June 21.  “Now girls, no showing off any more.”  The boys teased the girls mostly about how they looked but the girls got their own back by challenging the guys on how they acted.   “Remember that ex-singer Jub Jub, he was a real show-off and where did that get him, jail for killing innocent schoolchildren with his street drag racing in 2010. I read that he was released from prison in 2017 on parole, vowed to turn his life around and is active again in the music industry.”  “Showing off happens in church too. Some people go to show how holy they are, or even to dress up and impress, but are they really spiritual?  Let’s take this seriously because it also concerns a reward in heaven.”

Reflect, share, act. Scripture:   Beware of practising your piety before men in order to be seen by them.  For then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven Matt 6:1-6.  Pope Francis: Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possessions. What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realise that you are called to something greater.   Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness.  In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.  CV 107  



The US Bishops in a valuable document about family ministry, A FAMILY PERSPECTIVE IN CHURCH AND SOCIETY, first produced in 1989 and more recently updated,  described a family as a developing system and also noted the diversity of families.  MARFAM’S vision and work have kept such concepts in mind over the years in promoting its family focus. For example, MARFAM’S June theme is CHILDREN BELONG IN FAMILIES which would include infants and youth and even adult children continuing to have a relationship with their parents.  It can be acknowledged that there is a unique bond that lasts for a lifetime.  It is quite an elastic bond that might stretch at times almost to breaking point, or is more intimate at certain times too.   

In South Africa June has, for nearly 50 years, been celebrated as Youth Month, commemorating the June 16th 1976 Soweto uprising of youth against the then state’s unjust educational system.  The youth took the initiative away from their elders at that time with powerful political consequences. However, this, as well as the system of migrant labour at the time did affect family functioning as well as family relationships. 

Last month we had Mothers’ Day and last week we celebrated Father’s Day with much encouragement to men, who are still so often absent fathers, to engage more fully  with their children.  It is no joke that dads are referred to them by children as their ATM.  The reality too is that grandparents and the extended family continue to play an important role in children’s lives.  They will be the focus in the month of July with 23rd July being Pope Francis’ Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Diversity and a developing system are the reality.

The Johannesburg Archdiocese is holding AMOF on Saturday 24th June. The ARCHDIOCESAN MEETING OF FAMILIES  is a large family festival, with our archbishop, numbers of clergy and families being keenly awaited. There will be presentations for couples, parents, grandparents, elderly, singles, youth and kids and time for prayer walks, fun and feasting.  We hope that this will become a truly diocesan family event and not a time for parents to send their young ones off for the day.  In society today it is a real mission for families to do things together – even for just part of a day. One of my most common MARFAM slogans is “The family that prays and plays together, stays together.”  

Family life is not only about praying, playing or staying together but needs greater attention on all fronts as there are many problems within and beyond them, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy being under discussion at present. Climate change calls for “Becoming an eco-friendly family,” something which can help to build closer relationships while caring for God’s creation.   

June 20th was World Refugee Day and it is a frightening reality that there are  over 100 million people displaced from various countries around the world, for reasons of war, internal conflict, and climate related situations that increase poverty, like drought, famine, floods and fires. Could St Francis still speak of Brother Fire and Sister Water in our day?   

https://www.unhcr.org/what-we-do/how-we-work/safeguarding-individuals/childrenUN.   The UN reports that over half of the world’s refugees are children. Many will spend their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families. They may have witnessed or experienced violent acts and, in exile, are at risk of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment. We are conscious of the more than 15000 children abducted from Ukraine to Russia in the last year while e.g. in Sudan many children with families are directly affected by the war.  UN notes that at the same time children are incredibly resilient. By learning, playing and exploring their skills, they can find ways to cope, drawing strength from their families and communities.  

UNICEF is specifically concerned with issues around children as well as youth. Suggestions offered are:    

1. Provide equal support to all refugee children – wherever they come from.

2. Recognise refugee children as children first and foremost – with rights to protection and participation

3. Include refugee children and families in services offered in the community, e.g. education, health.

4. Protect refugee children from discrimination and xenophobia.

5. Empower refugee youth to unleash their talents.

Pope Francis in his letter to the Youth Christis Vivit makes very similar statements. Inviting youth too to befriend their refugee and migrant fellow young people.

CHILDREN BELONG IN FAMILIES.  Let us thank God for the families we have and pledge to support families in need.