Monthly Archives: April 2015

You Have been Called to Bear Witness to the World by Fr. Joel

A certain business corporation announced that it was moving its offices abroad. And the board chairman said only important dare to be a disciplestaff would be transfer to the new office, but secretaries and others would not. When the secretaries and the others read this announcement that they were not important employees, they decided to call attention to their importance by not answering phones. This company suffered losses because of this demonstration. And immediately the board chairman made a public apology.

In bearing witness to Christ there is no one who is not important. We are all important workers/witnesses in the Lord’s vineyard. A witness is someone who has seen, experienced or has knowledge of something and can make a statement or give testimony about it to others. The disciples of Jesus witnessed his suffering, death, and resurrection; however, they were doubtful of the resurrection. Jesus went an extra-length to explain to them that he was real by appearing to them, showing his wounds, eating with them, asking them to touch him, and using the scripture to explain to them that his death and resurrection were a fulfillment of the Old Testament-what the law and the prophets said about him, so that they would believe him.

As soon as they were convinced of his resurrection, they wasted no time to go out to share and bear witness to the world. This was a miracle and good news to the disciples. So they could not keep it to themselves, they were excited to tell the story to the world. That is exactly what the Church is called to do: to bear witness to Jesus’ resurrection to the whole world; to call people to repentance and forgiveness of sins; and to call people to come and encounter Jesus. Everyone is called to do all of these. It is not the work of the priest, religious and deacons alone. By virtue of our Baptism, we are all called to bear witness to Christ in different ways. We bear witness as clergy, religious, laity and in the various ministries of the church. The ministries include service to you family, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, proclaimers, altar guilt, St. Vincent the Paul, choir, religious education teachers, ushers, prison ministry, pastoral and finance council, and so on.

You cannot bear witness to what you have not seen nor experienced nor have knowledge of. It is your encounter with and the knowledge of the Lord that you share with people. Once you are convinced of your faith then you will be duty-bound to bear witness or share with others. But how do you experience, know him, and have faith in him? You have to accept his invitation to encounter him in the Bible, sacraments, worship and fellowship, service to others and so on. Then you will have the experience of him and be able to share with others. You begin sharing of your experience in your family, to friends, neighbors and colleagues at work.

It is our mandate to invite other people to repentance, fellowship and encounter with Jesus. We are called to share the joy of the resurrection/gospel with others. It is our duty to testify to the world our faith experiences. We have been called to live out our Baptismal promises in the world. As Christians, we are to let the light we received at the Easter vigil shine forth for people to see and know that we are children of light.



Community Life is the Secret of Our Strength by Fr. Joel

geese vGeese fly in a V shape formation to ease their movement. You can hear the beat of their wings whistling through the air in unison. That is the secret of their strength: lead goose cuts through the air resistance, which create a helping uplift for the birds behind it. In turn, their flapping makes it easier for the birds behind them, and so on. Each bird takes its turn at being the leader. The tired bird goes back to the edges of the V shape for rest, and the rested ones come forward to the point of the V to drive the flock onward.

If a goose becomes too exhausted or ill and has to drop out of the flock, it is never abandoned. A strong member of the flock will follow the weak one to its resting place and wait until the bird is well and strong enough to fly again. Together, they cooperate as a flock, and can fly at a 71% longer range, with up to 60% less work.

After the resurrection, the disciples were overjoyed to see Jesus alive again. This made a very wonderful impression on them. It confirmed to them what Jesus had told them about his resurrection. From that moment on, they based their preaching on the resurrection of Jesus; and they continued to testify to his resurrection with great power. This resurrection determined their way of life. They became united in mind, heart, and soul. Everything they did and owned in common: they lived a community life sharing everything they had as brothers and sister of one family. That is the kind of life we are called to live as Christians; And to bear witness to his divine love, mercy, and peace to the world.

But what we are doing instead is individual, selfish, and greedy, disunited, and lack of sharing in our lives’ styles. We are conforming to the pattern of the world instead of making the world conform to God’s pattern. One of the Bishops from Africa at the synod on marriage and family said that the clamor for the change in church teaching in favor of same sex marriage and divorce is an effort to make the world change the church instead of the church changing the world. He said the mandate of the church is to change and convert the world and not the other way round. Unfortunately, many of us are adopting this pattern of life and accepting these worldly ideas. We doubt God’s power and teaching from the Bible instead we want to do our own will. We want proof and immediate answers or else we will not believe. For instance, today we read that he breathed on his disciples and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit so whose sin they forgive is forgiven and whose sin they do not forgive is not forgiven. Yet many people doubt the sacrament of reconciliation. You hear people asking why go confess to a human being like you? But God is the one who is using the human beings to reach out to his people.

The story of the geese demonstrates exactly what is expected of us Christians. We are called to live a community life of cooperating and sharing our material, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual possessions with one another. Community life in which we cooperate and share has many advantages: save time, money, energy and provide support for each other, and people can easily overcome challenges and progress faster. But individual way of life has lots of disadvantages: waste more time, money, energy and no support for one another, and people can easily come lonely, depressed and frustrated in life. Mother Teresa of blessed memory once said that poverty is not created by God; it is created by you and me when we do not share what we have.

We thank God for the gift of these children who will begin receiving communion with us today, and pray that God will continue to strengthen the bonds of our union with him and with one another. This is our family meal, covenant meal, and the meal of our salvation.