readings

Acts 14:21-27

Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

Revelation 21:1-5a

John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Biblical Reflection

The ministry of Saints Paul and Barnabas, of which we hear in the first reading, becomes a model for us to imitate as we strive to shine in a service of love in the Lord Jesus. In their love for Jesus, they appointed elders to lead the believers in each church for its continuity. With prayer and fasting, Paul and Barnabas entrusted the communities to the Lord in whom they had come to believe, and they marvelled at the churches’ development and God’s opening a door of faith for the Gentiles. 

Paul and Barnabas shared their spiritual joy with their brothers and sisters in Christ, witnessing to the power of the Holy Spirit by the grace of the Heavenly Father. In doing so, they were strengthening the faith and hope of the believers. Surely, God blessed all of the Christians who were present. He provided them with the opportunity to hear of His Almighty power as the eternal Lord.

In the Book of Revelation, there is only one place where God Himself speaks. His Words are, "See, I am making all things new" [21:5]. God is making all things new for us so that we may involve ourselves deeply in service of love in the Lord Jesus without being deterred by the struggles and tribulations we undergo.

Certain high points are mentioned in the book of Revelation. St. John takes from the Old Testament such imagery as the description of the new creation, the new earth, the new heaven [Rev. 21:1], the new heart, the new human spirit, [Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26-7] the indwelling of the Holy Spirit [Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26; Jer. 24:7, 31:33; Heb. 10:16].

St. John the Evangelist, the beloved disciple of Jesus, grasps the deep mystery of Christ and tells the good news that Jesus is the complete, human manifestation of God’s presence among us: he is the glory or sacramental sign of the divine presence. John structures his gospel around seven major signs or expressions of divine glory: changing water to wine at the wedding feast; curing the noble’s son; curing the paralytic; feeding the multitude with bread; showing power over the sea; giving sight to the blind man; and raising Lazarus from death. In his farewell address, Jesus speaks of the eighth event that will be the summary and climax of the seven previous signs. This will happen when he is lifted up for all to see, giving himself in love, even to death on a cross. This sign is the ultimate revelation that God is love—the complete expression of God’s glory. God is thus manifested or glorified in him. Jesus on the cross declares the supreme glory of God to be love. God then glorifies him through resurrection.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ‒ The Joy of the Gospel

The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy” MV No. 12.

Loving others is a spiritual force drawing us to union with God; indeed, one who does not love others “walks in the darkness” (1 Jn 2:11), “remains in death” (1 Jn 3:14) and “does not know God” (1 Jn 4:8). Benedict XVI has said that “closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God,” and that love is, in the end, the only light which “can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working.” When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God [EG No. 272].

African Wisdom

Do not look where you fell but where you slipped. The meaning: don’t look at your mistake, but look at what caused you to make the mistake; otherwise, you may repeat the mistake.

Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth – Yoruba proverb.

Hakuna refu lisilo na ncha / Baada ya dhiki faraja ‒ After suffering there is comfort. For every suffering there is an end. After death there is resurrection. Every Good Friday has an Easter Sunday.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Can our non-Christian neighbours identify us as Christians by the mutual love we have for each other in our families, our Small Christian Communities, and our parishes?

Do we rediscover the power of love, the kind of love that Jesus preached?

Are we doing charitable works for the sake of earning money, to gain name and fame, or for personal comfort and glory?

Are we willing to sacrifice our time and personal benefits for the sake of those who are in dire need?

Have we taken seriously the commandment of our Lord: “Love one another as I have loved you”?

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. John Francis, CMF, of the Claretian Missionaries, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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4th Sunday of Easter (C): 17 April 2016

Readings

Acts of the Apostles 13: 14, 43-52

Psalm 100: 1-2, 3, 5

Revelation 7: 9, 14b-17

John 10: 27-30

Biblical Reflection

Mark returned to Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas continued their missionary journey to Antioch of Pisidia. There occurred an important turning point in the proclamation of the Word of God. The opposition and rejection of the Jews moved Paul to turn his evangelization efforts towards the Gentiles. This provoked an even harder persecution against the two missionaries. As occurred during the persecution that followed the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1), the evangelization mission cannot be stopped. Rather, the Holy Spirit transformed that difficult moment into an opportunity and filled the disciples with His joy.

The Book of Revelation presents Jesus Christ as the “Lamb” who is the absolute protagonist of the entire Book. The “Lamb is the Shepherd” (Ap 7:17) who voluntarily accepts laying down his life for the salvation of all (Is 53:6-7) and sheds his blood to bring back all humanity to the Father (Ex 12:12ff). In him is fulfilled the promised made to Abraham: “Your descendants will be as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea shore” (Gen 22: 15-18). People of every nation and from all tribes (Ap 7: 9) are led by the Lamb as one family back to the springs of water.

Jesus is the only true and good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep. His death is not a punishment caused by our sins, but the expression of his love for his flock. As a shepherd risks his life for the good of his sheep, Jesus’ love for us is unconditional and has no end. He is one with the Father who is merciful. As the Father knows each one of us with a personal love, Jesus knows us and dedicates and commits his entire life for our sake. We belong to him, we are in his Heart, and nothing and nobody can separate us from his love (Rom 8: 31-39).

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

“With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of divine love in its fullness. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8,16), John affirms for the first and only time in all of Holy Scripture. This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously. The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable. The signs he works, especially in the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion” No. 8.

“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love… It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope” No. 10.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

  • What do you expect from your leaders?
  • How would you describe your ideal leader?
  • How can we help our Church and civil leaders to be merciful shepherds in the steps of Jesus?
  • As sharers in the priesthood of Jesus, how can we exercise our mission as shepherds in our homes, neighbourhoods, and jobs?

*     Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html  

 These reflections have been prepared by Fr. Fermin Rodriguez, CMF, of the Claretian Missionaries. Yes, Kenya Matters is edited and published weekly by RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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3rd Sunday of Easter (C): 10 April 2016

Readings

Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41

Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

Biblical Reflection

The apostles with great courage preached about the Risen Jesus in the temple, after having been released by the angel of the Lord. They were also men of principle. Their principle was that in all circumstances obedience to God must come first. They never doubted it. They knew that they were witnesses for Christ. They had the first-hand knowledge and deep experience of the Risen Jesus. Although they had received harsh note of threat and warning from the Jewish leaders, their deep experiential love of Risen Jesus in the Holy Spirit in their lives made them rejoice in their sufferings and persecutions for Jesus Christ.

The Apostles remind us that each time we display our love of others; we share in the Resurrection of our Lord. Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the Resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. 

The Psalm reminds us that we need to be grateful to our God who has rescued us from our enemies, has forgiven us. He has opened his Heart through the Church so that all can experience His mercy and compassion. This year is the year of the celebration of our gratitude towards God for His mercy and compassion for us.

In the Book of Revelation, we hear the song of the angels who sing of the possessions of Christ in his glory. To Him belong the power, as St. Paul calls Jesus “Christ the power of God” (1 Cor 1:24); the riches, as Paul speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8); the wisdom, as Paul calls Jesus Christ “wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24); the strength: Christ is the strong one who can disarm the powers of evil and overthrow Satan (Lk 11:22). To him belongs the honour (Phil 2:11) and to him also belongs the blessing. Therefore, all have to thank Him who possesses all as St. John of the Cross says, “To come to possess all, desire the possession of nothing. To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing.” In this consumeristic world, we need to deny everything that prevents our possessing Jesus Christ, who possesses all.

The gospel of today has two parts. The first part (vv. 1-14) describes the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not a matter of visions or hallucinations of the apostles: they have encountered a real person. It is not a ghost or a spirit who cooks and shares a meal with the apostles, but the real risen Jesus who eats with them. The Risen Christ has a real body which still bears the marks of the nails and the spear thrust in his side.

In the second part of the gospel (vv. 15-19), Jesus asks Peter: "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?" Jesus asks this question three times; and there a was reason for that. It was three times that Peter denied his Lord, and it was three times that his Lord gave him the chance to affirm his love. Jesus, in his gracious forgiveness, gave Peter the chance to wipe out the memory of the threefold denial by a threefold declaration of love.

We must note what love brought Peter: (a) It brought him a task. "If you love me," Jesus said, "then give your life to shepherding the sheep and the lambs of my flock." We can prove that we love Jesus only by loving others. Love is the greatest privilege in the world, but it brings the greatest responsibility. (b) It brought Peter a cross. Jesus said to him, "When you are young you can choose where you will go; but the day will come when they will stretch out your hands on a cross, and you will be taken on a way you did not choose." The day came when, in Rome, Peter did die for his Lord; he, too, went to the Cross, and he asked to be nailed to it head downwards, for he said that he was not worthy to die as his Lord had died. Love brought Peter a task, and it brought him a cross. Love always involves responsibility, and it always involves sacrifice. We do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face his task and take up his Cross. We need to take care of our “sheep” in our churches, communities, and institutions.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

The apostles in the first reading endured sufferings for the love of the Risen Lord and witnessed Christ in their lives. In this year of Mercy the Psalm invites us to give thanks for the compassion of the Lord. Jesus possesses everything and whoever denies self and follows Him possesses everything. True Love for Jesus Christ involves sacrifice for his sheep in various circumstances.

Pope Francis says, “Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviours that are shown in daily living. The Mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us” (No. 09).

African Wisdom

True love means what’s mine is yours.

Let us all agree to die a little, or even completely so that African unity may not be a vain word.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How do we witness to the Risen Jesus Christ nowadays as Christians? Do Non-Christians find any difference in our day-to-day living?

What are the possessions in the consumeristic world which block us from possessing the Risen Christ who has everything? And what are the ways and means to commune with Him in this season?

How do we care for the voiceless, the poor, and the oppressed in our Small Christian Communities?

How in our local churches and in our small Christian communities can we manifest to non-believers the love of God?

How do we exercise the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy in our local churches or in our Small Christian Communities?

*     Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html          

 This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. G. Baskar Amalraj, CMF, Kibiko B, Ngong, of the Claretian Missionaries, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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2nd Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday (C): 03 April 2016

Readings

Acts 5:12-16

Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

John 20:19-31

Biblical Reflection

The reading from Acts gives an account of the life of the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem. The apostles and believers were held in high regard because they lived a life reflecting their calling as Christians, united in faith through which they could reach out with mercy to those suffering in the street corners of society, the sick, and those inflicted by unclean spirits.

The life of faith, unity, and prayer of the early Christian believers was expressed in acts of mercy extending to the needy and the suffering. This first reading reminds us to go deeper into the fundamental principles of our Christian way of life, to examine if we really live in unity and prayer, and if the faith we profess is visible in our local society through acts of mercy to the sick, the orphans, the widows, and disadvantaged.

The psalm reminds us that the mercy of God endures forever, through all generations, and it invites us as people who fear the Lord to manifest this Divine mercy in our milieu. The last line in the selection reads, “The Lord God is light and he has given us his light.” Thus, through our acts of mercy to the people of God, we manifest Divine light that dispels the darkness and evil of society.

The second reading is from the Book of Revelation, from which, for this and the next five Sundays, the second readings will be taken. Revelation reminds us of the battle between good and evil, and assures believers that good (God) will triumph. The author of the book is traditionally identified as St. John. The Book of Revelation was addressed to the whole church and was meant to be read at liturgical assemblies to encourage believers to remain firm in faith in times of persecution. This reading depicts the author to be in Patmos, an Island in the Aegean Sea. He was confined there as a deportee because of his faith in Christ, and probably because he had refused to worship the emperor.

Sometimes the faith which we profess and live as Christians may expose us to risks; to misunderstanding by some leaders; and to challenges, including different forms of persecutions. The Church has come a long way through the struggles and persecutions of her members who hold firm in faith. Many Christians across the globe have suffered martyrdom. Even in the history of Kenya, those who forthrightly condemn the injustices and oppression perpetrated by the powerful leaders of the society often find their lives confined and threatened. But as Christians we should realise that we are never alone: the risen Lord is with us. He reaches out to us with His Divine mercy; he encourages us and strengthens us in the mission he has entrusted to us as his witnesses.

Today’s reading from John’s gospel can be divided into three parts. The first (20:19-20) depicts the fear of the Jews; the second (20:21-23), the commissioning of the disciples, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the sacrament of penance; and the third (20:24-29), the famous episode of Thomas.

Although in the gospel of John, those who opposed Jesus are often called the ‘Jews,’ they are not to be identified with the race called Jews. Jesus himself was a Jew, and so were his disciples, and many of the people of whom the gospel speaks. The disciples had closed themselves in a room for fear of the opponents of Jesus and of his teachings, “the Jews.” According to the gospel, the disciples felt lonely and overwhelmed with fear. But the Lord appeared in their midst and his presence encouraged them. He commissioned them to reach out: “As the father has sent me, even so I send you” (20:21). This conveys a powerful message to all Christians, that there are events in life that will probably instil fear in us, because fear by its very nature is inevitable, but we should not allow it to engulf us. God in his Divine mercy reaches out to us through his Holy Spirit and commissions us also to reach out and not to remain closed in fear of whoever may oppose the work of God. We need to believe and not to doubt like Thomas. We need to believe that our risen Lord is with us always in our Christian struggles against forms of corruption and oppression in our society.          

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

As we celebrate Sunday of the Divine Mercy, we do well to go back to the readings, particularly the responsorial psalm, “For his mercy endures forever.” This is the refrain after each verse in Psalm 136 as it narrates the history of God’s revelation. By virtue of mercy, all the events of the Old Testament are replete with profound salvific import. Mercy renders God’s history with Israel a history of salvation. To repeat continually “for his mercy endures forever,” as the psalm does, seems to break through the dimensions of space and time, inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father. It is no accident that the people of Israel wanted to include this psalm – the “Great Hallel,” as it is called – in its most important liturgical feast days.

Pope Francis reminds us saying, “...wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy” No. 12.

African Wisdom

  • A mother never betrays her children.
  • Unity is strength.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

  • What do non-believers say nowadays of Christians? Do they see any difference between what Christians do and what pagans do?
  • How can we live and manifest the faith we profess in our daily activities?
  • What influence do our small Christian communities have on non-believers?
  • How can we bring non-believers closer to Christ?
  • How can we manifest the mercy of God in our small Christian communities?

Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html  

Yes, Kenya Matters is edited and published weekly by The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya, and this edition was prepared by Fr. Peter Ochieng, CP, of the Passionist Fathers.

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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (C): 20 March 2016

Readings

Luke 19:28-40

Isaiah 50:4-7

Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

Philippians 2:6-11

Luke 22:14‒23:56      

Biblical Reflection

Today’s liturgy starts with the acclamation of Jesus as King. In the procession of palms, he rides on a colt and accepts the acclamation. This attitude was an insult to those in power in Israel, especially those in power in the Jewish community and in the temple. How can a boy from Nazareth, a poor villager without political credentials, pretend to be king? Just after these joyful acclamations, in the first reading, the same liturgy introduces us to the suffering of the Servant of God, and then in the Gospel to his passion and condemnation to death.

Isaiah presents the Servant of God who endures any humiliating treatment from his enemy without the average human being’s response to torture. This Servant of God relies on God alone, entrusting his life fully to God.

In the second reading, a magnificent Christological hymn, Paul shares with the Philippians what has long since been understood as one of the strongest proclamations of the divinity of Jesus, the Christ. One of the keys to Christ’s exaltation is his willingness to humble himself. This image that the last becomes first permeates Christian teaching and sets a model for Christian behaviour.

We know well that in his Gospel Luke never misses a chance to present the MERCY OF JESUS. In this year of MERCY it is worthwhile to note some examples of Mercy that Luke has put in this passage of his Gospel:

Lk 22:51: "And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, 'Stop, no more of this!' Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him." If a thief broke into your house and your child hit him and hurt him, would you bring the thief to hospital for healing?

Lk 22:61-62: “Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter...” Luke is the only evangelist to mention this look of the Lord, undoubtedly a look of mercy, upon Peter’s third denial.   This goes to show the sympathy of Jesus for the weakness of his disciple and it is a sign of his forgiveness, reminding us that we Christians must not be discouraged by our frailties.

Lk 23:34: “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Again it is only Luke who records Jesus’ words of mercy towards his executioners. Just before dying on the cross, Jesus finds the breath for these words of bountiful mercy.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel *

“It is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability, in which we are called to recognize the sufferings of Christ, even if this appears to bring us no tangible and immediate benefits. I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others. Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of the Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all” No. 210.

“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” No. 54.

Moreover, in his 2015 Lenten message, Pope Francis echoes this warning against the “globalization of indifference” towards those whom we try to keep far away from us, so that they may not make any inordinate claims on us:

“As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.”

African Wisdom

Eata Enkai Olgur-erisio ilewa wee Enkai engurie Enkai oltungana lenyenak-mikiawa entalakinoti ilewaa. ‒ God is merciful, so God has mercy on His human being, for the thing that man cannot achieve. ‒ Maasai

If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito. – African Proverb                                           

Questions for reflection in SCCs

What is your attitude towards the sufferings of Jesus?

Do you know people around you who are suffering in a miserable life?

Are you indifferent to the poor and to people of a different tribe from your own?

What can you do to help those who are suffering because of poverty and injustice?

*http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

This edition of Yes, Kenya Matters was prepared by Fr. Magella Coulombe, SME, of the Québec Foreign Mission Society, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                            www.rscke.org

 

5th Sunday of Lent (C): 13 March 2016

Readings

Isaiah 43: 16-21

Psalm 126

Philippians 3:8-14

John 8:1-11

Biblical Reflection

A document that has been well received and that has brought much “good news” to the world is the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel of Pope Francis. We are told in the document that the Gospel brings joy and fills the hearts of all those who encounter Jesus.

The Responsorial Psalm 126 expresses well this aspect of the deep joy that we can find in God: the Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Thus do we acclaim through this response the Word of God in the First Reading: “that [the people whom I formed for myself] ... might announce my praise.”

Isaiah proclaims in Chapter 43 that God is able to “make all things new,” from making a way in the wilderness to making rivers in the desert… This applies to the peace that can be poured into our hearts as well as to the important social transformations that can take place in the lives of those who live in situations of oppression, violence, and corruption. We see this in the History of Israel and also in the history of peoples that continue to experience tremendous hope and strength in the midst of sufferings that affect their lives.

We, Christians, believe that, in Christ, all things can be new again! In his letter to the Philippians, Paul announces that the power of the resurrection of Jesus is at work in his life, saying, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The resurrection of Jesus can transform our personal lives as well as our societies. Everyone and everything can be touched by the love and the power of God expressed in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus our Lord. We believe that the Kingdom of God is growing in the lives of individuals as well as in the structures of sin in the world, structures that can be transformed to promote the values of the Gospel. Our collaboration is needed: our attitudes and actions can hasten the growth of the Kingdom!

Link with the Jubilee of Mercy

Today’s Gospel illustrates in a powerful way the Mercy of God expressed in the life and the words of Jesus the Lord. We see again how, in Him, the human being is at the very centre of God’s plan of salvation. The woman in the Gospel experiences the deep compassion of Jesus.

As one commentator puts it (Living with Christ for the 5th Sunday of Lent this year, p. 85), “…Compassion is what we are called to. When compassion replaces judgment and self-loathing, we are no longer as concerned with fairness… Rather than looking at one another and judging ourselves, we will become a community standing in awe before the majesty and mystery of life.”

This compassion means that we see people with the gaze of Christ, with deep respect (in Latin, re-spectare, to look at someone “anew,” with a different or new gaze); it invites us also to see the world with new eyes, with compassion. In the Lenten Campaign 2016 Booklet for this Sunday, the focus is on corruption. We read: “Corruption corrodes the fabric of society; it undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders, and it can cost people their freedom, health, money and sometimes even their lives.” The attitude of Jesus invites us to look at each person with mercy and compassion; if we also look at all people with compassion, we will realize how corruption hurts people, especially those who are in need and who are discriminated against. Compassion will enable us to see people and see our society from a different perspective, that of God. And we will do our best to oppose corruption and propose the ways of the Gospel.

Questions and reflection for SCCs

  • Are there some people in our area who are discriminated against?
  • What examples of corruption can be seen around us?
  • What means can we take in order to build a society based on the value of respect for all people and to gradually eradicate corruption in our milieu?

 Reflections prepared by Fr. Richard Brodeur, SME, Québec Missionaries, and edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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1st Sunday of Lent (C): 14 February 2016

Readings

Deuteronomy 26:4-10

Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

Romans 10:8-13

Luke 4:1-13

Biblical Reflection

Moses does not simply tell the story of the great works of God in the history of Israel’s salvation; his command is that the people tell the story. The history of their salvation is a creed and a profession of faith. So it is also with the Good News of the New Testament: the Gospel must be proclaimed. The history of salvation needs to be retold again and again. Recounting the history can enrich God’s gift of faith.

Paul calls upon the Romans to profess their faith and to confess that Jesus is the Lord who was raised by God from the dead. Jesus is not simply Lord of the Jews but is Lord of Jew and Greek, which is to say Lord of the entire known world. As Moses had done, Paul puts much stock in the telling, the confessing of the story.

The sojourn of Jesus in the desert amounts to a reenactment, however much condensed, of Israel’s passage from Egypt to the Promised Land. Parallels are self-evident: the desert settings; 40 days or 40 years; temptations for food and for power; the appeals of false gods. Jesus, like Israel, will survive the temptations and move on to greatness, thanks to God’s power and mercy.

Link with Misericordiae Vultus, the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

“The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should also be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. How many pages of Sacred Scripture are appropriate for meditation during the weeks of Lent to help us rediscover the merciful face of the Father! We can repeat the words of the prophet Micah and make them our own: You, O Lord, are a God who takes away iniquity and pardons sin, who does not hold your anger forever, but are pleased to show mercy. You, Lord, will return to us and have pity on your people. You will trample down our sins and toss them into the depths of the sea (cf. 7:18-19)” No. 17.

Questions for reflection in SCCs

What are some of the ascetic practices of Lent with which you are most familiar?

Do any of these seem to have little effect on other people and on the larger Christian community?

Can any old practices be given new life?

What new practices for Lent have you thought of or heard of?

What acts of mercy can be part of this year’s Lenten practices?

*    Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html  

The reflections of Yes, Kenya Matters are published weekly by RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 07 February 2016

Readings

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Luke 5:1-11

Biblical Reflection

For Isaiah, it was the Seraphim crying out Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; for Paul, the appearance of the Risen Lord Jesus; for Peter, the miraculous catch of fish that followed the Master’s instructions. The faith of each of these key figures in salvation history was triggered by an encounter and a realization, a comprehension, an awareness that God was acting in his life.

Isaiah reacts with humility: “For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips”; Paul reacts with humility: “For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle”; Peter reacts with humility: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Their humility signifies repentance and conversion.

At the end of each account, these spiritual ancestors show commitment and a readiness to minister to God’s people. Isaiah says, “Here I am, ... send me!” Paul even boasts, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them.” Peter and his companions “left everything and followed him.”

Link with the Encyclical Laudato si’ *

“The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”[1] For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion,” whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.

African-American Wisdom

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.

Without a struggle, there can be no progress.

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

‒ Frederick Douglass: former slave, social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, statesman

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Name some other spiritual ancestors whose paths of faith resemble those of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter.

Realization, repentance, and readiness: consider and assess the importance of these in the life of a Christian.

What could “pray with the legs” mean?

* Pope Francis. Encyclical Laudato si’,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html  

Reflections prepared by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX, Executive Secretary of RSCK and Secretary of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                www.rscke.org



[1] Benedict XVI, Homily for the Solemn Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry (24 April 2005).

 

 

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 31 January 2016

Readings

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19

Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17

1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13

Luke 4:21-30

Biblical Reflection

Formed, dedicated, and appointed. The prophet ‒ and it can be supposed any Christian who wants to live prophetically ‒ gains awareness of having been formed, shaped, moulded by God; of having been dedicated to God from the beginning; of having been appointed or missioned to stand up and to tell God’s word to the nations. As with any vocation, the call to prophecy becomes apparent through discernment.

The prophet Jeremiah survives his difficult ministry because he hears and trusts in God’s promise, just as spoken elsewhere to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, the judges, the kings, and later to the disciples of Jesus: I am with you to deliver you.

Paul’s memorable exaltation of love serves as a handbook for the Christian life. Besides listing most beautifully what love is, Paul says what love is not, enumerating negative behaviours that are repeatedly denounced throughout the epistles: love is not jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, self-seeking, quick-tempered, grudging, or ill-natured.

Luke’s gospel puts forth the truism that no prophet is welcome in his native place. And yet Jesus teaches that God’s mercy extends not only beyond Nazareth and beyond Capernaum, but beyond the nation of Israel, to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon and to Naaman the Syrian. How did Jesus’ fellow villagers take this teaching? “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill ... to hurl him down headlong.” Already in such an early chapter of Luke’s gospel, things are going bad for the young prophet from Nazareth. “But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” Again are we reminded of God’s promise: I am with you to deliver you.

Link with the The Joy of the Gospel *

‘Maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Pet 4:8). This truth greatly influenced the thinking of the Fathers of the Church and helped create a prophetic, counter-cultural resistance to the self-centred hedonism of paganism. We can recall a single example: ‘If we were in peril from fire, we would certainly run to water in order to extinguish the fire… in the same way, if a spark of sin flares up from our straw, and we are troubled on that account, whenever we have an opportunity to perform a work of mercy, we should rejoice, as if a fountain opened before so that the fire might be extinguished.’ No. 193.

African-American Wisdom

Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom that does not involve somebody's slavery. ‒ W. E. B. Dubois

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. ‒ W. E. B. Dubois

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. ‒ Booker T. Washington

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Consider encounters you have had with people who are jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, self-seeking, quick-tempered, grudging, or ill-natured... How can love be shown to such characters?

What lessons can the political class of Kenya draw from these teachings of Paul?

And priests? And religious? And the laity?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX, Executive Secretary of RSCK and Secretary of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                www.rscke.org

 

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C): 24 January 2016

Readings

Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15

1 Corinthians 12:12-30

Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Biblical Reflection

Ezra is sent to Jerusalem to rehabilitate the Temple and give new relevance to the Word of God. The first reading of today is a good example of a dignified Celebration of the Word, well prepared, well proclaimed, well heard (“the people listened attentively to the book of the law”). Well understood, it led the people to a joyful day. In our churches and chapels, how are our celebrations of the Word prepared? Sometimes we see readers more concerned with finishing the reading than with really being heard and understood, with proper modulation and pauses. Why do we read if we are not heard? The Ezras of today (celebrants, masters of ceremony, readers, and singers) should care about sound system and the proper use of mics… so that the Word of God can touch the hearts of all the listeners, provided it reaches their ears.

In Kenya we are rightly giving due importance to our answer to the Word, i.e., the responsorial Psalm, with our singing and answering to the choir or to the psalmist. We do it today using the words of Psalm 19: “Your words, ‒ we have listened to them attentively like the people in Jerusalem ‒ “are Spirit and life.” Aren’t they?

YKM has been convinced since the beginning of its publishing that a good homily is prepared with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Jesus was the first to practise that. He may be given A+ for this homily in his hometown: he looks for the prophet Isaiah’s proclamation of a year favourable to the poor, the blind, the captive, and the oppressed. These are the people that Jesus meets and takes compassion on during his journeys. He does not read the newspapers: he writes down his homily while walking around!

We have been blessed by Pope Francis’ proclamation of a Jubilee of Mercy. We find the agenda for this Jubilee in the topics that prompted the speeches of the Pope in Kenya and which continue to fill the newspapers: terrorism, corruption, tribalism, and hard life for the poor and the sick. In all these situations we are called to be “Merciful like the Father,” as reads the logo of this Jubilee.

Link with the Jubilee of Mercy

The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. The motto Merciful Like the Father (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure (cf. Lk 6:37-38). The logo – the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik – presents a small summa theologiae of the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. *

The eyes of Mercy  

One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.”

http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en/giubileo/logo.html

Written for other purposes, the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI may serve as a comment for this logo: “Mysticism brings one closer to others because one begins to see and act with the eyes, with the heart of God.”

Questions and reflection for SCCs

How does the Word of God help you look at the reality of the most unfortunate with the gaze of Christ?

How do you propose to Christ your gaze on the world and on Kenya?  

If you have the African Bible at hand, read the introduction to the gospel of Luke (which we start reading today), particularly his relevance in Africa and his concern for the oppressed and marginalized. (In my edition, p. 1724)

Reflections prepared by Fr. Roland Laneuville, SME, Québec Missionaries.

It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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The Fourth Sunday of Advent, (C) December 20, 2015

Readings

Micah 5:1-4a

Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

Hebrews 10:5-10

Luke 1:39-45

Biblical Reflection

Since Thursday the 17th, the Magnificat antiphons have been the classic O Antiphons, which address the Lord as Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, Emmanuel ‒ Wisdom, Leader, Root, Key, Dawn, King, and God-with-us. The first letters in reverse work as an acrostic yielding ERO CRAS: Tomorrow I shall be there. The titles trace to St. Damascus in the mid-fourth century, and the entire antiphons were proposed by an anonymous seventh or eighth century cantor.

The text from Micah includes the lines that the chief priests and scribes cited to King Herod during the visit of the Magi (Mt 2:6). Early Christian writers understood Bethlehem as the birthplace of the anointed one, the saviour, prophesied by Isaiah and by Micah. The promised ruler would issue from the clans of Judah and the House of David.

The letter to the Hebrews marks a break with the tradition of the Old Testament, for it affirms that the holocausts and sin offerings of old simply didn’t work. The body of the Christ, whose birth we are about to commemorate, would be offered “once for all.” “He takes away the first to establish the second” alludes to the old dispensation of sacrifice that has been replaced by the new dispensation of consecration in Christ Jesus.

The Lucan account of the Visitation focuses ultimately not just on Mary, or on Elizabeth, or on John the Baptist (who at the approach of the unborn Jesus leaps in his mother’s womb, like David dancing before the Ark), but on the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus, which Elizabeth calls blessed. Elizabeth also praises Mary’s faith that what the Lord had spoken would be fulfilled. Tradition will later accord Mary the title Ark of (the New) Covenant.

Link with Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.

A teaching on Mercy from a Missionary in Northern Ghana

One day an old Dagomba man, a friend, came to see the missionary. After the customary long greetings, the old man asked whether his grandchildren could be acceptedinto the Roman Catholic school so that they could become Christians. The reason he gave for this request has lived in the heart of the missionary ever since. "You, the Fara, are very strange people. You are rich and care for the poor. You are white and love the blacks. You are foreigners and speak our language. You are young and have the wisdom of the old. But, most important of all, you have something we do not have. You have mercy. I am too old to change and become like you. But I would like my grandchildren to become Christian so that they too can have mercy.” **                                            

Questions for reflection in SCCs

In recent days, have you experienced face-to-face encounters with the pain and pleas of others. Does your faith shape your response?

To what does the Year of Mercy invite us?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

** Jane Collier & Fr. Rafael Esteban. (1998). From complicity to encounter: The church and the culture of economism. Harrisburg, Pa: Trinity Press International, p. 87.

Reflections prepared by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX, Executive Secretary of RSCK and Secretary of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.rscke.org

 

The Third Sunday of Advent, (C) December 13, 2015

Readings

Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:10-18

Biblical Reflection

Gaudete Sunday. Rejoice! Be joyful. Light a pink candle instead of another purple one. Be joyful, because the Saviour who is coming has in fact already come. Etymologically, at least, joyful and rejoicing signify something deeper than happy and happiness. How so? Happiness is related to whatever happens, to happenstance. It involves a reaction to events from outside. Joy flows from within, from the heart, and it withstands variations in circumstances. Many Christians may have been unhappy that it rained all through the Papal Mass on 26 November, but torrents of rain could not suppress the waves of joy that flowed from thousands of hearts.

Zephaniah reminds Israel that the Lord has removed his judgement. The Lord is in Israel’s midst. Not only does Israel sing joyfully, but the Lord and Saviour sings joyfully. Joy can be a dialogue with God.

Paul tells the Philippians ‒ twice even! ‒ to rejoice. Why? Your kindness should be known to all. Is he saying to rejoice because we live among kind people? Certainly one good reason. And another reason? The Lord is near. It is Christian kindness that reveals the presence of the Lord.

The teaching of John the Baptist, as related by Luke, is a compendium of Jesus’ own message, with a clear emphasis on social justice. Share the wealth: clothing and food; demand no bribes: be content with what you earn; tell the truth: make no false accusations. And in a beautiful closing line, Luke adds, Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

“Perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: ‘The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival’ (3:17).

“This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: ‘My child, treat yourself well, according to your means… Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment’ (Sir 14:11, 14). What tender paternal love echoes in these words!”

Pope’s Message during Pastoral Visit

Pope Francis, who has so recently shared his abundant wisdom with Eastern and Central Africa, disclosed some of his fundamental inner joy when he wrote, “I find it thrilling to reread this text: ‘The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness..’” And his quote from Sirach, Treat yourself well, according to your means, is perhaps echoed in the Baptist’s words, ...be satisfied with your wages.

A scriptural text can be thrilling! The Gospel can be a source of joy! And the Pope also calls for what the Baptist called for: share the wealth; demand no bribes...

Joy and justice are evoked in the same text. But can joy persist when injustice is rampant? It is the kindness and the honesty of Christians, both sources of joy, which must testify to the nearness of the Lord. Yet many who claim to be Christians “practice extortion.” Such incongruous behaviour defies justice and militates against joy. The kindness and honesty of serious Christians must lead the incongruous ones to repentance.

Advent is a summons to joy and to justice, a powerful theme for the start of a new year.

Papal Wisdom

“...If in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results, and precisely those virtues which ought to be most present in preaching and catechesis are overlooked. The same thing happens when we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God’s word” No. 38.*                                              

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Think of examples from your own life to distinguish between happiness and joy.

How does grace enter into our daily lives? Can people be sources of God’s grace?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX, Executive Secretary of RSCK and Secretary of JPIC The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya.

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The Second Sunday of Advent, (C) December 06, 2015

Readings

Baruch 5:1-9

Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11

Luke 3:1-6

Biblical Reflection

Baruch, whose name means blessed [thus the Hebrew equivalent of the name Barack] was scribe to the prophet Jeremiah. But the Deuterocanonical book bearing his name originated almost four centuries later. While the book seems to address the exiles of Babylon, it was really aimed at the later Jewish diaspora, giving them hope of returning to Jerusalem. The beautifully poetic text of Chapter 5 echoes Deutero-Isaiah, teaching that God alone can save Israel. It is not ourselves, not human intervention.

But what moral obligation is entailed for Israel? Does salvation have no demands? “For God will show all the earth your splendour: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.” Justice. This is what the Lord requires.

The prayer session of Pope Francis at St. Mary’s with Kenya’s clergy, consecrated, and young in formation had the theme of partnership, and this same text from Philippians was read that day. The Holy Father remarked that he was struck by the words “May God who began a good work in you bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus!” (Phil. 1:6). That good work began, said the Pope, on the day of our baptism. The call “If you wish, come with me,” came later. But it was God who began the journey, not ourselves.

Like the Old Testament writers who carefully situated prophets by naming contemporary rulers, Luke refers to Roman and Jewish personages to date the preaching of John the Baptist and thereby highlight the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Among the synoptic writers, only Luke puts into the Baptist’s mouth the universality of salvation promised by Isaiah: “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

“In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people’ (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of ‘an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people’ (Rev 14:6)” No. 23.

Pope’s Message during Pastoral Visit

At Kasarani, Pope Francis pronounced the word “tribalism” at least eight times. He said, “Let’s stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation, that’s how our hearts must be.”

Tribalism is a “tradition” of many cultures, and not just in Africa. A “tradition” has been wisely described as “an experiment that worked.” But after many centuries, different cultures are beginning to realize that this “experiment” doesn’t work for everyone.

Just as salvation is for all, the common good of the nation must be for all. For tribalism to diminish and disappear may well take several generations, but those of us who have received the grace of baptism into a universal Church ought to realize we have been given a head start. It was God who began this good work, not ourselves.

Wisdom of Francis

“Letting ourselves be chosen by Jesus means letting ourselves be chosen to serve, and not to be served.” ‒ At St. Mary’s School, M’songari, 26 November 2015

“Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar. Sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up in a bad way. So much sugar that we end up being diabetic or our country ends up being diabetic. Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts, we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption.” ‒ At Kasarani Stadium, 27 November 2015                                              

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How did you experience the Pope’s visit?

What will you remember most of all that he said?

What do you think of the idea “The visit of Pope Francis will remain part of the patrimony, the wealth, and the beauty of the Church in Kenya”? Is this true? Is this an exaggeration? Is it a useful challenge?

Can the Pope’s words help us change our behaviour? How?

 * Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX, Executive Secretary of RSCK and Secretary of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The First Sunday of Advent, (C) November 29, 2015

Readings

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Biblical Reflection

At the beginning of a new liturgical season and year, attention is drawn on the coming of a new era. The Prophet Jeremiah, who is often called prophet of doom, is also messenger of good news. He announces the time when God will accomplish his promises of happiness to Israel – after a period of desolation in exile. This is the time of restoration of God’s chosen people into justice and peace. It is also called the day of the Lord.

Jesus describes the signs that will precede that day. More importantly, he invites believers to wait for the day of the Son of Man in awe, watchfulness, and prayer. He warns them to be on their guard, lest they be lured by earthly goods and absorbed by ephemeral pleasures, since that day will come unexpectedly.

St. Paul first prays that God may make the Thessalonians live in love and blamelessness as they await the coming of the Lord Jesus. In fact, the imminent coming of the Lord is the leading idea in the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. The Apostle then encourages the Thessalonians in their endeavours to lead a life worthy of their call. Surely, it is right and fitting that Church leaders encourage the people who have been entrusted to them.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *

There is one particular way of listening to what the Lord wishes to tell us in his word and of letting ourselves be transformed by the Spirit. It is what we call lectio divina. It consists of reading God’s word in a moment of prayer and allowing it to enlighten and renew us” (No. 152).

Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbours or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey. (No. 127).

The Visit by Pope Francis

Kenya has been blessed to be the first country on the African continent to welcome Pope Francis. It is the visit of him whose ministry is to strengthen his brethren in faith (cf. Lk 22:32). The Pope’s visit is definitely an encouragement to the many believers who are happy to experience the presence of St. Peter’s successor. Welcoming the Vicar of Christ is welcoming Christ who said, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Mt 10:20).

The beginning of a new liturgical season and year is another opportunity to reflect on the constant renewal in faith and expressions of faith. Advent prepares us to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. More than this, it challenges us to ponder the visitation of God in our own lives. Let this Advent be more special than the Advent seasons of yesteryears. What should make it special? The answer is within your heart.

Words of Wisdom

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope." --Benedict XVI (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” –Mary Baker Eddy

Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling – Happy New Year!                                                  

Questions for reflection in SCCs

How do Christians react when they receive messages from a scientific point of view that announce the end the world? Are they shaken? Indifferent? Concerned? Confident? What words come to their lips?

Are Christians seriously aware that we live in the end times?

Should Church leaders join politicians in fighting corruption, the disease of our times? If so, which method should they use in such an endeavour?

What special pastoral activities are in place to prepare the Christians of your SCC for Christmas?

 * Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Fr. Thomas KAMBERE Visambali, priest of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni, D. R. Congo, and lecturer in theology at Tangaza University College. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (B) November 22, 2015

Readings

Daniel 7:13-17

Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5

Revelation 1:5-8

John 18:33b-37

Biblical Reflection

In Chapter 7, Daniel tells us about the four beasts that have oppressed and enslaved the people. Their reign, however, is coming to an end because one ‘like the son of Man’ is coming with power entrusted by God.... He will establish a kingdom of service that will not end in failure or defeat. The kingdom of God will give hope and leadership to the poor, weak, disenfranchised and marginalised. Jesus came to announce that the kingdom is at hand, is among us, and is growing [Daniel].

Revelation praises Jesus, the first born from the dead, the Alpha and Omega, who through his deeds and words proved himself king of the universe from the beginning to eternity [Revelation].

But this king is not a triumphalist monarch who suppresses his enemies. He never sought to occupy the prime position but came to serve, to wash the feet, and to turn upside-down the flawed human notions of power, authority, leadership, and kingship. All of this is captured in the verse, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (v. 36). Jesus has no army or arms; his strength is in words, teachings, and mercy. He bears witness to truth about God, life, values, and futures. That is why he is King [John].

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelium Gaudium*

An evangelising community gets involved by word and deeds in people’s daily lives... Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice (24).

I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security (49).

There are ... many ‘non-citizens,’ ‘half citizens’ and ‘urban remnants’ (74).

The Gospel is about the kingdom of God; it is about loving God who reigns in our world (180).

An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave the world somehow better than we found it (183).

I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelised by them (198).

Hosting Pope Francis in Africa

This week we will host Pope Francis for his first visit on African soil. He comes in humility and simplicity, full of love for the planet and God’s people. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Expect Francis to enter Nairobi in a simple popemobile that he may well abandon as he rushes to embrace the sick or children. He comes in the footsteps of Jesus, reminding us what leadership, service, commitment, and the Gospel are all about.

Like Jesus, the kingdom that he promotes and inspires is not of this world. It has different values completely. He will not come with a huge entourage or an army. He will take security risks. He will not go for state banquets but will eat githeri in Kangemi. He will challenge and inspire the youth and drop bombshells on the hierarchy and priests, but in a loving, provocative, and human manner he will show the joy and authenticity of the Gospel and refresh all of us in our faith.

Karibu sana. We pray that our hearts may be opened to his touching words and deeds. Amen

Questions for SCCs

What type of king was Jesus?

Do our religious and elected leaders remind you of Jesus?

What can we expect from the visit of Pope Francis?

Do you expect him to impact on the life of Kenyans? Why?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Fr. Gabriel Dolan, SPS, a Kiltegan Father based in Mombasa and a devoted campaigner for justice and peace, whose column Different Strokes appears regularly in the Saturday Nation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

33rd Sunday, Ordinary Time (B): 15 November 2015

Readings

Daniel 12:1-3

Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

Hebrews 10:11-14, 18

Mark 13:24-32

Biblical Reflection

As the liturgical year draws to a close, the focus is on the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. The book of Daniel is one of those described as ‘apocalyptic,’ a kind of writing that teaches through mysterious images. It is not meant to be taken literally but uses signs and symbols to express a reality. Daniel often uses numbers, symbols, strange clothes, colours, etc. His message is meant to give hope to his fellow Jews to remain faithful to the religion of their ancestors, despite the lure of hostile and alien philosophies and beliefs, which seem advantageous in the higher cultural system of Israel’s foes. Daniel advances the growing hope of eternal life for the just.

Today’s gospel also uses apocalyptic language as it presents an image of the end of heaven and earth. Mark’s message helps the Christian community imagine a far side to pain and suffering, and it gives hope to endure the trauma of the present. The images were written in hard times for the people of Israel, and intended to keep hope alive despite great difficulty and suffering.

Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel

“God’s word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: ‘As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40)” No. 179.

“The mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ has a universal destination. Its mandate of charity encompasses all dimensions of existence, all individuals, all areas of community life, and all peoples. Nothing human can be alien to it” No. 181, citing Latin-American Bishops.

Wise Words

“All that surrounds us proclaims the cross. But those that have faith and hope know that behind this Calvary of El Salvador lies our Easter, our resurrection. That is the Christian people’s hope.” ‒ Blessed Oscar Romero

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ‒Reinhold Niebuhr

Questions for reflection in SCCs

Should our church speak out more forcefully on issues of graft and corruption?

How can we eliminate ‘hate speech’ from our public discourse?

In the next election, will I vote on a tribal basis or will I consider the good of Kenya?

Who are ‘my people’?

* Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel,

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

Reflections prepared by Fr. Niall Geaney, SPS, a Kiltegan Father based at Utawala Parish and an active member of JPIC. It has been edited by a team of RSCK-JPIC, The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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