“It is one thing to be what we are from God’s perspective, but it is yet another thing to believe what God sees in us and to live as such. Through the Apostle Paul, God assures us that we are His sons and daughters. Do we believe this?” Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau questioned in his homily January 3.
The first characteristic of a son and daughter is that we have a sense of belonging. We all want to know that we belong to someone, to a group, a home, a community, a nation, the bishop explained.
“There is nothing more dehumanising to the human species than a lack of sense of belonging, having no home, no family, no friend, or a sense of nationality. Paul says to us in God’s family there is no bastard child, everyone is a legitimate child. He or she is loved, is welcomed, and is wanted. In such a society, there is no homelessness, no vagrancy, no lack of communal relationship, no sense of abandonment. If these exists, as they unfortunately do in our societies, it is always from our neglect, not God’s,” Bishop Malzaire said.
He commented that there are simply too many people in the world, region, country and in our homes who do not feel the sonship that the scriptures speak of today. “The question for us is what are we going to do about it? It is the challenge for you and for me, for me as a bishop, for all the clergy, for the church at large, for all families and every individual person. Absolutely no one is exempt,” Bishop Malzaire asserted.
To this end, he outlined some recommendations for persons to commit for the new year.
The bishop challenged parents to fulfil their responsibility of giving proper guidance to the young. “Too many young people”, Bishop Malzaire stressed, “are lacking guidance and love they need to feel like a son or daughter”. He then urged parents to learn from Our Blessed Mother and St Joseph how to be good parents to children.
He said more than any group in our society today, our young men are looking for strong models of responsibility. They need to be loved, to belong to a loving family and to be guided, Bishop Malzaire said. He commented it is unfortunate that our society does not give sufficient attention to the proper socialisation of young males. Too many young men, he said, are falling through the cracks, ending up in the “stock farm prison”, on the streets lacking direction, a sense of purpose, unemployed and involved in a variety of antisocial behaviours.
For young women, he said, “Your sense of personal dignity is in your hands. Mothers, be good models to your young girls. Help them to cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Bring them to Mass and pray with and for them. Protect your children, especially your daughters. Teach them to dress modestly, to conduct themselves respectfully, to be well mannered, to take care of and respect themselves.” He added that their self-respect will go a long way in commanding respect from others.
Bishop Malzaire emphasised that a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay can build a nation’s sense of integrity and wholeness. He then urged all workers to work in improving the general work ethic in one’s country. To this end, he assured there will be much less poverty and unemployment.
“Be good models to those entrusted to your care. Yours is a responsibility not only to impart intellectual knowledge and social graces but also, and most importantly, to provide moral and spiritual guidance to the little ones” he said to educators. Bishop Malzaire then called on all teachers to be kinder, gentler, more patient and loving towards the children of God under their care and go the extra mile to build up those who need special education.
Regarding Covid-19, Bishop Malzaire said that if there is going to be any chance of getting a solution, it will need to be faced as a brotherhood collectively. “No single situation”, he said, “has caused divisions of epic proportions as has this present pandemic. This is an urgent call to all of us to become our brother’s and sister’s keeper and that includes vaccinations.”