The Church Environment teachings
In the recent days, each one is concerned on how to best treat mother earth. We begin the spiritual and awesome exercise as we ask ourselves how God planned environment to be and how environment is part of salvation history right from the creation story to the flood. Then how God revealed himself and his glory using the environment. This plan of God is also reflected in the New Testament within the Gospels and the other letters and books. Thus, a series of our articles will also look at how the Catholic Church has responded to environmental issues and how it plays the prophetic role when facing these serious issues. We shall employ other teachings too from African perspective and religions. Religions such as, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism. As we try to find out what is their understanding of environment? And what is their attitude and response towards environmental conservation.
Environment in the Holy Scriptures
There are several texts in the Bible that shows the importance of the environment and its place in the economy of salvation history. From the time of creation there has existed relationship between God and environment and between human beings and environment. Scripture is the source and reference point of our faith. It lays the basis for the Catholic Church teaching. For our articles to be simple and provide concrete information that anyone can understand, we shall look at the environment from the Old and New Testaments.
Compiled from S. McDonough, MM, (1990)
Mother Mary Model of Women,
Indeed, as a nation, church and media, we have a long way to go, a lot of work to do for the citizens to be empowered. Where freedoms and rights are observed equally as the law discerns.
The role of women in the church is exactly the same as men’s: baptized members of Christ. Gifts differ according to the giving of the Spirit, not according to sexual or racial or any other biological markers. The Spirit can make men tender and women courageous, men quiet and retiring and women forceful leaders. And vice-versa. Today, we have a constitution that lists the rights and freedoms of all. It’s therefore important to note that these fundamental rights are for every human being, both women and men. Among some of these freedoms are; Freedom from discrimination on basis of religion, tribe, race and political opinions.
Freedom of Associations
Freedom of movement
Freedom of expression
Fortunately, Kenya as a nation has signed the United Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This document gives women equal rights in the law. To hold the government responsible, it is supposed to give a report every four years, on what it has done to achieve equal rights for women.
Kenya @50 achievement, it has appointed women in decision making positions, given them high political posts in leadership. In education, we have affirmative action in place to support women and girls reach the heights. Unfortunately, some of our women in the society are not aware of their rights and freedom. Opportunities pass by due to their ignorance and men take advantage of the situation as their prospects.
Another critical concern is digital illiteracy among women both in rural and urban towns is high. In a globalized society where everything is done electronically, this concern remain. The very nature of their traditional roles, some women to catch up with the signs of time as their claim they space will remain a dream. This is due to their enemy known to them as ignorance.
Women need to ensure that they are familiar with their rights and freedoms. For them to fit in the globalized society in which values and traditions no longer counts. There is a call for them to be sober like mother Mary, model of most women. There is need to strike a balance and restore sanity in our society, to ensure mutual respect and mistrust is eliminated especially among women themselves. Work on their confidence and challenge men where they out rightly infringe their freedoms and rights. Women should positively claim their space in decision making processes and not to shy away under cover of domestic roles.
Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A) 17th August 2014
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
- 2.Biblical Reflection
- In Isaiah, we are reminded of the inclusivity of God. One of my congregational songs has a line that goes, “You called us for God, from every tribe, people, language and nation …” All over the world, since time immemorial, strife has been born out of the prejudice that other people are somehow worth less. By using the word ‘foreigner,” Isaiah reminds us that all are welcome, reminding us to see others as God sees them, for many a time we are too quick to judge and to label others. Seeing others as God sees them literally translates into love—LOVE for all humanity. Love is what will break down the barriers that we have erected between us.
- Matthew shows us the human nature of Christ at play, as he tries to “stick to the script.” He knew his mission was to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and he was focused on accomplishing that. But the pleadings of his disciples and the persistence and resolve of the Canaanite woman touched him to respond. Faith is born through perseverance, but many times, the challenges of everyday life seem to make us forget the Gods’ promises to us. We need openness to the cry of the poor, lest in our schedules and business we forget to help those who need us most.
- 3.Link with the Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel *
“Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way” Evangelii Gaudium, No. 46.
The Pope’s words resonate with the Gospel of Matthew, urging us to be aware of all that is around us; otherwise, we might miss the mark. We have let our careers and rituals, although good in themselves, define our lives so completely that, essentially, we walk around with blinders.
The story is told of a woman who headed an organisation devoted to providing clothing to the needy, yet she repeatedly failed to notice the beggar by her gate as she drove in and out. She was so completely focussed on solving “the” world’s problems that she failed to notice that “her” world needed her too. Let’s take pause and ask ourselves where Jesus’ cry of ‘I thirst’ is present in our surroundings and how we can quench that thirst.
- 4.Yes, Kenya matters!
- Everywhere in Kenya, the political divides make ethnic overtures or raise suspicions of such. Let us dare to be the generation that claims Kenyan as its tribe. Let us not be caught up in the machinations of politicians, treating friend and neighbour as foe simply because of a surname.
- Let us move our concern for the plight of the less fortunate away from social media and actually dirty our hands providing real solutions. Causes can be great and can unite people in a positive way, but for every story of a suffering soul that is publicised, multiple others happen all around us. We just have to open our eyes and hearts.
- With so much fear and suspicion towards those of other faiths because of acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion, we must take time to learn more about others’ beliefs and befriend them. We’ll be surprised to find many commonalities and dreams, fears, and aspirations that are similar to our own.
- 5.African Wisdom
- A family is like a forest: when you are outside, it is dense; when you are inside you see that each tree has its place. — Ghana
When we reach out to learn from others and accept them, so shall we realise that each one on earth has a place at the table, a place in the divine plan.
- 6.Questions for reflection in SCCs
- Could we stretch ourselves, to accept and love even those who may seem different from us?
- Could we find time to reach out in any way to the marginalised around us?
- Could we learn something from those who are different from us? ...from their culture, their faith system, etc.?
*Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants—
all who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous
and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
SUFFERING IS A STEPPING STONE IN OUR FAITH
By FELIX M. KASOMO, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF ELDORET
Though we are children of the same Father, God who takes care of us always, even when we appear unworthy of such a fatherly protection one thing seems to have refused to go away from our lives; that is suffering. This is a mystery of our lives which respects no age or condition, no place or human being. A reality which takes many forms. Probably, only the causes, gravity, extent, length and approach may differ.
To be fair in this reflection let us look at suffering from various points of view and see if really this reality of life is the same in all situations. First we have the kind of suffering that we can inflict on our own selves. This is what we experience mostly in and around us. Through sin, misbehavior, ignorance, lack of self-control, laziness, and malice we inflict suffering on ourselves.
Think of that teenage girl who stubbornly refuses to take heed of her parent’s advice against premarital sex may one day find herself suffering because of unplanned of pregnancy. From this single instance of self-inflicted suffering her entire life may become one vicious circle of suffering. Several years later, this person may forget she was the original cause of her own suffering and may refer to God as the source of all her suffering. Self-inflicted suffering gives birth to many ‘I wish I knew’ kind of people. Such people live always to regret, but when it is already too late. That is why all young people need to grow knowing the choices we make can subject any of us to a lifelong misery which is not the kind of life God has for anyone.
When we fail to understand suffering well we can think that suffering is ever bad for us. That is not true at all. The second kind of suffering in our reflection is suffering on behalf of others. Nothing gives much joy to a person who suffers in sacrifice for one he or she loves. To share with one who has nothing demands a sacrifice, but one which brings joy to both. To sacrifice one’s entitlements for another is a highly commendable act which enriches the one who does it. Many great people of our time have done it and are now symbol of such great love. People like Maxiliam Kolbe, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, and the late Nelson Mandela whom the whole world honors. This is a suffering worth embracing in our lives as Christians.
Our third kind of suffering is one which hurts most; suffering of the innocent. Questions arise in the mind of the innocent sufferer: what good and just God could do this to me? Was it useless, then, to have kept my hands in innocence? This is the kind of suffering described in the book of Job. It is the suffering Jesus underwent. He had done well to everyone. He had spoken well as no one before. He had committed no sin. He prayed for and loved His enemies and taught His followers to do the same. Why then the passion and the cross?
The suffering innocent can make the victims lose Christian faith and faith in any God. The explanations given to them by some Christians resemble those given by Job’s so-called friends. They add pain, despair to despair. ‘You are suffering because of your sins, especially the hidden ones,’ ‘God is justly and openly punishing you, repent and accept your guilt! Such an approach is clearly unacceptable. Christ Himself denounced it; asked by his disciples: ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should have been born blind?’ Jesus’ answer was brief and exact: ‘neither he nor his parents… he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him’ (Jn. 9:2-3). In my view this is the same answer we have to give to our questions when we face suffering innocently. Again, to grow in faith we should see suffering as a stepping stone to higher heights of faith but never a stumbling block towards the same.