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Speak up’ – God can use your voice to save others

By Kaelanne Jordan

mediarelations.camsel@catholictt.org

 

Fr Kwesi Alleyne observed in his homily at the Laventille Devotions on Sunday, September 10, that when there are issues to be addressed, people tend to disregard Jesus’ instruction to “go and have it out with him alone” (Mt 18:15–20) and instead engage in “small conversations” with others.

While he surmised that some choose not to say anything, either because they don’t want to jeopardise the relationship or because they fear the consequences of speaking their minds, if the Word of God directs the faithful to speak, they must be obedient.

“…You have to share it. Because through my voice, God saves others. God uses my voice to prevent harm, to work upon someone else,” Fr Alleyne said.

Referring to the venue at Our Lady of Fatima RC Church, Picton Road, Laventille, Fr Kwesi imagined many years ago that the fort overlooking the Gulf of Paria provided a strategic vantage point for reporting the entry of enemies.

In a similar way, he sees the First Reading (Ez 33:7–9) as indicating that God placed Ezekiel on Fort Picton to monitor the movements of the enemy and to warn the community of impending issues.

“But Israel, like many times in the community, the problem comes, and somebody tells us, and we continue going down that road… I wonder if parents can testify to that one…. And Ezekiel is saying if I do not warn you as a community, then the enemy is going to come and harm all of you and me too, so it’s my job to speak,” Fr Alleyne commented.

He told the faithful that they are called to speak as individuals and as a community and people of God. If faithful refuse to allow God to work and build communities, “what voice do we have for the wider society?” he questioned.

Inspired by the readings that spoke to Peter, Fr Alleyne recalled the visit of Pope John Paul II to T&T in 1985. By a show of hands, the faithful indicated they were present for the Pope’s visit.

According to Fr Alleyne, at the time of the Pope’s visit, there were about 380,000 Catholics. The last census of Catholics in the country is 100,000 less but the overall population has increased to about 600,000 more.

Fr Alleyne questioned, “what is happening in our Church? What is going on in communities that we are so comfortable with people going away to other Christian faiths? How many of our communities at one time were very profoundly Catholic? You know the days when all here were filled with people,” he said.

Though he wasn’t born when the Pope visited, Fr Alleyne recalled his grandmother’s stories of walking up the hill for the devotions, with thousands of people. At that time, the Church had a certain “presence” within the heart of the nation.

“The Church had an impact on our schools. The Church has an impact through other lives, and somehow, we have stepped back in our responsibility God has given us,” Fr Alleyne said.

As God called Ezekiel responsible in the First Reading, so too, Fr Alleyne stressed, the faithful are responsible for the defects of what society is undergoing.

Referring to the gangs in the nation, he told the faithful they allowed the violence to creep into their communities because they have not taken seriously the responsibility to speak the name of Jesus, journey with persons into maturity with God, and shape their value systems after God.

Fighting for turf, Fr Alleyne proclaimed, does not bring peace or restful nights in communities. He opined that people sometimes pray, divorced from reality.

“We pray up in the air, and God invites us to pray, and as we pray, allow God to inspire us to move to act,” he said.

He invited all those gathered and those who were listening on the hills to allow God’s Word to convict them to transform and journey with others in the community so that they may build a community for God, a nation that reflects the Trinity.

While this requires “plenty work,” and obedience, once God finds open hearts and ears, He will rebuild this Church and allow the faithful to be a light in their nation as they are called to be, Fr Alleyne said.

The final Laventille Devotions for 2023 will be held on Sunday, October 15.