Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C, by Wojciech Szypula


Jesus call to take up the cross

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:16, 19–21; Psalm: 16:1–2, 5, 7–11; Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13–18; Gospel: Luke 9:51–62

 Psalm – 16:1–2, 5, 7–11

 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

my body also rests secure.

For you do not give me up to Sheol,

or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is the fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Reading the Word

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:16, 19–21

 The Lord said to Elijah, you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel, and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as a prophet in your place.

So he set out from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yokes of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13–18

For freedom, Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers, and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Live by the Spirit, I say and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

Gospel: Luke 9:51–62

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him;  but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another, he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Hearing the Word

“Decisive Breaks”

The readings of this Sunday describe instances of dramatic change in the lives of biblical characters, which involve them in decisive breaks with their past. Such decisive breaks are often necessary to free a person from attachments to the past, and to begin a new life and a new mission.

As Elijah was approaching the end of his prophetic work, God instructed him to anoint the next king for Israel and to appoint a new prophet who would continue his mission. Elisha, an ordinary farmer, was to be this successor. Directed by God, Elijah met this unsuspecting farmer, busy with his daily work of plowing, and threw his cloak over him. This clothing with a new garment meant that Elisha was handed the prophetic authority of Elijah and that his life would be decisively changed.

Elisha understood what he was asked to do. He left his oxen and only requested leave to say goodbye to his parents, which Elijah allowed. This farewell of Elisha’s was an act of formal separation from his family. Next, Elisha slaughtered his oxen and burned his plow, using these essential tools of his former occupation to cook a meal for the people. By destroying his farming tools and animals Elisha dramatically breaks with his farming past. He will no longer till the fields but will be an apprentice of the great prophet. By feeding the people, utilizing the very items he previously used for farming, Elisha points to a fundamental change in his life mission. He will no longer produce grain and vegetables but will feed the people with God’s word and defend the faith. These drastic actions of Elisha are a symbolic demonstration of his decision to completely alter the direction of his life. The first step in this transformation was a decisive break with his past.

The second reading is set in the context of a radical and decisive break in the life of Paul the Apostle. In his letter to the Galatians Paul fiercely defends his view on how one becomes righteous before God. In his pre-Christian life, Paul conscientiously followed the Jewish law and customs, believing that this was the right and only way to serve God and be righteous. However, his encounter with the risen Christ changed him and his views dramatically. Paul, once a loyal and zealous defender of the law, became an apostle of Jesus, utterly and fiercely devoted to proclaiming and defending the view that true righteousness can only be achieved by faith in Christ. Such belief meant a drastic change and a dramatic break with the past for Paul. This zealous and devoted Pharisee was transformed into an utterly dedicated servant of Christ.

In today’s reading, as in the entire letter to the Galatians, Paul fiercely opposes some Jewish Christians who claimed that to be righteous before God Christians still needed to follow the Jewish law, in addition to believing in Christ. Paul vehemently denies that this is the case. He solemnly declares that “Christ has set us free” from the law, which he compares to the “yoke of slavery”. This freedom from the law means that the believer needs only faith in Christ to be righteous and assured of future salvation, the law no longer plays any part in this process. For those who believe in Jesus, the entire body of Jewish law and the code for moral behaviour is summarized and fulfilled in one basic principle – the commandment of love. And the guiding force for Christian life is no longer adherence to the Jewish law but the Holy Spirit. Paul’s insistence on these foundations of the Christian life testifies that he was able to make a decisive break with his Pharisaic past, which freed him to become the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.

Today’s gospel reading describes a decisive turning point in the life of Jesus who decided to leave Galilee and to begin his journey to Jerusalem, despite knowing full well that death awaits him there. Doing so Jesus made a decisive break with his successful and generally peaceful ministry in Galilee, to begin his journey towards death and resurrection. The focus of his ministry would also change. He will no longer heal and proclaim God’s kingdom, but focus on teaching about discipleship and on the preparation for the passion.

The second part of our passage shows this change of focus. The interactions narrated here have numerous similarities to the stories of Elijah and Elisha. The already familiar theme of breaking with the past dominates. First, Jesus’ two disciples, James and John, acting like Elijah, want to bring fire down from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritan village (cf. 2 Kings 1:10). Jesus forbids them to do so. In line with his teaching on the love of enemies, he breaks with the pattern of dealing with enemies through violence, which Elijah followed.

Then, as he moved towards Jerusalem, Jesus encountered three individuals. The first of them volunteered to follow Jesus, who responded by warning that his followers must be ready for rootlessness and rejection. Jesus suffered rejection from his own people and even from the Samaritans. He literally had “no place to lay down his head”. Those who follow him must be prepared to face the same exclusion and alienation on account of their commitment to Jesus.

Jesus then invited another man to follow him. However, this person wanted first to bury his father. Like Elisha, this man appears ready to break away from the family to join Jesus. However, his request is, in fact, a refusal. The father of that man was still alive, otherwise, the man would not have been on the road conversing with Jesus. The man effectively told Jesus that he will not join him as long as his father lives. His response shows his preference for the family over Jesus. Unlike Elisha, he was not ready to break with his past and was, therefore, unfit for discipleship.

The third man declared his readiness to follow Jesus, but he wanted first to go and say farewell to his family, just as Elisha had done. Jesus responded with the familiar allusion to plowing as a symbol for the necessity of complete commitment. Those who “plow” must not look back to their former life but look ahead, completely focused on their new goal of serving God and following Jesus. They must make a decisive break with the past and redefine their priorities.

Today’s liturgy brings a difficult message about the need for decisive and sometimes drastic decisions and the changes that discipleship requires. Elisha had to abandon his peaceful farming occupation to become a prophet. Paul, to become an apostle, had to renounce a way of life-based entirely on Jewish ancestral law. Jesus made his own difficult decision to face the cross that waited for him in Jerusalem. He then taught his would-be followers about the necessity to break away from any attachments as a necessary condition for discipleship. Such decisive breaks appear necessary to allow God to take charge of a person’s life. Indeed, those who are able to take such decisive step away from the past, to embrace a new future and mission, must have the confidence expressed in the words of the Psalmist, “you show me the path of life. In your presence, there is the fullness of joy”.

Listening to the Word of God

On this thirteenth Sunday in ordinary time, the necessity to make a decisive break from the past, to embrace the challenge of the future, runs through the readings. In this light, we are invited to examine our journey of faith, to ascertain the various shortfalls which prevent us from responding adequately to the invitation of the future. As a matter of fact, Christianity requires us to follow Christ, and this certainly means difficult choices regarding our ambitions and relationships, it is a call for transformation.

Firstly, the Gospel reading today provides us with Christ who is an example of a transformation which entails a U-turn in his ministry – Jesus leaves Galilee, a place of his flourishing and successful ministry, to travel to Jerusalem, the city of his impending death. He did so because the accomplishment of his mission did not revolve around the feeding of his own ambitions, but on fulfilling the will of his Father. It was a decisive break from a temporary success, to greater glory through the path of suffering, humiliation, and pain. It is this example of Jesus which leads us on to embrace our call to follow the Lord always.  The most motivating aspect is the fact that when God calls us for a particular mission, he gives us the grace to transcend the inclinations and attachments which become potential obstacles in carrying out that mission. 

Secondly, on our journey of transformation, the necessity to move away from our comfort zones is essential to ensure that we achieve an integral and radical transformation. Our attachment to our comfort zones produces lethargy when we seek progressive conversion in our faith journey. These attachments are not necessarily negative but they usually do not fit into the mission God calls us for. It is certainly not easy to leave behind the various things we are very familiar with. However, the joy we experience at the completion of our God-given mission is often proportional to the extent of the pain we feel when leaving our familiar and comfortable past behind. Like Jesus, Elisha and Paul, our minds must be fixed on the task at hand, which necessitates conversion. This conversion entails decisive breaks, breaks which can be painful but necessary in God’s logic of salvation.

Finally, our decision to follow Jesus enjoins on us to walk in his very footsteps – the humility of Christ. An essential aid for a decisive break is humility in every respect. Jesus left behind his flourishing success in Galilee. Elisha had to leave behind his successful farming activities. Like them, we are also called to leave behind our various inclinations, successes and comfort zones. Stripping off our inclinations and successes to embrace the task of God may appear unreasonable to the logic of the world, but not in the sight of God who fills our cups with abundant goodness when we empty them of those things which do not fall within the scheme of God’s mission.

Just like a seed which when planted in the ground cannot germinate unless it breaks out of its protective coat, in order to be exposed to the nourishment of the soil, so too must we decisively break from all our selfish ambitions, inclinations and successes which hinder our receptivity of God’s grace, so that we  may be disposed to receive God’s nourishment of love.  


“A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground.”



Do I have any unhealthy addictions that hinder my service to others and God? What are they?

What do I hold most dear in this life? Are these persons or things in any way holding me back from responding to the call of God?

Response to God

In the course of this week, I will meditate upon God’s word so that I may be able to identify my inclinations which prevent me from responding adequately to God. I will pray to the Lord as well to strengthen my will to be able to abandon my inclinations so that I may be able to follow him.

Response to your World

In order to address any addictive habits or behaviours I might have, I will seek help from a qualified person or spiritual director, to break free from what prevents me from realizing my full potential as a believer and a human person.

In the context of a group, we will organize an awareness program to identify and help us deal with unhealthy attachments that hinder us from being effective in our service to others.   


Gracious Father, we are grateful to you for all the blessings you have endowed us with. Look with favour upon us and grant us the grace not to consider the abundant gifts you have given us as ends in themselves but as means to recognize your goodness and hence be able to respond to you in trust and dedication. Give us the courage to break from our inclinations and so cling to you in every endeavour of our lives. Through Christ our Lord, who calls us to choose him over all our desires and possessions, he who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, © 1989, 1993. Used with permission.




The New Challenges Facing Communication in Africa Today

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-25 at 16.15.41Communication means conveying information and meaning from the sender to the receiver and the consequent feedback from the receiver to the sender. Only when the receiver reacts to the message that the sender can ascertain that the receiver has at least received the information.

However, communication is not just conveying information and getting the receiver to react to it, but rather the communication is intended to convey meaning and this meaning needs to be understood correctly by the receiver. If the receiver misunderstands the meaning that the sender is trying to convey, then we can say that the communication was not achieved. We can demonstrate this difference by analyzing the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. Every day we hear many noises and sounds but we do not even remember them because we do not pay attention to them. However, when we listen, we take into consideration the content of what we are listening to, analyze it and consequently react to it.

Communication in Africa has evolved from the most elementary ways such as the use of smoke or fire, blowing of the horns, screaming, songs, dance, stories, etc. to the most sophisticated ways of communication such as mobile phones and internet communications. The latter is not peculiar to the African context but rather it is a global phenomenon. Globalization facilitated by the advancement of science and technology has turned the world into a village where information can cross from one end to another in a matter of seconds.

This development has brought a lot of goodness to the human society and African society particularly. Because of advancements in communication technology, valuable information generated in the developed world is able to benefit even people in the remotest parts of the African continent, especially in the fields of health care and education among others. However, alongside the positive impact that communication has brought to Africa. There are also many challenges either those that hinder even better communication or those that are a consequence of the very communication advancement.

For the purposes of this article, I am going to enumerate a number of challenges that are slowing down more advancement in communication within Africa as well as those challenges that the advancement in communication achieved already has wrought. This is to make sure that we do not narrow our critique to only one side of the coin. This sounds a bit paradoxical but it will become clearer as we focus on each one of the two sides of the coin

  1. Challenges hindering the advancement of communication in Africa include Government, policies and laws, Politics (local and international), Traditional belief systems, Poverty, Infrastructure

Government policies and laws

Africa has been home for political leaders who have curtailed freedom of expression of his citizens because of political insecurity. Some countries until today have their governments dominating most of the public sectors such as communication avenues such as radio, television, social media and telecommunication. By doing so, they limit and manipulate the information that reaches the people. This prevents citizens from accessing precious information that could change the way they think and the way they look at the world.

Politics (local and international)

The political systems running many countries in Africa have turned political leadership into an opportunity to enrich oneself and control businesses. Many leaders get into position using crooked means and while in leadership many citizens are denied their basic rights. Those opposed to them end up being persecuted and even locked up. This does not go very well with the international community especially the organizations that champion human rights. In order to keep things underground, communication is highly censored and those who are found publishing criticism about these leaders are considered the enemy of the state.

Traditional belief systems

John Samuel Mite, a Kenyan-born Christian religious philosopher and writer; in his book African Religions and Philosophy 1969, says that Africans are notoriously religious. This religiosity is anchored on traditions that have been passed on for many generations. Some of these beliefs are very conservative and rigid. Many of them are opposed to foreign ideas. Since the life of a traditional African cannot be separated from his or her beliefs, it becomes a challenge to new ways of communication if they are considered foreign and evil.


Poverty is a kind of disease that has affected many people in different parts of Africa. This is largely fueled by the lack of education to adapt to the changes brought about by evolution in the way people live and earn their livelihood. Many communities depend on either farming or animal keeping. Their economies are non-monetary based. Due to climatic changes, these lifestyles are in many places rendered untenable but many remain stuck to them.  Now, modern communication means modern infrastructure and modern gadgets. These cost money, something that these people do not have enough. This becomes a communication challenge.


If you go to the developed world, you will find a number of public amenities provided for or subsidized by the government for its citizens. This includes the provision of free internet especially for students in schools and universities. This is not the case in many parts of Africa. In many cases, it is not even a priority on the list because there are many other basic needs such as health care, basic education, food, etc. that the government are not able to secure properly for their citizens.

  1. Challenges brought about by advancement in communication in Africa includes Immorality, Health, Poverty Laziness, Brainwash, Cybercrime


The advancement of communication technology has become one of the greatest sources of influence on many people. Through radio, television, and the internet, people are able to share and receive content from all parts of the world. However, not all the content that is shared through this media is beneficial to those who consume it. While many radio and television programs are filtered and censored, a lot of content on the internet is unfiltered. Many people, especially the youth, have easy access to this content, which is influencing a lot of their behavior. They copy what they see and hear without a second thought. This includes the dressing, the relationship, language, etc.


While the use of communication gadgets has bombarded the African market for the last almost two decades, very little or nothing has been done to sensitize people on their proper use. In fact, many people throw away the manuals included in the packaging of these gadgets as soon as they buy them. There are many health hazards caused by improper use of these gadgets. These include physical injuries such as the back due to improper bending while using mobile phones and computers, eye problems because of imbalanced light from these gadgets, etc. There are also psychological problems caused by the bullying of blackmail done through these modes of communication. There are not enough security measures to curb this.

Poverty and Laziness

A few weeks ago, I had an IT session with the young people in the parish about the proper use of the internet. After inquiring from them, I realized that many of them spend many expensive data to access useless and at times harmful data from the internet. Most of the youth spend their internet data to chat with friends on social media or to watch and download videos and music. I took the opportunity to teach them how to use profitably their data, especially to learn something to improve on their studies or businesses. For example, I learned how to play the guitar from YouTube tutorials. Many youths also spend hours and hours on their phone instead of working.


It seems to me that the youth are influenced more to what they hear and see from the media than what they are taught by their parents, teachers and spiritual leaders. There is what we can call “social media religion” because many youths have become followers of these more than they do to the traditional source of education. Many criminal organizations have taken advantage of this devoted audience to propagate their criminal activities including terrorism. They brainwash the youth with their doctrines promising them riches and better lives.


‘Cyber-crime’ is a vocabulary that is very recent in the world record of crimes. Until a few decades ago this terminology was, absent in the day-to-day language. Today, ‘Cyber-crime’ has become a household term. Many individual persons, companies, organizations and including governments in Africa and the whole world have suffered greatly from this type of crime. From identity theft, leaguing of elections, blackmail, and conning, bullying, bank robberies, among others have been reported day in day out. Many do not yet have proper security measures to counter this kind of crime, especially in Africa.

These are only but a few challenges that

The way forward

The traditional African societies had ways to identify and correct different bad behaviours. This was done through the teaching of moral codes and punishments to those who broke these codes. A lot of the teaching was done through songs, dance, fables, refrains, proverbs, etc. However, the rapid evolution of communication technologies has not been accompanied by measures to regulate its use or teach users how to use them correctly and profitable. This is what in my opinion think that should be part of bringing up of today’s children. There is a need to introduce in the school curriculums programs on the proper use of communication technology so that they can grow knowing what is useful and what is harmful to them.


Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD





 (From L – R) :  With Srs. Anjeline, Tagesech, Naomi, Leema at Chole mission house

It was a dream come true for me when I landed at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 19th May 2019 on a warm and sunny afternoon.  I was on my way to Togo to attend the AFRAM Zonal Area Coordinators Meeting in Togo.  So I took that opportunity to stop-over in Ethiopia for a few days. My main and only purpose for the stop-over was to visit our Holy Spirit Sisters who have been working in Ethiopia for the past twenty-four years.


A view of the dispensary at Weragu mission

Ethiopia is a neighbouring country to Kenya. It is a case of being so near yet so far. I received a warm welcome from two pioneers of Ethiopia mission, Srs. Judyta, the Regional Superior and Stella, as I came out of the arrival terminal. Driving through the rather easy flowing traffic of Addis to the Regional House was a nice experience.  I was welcomed to the Regional House by the sisters in the community led by Sr. Sheeba, the Regional Treasurer, who had prepared a delicious Chilly chicken. There was also a delicious cake prepared by Sr. Meseret the first Ethiopian Holy Spirit sister.


 (From L – R) With Srs. Leema, Kavitha,Stella and Ann with home made candles given to me as a gift

The Regional House is an elegant edifice though simple looking. The House chapel is a house of prayer with an Ethiopian orthodox spirituality touch. The big music drum near the altar resonates very well with Ethiopian way of worship and spirituality.

On the second day of my visit, Sr. Stella was generous enough to take me to visit two of their communities at Chole and Weragu.  The vehicle we used was carrying different stuff belonging to the health centre, the women project there, and for the sister’s house among others. Both these communities are more than 300kms from Addis. Sr. Leema joined us along the motorway to Chole and Waragu. The journey took us practically the whole day since the road is not very good for almost half of the distance. But after a long and tiring journey, we reached Chole first and later Waragu, it was like being on cloud nine. A special blessing on the way to these missions is that it’s full of beautiful hills, valleys, fresh meadows a really breathtakingly scenery.


Celebrating Holy Mass at the Chapel of the Regional House

Our sisters are running a health centre, a women’s centre and other projects in the area. This mission is far from the main Electric grid and so solar energy is the only source of power. Using a solar lamp in the room where I stayed and in the house gave me a feeling of being in an interior mission and rightly so.  Three of our sisters, Srs. Stella, Kavitha and Anna are serving the Waragu mission.  The sisters took good care of me, fed me well, gave me gifts like coffee powder (ground from the coffee beans grown in the mission compound) and hand-made, beautiful and decorated candles. The young and energetic Consolata Fathers, Michael and Marko, serve Waragu parish. They offer spiritual support to our sisters and the Christians.  May our sisters be blessed in their missionary work.

On my way back we visited Chole mission again. Srs. Lovely, Anjeline, Tagesech and Naomi, are involved in various ministries which include, a Kindergarten, Women’s welfare, taking care of young girls in secondary school, pastoral work, etc. An elderly Consolata missionary priest, Fr. Eduardo is serving the Chole parish. He also offers big spiritual support to our sisters there.  I was also blessed to get a ride back to Addis with our sisters from Chole mission as they had to go there for their work. So travelling to the missions was comfortable and I could not ask for more.

In Addis, the sisters were also very generous. They took me and another visitor to the city centre to visit the Cathedral, a famous Coffee House and a place to pick some simple souvenirs. The sisters took me back to the airport on the last day.

 I enjoyed the Ethiopian highlands and the countryside to and from their missions. The trip to Ethiopia was a learning and an enriching experience for me. I learned about the missionary work our sisters are doing there, the environment in which they work and life of the local people.

To share a bit of my time with our sisters was also a way of strengthening our Arnoldus family bond. Their hospitality was superb.  I was delighted to visit Ethiopia. I will remain eternally grateful to our sisters for their generosity, time, care and concern. If an opportunity comes along the way in the future to visit Ethiopia I would grab it immediately so that I could visit other communities that I could not visit during this visit. Ethiopia is an exciting place, a bedrock of Orthodox spirituality.

May Sts. Arnold and Joseph, Bl. Maria Helena and Josepha and our SVD Martyrs bless our sisters serving in Ethiopia abundantly

Amaldoss Rethinasam, SVD


Celebrating Corpus Christ by Wojciech Szypula, SVD



Body and Blood of Christ Year C |

First Reading: Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:1–4; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Gospel: Luke 9:11–17

 Psalm 110:1–4

The Lord says to my lord,

“Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends out from Zion

your mighty scepter.

Rule in the midst of your foes.

Your people will offer themselves willingly

on the day you lead your forces

on the holy mountains.

From the womb of the morning,

like dew, your youth will come to you.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Reading the Word

First Reading: Genesis 14:18–20

And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

the maker of heaven and earth;

and blessed be God Most High,

who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Gospel: Luke 9:11–17

Jesus went to Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Hearing the Word

“Comprehensive Care”

Today’s solemnity celebrates the presence of Jesus under the species of bread and wine in the Eucharist. However, this celebration also has a very human and even ordinary aspect. It shows that God’s care and concern extend not only to the soul and spiritual life, but also to the human body, and covers the ordinary and daily needs of the faithful.

The first reading presents the conclusion of a story of the four kings who invaded the land where Abram and his nephew, Lot, lived. Successfully defeating the opposition of the local inhabitants, those four kings seized the land and carried off Lot, his household and his properties into captivity (Gen 14:12). Despite the overwhelming power of these four rulers, Abram did not give up on his nephew. Thanks to his personal courage and clever military tactics, Abram defeated the superior enemy, freeing Lot and his family from captivity. The scene from today’s reading describes the victorious Abram’s homecoming. He received a hero’s welcome from the local inhabitants. Among them was a ruler of a local city – Melchizedek of Salem. The name Melchizedek is symbolic. It means “king of righteousness”, while the name of his town, “Salem”, means “peace”. Melchizedek is the righteous king of peace and also the priest of God the Most High. This is the very first time that a priest is mentioned in the Bible. Melchizedek, a priest representing God, pronounces the first priestly blessing in the Bible. He blesses God the creator for giving Abram victory over his enemies and blesses Abraham for his courage and determination in saving lives and restoring the liberty of Lot and his family. Moreover, Melchizedek welcomed the victorious Abram with the gifts of bread and wine to nourish and refresh the exhausted Abram and his soldiers.

The welcome and the care Melchizedek offered Abram and his companions were comprehensive in its double focus on the body and soul. By blessing Abram and blessing God Melchizedek ensured that Abram properly understood the spiritual foundations of his victory. He was victorious over the enemies because God was with him and God delivered those four kings into Abram’s hands.  By providing Abram with food and drink Melchizedek catered for the bodily needs of the tired hero. Those gifts of the land, bread, and wine, were also the gifts of God meant specifically to sustain and give joy to his servants. Thus, Melchizedek’s actions teach that God extends his care over the spirit and over the body of those who do God’s will. 

In the second reading, Paul instructs his troublesome Christians in Corinth on how to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The background to this instruction is the Corinthians’ inappropriate behaviour during the common meals which they held in commemoration of Jesus’ last supper. These meals had both a spiritual and social significance. Spiritually, they were occasions for communal prayer and instruction based on Jesus’ passion and resurrection. Socially, these gatherings included an ordinary meal when the members shared food and drink.

However, in the Corinthian community, the spiritual aspect of those meals had been lost. Some wealthy members would come early and eat and drink to the point of becoming drunk. Others would come later and find the meal already consumed and the Christian gathering reduced to a drinking party (1 Cor 11:17-22).

In this context, Paul writes to the community with a stern reminder that the Christian gathering is a sacred occasion to commemorate Jesus’ passion and self-sacrifice. The re-enactment and remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross serve as a proclamation of his death and resurrection. This proclamation is meant to provide spiritual nourishment for the community as it awaits the return of Jesus at the end of time.

At that time, this sacred meal was either preceded or followed by the sharing of ordinary food. Many members of the community who were poor would benefit from the generosity of the wealthier members and have a decent meal. However, this social function of the Eucharistic meal must never overshadow its primary, spiritual side. In his instructions, Paul seeks to strike a balance between the spiritual nourishment and bodily provision. Each played a role in the life of this early Christian community, and one without the other would be incomplete. Thus, spiritual care and nourishment should be accompanied by bodily care and vice versa.

The Gospel passage contains the Lukan version of the multiplication of the bread and fish by Jesus. This is the only miracle of Jesus reported by all four evangelists with remarkable consistency. A constant feature of these reports is that Jesus provides food for the crowd who came to listen to his teaching. Thus, Jesus combines his teaching meant for instruction and spiritual guidance with the provision of bodily nourishment for his followers.

Each of the feeding stories emphasizes two elements. First, Jesus prays and gives thanks to God before the bread and the fish are multiplied. The gift of food is not his own but comes from God, the ultimate source of all nourishment. Second, the actual distribution of food is done by the disciples. They pass on the food provided by Jesus thanks to God’s generosity. Thus, the multiplication of the bread and fish teaches that Jesus’ concern and care touch the soul and the body alike. He cares for his followers as a spiritual leader and also a provider of food. He also teaches his disciples that their own leadership style, as future apostles, must include spiritual care combined with concern for the physical wellbeing of their followers. The book of Acts shows that they learned the lesson. The first communities they led provided material care to their members and were based on the sharing of material goods (cf. Acts 4:32-37).  

Today’s readings prove beyond a doubt that spiritual and bodily care go hand in hand. Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in the Bible, blesses Abram and reminds him that God was behind his success. At the same time, he gives Abram food and drink. Paul teaches his Corinthian Christians about the central, spiritual importance of the Eucharistic meal. However, he also reminded them that they ought to share their ordinary food to manifest their care for one another and their unity in the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 11:33). Jesus, despite his utter focus on, and dedication to, the teaching about the Kingdom of God and discipleship, still shows concern for the hungry crowd. He feeds the people with provisions that come from God and makes the disciples sharers in this process. God’s care for the human race is thus comprehensive and holistic, involving body and soul. Those of God’s servants who understand this and act for the spiritual and bodily welfare or others are like the Israelite king of whom the Psalmist spoke in the words, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Listening to the Word of God

Today’s solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is certainly a Eucharistic feast. Today we rejoice and give thanks to Jesus for being with us through the gifts of bread and wine, which become his body and blood. How and why Jesus chose to be with us in this manner is a mystery that we approach with utter reverence and admiration. His spiritual but real presence in the Eucharist nourishes our spirits and unites us with him in a unique way.

However, the Eucharist also teaches us about the very bodily and ordinary aspects of Jesus’ care for us. We must remember that bread and wine, much like in the first reading, are first of all food and drink for the body. Therefore, as we partake in the Eucharist, we must keep always in mind that it obliges us to act like Melchizedek and Jesus – caring for the soul without neglecting the body. Our care and service within the Christian community must necessarily take into account both the spiritual and material needs. One without the other is incomplete.

Some Christians treat the Eucharist as if it was a form of magic. They come to Church on Sunday, receive the body and blood of Jesus, and return to their life believing that they are magically fed and protected from all harm. However, the Eucharist is a celebration of a specific event – Jesus’ death on the cross. When celebrating the last supper, Jesus gave the disciples specific instructions to eat the bread and drink the cup “in memory of me”. Thus, he obliged his disciples not only to observe the ritual of the Eucharist but to imitate what the Eucharistic bread and wine symbolize – his body broken by the whips of the soldiers and his blood spilled on the cross. Jesus underwent this agony for our sake so that we might have a life that even death cannot destroy. By leaving his disciples with the command to eat his body and drink his blood Jesus meant that they ought also to put themselves in the self-giving service to others. This is the sense of the Eucharistic celebration that many ignore. When receiving the Eucharistic Jesus, the believer obliges himself or herself to become like Jesus in his service and care for others. Thus, the Eucharist, while leading to the spiritual union with the Lord, must also affect and transform the lives of those who enter into this union, so that they become more like Jesus in their actions and words.

While becoming food and drink for our souls, Jesus also became an example and motivation for us to nourish one another in both the spiritual and physical sense. The beauty of authentic Christian faith lies in the combination of the spiritual with the material, and the soul with the body. As long as we live in the flesh, we must care for our bodies. Therefore, today’s feast insists that we seek and protect our bodily dignity. Care for the physical wellbeing of one another, and the search for truly human and dignified conditions of life are therefore as much a Christian concern as is the care for spiritual welfare. We ought to remember this message of today’s feast each time that we receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist.


“An onion shared with a friend tastes like roast lamb.”



Do I care sufficiently for my body? Is my lifestyle a healthy one?

When was the last time I assisted someone materially and showed generosity? What form did it take?

Response to God

In my prayers of thanksgiving and petition, I will seek to maintain balance and a twofold focus on the spiritual and material sides of my life.

Response to your World

I will identify someone who needs material assistance and finds a way to show my care in any way or manner which I can afford.

What spiritual needs do we have as a group? We will determine one specific way to grow spiritually and implement it.


Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the body in which my soul now resides. Extend your loving care so that I may have health and the material provisions to live my life in dignity and peace. Make me a generous and caring person so that through me your care for each of your children may become manifest. Amen.


Scripture quotations from the

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, © 1989, 1993. Used with permission.






The journey began on 24 May 2019 when my colleagues and I from Kenya-Tanzania Province traveled to Togo, to attend The AFRAM Zonal Meeting which took place from 27 to 31 May 2019. It was the second SVD AFRAM Zone Characteristic Dimensions Meeting in Kara-Togo. The meeting is held every three years and it brings together Confreres from our missions in Africa and Madagascar, to discuss, discern and plan for the future of our ministry in the Zone. The Dimensions are what forms the extrinsic face of our Society but which also defines each and every one of the members working all over the world. It is what defines our ‘SVDness’.



From my mission in Arusha, Tanzania, I arrived in Nairobi on 22 May 2019 to prepare for the Journey. I joined Bro Douglas Simonetti the Bible Coordinator, and Fr. Leon Ipoma the JPIC coordinator and we traveled together on 24 May 2019. We boarded an Ethiopia airline Flight bound for Addis Ababa, where we were joined by Fr. Rethinasamy Amaldoss the Mission Secretary, who had gone ahead to visit our SSPS sisters in Addis Ababa.

From there we traveled together to Accra Ghana. On arrival at Kotoka International Airport, we were received by our confreres Br. Alex and Br. John. We spent the night in the SVD Guest House on Watson Avenue in Adabraka, Accra, near the Holy Spirit Cathedral.


The next day, we were joined by Frt. Casmil From Togo, who had just finished his third year of Theology in Tamale, Ghana, and was heading back home to prepare for his Over-Sea Training Program (OTP) in Portugal. We boarded a min-bus to the border town of Aflao, where we crossed over to Togo. On the way, we were stopped once by a policeman who ordered the three of us on the back seat to alight. We obeyed the order and without saying anything he ordered us to get back in and allowed the driver to proceed. We were amazed. At the Aflao border point, we had a little delay by the immigration office but fortunately, Fr. Seraphim, the Provincial Superior of Togo-Benin Province came to our rescue.


After clearing at the border we went to the Provincial House in Lome which is about 10 Km from the Border. We were welcomed by Fr. Kizito, the Provincial Treasurer and we had our late lunch. There were a number of other confreres who had arrived earlier for the meeting from different mission countries in AFRAM Zone.

On the evening of that day, we visited our Sisters, the SSPS sisters about 8 Kilometers from the Provincial House. We made the 8 Kilometers stretch by motorbike taxes because in Lome, unlike Nairobi or Accra, there are no “Matatus” or “Trotro” (public transport). To pay for a tax would have been very costly for us.

On Sunday 25 May we all joined the SSPSAP sisters’ (our other sister congregation, commonly known as ‘Pink Sisters’), monastery,  where we all concelebrated in the mass. It was my first time to visit their monastery or even meet face to face with one of them. This is because they are not in our province. In fact, in Africa, they are only in Togo.

After the mass, a few of us visited the family of Frt. Justin, who had just completed his OTP program and was preparing to go back to complete his theological studies in Nairobi. His mother prepared some fish and bites for us. Later Frt. Justin and Deac. Honore took us for a tour of the City.

On Monday 26 May, most of the confreres participating in the Zonal meeting had arrived in Lome. We all traveled by bus about 415 Kilometers North of Togo to the second largest city in Togo called Kara, where the Togo-Benin Province is running a Guesthouse. On the way, we visited SSPS sisters in Atakpame where they are running an hospital.

The meeting began on the following day, Tuesday 27 May and ended on Friday 31 May. We had very intense but informative sessions. All the Dimensions came up with their individual Action Plan for the next triennium. In addition, the four dimensions agreed to work together for better missionary practices.

On Saturday 1 June we had a day out and so we made a tour around Kara City. We visited among other places, the Cathedral, the Diocesan Pastoral Center, the Salesians of Don Bosco parish and the city center. That Saturday evening we were treated to a Cultural Dance by the local parish youth group, organized by the Diocesan Parish Priest. They also served us ‘Pito’ the traditional drink.



On Sunday 2 June after the morning mass, we boarded a tax to the Togo-Ghana Border at Tatale, about 75 Kilometers from Kara. The road was not the best but our taxman was quite familiar with the terrain. We arrived at the border around 10:30 a.m.  Fr. Peter a priest from the Diocese of Yendi, North of Ghana, received us at the border and took us to our the SVD mission in Yendi town, where we were received by Deacon Francis, Fr. Wange, and Bro. Andrew.

It was around 3 p.m. and so we all went out to a local restaurant for late lunch. Later we visited the Cathedral and also passed by the Bishop residence to visit Most Revered Vincent Boi-Nai, Bishop of Yendi Diocese who is our SVD confrere. He was very happy to receive us.

The Bishop shared with us about the history of Yendi Diocese and the work that the Catholic Church has been doing under his stewardship especially in matters of Peacebuilding and education for the locals. Yendi has been on the news for a long time because of the inter-ethnic conflicts that had brought the economy of the area to ruins. Yendi also is predominantly a Muslim region with about 99 percent of the locals, especially in the town, being Muslims. The Catholics in the town are workers from other regions of Ghana. However, as you go interior to the villages you meet more local Catholic communities. It has only 20 parishes.

Later in the evening, we had a meal together and the confreres shared with us about their ministry in the parish. On the following morning, I woke up early to visit the spiritual garden built by Bro. Andrew. He explained to me the symbolism of the various grottos and sections of the garden. It is a very well planned garden with a lot of spiritual symbolism. For example the grotto of the Mary Mother of the Unwanted Children, which is close to the abortion basket and the symbolic grave of the lost children. He told me that a number of groups have been visiting.

On Monday 3 June after morning mass and breakfast, we boarded a bus to Tamale, 96 Kilometers from Yendi town, where our Philosophy and Theology seminaries are located. The journey was quite bumpy due to the nature of the public transport that was available. We managed only to secure the back seats that have no lower place to rest our legs. Instead, our legs made a shape of letter V and they severally kissed with our chins whenever the bus climbed a bump.


In Tamale, we were received by Fr. Tomy, the rector of the Philosophy seminary and a long time friend to Fr. Samy. After lunch, we went out to visit the fast-growing city. On the way, we passed by the Theology Seminary where we met Fr. Paul. Paul was among the first batch of students who studied in CFC Nairobi. Then we visited TEAKS, the Intercultural Training Centre, run in partnership by SVD and the Archdiocese of Tamale. Back in the seminary that evening, we had dinner together with other confreres working there, Fr. Kudjo, Fr. Benjamin.

On Tuesday 4 June we had mass together and after breakfast Fr. Tomy drove us to St. Joseph’s Parish in Kintampo, about 200 Kilometers down south from Tamale. There we were received by Fr. Alexander and Fr. Victor. After lunch Fr. Alexander took us to visit the waterfalls as well as another SVD house in the town.

On Wednesday 5 June we boarded a bus to the SVD Novitiate in Nkwatia Kwahu 215 Kilometers from Kintampo, where I did my novitiate 10 years earlier. There we were received by Fr. Stephen, the acting Novice Master, Bro. Emmanuel the Assistant Novice Master and Fr. Titus who is going to take over as the Novice Master later this year. I knew Fr. Titus many years ago when he was a Theology student in CFC Nairobi, before he went to Paraguay where he has been working as a Novice master for a number of years.


After dinner, they invited us for the “washing of the feet”, a traditional rite in Ghana where a special drink is served to the guests. We had a long conversation with them about many things concerning our mission as Divine Word Missionaries.  I also visited the novitiate cook who was also our cook. Mr. John and his family live in the novitiate compound and he has been cooking for the novices for the last 18 years.

On Thursday 5 June I had the grand opportunity to celebrate mass for the novitiate community. When I was doing my novitiate 10 years earlier, I had prayed that one day I would celebrate mass there. It was a dream come true for me.  My novitiate mate, Fr. Eugene Asante, who is working in a nearby parish, came to greet us. After the mass, we had a photo together with the novices followed by breakfast. Then Fr. Titus drove us to Nkawkaw to catch a bus to Nsawam a few kilometers before reaching Accra city.


In Nsawam we went to the SVD Conference Center, where Fr. Thomas De Mello, Fr. Alfred and Fr. Alphonse are working. Two seminarians one from DR Congo and another from Angola were also residing there for their English language practice before they could begin their theological studies in Tamale.

In the same compound, there is also an orthopedic center run by the Notre Dame Sisters, where they take care of the children with disabilities of their limbs as well as the amputees. They have also a special need shoe factory, which also trains young people in making shoes both for internal use and for sale. The center was started by the Late Br. Tarcisius de Ruyter, SVD, in 1961.

On Friday 7 June Fr. Thomas drove us to the SVD Mission in Adabraka, Accra. There we met many confreres from different parts of Ghana and outside. This is kind of a transit center where confreres come from all over Ghana when they have something to do in the city since it is close to the city center. After lunch, we visited a few places in the fast Growing Accra city, such as the Accra Mall among others.

On Saturday 8 June, we traveled back to Nairobi via Addis Ababa. We arrived in Nairobi at 1.35 a.m.

I must say that it has been a journey full of deep missionary inspiration and emotions. We were very inspired by the work our confreres are doing in Togo-Beni and Ghana provinces. We also learned a lot of things that will help us in our respective ministries here in Kenya-Tanzania Province.

We would like to most sincerely thank all the confreres in Togo and Ghana who facilitated our movements and accommodation during our trip and also for sharing with us about their mission experiences.

The Map of the route we took

IMG_20190610_085148The route we took

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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