Achan was a young man with a large family and plenty of belongings. He had a tent for his family and fields full of cattle, sheep and donkeys. He fought with the army, made up of most of the men in the tribes, and he was there when the walls of Jericho fell. As he walked through the ruins of the great city, he remembered the words of Joshua, their Leader: “God says do not take anything from the city.” But when he saw the glint of silver and gold from under a stone, he couldn’t resist having a quick look. Wrapped in beautiful embroidered robe were many silver coins and a heavy bar of gold. In a split second Achan thought of all he could do with such riches-wow! As he picked up the bundle and imagined his wife dressed in the robe, he almost forgot Joshua’s word…but only almost. A few weeks later Joshua led the people of Israel in their shock and horror. After years of being the best army anywhere and generations of winning every fight and battle, they had lost! It was too unbelievable; it was embarrassing, it was so uncool! Joshua called out to God. “Why are we here? Have we won all these battles and walked for so many years to die in this awful place? Where were you in the battle, God?
The People were lost for words. They had planned to win the fight and take over the of Ai without any trouble- God had never let them fail before. But it soon came to light that someone had disobeyed God, and as a result his people had not won. Achan kept hearing Joshua’s words; “God says do not take anything from the city’, and deep inside he knew that it was all his fault.
God guided Joshua to find the guilty one. Joshua listened to God as each tribe in turn was brought before him, and the tribe of Judah, Achan’s tribe was chosen. Then the many clans in the tribe stood before Joshua and Achan’s clan, Zerah, was picked out.
Achan stood amongst his family and friends, knowing that there nothing he could do to escape. It was almost as if a big arrow was in the sky, pointing down at him! He done wrong, hoping that he could hide the stolen things from everyone including God. His heart was thumping, and he went red as his family was pointed out to, and then Joshua said his name. Achan stepped forward; he knew there was no way out now. ‘I took some gold and silver, and beautiful robe!’ he said. ‘I saw it, and I really wanted it.’ The stolen treasure was brought from Achan’s tent and given to Joshua, who told Achan that he must face the punishment for letting down and failing God so badly-he would be put to death.
Lessons from Achan’s Behave
Achan was driven by greed. He had plenty but he wanted more. We have many Achan’s in South Africa who have plenty but are driven by greed and become corrupt. We should ask God to give us what we need and the joy to be content.
Achan disobeyed God. As a result, the whole Nation of Israel suffered. Because of Achan’s of our time South Africa continues to suffer due to corruption and greed. We need to follow the rule of law and to obey so that prosperity can come to all who live in South Africa not just a few.
Achan did not own up. Hence today we have the Zondo commission people being forced to own up and take responsibility and to face consequences. However, the biggest consequences have been the suffering masses of South Africa. Unemployment continues because people stole through over inflated invoices and poor service delivery. The story of Eskom, Prasa, Durban Waste Mangement.
Achan’s example shows how an individual or individuals can lead a nation into disaster and bring untold suffering.
We need more Joshua’s in South Africa. People we are accountable to God and to South Africans. Being Honest individuals brings prosperity to all. Achan brought disaster not only to his family but the whole Nation of Israel.
Fr. Barnabas Nqindi
Just imagine. Sunday after Sunday going to church yet only getting to celebrate the Eucharist once or twice a year. Or sitting with something weighing on your conscience and longing to hear the words of absolution - but there is no priest available for the next few months. Just imagine you are sick or dying and want to be anointed but can’t be. Isn’t the comfort and power of the sacraments at the very heart of what it means to be Catholic? Of course, our faith has many dimensions, but the sacraments sustain us in our mission to spread the Good News.
The people of the Amazonian region don’t have to imagine. For many of them, this is and looks set to remain their reality. Distances are vast and there are few vocations. This week the Pope’s much anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the Amazon Synod held 6-27 October 2019, entitled Querida Amazonia (“Beloved Amazon”), was released. This is the letter that traditionally follows a synod and the document released by the Synod. There was hope that some of the recommendations of the Synod document would usher in change so that the people of the Amazon (and in time potentially other places too) would have regular access to the sacraments.
Despite the fact that the possibility of ordaining suitably trained married men as priests (so-called “viri probati”) was voted in favour of by two-thirds of those with voting rights, Pope Francis has not made changes to allow for this - even as an experiment limited to the Amazon. Women run 70 per cent of parishes in that region. If they were ordained to the diaconate, they could witness marriages, conduct funeral services, baptise and preach. It seems clear, however, that they will not be ordained to the diaconate anytime soon. Many women are, in reality, already doing many of these things without the grace of the Sacrament of Orders.
The issues of allowing married priests and the ordination of women to the diaconate are ones on which we as Catholics, sadly, have starkly divergent views. In recent days conservative groups have been extremely vocal about maintaining mandatory celibacy for priests. Pope Francis may feel that he cannot move on these issues and still preserve the unity of the church.
The Pope may, understandably, be trying to keep the focus firmly on the key issue of environmental concerns and protection of the Amazon, not wanting these critical issues to be overshadowed by other “hot-button” issues. Nonetheless, the fact that these other issues have become focal in the Catholic media shows their profound impact on people. They will not go away.
Lay leadership must be developed and encouraged but, ultimately, only ordination allows one to confer the sacraments. There are committed married men and women who feel called by God to minister sacramentally. People are longing to encounter Christ regularly in the sacraments, but there are not enough ordained priests to minister to them.
Should their longing for Christ not be our sole focus?
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Youth is not something to be analysed in the abstract. Indeed, “youth” does not exist there exist only young people, each with the reality of his or her own life. In today’s rapidly changing world, many of those lives are exposed to suffering and m
We acknowledge with sorrow that “many young people today live in war zones and experience violence in countless different forms: trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation, wartime rape and so forth. Other young people, because of their faith, struggle to find their place in society and endure various kinds of persecution, even murder. Many young people, whether by force or lack of alternatives, live by committing crimes and acts of violence: child soldiers, armed criminal gangs, drug trafficking, terrorism, and so on. This violence destroys many young lives. Abuse and addiction, together with violence and wrongdoing, are some of the reasons that send young people to prison, with a higher incidence in certain ethnic and social groups”.
Many young people are taken in by ideologies, used and exploited as cannon fodder or a strike force to destroy, terrify or ridicule others. Worse yet, many of them end up as individualists, hostile and distrustful of others; in this way, they become an easy target for the brutal and destructive strategies of political groups or economic powers.
“Even more numerous in the world are young people who suffer forms of marginalization and social exclusion for religious, ethnic or economic reasons. Let us not forget the difficult situation of adolescents and young people who become pregnant, the scourge of abortion, the spread of HIV, various forms of addiction (drugs, gambling, pornography and so forth), and the plight of street children without homes, families or economic resources”. In the case of women, these situations are doubly painful and difficult.
As a Church, may we never fail to weep before these tragedies of our young. May we never become inured to them, for, anyone incapable of tears cannot be a mother. We want to weep so that society itself can be more of a mother, so that in place of killing it can learn to give birth, to become a promise of life. We weep when we think of all those young people who have already lost their lives due to poverty and violence, and we ask society to learn to be a caring mother. None of this pain goes away: it stays with us, because the harsh reality can no longer be concealed. The worst thing we can do is adopt that worldly spirit whose solution is simply to anaesthetize young people with other messages, with other distractions, with trivial pursuits.
Perhaps “those of us who have a reasonable comfortable life don’t know how to weep. Some realities in life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears. I would like each of you to ask yourself this question: Can I weep? Can I weep when I see a child who is starving, on drugs or on the street, homeless, abandoned, mistreated or exploited as a slave by society? Or is my weeping only the self-centred whining of those who cry because they want something else?” Try to learn to weep for all those young people less fortunate than yourselves. Weeping is also an expression of mercy and compassion. If tears do not come, ask the Lord to give you the grace to weep for the sufferings of others. Once you can weep, then you will be able to help others from the heart.
Christus Vivit, 72-76
Father grant me the gift of tears. Change my heart from one of stone to flesh. Give me the grace to see the pain of young people and offer them the comfort of my understanding and love. Help our leaders to combat the scourge of human trafficking and all forms of marginalization and indifference in the face of suffering so that we can live in communities that serve all humanity. Amen.
You are the now of God, and he wants you to bear fruit.~ Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People,The Faith and Vocation Discernment, 178 ~
We cannot just say that young people are the future of our world. They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it. Young people are no longer children. They are at a time of life when they begin to assume a number of responsibilities, sharing alongside adults in the growth of the family, society and the Church. Yet the times are changing, leading us to ask: What are today’s young people really like? What is going on in their lives?
The Synod recognised that the members of the Church do not always take the approach of Jesus. Rather than listening to young people attentively, “all too often, there is a tendency to provide pre-packaged answers and ready-made solutions, without allowing their real questions to emerge and facing the challenges they pose”. Yet once the Church sets aside narrow preconceptions and listens carefully to the young, this empathy enriches her, for “it allows young people to make their own contribution to the community, helping it to appreciate new sensitivities and to consider new questions”.
We adults can often be tempted to list all the problems and failings of today’s young people. Perhaps some will find it praiseworthy that we seem so expert in discerning difficulties and dangers. But what would be the result of such an attitude? Greater distance, less closeness, less mutual assistance.
Anyone called to be a parent, pastor or guide to young people must have the farsightedness to appreciate the little flame that continues to burn, the fragile reed that is shaken but not broken (cf. Is 42:3). The ability to discern pathways where others only see walls, to recognise potential where others see peril. That is how God the Father sees things; he knows how to cherish and nurture the seeds of goodness sown in the hearts of the young. Each young person’s heart should thus be considered “holy ground”, a bearer of seeds of divine life, before which we must “take off our shoes” in order to draw near and enter more deeply into the Mystery.
Christus Vivit, 64-67
Father, give me the grace to encounter young people with respect, sensitivity and compassion. Help me to see You at work in them, and to share You with them. Grant me the grace to learn from them, and to see the world with the hope and optimism they do Amen.
The Triduum (from the Latin meaning Three Days) is often referred to as TheThree Great Days–Maundy Thursday–Good Friday-Easter Vigil. According to
this tradition there is a difference in the way we enter into the spirituality of Triduum and that of Easter Day. As we observe the Triduum we enter into the Paschal Mystery in which the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus Christ saves and redeems us. Easter Day is a celebration of utter joy and introduces the 50 days of Easter celebration.The Triduum is therefore a single, unitary celebration of the whole Paschal Mystery. It is not merely an historical rehearsal of a sequence of three events over three succeeding days but is a solemn entering into the saving mystery of the passion-death-resurrection-event in the life of Jesus. This is one event –we do not enter into Good Friday as those who do not know how this will end, and we do not enter in the resurrection as those who do not know where itbegan and how we got here. That is why there is this essential unity to The Three Days which is expressed in the fact that there is only one beginning and one ending to the liturgy of The Triduum.The unity of this single celebration is clearly shown in the structure of the
services. There is a Greeting at the start of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist,but no dismissal; no formal beginning or dismissal at the Good Friday devotions, and no greeting at the Service of Light that starts the Great Vigil of Easter. It is only at the end of the Vigil Service that the congregation join in the joyful dismissal that sends people out to love and serve the Lord with a great cry6 of "Alleluia! Alleluia!"In this single service we gather together to celebrate the complete drama of salvation into which we are invited. It is a gathering that celebrates the new commandment to love and serve one another, revealed by a Lord who washes the feet of the disciples, including Judas who betrayed him, and Peter who denied him, all played out in the context of the joyful celebration of the liberation of the people of God from the oppression of slavery in Egypt; a gathering of the people of God at the Cross as those who know the truth of the victory of our Lord over darkness, sin and rejection; a gathering of the people who join together to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord as those who have kept watch through his passion and greet him with joy on Easter morning.
I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgement is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me."
Throughout the Gospels, one of the marks of Jesus’ leadership style is to deflect allcredit from himself. He comes proclaiming not himself but God and God’s reign. Heteaches in the manner of a Jewish rabbi, drawing upon the religious tradition andgiving his interpretation of it. And like any truly great teacher, Jesus does not expect
of his disciples blind obedience but rather a critical appropriation and even extensionof his teaching in their lives.
We might say that Jesus empowers his followers. This empowerment, however, hasnothing to do with self-empowerment, but its aim is that they – and we – empowerothers in turn. Knowledge, insight, wealth, political influence, all forms of empowerment in fact, are useless unless they are passed on to other. Not doing this is
not only selfish and a waste, but a sin. It is a sin against love, against the very point of empowerment, and it is also dangerous.
It is dangerous and sinful because it not only makes one too powerful and filled with the unhealthy spirit of pride and self-importance, but is disempowering of others,creating in them a sense of dependence and a culture of patronage in society. It createsa ‘Master-Servant’ mentality. In a society where great gaps exist between rich and poor, it breeds corruption at every level. A common feature of many countries that have low levels of corruption is an absence of such a mentality. If we consider states like Denmark, Sweden or New Zealand, they have a narrow gap between rich and poor and an absence of a culture of patronage. Beyond more equal opportunities, there is a culture of respect that transcends the gaps between leaders and led. Politicians generally do not treat citizens as ‘vote fodder’ but see themselves as public servants, genuinely interested in their constituents and ready to listen to them. (Those who don’t, find they have very short careers in politics). One of the many things we can say about the leadership style of Nelson Mandela is that, though he could be abrupt and even fairly authoritarian at times, he seemed
genuinely interested in ordinary people and truly desired their empowerment. Many recall how, when he spoke with them, it was as if they were the very centre of his attention, no matter their political affiliations, age, race, gender or social position. The story is told how in a telephone conversation he addressed Britain’s Queen as 'Elizabeth’ not out of a deliberate attempt to violate protocol, but ‘because’ he replied, ‘she calls me Nelson’. In his public speeches he frequently deflected his considerable achievements to others, emphasizing always that governance was a collective effort. He initiated a much greater transparency in policy making, inviting ordinary citizens to comment on proposed new laws, a practice that continues (even if most citizens don’s avail themselves of the opportunity). He was, in short, a generous leader.How many of us, I wonder, continue to trap ourselves in a patronage culture? How many of us will consider whether candidates are empowering or disempowering us when we go out to vote this year?
Reflection prepared by Anthony Egan SJ & Matthew Charlesworth SJ @mcharlesworth)
There can be no future without forgiveness
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ