“They rejoiced at the consolation” – Read Acts 15:1-35
Series: Wings of Change
In response to his first appeal for help on behalf of the German refugees in the aftermath of World War II, Fr. Werenfried van Straaten received large donations of ham from the farmers near his abbey in Belgium. Because of that, the nickname “Bacon Priest” stuck with him and actually became popular. Subsequently, Fr. Werenfried founded the charity, Aid to the Church in Need, aimed at helping the Catholic communities under the communist regimes beyond the Iron Curtain. He was at its helm for more than 50 years, travelling extensively to promote it, becoming a worldwide figure of courage and dedication. During that time, he responded to requests from a number of popes to expand his work into Africa, South America, and worldwide. Today, the charity supports Christians who are suffering, persecuted, or in serious pastoral need in more than 130 countries.
Jesus’ teachings were indeed considered radical during His time, especially by those who wanted to silence Him or put Him to death. However, His teachings were also a source of confusion among His closest disciples who, at one point of their journey, were thrilled by Jesus’ miracles, but then confounded by His prediction of His death during the next. Again, Jesus offers the image of a child to explain His point, especially those who desire to be first in God’s kingdom.
Fr. Bob McCahill, a Maryknoll Father from the U.S., is no stranger to the many poor and sick people living along the streets of Bangladesh. He has been serving them for the past 35 years. His itinerant missionary life, his simplicity, his nearness and sincere concern for the poor and those who suffer has made him a “universal brother” to the Muslims and Hindus of the impoverished country, where religious and racial differences can surprisingly be easily overcome by genuine love and service. His work is an example of how the Holy Spirit blows wherever He wills (cf Jn 3:8) The following is a compilation of short anecdotes of Fr. McCahill’s journey that hopes to capture his tireless efforts and his continuing aspiration to seek and touch the Face of Christ through his encounters with the poor of Bangladesh.
Early on in his papacy, Pope Francis made it clear that he wanted to visit Asia, something that his predecessor, Benedict XVI seemed to have overlooked. After the apostolic voyage to Brazil for World Youth Day in 2013, the Philippines and Sri Lanka figured prominently in Francis’ list of possible Asian destinations. All of a sudden, however, South Korea popped up on the papal radar out of nowhere, and emerged as the first Asian country that Francis will visit as the Bishop of Rome. Although the Pope’s attendance in the 6th Asian Youth Day and the beatification of scores of Korean martyrs are the official reasons disclosed by the Vatican for making the trip, many are speculating why Pope Francis made South Korea his first choice. An analysis of his decisions and pronouncements in the past few months, however, seem to collectively hint at the true reasons why the Holy Father decided to go to the Korean Peninsula.
Culture plays a critical role in the interpretation of concepts, including matters of faith. In Oriental cultures, the concept of power is rooted in nature, the universe, and even in consciousness. Taking into consideration these cultural saliencies in religious instruction in Asia has allowed for a better understanding of Christian beliefs, particularly with regard to the concept of power and the Holy Spirit.
The concepts of power and grace, and their transfer from the origin, i.e., God, to His creation, are illustrated not only in the Sacred Scriptures, but also in the Sacraments of the Church. The reality of the existence of this power is not only limited to the context of the Christian faith, but is also confirmed in other religions, as well as the metaphysical, and even in medicine. In addition, the transfer of power and grace from God to His creation not only entails carrying out specific symbolic gestures and rituals, but more importantly, requires genuine faith.
In a country where poverty thrives but opportunities to overcome it are very scarce, football has provided a level-playing field for poor children to develop themselves and aim for greatness. With the right attitude and determination, street children can rise from their limitations and become somebody – not merely a statistic in the growing number of poor households in a highly materialistic society.
Despite her disability, armless pilot Jessica Cox has been inspiring thousands of people around the globe because of her various achievements. Her determination to go against what society dictates to be “normal” is proof that everyone is created equal by God and that all difficulties can be overcome. This passion to live and to inspire has led her back to her mother’s hometown, one of the many hit by Supertyphoon Haiyan (locally known as ‘Yolanda’) in Central Philippines, to give her people the same encouragement that they unwittingly gave her – to strive to live a full life despite problems and difficulties.
We all have to be caretakers of our God-given world; the garden of Eden is sadly wilting and dying and we, humans, will be dying in body and spirit with it – through disease, famine, and extreme weather events. Now it’s time to repent and make amends.