Sunday readings in brief 18 C
Eccl 1:2, 2:21-23; Ps 89(90); Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21
Nothing is Permanent on Earth
Dear friends, today is the eighteenth Sunday in ordinary time. The readings today, invite us to reflect upon the things that occupy our everyday life. Are they things that will eventually earn us eternal life? Even if one did not believe in life after death, everyone is very certain about the end of his or her life on earth one day. However, hardly do we think about this end instead, we are swamped decorating the present life sometimes even in crooked ways.
The first reading strikes directly to the point. “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity”. The word ‘Vanity’ here is means worthless, trivial, or pointless. The long and short of this reading is we need to ask ourselves often if what we are expending our time and energies on, is ultimately the most important thing in life.
Every morning, depending on various factors such as age, work/trade, status, environment, and weather conditions, all of us wake up the time we wake up and begin executing plans and programmes. Those who are independent execute their own plan and those who are dependent execute the plans of those on whom they depend. However, whether independent or dependent, every person with good judgment knows whether the enterprise that occupies his or her time is good or bad.
St. Paul in the second reading is urging us to look for the things that are in heaven where Christ, is because that is the only place where we will find permanence. While we need to strive to lead decent lives here on earth, we should not lose focus on the ultimate destiny. We are invited to utilize the things of this life to build on the life to come. Jesus came to teach us that eternity is twofold. He said, “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn 5:29) Our faith in Christ Jesus must help us to make the right choice and expend the right amount of effort to attain the desired eternity.
In the Gospel reading, as usual, Jesus uses a parable to describe the end of time when a man approached him to ask for help with a property dispute between him and his brother. Today, our world is experiencing a lot of devastation from the greed of one of its species, humans. You can read some amount of self-interest in almost all occupations including those that call themselves “charity”. In very few instances will you find men and women committed entirely to the interest of the community or the people they serve. The rest have different amounts of self-interests disguised in many ways.
Jesus reminds us that we are fools if we invest all our energies and efforts to amass things of this world that eventually will be left behind. This is not something meant to instill fear in anyone because we witness it during funerals. Even those who considered themselves the greatest on earth end up in a hole dug under the earth. Others are burnt to ashes or left to rot in the jungle just like all the living species. Death is the only equalizer of all on earth and the fact that no one knows his or her expiry date, is something that needs to call for the attention of every one of us.
Dear friends, as we begin another week today, I invite us to reflect upon the things that occupy our minutes, hours, days, months, and years and see if they are building up to the eternity we desire. The choice of eternity is purely personal.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
The internet dictionary defines culture as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. A culture is particular to the people who practice it. This makes it difficult to compare cultures in terms of superiority and inferiority. However, we can talk about cultural practices that are detrimental to the very people who practice, especially those that violate basic human rights.
There are many factors that are involved in the development of any culture such as enviroment, climatic conditions, economical practices, religious beliefs, gender dominance, etc. Many African cultures are patriarchal which means that men are the center of life and women play the role of making the life of their men comfortable at the expense of their own comfort. Such cultures may sound extreme to other where men and women are regarded almost as equals in dignity.
Through education, bad cultural practices can be changed and the good ones promoted to the maximum. Here in Simanjiro, we work with a community of people where women and children are culturally regarded as instruments of comfort for men. To be born a male in the Maasai community is a privilege though one needs to wait until he becomes of age to enjoy this privilege. However, through education, many women have broken the cultural ceiling and come back to inspire the young ones to aspire higher. Many stakeholders have come up to champion this cultural change but with many challenges.
The Church has always been on the frontline as far as positive cultural change is concerned. The Church plays the role of a trustworthy steward who works at the grass root level to fuel positive change among the people. Many generous individuals, as well as organizations, are able to contribute to a lot of cultural empowerment projects all over the world. one one hand, Resources by themselves cannot make any positive difference in the lives of the people unless there is someone well intended and motivated to do the actual job. On the other hand, the Church would be crippled in its efforts to bring positive change in the communities if it does not have the necessary resources to do so. This makes it paramount to the collaboration between the Church and the donors.
Through this kind of collaboration, we have been able to bring education close to children in villages that otherwise would not have had a chance to go to school. The Gruppo Missionario Caritas Cassago Onlus, we have once again added one more class in Noomoton village and more children will be able to get a nursery school education as they grow older to be able to walk 10 Kilometers through the bushes to the nearest primary school in Narakawo.
This is school is the first permanent structure in the entire village. Other services like vaccinations for children and other goverment outreach services have are now using the facility.
Just like a fruit tree the education process is slow but if well organized, the fruits are likewise far reaching in the transformation of communities.
The people of Noomoton extend their sincerest gratitude to you.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
Sunday readings in brief 17 C
Gen 18:20-32; Ps 137 (138); Col 2:12-14; Lk 11:1-13
How to pray
Dear friends, today is seventeen Sunday of the Ordinary Time year C. The readings today converge on the theme of prayer. How to pray to God and what makes us dare to call him Father. Prayer is the way human beings relate to God. In antiquity, before the major religions spread to all parts of the world, every tribe on the face of the earth had a way of relating to the supernatural beings that in general, we call God. From the depth of their hearts, human beings know that they are neither the center nor the apex of the universe. We all feel deep in our spirit that there is that one who makes things the way they are including us. To this one, we approach with humility and respect.
When we were baptized, we began a relationship with God through Christ. Just like, it is with other relationships, especially the ones that lead to marriage between a man and a woman; our relationship with God needs the following aspects so that it may grow and blossom. First, a good relationship needs acquaintance between the parties. Since God already knows us, it is we who need to know him through catechetical instructions. Second, a good relationship needs the presence of the parties. We all know how difficult distance relationships are. Most of them die a natural death. If we do not keep holy the day of the Lord or attend prayer and worship in our respective places of worship, we cannot expect our relationship with God to thrive.
Third, a good relationship requires every party to be actively involved. A relationship dies when one or both parties become passive. Our relationship with God requires us to play our part and not expect God to do everything for us. Being active means practicing the godly values of love, forgiveness, hard work, charity, justice, etc. Being involved in the project of building the kingdom of God on earth. It is not the occasional Sunday mass attendance that we do to satisfy our biting conscience because we are baptized.
In the first reading, we hear how Abraham negotiated with God to spare the city of Sodom and Gomorrah because his nephew Lot lived there. Because of his relationship with God, Abraham was able to gather enough courage to negotiate with God. He was a man of faith and had won favour with God. When we are in trouble with authorities, we do not call just anyone to negotiate for us. We look for persons who have moral standing before that particular authority. Many times, we get prayer requests from our families, friends, and our community members. Do we have moral standing before God to negotiate for them?
St. Paul reminds us that it is because of our faith in Christ Jesus that we are made worthy to address God as our father. Though Christ died to cancel our debt with God, this waiver is not imposed on us but requires our volition and active participation in the process of our salvation.
Jesus came to the world to unite all human beings in his family, the family of God. Those who believe and are baptized become members of the family of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. This means, therefore, that all those baptized in Christ Jesus are required to live like brothers and sisters of one father. The desired implication of this is that humanity becomes one family where no hatred or sibling rivalry is admissible. The prayer of “Our Father” is brief yet it sums up all we need to live dignified lives. These include the need to worship, submit and honour our common father, our livelihood (daily bread), the need to relate well with our brothers and sisters (forgiving one another), and the need for the father’s protection from the evil of this world.
Dear friends, Jesus is teaching us many things during this Ordinary season. Today we learn how to pray and relate with God. I invite us to reflect upon our relationship with Him and see if it is healthy and helping us to advance in life. Are you practicing a distance relationship with God because you are so busy with your plans and businesses?
Have a blessed Sunday
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
Sunday readings in brief 16 C
Gen 18:1-10; Ps 14(15); Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42
First, understand Instructions
Dear friends, today is the sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary. In today’s lesson, Jesus is emphasizing the importance of being instructed by him. Many times, we make mistakes because we do not pay attention to instructions. Other times we are busy with other things we deem more important and end up missing the best things in life.
One day teacher wanted to know whether her students read and understand the instructions that are always written on top of the examination paper. He wrote five instructions and the last one read, “Do not answer any question”. He even emphasized that they should read the instructions before answering the questions. When the students received the questions, most of them began answering the questions almost immediately. Two hours later, all the students submitted their examination papers with all the questions. They all failed the examination that day.
When Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, immediately Martha rushed to the kitchen to prepare food for him and other guests accompanying him, while Mary stayed with Jesus listening to him. A while later, Martha came complaining that Mary had left her alone to cook for the guest and Jesus seemed not to mind about it. Jesus answered him that Mary had chosen the best part of staying with him.
When Jesus is with us, he wants to feed us with his heavenly wisdom and not the way around. Many Christians think that when they go to Church they have to tell God as many things as possible. However, we go to Church to be fed our souls by the Word of God and the Eucharist. Jesus is feeding us rather than us feeding him. In turn, we are supposed to feed our neighbors and the strangers who pass by our homes and get blessings. This is what we read in the first reading today. Abraham welcomed the three men who passed by his tent and prepared a meal for them without knowing that they were angels sent to him by God. Many we dismiss or lock our doors to strangers thinking they are lazy beggars or robbers and spend hours in places of worship praying to God for many things.
St. Paul tells the Colossians that he became the servant of the Church to deliver the message revealed to him by Christ. This is the catechesis that we all need so that we can be the best Disciples of Christ. Prayer is not a one-way conversation with God telling him what he should do for us or for our loved ones. Jesus told us that God knows all we need even before we tell him. Prayer and worship are more about listening to the instructions that are contained in the Word of God. Prayer is putting our faith into action in our neighbourhoods and places of work.
Dear friends, invite us to evaluate our attitude towards prayer and worship and see whether we emphasize more listening to Jesus or rattling without giving him a chance to instruct us.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD (svdkentan.com)