As we welcome the culmination of this season, the gospel reminds us of the story of Mary and Joseph as they were called to become key instruments of our salvation. Salvation became a reality as Mary and Joseph took courage and said yes to God’s invitation.
Reflecting on the Gospel, it is not hard to see that Mary and Joseph also bear the great human fear towards change and commitment.
The story of Mary and Joseph is given to us today to awaken us from our selfishness and our growing indifference towards our natural vocation to build stable families in our society. This story should help us remove our fears towards change, commitment and responsibilities in building strong human society.
As a parish priest I always hear from children crying out, “I no get papa, I no get mama.” And when I ask them where is your mama? Unsay yor papa? They would either answer, “na mi papa in Freetown or a no sabi (I dont know).” This somehow led me to understand that our parish in Kamalo, which is composed of more than 500 baptized individuals, actually has only about twenty stable families. These would include Muslim families whose fathers or mothers have allowed their children to be baptized and incorporated into the Catholic church. The rest are broken families or at least not so stable families.
This is one of the many problems we have to face today—almost all of our children belong to broken families. Viewed from another side, broken families could be perceived to be sounder than for parents to have practiced abortion just to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. Abortion here is promoted by international organizations as an easy way to get rid of unwanted children and sadly, many easily concede to the inducements of these groups.
Straight from those who facilitated abortion themselves in some villages, I came to know that they are catering from one to two women committing abortion every week.
The seasons of Advent and Christmas should be a reminder that part and parcel of your Christian duty is not to allow yourselves to become mere pawns of countries and organizations that don’t want you to multiply. Don’t believe simply the current Western or European slogan that success and good life only knock at the doors of a single person. This is a lie! Success only comes to those who have courage not to run away from their responsibilities and can let go of their personal interests for the good of all.
Remember, it is in your culture to build a nation that promotes life no matter what. Science would even tell us that Africa is where life and all good things began. It is in your land that God first blow the breath of life with his wisdom, He gave this gift to you because He knows that life will be protected here in this very place.
Today, let us renew our commitment to life, and our commitment to the family. The gospel tells us clearly that God has a plan for us and we His children should not be afraid. Let us now try to become not only successful or “bomba” (popular) persons but more so as person who are not afraid to take responsibilities, persons who like Mary and Joseph, are courageous and holy parents of Jesus. At all times, the way to actualize our self is by letting go of the self.
Fr. Dennis Castillo, OAR
Kamalo, Sierra Leone, Africa