In writing these weekly newsletters I tend to follow current events, but from a perspective of MARFAM’s family themes and thoughts and these use the scripture readings of the time.  In the last few days the church has been reading the book of Samuel and the stories of that time. One well-known one: his mother Hannah and her infertility, and the prayer she offers on becoming pregnant which is in fact Mary’s Magnificat prayer.  We have Samuel’s call, the choice of Saul as king, the wars of the time with young David killing Goliath the giant, David as king and more wars of the time, even between former friends Saul and David.  Reflecting on these accounts, which are not necessarily historically accurate does give us an insight into the way of thinking of the times. “Saul slew 1000s and David slew 10 000s.”  How has our attitude changed in recent times, or has it? One likes to think this is so as in the passage from Kahlil Gibran, quoted in  Daily Maverick recently, “Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. Today  we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.”  If only our humanist response and not our economic response was our determining factor in life.  Costs, income and expenditure are factors we cannot avoid. Weapons are a source of income for some, and the absolute opposite for the thousands of victims of war.  Soldiers and armies provide employment but could this not be done differently, e.g. an army of social developers or what about an army of fighters against climate change. 

Ecological economics is one of the 7 goals of the Laudato Si Action Platform and requires a consideration of the cost of living from the perspective of care for our common home.  Laudato Si states, “The analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, to others and the environment. LS 141. 

How much “work” today is productive and positive, building rather than destroying, or maybe we could say circular as in recycling?  At the beginning of this new year, many of us are already forgetting the resolutions we made pre Jan 1, and many others, young and old are considering their own future, while some may consider the future of society or the earth, or OUR WORLD, AS A FAMILY OF FAMILIES, in our choice of the type of work we study and train for, or engage in.    Not all work is or has to physically produce something, or in large quantities, often it is internal, becoming a better person, teaching, action or relationship skills.

But overall at this time it is well for us to consider what the value of each of our work is, for myself, for society, maybe for the Church, for the earth, for creation and for God.  For Radio Veritas’ FAMILY MATTERS programme on 17th January I conducted an interview with a seminarian, a young man preparing to become a Salesian priest, but already one the “Salesian family” of priests, brothers and sisters, caring for the poor and the marginalized, especially young people left on the sidelines of life.  What will be his success rate?  Or will he be among those blessed who can say, “my work matters.”      TR MARFAM FAMILY WEEKLY 17 JANUARY 2024


January 17th. “There are a good number of “David and Goliath” type incidents in society still today.  A small person with little power, influence or strength but with a belief in his cause and also trusting in God’s help can stand up against much more powerful forces.  Do they always win?  If they do who or what has helped them?” Mr Petersen had often asked his teenagers as they were growing up whether they would have the courage of David. One son, Jack, had inherited his father’s activist nature and he and his university mates had got involved in the student protests and lobbied for climate justice. “It can be scary, but you have to be brave and clever too,” he said. “We are committed to an ecological vision for our own future too.”  

Reflect, share. Scripture:  David and Goliath. David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone and struck the Philistine down and killed him.  Samuel 17:32-51. Pope Francis: The heart of the Church is full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them even to dying a martyr’s death.  They were precious reflections of the young Christ.  Their witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy.  Their example shows what the young are capable of when they open themselves up to encounter Jesus.  St Joan of Arc born in 1412 was a young peasant girl who became a soldier and fought to defend her country, France.  She was misunderstood and burned at the stake.   St Kizito, was the youngest of the Uganda martyrs also burned by a wicked king. Bl Isidore Bakanja was a layman from the Congo who was tortured for having proposed Christianity to young people.  CV 49-63.  Pray:  for young people to develop a sense of commitment to a cause or vision. Choose appropriate action.