Monthly Archives: September 2015
We human beings have the natural tendency to be selfish-not willing to share with others our resources. Just like some
children often do refuse to share even with the person who had given them a gift. That is how many of us are. We find it difficult to share even with God who had given us all the gifts that we have.
In the first reading of today, Joshua demonstrated unwillingness to share and jealousy that the spirit of God was given to some elders who were not present at the tent of meeting where the spirit of prophecy descended on the 72 elders. He requested that Moses should stop them from prophesying. In the same way John was not ready to share ministry of healing with others and had requested that Jesus should stop those people who were healing in his name but were not following him. Both Jesus and Moses responded by encouraging the people to appreciate God’s generosity to others. God can give his gift to anyone he wishes to. God is not selfish like us humans rather he is very generous to everyone.
Moses said that he wished that everyone had the spirit of prophesy. That would be good for the people of God. Our desire should be that everyone receives blessings and spiritual gifts from God. Surely, God has blessed us abundantly but a few selfish and greedy people are denying majority of the people their rights and access to these blessings and to participate in ministry. How can you reconcile the fact that a few people are extremely rich while the majority of the people are living in poverty. This is so because the rich are hoarding these resources and are not willing to share with others. Most rich people got their wealth through evil means such as stealing, cheating, denying people their proper wages and so on in the name of business and being smart. We are given these resources and talents by God as stewards to share and serve others. What we do not know is that by sharing with others we gain more blessing and become qualified to enter the kingdom of God. Hence the saying that blessed is the hand that gives than the hand that takes.
The second reading talked about how the rich will cry because of their ill-gotten wealth which shall count against them on judgment day. Worldly riches will fade, be stolen, and become rotten, but spiritual riches will last forever. So, use material riches to get spiritual riches by sharing your resources with others. Store for yourself treasures in heaven where there are no thieves or rot that will destroy them. If you do not belong to a community or ministry, it means you are selfish with your gifts. If you do not have friends or visit or communicating with people, it means you are selfish. If you cannot forgive or reconcile with those who wrong you, it means you are selfish. Sometimes we are depressed because we do not want to share with others. By sharing your resources you gain peace and more blessings.
Jesus talked about allowing those healing in his name to be, for whoever is not against us, is for us. This suggests that we should welcome and allow others to share and participate in our community and the ministry of Jesus. He also urges his disciples never to mislead the little ones among them, for if they do, they will be punished. Sometimes we judge and condemn other as not qualified to belong or participate in our community, ministry or group. We have a responsibility toward children and vulnerable members of society; to share with them, lead and provide them mentorship so that they do not deviate from the right path. Furthermore, that we should avoid whatever leads us into sin in order to qualify to enter heaven. This means cutting off relationships, habits, and thoughts that lead us into sin and away from sharing our lives with others. For what shall be our gain if we gain the whole world and ruin our souls at the end?
TWENTY SIX SUNDAY YEAR B 2015
In a film named, Mother Teresa, as a workman explained to her the working of their new building’s hot water heater, she told him gently, ‘’I don’t think we will be needing it. For us to be able to understand the poor, we must know what poverty is.’’
Jesus, just like any good teacher, started from simple question to a tough question for his disciples. Namely: who do people say that I am? Then, who do you say that I am? This second question was the most important question and a question for true discipleship. Only those who have a personal encounter with Jesus can answer this question correctly. The disciples have been with Jesus for sometimes, so he asked them to know if they truly have known him. Peter answered him saying, ‘’you are the Christ.’ This answer demonstrated that they truly know him as the Christ, the Messiah.
The disciples saw Jesus as a great Messiah, because of the signs and wonders that he performed. They saw him as one who was capable of rescuing the people of Israel from their Roman oppressors by military tactics as in the days of King David. And they could not understand why Jesus said that he would suffer in the hands of their leaders and die. How can a person as powerful as Jesus suffer in the hands of their leaders? That is why Peter said to him that it is not possible. But Jesus said to him, ‘’get behind me Satan’’ which means his idea was coming from Satan and not the will of God. It was the will of God for Christ to suffer and die for our sins.
Suffering, self-denial, and self-giving are the will of God for Christ to go through for our salvation. The first reading of today described the kind of suffering Jesus went through. For us to be saved, and cooperate with the grace of God. That is why Christ said we must carry our crosses daily and follow him. The crosses are our daily struggles to live as Christians. The crosses are suffering, self-denial, and self-giving. In the second reading, James talked about faith and good works; the two go hand in hand because faith without good work is useless. This is one area in scripture where Catholics differ from Protestants in interpretation. While Protestants say by faith alone (solar fide) we are saved, Catholic say we are saved by faith and good works. Another area of difference is, (solar scriptura) which means believe in the scripture alone, according to the Protestants, while Catholics believe in both scripture and tradition. This is so because the scripture came from the Jewish tradition. To understand scripture, we must understand the Jewish tradition.
According to James, show your faith to me without works, and I will show you my faith by my good works. This is very true. You cannot show that you are qualified for a job by showing only your certificates. You must also demonstrate that you can do the job. You cannot pass your exams by just registration in a school, but you must also work hard for it. Therefore, we cannot claim to be Christians by words alone, but we must show by both words and good deeds. You do not become a Catholic by receiving the sacraments without doing good works to show that the grace of God is in you. We cannot just be Sacramental Catholics, but true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ who are willing to be disciples, serve, and make other disciples too. We can only show that we are Christians by our ways of lives in the world.
The cross is the identity of Christians. To be a true Christian you must identify with the cross of Jesus Christ every day of your life. Carrying the cross means patience, forgiveness, love, mercy, sharing, humility, prayers, sacrifice, supporting and serving the less privilege in our society. That is how we can show that we are Christians and gain salvation.
TWENTY FOUTH SUNDAY YEAR B
In the first reading of today, Isaiah told the people of Israel who were worried, because they were on exile in Babylon suffering, to be strong and not to be afraid for their God will save them and bring them joy. James said in the second reading that God chose those who are poor in worldly things to be rich in spiritual things and become heirs to the kingdom of God. In the gospel we see a fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus Christ as he brought healing to the blind, mute and deaf people. He restored them to good health and brought joy to them.
Many of us are in exile suffering like the people of Israel in Babylon. We have been taken captives and enslaved by the devil and we are living in sin. Many of us are blind, deaf and mute to what the Lord is teaching us in the Bible. Anyone who is stubborn and does not listen to the word of God, that person is deaf. Anyone who refuses to speak the truth proclaimed in the word of God, the person is mute or dumb. When someone refuses to recognize evil, the sufferings, and needs of poor in order to give assistance to them, the person is blind.
Some people find the word of God offensive and have refused to accept it. Some of these people call themselves atheists or agnostics. While other people hate and persecute Christians because of their faith. There are some of us, even though, we did not openly reject the word of God, but we refuse to do what the word tells us. That is, those who are hearers and not doers of the word of God; those who do the very opposite of what the word of God said. Many of us are dumb; we cannot communicate the word of God to others. When you are shy, afraid or nonchalant to communicate the word of God even to your children or family members, let alone strangers, you are dumb.
Jesus brought good news to the world, we need to communicate this news to those who have not heard about it and to those who have heard but do not understand it or accept it. However, you cannot give what you do not have. You need to first of all receive the word of God, see the beautiful message of salvation in it then communicate it to others. Jesus came to rescue us from the slavery of the devil; He carried our sins away and healed our wounds. Jesus was anointed to bring good news to the poor, freedom to those in bondage, healing to the blind, deaf, and dumb (Lk 4:18). We continue to receive all of these from the word of God and the sacraments. Jesus has freed us from any distinctions of class because we all the same under him. Your socioeconomic status does not give you an edge over other in the kingdom of God. In fact, what makes you great before God is your humility and acts of charity to others, especially the poor. Jesus died on cross for our salvation and to bring us joy.
He said in John 10:10 that he came so that we might have life abundantly. Only those who truly live according to his teaching are truly happy. So open up your heart and mind for him to come in and give joy, and you will in turn give others joy. Do not be shy or afraid to proclaim Jesus to others. Proclaim him by your words and deeds. Present yourself as an instrument in God’s hands to be use to bring healing and joy to our sick world.
23 SUNDAY YEAR B 2015
Last weekend, we were called upon to decide to either serve the living God or some other gods; whether to be with Christ or to leave him like some of the disciples did after he said they must eat his body and drink his blood.
Today, our Lord Jesus is concerned about the health of our spirit; what makes our souls sick and makes a person unclean. He said that the root cause of uncleanliness in a person is not from outside but from the heart. And that we need to wash clean ourselves from the inside; to make sure our hearts and minds are clean. The heart and mind are the control centers in each of us; the source of all thoughts, desires, decisions and values. So once you are sick from there, you become unclean and sick. Jesus also warned against the disregard for God’s law and clinging to human laws and traditions.
In the first reading, Moses instructed the people of Israel to observe the commandments of God as it is and not to add to it or subtract from it. The Psalm said that whoever observes these commandments of God shall never be disturbed, which means you shall have peace and joy that comes from God alone. The second reading encourages us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.
God gave the people of Israel his laws through Moses as we can find in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But with time, their leaders created more laws to regulate certain aspect of their lives. This could be referred to as, ‘’man-made laws’’ for instance, the law of washing hands up to the elbow before eating. This was a mere ritual washing and not for hygiene purpose, just like the Muslims do before their prayers.
Furthermore, as time went on, the religious leaders, the Scribes and the Pharisees started to respect these man-made laws and traditions more than the laws given by God to them. These man-made laws were mere external observances and not for internal disposition of the people. That is to say, not purify the heart and mind. For example, a person is considered good if he/she is able to carry out these external observances like washing of hands before eating. Even if the person is guilty of sins such as adultery, stealing, malice, deceit and so on, in as much as it is not seen or known by people, the person is considered good. This means disobeying God’s laws which make you clean from within, but obeying man-made laws and traditions that make look good from the outside. That is a misplacement of priorities.
Even today the Church has enacted some laws to regulate certain aspects of our lives and activities. However, these laws must not supersede the laws giving by God because God’s laws are superior to man-made laws. Human beings cannot tamper with God’s laws. You take them as they are or leave them.
Our civil society too has enacted some laws to regulate our activities and to maintain peace and order in society. Nevertheless, these laws must not be place above God’s laws. Human made laws are important but they must not be in conflict with God’s laws. Any man-made laws that are in conflict with God’s laws are misleading us; encouraging us to disobey God but encouraging us to obey man-made laws and traditions.
Today, we see how human beings are creating and promoting laws that are in conflict with God’s laws. And they want people to respect these laws more than God’s laws. Today, we want to follow our desires and do what we want instead of what God wants us to do. In our world today, we are seeking happiness and joy in worldly things such as money, food, drink, pleasure etc. All of these will rather give us misery and pain. Obeying God’s laws is the only way that we can be truly happy and peaceful in our lives. Many of us are like the Scribes and Pharisees. We are mere external observers of rules, but never clean from within. Many of us are just sacramental Catholic, but not true disciples of Lord. We have all the sacraments but are not truly converted from the heart. Many cradle Catholic take their faith for granted; they are always cold and do not allow the spirit of God to flourish in them. The sacraments, prayers, retreats and rituals worship that we have are only channels of grace that lead us to an encounter God and enable us establish a relationship with him. Church laws and regulations are meant to assist us obey God’s laws but not to disobey them. But because we do not open up our hearts and minds for the spirit of God to enter and use us, we remain cold as if nothing has happened to us. If you have an encounter with God, there is no way you will remain cold or the same; you must be on fire by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God and his people. Those who have allowed the spirit into their lives, you will see them doing deeds of kindness, mercy and all kinds of good works for people and in the Church.
Therefore, I challenge you today to be open to the spirit of God and allow him use you for the glory of his name. And when you allow the spirit of God into your life then you will experience true peace and happiness. Stop being a slave to the devil and be converted from your heart and serve the living God. As a true child of God you do not live in sin, rather a child of God in the spirit, loving and dong good to people and God our creator.
22 SUNDAY 2015