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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

30 January 2022

Jeremiah1:4-5. 17-19                    1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13                    Luke 4:21-30

Theme: O, that today you would listen to his voice

I’m sure many will remember Don McClean’s popular song, Vincent, about the famous Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh. It ends with these rather pessimistic if memorable lines: ‘They would not listen, they’re not listening still / Perhaps they never will’. Not being listened to was the fate of all the prophets, those who spoke God’s word to the people of their time. It was the fate of Jeremiah, appointed by God as ‘prophet to the nations’ (Jer 1:5), and it was the fate of Jesus, God’s beloved Son, who, in the words of St John ‘came to his own people and his own people did not accept him (Jn 1:11).

Our first reading recounts the call and commissioning of Jeremiah, one of the  major prophets of Israel who lived at a time of great political turmoil. Jeremiah  was charged with the unenviable task of challenging the Kings and princes, priests and people of Judah, exhorting them to be faithful to the covenant God had made with them. A peace-loving young man, Jeremiah never wanted to be a prophet. At times he felt overwhelmed by the sheer burden of it, but, like Jesus after him, ‘he learned to obey through suffering’ (Heb 5:8). In this reading, he is assured that he will not fail in his prophetic mission, for the Lord will be with him, making him into ‘a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze’ (Jer 1:18). The assurance given to Jeremiah is still given today to all those speak truth to power, who stand up for justice and integrity.

The story of Jesus’ rejection by the townspeople of Nazareth, vividly told by Luke in today’s gospel, is sad and disturbing. In the Spring of 2008, while on a sabbatical programme in the Holy Land, I had the privilege of spending a few days in Nazareth (now a large town) situated in the hills of Galilee. A guide led us to ‘Mount of Precipitation’, the place, we are told, where the people attempted to murder Jesus by throwing him down a cliff-face. The people who rejected Jesus were no strangers to him. They were his neighbours and friends. He had probably attended their weddings and funerals, visited them when sick, and joined in their festivals. With Joseph, he may even have to build their houses or make furniture for their homes. They were people he knew and loved. This makes their rejection of him all the more poignant.

Jesus had just proclaimed a heart-warming passage from Isaiah in their Synagogue and presented himself as the promised Messiah. The people’s reaction to him at first seems to be one of amazement and approval. ‘He won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips (Lk 4: 22). It is shocking to see how quickly this mood of admiration and acclaim changed to one of questioning, hostility and, in the end, murderous rage. We wonder what could have made these people so angry? What was it in his message that they didn’t want to hear, that they couldn’t accept. We get an inkling of what annoyed them from the words of Jesus, reminding them that God was not just ‘their God’  but the God of all peoples, the God who showed mercy to the widow of Zarephath and the Syrian, Naaman, both gentiles. Like most of Jesus’ contemporaries, the people of Nazareth believed that they, and they alone, were ‘God’s chosen people’. Jesus challenges their narrow vision of God and his ways, and draws them towards a more inclusive vision. This was not what they wanted to hear.

The story of Jesus’ rejection by his townspeople should challenge us about our own prejudices and blind spots. How open are we to the message God wants to give us? Do we really listen to God’s Word with an attentive ear and receptive heart? We need to cultivate a listening heart, but how do we do this? The answer, I suggest, is to be found in our second reading today, in which St Paul speaks of the qualities of love. They are the same qualities that characterise the listening heart. The listening heart is ‘always patient and kind; it is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude;… it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but delights in the truth’ (1Cor 13: 4-6) Above all, the listening heart is a heart that capable of appreciating the goodness and beauty in others.

I end with a story that bring out very well this final quality of the listening heart:  

‘Moved by the beauty around him, one of the disciples asked his old Master how he could help others to see and feel such beauty. ‘What you ask is difficult’ answered the old man. ‘To see and feel beauty outside ourselves, we must be and feel ourselves to be beautiful.’  ‘But Master’, asked the disciple, ‘how do we know if someone is beautiful?’  ‘Beauty is part of love’, the Master explained. It is being great enough to give, and humble enough to receive. To help another discover beauty is to open one’s spirit to noble and generous ideas. It is removing the blindfold that covers the mind and tearing off the bandages that shroud the heart.’ (Emilio Rojas).

To listen to an alternative Homily from Fr Tom Casey of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola, Zambia please click on the play button below.

Nigerian Christians dying for their faith

Open Doors International, a non-denominational organization that assists persecuted Christians around the globe, has issued an annual report in which it claims a record 360 million people worldwide were discriminated against or abused last year for being followers of Christ, up 20 million on the previous year. Their annual report came as FIDES, – the Vatican’s missionary News Agency – released a list of twenty-two Catholic missionaries who were murdered in 2021, eleven of them in Africa. 

Open Doors has been monitoring Christian persecution since 1992 and has been publishing its World Watch List annually since 2012, listing the 50 countries where it was most dangerous to profess one’s Christian faith in the course of the year.

Funeral Service for 38 Christians killed in Kaura Local Government, Kaduna State Nigeria

Nearly 5,900 Christians were murdered last year, 80% of these martyrs for the faith were in Nigeria, including four Catholic priests.

This record level comes in a context of global health crisis, with the arrival in power of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the actions of jihadist groups in sub-Saharan Africa,” emphasizes Patrick Victor, director of Open Doors France.

The NGO says 5,898 Christians lost their lives last year because of their faith. That includes 4,650 in Nigeria and 620 in Pakistan. “This translates into 16 Christians being killed every day around the world,” Victor pointed out. 

Another notable figure is that 5,110 churches were targeted in 2021, including 3,000 in China. 20,000 Christian buildings have been closed in China over the past eight years. Watch List 2022 says 470 churches and Christian facilities were closed last year in Nigeria, and 200 in Bangladesh.

IN SUMMARY
1 in 7 Christians are persecuted worldwide;

1 in 5 Christians are persecuted in Africa;

2 in 5 Christians are persecuted in Latin America;

5,898 Christians murdered;

5,110 Churches attacked and 

6,175 Christians detained.

Additionally, it reports that 6,175 Christians are currently detained because of their religious beliefs, including 1,315 in India, 1,100 in China, and 1,050 in Pakistan.

Considering all the various types of persecution, the worst place in the world to be a Christian in 2021 was in Afghanistan. North Korea had been top of the list for nearly 20 years. “The Taliban had lists of converts to Christianity,” explained Guillaume Guennec, advocacy officer at Open Doors France. “They went door-to-door to find them, and immediately killed Christian men, while the women or girls were raped or sold,” he said.

Myanmar also moved up the list from 18th place in World Watch 2021 to 12th place in this latest edition. The main reason was anti-Christian violence by the military junta in wake of the February 2021 coup d’état. Fides reported that 35 Catholics in Mo so village, Kayah State, were murdered by soldiers and their burnt bodies were discovered on Christmas Day. Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said that “as the rest of the world celebrated the birth of Christ, the people of Mo so village suffered death, shock and destruction.”

Christians in Nigeria (46% of the Nigerian population) continue to face daily oppression, particularly in the north of the country, which is suffering from the threat of terrorism. “Bandits and kidnappers are increasingly targeting Christians and church leaders for ransom,” said Protestant pastor and whistle-blower Fred Williams, who serves in a parish in Plateau state, Nigeria.

India is ranked the 10th worst country for Christians (4.9% of the Indian population). According to John Dayal, a journalist and human rights activist who founded the All India Christian Council, “in 2021, Hindu leaders publicly called for the killing of Christians and Muslims, for the establishment of a Hindu theocracy, a project supported by elected officials in power.” Last Christmas, “sixteen attacks targeting churches or religious congregations” took place in the country.

Three pieces of good news

قناة التغيير, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Pope Francis Apostolic Journey to Iraq – Hall of the Presidential Palace in Baghdad CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

First was the visit of Pope Francis to Iraq, which helped “raise world awareness” about the situation of Christians in the East.

Second was the acquittal of Pakistani Christians Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar – co-prisoners for a time with Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was falsely accused of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed in 2009 after an argument with other women in her village. She was sentenced to death in 2009 until the Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted her in 2018, causing riots by anti-Christian groups. She now lives in Canada.

Shafqat Emmanuel and Shaqufta Kausar were released from death row in 2021, after a sever-year ordeal following similar accusations against this Christian couple in April 2014. Along with their family, they have been relocated to a European country for their safety.

And, finally, there was the release last October 9 of Franciscan Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, whom jihadists had held captive for four years in Mali. Sr Gloria was held with SMA Fr Pierluigi Maccalli before his release in October 2020, after nearly two years in captivity.

Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/360-million-christians-persecuted-worldwide-last-year-says-ngo/15510

Read the complete Open Doors Report at World Watch List 2022  · Serving Persecuted Christian’s Worldwide (opendoors.org)

With thanks to La Croix International, Open Doors and FIDES for the information used in this article.

SMA and OLA Justice Work – a look back at 2020

Since 2014 collaboration between the SMA and OLA Justice and Communications Offices has grown. This has been facilitated by the establishment of a Joint Justice Committee which plans and oversees  work on common justice priorities. 

In 2020 this collaboration led to planning and delivery of on-line campaigns and webinars raising awareness of and promoting action on the issues of protecting biodiversity, human trafficking and racism. The SMA Summer School and the second Intergenerational Climate Justice Conference were also very successful collaborative efforts with over six hundred and fifty adults and teenagers participating in the Conference.   

Below a short video describing this and other OLA – SMA Justice work in 2020. Click on the play button to view.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

23 January 2022

Theme:  Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.

Nehemiah 8: 2-4a, 5-6, 8-10                    1 Corinthians 12:12-30                    Luke 1: 1-4; 4:14-21

There are notable parallels as well as contrasts between the first reading and the gospel of today. In our first reading from Nehemiah, the priest Ezra solemnly reads a lengthy section from the Book of the Law to a great assembly of the people of Israel gathered in an open square in Jerusalem. He thus re-constitutes them as ‘God’s holy people’ following the traumatic years of exile in Babylon. We are told that the people listened attentively and wept as they heard God’s word proclaimed to them. How attentively do we listen to God’s word and does it ever touch our hearts and move us to tears?

In the Gospel from Luke, Jesus also proclaims God’s word to those gathered in the Synagogue of his home town of Nazareth. The passage he reads is taken from the prophet Isaiah. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord‘ (Lk 4:18-19). Jesus then sits down, and, in words which launch his great mission of liberation, he says: This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’ (Lk 4:21). The words of Isaiah serve as Jesus’ manifesto. He has come to replace the old Jewish love of law with a new law of love and inaugurate the greatest revolution in human history.

Jesus’ mission leads him to challenge head-on the values of Palestinian theocratic society. The afflictions of the poor, then as now, were, in large measure, caused by repression, discrimination and exploitation by the rich and powerful, the upholders of the status quo. Jesus directs his mission to those who had been ignored or pushed aside: to the sick who were segregated on cultic grounds; to tax-collectors who were excluded on political and religious grounds; and to prostitutes and public sinners who were excluded on moral grounds. In his compassionate outreach to these ‘outcasts’, Jesus concretely embodies God’s kingly rule as good news for them. It means the end of their misery and the introduction of a new order of social relationships based on the principle of inclusion. No one is excluded from the love of God ‘who causes his sun to rise on bad people as well as good, and sends rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike (Mt 5:45).

Some theologians have argued that Jesus had no social or political agenda, that he wanted to change hearts not social structures. However, as the great Scripture scholar, Tom Wright, points out, in the Judaism of Jesus’ day religion and politics were inseparable. As his contemporaries would have expected, Jesus sought to bring God’s kingly rule to bear on every aspect of human life. In the ‘Our Father’ he taught his disciples to pray: Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven(Mt 6:10). Jesus was not proclaiming a private or personal reign of God’s spirit in the souls of individuals. He was launching a revolutionary movement which would turn Israel and the world up-side-down. He wanted to establish God’s reign of justice, peace, truth and love in Israel and (through Israel) among all peoples.

Jesus lived, died and rose again in order to establish God’s kingdom on earth, and the task of his disciples is to continue that work. In the words of Pope Francis, the mission of the Church is ‘to proclaim and establish among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God’.  This mission entails the integral transformation of the world in which we live. In the words of Cardinal Suenens: ‘The preaching of the Gospel and its acceptance imply a social revolution whereby the hungry are fed and justice becomes the right of all’.

But we do not carry out this mission as isolated individuals. As the second Reading from St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians reminds us, we are the Body of Christ, and it is as the Body of Christ that we continue Jesus’ mission. The different gifts received by the members of the Church from the Holy Spirit complement one another, and, when properly used, build up the unity of the Church and serve its mission. The synodal process, launched by Pope Francis in October last year, and in which we are all called to take part, is a graced opportunity to deepen our sense of being the Body of Christ and collaborate more effectively in the service of the Church’s mission.

In a recent article in The Tablet, Jenny Sinclair reminds us that the purpose of our synodal journey is not primarily to change the Church. It is rather ‘God’s way of preparing the Church to save the world’. In the synodal process ‘the whole people of God come closer together on the journey of bringing alive the kingdom of God on earth’ (The Tablet, 1 January 2022, p.6). However, it is only when the Church functions effectively as the Body of Christ – when all its members are truly open to the divine Spirit and to one another – that it can be a credible sacrament of God’s reign of love and justice. So we pray: ‘Lord, make us instruments of your peace, justice and love in our confused and wounded world.’

Fr Michael McCabe SMA, January 2022

To listen to an alternative Homily from Fr Tom Casey of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola, Zambia please click on the play button below.

Living with the Spirit

The parishioners of St Joseph’s SMA parish, Wilton, Cork, Ireland, have produced a series of daily reflections to guide you through the week.

They are based on a pamphlet which was printed for Christmas 2021 and distributed in the parish. Those reading the prayers are also Ministers of the Word (Lectors) at St Joseph’s.

Take 4 minutes – yes, just four minutes – to join in a moment of prayer. 

Click on the button below to join them in prayer.

Feel free to share this link with your parishioners, family and friends.

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

16 January 2022

Theme:  New wine in new wine-skins

Isaiah 62: 1-5                    1 Corinthians 12:4-11                    John 2: 1-11

In an interview some years before his death, the well-known Irish radio and television broadcaster, Terry Wogan, spoke about how, despite his traditional Catholic upbringing, he had lost his faith while still a teenager. Speaking about his childhood, he said: ‘There were hundreds of churches, all these missions breathing fire and brimstone, telling you how easy it was to sin, how you’d be in hell. We were brainwashed into believing.’  Too often Christianity has been presented and experienced as a rather grim and joyless affair, confronting us with feelings of guilt and failure. Obviously this was how it was perceived by the young Terry Wogan and understandably rejected as such, for that is not what the Christian message is about at all. As today’s readings clearly show, Christianity is essentially a religion of unwavering hope, of new life and overflowing joy. It is aboutnew wine in new wineskins’ (Mk 2:22). It is a celebration of God’s unfailing love and mercy, best conveyed in the biblical image of a wedding feast or banquet.

Our first reading from Isaiah is a joyful proclamation of God’s plan to transform Jerusalem, devastated by the Babylonians, and reunite and transform the scattered and disheartened people of Israel so that all nations will see their integrity. ‘No longer are you to be named “forsaken”, nor your land “abandoned”, but you shall be called “My Delight” and your land “The Wedded(Is 62:3). This wedding image is repeated again toward the end of the reading: ‘for the Lord takes delight in you and your land will have its wedding (Is 62:4) – a wedding in which God will be the bridegroom and Israel the beloved bride in whom God delights.

Our gospel reading recounts the familiar story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee, when Jesus turns water into wine, ‘the first of the signs given by Jesus’ (Jn 2:10). While this may be the first sign or visible manifestation of Jesus’ identity and messianic mission recorded in John’s Gospel, it is the third epiphany of Jesus we have celebrated over the past fortnight. On the 6th of January, Epiphany Sunday, we recalled the visit to Bethlehem of some wise men from the East, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and testifying to Jesus as the King of kings. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus by John in the river Jordan, when the Heavenly Father, by word and Spirit, attested to Jesus’ identity as his Beloved Son. Today, we recall Jesus’ first miracle, when he changes water into wine, testifying to himself as Son of God and letting his glory be seen so that his disciples believed in him (Jn 2:11).

The scale of the miracle at Cana is stunning. On the orders of Jesus, in response to his mother’s request, six enormous stone jars, capable of holding twenty or thirty gallons each, are filled to the brim with water, and changed into wine of the highest quality. This would be enough wine – about 800 litres – to make all the guests very happy for a year, not just one week – the normal length of a Jewish marriage celebration at the time of Jesus. Clearly the story is not meant to be taken literally. The abundance of wine is a sign or symbol of the  ‘new dispensation’ initiated by Jesus – a dispensation of ‘grace and truth’ (Jn 1:17), of new life and overflowing joy. Isaiah’s prophesy of the messianic banquet (cf. Is 25:-6-8) has arrived in the life and ministry of Jesus, who brings healing to the sick, gives hope to the hopeless, turns tears into joy, and changes death into life. An abundance of wine of the best vintage is the perfect sacrament of that fullness of life Jesus came to bring on earth: ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’ (Jn 10:10).

There’s a popular Danish movie, Babette’s Feast, one of Pope Francis’ favourite movies, which captures very well the message of today’s readings, especially the gospel. It won an Oscar for best foreign film in 1988. Based on a short story by Karen Blixen (of Out of Africa fame), it portrays the transformation of strict Pietist community led by the elderly daughters of the group’s founder, who regard all earthly pleasures with disdain and eat only bland food. Their lives are turned upside-down when Babette, a first-class French chef,  shows up at their home, bringing a letter from an old friend and seeking refuge from violence in her native Paris. She offers to work for free, and stays with them for 14 years, gradually gaining their trust.

One day, she wins the lottery and, instead of returning to her home in Paris, she uses all her money to prepare a lavish feast in honour of the group’s founder. Watching the stiff, suspicious elders become transformed by the conviviality of a great feast, prepared with love and attention to detail, is an unforgettable experience. In the course of a wonderful celebration with the choicest of foods, spirits are lifted, bridges built, squabbles settled and friendships restored. The sisters are reminded of a sermon delivered by the minster many years before: ‘For mercy and truth have met together and righteousness and bliss have kissed one another’ and it seems to them, like an epiphany, that they can now see the world for what it really is – a place of light and joy. This was Babette’s gift to the community who offered her refuge and it is Christ’s gift to us today. What is our response?

Michael McCabe SMA, January 2022

JANUARY | Religious discrimination and persecution

Pope Francis opens his first prayer intention of 2022 with two direct and incisive questions which cry out for an answer: “How is it possible that many religious minorities currently suffer discrimination or persecution? How can we allow there to be people who are persecuted simply because they publicly profess their faith?” 

Paths of fraternity: welcoming other people’s differences

The Pope reminds us that religious freedom is tied to the concept of fraternity. In order to begin walking the paths of fraternity upon which Francis has been insisting for years, it’s imperative that we not only respect others, our neighbors, but that we genuinely value them “in their differences and recognize them as true brothers and sisters.” For the Holy Father, “as human beings, we have so many things in common that we can live alongside each other, welcoming our differences with the joy of being brothers and sisters.” Without granting this premise, it is impossible to undertake the path towards peace and living side by side with each other.

TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS MESSAGE
How is it possible that many religious minorities currently suffer discrimination or persecution?
How can we allow that in this society, which is so civilized, there are people who are persecuted simply because they publicly profess their faith? Not only is it unacceptable; it’s inhuman, it’s insane.
Religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship—that is to say, that people can have a worship service on the day prescribed by their sacred books. Rather, it makes us appreciate others in their differences and recognize them as true brothers and sisters.
As human beings, we have so many things in common that we can live alongside each other, welcoming our differences with the joy of being brothers and sisters.
And may a small difference, or a substantial difference such as a religious one, not obscure the great unity of being brothers and sisters.
Let us choose the path of fraternity. Because either we are brothers and sisters, or we all lose.
Let us pray that those who suffer discrimination and suffer religious persecution, may find in the societies in which they live the rights and dignity that comes from being brothers and sisters.

Baptism of the Lord 2022

9 January 2022

Isaiah 42: 1-4,6-7                         Titus 2: 14=17; 3:4-7                         Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Theme: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the last major feast within the Christmas Season. It marks a transition moment in the life of Jesus, when he leaves behind the hidden years of his life in Nazareth and enters the public arena for the first time. Hence the liturgy shifts our focus from the baby in the manger to the adult Jesus about to embark on his messianic mission in the service of God’s reign. His first public act is to join with a group of his fellow Jews, listening to the preaching of his cousin, John, and accepting to be baptised by him in the Jordan river. It is at this time and place that God reveals him as his Son: ‘Then, while Jesus was praying, the heavens opened: the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove and a voice from Heaven was heard, “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you”’(Lk 3: 21-22). For Jesus, this event marks the beginning of a journey that will take him from Capernaum to Jerusalem, from the hills of Galilee all the way to the hill of Calvary.

Jesus’ baptism, then, serves as a prologue to his public life and mission, manifesting his choice to be obedient to the will of His Father and his decision about the form his messianic vocation will take. He will not be the great military leader who will liberate his people from Roman domination that many of his contemporaries hoped. Instead, he will be a suffering servant, a gentle and peaceful leader, who will identify himself fully with the poor and oppressed of the land. Our first reading from Isaiah, a prophet who lived around 700 BC, gives us a vivid portrait of the kind of Messiahship Jesus will embrace. He will not shout out, ‘or make his voice heard in the streets’ (Is 42: 3). He will be kind and merciful to all who are oppressed and who bear heavy burdens. ‘He will not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame (Is 42:3). But he will be implacable in his pursuit of justice for the poor and exploited: ‘Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth’ (Is 42:4). He will be a compassionate and merciful leader bringing healing and liberation to his people. His mission will be ‘to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those of live in darkness from the dungeon’ (Is 42:7). And he will be a light not just for the people of Israel but for all nations of the world.

Recalling the baptism of Jesus and what it meant for him and his messianic calling reminds us of our baptism and what it means for us. First, it reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. By Baptism we become children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus. By baptism, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, we become temples of the Holy Spirit, members of the Body of Christ (the Church), and sharers in the priesthood of Christ [cf. CCC 1279].

The baptism of Jesus also reminds us of our missionary calling as beloved children of God. In acknowledging our own dignity as God’s children, we are called to appreciate the Divine Presence in others by honouring them, loving them and serving them in all humility. We are challenged to live as children of God in thought, word and action so that our heavenly Father may say to each one of us what he said to Jesus: ‘You are my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased’. 

Our baptism commits us to live holy and transparent Christian lives and to grow in intimacy with God by personal and community prayer, by reading and reflecting on the Word of God, and by participating in the Eucharist and other sacraments. But it also commits us to continue the mission of Jesus to establish true justice on earth, to be co-creators with God in building up his Kingdom of compassion, justice and love, and to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Today it is appropriate for us to remember the graces we have received in Baptism and to renew our Baptismal promises. On the day of our Baptism, we were anointed with the oil of Chrism to show that we were consecrated in the image of Jesus, the Father’s Anointed One. The candle lighted from the Paschal Candle was a symbol of the light of Faith which our parents and godparents passed on to us. This is, then, a day for us to renew our Baptismal promises, to consecrate  ourselves anew to the Lord, ‘rejecting Satan and all his empty promises’. Let us ask the Lord to help us to be faithful to our baptismal promises. Let us thank him for the privilege of being joined to his mission in witnessing to the Good News by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness.

Michael McCabe SMA, January 2022

To listen to an alternative Homily from Fr Tom Casey of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola, Zambia please click on the play button below.