Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, religion, scripture by Mike on October 28, 2013

Gospel reading:

Luke 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The fig-treeLord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Reflection on today gospel reading: Jesus’ mission in Luke’s gospel commences with his unrolling a scroll in the synagogue in Nazareth to read from the prophet Isaiah about his work to bring healing to the afflicted and announce liberation to captives. On another sabbath later in his ministry, a woman enters a synagogue crippled and unable to stand up straight. Like so many of us, she is bowed over with the burdens of her life and comes to the place of worship to be set free of the infirmities that weigh her down. Just as her encounter with Jesus permits her to stand up straight, so too our encounter with Jesus lets us do the same.

Saint of the day: Fr. Tom Gafney was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 28, 1932. He joined the Jesuits in September 1952 and came to Nepal in 1959 after doing his philosophy studies at West Baden, Indiana. He had regency at St. Xavier’s Godavari, and then went to India for theology and tertianship.

Fr. Tom returned to Kathmandu in 1967 after his Jesuit training, and he began working in the schools, which at that time was the main work of the Jesuits in Nepal. He was vice-principal and teacher at St. Xavier’s Godavari in 1967-68, then treasurer, teacher, and rector at St. Xavier’s Jawalakhel, from 1969 To 1976. In the meantime, he became director of the Social Service Centre for the region, and this became his full-time job from 1976. Fr. Tom began his Social Service Center in a house close to St. Xavier’s School, Jawalakhel. He used to go into the streets and fr-thomas-gafneygather the homeless boys from the city. The main goal of his venture was to give them education, a home, arid paternal love. Being well aware of the psychological needs of the boys, he designed the appearance of the building with a cheerful look. He also took care of their physical growth by introducing various sports activities such as Taekwondo, a form of martial art, for the boys. They were very happy and full of fun.

Gradually, Fr. Tom expanded his work, and established other centers in the city. Somehow Tom managed to do all the good things most of us would like to do. He saw the effects of drug-addiction on the youth of Nepal, and he began detoxification programs, he founded Mukti Kendra (Freedom Centre), to help them. He also had a heart for the handicapped. This led him to open a center for the handicapped at Nakipot. Many a time he would take a child, or even adult, for heart surgery or to get an artificial limb or any special treatment, to India or any other country where the care was available. As the HIV epidemic emerged, he gave a lot of time and attention to people with AIDS. Money was no consideration. Fr. Tom would somehow find enough money to help those who needed it for the treatment. He attended international conferences on drug addiction, and took handicapped children for special “Olympics” in Nepal or abroad. He treated them just like ordinary human beings, which was just what they needed. He never forgot his priesthood, and was, for many years, the spiritual director of IBMV Sisters. Underlying all his social action was a deep spirituality and the Jesuit charism.

Fr. Tom was a person who took a “prophetic stand.” He could not tolerate corruption or inefficiency. He was not afraid to confront anyone who he thought was exploiting or profiting from the funds intended for the poor or outcasts of society. He did not hesitate to denounce corruption in the columns of the Kathmandu newspapers. In doing so, he certainly made enemies among the rich and powerful. In the morning of December 14, 1997, his body was found on his bed in the small bungalow where he lived alone, by one of the workers. There were deep knife wounds on his neck, and much blood all around his body. The door was closed, but not locked, and did not seem to have been forced open. His death came as a terrible shock to the Nepal Jesuits, and to all who knew him.

Spiritual reading: We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home any who have lost their way. (Saint Francis)

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