We send our sincere greetings to you all from Uganda. We had our Lenten recollection on last Saturday 2nd March 2019 facilitated by Fr. Anthony Kibira MCCJ the Vice Provincial Superior of Uganda. In attendance we had all the religious Communities of; MCCJ Community, Comboni Missionary Sisters, Sacred Heart Sisters International, Missionary Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church, Evangelizing Sisters of Mary, Female Focolare Community and the Host Comboni Lay Missionaries. It was a very colourful moment to sit down as an Apostolic Community of Mbuya Parish to prepare us for the Lenten Period 2019.
Fr. Anthony chose the theme of the recollection as “Growing in Love” not only during this Lenten period but throughout our lives and deeds. He said growing in love is not an easy journey but allowing God’s love to grow in us is the best way. This he said requires us to let ourselves to allow love to be sown and grow in us.
In his talk he came up with obstacles that do not allow the love of God to grow in us manifested in very many ways;
Lack of openness to God and one another in which he emphasized unless we learn to be open to God for our mistakes we have done to him and other people, it will be very hard for love to grow in us. This lack of openness can also be associated with un-repented sins that we have deliberately failed to confess.
Prejudices we practice knowingly or unknowingly in our communities with items we use daily; my chair, cup, i.e. personalize everything and I am the only one using it, my parents told me I will never make it in life which is directly seeing your own image in the view of what people say about you…this is purely Pride. He emphasized that for love of God to grow in us, we must be very humble to avoid pride by accepting ourselves as human beings bound to sin and make mistakes but not like God.
He also pointed fear of change to be another obstacle affecting the love of God to grow in us. Many people associate newness to uncertainty in life looking at it in human eyes since we have been in our comfort zones before. Change of this is interfering with our comfort zones and we resist it at all means. He advised us not to resist any change in our lives and said Love does not force to grow in any one.
He also identified another obstacle to love of as being taken up by fashions of the day which are new according to the current enthusiastic of the day and yet the world always favours superficiality which is not the root of our spirituality. We need to take time and analyze our life concerning material things which may be affecting our spiritual growth.
He also pointed out that we are always crowded with so many interests that make us to be too busy to allow the seed of Love to grow in us. He stressed that we need some space for us to grow better by letting some interests in our life to go away and let our heart to be open to allow love to grow in our heart/life. Allow the right image of God to be in your life other than viewing God as a commander who is dangerous to judge us. He also said this is brought about by sin that makes the good image of God distorted and that threatens us to go back to him with Love with repentant heart. He tasked us to always ask; who is God in my life? He said let us allow God to let to do what he deserves to be done in us. He pointed some fruits of love of God in a person;
- Ability to give one’s life by sacrificing oneself, something to live for others
- Willingness to bring one’s burden to the Lord at all times whenever the burdens come to one’s life to the foot of the cross
He said Jesus did not only die for our sins and so we need to participate in the process of our salvation which always comes at a cost but not free. Fr. Anthony said we need to carry our daily cross with love which will eventually let us be infected with the spirit of love for all unconditionally.
He also pointed some of our past obstacles as all that caused us a very great hurt in the past to love God and one another i.e. our past wounds. He said some apostles followed Jesus up to the time he was arrested but fled after he was tortured, thereby leaving our Lord Jesus lonely in the company of Mother Mary and some few of the apostles. Has our past wounds caused us to abandoned the will of God to be done in us thereby making Jesus to feel fresh pains up to now? He challenged us to descend to all our past wounds, address the wounds to dress the wounds with the Love of God. Fr. Anthony said these wounds are always hidden and are out great treasures to the love of God if addressed well.
How to overcome these obstacles to the love of God;
- Journey with the Lord all the time and have someone to show your wounds in private in the spirit of fraternity life in our different communities and places of work. He said Jesus did not heal people in public but in private.
- He said we need to create these 40 days of Lent to be like Jesus; praying, fasting and giving alms to all. This should make us come out of the 40 days of the Lent to be matured in our individual spirits and emotions.
- He said we need to be aware of procrastination during this Lenten period of not postponing fasting but run the race with our Master Jesus in fighting our temptations.
- He said we need to use these 40 days of lent to identify our weakness which are our areas of growth as pointed by St. Paul in 2 Cor. 12:1-10. He said let our weakness not be obstacles to the love of God but to let God enter into our hearts. This can be possible if we can boldly speak of our weakness to our Spiritual Directors, our very close friends and other people no matter what it may be. This is the first process of healing our past wounds. We need to surrender all these weaknesses to Jesus under the foot of the cross by allowing God to work in our weaknesses.
In his ending remarks he talked about the homily of a Bishop during the ordination of some priests which is currently circulated in social media with 3 very important questions which is applicable to us as Comboni Lay Missionaries and other religious communities and Lay Christians. The Bishop asked the following questions which for our case we need to answer deep in our hearts, insert yourself in the place of the Priest;
- Are they weak enough to become Priests? It’s only a weak Priest who can make a weak person to come of his/her weakness. This requires spirit of humility
- Are they broken enough to become Priests? It’s only a holistically broken Priest who can help a broken Christian to overcome his/her brokenness and allow the love of God to grow in his/her heart. This does not need Pride in one’s life.
- Are they afraid enough to be Priests? It’s only a Priest who is afraid of sin that can let Christians live the life he preaches and preaches what he lives, actions speak louder than words
With these allow us to wish you all a fruitful Lenten Period as we evaluate our life in the past one year to allow God to correct our short comings so that his love grows in our life in all that we do. St. Daniel Comboni says the works of salvation are born under the foot of Calvary (Cross).
Comboni Lay Missionaries Uganda