Consolata Missionaries serving in South Africa and Swaziland gathered for three days in Manzini. For some of them it was the first visit to the Kingdom of Swaziland and to the St Peter & Paul Parish entrusted to them at the beginning of this year.
On Wednesday 15 November they visited the Parish and the outstations in the early afternoon and celebrated Mass at the parish.
This is part of the bishop’s homily who presided the celebration.
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“It always amazes me to see that one could come across a text many times and always find something new. I am talking about myself of course… and what happened to me while reflecting on today’s gospel. Who does not know the story of the ten lepers going to Jesus and only one going back to thank Jesus? Still, there are things I came across these days some of which I had not seen before.
1. Ten lepers or 9 + 1
We always talk about the ten lepers but I believe we should talk about the 9 + 1 lepers. There is a Samaritan among them. A Samaritan? What was he doing there? What was a Samaritan doing among Jews? What were these Jews doing with a Samaritan among them? Doesn’t the Gospel tell us that they would not talk to each other? Enough to remember the Gospel of the Samaritan woman or the one when Jesus was not welcomed because he was on his way to Jerusalem and two of the apostles wanted to get them all killed.
Still… they are together.
The reason is simple: they are all stricken by tragedy. Leprosy was terrible. You became no-one. You became a threat…
Tragedy seems to remove from our eyes the narrow view we many times have. Once a nation is stricken with tragedy we do not see anymore white / black, young / old, nationals / foreigners. We are all human beings. We face it together.
Should our faith not have the same impact on us? If not, we would be wishing for tragedy to hit us to help us move forward!
Look at these priests behind me. They come from two different continents. Three if you include me. All belong to the same family. They come from Kenya, Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Italy… they live together, they serve together, they journey together… I always believe that this is one of the best gifts we can give a country, a diocese… showing what our faith can do when we allow it to lead us.
2. Go to the priests…
There is a second element I see. Jesus tells them: ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ In a passage before, Jesus heals the person and then sends him to the priests. Not today. He sends them while they are still “unclean”. This was a challenge. They had to go back into town when they knew they could not because they were unclean. They had to “trust” in his word. They had to start walking and believe something would happen on the way. These are people of faith. Not just because they asked for help but because they had to believe without seeing!
It is similar with us. We are asked to walk in faith. Jesus seems to say: if you do what I tell you, you will be happy. We say… really? Is there no other way? He says: blessed the peacemakers, love your enemies, forgive… and we need to trust him and walk in that path but we are not sure he is right!
Again, it is similar with these missionaries. They had to trust Jesus when he called them and said he would be with them always. Like Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Mary and others, they had to trust in his word and take a journey they did not know where it would take them to. They look happy to me…!”