Being PRESENT at home…builds the UNITY of Heaven on Earth
Today’s readings reveal God’s desire for Unity amongst all the nations and peoples. Furthermore, God desires people like us to share that good news in our communities. One of our youth shared a story this week that might help us understand our readings.
A long time ago in the Animal Kingdom, a sheep was passing and saw a lion crying inside a cage and the lion begged the sheep to save him with a promise not to kill and eat her, but the sheep refused. After much persuasion, the sheep opened the cage for the lion. Now the lion was very hungry having stayed in the cage for days without food. It quickly grabbed the sheep to kill and eat but the sheep reminded him of his promise. They were still there arguing when other animals came passing by and they sought to know what happened.
Both the lion and the sheep narrated their sides of the story; but because of fear and in trying to gain favour with the lion, all the animals agreed with the lion except the Tortoise who claim not to understand the whole situation. So the Tortoise asked the lion to show them where he was before the sheep rescued him: he pointed at the cage. He asked again, “were you inside or outside when the sheep arrived”? The lion said he was inside. The tortoise again said “ok, enter and let’s see how difficult it could be inside”. The lion entered and the Tortoise locked him back inside. In amazement the other animals asked Tortoise “why” and he replied “if we allow him eat the sheep today, he will still go hungry tomorrow and we don’t know the next amongst us to be eaten tomorrow.
The story above reveals what happens when a wise person in the group is able to restrain evil and protect all in the group (protects their unity). It also reveals the danger of keeping quiet when members of our community are being threatened.
At the moment, it’s a bit difficult to unite the whole world as God would like. So, where do we start? We start at home, then we work outwards in our community.
Discipline and (appropriate!) punishment at home are very important elements in raising a family so that each child will make positive contributions in the wider community. I think this is the instruction of St Paul in the 2nd Reading, today.
If a child cannot behave at home, and learn to build unity in the family, then how can they build unity in the wider community? One cannot underestimate the important of mum and dad guiding their children. Family life is the foundation stone of all peace and joy in the world.
It does not mean there are no arguments. But they learn to resolve disputes TOGETHER.
Jesus challenges us to use the narrow way to enter Heaven. In the context of the 1st Reading, where God shares the reality of Heaven as a place of Unity, the narrow way begins by being faithful to our duties at home.
Generally speaking, these days, the family is under attack from many directions. I’m not talking, here, so much about adultery. Fidelity in married life is faithfulness to the promises made by mum/dad to respect and honour each other; to care for each other in good times & bad.
So, the first key element to build Unity (and thereby build Heaven on earth), is PRESENCE. Being present for the wife or husband, being present for the children and parents.
Even if we are not perfect, being present is a great first step that allows good things to happen. But where people are violent, there must be a separation… as we saw in the story above.
“Will I get into Heaven?” Does this question bother you? To avoid worry, be always trying to build Unity. If we are creating true unity in our families, it will spill over into our wider community… and eventually into our world.
I don’t want to say Australia is perfect, but it has tried very hard to build unity amongst all the different immigrant communities. And now Australians are well received in most countries.
It is our sins of selfishness that create divisions and dis-Unity. This is something that Australia must guard against carefully, as we respond to the needs of the poorest people, the vulnerable people and immigrants. We thank God for many non-Government groups, like St Vincent de Paul Society and Jesuit Social Services, who help keep the Government “honest” in these areas.
In Kenya, I applaud the good work done by so many groups in small ways. For example, in our parish of Kionyo, there is a group of former students who invest heavily in the Kairiene Primary School with leadership and training skills, financial assistance for poorer students, etc.
Just the PRESENCE of these important and busy people encourages Staff, students and parents.
These small, small steps are truly helping to build Heaven on Earth through the means of Unity. The UNITY of Kenya has been a challenge due to tribal differences, but we pray the new generations of today can rise above those petty differences and build true friendships.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI