Tag Archives: Nazareth

[People] The Meaning of Easter. By Fr.Shay Cullen

The Meaning of Easter.
Fr.Shay Cullen

This is the sacred time of year when we recall the life and death and resurrection of Jesus,the man from Nazareth. His life commitment to goodness and self-sacrifice as a champion of the poor and the oppressed led to his arrest torture and execution at the hands of the unjust and cruel authorities. He and his mission did not die and disappear forever nailed to the cross of the Roman execution squad.


His person and his mission lives on in people of faith.He rose from the dead and the life giving values he gave the world ; unselfish love,compassion, justice,mercy, human rights and dignity has changed the lives of millions. By his example, his teaching,story telling and wisdom he inspired generations to be his followers. He called everyone to repent,change their lives and become people of God not people of the selfish greedy world. But the powers that ruled were hard of heart,they opposed him,they spied on him,they sought ways to accuse him of heresy or an act of subversion so they could stop his transforming and liberating work.

He had no riches,exercised no power,only that of love and friendship,he challenged the rich and the powerful,he called them to repent,have compassion for the poor, the sick, hungry, dispossessed and downtrodden people. He challenged them to share their wealth, help those striving to reform society, make it into a”Kingdom”,not of selfish pleasure seeking people, but the Kingdom of people that love goodness,justice and the poor. He wanted a complete change of mind and heart and equality for all.

When asked by those seeking his favor and wanting to be named as the most important, he shocked them all when he selected a child from the fringes of the crowd.Children were without status or position and he selected a child and said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”(Matthew 18)

The most forgotten and most vulnerable of all were the children and he established their inalienable rights and dignity above all else.
This great truth revealed by Jesus of Nazareth has been downplayed and forgotten throughout history and the rights of the child have been established only in our generation. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and many national and international laws are now protecting them. But not being well implemented. They are much too late for millions of abused and neglected and starving children throughout history and even until today. Not all people or societies respect and implement child protection laws and give them the respect and care they are due.

Pope Francis has made strong statements and actions to apologize on behalf of the church as an institution for the abuse of children and youth by clergy and bishops. He took responsibility for the child abuse crimes of the past and asked forgiveness of the victims and survivors. Asking forgiveness is an admission of guilt but a heavy burden,undeserved, for Pope Francis.

But most victims want justice and strong action against all abusers,whether they be clergy, parents or members of any profession.Hundreds of priests have been fired others jailed in recent years. Guidelines are in place to stop the abuse and church authorities must act quickly to secure the evidence against any alleged abuser and bring him to justice as the evidence so warrants. They must never cover up a crime.

Jesus was clear about this while preaching forgiveness and compassion for the repentant sinner. He also said that the guilty should be given punishment. In the Gospel of Matthew 18; 6 it refers to tying a millstone around the neck of the child abuser proven guilty and thrown into the deepest ocean. I am not advocating the death penalty but the end of impunity for many child abusers especially clergy and those who protect them. Good non-corrupt Investigators,prosecutors and judges can do justice for the children.The corrupt authorities are bribe takers and let them go free to abuse more children.It will be bad for them who cause such injustice against children and the innocent, Jesus said. Hell on earth or in the after life waits them he warned.

Jesus of Nazareth died so that there would be a just society and where protection ,dignity and justice for all and especially the victims of abuse and oppression would be respected and upheld.

The authorities could not accept the truth he spoke that they were oppressing and exploiting the poor and vulnerable people and so they had Jesus falsely accused ,arrested and executed. It was murder arranged by false allegations.Throughout history the corrupt rich are doing the same. Hundreds of human rights advocates and defenders,pastors,priests,social workers,have been assassinated for following the example of Jesus of Nazareth. In the catholic Philippines hundreds including priests have been shot dead for taking a stand for social justice and human rights.

We have to think of these realities of life today when we look on a crucifix.Its not a piece of jewelry but was a cruel instrument of death and is now symbolic of the murder of good people working for justice.Yet just as he overcame death his message lives on so too the death of his followers today will not be forgotten but will inspire many more to step into the gap and continue working for equality, freedom, justice and human rights for all.That’s the meaning of Easter and the resurrection. shaycullen@preda.org ,predainfo@preda.org. http://www.preda.org

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[People] A Mission in Life By Fr. Shay Cullen

A Mission in Life
By Fr. Shay Cullen

We have to have a mission in life, to make it meaningful,with purpose and to live more fully.The mission can be to accomplish any good work,motivated by a spiritual value of compassion, love of justice, care of others,empathy and solidarity with the sick, the oppressed and lonely. These inner convictions and commitments can be the driving force of mission.


It can be caring for our family, helping the local community,dedicating ourselves to prayer,helping the poor in anyway we can or even going out to change the world and to help others without seeking to enrich ourselves or to gain from it.The more selfless and pure our motivation the better. Unable to be engaged personally on a mission to serve and directly save others many find a mission in sharing their surplus wealth in close partnership with a chosen mission or charitable work.

A mission in life is it own reward because it takes us out of ourselves toward others and it is a life of sharing and a life lived for others where we can find happiness, friendship and fulfillment. There is no better way to live as Jesus of Nazareth showed us. No greater love can anyone have,than to lay down their life for a friend.

I have been on mission with the Columban Missionary Society for almost 44 years. The Columbans made my mission possible from the beginning by sending me to the Philippines.Then the Holy Spirit took over and guided me the way I should go.

The latest chapter in my mission story happened a short while ago.I went with Preda social workers to get another youth named Miguel our of dehumanized prisons and to find his mother. His father had left them years before.

We got him out with a court order from the dirty infested prison cell ,a den of iniquity where innocent kids are treated like criminals.The minors are held pending an investigation of some allegation made against them, usually with little evidence to support it, It takes weeks or months in the Philippine system to have a child brought brought before a court. Meanwhile in the overcrowded cells the child is abused, molested, starved and even beaten by other inmates or cruel guards.

While the Preda social workers can save up to a hundred minors every year (some as young as 13) thousands more could be jailed and no one will know or help them. We have to change the system and get the juvenile justice law that forbids the jailing of minors under 15 be respected and implemented by the authorities.Those over 15 cannot be jailed unless the act was with discernment.But many are framed up. Changing that system is one mission I am on but it could take a life time.

Its in the Jail where we are called upon to look for Jesus of Nazareth to see him present among the poor ,the hungry naked and the unjustly imprisoned . On the day of Judgement St.Mathew tells us Jesus will call us to himself. `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Matthew 25:31-46 Then we will ask when did we do all that to you Lord? and he will answer, “so long as you did it to the poorest of my brothers and sisters you did it to me”. Its a powerful passage where Jesus identifies himself with the poorest of the poor ,the hungry,sick, lonely abandoned and unjustly imprisoned.

So from the jail I went to Paranaque in Metro Manila where there are millions of men women and malnourished sickly children living in the most unhygienic slums imaginable. I walked into a quagmire of filth, misery among the dwellers of the slums.Perverse poverty reigned supreme.

Its was not the first time that I visited a slum one of many.This was just a bit worse that the rest. They are the result of the great social equality in most modern societies where the wealth never trickles down to the poor. Where an estimated two percent owns or controls 70 percent of the national wealth. The revelations of many politicians stealing billions of pesos supports the point.

A great divide exists between rich and poor like that between Lazarus at the gate of the rich man Dives. Not even the crumbs that fell from his table could Lazarus get. The only creatures who had compassion were the kind dogs that licked his sores to try and heal him. What a condemnation of the irresponsible greedy rich. The children of the poor have to beg or steal to eat and then they go to jail.

To get to the shacks and shanties where Miguel mother lived we crossed a river thick smelly and as black as tar with the pollution nothing could exist there.Plastic bags and human waste floated there as the slums have no sewerage or toilets. The foot bridge was rickety, dangerous and made by the people themselves with scraps like their shacks and hovels.

They met. Miguel’s mother embraced her lost son in tears and something good and beautiful entered their impoverished world.

I looked up into the distance at the towering condominiums and skyscrapers of the super rich and wondered if there was a Zacchaeus among them who would have a change of heart and give back to the poor. End

(email : shaycullen@preda.org , http://www.preda.org)

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] Christmas is Freedom by Fr. Shay Cullen

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

There is a lot about Christmas that the world doesn’t know, doesn’t want to know or conveniently forgets in its pursuit of pleasure, possessions and power. And that is, that the “Christ” in Christmas was a person, fully human and Son of God, demanding an end to greed and exploitation.

That sweet baby Jesus in the Christmas manger, born in poverty among peasants and while still in swaddling clothes faced death threats and assassins sent by the corrupt and lust-filled King Herod. Jesus and his parents were refugees and asylum- seekers in a foreign land fleeing certain death. Good his mother Mary and Joseph didn’t apply to a nation with strict anti-immigration laws and racists attitudes, they would have been deported, expelled, kicked out and then caught and executed with the hundreds of innocents in Herod’s slaughter, a horrific crime against children and humanity.

The baby from Bethlehem, became the man from Nazareth who grew up to be the fiery prophet, the calm peace-maker, the loving friend, the healer of the sick, the hope of the hopeless and the shepherd of the lost. He was the bane of the rich and powerful too. He is the young man that was kicked out of his home synagogue in Nazareth and was almost killed for quoting the Prophet Isaiah and taking on his mission as his own. He was a real trouble maker and rebel to some in his home town.

He read the lesson quoting Isaiah (Luke.4;4 -30) from the scripture and he made it his life’s work to bring good news to the poor, telling them in effect that they, the poor, are blessed, precious and the kingdom of God is for them. As if saying: “You are the true children of the father, the inheritance of the land is yours”. To the religious authorities this was heresy, subversion, and close to blasphemy, a crime that carried the death penalty.

In today’s world defending the poor and the environment from the loggers, land-grabbers and the ruling elite also carries the unofficial death penalty. Human rights advocates, environmentalists, journalists, priests and pastors are branded as communists and subversives for speaking out for the poor and they are killed as was my friend Father Fausto Tentorio, last 17 October 2011, for standing with the poor. His friends and fellow priests are still threatened and harassed.

In the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the elite claimed they had the divine blessing and the right to the Kingdom. They constantly thanked God for their elite status, ascendancy, wealth and for being the chosen ones. They felt that the carpenter’s son, born of a peasant girl, was challenging them and their system by taking the side of the poor and they were angry when he scolded them as hypocrites.

Yet, he didn’t end there. He continued quoting Isaiah declaring an end to the captive status of the poor and the oppressed, an end to injustice, slavery of all kinds, freedom for the women and children, a new life for the exploited and those unjustly accused, imprisoned, persecuted and harassed. And he declared the freedom of Christmas so the poor can escape from the clutches of commercial consumerism.

Christmas is about transforming a materialistic world, not joining in the wasteful extravagance. It’s a time for family togetherness and peace-making and making commitments to work for a more just society and continuing the work of Jesus, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, but very much alive today.

It’s a time to renew friendship and the values that keep us human and spiritual, united, sane and secure. It’s not enough to admire the child in the manger; we have to imitate him as a man of action.

Jesus was an agent of change, a revolutionary of the spirit that loved as no man had so loved his friends, his people, the poor, the outcasts and downtrodden and died for them. That’s what Christmas keeps alive in us the living spirit of self-giving and caring for others. What we learn from the child in the manger, the man on the cross is that following Christ is to be a washer of feet and an advocate of human rights.