Sunday’s Reflection

SUNDAY’S REFLECTION – BY REV. FR. HENRY MENSAH, CHAPLAIN OF ST. LOUIS SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, KUMASI

The School Chaplain - Rev. Fr. Henry Mensah Co-Chaplain - Rev. Fr. Paul Kumah

The School Chaplain – Rev. Fr. Henry Mensah
Co-Chaplain – Rev. Fr. Paul Kumah

20 YOUNG GIRLS OF ST. LOUIS SHS RECEIVED BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION ON 28TH JUNE, 2014

 The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Orders can only be received once in the lifetime of the believers. (C.C.C. # 1246, 1272, 1280) This is because the Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit in his new birth. This means that the new Christian heart and spirit now belongs to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Christian belongs to Jesus forever, being open to God’s grace to serve according to the Sacraments that he has received. (C.C.C. 1121)

Because the Christian has been sealed by the Holy Spirit through Baptism, he is now allowed to participate in the religious services of the Church. The Christian is now obligated in love to serve God and practice the baptismal priesthood which he has received by living a holy life and practicing charity. (C.C.C. 1273)

The Christian who remains faithful until the end to the requirements of his Baptism will leave the world marked with the sign of faith, with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of faith – and in the hope of resurrection. (C.C.C. 1274) This is the resurrection of those who have done good, they resurrecting like Jesus. [Rom. 6:5] They will be raised imperishable and will be changed. [1 Cor. 15:52] They will be like angels in Heaven. [Mt. 22:30].

On this day, Saturday, 28th Day of June, 2014, these 20 young girls were born anew, received the Holy Spirit and were received into the Holy Catholic Church at the Church of Annunciation, St. Louis Senior High School Chaplaincy, by Rev. Fr. Henry Mensah, The Priest in Charge.

 

20 STUDENTS WERE BAPTISED AND CONFIRMED AT THE CHURCH OF ANNUNCIATION

20 STUDENTS WERE BAPTISED AND CONFIRMED AT THE CHURCH OF ANNUNCIATION

They were informed that; “Those who have received the new birth in Christ, they have become members of the common priesthood. (C.C.C. # 1268) That is because through the gift of a new heart and spirit, they belong to God. They have become spiritual priests in the invisible kingdom of God on earth. As a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, [1 Pet. 2:9], they are called to participate in the religious services of the Church. Not only do they have a right to participate, but they are obligated in to do so in thanksgiving by their Baptism. (C.C.C. 1141)”

Meanwhile, Seven Candidates shall join the twenty girls to receive Holy Communion on 29th June, 2014.

 

Twenty-Five Sunday Year A

THEME: “Your thoughts are not my thoughts”

The love of God for humanity can never be measured by any human standard. It is incalculable. We meet the unmerited favour of God in our readings today.

The parable in our Gospel today is the story of two categories of people-those who were employed at day break and those who were employed later at different times, even to the last hour before sundown. For those who were employed at day break the Master had an agreement with them to pay them a denarius each; but for those employed later, he promised to give them a fair wage. At the end of the day all received a denarius each and those who had come earlier complained.

Our quick reaction to the parable presented for our reflection is “it is not fair”. In our human thinking we feel it is appropriate that he, who has worked much, should be given more than one who has worked less. This should be the right approach. Why then did the master decide to do things this way? This is against the ethics of Trade Unions in our world today. Since it is the duty of Trade Unions to ensure fair wages, they would have been up in arms against this ruling.

Some economists read this passage and conclude that: Jesus is unjust. This is a negative understanding of the passage. A little background to the parable will help us place it in a very good perspective. We need to understand that those who were standing in the market place had come there with their tools waiting for someone to heir them. They were not lazy. They had not been employed earlier because there were not enough jobs to accommodate them. For some of them to have stood till five o’clock shows how desperate they were for jobs. They were going hungry for the day because they could not support themselves.

It is an act of compassion and kindness on the part of the master to have asked them to go to his field to work. There is nothing so tragic in this world than a man who is unemployed, a man whose talents are rusting in idleness because there is nothing for him to do. The master shows concern for their well-being and helps them out in their predicament. This is the God we serve. He loves us and is concerned with our well-being and does everything to save us.

God’s compassion and kindness is further demonstrated in the wages given. The men did not do the same work but received the same pay. This goes to draw the point that God calls everyone to work in His vineyard. Some are called earlier whiles others come at the late hour. We should not habour any jealousy and envy in us as seeing others receive the same reward as we are given. God promises eternal reward and in His generosity He gives to all who come to Him. It is not the amount of service given but the love in which it is given that matters. It is only love that make the late arrivals be paid as much as those who came earlier.

We serve a generous God whose generosity surpasses what we humans know. His desire is to save all mankind and so He says in our first reading, “your thoughts are not my thoughts and your ways not my ways”. He continues to say “Let the wicked man abandon his ways… let him turn to the Lord who is forgiving”.

Remember, no time is too late for the Lord. You too can come!

 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER; YEAR A

SUNDAY’S REFECTION BY REV. FR HENRY MENSAH, THE SCHOOL CHAPLAIN

Theme: ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Light’

The loss of a loved one can be very devastating in our lives especially when the person’s life is cut short abruptly. Usually, it brings sorrow and sadness to us. Sometimes we cry and even ask the question “why”.

The context of our Gospel reading today is one of sorrow in the hearts of the disciples of Jesus. In Jn. 13:33, Jesus tells his disciples that He will be with them only a little while and that the disciples are going to look for him. It was Jesus’ farewell message to them about His going away from them and what he required of them.This message is what has brought sadness to the hearts of the disciples. They had known Jesus and now it seemed that in no distance a future, everything will come to an end for them. This is the background to today’s Gospel.

Our Gospel passage begins with a note of assurance to these people who are sad. The words of Jesus to them are ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me’.But why should they not be troubled and trust in God and in Jesus? Jesus promises that He is going to prepare a place for them and will come again to take them with Him. He promises that there are many rooms in His Father’s house for them. This should bring some joy to the disciples and to us as well. What it means is that it is for our own good that Jesus goes away. He goes to prepare a place for us and He will come again to take us with him.

But why will Jesus give us this promise? Why will He go to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house? Peter in the second reading answer that “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light”.Through the death and the resurrection of Christ we have been bought for God from a fruitless way of living. We therefore belong to God and are precious to him. This then explains why it is necessary for Jesus to go ahead of us to prepare a place for us. This again is an assurance to us that we need not be troubled because we are precious to God.

However, we need to know that while Jesus is gone to prepare a place for us because we are precious in the sight of God, we need to prepare ourselves adequately so that He may come to find us ready for the Kingdom.The men selected to serve at tables in our first reading needed to be men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom. If this was the case for even people whose duty would be only to serve at tables, then it goes to say that for a higher gift like Heaven, we need to prepare ourselves much more than this.

But how do we prepare ourselves for the promise? What is the means to this promise? This is exactly the question of Thomas when He asked ‘Lord we do not know where you are going how can we know the way?’ The answer of Jesus to him should be enlightening to us. “I am the way, the truth and the life.No one can come to the father except through me”. The way to prepare therefore is living in total trust in the promises of God and following all His teachings. A trust in Jesus which so affect our own way of life, our relationship with others and our own attitude to material possessions.

The words of Jesus today then should be comforting to us. Even though, we do not see Him now it is because He is preparing a place with the Father for us. While we wait it is important that we do so with absolute trust and believe in Him.

Do you trust in Jesus as the way the truth and the life? Do you seek Him with all your heart?

 

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Theme: Prayer and Perseverance

After forty days of Christ’s resurrection, during which period Christ revealed Himself to the disciples, He has ascended to Heaven on Thursday. Now the whole Church is in a prayerful mood waiting for the promise of the Father. We are already in a Novena for the Holy Spirit asking God to grant us that consuming fire to help us witness to Him here on earth.

Our gospel reading is what is known in Biblical Scholarship as ‘the Jesus Prayer’. In this prayer Jesus thanks God for what He had been able to achieve. With His life coming to an end He thanks God for what has happened and asks God to glorify Him. For John’s gospel the death of Jesus is never a disgrace but rather a glorification for Jesus. Therefore, even though it entails much suffering, it is this which will lead him to the father and he is ready to face it squarely.

Again in the prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples whom He is leaving behind. He prays that they may inherit eternal life which is to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he had sent. Jesus knew that with His absence there will be many persecutions for them. He therefore prays for them that they may be able to persevere and may not fall away.

Indeed in the world there are much suffering and persecutions for the true Christian. We meet challenges at work, in the home, at school etc. Jesus in His prayer has prayed for His disciples yet we also have our part to play.  What then should be the correct Christian attitude to suffering in the world? Our second reading from first letter of Peter says the answer is “perseverance”. We do not have to run away from suffering. For Peter, it is a blessing if we can have some share in the suffering of Christ. He is advocating for us an attitude that does make it seem that we have been abandoned so we also resign to fate but rather an unflinching trust in God that makes us feel that whatever we are going through is just momentarily.

While our Lord has ascended to His father, we should be clear in our minds that it is not as if we are left unaided. God has promised that in some few days to come He will send the Holy Spirit on us. Like the disciples in our first reading, we are called upon to wait for this promise. However, the best way to wait for this promise is not in idleness. Rather, we wait in prayer. The disciples joined in continuous prayer in waiting.

We also need this Spirit to help us face the problems of the world. We need this spirit to help us in our journey towards God so that we inherit the promises made to us. The promise of God to us is that in some few days to come, he will send the Spirit. We need therefore to wait in prayer for this Spirit. Let us therefore keep praying even as we continue our Novena.

 

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Theme: The Spirit of Truth

The source for the Church’s proclamation of the Christian message to the world is the Spirit of Truth. As we gradually move from Easter to Pentecost our readings focus on the promises of Jesus to his disciples, especially of the Holy Spirit. Our readings today aid us in answering the questions about who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and how we experience Him in our daily lives.

To help us understand who the Holy Spirit is and what His role is in the life the disciple and the Christian, our Gospel reading has Jesus Himself speak to us about the Spirit. Our Gospel is part of Jesus’ “Last supper Discourse,” and it describes the gift he will send, the abiding Spirit, as the Paraclete. These were the last days for Jesus and there was the need to prepare the disciples for the day when He would no longer be with them physically.

The Greek word used in John’s gospel for this helper is “parakletos”. For the Greeks, the word “parakletos” meant a lawyer, a legal assistant, a courtroom advocate. It also refers to a person who comforts, counsels or strengthens in time of need. Jesus is telling us that the Holy Spirit is our legal assistant who speaks up for us when we’re accused, judged, or wrongly condemned or a witness who testifies on our behalf. The Spirit will be our comforter in the time when Jesus is not physically present.

The Spirit causes Jesus to be truly present in the Church. The Spirit reveals to us what God is really like by empowering us to practice mutual love and by providing us with trustworthy guidance. This indwelling Spirit enables us to manifest our love for God by observing the commandments of Jesus, especially the commandment of love. This commandment includes commands to recognize Jesus in the neediest, in the poor, in the sick, and in the marginalized and to be agents of healing and reconciliation in a broken and divided world.

Furthermore, it will be the function of the indwelling Spirit to make Christians courageous and to be able to witness in love to the ever present Christ. Our first reading shows us how the Spirit worked in the everyday activities of Jesus’ first followers. It describes the success of Philip, evangelist among the despised Samaritans, and explains how the converted Samaritans received the fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands by the apostles Peter and John. If Philip was successful, it was because of the indwelling Spirit which moved him to achieve such a feat for the Lord. Again, recognizing the importance of this Spirit, the disciples Peter and John would lay hands on the new converts.

Our second reading is a warning and encouragement to those who are under persecution. Peter warns that Christians shouldn’t be surprised by angry outbursts of resentment and militant confrontation. He clearly encourages the persecuted Christians to keep to the moral high ground no matter how much they’re mistreated. If we are willing to suffer for Christ and with him, God will see us through and will vindicate us. Meanwhile, we have the consolation of the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts and who raised Christ from death. But those who refuse to die and rise with Jesus constantly keep the Spirit away.

We need this Spirit of Truth in our lives to help us face the challenges of our world today. As baptized Christians we all have received the outpouring of the Spirit in our lives. We therefore need to be open to Him that He may guide us and support us in our journey.

 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A

Theme: ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Light’

The loss of a loved one can be very devastating in our lives especially when the person’s life is cut short abruptly. Usually, it brings sorrow and sadness to us. Sometimes we cry and even ask the question “why”.

The context of our Gospel reading today is one of sorrow in the hearts of the disciples of Jesus. In Jn. 13:33, Jesus tells his disciples that He will be with them only a little while and that the disciples are going to look for him. It was Jesus’ farewell message to them about His going away from them and what he required of them.This message is what has brought sadness to the hearts of the disciples. They had known Jesus and now it seemed that in no distance a future, everything will come to an end for them. This is the background to today’s Gospel.

Our Gospel passage begins with a note of assurance to these people who are sad. The words of Jesus to them are ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me’.But why should they not be troubled and trust in God and in Jesus? Jesus promises that He is going to prepare a place for them and will come again to take them with Him. He promises that there are many rooms in His Father’s house for them. This should bring some joy to the disciples and to us as well. What it means is that it is for our own good that Jesus goes away. He goes to prepare a place for us and He will come again to take us with him.

But why will Jesus give us this promise? Why will He go to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house? Peter in the second reading answer that “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light”. Through the death and the resurrection of Christ we have been bought for God from a fruitless way of living. We therefore belong to God and are precious to him. This then explains why it is necessary for Jesus to go ahead of us to prepare a place for us. This again is an assurance to us that we need not be troubled because we are precious to God.

However, we need to know that while Jesus is gone to prepare a place for us because we are precious in the sight of God, we need to prepare ourselves adequately so that He may come to find us ready for the Kingdom.The men selected to serve at tables in our first reading needed to be men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom. If this was the case for even people whose duty would be only to serve at tables, then it goes to say that for a higher gift like Heaven, we need to prepare ourselves much more than this.

But how do we prepare ourselves for the promise? What is the means to this promise? This is exactly the question of Thomas when He asked ‘Lord we do not know where you are going how can we know the way?’ The answer of Jesus to him should be enlightening to us. “I am the way, the truth and the life.No one can come to the father except through me”. The way to prepare therefore is living in total trust in the promises of God and following all His teachings. A trust in Jesus which so affect our own way of life, our relationship with others and our own attitude to material possessions.

The words of Jesus today then should be comforting to us. Even though, we do not see Him now it is because He is preparing a place with the Father for us. While we wait it is important that we do so with absolute trust and believe in Him.

Do you trust in Jesus as the way the truth and the life? Do you seek Him with all your heart?

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Theme: Christ the Good Shepherd.

Traditionally, the fourth Sunday of Easter is reckoned by the Church as the Good shepherd Sunday. We reflect on the shepherding role of Christ in our lives as Christians and how we also need to respond to His love and care. The Church calls us to also reflect on the meaning of God’s call and to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life, reminding us that the entire Christian community shares the responsibility for fostering vocations.

The real questions today which demand answers are: In what way is Christ a shepherd? How does He exercise His shepherding role? And what does He expect from us who are His flock? The readings meant for our reflection today leads us in finding solutions to these questions.

The two parables in our Gospel today reveal Jesus as our unique means to salvation. He is the “sheep gate,” the gateway to eternal life, and the selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides protection and life itself.  In Palestine, the word “shepherd” was a synonym for selfless love, sincerity, commitment and sacrificial service. Hence, Jesus selects it as the most fitting term to denote his life and mission (Cf. Mt 18:2, 9:36, etc)

The first part of today’s gospel contrasts Jesus the true shepherd with fake shepherds, thieves and robbers. Jesus gives us warning against false shepherds and false teachers in his Church. Jesus’ love and concern for each of us must be accepted with trust and serenity because he alone is our “shepherd” and no one else deserves our undivided commitment.

The second parable has Jesus comparing Himself to the Shepherd and to the Gate. The first title represents His ownership because the Shepherd is the true owner of the sheep. The second title represents His leadership. Jesus is the Gate, the only way. He is the one Mediator between God and mankind. By identifying himself with the sheep-gate, Jesus gives the assurance that whoever enters the pen through him will be safe and well cared for. Jesus is the living door to his Father’s house and Father’s family, the door into the Father’s safety and to the fullness of life.

If this is the role of Jesus in our lives as Christians, then How do we respond to such love and care? Our first reading is St. Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost. Here, he exhorts his listeners, Jewish people who had gathered to know beyond any doubt that the one they have allowed to be crucified is the true shepherd, the Lord and Messiah. Peter then proclaims that the proper response to the good news about Jesus is to repent and be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” thus becoming members of the Good Shepherd’s flock. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, they will receive the forgiveness of sins.

The second reading continues the “shepherd” imagery. Peter encourages the suffering Christians to follow in their shepherd’s (“suffering servant”) footsteps and remember that they have been claimed by him. Peter also explains how Jesus, the innocent sufferer, was a model of patience and trust in God, and that his suffering has enabled us to become more fully children of God.

The Christian attitude to the Good Shepherd then should be one of trust and faith in Him. It is this faith and trust in Him that will make us surrender our all to him and change every attitude of ours which makes us stubborn in heart. Even in the midst of all difficulties we will trust and hope that the Good Shepherd will be fitting for us.

We pray that we may have stronger faith and trust in the Good Shepherd and allow Him to take control of our lives.

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A

THEME: Recognizing Jesus

No matter what happens in our lives, the Risen Jesus is always with us. God is near to those who seek Him and want to live in His presence doing His will. One basic problem we have as human is that we sometimes forget about the abiding presence of God with us and we tend to question: Where is God? Does God care about us?On this third Sunday of Easter our readings help us to see how we fail in our lives to recognize God in our lives and know how to appreciate His loving presence among us.

Our First Reading today begins immediately after the experience of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Some of those who were listening to the disciples speaking in various tongues explained it all by saying that they all had been drinking too much of the new wine from the celebration. Peter stands up and what we hear is his explanation for the unusual behavior of the brethren. Peter does two important things in this address. He summarizes the basic Christian beliefs about Jesus. He is from God. God handed Him over into the hands of the Jews. Some of the Jews, contrary to the Law, had Jesus crucified. Jesus, through the power of God, did great and mighty deeds. God raised Him up from the powers of death by raising Him to life.

The address of peter to these Jews clearly shows that they had failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He came among them and so they killed him. They would have done so out of their own complacent attitude. They thought they knew when in fact they did not.

This is exactly what we more often also do. We think that we are the leaders and we know more than others. We think that we have been Christians along time and we do not need others to teach as anything. We think that we have received the sacraments a long time and we are OK with ourselves. Such an attitude in life does not help us recognize Jesus in our lives. It is in humility that we are able to recognize Jesus. However, Peter’s address is a call up to faith in the resurrected Christ and what He is doing now. It does not matter how our past has been, if only we will accept him and begin to change from complacency, he will save us.

Our gospel is the story of how on Easter Sunday two disciples of Jesus, discouraged and devastated, set out on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus — a distance of about seven miles — and were met by a stranger going along the same road. They began to speak to him about all that had occurred in the Holy City during the previous week. The two disciples chose to leave Jerusalem on the third day after the death of Jesus – the very day they had received news that the tomb was empty.

They were “prevented” from recognizing Him, perhaps partly by preoccupation with their own disappointment and problems. Not even the presence of the stranger could let them leave their problems a little. This is what can also make us fail to recognize Jesus in our lives. Our problems can sometimes make us downcast and close within and think that there is no hope. We are sometimes disappointed that we think there is no more hope. We are not ready to see Jesus. We often not ready to see a solution to the problem.

The whole point of the matter is that God is with us even when we do not recognize Him. As the disciples journeyed on, Jesus showed them how the scriptures had foretold all that He had done and suffered, including his death and its purpose. His coming to them and walking beside them illustrates the truth that the road to Emmaus is a road of companionship with Jesus who desires to walk with each of us. “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

Above all, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of Bread. We have come to this Eucharistic celebration- a special presence of God. It was in this celebration the disciples were able to recognize Jesus. As we come let us drop all our worries and problems that we may see the Lord our God.

 

 

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

Theme: Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe

We celebrate the second Sunday of Easter which traditionally is designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. We are still reflecting on the resurrection of Christ and what it has for us. There are two basic questions which the readings meant for our reflection wants to answer, namely; Did Christ really resurrect? And what has the resurrection of Christ has for us?

To the first question our gospel reading gives us a picture of the resurrected Christ and his appearance to the disciples. Although Christ had earlier on sent the message of his resurrection through credible messengers, he now gives them real proof of this by appearing to the college of disciples. This is as it were a concrete proof that indeed he is alive. But Christ would appear a second time because of the unbelief of Thomas. Thomas then would stand for all of us who have doubts about the resurrection of Christ and are perhaps thinking that we need a real proof before we can believe. Therefore Jesus’ words addressed to Thomas are also addressed to us as well. Jesus says; ‘Thomas you believe because you have seen me; Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.

The story of the resurrection appearance and Thomas only goes to emphasis that indeed Christ is risen and we need to have faith in the resurrected Christ if even we are not beneficiaries of the resurrection appearances. The promise of Happiness for those who have not seen and yet believe will be ours if with trust in the words of scripture we come to believe in the resurrection.

Our second reading also carries the theme of faith in Christ regardless of the fact that we have not seen Christ. This is what it means to have faith, for, faith is the assurance of things hoped for or the conviction of things not seen (Cf.Heb.11:1). According to our reading, by the resurrection of Christ we have been giving a new birth as the sons of God and we have a sure hope and the promise of inheritance that is kept in Heaven for us. This is what happens to us if demonstrate true faith in the resurrection of Christ. This explains why the reading will continue to say that there is a cause for great joy even though we may experience for a short time some trials.

But if this is what is install for us with regard to our faith in the resurrected Christ, what then should be our own attitude as those who believe? The second and first readings offer some help. The second reading calls our attention to the fact that our faith in the resurrected Christ will be tested just as Gold is tested. All that we need to do then is to stand firm in the face of all this trails because of the love we have for Christ and the promises of God for us.

Nonetheless, our faith in Jesus would be proven by the way we live our fellow men. Therefore the way the disciples of jesus lived is offered as a guide for our reflection today. They whole community remained faithful to the teachings of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. They owned everything in common and shared everything they had.  The basis of all these then is the love that existed among the disciples. We cannot be sons and daughters of the resurrection when there is no love existing among us.

 

 

MAY GOD WILL IT THAT ALL MAY BE ONE.

HARMONY, PEACE and UNITY are our ambition, because these are the prerequisites for success in life.