Angola – Provincial Chapter
Provincial Chapter: January 4-8, 2022
New Provincial Council:
Fr. Celestino Muhatili, provincial superior (center)
Fr. Lourenço F. Kambalu, provincial vicar (right)
Fr. Belarmino Tchipundukwa, second assistant (left)
May the Holy Spirit enlighten the new Council in the service to the Province.
A Safe Place
(4th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 1:4-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13; Luke 4:21-30)
We begin this reflection with a prayer, for ourselves or others in need, addressed to the Lord in today’s Psalm. “Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress.”
God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Imagine what it would be like to hear such words, to be certain that the Lord has a plan for us.
Jeremiah was young and inexperienced, and tried to refuse; but God promised to be with him and, as we hear in today’s first reading, to make him “a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,” ready for the hard life that lay ahead.
Perhaps we are more willing than Jeremiah, but we still need the same assurances he received. We need a sense of security, trusting always that the Lord is our refuge.
Consider Maximin and Mélanie, totally unprepared for their call. The sweetness of the Beautiful Lady’s voice made them feel safe, and the memory of her tenderness must have been a refuge for them as they faced the incredulity, and even hostility, of many people.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not initially meet with outright rejection in his hometown, but neither did he find the welcome he might reasonably have expected. His old neighbors seem to have thought that he was putting on airs. We too, when we seek to share our faith, might sometimes, sad to say, be better received by people who know us less well.
As we read St. Paul’s famous description of love, in the second reading, the image of God himself keeps coming to mind. This ought not to come as a surprise, since St. John, in his First Letter (4:16), writes, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Our prayer might therefore take this form: “Your love is everything, O Lord. In it I take refuge, and I will never be put to shame.” Let us anchor ourselves to the rock of our salvation, i.e., a loving relationship with God, as we seek to bring reconciliation to our world.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.
(3rd Ordinary Sunday: Nehemiah 8:2-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1: 1-4 and 4:14-21)
In the first reading Ezra stands on a platform specially built for the occasion, so that he may be better seen and heard, as he reads the Book of the Law.
That structure is familiar to us, of course, since we see it in most of our churches as the ambo. Its purpose is to highlight the importance of the Word of God which is proclaimed there. It is also used for the preaching of the homily and for the Prayer of the Faithful.
The ambo as an architectural element within a church is prominent. Is there a place of prominence within ourselves and our domestic church where the Word (The Law) is revered, kept, and announced? At La Salette, Mary showed that this was not the case.
So, she chose a high place, a mountain ambo, to bring her great news, a reminder of things forgotten by her people. These include the Law, of course, but not merely a list of rules and regulations. She did not come only to say that our fallen nature and sin have separated us from God, but she wanted us to know that God still wants us to be in relationship with him, if we would but convert, putting the Word back in a prominent place in our everyday lives.
The diverse ways in which we can do this are highlighted in our second reading, in which St. Paul continues his commentary on the gifts of the Spirit. We are all needed, each of us with our uniqueness, to serve the whole body. Our individuality should not create points of isolation and separation but be a gift to bring to the whole body of Christ.
It is hard to imagine two persons more different from each other than Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud. But Mary chose them both. We who have received that unique La Salette missionary zeal, should also see ourselves as part of a whole, and find that one grace, that one gift, by which we can contribute to the whole and strengthen the Whole Body of Christ.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus recognizes himself in the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me... He has sent me....” We too are anointed and sent in our own way. May these weekly reflections, in the spirit of the Beautiful Lady, be an ambo from which Jesus is faithfully proclaimed.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.