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Truly imitating Christ in dying and rising to new and fuller life

 

Fr. Terry Charlton SJ. Co-Founder and Chaplain of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School.

I love Palm Sunday; the liturgy celebrates the last week of the life of Jesus. We begin with a procession to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when he was recognized as the Messiah less than a week before his death. Minutes later, the account of the Passion and Death of Jesus is read from one of the Synoptic Gospels, this year from the Gospel According to St. Luke. Palm Sunday immerses us in the Paschal Mystery, the central mystery of our Christian Faith.  Life emerges from death in its many forms including struggle, suffering, and darkness. In imitation of Jesus, who even accepted death on a cross with the result that God raised him high (Phil.2:8-9), we struggle to accept death in its many forms in order to rise to fuller life.

I have been blessed since 2004 by being involved with St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Nairobi, a school sponsored by Christian Life Community (CLC) Kenya. CLC is an international Catholic lay movement that is closely associated with the Jesuits. St. Aloysius was founded to provide free education to bright students from Kibera slum, who are AIDS-affected and living in impoverished situations which would prevent them from being able to access education. Our students live the Pascal Mystery deeply and serve as an inspiration. Let me share about Julie (not her real name) who is one fine example.

Julie’s father died when she was in class 5; the family situation deteriorated, and they soon were living in abject poverty. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan came forward and enabled Julie to complete primary school. She was called to a good secondary school, but her mother had no means to pay the school fees and suggested an early marriage. Julie felt desperate in her desire to study, but all she could do in her hopelessness was pray to God. She learned about St. Aloysius and was accepted. She struggled with poverty during her four years at St. Aloysius but managed to finish first in her class. She received a special scholarship to pursue a Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery. To make ends meet, she sold tea and coffee. Julie is now near the completion of her degree. After so much struggle, she looks forward to a life of service as a doctor by which she will be able to give life to others.

The circumstances of Julie’s life are unique, but they indicate how we are invited to live lives of self-sacrifice and dying to self in order to grow in our living our lives more fully for others, truly imitating Christ in dying and rising to new and fuller life.

 

Above is picture of St. Aloycious Secondary School