Monday, January 31, 2011

28th Feb 2010- my 3rd Aniversery

During this forthcoming anniversary, I wish to share an Experience in light to having worked in different parishes. I have tried to compare and contrast a few things which I wish to share with you as I look forward to celebrating this very important (Three years) as a priest.



Different parish structures:-

1- Traditional structure

2- Retired structure

3- Model structure

In traditional parishes you find:

A. Sacramental structure

a) Only the administration of sacraments is what matter. No time of preparation.

b) Preaching on certain sacraments only.

c) Bury any dead, anoint any sick

d) Opt for saying masses as many as possible

e) Take pride in statistics

f) No room for none Catholics


B. The Man structure

- You find that they are parishes with a patriarch around whom everything is centred. A know-it-all.

- Very sensitive with their priesthood and insistent on titles (Fr). They have people of their own taste to stay around them, and often the “yes” ones.

- They always control the diocese either financially or through certain work they do.

- Always has lots of exaggerated respect for authority and also demands as twice that exaggerated respect for himself.

o Talents of others are abused
o The whole trend seems all right yet deep within is dead.
o Sacraments will be seen as personal property instead of God’s gift to the whole church community. A sacrament calls for community participation with honour and respect









Retired parishes

- Hardly do you find anything going on but complaints and providence.

- Pastoral activities are based on reward mentality- no petrol no safari etc. In the end people think that sacraments are bought. Everybody is on the waiting end. A society of consumers and not producers.
- Such parishes will be identified BAD
- Identified with obesity of clergy
- Identified with lack of availabilities within the parish because there are a lot of holidays and feasts going on.
- Identified with Sundays and feast days and defensive apostolate.
- Identified by the public disgust of people expressed in dirty talks or sometimes empty and exaggerated accusations. By such talks as “no work in this parish”
- By amount of alcohol consumed
- By the way things are e.g. buildings are falling in pieces.

Shaping and preserving society necessarily involves personal dedication, costly risks and constant struggle. In both traditional and retired parishes the dangers are:

• Christians become cargo Christians. It is like a refrigerator where things are okay but dead.

• Priesthood would be understood as a privilege not as a call to be bruised by public service.

• Religion becomes a foreign element.

• It always leads to terrible selfishness.


Model parishes


1. Constant struggle to maintain, find out the experience of the early Christian community.
2. The experience of the mission of Christ himself. Every opportunity is used not to repeat what already happened. Tries to see the trend and signs of the times.
3. Parish where people are working, they realize their limitations and thus foster the concern and aspirations of others.
4. It is the parish of the people and by the people for everybody who becomes involved in its growth.
5. The plans are based on pastoral methods the parish has opted for.

Such parishes are identified by:

a) On-going formation for all the groups of people and all institutions. This is probably based on adult education. There should be a sort of dialogue form but not monolog, a conscientization. A course which makes people come of age.

b) Categorized catechesis or involving catechesis because it is based on adult education

c) Attempts to form Small Christian community (Jumuiya), starting humbly as we descend towards God but not starting from God highly.

d) Apostolate based on research and constant survey and the needs of the community, i.e. relative apostolate.

e) Will be identified with an apostolate which trains for the future.

f) The priest in such parishes is seen as facilitator, coordinator, and adviser but not a dictator, neither relaxed nor retired.

What type of parish do you belong?

Remember me in your daily prayers to be a holy priest and to love my
ministry and to be obedient to the Word of God.

God bless you abundantly and thanks All for your support.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FORTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

“Man is God’s image; but a poor man is Christ’s stamp” (G. Herbert)

Zeph 2:3; 3:12-13; Ps 146:6-10, I Cor 1:26-31, Matt 5:1:12

Angle of thought

GOD CHOOSES THE POOR

The three readings of this Sunday are all linked by the angle of poverty. The beatitudes could all be summed up in the first “Happy the poor.” To be poor, however, does not mean to possess nothing.


One has to be “poor in spirit”, which means that one must choose to surrender the accumulation of goods for one’s self, to surrender the use of one’s capacities and qualities selfishly and to place anything one possess at the service of one’s brothers and sisters.



This idea is also found in the first and second reading.


Psalm 146


GRATITUDE FOR LIFE

Strike up, in thanksgiving to the Lord, with the harp’s music praise our God; / the God who curtains heaven with cloud, and lays up a store of rain for the earth, / who clothes the mountain-sides with grass, with corn for man’s need…


AT FIRST THOUGHT, gratitude seems to be something we give away, a kind of return we make for favours received. Thus the psalmist asked, “What return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given me?”

But to the psalmist, as to the poet, there are;

Two kinds of gratitude'

- the sudden kind:-We feel for what we take.
- the large kind:- We feel for what we give.

Our larger thanks should be for the larger gratitude. What we give in appreciating God, creation, ourselves; the joy of recognizing what we have, what we are, what is constantly being given us. While it is true that all who done us genuine good deserve something of ourselves in return, we really do not give anything away in being thankful.


Truly, Lord, this is the mystery of giving. That gratitude we feel for what we have given, as well as for what others have given, that gratitude we cannot give away. It is rooted in the heart, where it remains, the secret of all happiness.


Without gratitude, no one could ever be truly happy. That is why the church has given much of the text of the Mass to thanksgiving. Our whole life ought to be a miniature of the Mass, just as Christians are miniature Christ. And therefore it is we, not You, Lord, who suffer from our lack of gratitude. When you showed sadness at the ingratitude of the nine lepers. You were not feeling sorry for yourself. You were distressed at the loss suffered by nine men themselves, who had missed the greater happiness of the one grateful Samaritan. The true blessing of the miracle was joyous thankful heart of the receiver, and this greater grace the nine others had rejected.



What you said, Jesus, was not “why have the nine not returned to thank me,” but “Has no one been found to give glory to God except this stranger?” That glory is an interior quality of heart.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT


This is the famous sermon known as the Sermon on the Mount. This should not be seen as one day’s proclamation and in the same place. The evangelist has simply compiled the eight beatitudes into one, so as to emphasize the point of Jesus’ teaching. The mountain is very prominent here because of the symbol the Jews put in it. God used the mountain as a place of communication, very vivid and full of meaning to the Jews. But now Jesus is no longer looking at the Mosaic perspective but speaking with an element of universality embracing- races, cultures and religions (Mt 4:25). Jesus had to be in a placed to communicate well to his audience.



The first beatitude is to read in the context of detachment from goods and sharing with the poor. We need sometimes to be poor in our words. We talk about others in bad taste, there are times when the Lord is calling us to control our tongues, close out lips and simply mean our own business. It can be as simply as this prayer: Lord! Help me shut my mouth until I know what to say. Being poor in ideas can lead to greater blunders in life. The emphasis should be on poverty of the heart not physical poverty. Don’t mourn because of stupid attitude, but mourn with Jesus for fighting for the voice of the voiceless.



Being gentle is does not mean that you accept to be stepped on and you can’t complain because you are God fearing person, that is wrong. When solving a problem do it gently so that the devil/Satan can be ashamed in his scaling/schemes. Gentility destroys the power of evil. One should not use the means of the devil to justify his or her actions. One will experience the coming of the world where justice will reign.


Correcting a son, a daughter, a wife, a husband and all those others entrusted to you with compassion, love, and understanding and in full creativity. Mercifulness is not use of power, but listening to vibes of the heart. If in life one has never been shown mercy it is always difficult to be merciful, you lack the qualities mentioned above.

Pure in heart is what we think say or do. Is it beneficial to me to s/he is listening to me and does it really bring proper welfare to the whole community, family or corporation. We sometimes put on many faces which are not authentic, full of pretence and many other defense mechanisms to keep us safe and zeroed in our comfort zones, no go areas.


Today we need more peacemakers who are peaceful. It’s not enough to be a peacemaker, anybody can be one, but a peacemaker who is calm, serene, and composed is very rare. People come for peace talks amidst guns blazing and with dazzling carrot on the stick, very conditional. If you are not listening to me then whatever is between I and you it over, it’s ended. Go your way and I go my way. It can be very nasty sometimes when there is a heated argument. The spirit of the Lord is always calm and serene. We pray for the mediators in our countries to emulate the qualities of calmness, composure and serene in their negotiations.


Jesus tells us that this struggle is not to be taken as failure, but a success and a reason to be joyful. Even the Master was treated thus. Persecution will not stop the coming of the new world. The progress of the Kingdom will be slow but irresistible.


“Whoso stoppeth his ear at the poor cry himself/herself will be unheard”

(Hebrew proverb)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR A


Thought of the Sunday

THE LIGHT OF CHRIST BEGINS TO SHINE

Isaiah 8:23-9:3, II. I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17, III Mt 4:12-23
Jesus starts his public ministry in Galilee, a land of doubting “Thomas es”, a place of people considered as the nobodies by the Jews. It’s from this place that Jesus will have to send out his disciples to the whole world. This light that shone on the Mountain in Galilee will be the same light that will shine to the Gentile.


Our Church is catholic/universal but we still have many disagreements among ourselves. We are splitting the unity in the name of forming churches that suit our egos. Christ is no longer one but in pieces. Everyone owns him according to his understanding and theology

“Sometimes God puts us in the dark to prove that He is light” (Anon)

PSALM 26

FATHER

“True to my heart’s promise, / I have eyes only for thee; / I long, Lord, for thy presence. / Do not hide thy face…/ father and mother may neglect me, / but the Lord takes me into his care.”

I am your adopted son/daughter; all of us are. If anything is written, this surely is “see how God has shown his love towards us” St. John writes. “That we should be counted his sons/ daughters” (italic are mine) and should be his sons and daughters. If the world does not recognize us, that is because it never recognized him. Beloved, we are sons/daughters of God even now, and what we shall be hereafter, has not been made known as yet. But we know that when he comes we shall be like him; we shall see him, then, as he is” (I John 3). What could be more beautiful than this assurance, from one who lived most intimately on earth with you, Lord? You have fulfilled what the psalmist divined; your care for us is greater than any on earth; your care for me is complete and intimate and personal

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

In this Sunday, we are told of the works of Jesus in Galilee with an invitation to those who will be his deacons and the whole activities that come along with ministry at a general overview/ panorama.

Like all job prescription and jurisdiction and operation, Jesus changes residence. For thirty year he has been living in Nazareth but now he moves to Capernaum, that famous place of Peter. That people that lived in darkness now have seen the great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned (V.16).

Capernaum was a large city on the lake shore. It was also the capital city of Galilee. It was what we call a metropolitan city, “mixed” races and not pure Jews and Galileans were looked down upon by the Jews of Jerusalem who considered them illiterates, without proper knowledge of the law and ignorant of the traditions taught by the Rabbis. It is from here; in this “Galilee of the nations” (V.15) that Jesus begins his public ministry. This is a very great signal from Jesus that it that message is not only for the ‘pure’ Jews, but also for those who had been kept apart, far away; these last one will take precedence over the others.

Jesus tells them “repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand” (V.17). Conversion and repentance mean just this: “change your mind and behavior.” Whoever is harboring thoughts of death, whoever is doing evil things should turn to the light.

The vocation of the apostles is quite interesting, why? Matthew doesn’t tell us exactly how Jesus called his disciples. But that to some extent is the issue but what he wants to communicate to you and I how is calling us from the modern world of secularism, modernism and individualism, to break that shell of our comfort zones and move unto a higher great heights of life and participating in mission of the church.

Jesus keeps on moving about, never stops a moment (V.18/21). Whoever is called to be his disciples should not think of any time to rest. You have to be with the master wherever he goes, up to his final goal, the place where he will give up his life. The call of the first apostles should not be compared to the call of priests and religious; it is the call meant for every Christian. Wherever God speaks, people have to answer promptly and generously, just like Peter, Andrew, John and James. They left everything immediately to follow their master.

To abandon everything to follow Christ is to leave all those things which don’t go together with the ministry or with his word: hatred, feuds, polygamy, divination to discover who caused the death of a dear one so as to take revenge, and many other things which corrode our hearts and souls which we truly know but we simply put on a stoic face and yet they are causing our inner death each day.

A disciple of Jesus should be a fisher of men (V.19). One has to be a people person not doing what they do but helping them out of their ignorant, a good public relationship, not one who is himself/herself an obstacle to the message of the gospel. This sometimes happens in the mission that it causes moral obstacle hence difficulty in pastoral work. The water is the various life situations: illness, a mishap seen as a call from God. Sometimes the people you finish are not yours; they are God’s just do your best and leave the rest to God. (Message to vocation animators). It’s not swindling people with nice talk but snatch them from the forces of evil which, like the rushing and violent waters, take hold of them, dragging them along and overwhelming them.

The Disciples of Christ do not fear the waves of the sea and defies them even if they are very strong and stormy. You never get tired to being good to your brother or sister, even if the situation appears impossible: even if that person is a drug addict, an alcoholic, one possessed by uncontrolled passions, leading a life of corruption, a nervous, aggressive, intractable, wreck…Nothing can discourage a disciple of Christ; the one called to be a fisher of people can overcome anything.

Jesus taught that is how he was the light of all people, he preached the good news, thus bringing hope back into human hearts, when he assured them that the love of God is stronger than the evil of humankind; he cured the sick. He was not just announcing salvation; he was dispensing salvation through concrete deeds. He was showing what the disciples were to do and are called to do even today: they must fight all evils, physical or spiritual, that deprive humankind off salvation.


“With multiplicity of knowledge, there is one thing happily that no man knows: whether the world is old or young” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



“We are more troublesome to ourselves than anyone else” – St. Francis de Sales



Isaiah 49:3. 5-6

Psalm 39:2. 4.7-8

I Cor 1:1-3

John 1:29-34

Theme of the Sunday



THE VOCATION OF THE CHRISTIAN



The first reading shows how even in the Old Testament God chose for his mission of salvation a Servant who sought neither glory nor power

In the second reading Paul tells us that every Christian is “called” and therefore has a vocation.

The gospel is telling us that this vocation continues the vocation of Jesus, whom the Baptist calls “lamb of God”, that is, the one who gives himself up in sacrifice so that others may have life.



PSALM 39



INTEGRITY



See then, I said, I am coming to fulfil what is written of me, where the book lies unrolled; to do thy will, O my God, is all my desire, to carry out that law of thine which is written in my heart. And I told the story of thy just dealings before a great throng; be witness, Lord, that I do not seal my lips. Thy just dealings are no secret hidden away in my heart.

…You have a right, lord, to expect me to overcome that great temptation. You accomplished Your purpose; I must accomplish mine. The inclination to give up, to drop out is serious one. If the temptation is conquered and a full-willed decision is made, the battle is half won, the way is clear, the mind is at rest. If there be hesitation or postponement, and no choice is made between Christ and Satan, there may be false peace, there may be pleasure, ease, comfort of a sort, but in the appalling blindness there is never real happiness. And some day the realization will strike deeper than a sword.


I am made for one thing Lord, to become like You “To do thy will, Oh my God, is all my desire.” And I will never know true life until I accomplish just that. Lord, let no false peace ever deceive me. You know where my weakness is, and I can know it, too. Let me never have peace, until I have conquered my great weakness.



REFLECTION

The first reading talks about the vocation of the servant of Yahweh, the second about the vocation of the Christians of Corinth. We therefore would conclude that in the gospel we are going to listen to the vocation of Jesus.


We are just beginning a new season in our liturgy, hence it is worthy while that we present our Master as he begins his public life. But for Jesus we cannot speak of vocation, we cannot not say that “he was called from his mother’s womb” like all other prophets. Instead, the evangelist John uses the image of the Lamb of God to present to us the mission of Jesus who has come to take away the sins of the world.


By presenting Jesus as Lamb, John wants to tell us that he has come to give up his life and that his blood will free men from sin and from the forces of evil. He is taking up once more the theme of the humiliated Servant of the first reading: his defeat would bring light and salvation to all the people of the earth. Jesus too, says John, has come into the world to carry out that same mission and will make use of the same means.

The Baptist begins by saying, and he repeats it, that he did not know Jesus (V.31.33). This is a starting point for every catechumen: at first a catechumen does not really know Jesus; then he or she hears about him from some friend and maybe thinks of him as just a man, even if a good and wise one. Later God enlightened the Baptist and made him understand through special signs, how he should change his way of looking a Jesus. The catechumens have this same experience. They attend meetings and find themselves in particular circumstances that lead them to deeper reflection: they listen to instructions, dialogue with practicing Christians, experience spiritual events in the lives of the church.

The Baptist opens his eyes fully when one day he realizes that spirit of God is present and acts in Jesus. He then understands that he is the Lamb of God (count how many times the word “to see” is used in these few verses). The catechumen opens his/her eyes slowly till he discovers fully the true identity of Jesus. But, as in the time of the Baptist, not everybody follows the signs that lead to God; many follow the example of the Jews and refuse to see; for these Jesus will always be just another man.

Are we very sure that we have “seen” who Jesus really is and what his mission is? Have we understood that he is not a triumphant king, but a lamb who immolates himself so that men may have life? Will it be enough to see him as the faithful servant, admire him and thank him for all he has done? Will belief in his being the Lamb of God not demand some radical change in the life of our communities? What are the initiatives which show clearly that we Christians are carrying on the mission begun by the Lamb of God? Who are those who expect help from us?

The last stage in spiritual course of the Baptist is his acknowledgement that Jesus is the son of God (V.34). From then on, he becomes a witness and informs everybody of his discovery. The catechumen, who has discovered that Jesus is the light and the salvation of the world, feels the need to inform others of his or her joy. The Baptist speaks about what he has seen, while the Christians should speak only of what they have experienced, should recount only what the Spirit is doing within their communities.

“He that will have none but a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless”. (Italian Proverb)

IN MEMORY OF DAVID JACOBUS BOSCH

TRANSFORMING MISSION : David Bosch- Some Personal Reflections by Willem Saaymann, Prof. Emeritus in Missiology at Unisa, Pretoria, Sout...