Come and See

In the Gospel of John 1:36-39, after John the Baptist showed Jesus to his disciples, the two followed Jesus immediately. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked them, “What are you looking for?” The two replied, “Sir, where do you stay?” Jesus replied, “Come and See.” We are told that they followed him to where he was staying and stayed with him the rest of the day. These two eventually became disciples of Jesus and even appointed apostles.

Jesus had four main groups of followers. The first group was the crowd who followed Jesus on daily basis but did not take him so much seriously. When they got want they needed they would praise him but the following day they would be swayed by critics of Jesus and turn against him. Many times they wanted even to stone him.

The second group are the critics who complished mainly of the Pharisees and the Scribes. These faulted Jesus not because he did anything wrong but simple because he refuse to be like them or follow their ways. These are the ones who plotted for his execution. The third group were those called disciples who followed Jesus and learned from him the ways of the kingdom of God. These are the ones who because the first Church. Finally the fourth group were the Twelve that Jesus appointed from among his disciples so that he could train them closely. These are the Twelve Apostles who became the first bishops of the Church.

Today, the four groups continue to exist. Those appointed from among the disciples of Jesus to be apostles have to undergo thorough scrutiny to ascertain their intention and preparedness. They begin with the program that borrows a lot from the passage of John 1:36-39. The Church continues to propagate the mission of Christ of building the Kingdom of God here on eath through the work of men and women who dedicate their lives to the serves of the Gospel.

Last week, the SVD Vocations Director for Arusha disctrict Fr. Antony Muchui, SVD organized a “Come and See” program for young men from Tanzania who would like to join the Congregation and start formation to priesthood and brotherhood. The program took place at Holy Trinity Parish Elect in Arusha. Some confreres gave inputs about the spirituality and the mission of the society. After the program the young men went home to reflect and make an informed decision whether to join the Society or not.

We congratulate the formation the Vocations Director for this important program that is requisite for the posterity of the Congregation and the mission of Divine Word Missionaries. We pray for the young men who participated so that they may make good decisions.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

It is not too difficult to love

Sunday readings in brief: 15 C

Deut. 30:10-14; Ps 68(69); Col 1:15-20; Lk `0:25-37

It is not too difficult to love

Dear friends. Today is the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We are almost in the middle of this season of instructions in the ways of the Kingdom of God. Today’s readings are talking about the commandments of God and how best to keep them for our good and the good of our communities.

In the first reading, Moses speaks to the people of Israel about the commandments that God had given them.  The people were so much concerned about the external following of the law and many felt that it was a big burden for them. Many thought that the law was too complicated and far away beyond their reach. Consequently, many were excusing themselves from observing the law saying to themselves that it was beyond anyone’s reach. Moses taught them something that we too need to learn today, that the law is not in heaven or across the sea where no one can reach; instead, the law is in our mouths and our hearts. In our mouths because we keep on repeating it even without knowing and in our hearts because it is written there by our creator.

The law of nature is written in the heart of every human being. This is what makes everyone seek good and not evil for himself or herself. Naturally, everyone chooses what is or at least seems to be the best thing in any given circumstances. Even those who consume harmful substances like hard drugs or those who keep bad company or go to dangerous places, do not do it for the harm they eventually suffer, but because of the blind spots, it seems good to them.

In the Gospel reading, we read about the story of the Good Samaritan, which is so vivid that it became proverbial. For the Jews, a Good Samaritan was a paradox because there was mutual discrimination between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus tells this story to the lawyer to help him make a personal conclusion about who his neighbour was. The lawyer, like many of us, wanted to justify himself in front of Jesus and his disciples and demonstrate how well he knew the commandments by heart. To his surprise, Jesus showed him that knowing very well the commandments was not good enough to inherit eternal life. The practice of the commandment was the major requirement.

Many like the lawyer are very conversant with laws and regulations that are supposed to help us attain sanctity. However, the practice of these seems to evade us and is almost impossible to reach. Many consider the commandments of God a too heavy burden to bear. However, if anyone cares to meditate every a little bit upon the commandments, one will realize that they are similar to the crutches that help someone with injury on the legs to walk. The commandments are tips that help us to navigate along here on earth. They are meant to help us. This is what Jesus came to the world to explain to us in simple terms and that he summarized in one – The law of Love.

The Young Christian Students Motto is a great summary of how best to apply the law of love in our day-to-day life. SEE, JUDGE, ACT. Our eyes see many things but we need to make proper judgment and swing into action. These two verbs can save or destroy life. If our eyes are healthy, and our judgment well instructed, then our actions will always be profitable to us and those around us. However, if our eyes are clogged with impurities and our judgment is corrupt, our actions will always be disastrous to us and to all those who encounter us.

Dear friends, I invite us today to reflect upon the commandments of God and good Christian values, see the benefits they have in our lives and strive to follow them. Later on, let me know what results you have after some time.

Have a blessed Sunday.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Sunday readings in brief: 14th Sunday Year C

Is 66:10-14; Ps 65(66); Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12,17-20

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Dear friends, today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday will be the 15th Sunday. I want first to remind us that we are in the season of learning about the Kingdom of God and our teacher is Christ himself. We are required by our baptismal consecration, to live what we learn from Jesus in our day-to-day life and teach those around us as well.

In the first reading today, Prophet Isaiah preaches the message of hope for abundant peace to the people who were in great depression and suffering. The people had lost hope of ever returning to their land and building their lives back, after so many years under the oppression of a foreign rule. The message of hope for peace and freedom is the most important for someone who is experiencing oppression. All of us have experienced at one time or are at this very moment experiencing suffering almost too much to bear. Maybe you are on the brink of losing hope in holding on a few more days. The message for you today is God has heard your cry and if you only hold on in faith, he is sending peace flowing like a river to you.

Losing hope too soon because we have no one to encourage or walk with us in our sufferings can cause us great depression and sometimes even lives. St Paul is encouraging us to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, and the marks of his suffering and death that won us everlasting salvation. Our hope of rising from any form of oppression is guaranteed in our faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the mother of hope because in it we are convinced of the help of Christ suffered death for our sake. Faith helps us to push on or to hold on even when the situation is almost overwhelming to us.

The consequence of faith and hope is joy in what awaits us. We have many examples of people who were able to rejoice even when experiencing so much suffering. Their joy was anchored in their conviction of the cause for which they were suffering. It is suffering for something and not for nothing.

Jesus puts this in a different way when he sends the disciples to the towns and villages to proclaim the Good News. He warns them that while they will be welcome in some towns and villages, they will be rejected in others. Their duty was to proclaim peace to those who received them and leave the hurt feelings back in those places where they were not received. The wiping off of the dust clinging to their feet as they left those villages where they were not welcome symbolically means not carrying any hurt feelings with them.

In our different assignments, sometimes we go to places where we are received well and our mission becomes a success. However, in some other places, we face rejection that even makes difficult our mission. On one hand, Jesus is urging us not to take things too personally and carry with us the hurt feelings when people do not receive or accept us as we carry out our mission. On the other hand, Jesus also cautions his disciples not to rejoice because people accept them and in the miracles, they were able to perform but rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven. The ultimate goal for every disciple is to do the will of his or her master, and the ultimate reward is to be where his or her master is in heaven. Sometimes we get lost in the pomp of the great things we experience during the successful episodes of our career and forget the ultimate goal.

Dear friends, suffering is part of our existence though many of us spend a lot of energy and resources trying to avoid it in all its forms. However, today’s readings are giving us the medicine for suffering which is the peace that comes from God. If we experience suffering for a good cause, then we can be peaceful and the reward will be joy. However, if we are suffering because of the wrong choices, let us not stay there lamenting but seek help and grace to get out of those sufferings. The people of Israel suffered captivity because of rejecting God’s words through the prophets but they cried to him in repentance and he saved them.

Have a blessed Sunday.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

14th Sunday Year C

Sunday readings in brief 13 C 2022
1Kg 19:16,19-21; Ps 15(16), Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62
How to be a disciple
Dear friends, today is the thirteenth Sunday in ordinary time C. However, due to pastoral reasons, some episcopal conferences direct that the Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus that occurred last Friday, be marked today to give it more significance among the faithful. In this reflection, I will dwell on the Ordinary Time readings that focuses on the requisites for being a true disciple.
Discipleship means to be a follower of a person or an ideology. In our Christian context, discipleship means being a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a true follower of someone or of an ideal, one needs to make certain adjustment in his or her life such as, abandoning the previous dedications in order to concentrate on the new one. One cannot be a true disciple of more than one ideology. In one occasion Jesus said to his disciples that no one can serve two masters (Mt 6:24).
The urge to follow is aroused by an attraction towards what someone want to follow, or by invitation to follow. In the first reading, we hear how Elijah passed near Elisha and threw his clock to him. Suddenly, Elisha was full of the urge to follow him and he acted swiftly. In order to be free to dedicate his life to following Elijah, Elisha slaughtered the oxen that he used to plough the land and used the plough itself for firewood. This means that he was ready to abandon his previous trade and dedicate himself entirely to Elijah and his mission.
In the Gospel reading, we have three instances of people confronted by the reality of following Jesus. The first one request to be a follower of Jesus but immediately Jesus spells out to him the nature of his mission: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. The second one is invited by Jesus to follow him but he asks first to go to bury his father. We do not know if his father was dead at that moment but Jesus tells him to let the dead burry their own dead. This could also mean that he was willing to follow Jesus after the death of his father. The third one wants to follow Jesus but asks first to go and say goodbyes.
The question of true discipleship is determined by our priorities of life. Whatever comes first in the order of my priorities is my master, the rest are just but side businesses. We can apply this parameter to ourselves today in our dedication to following Christ. For instance, today is on Sunday and all those Baptized in Christ Jesus are obliged to go to worship in the Church with other faithful. However, many pews will be empty because many “baptized” are busy taking care of other things.
No matter what excuses and justifications we may give for not attending Church service on some or all the Sundays and other days of obligation, the truth remains that whatever it is we do on Sunday other that going to Church is our priority. This could be voluntary or imposed. Some people have to work on Sunday or else they risk losing their jobs. In this case, keeping the job is their priority. Nevertheless, some will only use this as an excuse because in many places, there are many Sunday services from very early in the morning to late in the evening. A true disciple will make efforts to attend one of those or even ask permission from the work place to worship and go to work. Instead of taking such opportunities to worship, other excuses like washing, cleaning and others takes priority.
St. Paul in the second reading is also warning those who have become followers about the quality of their discipleship. It is not enough to fulfill the minimum of a disciple such as ‘attending’ Church services on Sunday. It is paramount to adhere to all the terms and conditions of following Christ. The life of a follower must be conformed to that of the master. St. Paul is against double standard kind of discipleship whereby someone want to follow Christ and remain in former way of life at the same time. This is the greatest temptation of our discipleship today. Paul calls it self-indulgence; the dictionary defines it as “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims”.
Dear friends, there is no discipleship without sacrifices. It is either following Christ of being worldly; we cannot be both at the same time. This applies to all those consecrated to serve as religious and those consecrated to serve as lay people. I therefore invite us to reflect of the quality of our discipleship to Christ.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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