Presenting the Bible Chart in Kiswahili.

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When I Joined the Society of the Divine I was fascinated by the Bible chart I found on the wall Of the then Soweto parish house, that later became formation house for the aspirants.  This was the version made in Ghana and I can say I learnt quite a number of things from it.

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This chart has been displayed in our parishes in Nairobi but since it is in English,  our missions in Tanzania could not benefit from it, since the language used is Kiswahili.

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Since I began my mission here in Arusha, Tanzania, I have been noticing a big gap in terms of digital and print pastoral material in Kiswahili.  Communication being part of my favourite occupations, and having studied it, I have always believed that every good message should be communicated effectively so that it can benefit as many people as possible.

Therefore,  after carefully studying the previous English chart,  I decided to take upon myself the responsibility of making the same available to swahili speakers in Tanzania and East Africa in General.

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However,  Being in a busy parish,  I do not have the luxary of time. I also did not want to translate the English version directly because I realized that there were a number of things that needed to be updated, especially owing to the fact that in the last few decades, a lot of biblical research has revealed a number of errors previously committed.

I must mention that our confreres working in the Bible office, that is, Fr.  Wojciech Zipula and Br.  Douglas Simonetti,  have helped a great deal to correct the errors and come up with a clean chart.

It is my hope that this chart will help many to understand the message of the Bible that cut across all the books in a brief way.

Fr.  Lawrence Muthee,  SVD

4th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C

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Reading I: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Responsorial Psalm: 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; Reading II: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 or 13:4-13; Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

My dear friends in Christ, the first reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, talks about the fear Jeremiah had to take up the prophet mission. This is because he had experience the hard hardheartedness of the people. He feared that they might not listen to him. God tells him that he had prepared him for that mission since he was in his mother’s womb. God would fight for him so that he may carry out his mission. The call of Jeremiah is a call of each one of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus. Our primary call is to be human beings over and above all other creatures. The second call is to be the begotten children of God through baptism.

Every human being has been created through the love of God. It does not matter the circumstances in which each one of us was born because these depends on us as human being. What is important to understand is that we are all created by God. God in his power and wisdom could have created all of us without having to do it through our parents, but he decided to give power and authority to men and women to share in his work of creation.

This reading sheds light to one very important matter in the life of human beings. That God to live and that He has chosen all those conceived of a woman has a plan for their lives. It does not matter whether the parents had planned or not. This means that the parents are supposed to let these innocent persons to see the light of the day to accomplish their purpose on earth.

No one is born out of bad luck. God has made each of us for a certain purpose. This explains why we are all different from each other.

The Word of God is calling upon us to value and cherish the life of each person in every circumstance, whether young or old, sick or healthy, poor or rich, Christian or non-Christian.

In the eyes of God, all of us are equal. This need to be well understood and taught to all people that there is no reason for us to discriminate one another. What we have to discriminate is evil, hatred, war, negative competition and pride. These we must really discriminate.

No one chooses where to be born. It is good to recognize the grace of God and thank him especially for the gift of the freedom to worship.

Our vocation and faith in Jesus calls us to help one another like brothers and sisters of one father and heirs of the Kingdom of God with him.

We are called to love with the love of God. In our days, love has many faces different from the love of God.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is painting for us the perfect picture of love. There are many things that we call love some of which if you come to think of them you will be surprised.

Many people have separated themselves from God and the Church in the name of love. The Church for them is a barrier to love. This is amazing. The Church is the embodiment of Christ whose main purpose it to proclaim and make felt to all the true love of God.

You will hear someone saying that this person loves me because he or she has taken her for lunch, bought an expensive cellphone, some nice clothes or given her some money. However, since all that began, they no longer go to Church, or receive the Eucharist.

This cannot be love. These are only things that are not supposed to be love. If you really want to test if they were love, wait until there are no more resources left. The pitiful things is that some realize that they were being taken for a ride when it is too late and are in very bad state.

Let us reflect closely what Paul is proposing as love and compare it with what we have been thinking it is.

True love surpasses all kind of wit and cleverness of the tongue. Many are cheated by sweet words and promises only to be left hurt spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially. They remain bankrupt in the name of love.

Paul says that true love is more than all prophesy. I have heard someone telling another that he has received a vision telling him that he is supposed marry her. This is “conmanship” in its most ridiculous level.

True love cannot be equated to material generosity. When someone gives gifts does not mean they love. Some promise impossible things like taking one to the moon and to the sun.

True love is more than many sacrifices. People are ready to do anything to get what they want. If you want to know if they loved, wait until they get what they wanted.

The Church and places of worship are supposed to be places where the love and forgiveness of God is proclaimed and embodied, and not places to ransack of the little livelihood people by declaring the wrath of God on them. God has given us the knowledge and freedom to choose good from evil. The choice is individual’s responsibility. When Jesus tells us to love even those who hate us, he want that through love to change their hearts.

There are people who pray for evil to before others including their own kin. Jesus taught us to forgive even when it most difficult to do so. “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

Paul continues:

  • Love is patient – in all circumstances. In bad times and good times. Love takes time to grow and mature. It does not jump at things. Today people will meet in cities and towns and within a month they are living together. After three months, they are expecting a child and before the child is born, they have gone separate ways.
  • Love helps – he or she that truly loves will be ready to support the one they love to achieve their dreams and not discouraging them and possessing them to the point of denying them freedom of movement and interaction.
  • Love is not jealous – you will hear someone telling how much he or she love but at the same time, they are opposed to the development of the other. Since she was love, she never continued with her studies or career.
  • Love is not proud – it does not look down upon others. Love is always humble. It values the loved one more that self.
  • Love is disciplined – some people say they love but they do not respect the ones they love. Domestic violence is not a sign of love or respect.
  • Love does not seek self-benefits – there are many who pretend to love but with hidden agenda. Some are looking for a cook, laundry person and a tool for self-gratification.
  • Love is not bitter – love always receives everything from the loved with calmness. It does not react with bitterness over anything. This is very important especially to married couples.
  • Love does not count faults – many times, you will hear someone telling their partner that this is the last warning. Some carry in their heart the faults committed years ago and keep on bringing them every time there is an argument.
  • Love does not rejoice over evil – love always seeks justice for all despite of the consequence to self. It does not thrive in injustice.
  • Love does not reduce – this is interesting. If you ask many people who have been friends of even married for long time to remember how it was in the beginning, many will shed nostalgic tears because they lost it all long time ago. What they have is no longer love but persevering and tolerating one another because they have no otherwise. Unfortunately, there are many such cases in our society today.

I dare to say that there are many who live together as husband and wife but they have never tasted the fruits of true love because it was never love since the beginning.

Good news

Nevertheless, there is good news. That Jesus came into the world to repair all our brokenness in love. During the ordinary time in the Church’s liturgical year, we hear about the things that Jesus did and said to teach us God’s true love. He came to teach us to love like God.

Jesus came to end all hypocrisy. Last Sunday we heard Jesus presenting his manifesto: to preach good news to the poor, release to the prisons, sight to the blind and freedom to captives.

This brought a lot of joy to those who were oppressed but came as threat to the ears those who were perpetuating the oppression. They became so furious that they even attempted to kill him by throwing him over the cliff.

There are many followers of Jesus who are working hard to alleviate the suffering of many. During the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, we celebrate also the gift of religious people in the world. These are people who are not only followers of Jesus but who have also opted to give their lives to the service of people imitating Jesus himself. Just like Jesus himself, they face a lot of opposition and some even lose life in their mission.

The word of God pieces like a double-edged sword. It cuts this way and that (Heb 4:12). There is no way to prevent it. The word of God cannot be suppressed. It challenges us to change our ungodly ways. It is like the rain that does not go back before it makes germinate the plants (Is 55:10-11).

My dear brothers and sisters, we have received the grace to be heirs of the kingdom of God. Let us hold fast to it and give it a chance to change our life. If we do this, our lives will be meaningful on earth.

Let us love one another. Love is the only positive weapon against hatred. We cannot win wars with more wars.

God bless you.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

JUMAPILI YA 4 MWAKA C

 

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Somo I: Jeremia 1:4-5, 17-19;  Wimbo wa Katikati:   Zaburi 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; Somo 2: Wakorintho 12:31-13:13 or 13:4-13;  Injili: Luka 4:21-30

Upendo wa Kweli ni upi?

Tumsifu Yesu Kristo. Katika Somo la Kwanza kutoka kitabu cha Nabii Yeremia 1:4-5,17-19, tunasikia jinsi Yeremia aliogopa kupokea kazi ya unabii kwa sababu alijua ugumu wa mioyo ya watu wa wakati wake. Mungu anamwambia kwamba alimuandaa kwa ajili hiyo tangu tumboni mwa mama yake. Atampigania ili asishindwe katika wito wake. Wito wa Yeremia ni mfano wa wito wetu sisi wote tuliobatizwa katika Kristo. Kwanza tumeitwa kama wanadamu viumbe walio juu zaidi ya viumbe wengine wote, na pili kama watoto wa Mungu kwa njia ya Ubatizo.

Kila mwanadamu ameumbwa kwa upendo wa Mungu. Haijalishi mazingira alipozaliwa kwa maana hayo yanategemea hali za kibinadamu. Jambo la muhimu ni kwamba kila mwanadamu ameumbwa na Mungu. Mungu alikuwa na uwezo wa kuumba kila mtu pasipo uwezo wa binadamu, lakini katika hekima yake, aliwaachia wanadamu kazi ya kuujaza ulimwengu. Aliwapa wanadamu uwezo na akili ya kushiriki katika kazi yake ya kuumba.

Somo hili linaangazia jambo muhimu sana katika maisha ya mwanadamu. Kwamba kila mtu aliyetungwa mimba ana kibali cha kuishi kutoka kwa Mungu na pia Mungu ana mpango naye. Haijalishi kama wazazi walikusudia kumzaa au la. Hii ina maana kwamba wazazi wanapaswa kuwampa nafasi wale viumbe kuzaliwa na kuishi ili watimize sababu yao duniani. Hamna mtu aliye na mamlaka ya kuamua kama mwanadamu yeyote, katika hali yeyote anapaswa kuishi au kutoishi.

Hakuna hata mmoja anayezaliwa kwa bahati mbaya. Kila mmoja wetu amekusudiwa na Mungu kwa ajili ya kazi fulani. Hii ndiyo maana sisi wote ni tofauti wala hakuna anayefanan ana mwingine.

Neno hili linatuita kudhamini maisha ya kila mtu katika hali zote, awe mchanga au mzee, awe na afya au mgonjwa, awe na tajiri au maskini, awe mkristo au si mkristo.

Machoni pa Mungu sisi wote ni sawa. Hili ni muhimu liweleweke na lifundishwe kwa watu wote kwamba hatuna sababu yoyote ya kumbagua mtu yeyote. Kile tunapaswa kubagua ni maovu, chuki, vita, mashindano yasio na tija na kiburi mbele ya wengine.

Haya tuyabague kweli kweli. Hamna anayechagua azaliwe wapi. Ni vizuri kutambua neema ya Mungu na kumshukuru kwa kuwa na amani na uhuru wa kuabudu.

Wito wa imani yetu katika Kristo ni kufaana kama ndugu wa baba mmoja na warithi pamoja na Yesu mwenyewe.

Tunaitwa kupendana kwa upendo wa kimungu. Siku hizi upendo una sura nyingi sana tofauti na upendo wa kweli wa kimungu.

Paulo leo katika waraka wake kwa Wakorintho 12: 31; 13:1-13, anatufundisha nini haswa upendo wa kweli ni nini. Kuna mambo mengi tuliyozoea kuita upendo mengine ukiyatafakari yanashangaza kweli kweli.

Walio wengi kwa kusingizia upendo wamejitenga na Mungu na kanisa. Kanisa kwao ni kikwazo cha kupenda. Hili kweli ni la ajabu. Kanisa ni mwili wa Kristo na Ujumbe mkubwa zaidi ambao kanisa linatangaza ni ule wa Upendo wa kweli.

Utasikia wakisema, ananipenda kwa sababu ameninunulia lunch, amenitoa mtoko, ameninunulia simu nzuri, nguo, amenipa hela, nk. Lakini tangu hayo yote yaanze nimeshindwa kwenda kanisani na hata Ekaristi takatifu niliacha kupokea.

Huu hauwezi kuwa upendo jamani, ni mambo yetu tu yanayopita tu ambayo yanapaswa kutambulikana kwa neno lingine mbali na upendo. Ukitaka kujua kama kweli ulikuwa upendo subiri mpaka mmoja apate matatizo. Bahati mbaya ni kwamba wengi wanajikuta mahali pabaya baada ya mambo haya waliodhania kuwa upendo yanapokwisha.

Ebu tutafakari anachokisema Paulo kuhusu UPENDO kama karama iliyo kuu zaidi ya nyingine zote:

Upendo wa kweli unapita ujanja wote wa lugha (mtu anapigwa maneno matamu anachanganyikiwa baadaye anatapeliwa kiroho, kiakili, kihisia, kimwili na kivyote, anabaki maskini wa kutupwa kwa hali zote, kisa na maana amependwa).

Upendo wa kweli unapita unabii wote (wengine utasikia wakiambiana kwamba nimeonyeshwa kwamba wewe ndiwe umeumbwa kwa ajili yangu, Mungu ameniambia kwamba nikuoe, tapeli kwa jina la Mungu).

Upendo wa Kweli unapita ukarimu wa mali (kununuliwa zawadi mbali mbali na kupelekwa kwa mwezi na kwa jua haimanishi mtu anakupenda).

Upendo wa Kweli unapita sadaka za kimwili (watu wapo radhi kufanya mambo yote kupata walichonuia. Hii haimanishi upendo, subiri mpaka apate alichonuia. Utaachwa kwenye mataa.

Kanisani na sehemu za kusali ni mahali pa kutangaza upendo wa Mungu unayesamehe kila kitu sio mahali pa kutapeli watu kwa kutangaza ghadhabu ya Mungu. Mungu ametupa akili uhuru wa kuchagua yaliyo mema tupate baraka. Chaguo ni la kila mtu. Yesu anaposema tuwapende adui zetu, anataka kwa njia ya upendo wetu waweze kubadilika.

Wengine wanawaombea adui zao wapigwe na radi, wengine hata wenzao wa ndoa na watoto wao. Yesu alitufundisha kusamehe hata wakati inaonekana vigumu. Wasamehe kwa sababu hawajui walitendalo (Lk 23:34).

Paulo anasema kwamba upendo wa kweli:

  • Huvumilia – katika hali zote, katika raha na katika shida. Upendo unachukuwa muda kukua na kukomaa. Hauna pupa. Watu wanakutana mjini na baada ya miezi miwili wanaishi pamoja, baada ya miezi mitatu wana mtoto, wengine kabla ya mtoto kuzaliwa wameachana na kuingia katika mahusiano mengine na mengine.
  • Ufadhili – maana yake husaidia. Kama kweli mtu anapenda yupo radhi kumsaidia anayempenda kufikia malengo yake wala sio kummiliki na kumnyima uhuru wake wote.
  • Hauhusudu – maana yake hauoni wivu au kijicho. Mtu anasema anapenda lakini hataki maendeleo ya anayempenda. Tangu apendwe ameacha shule, kazi, nk.
  • Hautakabari wala kujivuna – maana yake hauna kiburi na dharau kwa wengine. Upendo daima unanyenyekea katika yote. Unadhamini anayependwa kuliko nafsi.
  • Una adabu – mtu anasema anapenda lakini haheshimu anayempenda. Haheshimu ndoto zake au utu wake. Anataka tu kumtumia. Huo sio upendo ni ubinafsi.
  • Hautafuti mambo yake – mtu anayependa hatafuti masilahi yake kwanza. Utamsikia mtu akimwambia mwingine wewe usisome njoo ukae kwangu huku moyoni anasema uwe mpishi wangu, dobi wangu, chombo changu cha kujifurahisha na nk.
  • Hauoni uchungu – upendo daima upokea yote kutoka kwa apendwaye wala haukwaziki kwa mapungufu ya anayependwa. Katika ndoa hili ni muhimu sana.
  • Hauhesabu maovu – utamsikia akisema sasa mara ya ngapi nimekuonya. Hii ni mara ya mwisho. Au mwingine anabeba mambo ya miaka na mikaka moyoni na kukumbuka mara kwa mara. Chakula kikiungua au mwenzake akichelewa.
  • Haufurahii udhalimu – daima upendo utafuta haki kwa kila mtu na katika mambo yote. Ausitawi katika unyanyasaji.
  • Haupungui – hili hata linashangaza, ukiwauliza watu wengi wanaoishi pamoja wakumbuke na kulinganisha siku za kwanza walipoanza mahusiano na wanavyoishi sasa, wengi watatokwa na machozi. Wengine watadiriki kusema kwamba wanachokiishi sasa sio upendo ni kuvumiliana tu kwa sababu hamna namna nyingine. Wangekuwa na namna hawangekuwepo pale. Wengine wanafikia mwisho na kutengana au kutamani kufa. Hii ndiyo hali halisi katika jamii yetu.

Nitadhubutu hata kusema kwamba kunao ambao wanaishi unyumba lakini hawajawahi kuonja upendo wa kweli kwa sababu haukuwepo tangu mwanzo. Kilichowaleta pamoja hakikuwa upendo.

Lakini kuna habari njema: Yesu alikuja kwa ajili ya kukarabati udhaifu wetu katika katika upendo. Katika kipindi hiki cha kawaida cha mwaka wa Kanisa, tunasikiliza mambo ambayo Yesu aliyasema na kuyatenda ili kutufundisha kupenda kama Mungu anavyotupenda.

Yesu anakuja kuondoa unafiki na ulagai ambao umekuwa ukisambazwa kwa jina la upendo. Jumapili tulimsikia akitangaza manifestó yake. Kuwahubiri maskini habari njema, wafungwa kufunguliwa, vipofu kuona na uhuru kwa waliosetwa.

Hili liliwapa faraja wale wote waliokuwa wanateswa lakini liliwatia hofu na chuki waliokuwa wanaendeleza udhalimu na utapeli katika jamii ile. Wanakasirika kiasi cha kutaka kumuua kwa kuchomwa roho zao. Wanamtoa nje ili wamtupe kwenye kilima.

Watu kama Yesu wapo wengi duniani. Jana tumesherehekea siku kuu ya kutolewa Yesu Hekaluni ambayo pia ni sherehe ya watawa kote ulimwenguni. Kunao wanajitolea maisha yao yote kuboresha hali ya maskini katika jamii lakini wanakumbana na upinzani mkubwa kiasi hata cha kupoteza maisha.

Neno la Mungu linachoma, tena ni kali kama upanga wenye ncha mbili, unakata huku na huku. Hamna mahali pakuushika na kuubana usikate, unakata kotekote (Wae 4:12). Neno la Mungu halisitiriki au kubanwa. Linaingia na kuchangamotisha kwa lengo la kubadirisha kilicho kinyume na mapenzi ya Mungu. Ni kama mvua ambayo ikianguka hairudi bila kuotesha mimea (Isa 55:10-11).

Ndugu zangu. Sisi tumepokea neema ya kuwa wana wa Ufalme wa Mungu. Tulisikilize neno la Mungu na kulipa nafasi kubadirisha maisha yetu. Tukifanya hivi, hakika tutakuwa na uhai wa kweli hapa duniani na maisha ya milele mbinguni.

Tupendane sisi kwa sisi. Tuwapende wanaotuchukia kwani vita vya chuki havishindwi kwa kurudisha chuki bali kwa kupenda. Chuki na chuki uleta kuvunjika kwa jamii na maafa.

Mungu awabariki.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

 

 

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