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Sunday, June 17, 2018

To Fulfill His Mission

Jesus Waited 33 Years
then Stretched Out His Hands on the Cross

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai, FMH
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 17, 2018
Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Hoover, AL

Happy Father's Day! 
Our readings (Ez 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34) remind us that our Father in heaven is the planter and sower of seeds.

In some imitative way all fathers on earth are called to be an image of the sower of seeds and it will take great courage to live this way of life, patiently forming our children. Pride in the "historic man" often leads us to dominate and grasp. These are not the values Jesus presented in the parables of the sowing of seeds.

In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus gives us two parables of the seeds to describe the reign of God. The first is the Parable of the Growing Seeds. It tells us that God’s kingdom, like the seed, will definitely come, regardless of any human intervention. The second is the Parable of the Mustard Seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.” Yet when it is
sown, it grows and become the largest of plants. Why did Jesus use the image of the seed in these parables? Certainly, the seed has significant qualities that will help us understand the mystery of the kingdom of God.

First, the seed is small and, in the eyes of most people, insignificant. Only farmers truly appreciate its value. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus pictured God as the farmer who sowed seeds on the ground. And that is precisely how God works – always from humble and small beginnings: from the
manger in Bethlehem to the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and to the cross in Calvary; from twelve unlettered disciples in Galilee to the great forums of Rome and throughout the whole world.

This teaches us the lesson on humility and littleness. Fallen human nature tends to seek for recognition and appreciation. Hence, people aspire to become big – rich, famous, and powerful. But experience tells us that this is not the way to true greatness and happiness. The seed is a reminder that being little does not mean being powerless or insignificant. In fact, as shown by the example of God, it is the way to true greatness. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A great man is always willing to be little.” In other words, it takes a lot of greatness to become little. The way of God is humility; the way of the devil is pride.

Second, the seed grows slowly. It follows the process of nature, which is gradual and slow. There is no shortcut to growth and development. This is the way the Kingdom of God unfolds. Unfortunately, many people nowadays do not subscribe to this truth anymore. Being used to the comforts and convenience in this age of technology, they think that success can be achieved quickly and easily. Everybody is in a hurry and
impatient. They hate to wait. But the seed teaches us that the way to greatness and success is a long and painstaking process – “first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” 

Again, this is clearly illustrated in the life of Jesus. He has come to save the world. But he had to undergo the complete process of birth, growth and maturity. He had to patiently wait for thirty-three years before he stretched his hands on the cross to fulfill his mission. Indeed, as the famous director, Mario Puzo, said, “Great men are not born great; they grow great.”

Have we ever thought why during these times there are so many people afflicted with cancer?  Most of these cancer cases, apart from heredity, are caused by the food we eat. In the recent past, people raise chicken and hogs in their backyards that feed on organic grains, fruits and vegetables. Fish were caught in the pristine oceans. 

Nowadays, poultry, fish and meat products are farmed and raised artificially, with the use of chemical-laced feeds so that they grow fast. Even fruits, vegetables and rice are genetically engineered and bombarded with fertilizers and chemicals for fast growth and maximum harvest. All these are done for only one obvious reason: huge and quick profits.

This greedy human intervention invariably results in the unprecedented rise in the number of cancer victims and the emergence
Pope Saint John Paul II
of many other diseases. Pope Saint John Paul II is correct when he declared, “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” 

This sad reality teaches us the lesson, not only on the evil of greed, but also on the need to obey the laws of nature, and on the value of patience as we wait for the slow but sure unfolding of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Third, the seed is totally dependent, not on the power of any human being, but on the providence of God. It is God who supplies the minerals and nutrients in the soil, and sends sunshine and rainfall on the seed until it grows and bears fruit.

Again, this truth does not resonate with many people nowadays. Progress in the fields of technology and science has made people think they can be self-sufficient, and can now conveniently put God aside. Pope Benedict XVI made this apt observation: “The crisis we are living through carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life.” 

It is best, therefore, to remind us of the Lord’s words: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

Finally, the seed, though nurtured by nature and God’s providence, still needs the caring hands of the farmer. God seldom operates directly in the affairs of the world. As a rule, He always uses the instrumentality of human beings who cooperate in His plan to bring about His Kingdom in the world. When people obey God’s will, the advent of His kingdom is hastened: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

God gives only the seeds of peace, progress and salvation. And He expects us to plant and nurture them to full fruition. This we do by faithfully obeying His will.

Ultimately, it is God who brings about His kingdom, and He invites us to join Him in building it here on earth until it reaches perfection and fullness in heaven.

Fr Joe Mungai is seeking his own harvest -- a source of water for his people in  in Central Kenya — Gatura,Thigio in Kiambu County. To read about this important project go to A Deep Down Thirst

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Eucharist is the Source and the Summit of the Christian Life

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai, FMH
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 3, 2018
Hospital Chaplaincy, Long Island, New York

“By the Eucharistic Celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all” (CCC 1326)

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ popularly known as Corpus Christi. It was introduced in the late 13th century to encourage the faithful to give special adoration to the Holy Eucharist.

Later, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Urban IV in 1264 and became a mandatory feast of the universal church in 1312. Traditionally, this solemnity is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. However, where it is not a holy day of obligation, it is celebrated on the Sunday following the Trinity Sunday.

As we celebrate Corpus Christi today, both our first and second readings (Ex 24:3-8 and Her 9:11-15) talk about covenant, sacrifice, and blood. According to the first reading, the old covenant was sealed with the blood of animal sacrifice which Moses sprinkled on the people. Subsequently, the second reading reminds us that the new covenant was sealed with the blood of Christ. 

The sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ is the game changer. While the first covenant never guaranteed eternal life, the new one does because it was sealed with costly Blood through a perfect sacrifice offered once and for all.

In the Gospel (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26), Christ celebrated the First Holy Eucharist. Here He is both priest and victim. This is another
difference between the new and the old covenant. As the Priest, Christ offered Himself to God for our salvation. So, it is important to note that whenever we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, Christ is fully present both as the Priest and as the Victim.

He accomplishes his priesthood through the actions of the human priest, who is alter Christus (another Christ) and, who acts in persona Christi (in the Person of Christ). On the other hand, He accomplishes His role as a victim in the form of bread and wine. All these put together is what we refer to as the “action of grace.”

The church teaches us that: “The Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian life…For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself…The Eucharist is also the culmination both of God’s action, sanctifying the world in Christ and, of the worship men offer to Christ… In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith.” (CCC 1324-5).

Therefore, today’s celebration is a celebration of life, salvation and grace. It teaches us that as real food, the Eucharist is the True Body and Blood of Christ which nourishes our soul. It is a concrete way through which Christ is divinely present with us every day and moment.

So, when we share in the celebration of the Eucharist, we share in the life of Christ the Head and, in the life of the Church, His Body. This means that we must pay more attention to the Holy Eucharist by spending more time in His Divine Presence. If we present ourselves before Him daily, He will fill us with wisdom and show us the best way to approach life.

This means that we should adore and offer Christ the reverence due to Him. Any moment
spent in the Presence of the Most Holy Sacrament is both a golden moment and a moment of grace. Let us adore Christ saying: “Oh Sacrament Most Holy; Oh, Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be yours in every moment and time.”

Please read about Father Joe's home town in Africa, which is literally dying of thirst in the dry season and needs a way to drill for water underground. A Deep Down Thirst

(As I conclude I urge you to Pray One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory Be..for me as I celebrate my 4th Priestly Anniversary on 7th June).

Friday, May 11, 2018

Let Christ’s Shadow Fall on the World so Cruelly Crushed by Abortion

Rachel's Vineyard: 
Hope for those Who Carry the Burden of Guilt

by Susan Fox 

“And behold, men brought in a bed a man, who had the palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him (Jesus). And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, because of the multitude, they went up upon the roof, and let him down through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus."  (Luke 5:18-19)

And that is how Rachel’s Vineyard works. A friend is ill. You cannot reach Jesus because of the crowds so you lower him into the house through the roof. And Jesus forgives his sins and heals him.

Theresa Burke, a psychologist, founded Rachel’s Vineyard after researching abortion’s effects on men and women, finding it often causes grief, shame and depression. 

The dirty secret is that the abortion industry is wreaking havoc with people’s health. Women who have had an abortion  are at 81 percent higher risk for mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion, according to Professor Priscilla Coleman, who spoke at an event on  March 14, 2018, sponsored by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

Shockingly, Coleman concluded that 10 percent of all mental health problems are attributable to abortion.

Men  suffer almost identical effects. They must cope with “choice,” something they are completely denied in an abortion, leaving them emasculated with a loss of masculine identity, according to Men and Abortion:
Psychological Effects by Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD. The law in most countries does not even allow them to be informed if their wife plans to have an abortion. 

After an abortion, some men attempt to abort their own lives, committing suicide, and some suffer impotence post-abortion. Some choose to change their sexual orientation. 

Men, who self identify as homosexual, often comment on my pro-life posts and tell me proudly they don’t need an abortion because their relationships do not produce new life. Such are the costs of female “Choice:” men fear women.

Ironically, Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe in the nefarious 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Roe v Wade) that legalised abortion, did enter a homosexual relationship after giving birth to three children. She never had an abortion, but right up to her death in 2017, she was burdened with the knowledge that she helped begin a law that caused 60 million American deaths. Happily, she joined the Catholic Church in the late ‘90s and died chaste and pro-life, fighting abortion up to her last hours. 

Rachel’s Vineyard offers retreats for “all impacted by abortion loss,” Rachel Vineyard’s Executive Director Nancy Blom said. The retreat can help both women and men, young and old, address the spiritual trauma caused by abortion. Blom said abortion loss can take decades … or a lifetime … to heal.

“Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. (Acts 5:15-16)

I hope we can take all the men and women crushed by abortion and let Christ’s shadow fall upon them. The weekend retreat Rachel’s vineyard is just such an effort. Participants are led through scriptural readings in this pattern: Friday the focus is on the crucifixion; Saturday, it is Jesus in the tomb, and Sunday’s focus is on the Resurrection. Retreatants participate in guided mediation on Sacred Scripture and group discussion. 

At one point they read the account of Lazarus in the tomb.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask Him.”“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her….“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”  (John 11:21-26)

He then went to the tomb of Lazarus and wept. People asked, “Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept Lazarus from dying?” (John 11:37) Lazarus was dead already for four days, but Jesus ordered them to roll away the burial stone. Then He called Lazarus to come out. “The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, 
and his face wrapped in a headcloth. “Unwrap him and let him go,” Jesus told them.” (John 11:44)

This is physically reenacted in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Participants play the role of Lazarus. They choose what parts of their body they want wrapped up. They pray while the Lazarus account is read. Then Christ comes Himself and unwraps the strips of linen binding them, usually in the form of a Catholic priest. 

It is incredibly powerful moment in a retreat meant to bring healing to people involved in an abortion. Most people feel like they can never get out from under that burden. But Christ  comes, enters the room, picks up the heavy stone and …throws it away. 

If there is anyone who can understand that experience it is Julia Holcomb, a Catholic
Julia Holcomb
convert with seven children, who is the former fiancee of Steven Tyler, lead singer for the 1970s hard rock band Aerosmith. Tyler coerced her into having an abortion when she was a teenager and his ward.  She made the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat after she converted to Catholicism many years later. “There were some beautiful experiences of living Scriptures,” she said, “I felt like it was an encounter with Christ personally.”

Her face lights up with joy when she describes the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. This is at the end of a long sad video — where her face is etched with suffering — in which she describes the ordeal that was her three-year relationship with Steven Tyler. She met Tyler when she was 15, and her parents gave him guardianship over her. I guess he imagined
Rock Star Steven Tyler
himself in love with her because he asked her to have a baby with him, and then threw her birth control pills over the balcony. 

She became pregnant, and they were planning to marry. But his family refused to accept their relationship, believing it wouldn’t last. So it began to unravel. He abandoned her in an apartment with no food, no money, no education, and no maternal health care. On the phone he promised to send his friend Ray over to take her to the grocery store. But when Ray showed up, she suddenly woke up in the middle of a fire in their apartment alone, and the door was barred from the outside. 

Amazingly, convicted rapist Bill Cosby saved her life because she remembered he had advised crawling into the fireplace in event of a fire. Once she was inside her bedroom’s fireplace, she looked up at the picture on the
The Light of the World
wall called the
Light of the World by Charles Chambers. It is a famous portrait of the Child Jesus. Her copy had belonged to her grandmother. Thinking she was dying, she prayed for forgiveness. She miraculously survived the fire without brain damage. Then her ordeal really began. 

In the hospital after the fire, Tyler insisted she get an abortion. She refused the abortion repeatedly. But then he threatened to abandon her. Poor girl, she had been rejected by her own mother and two stepfathers, and she felt like Steven was all she had so she agreed to the abortion, which took place as she was recovering from smoke inhalation from the fire.

She was 18 years old, five months pregnant and the doctor did not explain the saline abortion procedure to her. He just said, “Hold still or you might die.” Then he jammed a huge needle into her belly to put the saline solution into her womb to kill the baby. It was very painful. 

Through hours of pain, she laboured to deliver what she was told would be a dead baby. At her side, Tyler snorted cocaine, even offering her some. Later, he told her her son, whom she later named Michael, had been born alive, but killed by the nurse. She didn’t even know how that was legal. It only added to her crushing guilt.

In recent years, she started researching the matter, and found the startling statistic that 64 percent of abortions are coerced. “That’s a shocking statistic. What young girl is going to win out over  adults with a financial interest at stake when she’s made the decision to have her baby. She’s usually going to lose because she’s underage and she’s not the adult in the room. It’s unfair to say it’s a choice,” she said, pleading for a change in our laws to protect women and their babies from forced abortion.

Today, Julia Holcomb is a happy Catholic wife and mother, who received significant healing from her abortion through the Catholic Sacrament of Confession and a  Rachel’s Vineyard’s Retreat. She is a spokeswoman
Julia Holcomb with Silent No More protestors
for Silent No More, an American pro-life organisation. Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey has called the Silent No More campaign "...a powerful new voice. These brave wounded women are the new champions of life. They have refused to be silent any longer. They care too deeply about other women and their children and they want others to be spared the anguish they have endured. And to the millions of women who have aborted, they are uniquely equipped to convey the breathtaking love, healing, and reconciliation that God provides to those who ask.”

“No matter how far from grace someone has fallen you can turn to God, and  His goodness is so big he can help you to rebuild your life and find healing,” Holcomb said from the depths of her own experience. “I would encourage anyone who has had an abortion to turn to the Church for healing and look at a retreat experience like Rachel’s Vineyard as another important step to find that healing.”

The image of the paralysed man is a excellent way to describe the feelings of someone who has been directly involved in an abortion. It can be the baby’s father or his mother, or the roommate of the baby’s mother. I’ve seen grieving grandparents who lost a child this way. Even sisters and brothers suffer in an abortion. I know of a woman who dreamt her father and mother planned to kill her, and were digging her grave. She was a little girl at the time. Decades later she found out her parents had aborted a younger sibling.

The tendrils of the abortion experience are so insidious that when I think of the 60.3 million Americans who lost their lives to abortion, I realise that to understand the complete damage done to our people, we must multiply the number of abortions by 5 or 6. It comes to 362 million people affected by abortion in the United States. But our population  is only 325.7 million! The babies are dead, but their brothers, sisters, mothers, grandparents, fathers, aunts and uncles, even cousins must still deal with the lasting pain caused by their absence. And that could very well be every single American alive today. 


“Distinguished academic tells MPs about the mental health risks of abortion,” Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. 

Rachel’s Vineyard Vine and Branches Newsletter 

Men and Abortion: Psychological Effects by Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD.
http://www.kofc.org/en/resources/cis/cis334.pdf  The pdf on this one keeps disappearing. 
Here is a google address for the download.