FEBRUARY OVERVIEW: God, the creator, is a lover and it is God’s love that is life-giving, creating life continually, sustaining and renewing what has been created. Our task and gift as human beings and life-givers is co-creation with God in the conception, bearing and nurturing of children and in maintaining loving relationships. God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan. (cf Mt 13:3) AL62.
Our life-giving task is to nurture life in all its stages from conception until natural death. However, we know from experience how vulnerable life and love can be. It might be true to say that if there is no true love expressed as a deep concern for others in our families and for the common good, life does continue, but not as Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10. Loving human relationships of commitment and care are mirrored and carried forward in care for creation. Caring for rhinos and yet rejecting unborn human life and the needs of the destitute and poor is not fully lifegiving. Reflecting on St Francis Pope Francis wrote: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.”
Abbreviations: LS = Laudato Si. AL = Amoris Laetitia. EG = Evangelii Gaudium GE = Gaudete et Exultate. FT = Fratelli Tutti
Setting the Scene: February is celebrated widely as the month of love and so for these Daily Thoughts an imaginary parish family team will be used to lead the reflections with others of the PPC and the parish priest. Thoughts and suggestions will include families as well as creation and nature.
DAILY THOUGHTS FOR LENT AND EASTER will take over from Ash Wednesday on 17th February with the theme LOVE IS HIS LAW, LOVE IS HIS WAY and a stronger focus on OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES and St Francis.
February 4. Chris shared, “As someone who has worked in marriage ministry over the years my ears always prick up when I hear a statement like, “At that time Jesus called to him the Twelve and began to send them out two by two. Mk 6:7. This “two by two” thing of course doesn’t only refer to a human couple but in creation more broadly it is clearly an essential aspect of God’s plan. Sexuality and reproduction of all species of the human race, of animals and plants happens in the same way. Male and female genetic material has to combine in order to produce new life. Mating is not purely mechanical. There are physical and hormonal aspects involved and specifically in human beings there are powerful emotional aspects of love too.
Pope Francis: The creator made man and woman share in the work of his creation and at the same time made them instruments of his love, entrusting to them the responsibility for the future of mankind, through the transmission of human life. AL 81 Sexual union, lovingly experienced and sanctified by the sacrament is in turn a path of growth in the life of grace for the couple. AL74 Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment, it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity. AL151
February 5. One night as the family were discussing commitment Jocelyn commented about faithfulness and adultery. “Many people don’t seem to care these days, but others are really prepared to stand up for what is right. Some also believe it is not their business what other do and they don’t interfere. Doesn’t that give bad example to the youth and cheapen what true love and commitment are really meant to be?” Maudi said, “I find it really interesting that we learned that some animals and birds too stay with the same partner all their lives.”
Herod had seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias his brother Philip’s wife because he had married her. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Mark 6:14-29 Pope Francis: The tensions created by an overly individualistic culture, caught up with possessions and pleasures, leads to intolerance and hostility in families. AL 33
February 7. Sunday 5B. Jesus and suffering humanity. Participating in an on-line Mass had become a norm for very many people during the time of COVID-19 with different levels of lockdown but also with much suffering. Many families had experienced infection, some hospitalization and some deaths until people’s emotions were deadened. Not being able to gather as a community was painful as they missed the support of others, but for families at home who could participate in Mass on-line and take some time to share and pray together it had also added a new supportive dimension to their spiritual lives. “I wish we could combine these two ways, when things are OK again.” “If that ever happens.” “Hope never dies, Jesus understands all our pain.” These were some of the thoughts they shared.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And he healed many and cast out many demons. Mk 1:29-39. Pope Francis: If a family is centred on Christ he will unify and illumine its entire life. Moments of pain and difficulty will be experience in union with the Lord’s cross. Moments of joy, relaxation, celebration and even sexuality can be experienced as a sharing in the full life of the resurrection. AL 317
February 8. St Josephine Bakhita, patron of the fight against human trafficking. Young Mandy had studied this topic and shared, “By definition slavery is about lack of freedom and very often abusive treatment such as Josephine experienced as a child before she was bought by a caring family and taken to Italy. Slavery has existed from time immemorial. It was formally abolished internationally in the 19th century but reports claim that today there are more than 40 million people across the globe living in conditions of slavery. In South Africa there are statistics of ¼ million people in conditions of modern slavery. Human trafficking inside and across borders remains a very serious problem. But lack of freedom is not only a crime against the human family, animals suffer too. Holding wild animals captive in atrocious conditions, poaching and killing is a form of slavery too. Adult rhinos are killed for their horns leaving baby rhinos defenceless. Small scaly pangolins are poached and eaten as a delicacy in some Far Eastern countries. This is believed to have been the way the coronavirus travelled from animal to human. So many poor innocent creatures are at the mercy of humankind! Prayer: At this time when migration is increasing, we confirm our faith in the God of life and pray, “When we hear about boys, girls, men and women being deceived and taken to unknown places for sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ trade, our hearts feel indignation and our spirits suffer, because their dignity and rights are violated by threats, deceit and violence. Oh God, help us fight against all forms of slavery. With Saint Bakhita we ask you to put an end to human trafficking. Give us the wisdom and strength to be close to those who have been wounded in their body, heart and spirit, so that together we may reach the promise of life and tender and infinite love that you offer to our exploited brothers and sisters. Touch the hearts of those responsible for this serious crime and support our commitment to freedom, your gift for all your sons and daughters. https://sma.ie/st-josephine-bakhita-from-slave-to-saint/ Pope Francis: A sense of communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered animal and plant species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor or undertaking to destroy another human being seen as unwanted. LS91
February 9. Grandad shared, “I’m really beginning to appreciate that creation, in whatever way it may have happened and evolved is a wonderful gift and an incredible sign of God’s love for everything he has created. God was there, Jesus, the Word of God and the Spirit of God were there and God was pleased with everything he had done. St Francis understood that in a very special way, God is in everything, everything is connected and we are part of this creation too. God said, “Let the water bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth. let the earth bring forth living creatures, cattle and creeping things. And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth. God blessed them and said, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.” From Genesis 1. Pope Francis: when we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them. LS 87