SESSION 4: TO LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

CHRISTIAN LIFE COMMUNITY: SESSION 4

TOPIC: GOING BEYOND OUR PREJUDICES TO MANIFEST GOD’S LOVE.

A Priest was being interviewed on radio. He had been working in Africa where human lives were devastated by an earthquake and the release of poisonous gases which killed many. The questioner asked, “What did you say to the survivors?”

“What do you say to people whose lives have been rocked by sudden tragedy?” He said, my reaction was that, it’s time to listen and help rather than making statements. The reasons being that, I have no an easy answer to that sort of event and I don’t think people can take in much of what i would say when their minds are brimming with anxiety and fear. In short, people are not searching for explanations, they are crying out for comfort. This goes beyond reasoned argument, back to a basic need to feel they are not alone. They want to know that someone cares. They need to feel arms round them, they need something or someone to ease their pain. God’s Love becomes real in these situations, not through sermons, but through quiet listening. They need our time and maybe our tears too, but not our logic. God’s Love becomes real in these situations, not through sermons, but through quiet listening. They need our time and maybe our tears too, but not our logic.

One thing helps me, he explained, when Paul wrote to Timothy, with all his experience of pain and persecution, he affirmed, “I know whom I have believed”. Paul believed in a person, not a philosophy. It was not ideas or words, but the presence that gave him the courage to go on. Facing people at the verge of giving up, people who are confused and bewildered, isn’t our mission to crystallize his love and presence? Not in sermons, but in the warmth of practical caring. The explanation can come later, when people realize they are loved.

REFLECT

  1. How do I respond to the emotional needs and sufferings of the people I meet, at School, at home and even in any social circles that I may find myself ?
  2. How can I use the gift of listening to heal myself in the process of trying to heal the other person’s wounded emotions?
  3. How can I use the stories I hear to be the image of God’s Love and grace to my neighbor?

 Focus on Jesus’ confrontation of Peter from the time Jesus predicts his death, through to the last supper, gethsemane and up to the Herod’s Court.    

End your reflection with this Prayer

Lord if I’m faced with Someone’s need today, help me to offer silence. Not in the coldness of my Indifference, But in warm welcome, To hear his version of events, Help me control the urge to talk, to people his life with my puppets. To jump to safe conclusions, for which I have stock answers. Teach me with an open mind and heart to hear his words and thoughts, to substitute the clichés I mistake for truth with quiet love spoken through eyes, not mouth, In hand, not sermon. In love that comes before advice. I see your hand reach out before you spoke the words and in the fellowship of shared perplexity, the still moment. I know there will be three of us, not two. An Emmaus road, on which you walk with us, dispelling doubt, making the moment vibrant, eloquent, not with words, but with your presence.

AMEN.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PARABLE OF THE MERCIFUL FATHER

 PARABLE OF THE MERCIFUL FATHER AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN AS PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON – God the father as an inexhaustible fountain of Mercy.

Luke 15 v 21. ff

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, running, he embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows us how God welcomes us all with an unconditional love. Even in the most difficult situations, God waits for us and longs to embrace us.
In our reflections today, I want us to fast forward this parable to the moment the Prodigal Son returns home, asking forgiveness for what he had done and telling his father: “I no longer deserve to be called your son.” On the contrary, the only thing that matters to the father is that his son has returned home safe and sound. Thus, he runs out to embrace him, restores his dignity by giving him clothes, sandals, and a ring on his finger, and calls for a feast to celebrate his return.

The mercy of the father is overflowing, unconditional and manifests itself even before the son speaks, Even though the son recognizes his sin and voices remorse, these words dissolve in front of the forgiveness of the father. Jesus, we observe, doesn’t describe a father that is offended and resentful who says “I will make you pay!” but illustrates that the only thing the father is concerned about is that this son in front of him is back and safe again. The father’s tenderness and mercy overflows and, in the same way, we know that even in the most difficult moments of our lives, God waits for us and longs to embrace us as his children.

Our state as sons of God is a fruit of love from the heart of the father, it doesn’t depend on our merits or our actions, and therefore no one can take it away. No one can take this dignity away from us, not even the devil! No one can take this dignity! This parable teaches us to never despair, especially this should make sense to parents who, like the father, see their children becoming distant and taking dangerous paths. The same can be said of Priests and catechists who at times ask themselves if their work is in vain, as well as prisoners, those who have made poor choices and aren’t able to look to the future (and) those who hunger for mercy and forgiveness but believe they aren’t worthy.”

No matter what situation life brings, we must never forget that we’ll never cease being a child of God, of a father who loves us and waits for my return. Even in the worst situations in life God waits, wanting to embrace us.

The Older Brother

 We also shift focus to the figure of the older brother, who although he was always at home with his father, is so different from him. When he speaks to his father, the older son speaks with contempt, never once using the words “father” or “brother,” but instead boasts of how he had always been near the father and served him. Neither has this son ever lived the joy of being close to his father, but accuses him of not ever giving him a young goat to celebrate, Poor father! One son went away, and the other was never truly close! The father’s suffering in this passage is like the suffering of God and of Jesus when we distance ourselves or when we think we are close and instead we are not, I suppose the older son also needs mercy, He represents us when we ask ourselves whether it’s worth it to struggle so much if we don’t get anything in return.

The Hebrew Word “REHEM”

The Hebrew word REHEM is one striking word that anyone is bound to meet whenever they look up the rich Hebrew vocabulary of mercy. This word speaks of the instinctive attachment that a woman has with the fruits of her womb. This attachment is not a product of any lesson, academic degree or seminar. Such is the Mercy of God, when it comes to mercy God does not to reason or think twice, He is instinctively merciful. The moment you reach out to meet God from your isolation “He runs to embrace you from a distance” Defying all societal norms God is ready to meet us at the point of our needs even when society has ruled us out.


When the father responds telling his older son that “everything I have is yours,” his logic is that of mercy! In their conversations with the father, both sons miss the point, The two brothers don’t speak to each other, they live different stories, but both reason in a logic foreign to the Father i.e. if you do good you get a reward, if you do bad you get punished. By responding with the logic of mercy, the father not only recovers his lost son but can now restore the relationship between the brothers, the greatest joy for the father is to see his sons recognizing each other as brothers.”

Each of the sons can decide to either unite themselves to the joy of the father, or to refuse,  and noted is how the parable ends leaving us in suspense, because we don’t know what the older son decided. This cliffhanger is a motivation for us. This Yesterday’ Gospel teaches us that we all need to enter the house of the father and participate in his joy, in the feast of mercy and brotherhood.”

Reflection Questions

  • What do I spend most of my day thinking about, pursuing, and striving after? Where does time with and thoughts about God fit in /how have I “left home”?
  • Which person in the parable do I identify most with and why?
  • Like the younger son why do I keep leaving home? What do I think the son left looking for? What am I looking for? Why do I keep ignoring the place of true and love and persist in looking for it elsewhere?
  • Why did the younger son come back? What makes me come back?
  • Why is this parable more about the forgiving father than the son? How do I view my heavenly father?
  • Like the elder son, will I respond to my father’s plea or remain stuck in bitterness?
  • Whether I am the younger son or the elder son, God’s only desire is to bring me home. What is keeping me from accepting the invitation?
  • Like the Father, can I give without wanting anything in return, love without putting any conditions on my love? Why not?

AGAPE – A LOOK AT A LOVE THAT OVERRIDES THE STRICT SOCIETAL (JEWISH) CUSTOMS.

At the time this story was told by Jesus, the Jewish tradition was so strict and the Jews followed their tradition religiously. It was however a punishable offense to go against these tradition that had survived the test of time, being passed from generation to generation. We want to explore the many traditions that this Father figure consciously went against to be the true image of God’s Love, Both in Loving and forgiving the Prodigal Son and in Understanding the bitterness of the Elder son.

Inheritance: The Jewish culture possibly like our own African Culture believed that inheritance was about passing on to as the name implies after the sole owner is no more. I want to believe had this been known by the public someone was to be subjected to unimaginable punishment, but out of Love, The merciful father gives in to the demands of his young son without questioning or disowning him. Still on inheritance, it is said that culturally the elder son always got a larger chunk of around 65% of the father’s accrued wealth and the rest would be divided amongst the remaining children. Here we encounter the father giving 50% of his wealth to the younger son way before allocating anything to his eldest son.

Male Dressing: Jewish men always put on long robes to cover their legs and feet. It is a taboo to see a Jewish man displaying his legs and feet they are always covered. But the Gospel according to Luke tells us that “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” This dramatic way that Luke chose to describe this scenario tells of someone who ran as fast as he could.  That would be impossible if the father had not pulled up his long robe to free his legs that were already itching for a race towards the prodigal son. Again we encounter the father going against societal norms.

Posture when he meets the son:  Men were not allowed to bend their torso to reach out for anything, a man was always to be seen upright. The Gospel according to Luke tells us that the prodigal Boy upon reaching his father knelt and said “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” The father did not have time to listen to this rehearsed apology he reached out to the kneeling son definitely bending his torso and embraced him. Again the father went out of his way to show Love to his Lost Son who had come back.

Questioning by elder son: The elder son goes on to question his father on why he had threw a party for this prodigal brother of his. No one was allowed to question the decision of a Father in any household. This was disrespect. The Father carefully and humbly consoles the older son by the soothing words “All I have is yours” before inviting him to join in the banquet.

God is ready to embrace us and envelope us in his mercy, defying all odds clothing us with the clothes of righteousness, For Our ways are not his ways and Just as the skies are above the earth and so is his ways and above our ways – Isiah 55

Where is God in my life?

Thanks for joining this family

Give us the Grace Lord, so that all our intentions,actions and operations may be ordered purely to serve and praise of the Divine Majesty so as to  love you more intimately,  follow you more closely and know you more deeply.

                       Coming Together To Bring Christ To Each Other

Session with Elderly Community

What is CLC?

What is the Christian Life Community all about?

The Christian Life Community is an international association of men and women, young and adult, from all types of background, who want to follow Jesus Christ more closely and work with Him in the building of the Kingdom. The CLC way of life is based on Spirituality of St Ignatius which can be summarised in St. Ignatius’ statement, “I desire to find God in all things, that I may better love and serve Him”.

Spirituality, Sense of Community & Mission

The 3 pillars of the Christian Life Community

CLC is A Way Of Life

Spirituality: Deeply grounded in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, faith sharing and regular prayer life, the awareness examen.  Sense of Community: Commitment and accountability to CLC are lived out both in the local community and in the larger CLC.  Mission: Is the end for which community and spirituality exist.  to build the Kingdom of God. option for the poor and an ability to read the signs of the times and a commitment of working toward a vision of a just world. During gatherings, we normally broken down into smaller groups for more intimate sharing. UZ CLCiers meet weekly to share their lives and how they are encountering Christ day to day. During weekends we often get involved in works of charity as a community. The UZ community is one of the most vibrant community around Harare.



Is CLC right for you?

  • Do You
  • Want to learn more about personal prayer?
  • Search for further integration of your faith life and daily living?
  • Need guidance in how to reflect on your daily experiences?
  • Seek a process for learning God’s will for you in your everyday life?
  • Desire to share your own experience of God with others who share common desires and needs?
  • Want to hear others tell their faith stories?
    Feel called to bring about God’s Kingdom of peace, justice and love?

We Unite in Prayer

In Love With Christ And Each Other