Tag Archives: 2019-02

Pope says UAE trip was ‘new page’ in dialogue between Christians, Muslims

Pope Francis at the general audience Feb. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City – Pope Francis said Wednesday that his recent trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was a step forward in Catholic-Muslim dialogue and promoting peace among religions.

Though a brief visit, the “scattered seeds” of the Feb. 3-5 trip will bear fruit according to God’s will, he said during the general audience Feb. 6.

The visit to the UAE, and second meeting with the Muslim Grand Imam of al-Azhar, “wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human brotherhood.”

Pope Francis first met the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, during a 2017 apostolic visit to Egypt. The two signed a joint document on human fraternity Feb. 4.

In the document, “we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values and peace throughout the world,” the pope stated.

In this era, he said, when there is strong a temptation to discord between Christian and Islamic cultures, and considering religions as sources of conflict, “we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that instead it is possible to meet, it is possible to respect and dialogue.”

He added that he recommends people read the document and try to understand it, because it has helpful points for how to carry out a dialogue on human fraternity.

“Despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and still other things,” he said.

Francis’ trip to the UAE, the first of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, also fell 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi visited the Sultan Malik al Kamil in Egypt. Pope Francis said it was “Providence” that a pope named Francis made the historic trip on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s visit.

“I often thought of Saint Francis during this journey: he helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while I was living the various moments of the visit,” he said.

“In my heart there was the Gospel of Christ,” he said, “the prayer to the Father for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustice, wars, misery; prayer because the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today’s world.”

During the audience, Francis also recalled his meetings with two 90-year-old priests who have both served in the UAE for many years. One, he said, is now blind and in a wheelchair, but a smile never left his lips. “The smile of having served the Lord and done very good.”

Another highlight of the trip, he pointed out, was the Mass he celebrated in the stadium in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5, which was attended by around 150,000 people. “There were so many people!” he said. “We prayed in a special way for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen.” – Hannah Brockhaus, 6Feb2019 (CNA/EWTN News)

Call for Catholics to bring new hope to the marginalised and the elderly

KOTA KINABALU – Archbishop John Wong, who heads the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, has called on members of his flock to build themselves, their families, and our nation on new hopes.

In his message to mark the Lunar New Year, often referred as the Spring festival, he reminded Catholics that, “Jesus is our eternal Spring. He brings us eternal hope.”

As such, he says they are called to bring this new hope to those who live in despair, especially those who are marginalized, abandoned and forgotten; those resorting to drugs, wasting their life and youthfulness; and the elderly ones who long for love and concern.

Looking back on the past year’s events, Archbishop Wong recalled how the nation voted in a new government on May 9, 2018, “bringing the most extraordinary political change in Malaysia after six decades of the old regime.”

Referring to a Chinese saying, “A peaceful nation provides peace for her people”, he maintains that, “It speaks of the significance of a nation that is led by leaders who are fair, just and honest.”

He also stresses the importance to have state and national legislators who would ensure political stability, are able to enhance the people’s life with peace and happiness.

Reminding the people of their Christian duty to pray for the nation and her leaders, the Archbishop Wong says, “Prayer is the most effective force to guide our leaders as they tend to the needs of our people.”

He adds, “Besides pursuing the advancement and prosperity of our nation, we must not forget to pursue the kingdom of God.”

Elaborating further, he says, “Building the kingdom of God is to happen even here and now, through the offering of charity, care, humility, tolerance, fairness, justice, and integrity to society.”

He also expressed his pastoral concern by saying, “As we begin the New Year, I pray that we do not only pursue material wealth, which would not satisfy our spiritual thirst. We must above all remember to pray and to listen to the teachings of the Lord.”

The pursuit of spiritual wealth, he stressed, cannot be understated having witnessed the rise of suicides among the young people, who have found life empty, meaningless, directionless and purposeless.

Archbishop Wong calls on his faithful to enter into the season of Spring with hope so that they would be renewed. – SOCCOM ADKK

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19
The Lord assures Jeremiah that he will deliver him from all who fight against him.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 71:1-2,3-4,5-6,15,17
A song in praise of God’s salvation

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13 (shorter form, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
Paul describes love as the greatest of virtues.

Gospel Reading
Luke 4:21-30
Jesus is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday we read from the Gospel of Luke, continuing immediately from last week’s Gospel. Recall that in last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and announced that this Scripture was now fulfilled. In today’s Gospel, we learn that the people of Nazareth are impressed by Jesus’ words, and yet they seem surprised. They still think of Jesus as merely Joseph’s son. They do not expect such words from someone they believe that they know.

This Gospel is about who Jesus is and who people believe him to be. The story of Jesus’ preaching and rejection at Nazareth is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels. In Luke’s Gospel, this incident is told in a way that foretells Jesus’ passion and death and helps explain the inclusion of the Gentiles in the promise of salvation. In Luke’s Gospel this incident appears at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; in Matthew and Mark, this event is placed considerably later, after Jesus has preached and taught elsewhere. Only Luke identifies the content of Jesus’ teaching in any detail, telling us that Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue. In Mark and Matthew’s Gospels, Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth, and the townspeople take offense because Jesus is only the son of a carpenter. They reject his authority to teach them. In Matthew and Mark, it is only after Jesus is rejected that he observes times when Israel has rejected prophets.

In Luke’s Gospel, the people are surprised but not immediately offended by Jesus’ words in the synagogue. It is the words that follow his reading from the prophet Isaiah that seem to offend them. Jesus challenges and provokes the people of Nazareth by referring to examples in which Israel rejected the prophets. He also challenges them to respond to his message, the message of a prophet, in a way that is different from their ancestors. This call for a new response leads to his rejection.

It is helpful to consider the historical context of Luke’s Gospel. Luke has witnessed the acceptance of the gospel message among many Gentiles. He endeavors to explain why the Good News of Jesus has not been as well-received by his Jewish contemporaries. Luke’s report interprets the cause of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth in the context of this later Christian history. Just as the people at Nazareth did not welcome the Good News that Jesus announced, so too many among the people of Israel will not accept the preaching of the gospel.

After Jesus’ words of challenge, Luke reports that there was a movement to kill Jesus by throwing him over a cliff. This differs from the reports found in Mark and Matthew’s Gospels, where Jesus is said to be unable to perform miracles in Nazareth because of the people’s lack of faith. Luke says that Jesus walks away from the crowd that intended to kill him; it is not yet his time. The animosity of the people of Nazareth prefigures and prepares the reader of Luke’s Gospel for the cross. Luke wants all to understand that it is through his death on the cross that Jesus offers God’s salvation to all.- loyolapress.com

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