CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 3, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:1-12

Jesus began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them Jesuslast of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What (then) will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture passage:

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.

They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from Mark’s gospel is near the conclusion of the gospel, and the readings from Mark will conclude at the end of the week. The meaning of this parable of the Lord is readily evident, and Mark places the parable in his recounting of the events of the Lord’s final days before his crucifixion. It is an allegory about the unfolding of history. The vineyard owner is God, and the servants that God sends are the prophets. The Pharisees and scribes continually reject the words of the prophets, and for this reason, God sends to them God’s own Son, who of course is Jesus. In the end, the Pharisees and scribes kill even Jesus. But this is not the end of the story, for Jesus quotes the scripture about the stone that is rejected by the builders becoming the cornerstone.

The words about the rejected stone and its role as the cornerstone come from Psalm 118; the verse applies both to Jesus and the Gentiles. Jesus, the rejected and crucified one, becomes the cornerstone. Similarly, the despised Gentiles become the recipients of God’s love and grace and the cornerstone of God’s new project to spread knowledge of God to the ends of the world.

In telling us this parable, Jesus does not invite us to look in disdain on the Pharisees and scribes. When we read this passage here and now in this day, Jesus is asking us whether when God speaks to us in the people God places in our lives, we are hearing what God is saying to us? Jesus calls us to open our minds and our hearts ever be disposed to receive a new word and then give God what God asks.

Saint of the day: For those of us who think that the faith and zeal of the early Christians died out as the Church grew more safe and powerful through the centuries, the martyrs of Uganda are a reminder that persecution of Christians continues in modern times, even to the present day.

The Society of Missionaries of Africa (known as the White Fathers) had only been in Uganda for 6 years and yet they had built up a community of converts whose faith would outshine their own. The earliest converts were soon instructing and leading new converts that the White Fathers couldn’t reach. Many of these converts lived and taught at King Mwanga’s court.

King Mwanga was a violent ruler and pedophile who forced himself on the young boys and men who served him as pages and attendants. The Christians at Mwanga’s court who tried to protect the pages from King Mwanga.

The leader of the small community of 200 Christians, was the chief steward of Mwanga’s court, a twenty-five-year-old Catholic named Joseph Mkasa (or Mukasa).

When Mwanga killed a Protestant missionary and his companions, Joseph Mkasa confronted Mwanga and condemned his action. Mwanga had always liked Joseph but when Joseph dared to demand that Mwanga change his lifestyle, Mwanga forgot their long friendship. After striking Joseph with a spear, Mwanga ordered him killed. When the executioners tried to tie Joseph’s hands, he told them, “A Christian who gives his life for God is not afraid to die.” He forgave Mwanga with all his heart but made one final plea for his repentance before he was beheaded and then burned on November 15, 1885.

Charles Lwanga took over the instruction and leadership of the Christian community at court — and the charge of keeping the young boys and men out of Mwanga’s hands. Perhaps Joseph’s plea for repentance had had some affect on Mwanga because the persecution died down for six months.

Anger and suspicion must have been simmering in Mwanga, however. In May 1886 he called one of his pages named Mwafu and asked what the page had been doing that kept him away from Mwanga. When the page replied that he had been receiving religious instruction from Denis Sebuggwawo, Mwanga’s temper boiled over. He had Denis brought to him and killed him himself by thrusting a spear through his throat.

He then ordered that the royal compound be sealed and guarded so that no one could escape and summoned the country’s executioners. Knowing what was coming, Charles Lwanga baptized four catechumens that night, including a thirteen-year-old named Kizito. The next morning Mwanga brought his whole court before him and separated the Christians from the rest by saying, “Those who do not pray stand by me, those who do pray stand over there.” He demanded of the fifteen boys and young men (all under 25) if they were Christians and intended to remain Christians. When they answered “Yes” with strength and courage Mwanga condemned them to death.

He commanded that the group be taken on a 37 mile trek to the place of execution at Namugongo. The chief executioner begged one of the boys, his own son, Mabaga, to escape and hide but Mbaga refused. The cruelly-bound prisoners passed the home of the White Fathers on their way to execution. Father Lourdel remembered thirteen-year-old Kizito laughing and chattering. Lourdel almost fainted at the courage and joy these condemned converts, his friends, showed on their way to martyrdom. Three of these faithful were killed on road.

A Christian soldier named James Buzabaliawo was brought before the king. When Mwanga ordered him to be killed with the rest, James said, “Goodbye, then. I am going to Heaven, and I will pray to God for you.” When a grief-stricken Father Lourdel raised his hand in absolution as James passed, James lifted his own tied hands and pointed up to show that he knew he was going to heaven and would meet Father Lourdel there. With a smile he said to Lourdel, “Why are you so sad? This nothing to the joys you have taught us to look forward to.”

Also condemned were Andrew Kagwa, a Kigowa chief, who had converted his wife and several others, and Matthias Murumba (or Kalemba) an assistant judge. The chief counselor was so furious with Andrew that he proclaimed he wouldn’t eat until he knew Andrew was dead. When the executioners hesitated Andrew egged them on by saying, “Don’t keep your counselor hungry — kill me.” When the same counselor described what he was going to do with Matthias, he added, “No doubt his god will rescue him.” “Yes,” Matthias replied, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body.” Matthias was cut up on the road and left to die — it took him at least three days.

The original caravan reached Namugongo and the survivors were kept imprisoned for seven days. On June 3, they were brought out, wrapped in reed mats, and placed on the pyre. Mbaga was killed first by order of his father, the chief executioner, who had tried one last time to change his son’s mind. The rest were burned to death. Thirteen Catholics and 11 Protestants died. They died calling on the name of Jesus and proclaiming, “You can burn our bodies, but you cannot harm our souls.”

When the White Fathers were expelled from the country, the new Christians carried on their work, translating and printing the catechism into their natively language and giving secret instruction on the faith. Without priests, liturgy, and sacraments their faith, intelligence, courage, and wisdom kept the Catholic Church alive and growing in Uganda. When the White Fathers returned after King Mwanga’s death, they found five hundred Christians and one thousand catechumens waiting for them. The twenty-two Catholic martyrs of the Uganda persecution were canonized.

Spiritual reading: The more we live with people in a community, the more we must look to ourselves and regard the beam in our own eyes. The more we live with a babbling crowd, the more we must practice silence. “For every idle word we speak we will be judged.” (Dorothy Day)

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