WHAT COMES AROUND… GOES AROUND!
When we hear this worldly saying almost immediately we think of negative things… if I am mean to people they will be mean to me.
However, today Jesus teaches us that there is a positive dimension to this saying, and more than that, it is up to us if we are to determine the positive things that happen in our life.
Simply put, if we are not quick to judge others (something that we all battle with) THEN, they won’t be so quick to judge us. If we are slow to condemn others, we will be less likely to be condemned ourselves. And if we are ready to pardon others, we will be more easily pardoned ourselves (again something that we all need).
So if we want to change our plight and move away from the barrage of, sometimes unfair, judgements and condemnation that we often receive, if it is more peace and forgiveness that we desire in our lives – then let us heed the teaching of Jesus.
Let us give generously of ourselves in obedience to Christ and experience anew an abundance of love, forgiveness and acceptance – NOT only from Jesus, but also from those around us, especially our families.
Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate!
Lord God, help me to truly believe that with your grace and teaching I am able to shape my life, my family and my world for the better. Amen
“But I say this to you!”
28th February is the anniversary of my ordination as Bishop of Kokstad. So, it has special memories, but even more special than the memories are the challenges, the most daunting being Jesus’ statement, which comes to mind when I remember that day: “But I say this to you: ‘Be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect’.”
My first reaction is always: “That’s not possible! Who can be as perfect as God?” But, on reflection, is Jesus speaking about being perfect as God is perfect, or does he mean being a perfect father, mother, sister, brother, just as God is a perfect Father to us?
Whichever way you find the Spirit leading you in your reflection and prayer during these days of Lent, make sure to keep in mind the perfection Jesus is focusing on. The perfection he is talking about concerns our relations with our neighbour, with our “enemy”, with the wicked, with the outcast, with the pagan, the unbeliever!
Jesus is challenging us, his Disciples – the Father’s beloved sons and daughters – to be towards all people just as God is to them. He is a Father who always acts out of love and compassion, and to all His children, but especially to those whom no body notices or cares for because they are on the margins of not just society, but of our love and concern!
Questions for meditation:
To whom does God want and need me to be a Father (Mother), Brother (Sister), Friend, Helper of last resort? How will I respond to this challenge during these days of Lent? How do I foresee Lent bringing about a renewal and rebirth of my faith, so that I am and act I the way that he is calling me to?
Prayer (from 2nd Sunday of Lent)
O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through Christ our Lord. AMEN.
One week of Lent has already gone by, let me review the actions that have chosen to take in order to reach out anew to God, to my Brothers and Sisters, but especially to those on the margins of society!
+Cardinal Wilfred Napier OFM
Archdiocese of Durban
Mt 5: 20-26
Dealing with anger and resentment in the Christian way
Lent is the “time of grace”. It presents us with a golden opportunity to reflect deeply on the inner movement of the Spirit in our lives and the presence of those negative emotions and feelings that manifest themselves and seek to dictate or control our lives. One such negative emotion that Jesus brings to our attention is “unresolved anger”.
What is anger? Anger is a powerful human emotion often characterized by feelings of great displeasure, indignation, hostility, resentment, wrath and vengeance. When we get angry we lose our minds and control of our lives, we are prone to sin and do things that we shall regret for the rest of our lives. “You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: you must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before court. But I say to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.” (Mt 5: 21-22)
Jesus wants us to take our negative emotions and anger in particular seriously – not just to brush them aside and say, “I have not murdered anyone!” Bad anger is sufficiently destructive, we may not entertain, harbor and make friends with it. He who plays with anger, plays with fire. Jesus asks us to deal with it urgently and not give in to it. We must be honest with ourselves, acknowledge it, name and shame our anger, reflect and pray about it and let it evaporate. Anger that has not been processed and resolved makes us slaves, hostages and prisoners. We lose our inner peace and freedom of the children of God that is found in the Holy Spirit. It also ruins and intoxicates our health of mind, body and soul. The advice of St Paul is very useful here, “Do not let resentment lead you into sin; the sunset must not find you still angry. Do not give the devil his opportunity” (Eph 4: 26-27)
If I am not reconciled with my brothers and sisters I cannot be truly reconciled with God either, therefore I may not even offer God a befitting worship due to him. This is why Jesus makes this imperative: “if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering” (Mt 5:24).
The reason why we must deal with anger and resentment and become reconciled is that we are ultimately called to holiness, that is, to emulate the extravagant and unconditional love of God. “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
➢ Do I have any unresolved anger in my life? If yes, what is it? What is its root cause?
➢ Quietly bring it before the Lord in prayer for healing.
➢ Be reconciled with God, yourself, others and with all creation.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer, “the Our Father” slowly, stop and reflect on the words “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”; then finish the whole Prayer.
Have the most blessed and fulfilling Lenten Season!
+Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Diocese of Port Elizabeth
A Worship of God That is Complete
Romans 12:1-2 is indeed one of Paul’s intense theological reflections on our Christian calling. It undoubtedly had a far reaching impact not only in the spiritual lives of the Roman converts of his time, but also in the promotion of truly Christian life in the Church.
Today during the 2015 lent observance, is an opportunity for us as members of Christian communities to pay attention to Paul’s call to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, to undergo the renewal of mind and heart and shun the attractions of the contemporary world. That is a state of mind influenced by the Spirit of God; it is something more powerful and meaningful than the sacrificial offerings of animals in the temple of Jerusalem. The Christian community as a locus of worship where a Christian can offer his/her own body to God rather than on a mountain (Ps. 2:6b, 40:8c) shows the highest development in the human understanding of God’s will about true worship. During the exodus Mount Sinai where Moses encountered God was the venue of worship. Then, during the period of kings, Solomon built and dedicated the temple of Jerusalem as a place of worship. However, at Jacob’s well the Samaritan woman argued with Jesus that her ancestors had built a rival venue for worship on Mount Gerizm. This prompted Jesus to give his unique teaching about the right place of worship:
“Believe me woman, the hour has come
when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in
Jerusalem. Indeed the hour is already here when true worshippers will
worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:21, 23).
Certainly in our times, there are no more burnt offerings or scapegoats to hide behind. A Christian has to come forward and boldly offer oneself to God completely and without reserve. That is the meaning of fasting, charity and prayer during lent. A Christian worshipper should allow his/her spiritual and sacramental life bear meaning to the concrete experiences of life and human relationships.
+Bishop Mlungisi Pius Dlungwane
Diocese of Mariannhill
Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference – Pilgrimage to International Eucharistic Congress 2016
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