In our “busy” lives it always pays to be prepared!


Jesus’ story in today’s parable of ten single ladies waiting for a wedding procession in the middle of the night seems strange to most westerners today. But Jesus’ audience knew all too well how easily this could happen to them. In the parable, Jesus intends to warn us that we must always be prepared and that there are consequences for being unprepared since certain things we cannot obtain at the last moment.

In our “busy” lives it always pays to be prepared! As important as this behavior is in our physical lives, it is also very important in our spiritual lives. If we needed water, batteries, or anything else for an emergency, would we wait until the “door” was closed? The answer could only be NO! Then why don’t we “be prepared” in our spiritual lives as the wise virgins were? This “oil” is not something they could have given to the foolish ones any more than we can be given preparedness without living in Christ.

 

Within the group of virgins mentioned in Jesus’ parable, there were two segments: those who were prepared for the future and those who were not. As with most life experiences, the women who had prepared were better off. This can be an application to all of our lives; on Judgment Day, there will only be these two kinds of people: those whose souls were ready, and those whose souls were in a state of sin. We know neither the day nor the hour of judgment. Therefore, it is necessary for us to keep our souls in a perpetual state of grace. Like many theories, this belief sounds reasonable, but is difficult in practice. Day after day, we are tempted by sin, wondering if it is worth it to hold out for this “eternal life” of which we are told. There are days where we think we know what will be best for us in the long run.

During our life on earth, we can prepare for hell by living a “hell on earth.” We simply live a lifestyle we know would be displeasing to Jesus. Alternatively, we can prepare for heaven by living a “heaven on earth,” that is, a life lived constantly in the presence of Jesus. Every breath we take, each step we make, every moment we act in constant awareness that the Master is present. We act differently because we know He is present. We long for His presence more than the deer longs for running waters.

There is still time to obtain “oil” for our lamps by living our lives in a Christ-like manner and storing up the good works that can only be performed by seeing, helping, and listening to Jesus in all the forms that He becomes to us, each and every day of our lives. It may not always be easy, but we must remember to stay awake and be ready. Those who fear the Lord will be rewarded at the city gate. Then and only then will we reach the “door” before it is closed.

We thank you God, for every gift!


In today’s reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-9), Paul gives thanks for God’s gift of the revelation of Jesus and the faith that will sustain us until the end. St. Paul was writing to the Corinthians. But God speaks powerfully to us even today in those same words.

The Lord reminds us again that we will have everything we need to be His disciples. Words will be put into our mouths to tell the wonders of our God and what He has done for us. His grace will always be sufficient in any cross that comes our way. He is faithful to His promises. Can we proclaim our faithfulness to Him.

Click HERE for more on this sermon

St. Matthew tells us we must be ready, for we do not know the day or the hour when the Lord will come. How does one prepare to meet God face to face?
The key to being a watchful steward is the ongoing relationship with the Master. When the Master is present, it’s obviously easier for a steward to be vigilant, with eyes focused on the Master, ready to act on His every wish. When it’s not obvious to us that our Master is present, we are tempted to be sinful, disobedient, self-centered stewards. To give in to this temptation puts us, Jesus’ stewards, in jeopardy of being punished severely. Jesus is always with us, yet we often are unaware of His presence. Thus, we must constantly cultivate a sense of the Master’s presence.

I believe He is calling us to live our lives to the fullest, on a minute-to-minute basis, utilizing the gifts He has given us in service to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If we can do this, we need not fear the day or the hour when Christ will come to take us home. We can live in joyful anticipation of seeing Him who already laid down His life for us.

Greetings from HSO and prayers needed for some of our ill little ones.


On Saturday, we had a safe journey to and from the Orphanage. We were so pleased to be with kids once again, especially Sarah who had not gone there over some months.

I would say it was a busy day with manual work and we could not gather all the children for singing and dancing, but we had some time to talk to the children one on one. Being the last week of their school holiday, and given the fact that it is beginning to rain in that part of the country, most of the children were busy in the garden planting  crops, while others were collecting firewood.

The children say thank you to all who contributed towards this trip. They were so excited most especially about their new shoes and the many other items

 

In the pictures above; Sarah talks or rather teaches, some of the children who were in the compound at our arrival. I overheard her teach them about their personal hygiene.

Also in the picture, children gathered around their new shoes, each one was just eager to get his/her pair. Then some of the children pose in their new shoes and lastly a pic that was taken as some of the children were on their way to carry fire wood.

 

Some of our little ones are ill…..in fact the two youngest at the Orphanage. Steve( lifted by the matron in the pic below) got ill first and was admitted in hospital for some days. We got to meet him on Saturday, he was better but still weak and under treatment.

Then yesterday, I got the news that little Nagayi Annet( in the pic below, she was enjoying her meal while sitting on top of the table)  is also very sick now. She has cough, diarrhea and is vomiting. Yesterday she was on drip. Yes, on Saturday when we met her, she already looked sickly and had a running nose.i

I hope you will remember to pray for these children that they will recover well soon, and for all the children at the Orphanage.

I believe much of the sicknesses at the Orphanage are related to the poor diet especially for these very little ones. A few weeks ago the situation was even worse, they starved. To be healthy, these children to have a balanced diet but this is not the case yet. The children only depend on Posho or Sweet Potatoes and beans most of the time……and some times even this is not sufficiently provided as they get just a single meal in a day.

Here is what it would cost us if we were to give these children a balanced diet for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Breakfast per day

-2kg of posho for porridge              5000sh

-2 litres of Milk                                    2000sh

-3 loaves of bread                               9000sh

Lunch and supper  per week

-20kg of Rice                   70,ooosh

-8 banches of Tooke     80,000sh

-20kg of Posho                 50,000sh

-10kg of Gnuts                 40,ooosh

-28kg of beans                  50,400sh

-spices                                  30,000sh

Total cost of meals per week =  432,400sh = $177     This means the cost of food for a month when we are giving the children 3 meals and a balanced diet goes for $708.
These children do not only need to eat, but to be healthy, they also need to eat healthy.

Currently, they have some food supply enough to take them to the end of the first week of September. We need your support. Consider giving us your gift now. Click HERE.

Thank you so much.

Does anything in your life shut you up when you’re called to “speak the truth in love”?


John the Baptist suffered and died for the sake of marriage as God intended it to be.  In today’s gospel, the familiar story of his martyrdom unfolds: John imprisoned for having the courage to tell King Herod that taking his brother’s wife was wrong . . . Herod’s foolish promise to deliver whatever a young girl wanted . . . her demand for the head of John the Baptist immediately on a platter (how grisly!) . . . and Herod’s subsequent command to behead the prophet.

More honestly, I fear those who act without God, without consulting God.  In this Gospel passage, Herod acted in spite of his affection for John the Baptist, in spite of his deep distress. He orders an execution to maintain honor and to please his family. This pressure seems common in our lives and in our world. State executions, wars and many other acts of violence are mandated and executed by rulers of our day. I am sure many feel the same inner rumbling, the same distress that Herod felt. The warning given today seems not just to warn those such as Herod, but also those of us who may harbor grudges like Herodias. I still see God stirring our insides, trying to call us to act to intervene, to forgive and to recognize God’s presence in our world and in our modern day prophets.

We read that when Herod “heard him (John) speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.” Herod is said to fear John, “knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.” Because of Herodias’ grudge, John was first imprisoned. Herod, in a moment of appreciation, offers one demand to his niece. She and her mother exploit this offer to demand the death of this prophet. Regarding the demand for execution, “the king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her.”

Inner rumblings did not yield results here. While Herod acknowledges the compelling way that John spoke and preached the kingdom of God, he did not trust the inner voice that was attracted by John or the great distress he felt in executing the demand. In wanting to be perceived as honorable, he did not have the courage to follow his own heart, to follow God’s invitation.  Herod did not find a diplomatic way to escape the pressure of this situation, to meet needs and save face.

Sometimes we are so caught up in maintaining a grudge or in honor that we cannot dream of another solution. At these times we choose not to collaborate with God. God’s call rumbling inside of us, causing deep distress is a call to find an alternative. It is important for us to trust our gut and to have a firm resolve to not comply with something that we do not feel ok with. Paying attention to our distress, finding God’s voice in any situation that seems impossible is a difficult invitation. There is still much violence in our world. It seems to only grow, with an increasing need for a critical mass of people to speak their distress and to find an alternative. It may start with our own life, with our family and workplace. It also needs to radiate to our prisons, to our legislatures, to our world leaders. Until then, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

Does anything in your life shut you up when you’re called to “speak the truth in love”? Does anything shut you down when you should be taking bold initiatives in evangelization and ministry? By God’s grace, don’t let fear, trauma, or even Satan keep you from doing His will. The Lord commands: “Stand up and tell them all that I command you” . The Lord promises: “They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you” . Stand, speak, walk, run, live, die, rise.

John was unwavering. He would not compromise, even for a king. And he paid for his faithfulness with his own life, for the sake of defending God’s plan for marriage. All these centuries later, God still has a plan for marriage, the same one He created from the beginning. It is a plan born of infinite wisdom and love. Yet many people don’t know about God’s plan for marriage, or they simply reject it. In fact, traditional marriage is under attack these days, from many sides.

As Catholic Christians, we must know and speak the truth about marriage. It is God’s truth, and it is readily available in our Catholic teachings, found in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.” May we be informed, and unafraid to defend marriage!

Every group will naturally have leaders, but those under Jesus’ lordship will supernaturally have leaders.


 

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You shut the doors of the kingdom of God in men’s faces, neither entering yourselves nor admitting those who are trying to enter.” –Matthew 23:13

While harsh in nature, I feel as if today’s Gospel reading is one of the greater instances in which God reveals His overflowing love for us. Jesus sharply criticized the religious leadership of His time. He called many of the leaders hypocrites, who were foolish and blind. He accused some of them of making their followers into devils twice as wicked as themselves. Jesus is so strict and harsh with leaders because their bad leadership is so destructive. Jesus loves us so much that He doesn’t want us misled. Jesus protects His people by calling leaders to give an account of their leadership – a stricter account. Jesus protects and nourishes His people by rising up leaders after His own heart.

Every group will naturally have leaders, but those under Jesus’ lordship will supernaturally have leaders. Those who follow Jesus as Leader will be and have good leaders. We mess up Jesus’ loving protection and His attempts to nurture us by:

  1. not obeying or loving the leaders He has given us,
  2. choosing leaders different than those chosen by God,
  3. not forgiving bad leaders,
  4. not accepting God’s call to leadership, and
  5. not praying for leaders (see 1 Tm 2:1-2).

Today God is reminding us to seek Him and to live Him.  He is kindly, but bluntly, reminding us that we are prone to mishap and that we must be cognizant of what we say, do, or think, and more importantly, why it is that we do such.  Today God is inviting us to remain close friends (more than that, actually) with Him and to continue onward with the progress we have made so far.  These reality checks are vital to our spirituality and they are crucial to helping us become aware of where we slip up.

Being human is both amazing and fascinating: we are able to focus ourselves on items and realms that highlight the best of our emotions, we are given a willingness to learn that makes us inquisitive of the world around us, we are blessed with the freedom to act as we wish.  And in living these actions we become nothing more than mere human.  But it is these very aspects that root our superiority that can also lead us astray and down a path of sin and hatred.

Part of being human means making mistakes and experiencing errors.  Such is fine.  But it no longer remains fine when we become wrapped up in the mindset that life is nothing but a do-over and that we can make as many mistakes as we knowingly desire to make just because we can and still get away with it.

May we take some time today to reflect over where we have fallen short, where we have actively separated ourselves from God, and by what means we are doing that.  May we ask for true forgiveness and may we actively try to mean the words we so simply say, “I’m sorry.”  God loves us and he wants us to experience such.  “God is love and all who live in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.”  May we today work towards the personal journey to abiding in God; may our reward be God himself continuing to abide in us.

Jesus set the standard for all His true disciples to follow. He walked His talk, and practiced what He preached.


In today’s gospel, Jesus urges His followers to follow the teaching of their religious leaders, but not to imitate their bombast and hypocrisy. It is hard to believe today that the self-serving parade of piety that Jesus describes the Pharisees as practicing would attract anything but scorn, derision and outright laughter.

Because the Church is made up of human beings, there will be the temptation to strive for positions of power and prestige. Jesus shows His followers that the way of exaltation is humility and that the greatest among His children will be the one who becomes a servant of all. Times have changed! The life of Jesus shows that true holiness means being part of the community he served, keeping close to God, his father, and teaching, unlike the Pharisees, by both word and example.

The first principle Jesus gives is that those who would teach others must practice what they preach. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach. A person really does not know something until they put it into practice and tell others about it. There were many orthodox teachers in Jesus’ day but the problem He had with them was that they were long on telling others what to do and short on doing it themselves.

The second principle He mentions is that leaders should not tie up heavy burdens and lay them on peoples’ shoulders and then not lift a finger to help them, and finally, Jesus teaches against the desire for places, seats, and greetings of honor. There are teachers, fathers, and masters in this world but Jesus does not want His followers to clamor for titles of respect that do nothing but puff them up. Jesus is not forbidding a teacher from being called “Teacher.” He is not forbidding a father from being called “Father.” Even the Apostle Paul used the term “father” for his relationship to people and churches. The point He is bringing home to us is that we are not to clamor for honor and respect. It is through service that we become great. It is through humility that we are exalted. We are to constantly seek to humble ourselves . Then Jesus exalts us, so we must then humble ourselves even more, which leads to more exaltation. Thus, like John the Baptizer, we constantly seek to decrease so that Jesus may increase (Jn 3:30). If God then chooses to honor us with a crown of glory, we graciously receive it and instantly pass that crown of honor on to our God. Therefore, our only fondness for places of honor would be because Jesus gets more glory.

Today’s Gospel speaks eloquently about many things that we, leaders in the renewal, may find useful in the course of our service to the Lord. The first is: do we lead by example? As head of a ministry, do we put in more effort, time and resources into our service without counting the cost? Or are we forever harping on the load that we are carrying? The second question we must ask ourselves is: Who are we trying to please? Have we joined this Community because we seek recognition for our efforts or acceptance from our peers? Do we feel offended when our contributions have not been acknowledged? Do we feel slighted when some brother or sister is chosen for some service in which we feel we are more qualified? Finally, let’s ask ourselves this vital question: Do I want to be a leader because I want to lead, or is it because in imitation of Christ, I want to be the servant of all?

Our human idea of justice is not the same as God’s idea of justice!


 

Today’s gospel parable on the Laborers in the Vineyard, unique to Matthew, continues the theme of the last will be first. And one may ask, “where is the justice?”

In the parable, it’s easy to see that the first workers hired have a different idea than the landowner about what is “a just wage.” Likewise, our human idea of justice is not the same as God’s idea of justice. We serve a God who is exceedingly generous. Much more generous than most of us! He wants to give good rewards to anyone who does His work, even when it seems to be very little work, by human standards.  Notice that in today’s parable, not one of the workers in the vineyard was shortchanged. Nor will any of us be shortchanged who work in the Lord’s vineyard. Did the landowner in today’s gospel run out of money? No! Likewise, God’s grace and mercy are abundant, and there is more than enough for everyone! We can say with the psalmist in today’s responsorial, “My cup overflows.”

There is great tragedy in unemployment, the loss of work, and the inability to earn enough to live and support oneself or one’s family. In Jesus’ times laborers had to wait each day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day’s job. No work that day usually meant no food on the family table. The laborers who worked all day and received their payment complain that the master pays the late afternoon laborers the same wage. The master, undoubtedly, hired them in the late afternoon so they wouldn’t go home payless and hungry.

And With high unemployment across the world today, and the parable’s emphasis on what is just compensation for work done, there could be great interest in hearing this gospel.   We are just as prone today to think the owner of the vineyard is unfair as was true for the people of Jesus’ day.  We would expect the workers to be compensated equally for the hours worked.  We feel those who worked longer should be paid more, that they have a right to a bigger paycheck.  Here again gospel values confound our human wisdom into foolishness.

Jesus, by your words and actions you show the face of God, our loving Father and Shepherd. You show God as one who cares and whose love is not measured out according to our deserts but rather poured out without measure.

It seems unfair that the landowner didn’t recognize true worth or effort. Perhaps the whole point of the story is that we are all late-comers to the vineyard. Our efforts are quite puny. but God gives us the ‘full day’s wage’—eternal life. You, Jesus, the gift of God’s love, assure us how much God takes our concerns to heart, how much he cherishes us. Never will God drive a hard bargain, for he is love. O Lord, help me not to get “stuck” by my own limited human ideas about what is just.  Help me to “go with the flow” of Your kingdom  and celebrate Your generosity and mercy. Amen.