JUMAPILI YA 14 MWAKA C na Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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Tumsifu Yesu Kristu. Leo ni Jumapili ya 14 ya Mwaka C. Masomo ya leo yanatuhimiza kuweka imani na matumaini yetu kwa Mungu kama msingi wa maisha mema.

Katika Somo la Kwanza, nabii Isaya anawapa moyo Waisraeli kwamba Mungu angewarejesha katika hali ya ufanisi waliokuwa nayo kabla ya uhamisho Babeli. Anamlinganisha Mungu na mama anayemtunza mwanawe.

Mji mkuu wa Israeli – Yerusalemu ulikuwa umesalia majibu tu baada ya kuharibiwa mwaka wa 586 KK na Wababilonia chini ya mfalme Nebukadineza. Isaya anawaambia Waisraeli kwamba Mungu hajawaacha hata kama ilionekana hivyo katika taabu zao.

Taabu na matatizo ya Waisraeli yalitokana na kuasi sheria ya Bwana Mungu. Hata hivyo Mungu hajawaacha waangamie kabisa. Ana mpango wa kuwaokoa.

Sisi pia mara kwa mara huwa tunajikuta katika hali mbaya na matatizo kwa sababu ya kumsahau Mungu. Ujumbe wa leo ni kwamba tusione haibu kumrudia Mungu na kumwomba msamaha wa dhambi zetu. Yeye ni baba ambaye aachi kutupenda hata tunapomkana kwa tabia na matendo yetu maovu. Miungu mingine haina uwezo mzuri.

Katika somo la pili, Paulo anaendelea kutetea Imani yake katika Kristu na kwamba utakatifu mbele za Mungu unakuja tu kwa njia ya Yesu Kristu wala sio kwa njia ya sheria. Kwake Paulo, imani sio wazo au dhana tu isioyokuwa na mashiko bali ni mtazamo wa maisha unaomfanya mtu kumtegemea Yesu kama mkombozi wa maisha yake.

Paulo anapingana na wale walioshikilia mawazo kwamba sheria ya Kiyahudi ilikuwa muhimu kuliko imani katika Kristu. Yeyé mwenyewe alikuwa na msimamo huo kabla hajakutana na Yesu njiani na kumbadilisha mawazo. Tangu wakati huo, msalaba wa Yesu ulichukuwa nafasi kubwa katika imani ya Paulo.

Alama ya msalaba ni dhihirisho ya sadaka aliyotoa Yesu kwa kutupenda sisi, ili atuokoea kotokana na utumwa dhambi na mauti ya milele, ambayo yalikuwa matokeo wa dhambi.

Wakati mwingine sisi pia tunasahau mambo muhimu ya imani yetu kama vile huruma, msaada kwa wanyonge, utu wema, nk, na kung’ang’ania sheria ndogo ndogo tulizopokezana wenyewe ambazo sio muhimu. Hii inatufanya tuonekane na watu kuwa wenye imani kuu lakini kwa ndani hatuna moyo wa upendo kwa wengine.

Msalaba ndio kitambulisho chetu kama Wakristu na hususan Wakatoliki. Imani yetu katika wokovu wa msalaba inatufanya tuishi tofauti na malimwengu. Hii ina maana kwamba lazima kuepuka mambo ambayo ulimwengu unaona mazuri lakini kinyume cha Ukristu. Hili sio jambo rahisi kwani tunaishi kati ya watu ambao hawaamini kama sisi.

Changamoto za maisha ndizo msalaba wetu. Tunaweza kuweka msalaba wetu chini na kukubali kushindwa. Katika kituo cha pili cha njia ya msalaba kuna sala inayoorodhesha misalaba katika maisha, kama vile, kazi, mme, mke, watoto, joto, baridi, nk. Hii inatufundisha kwamba msalaba sio kitu kibaya ambacho tunapaswa kukiogopa au kuuepuka bali ni chombo muhimu cha wokovu katika Yesu Kristu.

Msalaba ni njia ambayo Yesu alitumia kutuokoa. Vile vile, sisi pia tunapaswa kukubali misalaba yetu kama njia ya wokovu. Kuna sehemu zingine za kuabudu ambapo waamini wanaahidiwa kuondolewa misalaba yote. Bila msalaba hamna wokovu.

Kama Mtume Paulo, inatupasa pia kujilinganisha na Kristu msulubiwa. Wakati tunapambana kuishi imani yetu kwa kuvumilia changamoto za ndoa, watoto, kazi, magonjwa, kutengwa, uongozi, nk, ina maana kwamba tunatembea nyuma ya Yesu tukibeba misalaba yetu kwa imani kuu.

Wanaofikiria kuwa kumfuata Kristu ni maisha ya kifahari, anajindanganya. Kuna tofauti ya maisha ya kifahari na maisha mema. Maisha mema yana furaha ya kudumu tofauti na maisha ya kifahari yanayotegemea mali zisizodumu.

Katika somo la Injili Yesu anawapa maagizo wanafunzi wake kabla hajawatuma kufanya utume kadiri walivyosoma kutoka kwake. Hiki ni kikundi kikubwa cha watu 72 ambacho kinaashilia utume mkubwa kwa mataifa yote.

Yesu anawaonya kwamba watakumbana na upinzani. Hilo lisiwe ajabu kwao watakapokataliwa na kisimangwa na watu wasiopenda kubadili mienendo yao mibaya. Leo pia upinzani huu bado upo. Kutakuwa na mbwa mwitu wengi ambao lengo lao ni kuwashambulia na kuwaangamiza kondoo. Hii haikuwa kuwaweka hufu bali kuwaonya kwamba utume hautakuwa rahisi.

Hawakupaswa kubeba vitu vingi, maana yake ni kwamba wamtegemee Mungu katika utume wao. Anawaambia “wasimsalimie mtu njiani” maana yake ni kwamba utume wao sio wa kufanya marafiki binafsi bali kumwakilisha Yesu na kufanya kazi aliyowapa kwa kwa dharura sana.

Anawatuma kupeleka amani katika miji na nyumba za watu. Amani ni hali ya kuwa na uhusiano mwema na Mungu. Mtu ambaye hana uhusiano mwema na Mungu hawezi kuishi kwa amani. Yesu anawaambia wabaki katika nyumba watakapokaribishwa ili wasiwe wanahangaika kutafuta hifadhi nzuri na kusahau kazi yao.

Pia anawaagiza watangaze habari njema ya ufalme wa Mungu na kuwaponya walio wagonjwa. Watakaowakubali watafaidi neema ya Mungu.

Ujumbe mkuu hapa ni kwamba utume wetu ni utume wa Yesu, na ili kuufanya vizuri lazima tutambue Yesu kama kiongozi wa utume huu. Tukiubadilisha kuwa nafasi ya kutafuta umarufu binafsi tutashindwa kwa sababu Yesu atajitenga nao.

Wanafunzi waliporudi walimsimulia Yesu jinsi hata pepo wachafu walivyowatii kwa jina lake. Hii ina maana kwamba utume wa mitume ulikuwa na nguvu za kushinda maovu yaliyoletwa na Shetani. Hii ndiyo maana ya ujio wa ufalme wa Mungu. Pia Yesu anawahakikishia kwamba mradi wafanye kazi yake, hakuna kitu kitakachowadhuru.

Lakini pia Yesu anawaonya mitume dhidi ya kufurahi kwa sababu pepo waliwatii bali kwamba wamekwisha kuhesabiwa uzima wa milele mbinguni katika yeye. Utume ni njia ya wokovu kwake aliyetumwa. Sisi pia tunapaswa kumshukuru Mungu kwa kutujalia kuwa wafanyakazi katika shamba lake wala sio kiburi mbele ya wengine. Ufalme wa Mungu unadai unyenyekevu katika yote. Tumwombe Mungu atujalie neema hii. Amina.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C |by Wojciech Syzpula

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First Reading: Isaiah 66:10–14; Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20; Second Reading: Galatians 6:14–18;  Gospel: Luke 10:1–12, 17–20

Psalm 66:1–7, 16, 20

 Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;

sing the glory of his name;

give to him glorious praise.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth worships you;

they sing praises to you,

sing praises to your name.”

Come and see what God has done:

he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.

He turned the sea into dry land;

they passed through the river on foot.

There we rejoiced in him,

who rules by his might forever,

whose eyes keep watch on the nations—

let the rebellious not exalt themselves.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

and I will tell you what he has done for me.

Blessed be God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me.

Reading the Word

First Reading: Isaiah 66:10–14

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice with her in joy,

all you who mourn over her—

that you may nurse and be satisfied

from her consoling breast;

that you may drink deeply with delight

from her glorious bosom.

For thus says the Lord:

I will extend prosperity to her like a river,

and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;

and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,

and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,

so I will comfort you;

you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;

your bodies shall flourish like the grass;

and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants,

and his indignation is against his enemies.

Second Reading

Galatians 6:14–18

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one makes trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Gospel

Luke 10:1–12, 17–20 

After this, the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons, submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and overall the power of the enemy and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Hearing the Word

“Saving Dependence”

The readings of this Sunday are very clear in placing emphasis on trustful reliance and utter dependence on God, and on Jesus as a foundation for a successful life, and a fruitful ministry.

The reading from the prophet Isaiah is set in the context of the gradual restoration of Jerusalem, after its destruction in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. Seeing the restoration taking place, Isaiah compares Jerusalem to a nursing mother and the Israelites to her children. He begins with the call to those who just recently mourned over the destroyed city to rejoice. This one-time heap of ashes in now rising like a mother who nurses her children with the milk of her breasts and dandles them on her knees. These metaphors of motherly nourishment and care portray a God who, like a caring mother, brings his children, Israel, out of a state of desolation and anguish to confidence and prosperity.

Isaiah views the change of fortunes of Jerusalem as evidence that God has not abandoned or become indifferent to the fate of his people. Their infidelity led them to destruction. However, like a caring mother, God nurses them back to life. The lesson behind these symbolic images and words is that people need to depend on God for their sustenance, and well being. In the past the Israelites abandoned God, relying on their own resourcefulness, and incompetent leaders, with disastrous consequences. The restoration of Jerusalem taking place before their eyes is a sign and a lesson that only by trustful dependence on, and faithful adherence to, their God, will their lives be restored and secured for the future.

Paul’s words, which come from the concluding part of his letter to the Galatians, reflect well its main argument. Paul forcefully argued that righteousness before God can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. In Paul’s language, faith is not an abstract belief but an existential attitude of trust and dependence on Jesus for life and for salvation.

In Galatians, Paul passionately argued against the views of those who advocated the need for continuing observance of the Jewish law, as the condition for righteousness. Paul once held the same view and conscientiously followed the law, relying on it as his way of life. All that changed dramatically after his encounter with the Risen Lord. From that moment on, the cross of Christ became the focal point of his life. Paul uses the cross as a symbol of Jesus’ self-sacrifice and a manifestation of his love for humanity (cf. Gal 2:20). This discovery of Christ’s love led Paul to abandon all his former securities and privileges in favor of the cross which secures righteousness and salvation for all who rely and depend on Jesus. Thus, the cross became for Paul the central symbol of his faith. He looks at the world and himself through the light of the cross. The former divisive distinctions between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, that is between the Jews and Gentiles, became irrelevant and meaningless, as the cross of Jesus marked the start of the “new creation”. This new creation is the new people of God, “the Israel of God”, founded not on ethnicity or allegiance to the Jewish law, but on the trustful dependence on Jesus Christ and his saving death, which Paul calls faith.

Paul identifies himself with the crucified Jesus to the point of seeing his own apostolic sufferings, which left his body scarred, as the reflection of Jesus’ passion (cf. 2 Cor 11:23-27). He boasts of those scars because they bear testimony to his union with and likeness to Christ himself. With the cross at its center, Paul’s life and ministry rest on the surest foundation, that even violent opposition cannot undermine.

The gospel reading contains Jesus’ comprehensive instructions for his followers and future apostles. Luke uniquely reports these instructions delivered to the seventy-two disciples – a large group symbolizing the future universal mission of the Church to the world.

First, the disciples are sent ahead of Jesus in pairs. This means that they are representing Jesus and preparing a place for him. They are sent into the world where they will encounter opposition and severe adversity, they will be like “lambs among wolves”. This somber warning is not meant to frighten and discourage, but to make them keenly aware that they can succeed and survive this challenging mission only with Jesus’ help. They are not to “take a purse or bag or sandals”, which means that that they must rely on God’s providence, to avoid the danger of being absorbed by the concern for food and clothing. They are commanded “not to greet anyone”, as the prophet Elisha commanded his servant Gehazi (2 Kgs 4:29). This peculiar command means that the disciples’ task is not to make friends for themselves, but to represent Jesus, and carry out his work with a great sense of urgency. They are to bring the gift of peace to the households they enter. Peace is a state of harmony with God which those who accept Jesus in response to their proclamation will experience. The disciples are to remain in the same house, which means they ought not to seek better lodging but be satisfied with what they are offered. Finally, they are to heal the sick and proclaim the message of the kingdom. The rejection or acceptance of their message will determine the eternal fate of those who hear it.

Concluding, Jesus emphasized that the apostolic mission has truly cosmic consequences. Since even the demons, Satan servants, submit themselves to the disciples’ authority received from Jesus, it means that Satan has been defeated – he has “fallen from the sky”. Thus, because the disciples are doing Jesus’ work, they are safe from all permanent harm. Even if they experience dangers and sufferings their names are “written in in heaven” – their salvation and final union with God is assured.

In all those instructions the common underlying factor is that the mission of the disciples is Jesus’ mission and it can only be executed faithfully and fruitfully when they depend on Jesus as their guide, the source of sustenance, and their ultimate hope.

Today’s liturgy unequivocally highlights the central role that dependence on God plays in believers’ lives. Isaiah emphasized that fact by describing the restoration of the nation as God’s own initiative and work. Like a nursing mother bringing her children to maturity, God brings his people out of despair and desolation if they choose to look to Him and depend on his guidance. After his conversion, Paul based his life entirely on the cross of Jesus which became the foundation of his apostleship. He came to depend solely and completely on the crucified Jesus for the strength and motivation for his life and challenging mission. Jesus’ followers received a comprehensive set of diverse instructions for their apostolic mission with a common emphasis on depending utterly on God and Jesus. This awareness that the divine presence and power lie behind everything that believers are, and do brings a sense of joyful relief, well expressed by the Psalmist with the words, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

 Listening to the Word of God

This fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time calls our attention to the need for complete dependence on God, which leads to a positive transformation in our lives, and in the lives of the people we encounter. This dependence expresses itself through the attitudes of hope, faith, and loving generosity described in today’s readings.

The first reading speaks about the awesomeness of God and his acts, aimed at the restoration of Israel to its lost glory. There is an African proverb which says that “no matter how bad a child is, the mother will not give it to the lion to eat”. We see the truth of that proverb in God who has not turned his face away from Israel, even if Israel was an unfaithful partner. Learning from this we recognize that God will never turn away from his own. Thus, even if we should fail in our response and love of God, he will always seek to restore us to the dignity of being his children. God renews and re-energizes us for a dignified life every day.

The second reading further reminds us of the salvific power of the cross needed to obtain righteousness through faith in Christ. Faith is not something abstract but an existential attitude of trust and dependence on Jesus Christ who through his death and resurrection has won life for us. To live in faith is to entrust oneself completely to Christ, and rely on him for a happy life. This means that we consciously choose Christian values and ways, rather than try to succeed in life by means and ways that go contrary to the way of life that Jesus taught.

Finally, the Gospel helps us to see the benefits of complete dependence on God. Like the disciples, we are also invited to take part in the universal mission of Christ; to represent Christ in our time and place and make his saving power known and felt. Is it an easy task? Surely NO. As we see in today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares his followers for possible opposition and severe adversity, but he also promises them his help to survive and succeed. Every Christian knows that practicing the faith, especially in anti-Christian environs, is costly, but, with the help of Christ, we are more than conquerors. When we let go of our concern for unnecessary things and unimportant things and hold on to Christ, he will strengthen us beyond all measure. Discipleship is very often all about emptying ourselves and letting Christ fill us.

The Lord invites us today to depend on him. Our dependence on him makes our life’s mission efficient and effective. When we allow the Lord to take charge of our lives he brings us to a point of saying with St Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”; we become another Christ in a world that needs Christ. Let us, therefore, accept this invitation of allowing God to use us for his glory through our complete dependence on him.

Proverb

God helps the tailless cow to drive away flies”.

Action

Self-examination

What oppositions do I meet in life as a believer? Do I react to these challenges with fear or with trust in God’s help?

Am I helping others, especially those facing challenges, to trust more in the Lord’s help and providence? How?

Response to God

Whenever I encounter threats and fears I will turn first to the Lord with trustful pleas for help, strength, and guidance.

Response to your World

 I will make a list of what the Lord has done for me in these days and will share it with others to encourage them.

As a group we will have an evening of sharing testimonies of the goodness of God, so as to encourage those among us, who might be going through tough times, to trust God in their situation.

Prayer

Saving God, your mercy and compassion reach to the ends of the earth. You open your door of love, providence and grace to all people. Help us to humble ourselves and allow you to have your way in our lives. Teach us to depend on you at all times, for you are our saving help. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

 

 

Bend a Tree while Young

 

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The team at Kasarani National Stadium

In St. Arnold Janssen Primary School in Soweto Nairobi, we take seriously sports as part of learning. We have now very good teams in most of the ball games such as Volleyball, Basketball, and Football. We have SASA, which stands for St. Arnold Janssen Sports Academy.

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The three selected to join County Team

Recently, three of our young volleyballers in the girls’ category were selected in the first 12-team in the entire Nairobi County. Now they will be representing the County in the National Primary School Volleyball Finals to be held in the County of Meru.

A big bravo to our young players. We pray for them as they begin their sporting career and especially as they prepare for the National Tournament.

 

Bro. Lawrence Kibaara, SVD

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