According to Abraham Lincoln “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

This saying comes to mind today as we reflect on our readings of the day. The first reading from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 speaks of the different times for the different activities and events in our lives. It gives times for opposte actions and events. For example, there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time for loving and a time for hating, a time for war and a time for peace. At first grance, one might think the book of Ecclesiastes is too negative. However, it opens us up to the realities we will face in life. These opposites are things we will all face in life and noone is exempt. Even when we think we are protecting our children or friends from negative events or experiences, we are actually preventing them from making a journey neccessary for their own growth. A child who only knows the experience of being loved has not really grown much. Some level of hatred will help to strengthen his/her heart and lead to greater maturity. No matter how much we love people, there are certain things we cannot do for them. We cannot live their lives for them or make their life journey for them.


The gospel begain by telling us that Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples. Sometimes we will be told that Jesus went away from the crowd so that he can be alone and pray. I am writing this blog from my annual 8 days retreat. This is the right of every Redemptorist, to take 1 day of every month as a day of recollection and to take 8 straight days annually for retreat. This is very much in line with the life of Jesus. Sometimes being in the midst of people can make us forget that we are individuals. It can prevent us from thinking our own thoughts and facing our personal journey alone. During this time, my phones are supposed to be off, but from time to time, there is that important call I need to make. I have to battle through it and set my priority straight. Praying with people is important, but praying alone is also important. The same Jesus who told us that where two of three are gathered in His name, he is there, also told us that if you want to pray, go into your private room to a God who is in that secret place. There is a time for everything; a time to be with people, a time to be alone, a time to pray with others, a time to pray alone. Some people only pray when they are with others, while others refuse to go to Church because they have a private relationship with God which has nothing to do with anybody else. These are two extremes. It is not a case of either… or, but a case of both… and. Jesus was praying alone and so should you.


Jesus starts by asking his disciples what others are saying about Him, and like you would expect, they had a lot to say. Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe has a track titled “Kwuo Nkei”, which means “Say your own”. Now Jesus asks his disciples to “kwuo nkei”. Each of them must forget what their grandfather thinks of Jesus, or what their friends and neighbours think and define Jesus for themselves. Peter gave the right answer, but we are not told what the other disciples said. No matter how tall your grandfather was, you have to do your own growing. No matter how close your parent are to Jesus, even if your grandfather built the cathedral in your village, you have to become your own christian. Many cradle catholics do not value their faith because they were baptised as infants and have been going to church ever since. They become like the disciples who have been following Jesus but have been doing so based on other people’s idea about Jesus. Many of us might think ‘hey, Peter already gave the answer’. Too bad, that is not your answer. Jesus is asking me and is asking you “Who do you say I am?” Never mind what your grandfather said.

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