Monthly Archives: March 2014

4th Sunday of Lent

Lent 1
Readings (Please read further for Spanish and Swahili versions)
The story of the blind man receiving his sight (John 9,1-41) is a dramatic gospel, not only because of the miracle, but because of the heated exchanges and clever dialogue found in it. Jesus and his disciples, the blind man himself, his parents and neighbors and a divided group of Pharisees all interact vigorously in the story.

Unlike others, this blind man did not approach Jesus. Rather, Jesus approached him. And remarkably, the miracle did not just restore the man’s sight. Blind from birth, he never before had the power to see. Could he represent those who can do nothing for themselves? Nothing at all, except wait for the power of God? He could be all of us.

At the sight of the woebegone beggar, Jesus’ disciples wondered: did he do something to deserve it? Some sin he or his parents had committed? No, Jesus replied. “He was born blind so that God’s power might be displayed in curing him.”

It was Jesus’ message always: God wills to display his power in the poor. God’s power — healing, restoring, creating — goes out to the blind man and others like him. And as Jesus dispensed this power, so too he told his disciples “to carry on while daylight lasts the work of him who sent me.”
God’s power, not our own, is given to the poor. As Jesus’ disciples, we must work to share it with others. Then, perhaps, some of its blessing will fall on us. After all, aren’t we poor too?

“Humbly see your nothingness, never lose sight of it. Then, when His Divine Majesty makes it disappear in the Infinite All that is himself, stay there lost without seeing who you are any more. It’s not important. Follow his divine inspirations. The less you understand, the more ignorant you are in this school, the more learned you become. Neither you or any creature can know the grandeur of God and the divine impression he makes on humble hearts because he delights in them.” ( St. Paul of the Cross: Letter 929)

Lord,
I am blind;
Help me to see.

Spanish

4to domingo de Cuaresma, Año A
Juan 9, 1- 4

Este es un evangelio dramático, no solo por el milagro, sinó también debido a los animados intercambios verbales y diestro diálogo que se encuentran en él. Jesús y sus discípulos, el mismo hombre ciego, sus padres y vecinos, y un fracturado grupo de fariseos todos discuten vigorosamente en este cuento.

En contraste con otros, este ciego no buscó a Jesús. Mas bién, Jesús lo buscó a él. Es interesante que el milagro no solamente restauró la vista del hombre. Ciego desde nacimiento, él nunca había tenido el poder de ver. ¿Puede él representar a todos los que no pueden hacer nada por sí mismos? ¿Nada en lo absoluto, excepto esperar por el poder de Diós? Él nos puede representar a todos nosotros.

Frente al cuadro de este triste mendigo, los discípulos se preguntaban : ¿Será que él hizo algo para merecerse esto? ¿Algún pecado que él o sus padres habían cometido? No, respondío Jesús. ” él nació ciego para qué el poder de Diós sea manifestado en su cura.”

Era el mensaje de Jesús siempre: Diós escoge demostrar su poder por medio de los pobres. El poder de Diós- que sana, restaura y crea- procede hacía el hombre ciego y otros como él. Y mientras Jesús dispensaba este poder, también le decía a sus discípulos ” que sigan con el trabajo de Quién los mandó mientras todavía dura la luz del día.”

El poder de Diós, no el nuestro, es que se le da a los pobres. Como discípulos de Jesús, tenemos que trabajar para compartirlo con otros. Entonces, quizás, algunas de sus bendiciones caerán sobre nosotros. ¿Despúes de todo, no somos nosotros pobres también?

“En humildad nota tu insignifícancia, nunca pierdas vista de ella. Entonces, cuando su Divina Majestad hace que se desparezca en la Totalidad Infinita que es Él, descansa ahí perdido sin ver quien ya no eres. No es importante. Sigue sus inspiraciones divinas. Lo menos que entiendes, lo mas ignorante que eres en esta escuela, lo mas qué aprendes. Ni tú ni ninguna criatura puede comprender la grandeza de Diós y la divina impresión que él hace en los corazones hulmildes porque el se deleita en ellos.” (San Pablo de la Cruz: Carta 929)

Señor,
Estoy ciego;
Ayúdame a ver.

Lent
Jampili ya Nne Mwaka A
Hi ni Injili ya matukio, si kwa sababu ya miujiza tu, ila kwa sababu ya majadiliano motomoto na yenye uelewa yanayopatikana humo. Yesu na wanafunzi wake, kipofu mwenyewe, wazazi wake, majirani na kikundi cha mafarisayo kilichogawanyika, wote wanachangia kwenye hadithi.
Tofauti na wengine, kipofu hakumkaribia Yesu. Bali Yesu ndiye aliyemkaribia. Kwa namna ya pekee muujiza haukumfanya kipofu apate kuona tu. Kipofu tangu kuzaliwa, hakuwahi kuwa na uwezo wa kuona. Inawezekana kuwa anawakilisha wale ambao hawana uwezo wa kufanya kitu chochote wenyewe. Hawawezi kufanya kitu chochote ila kusubiri nguvu na uwezo wa mungu. Kipofu huyo anaweza kuwa sisi sote.
Wanafunzi wa Yesu wanashangaa kama alitenda kitu kilichomfanya astahili kuwa kipofu. Alitenda dhambi au wazazi wake ndio walitenda dhambi? La, Yesu aliwajibu. “Alizaliwa kipofu ili nguvu kuu ya mungu iweze kudhihirika katika kumponya.”
Ulikuwa ni ujumbe wa Yesu kila mara: Mapenzi ya Mungu ni kuonyesha uwezo wake kwa maskini. Nguvu za mungu za uponyaji, kurejesha na kuomba vinamuendea yule kipofu na wengine kama yeye. Vile Yesu alivotoa uwezo na nguvu ya uponyaji, aliwahimiza wanafunzi wake kuendeleza kazi ya mungu aliyemtuma yeye kuifanya.
Nguvu ya mungu si yetu, imetolewa kwa maskini. Sisi kama wanafunzi wa Yesu, inatubidi tufanye kazi na kuishirikisha nguvu hiyo kwa wenzetu. Nasi pia pengine huenda tukapata baadhi ya baraka zake. Hata hivyo kwa sisi pia ni maskini.
Mtakatifu Paulo wa Msalaba
Jinyenyekea na kuona kuwa huna kitu, na usipotese muelekeo. Halafu wakati utukufu wake mungu utatufanya nasi tupotelea kwake. Kaa pale na ujione kana kwamba haupo. Fuata maagizo au maelezo yake mungu. Vile unapungukiwa na kuelewa hapo ndivyo unavyojioana huna kitu katika shule yake. Hamna kiumbe chochote kinachoweza kufahamu alama anayoweka kwenye mioyo ya wanyenyekevu kwa sababu anapata furaha katika hao.(Barua 020, December 21, 1754)

The Blind Believe

Jesus sorrowing

Rejected by your own,
By those who know so much
yet know so little.

This week in Jerusalem,
the city that knows so much
yet knows so little,
you walk its streets where a blind man begs
and give him sight that he never had before,
but they don’t believe
you’re God’s Son,
his only Son, equal to him.

“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
the blind man said with new sight.
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he,”
you said to the man with new sight.

He worshiped you,
“I do believe, Lord.”

Give us his sight.

art: Duk Soon Fwang

Rembrandt and the Woman at the Well

Samaritan woman
Though he’s known best for his portrayal of the Dutch world of his time, Rembrandt was very interested in stories from the Bible, both from the Old and New Testament. Possibly one third of his work is devoted to biblical subjects, about 700 drawings among them.

What led him to paint and draw biblical events? It wasn’t mainly a patron’s commission, as was the case of his contemporaries– Rubens, for instance. Rembrandt seems genuinely attracted to the bible and felt compelled to draw from the biblical narrative, not because he could make money on it, but because it spoke to him and his situation in life.

“Rembrandt’s relation to the biblical narrative was so intense that he repeatedly felt impelled to depict what he read there. These sketches of Rembrandt have the quality of a diary. It is as though he made marginal notes to himself…The drawings are testimonies, self-revelations of Rembrandt the Christian.” (Rembrandt’s Drawings and Etchings for the Bible. p. 6)

It seems this interest in the bible came, in part, from his mother, a devout woman, who had a Catholic prayerbook that featured the Sunday gospels with illustrations on facing pages. As she prayed from this book, did she show them to her little boy growing up?

His portrayal of scriptural stories are so insightful. Just look at his portrayal of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman, which is found in John’s gospel. Jesus deferentially asks for a drink of water, bowing to the woman as he points to the well. And she stands in charge, her hands firmly atop her bucket. She’s a Samaritan and a woman, after all. He wont get the water until she says so. Jesus looks tired, bent over by the weariness of a day’s long journey.

Certainly, this is no quick study of a gospel story. Obviously, Rembrandt has thought about the Word who made our universe and humbled himself to redeem us. Perhaps he’s also thinking of the way Catholics and Protestants at the time were clashing among themselves, their picture of Jesus a strong, vigorous warrior. But here he stands humbly outside a little Dutch village that the artist’s contemporaries might recognize. Some of them may be pictured looking on at the two.
Artists have a powerful role in relating truth and beauty.
And what about Rembrandt’s mother? A 19th century French Sulpician priest, Felix Dupanloup, who had a lot to do with early American Catholic catechetical theory said to parents:
“Till you have brought your children to pray as they should, you have done nothing.”
Looks like she did her job.

3rd Sunday of Lent

Lent 1
readings (Please read further for Spanish and Swahili versions)

John’s gospel says that Jesus, setting out from Jerusalem for his native Galilee, “had” to pass through Samaria and meet the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. So it was not by chance that Jesus, the Savior, enter that land whose people were so bitterly opposed to their neighbors, the Jews of Judea and Galilee.

“It was about noon, and Jesus, tired after his journey, was sitting by the well.” A Samaritan woman came to the well for water. What a strong, unconventional woman she was! She came alone at noon, not the usual morning or evening time when women of the town came in groups with their water jars. Nor does she hesitate at the sight of a man sitting alone at the well.

How forceful and sarcastic her answer when Jesus asks for a drink! “What! You a Jew, ask for a drink from a Samaritan woman?” The ancient feud between Jews and Samaritans rises in her blood.
Yet the weary man persists, talking of human thirst and the living waters God provides. Gradually, as he talks of higher things, the woman recognizes he has more to give than water from the well; he fulfills all the memories associated with this ancient sacred place. He says something, however, she would rather not hear. “You have had five husbands, the man you are living with now is not your husband.”

She must have heard it less as an accusation than as the truth, for she doesn’t turn away. More than accusing her, she felt him refreshing her soul’s thirst. Eager and inspired, she put down her water jar and hurried to the town to tell her neighbors about the one she met. For two days Jesus stayed in that town. The tired gentle Jew, who sat by Jacob’s well, was welcomed as a Savior.

We must welcome him too; he comes to us and never tires of us. “Feed yourself on Jesus, drink his Precious Blood, quench your thirst from the chalice of Jesus. Yet, the more you drink, the more you will thirst.” (Letter 662)

O Jesus,
is the woman,
sure and strong,
our reflection:
sure but unsure,
strong but so weak,
seeking but afraid to find
our Savior so close by?

Spanish

Domingo, 3ra Semana de Cuaresma (Año A)
Juán 4. 5-42

El evangelio de Juán dice que Jesús, viajando de Jerusalén hacia su nativa Galilea, “tenía” que pasar por Samaria y encontrarse con la mujer samaritana en el pozo de Jacob. Así que no era por coincidencia que Jesús, el Salvador, entrara en esa tierra donde los ciudadanos estaban tan agriamente opuestos a sus vecinos, los judíos de Judea y Galilea.
“Era cerca del mediodía y Jesús, cansado del camino, se sentó junto al pozo.” Una mujer samaritana vino al pozo a buscar agua. Qué mujer tan fuerte y poco convencional! Ellla vino sola a la hora del mediodía, que no era el tiempo usual de la mañana o el atardecer cuando las mujeres del pueblo venían en grupos con sus jarras de agua. Tampoco ella vaciló al ver un hombre sentado solo al lado del pozo.
Qué potente y sarcástica su respuesta cuando Jesús le pide agua! “Qué, tú, un judío pidiendo un trago de agua de una mujer samaritana!” Se le subió en la sangre la riña antigua entre judíos y samaritanos.
Pero el hombre cansado persiste, hablando de la sed humana y del agua viva que Diós provee. Gradualmente el habla de cosas más sublimes y la mujer reconoce que él tiene más para dar que agua de un pozo; él realiza todas las memorias relacionadas con este antiguo lugar sagrado. Entonces él dice algo que ella hubiera preferido no oír. ” Tú haz tenido cinco maridos; el hombre con quien vives ahora no es tu marido.”
Ella tiene que haber oído esto menos como acusación y más como hecho, verdad, porque ella no le da la espalda. Más que acusándola , ella lo sintió refrescando la sed de su alma. Entusiasmada e inspirada, ella deja su cántaro y corre hacia el pueblo para decirle a sus vecinos sobre El que ha conocido. Por dos días Jesús se quedo´en ese pueblo. Ese judío, apacible y cansado, que se sentó junto al pozo de Jacob, fué bienvenido como Salvador.
Nosotros tenemos que darle la bienvenida también; él viene a nosotros y nunca se cansa de nosotros. San Pablo de la Cruz dice: “Alimentate de Jesús, toma su Preciosa sangre, sacia tu sed con el cáliz de Jesús. Pero, lo más que tomes, lo más que aumentará tu sed.” (carta 662)
¿O Jesús,
es la mujer
segura y fuerte,
nuestra reflexión:
segura pero insegura,
fuerte, pero tán débil,
buscando, pero con miedo de encontrar
nuestro Salvador tán cerca?
Lent

Jumapili ya tatu ya kwaresima
Padre Evans Fwamba

Swahilil
Injili ya Yohana inasema kwamba Yesu, alifunga safari kuelekea Yerusalem kwenye nchi yake alikozaliwa. Ilimpasa apitie kijiji cha Samaria ambapo alipofika kwenye kisima cha Yakobo alikutana na mwanamke Msamaria. Haikuwa eti ni bahati kuwa Yesu ambaye ni mkombozi kuingia katika nchi ambayo kuna upinzani mkubwa kati ya Wayahudi na Wagalilaya.
Ilikuwa saa ya mchana na Yesu amechoka kwa safari. Akaketi karibu na kisima. Mwana mke Msamaria akaja kwenye kisima kuchota maji. Mwanamke huyu alikuwa jasiri kwani alikuja pekee yake mchana wala sio asubuhi au jion ambapo ndio ilikuwa kawaida kwa akina mama kuja kuchota maji vikundi vikundi. Hata baada ya kumuona mwanamme aliyeketi pale huyu mama Msamaria hakusita.
Ukiangalia jibu lake, Yesu alipomuomba maji, “Nini!” Wewe ni Myahudi, halafu unaomba maji kutoka kwa Msamaria. Anakumbuka uhasama uliokuwako kati ya Wayahudi na Wasamaria na
kuamsha hisia za uadui.
Lakini Yesu aliyechoka anasisitiza kuongea juu ya kiu ya kibinadam na ya maji ya uzima yanayotolewa na Mungu. Taratibu anavyoendelea kuongea juu ya vitu vikubwa zaidi, mwanamke anatambua kuwa anazaidi cha kutoa zaidi ya maji kutoka kwenye kisima. Anakamilisha kumbukumbu zote zilizohusika na hii sehemu ya wazee iliyo takatifu. Yesu anamwambia kitu ambacho labda asingependa kusikia. Kwamba amekuwa na wanaume watano na hata yule aliye nae sio wake.
Mwanamke yule hakumuona Yesu kuwa anamulaumu bali anamwambie ukweli, kwani mama yule hakukimbia bali alibaki. Zaidi ya kuiona kwamba Yesu alikuwa anamlaum alijisikia kwamba alikuwa anatuliza kiu ya roho yake. Kwa hamu na kuvutiwa aliweka chini mtungi wa maji na kukukimbia mjini kuwaambia majirani juu ya yule mgeni aliyekutana nae. Yesu alibaki katika mji huo kwa siku mbili.
Yesu aliyekuwa amechoka na aliyekaa kwenye kisima cha Yakoba alipokelewa kama mkombozi.
Nasi pia tunapaswa tumkaribishe ndani yetu, anakuja kwetu na hachoki kamwe.
Paulo wa Msalaba anasema kuwa “Ujilishe kwa Yesu, unywe damu yake takatifu, kata/zima kiu yako kutoka kwenye kikombe cha divai ya Kristu. Ingawa vile unavyoendeleal kuinywa, ndivyo hivyo unaendelea kuwa na kiu zaidi.”
(Barua 662, August 9, 1749)

2nd Sunday of Lent

Lent 1
en español
for Swahili
Matthew 17,1-9

The Transfiguration of Jesus takes place at the midpoint of Matthew’s gospel, after Jesus announces to his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Take up your cross and follow me, he tells his disciples.
“God forbid, Lord,” says Peter. who doesn’t understand this at all. We find it hard to understand too.

Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain where they experience him glorified, surrounded by Moses and Elijah. It’s a transitory experience, even though Peter, awed by the vision, asks to prolong it. After falling to the ground, the disciples looked up and “saw no one except Jesus himself alone.” But the experience strengthens them for the journey they’re called to make.

“The main purpose of the transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of Christ’s disciples,” says Pope Leo the Great. God doesn’t want us to be weighed down by suffering.

So, like Peter, James and John, Jesus takes us up a mountain throughout our lives to strengthen us as we share in his cross. What mountain do we ascend? St. Paul of the Cross and other spiritual guides say it’s the mountain of prayer, where we experience intimations of God’s glory, brief encounters, transfigurations of a lesser kind. We’re strengthened as we pray.

“Don’t think that the trials and crosses you experience turn you to go another way. Trials don’t indicate you’re straying from God. We know it’s just the opposite from the scriptures we read and the saints we honor. The way to go is the way our Savior gives us grace to go. Saint Bernard wasn’t the first to know this truth when he said: ‘The cross is the way to life, the way to glory, the way to the Kingdom, and the way to the inhabited City.’”

(Letter 1194)

Lord Jesus,
lead me to that mountain place
of stronger light and surer sound
where I may see your glory.
Strengthen me through prayer.

Light and truth,
bright as blinding snow,
whom Peter, James and John saw,
“Bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.”
Spanish

en español
2do domingo de cuaresma (Año A)
Mateo 17.1-9

La Transfiguración de Jesús ocurre en el medio del Evangelio de Mateo, después de Jesús haber anunciado a sus discípulos que ” él tendría que ir a Jerusalén, y pasar grandes sufrimientos bajo las manos de los ancianos, los jefes de los sacerdotes y los maestros de la ley, ser matado, y al tercer día resucitar.”

Carguen con su cruz y síganme, les dice a sus apóstoles. ” Diós no lo quiera, Señor!” le dice Pedro, que no entiende esto en lo absoluto. Nosotros lo encontramos muy difícil de entender también.

Seis días después Jesús toma a Pedro, a Santiago y a Juán a una montaña donde ellos tienen la experiencia de verlo a él glorificado, rodeado por Moisés y Elías. Esta parece ser una experiencia transitoria; después de postrarse en la tierra, ellos levantaron la cabeza y ” ya no vieron a nadie, sino a Jesús solo.” Pero esta experiencia los fortalece para el resto de la jornada que les espera.

“El propósito principal de la transfiguración de Jesús es de remover el escándolo de la cruz de los corazones de los discípulos de Cristo,” dice el Papa Leo el Grande. Diós no quiere que nosotros seamos oprimidos por el sufrimiento.

Así, como a Pedro, Santiago y Juán, Jesús nos lleva arriba a una montaña durante todas nuestras vidas mientras compartimos su cruz. ¿Qué montaña es la que ascendemos ? San Pablo de la Cruz y otros guías espirituales dicen que es la montaña de la oración, donde experimentamos intimaciones de la gloria de Diós, encuentros breves, y transfiguraciones pequeñas que nos fortalecen.

Nos dice San Pablo de la Cruz ; ” No créas que las pruebas y las cruces que experimentas te viran hacia otro camino. Las pruebas no son indicaciones de que te estás descarriando de Diós. Nosotros sabemos que lo opuesto es cierto basado en las Escrituras que leemos y los santos que veneramos. La ruta que tomar es el camino por donde Diós nos da la gracia para ir. San Bernardo no fue el primero en reconocer esta verdad cuando exclamó; ‘ La cruz es el camino a la vida, el camino a la gloria, el camino al Reino, y el camino a la Ciudad Habitada.’ ” (Carta 1194)

Señor Jesús,
guíame hacia ese lugar montañoso
de fuerte luz y sonido claro
donde pueda ver tu gloria.
Fortaléceme a través de la oración.

Luz y verdad, brillante como la nieve deslumbradora,
a quién Pedro, Santiago y Juán vieron.
” Tráeme a tu monte sagrado ,
al lugar de tu morada.”
Swahili
Lent

Tafakari ya jumapili ya pili
Kugeuka sura kwa Yesu kulitokea katika kipindi muhimu cha Enjili ya Mathayo, baada ya Yesu kuwatangazia wafuasi wake kwamba “atapaswa kwenda Yerusalem na kupitia mateso makali katika mikono ya wazee wa kanisa, makuhani wakuu na mafarisayo, atauwa na siku ya tatu atafufuka.”

Chukua msalaba wako na unifuate, anawaambia wafuasi wake. “Mungu apishe mbali, Bwana, “alisema Peter, ambae hakulielewa hili hata kidogo. Inakuwa vigumu kwetu pia kulielewa.

Siku sita baadae, Yesu akamchukua Petro, Yacobo na Yohana kwenye mlima ambapo waliuona utukufu wa Yesu, kando yake wakiwepo Musa na Elia. Ilionekana kuwa kipindi cha mpito ambacho wasingerefusha zaidi. Baada ya kuanguka chini, waliinua macho, na hawakumuona yeyote ila Yesu peke yake.” Hali hiyo iliwaimarisha kwa kipindi cha safari yote waliyoifanya.

Lengo kuu la kugeuka sura ilikuwa ni kuondoa uzushi juu ya msalaba katika mioyo ya wafuasi wa Kristo,” Anasema Papa Leo Mkuu.

Ni katika mlima gani yesu anatuchukua sisi ili kutuimarisha katika safari ya kuibeba misalaba yetu? Mt. Paulo Wa Msalaba pamoja na viongozi wengine wa kiroho wanasema ni mlima wa sala ambapo tunapata ukamilifu wa utukufu wa Mungu, kwa kifupi tunakutana na utukufu wa Mungu.

1st Sunday of Lent

Lent 1
Today’s Readings
for Swahili

Sunday Readings

When Mao Zedong was supreme ruler of China from 1949-1976, he regularly sent young recruits for the Communist party on what was called the “Long March”– an 8,000 mile journey through some of the toughest parts of western China that Mao and his army took in 1935 to evade their enemies. That march made them into a strong fighting force that eventually conquered China. Mao believed young recruits would learn to be good Communists by retracing the way he and his soldiers went in 1935.

Lent is our “Long March.” For 40 days, we retrace the journey Jesus took to his death and resurrection. We begin in the Jordan Valley, where the gospels and the earliest accounts from the Acts of the Apostles say that Jesus began his ministry. He entered the Jordan River to be baptized by John; the heavens opened and God the Father declared: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Here’s the One I’m sending you, the Messiah, listen to him.The Jordan wilderness was one of the places the Jews looked for the Messiah to appear.

The Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. Then, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to begin the first steps of his journey and for 40 days Jesus was tempted by the devil.

He was tempted to be a Messiah of another kind. Live another life instead of the life God wants you to live, Satan says. In the desert Satan “offers Jesus another messianic way, far from God’s plan, because it passes through power, success, dominion and not through the total gift on the Cross. This is an alternative messianism of power, of success, not the messianism of gift and selfless love.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Lenten Reflection 2012)

Matthew’s gospel offers an interesting summary of Jesus’ temptations. “Turn these stones into bread,” Satan says. “You’re above the ordinary laws of life. You don’t have to get hungry or tired or sick or die like other human beings. You’re superman.” From a mountain, Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. “Here’s political power,” Satan says. “You’re an ideal political candidate; they will fall at your feet. You can always be popular and they’ll flock to your side.” From the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, Satan says “Throw yourself down; you can have religious power. You can even tell God what to do.”

Aren’t we tempted like that too? We like to control things, to snap our fingers and have stones become bread; we like things to run smoothly and have the world on our side; we even like to control God. His great wish is “ his will be done, his kingdom come.” Our temptation is “my will, my kingdom come.”

The gospels say the temptations of Jesus lasted for 40 days. Then, according to Mark’s gospel:

“After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”

Jesus followed John the Baptist and the way of the prophets. He went, not to Jerusalem the center of religious and political power, but to Galilee to proclaim the gospel of God to a people who “live in darkness and the shadow of death.” He taught and did great works, but his journey was not easy; it was still a wilderness where he faced again the temptations he faced in the desert. His temptations were not over after 40 days. They continued into Galilee and then in Jerusalem where he died on the Cross. He still got hungry and tired. He still was tested to give up his mission as Messiah. His journey wasn’t easy; it was a long march.

In Lent we make the Long March. But remember, it’s a Long March with Jesus. We go and live in his grace, as children of God.

The saints, our examples and guides, were tempted like Jesus in their lives too. Here’s St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists, describing the temptations he faced not once, but often: “I was dry, distracted and tempted. I had to force myself to stay at prayer. I was tempted to gluttony and seized with hunger. I felt the cold more than usual and wanted some relief, and on that account I wanted to flee from prayer. By the grace of God, my spirit held out, but the violence and assaults kept coming both from my flesh and the devil.” (Spiritual Diary, December 10-13)

Swahili
Lent

Jumapili ya Kwanza ya Kwaresima Matayo 4: 1-11
Padre Evans Fwamba Cp
Ingawa maandiko matakatifu yasema, Yesu alichugua ubinadam wetu akawa kama sisi kwa kila namna isipokuwa dhambi. Mara nyingi tunavutwa kumuona yuko tofauti na sisi. Tunamuona kama anayetenda miujiza, mwalimu wa uhakika, Bwana wa yasiyowezekana. Lakini tunapomuangalia Kristu jangwani tunamuona akiwa mchovu, mnyonge, na kuhangaika katika mazingira magumu na hatari. Tunajiuliza na kutafakari, je maisha yake yalikuwa hivi kwa kiasi kikubwa?Nasi pia wanadamu hapa duniani ni kama tuko jangwani. Tunapitia yale yote Yesu aliyoyapitia, vishawishi.

Tunatafakari jinsi Yesu alivyojaribiwa jangwani. Kwanza, tukifikiri juu ya maisha ya uhitaji aliyoyaishi, hasa katika utume wake. Watu walimletea matatizo na mahangaiko yao, tunamuona kipofu kando ya barabara akiomba kuponywa, mtu aliyepooza aliyeshushwa kutoka darini, mwanamke aliyebembeleza ili binti yake apone, na wagonjwa wengi waliokuja kwake kila wakati. Je Yesu Kristo alichoka kutenda mema? La hasha, hakuchoka kutenda mema. Nasi pia tusichoke kutenda yaliyomema.

Jaribio la kwanza la Yesu jangwani ni shetani anamshawishi abadili jiwe liwe mkate. Ni jaribio ambalo linataka Yesu atumie uwezo na nguvu zake kwa manufaa yake mwenyewe, ubinafsi. Lakini nguvu ya kufanya miujiza ni kwa ajili ya wengine na utukufu wa mungu si manufaa yake mwenyewe.

Nasi pia tunajaribiwa kutumia mamlaka, nguvu zetu kwa ajili ya manufaa yetu. Mfano Daudi anatumia mamlaka yake na kulala na mke wa mwenzake 2Sam 11:1-27, Binti ya Herodi anatumia vibaya kibaji chake cha kucheza kwa kutaka kichwa cha Yohane Mbatizaji Marko 6:14-29. Je zile nafasi na uwezo mungu ametujalia katika jamii tunazitumiaje? Na vipaji vyetu mbali mbali tunavitumia je?

Mtakatifu Paulo Wa Msalaba alijua kujaribiwa kwake ni katika maisha ya kawaida na kwenye sala, anasema alikuwa amekauka kiroho, kusumbuliwa na kujaribiwa ili aache kutafakari juu ya mateso ya kristu. Alijaribiwa kuwa mlafi na kupatwa na njaa, alipigwa na baridi sana na kutamani kutoroka sala. Lakini kwa neema ya mungu aliweza kustahimili hayo yote. Tunapokuwa na shida kwenye maisha yetu ya kawaida na sala zetu tunatoroka au tunaomba neema za mungu tustahimili?……..

Sharing the Word

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During Lent Catholics all over the world read the same scriptures during Lent and Easter. This Lent a Passionist from Kenya, Father Evans Fwamba,CP joins us on this blog to reflect on the lenten readings for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent. His reflections are in Swahili, the language of many East Africans.
The Word of God belongs to all.
Each day in Lent there will be a post on the lenten readings and the writings of St. Paul of the Cross.
See you tomorrow in English and Swahili:Tuonane kesho

Ready for Lent?

Lent 1
Communicating isn’t easy. Before the Olympics a Russian writer wrote an article in one the papers about how hard it is for Russians and Americans to understand each other. She gave as an example the simple phrase “How are you?” If you ask an American “How are you?” the answer might be “I’m great,” “Wonderful,” the writer said. But if you ask a Russian “How are you?” you’ll likely get a litany of complaints about health, the government, the neighbors, and everything else that’s going wrong.

I was with some of priests the other day, one is from Ireland the other from Argentina. If you ask the Irish priest “How are you?” his answer usually is “Not too bad.” That seems to be somewhere between the American and the Russian. The Argentinian priest told me that a friend of his was flying to America on an American carrier and he had a bad accident and had to cancel his flight. He called for a refund for his ticket, but was told it was a “non cancellation” ticket. You’re out of luck. After realizing he was getting nowhere his friend said: “OK, Goodbye.” The American agent on the line said. “Goodbye. And have a wonderful day!”

If human communication can be difficult, so is our communication with God. For the last few Sundays we’ve been reading from the Sermon on the Mount from St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5-8. Jesus goes up a mountain and calls his disciples to himself and begins to teach them. He calls them “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world.” The Sermon on the Mount is a summary of Jesus’ teaching, and what he teaches can bring flavor and light to our world.

Jesus’ words are not always easy to understand, however. So much of the Sermon on the Mount sounds beautiful, but we find ourselves asking What do you mean by that? What do you mean when you say “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, what you will wear?” I have to pay bills, keep my job, take care of my family. I worry about them. Is that bad? What do you mean when you say, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” “Turn the other cheek… give someone your cloak…give to everyone who asks. Go the extra mile.”

The Lenten season begins this week. It’s a time to turn to God and ask what’s he saying to us and to our world? Let’s go up the mountain and listen to him.

Lent is a time to imitate the way God acts. From the mountain where he taught Jesus came down and cured a leper, according to Matthew’s Gospel. His miracles of healing and kindness reveal a God who heals and comes to the aid of the poor. Lent’s a time to imitate God’s way of acting through acts of kindness towards those in need.

Lent is a time to see how God acts towards us. He ascends another mountain at the end of Lent and dies for us. That vivid sign is something we need to look at again and again. What are you saying to me and to the world? Do you really love us that much?