2nd Sunday of Lent 2014

At one of the slums in a rundown part of the city, Mr and Mrs Kivu and their two children, Ahi and Kahu, lived in a shabby old house. Many were the nights when the children shivered beneath a blanket, wondering why they had to live in such abject poverty. However, the parents of Ahi and Kahu were devoted Christians.

Ahi once asked his father: “Dad, why is our family this poor? What did we do wrong to God for our family to go through all these hard conditions?”

“…My daughter, do not be afraid … believe in God … God has every reason why He created each one of us,” replied Mr Kivu, a strong believer in God.

“But father, how can one believe in God in this condition of life?” she asked.

The father replied: “Challenges for a Christian are just stepping stones for a better future…at least you should thank God that he has given us life, good family members, none of us is disabled… My daughter take heart and count your blessings.”

As they were talking, they heard someone knocking on their door. Ahi ran to see who it was. To her surprise, it was Mr Kima, one of the rich villagers. She welcomed him in their house and Mr Kivu was happy to receive him.

Then Mr Kivu asked Mr Kima: “…So what brings you here today?” “I have come to visit you and your family…today I am your guest,” replied Mr Kima.

“Is it because of the coming elections that now every person seeking to be elected is visiting poor people to solicit votes…or are you up to something?” Mr Kivu wondered aloud. Replied Mr Kima: “My friend Kivu, I am here today to give back to the community since God has blessed me with what I own. I am here to help you have a good roof and give support to your children’s education.”

With a lot of doubts, Mr Kivu accepted the offer. His children were able to go to school, Ahi eventually graduated as a doctor and Kahu as a teacher.

On clear evenings Ahi, Kahu and their father would sit out in the garden and watch stars gleam brightly over their new home. Ahi came to learn that God does not forget his people.

Situation analysis

The family today is faced by many challenges that threaten to tear it apart. They include an anti-Christian culture, divorce, busyness, absent parent figure, indiscipline, financial pressures, lack of communication, negative media influences, balance of work and family and materialism.

Being aware of all these challenges, Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2013 was that parents and teachers may help the new generation to grow in upright conscience and life. His Missionary Intention was that the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice. All these intentions can only be realised if the family, as the first Church, inculcates Christian’s values to help children grow in faith.

Mr Kivu and his family, despite the challenges of poverty, kept their faith. It is within the family where children are raised and formed as human beings. The parental role in this human formation is governed by love, a love which places itself “at the service of children to draw forth from them the best that is in them” and which “finds its fullest expression precisely in the task of educating. The family is the “first school.”Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, (No. 239).

The family is humanity’s first school, and it is within the family where men and women are formed “in the fullness of his personal dignity according to all his dimensions, including the social dimension.”

This includes cultural, ethical, social, spiritual, and religious values. One of the things the family has as its mission is to educate. By fulfilling its mission to educate, the family plays an irreplaceable role and advances the common good of a society (See, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, Paragraph No. 238).

Marriage and family life are important to each and all of us. We all come from families. We all have a mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nephews, and nieces. Everyone desires a good, warm and loving family, where people care for one another. If we don’t have these relatives, we feel deprived.

 

A warm and loving family is God’s plan for each of us. From the very beginning, when God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, God had a plan for marriage and family life. Male and female He made us, and thereby automatically made us social, mutually dependent, and complementary to each other. The most natural thing in the world is for a young man and woman to fall in love and begin to dream about their lives together as man and wife. When they are sufficiently mature and self-sufficient, a young couple marries and begins a new family. They regard their children as the visible, living fruit of their love. The deep love they hold for one another blossoms over into new members of the family… little Joey, little Susie. Gaudium et spes 51 reminds us that “human life and its transmission are realities whose meaning is not limited by the horizons of this life only. Their true worth and full meaning can be understood only in reference to man’s eternal destiny”.

Family is vital in passing a living faith on to the next generation. Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and, therefore, must be recognised as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have knowledge of God according to the faith received in baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbour. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognise the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people. Like in the case of Mr and Mrs Kivu, parents are supposed to help their children see God in every situation, regardless of their economic or social status.

First Reading Genesis 12:1-4

Second Reading 2 Timothy 1:8-10

Gospel Matthew 17:1-9

Life can be so discouraging, especially when we see families disintegrating. More than ever, we are called to have faith that God is in control. We must believe that God has a plan for every family. When we keep focused on Jesus, we find our true friend who will show us the way. Just as at the Transfiguration, God asked the apostles to listen to Christ. The Church has many documents that teach about marriage and the family. We must go back to the basics. We must introduce family catechism in our homes.

ACT

1. Have you witnessed such similar families in your community?

2. As Christians what do we learn from the story of Mr and Mrs Kivu’s family?

3. Amidst the challenges facing the family, how is your Small Christian Community helping it members to cope with these challenges?

4. As parents how do we help our children to grow in faith? 5. How are you involved in the activities of your parish as a Christian?

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