REFLECTIONS. Extracts from DAILY THOUGHTS September 2020. “OUR WORLD OF FAMILIES”

Sep 15, 2020

September 16. “Heritage Day is just around the corner,” Mosebetsi told his children, adding, “I wonder who of you really understands our South African, Basotho, Christian heritage.”  So a family project was started to try to trace their own family background to earlier times in Lesotho.  “Do we go back to those bushmen whose paintings you showed us in the caves?”  Thato asked. “Not really, even though it is true, that it is part of the bigger South African heritage. For us our conversion to Christianity is very significant, but we are still Basotho people and those traditions matter too.  Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord. The people he has chosen as his heritage.  May your merciful love be upon us as we hope in you, O Lord. Psalm 33:12.   Pope Francis. Respect for our dignity as human beings often jars with the chaotic realities that people have to endure.  Cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle needs to be inculturated if it is to be respected and applied. AL 3.

Basotho bridal couple

September 17. Anthony shared, “Every culture has traditions and rituals as part of its heritage.  Performing these correctly does show respect.   We often do not understand one another’s culture well and may be offended by certain actions that are acceptable by some and foreign to others. I remember how annoyed I used to be when the learners in my class didn’t look me in the face. For them that was polite and for me it was rude. In a rainbow nation such as ours, we constantly have to be aware and respectful. I do believe that then maybe gradually racism will be overcome too. Can any of you think of other examples?”  Simon, do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her sins, which are many are forgiven for she loved much.“ Luke 7:36-50  Pope Francis. Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. LS202

September 18.  Jacques reminisced in his reflection, “Israel is a dry country and much of it is desert, but the Israelis have done a lot these days to irrigate and develop the land and grow all kinds of crops.  I wonder what is was like in Jesus’ day when he, with the 12 apostles and the group of women travelled through the countryside on their preaching and healing mission. He loved the land and  often used examples in his parables.  Luke also mentions the presence of women which was unusual for the time. Jesus went on through cities and villages preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with him and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities and many others who provided for them out of their means.  Luke 8:1-3  Pope Francis: the equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear and within families there is a growing reciprocity.  AL54

2018 World Meeting of Families programmes

September 19. The Brown family held one of their in-house discussions.  “The parable of the sower makes me think of farming, climate change and global warming,” Paul began. “Crops don’t just grow.  How important isn’t it for a farmer to be knowledgeable as farming, even organic farming is very scientific these days, with irrigation, use of fertilisers and pesticides.”  “I’ve seen how the same crop can be very different depending on where it is sown and how it is looked after.”  “Even so, the weather and the rain play a very big role.” “But haven’t we human beings not also had an effect on the weather?” “We really have to take greater responsibility for our world, don’t we?” “I think growing our own vegetables is quite fun,”  Jackie said.  “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some feel along the path and was trodden under foot and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell among thorns,………some in good soil.  Read Luke 8:4-15.  Pope Francis: Political activity can be directed at protecting certain species, planning a diversified agriculture and the rotation of crops. In poorer regions investment in rural infrastructure, a better organization of markets, systems of irrigation and techniques of sustainable agriculture can be developed. Community organisations can defend the interests of small producers.  LS 180     

September 20.  Sunday 25A.  Fr George had a chance to visit a suburban parish that was traditionally white but like many of these parishes was becoming much more mixed.   He used the opportunity to pose a question around fairness, knowing it was a tricky issue. “Do you think God is always fair?’ he began. “If you think about sickness, accidents, beauty, wealth and other positive qualities and experiences and you believe that everything comes from God, like a puppetmaster pulling strings, then surely God is not fair.  If you believe that God allows good and bad to happen to people but uses this to work for our salvation you presume God is fair.  But what does that tell us about the bible story of the farmer who hired labourers off the street.  He recruited early, again later and just a short while before the end of the day.  In the end he paid them all the same. Is that fair, or generous?  Now think of South Africa, its history and its present. Would that result in protests or strikes?  What kind of fairness or unfairness is there in our history? Should we accept that is how it is or not? “Friend I am doing you no wrong.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?   Do you begrudge my generosity?  So the last will be first and the first last.  Read Matt 20:1-16 for the full parable.  Pope Francis. Creating a world in need of development, God in some way sought to limit himself in such a way that many of the things we think of as evils, dangers or sources of suffering are in reality part of the pains of childbirth which he uses to draw us into the act of cooperation with the Creator.   LS 80 

September 21.  Everyone seemed to agree with the statement, “I think the battle to be the first to develop a Covid-19 vaccine is an interesting phenomenon about how human nature works.  They want to be first for economic reasons and try to keep their work a secret, but at the same time the WHO has challenged us all to the principle of human solidarity and be open and transparent.  “We’re all in this together,” we are told  “Scientists have been warning the world leaders of the risk of a major pandemic for some years and so in a way we’re all responsible for the situation that developed.  Is it OK to go blaming anyone for maybe not responding in the most effective ways?   This is really a very complex problem that humanity has to face. “  Jesus said “no one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand that those who enter may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.  Luke 8:16-17.   Pope Francis.  There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means an increase of progress itself, an advance in security, usefulness, welfare and vigour,  an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power.  The fact is contemporary man has not been trained to use power well, because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.  LS105

September 22.  For many Westerners the complexities of African extended family ties and the roles they play are a  mystery.  Why does an uncle get involved in wedding arrangements or why is a cousin called a sister or brother? Why does the firstborn remain responsible for the extended family in some cultures?   A nuclear family, of father, mother and children, is the image many people have of what a family is. But that is not even historically correct anywhere.  Family life and relationships, even marriage, have changed and are still changing in society. The Catholic Church is challenged by these changes too and has examined them at the 2014-5 synods.  Pope Francis’ THE JOY OF LOVE, (Amoris Laetitia) makes many references to different types of family structures. The Church as Family of God also implies a different kind of belonging in a non-biological way.  Jesus was told, your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you. But he said to them, my mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.  Luke 8:19-21.  Pope Francis. The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to see a sustainable and integral development for we know that things can change. LS 13

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