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Sunday reflections

Sunday reflections (278)

Find all the sunday reflections by our priests at the parish here.

Theme: We are a people in a continuous expectation

Here we go again! Another liturgical year has ebbed away; a new one is upon us. . . like it or not, time, like an ever-rolling stream is carrying us forward. Having come full circle to a new beginning, things nevertheless look quite familiar. When we read the ancient scriptural selections for yet another Advent, we wonder if there is anything new under the sun. We have heard the texts before; we know the hymns by heart. We have met all the protagonists of this season and can anticipate what John the Baptist, Paul, Luke, Jeremiah, Isaiah and the other prophets are going to say even before their words are proclaimed in our midst.

As we make our way from the Church to the marketplace, to work and to play, we quickly realize that we have become veterans of this season. We will make the lists and do the shopping; we will wrap the presents and decorate the tree. We will write the cards and bake the cakes. We will attend the pageants and parties and when the Christmas story is read, we will mouth the words that have become so indelibly engraved upon our memories “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory: the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love” John 1:14. In that moment and by God’s grace the words we have spoken and heard for decades will challenge us to shake off what may have become rote and routine and awaken to the ever startling and fresh newness of God, present and alive among us! From the moment the incarnate word became flesh and blood, the course of human history was forever altered. God’s gift of Jesus has communicated new meaning and new direction to every individual human story. History, because of God’s word to us in Jesus, is no longer a cyclic repetition of similar events but a linear movement with a beginning, a purpose and a goal, all of which originate and are subsumed in God.

Theme: God is at work among us

When a president is scheduled to make a public appearance, his staff prepares weeks and even months in advance to make certain that the proper protocol will be observed and the leaders’ security will be assured. They procure detailed maps of the area to be visited and designate various routes and search out venues. Guards are posted in selective spots. Every eventuality, both good and bad, is anticipated, all in an effort to make the event as uneventful as possible.

Similarly detailed preparations precede the appearance of religious leaders like the Roman Catholic pontiff and political figureheads like the Queen of England. Programs are scheduled, choral presentations are practiced, gifts are bought and special persons are chosen to present them in the most gracious manner possible so that the honored one is duly recognized and appreciated. On a smaller scale, each of us can probably relate to the task of preparing ourselves, our family and our home in order to welcome and offer hospitality to a boss, to in-laws, to relatives or to anyone with whom we would like to make a good impression.

Theme: Rejoice

A Native African Patriarch who wished to provide for the happy futures of his grandchildren often shared with them the stories of their ancestors. Each story was a tale within a tale; each held not only an entertaining piece of their shared heritage, but also a life lesson intended to cultivate wisdom. On one occasion, this grandpa told his eager young listeners that every person has two wolves inside of them who are engaged in an ongoing struggle. One is the wolf of justice, peace and loving kindness; the other is the wolf of hatred, fear and greed. Which wolf will win? asked one grandson. To that the grandpa replied, ‘whichever one we feed’. During the season of Advent, those who affirm their desire to continue welcoming Christ into their lives are invited to face the wolves that dwell within and vie for the precious food of our energies and attention. Identifying these wolves and calling them by name is a good first step. Deciding which to feed will set the agenda for a lifelong struggle.

Theme: Blessed are those who believe

For those without the gift of faith, the rich scriptural traditions that surround the season of Advent and the feast of Christmas look like simply time-worn stories that have little impact on real life. For the unbelieving, Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem may be no more meaningful than the stories of Frosty the Snowman. His birth at Bethlehem would be of little consequence. It was just a little village about nine miles from Jerusalem where pilgrims could buy animals to offer as sacrifices in the temple. Bethlehem was a place where shepherds could make a decent living. Aside from that, Jesus’ hometown had little else to earn it a place on the map. For those led by doubts, Elizabeth was no more than an older lady whose unexpected maternity surprised and shocked her husband and relatives. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was simply a matter of a younger woman reaching out to care for an older relative. The leaping of Elizabeth’s child would have little significance for those without faith.

Christking

Theme: He reigns forever

Good numbers of you here present today in this Church have little first-hand experience of kings, queens and their royal reigns. Most nations and tribes of the world are no longer governed by monarchs and in those countries where royal families continue to perdure, their roles are usually limited to that of figureheads. In the 1970’s, Juan Carlos was honored as king of Spain and Elizabeth II of the House of Windsor has been Queen of England since 1952. Japan still venerates there Emperors, the Baganda have the Kabaka, and in Swaziland they have Muswati II; but of the world’s twenty-six remaining monarchs, few function in anything other than a symbolic capacity. In complete juxtaposition to these earthly sovereigns, whose reigns are limited and whose territorial dominions are relegated to only a certain geographical locale and portion of the world’s population, Jesus and his reign are forever and absolute.

Theme: No one knows the day or hour

Speculation about the end of time and the world as we know it is not unusual; seers and sages of all ages have been opining on this subject for centuries. However, whenever a millennial milestone looms on the horizon, speculation seems to soar to fever pitch. When year 2000 A.D was approaching, citizens of the world were bombarded with predictions which ranged anywhere from the horrifying to the amusing. Before that time way back in 1973, a group of 800 people, under the leadership of Richard Kieninger established a community in a rural area 100 miles southwest of Chicago. Believing that the end will come on May 5, 2000, the group hoped to survive by building lighter-than-air vehicles in which to float above the turmoil. Vincent Ferrer who lived around 1350-1419, a Spanish Dominican monk, basing his prediction on the number of verses in the Book of Psalms (2,537 verses), predicted the demise of the world in 3936 A.D

Theme: Complete trust is the perfect gift

Giving is a gentle act, best cultivated in hearts that know they have little to offer and everything to receive. Christian discipleship grows strong and vital amid a network of giving hearts because believers have been blessed with the greatest and the finest gift of all which is the love and the life of the Lord Jesus.

Theme: I want to see!

We start with a story about abducted American Journalist. For seven years Terry A. Anderson a Chief Middle East Correspondent of the Associated Press was held hostage in Lebanon. He was physically and psychologically abused, beaten and tortured by his captors. Chained to a bed or to the wall and stripped to his nothingness, Anderson was kept blindfolded so as not to be able to recognize his whereabouts or subsequently reveal the identities of his guards. Deprived of physical sight and freedom, Anderson spent those seven years engaged in a spiritual discovery marked by an ever-deepening insight. Blindfolded in darkness, he discovered the inner light of grace that enabled him to look once again in faith at God, to see himself in stark truthfulness and humility and even to look upon his captors with a sense of understanding.

His probing spiritual perception led Anderson to seek reconciliation with and healing forgiveness from God. Through the ministry of Father Lawrence Jenco, a fellow hostage, Anderson rediscovered his faith. The following is Anderson’s prayer on that occasion: ‘Where is faith found? Not in a book or in a Church, not often or for everyone. In childish times, it’s easier; a child believes just what it’s told. But children grow and soon begin to see too much that doesn’t match the simple tales, and not enough of what’s behind their parents’ words.

Theme: The two shall become as one

In the course of the next few weeks, the Sunday gospels will portray Jesus embroiled in controversy with his contemporaries over issues such as marriage and divorce, commitment and discipleship, ambition and service. Two thousand years later, these issues have lost none of their relevance and once again we are invited to allow the challenge of the good news to speak to our collective and individual beliefs and experiences. The Jewish idea gives us the basis for the Christian ideal. The ancient Jewish term for marriage was kiddushin, a term that meant sanctification or consecration. Ordinarily, kiddushin signified the husband’s absolute consecration to his wife and of the wife to her husband. Each became an offering totally given to the other.

Theme: Seeing with God’s eyes

Thomas Aquinas once remarked, ‘beware the person of one view!’ Narrowness, intolerance or living life according to only one point of view is as much an injustice to the person so trapped as it is against others.

To live in such an insular atmosphere wherein reality is interpreted from only one frame of reference is to willingly forfeit the richness and fullness which plurality and diversity afford to the human experience.

To hold suspect and unorthodox that which is different simply because it is different is to choose to live a diminished existence. But who would think like this? Who would opt to be so cut off from others?

Theme: Conscience is the way forward

Here goes a common saying: ‘Do all the good you can; by all the means you can; in all the ways you can; in all the places you can; at all the times you can; to all the people you can; as long as ever you can’. This is likening of Christ who was described as someone who “went about doing good… because God was with him” Acts 10:38. Truly good people are who they are and do what they do because they are responsive to the presence of God who enables and empowers them. Guileless and totally lacking in self-importance, the trusting innocence of a child’s heart is the place where believers can meet God. It is there that the docile will experience the power and presence of God. It is there that  the would-be disciples will learn what it means to be good, to do good and to persevere in goodness in spite of the hostility of those less responsive to God.

Theme:  Who do you say I am? 

Today the conditions for discipleship are little changed. Renunciation of the selectively romanticized aspects of the person of Jesus, an indiscriminate, whole-hearted commitment to the challenge of the cross, the counterculture quality of Christian living; all are part of the believer’s answer to Jesus’ question, who do you say I am? If you save your life, you lose it, Jesus tells his followers. How do we save our life, find our life and take possession of our life? We do it basically by finding our place in the world and in society. Everyone must do that to become a unique person. But that task is fraught with danger.

Theme: Enabling the disabled

Society’s attitudes regarding its physically or mentally challenged members have evolved considerably through the centuries. Each generation, motivated by an ever-growing sensitivity and respect for another’s differences, has coined new words for referencing these special people among us. Mental retardation, for example, has been replaced by the term, mentally-challenged. Those with physical limitations, such as deafness or blindness are now described as hearing or visually challenged. Children with learning disabilities are no longer called dumb, slow or stupid; they are appreciated as having special needs. At times and in the interest of what has come to be known as political correctness, some of this newly devised vocabulary appears to be extreme, as for instance, when diminutive people are referred to as vertically challenged and those with receding hairlines are described as follicly challenged!

Theme: The Law of life

Law is essentially a good to be valued. Laws, honestly established, properly understood, carefully observed and equitably upheld function as a safeguard which protect each member of the human community. Laws provide that necessary structure which fosters the growth and development of individuals within their respective societies. Our Hebrew brothers and sisters in the faith refer to the law which gives guidance and direction to their lives as Torah. A more comprehensive term than law, Torah means instruction/teaching and is regarded as revelation from God. Torah prescribes a way of life lived in accord with the daily call of God.

To study Torah is to know God; to know God is to have life. Among the many parables and homilies of the rabbis, there is one prayer which expresses these beliefs most beautifully: ‘Blessed is God who has created us for glory and has given us Torah and thus has planted everlasting life in our midst.’ The faith which so valued the Torah and gave voice to this prayer is also expressed in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy. Faithfulness to Torah was understood as the pathway to life and a means of closeness to God. We need to return to this truth and live.

In order to truly appreciate the role and the person of Mary, contemporary Christians need no other source than the Christian scriptures. Luke, in particular, presents Mary in a manner that encourages us to sidestep the maudlin sentimentality that has accrued to her through the ages. In Luke and Acts we encounter a woman who is at once mother and mentor. Mary is mother not only in the sense that she agreed to give birth to Jesus through whom God has become incarnate in human existence; but also the mother who  welcomed the living Word of God into her life. Mary allowed herself to be inspired and be directed by that Word in all she said and did.

Even before she fully understood the ramifications of the word God spoke to her she comprehend the impact God’s word and agreed to mother the Word and to ponder it. cf. Luke 2:19, 51. For both of these mothering roles, Mary is the “blessed is the womb that carried you … blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” Luke 11:27, 28. Through the centuries, Mary‘s role as both mother and mentor has grown. We revere her and are drawn to emulate her willingness to believe God and to live in accordance with her faith. It is on record that even some non Catholics are rediscovering her, glad to find a feminine figure in the Bible worthy of honor and grace.

Theme: To be on the safe side choose wisdom

Readings like these offer us an opportunity for evaluating the quality of its liturgy, particularly its Eucharistic worship. For example, when Jesus fed the crowd with five loaves and two fish, the disciples served as ministers of his gift; it was their privilege and responsibility to distribute the bread to all, to be sure that all were satisfied, to collect the fragments left over and only then to share in the food Jesus provided. In our liturgies, we often confuse the symbols of the scriptures as they are revealed with the gestures that we liturgically act out, without thinking that we are contradicting the gospel. Eucharistic ministers, today, are those who, like the first disciples, serve the community, feed the faithful and wait on those in the crowd. But if we followed the text of the story and its symbolism, the priest and the Eucharistic ministers -the public disciples- would give out the Eucharist first and then eat what is left over, if there is anything left over. Perhaps this simple reversal of procedures would drive home an important point regarding our ministry to one another. To be a disciple is to be a servant like Jesus, who put the needs of others ahead of his own. Discipleship means to offer one’s time, talent and treasure as food for the many hungers of God’s people. Like Jesus, the disciple must have a capacity for compassion that overcomes conceit and self-centeredness with concern for the other.

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Sunday Masses

Luganda: 7:30 am.  English: 9:00 am, 11:00 am and 5;00 pm.

Crowd possible, please don't be late! May God bless you!

About Our Church

Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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