Monthly Archives: October 2015

Who is the Greatest? by Fr. Joel

There is a natural tendency in us, human beings to desire greatness and high places in this life. This tendency sometimes greatnessmakes us selfish and act without considering other people around us. Human beings could do anything in order to get whatever they want in this life, including evil things.

In today’s gospel reading we saw how two brothers, James and John, among the disciples of Jesus went to him privately to request to be favored much more than others. That is a clear sign of selfishness and quest for power and better things above others. Jesus used this incident to educate his disciples on the difference between greatness of this world and of his kingdom. Greatness of his kingdom means service, humility, and self-giving to others, but not self-service and selfishness that is associated with the greatness of this world.

In the first reading prophet Isaiah prophesied that the servant of God, through self-giving and suffering, will redeem sinners, give them life, justify them, and accomplish God’s will. The psalm says that the upright person is trustworthy, loves justice, right, kindness, and places his/her trust in the Lord. These are attributes of one who want to be great in God’s kingdom.

We are always ready to suffer for our selfish gain but not for the common good of humanity. Our culture and society encourage us to be selfish and greedy-to pursue worldly pleasures, happiness, and greatness at all cost. That is why we have become materialistic and consumers of all kinds of goods and services including those harmful to our lives. We have become so addicted to all kinds of commercials so much so that we keep spending money on a daily basis to purchase them.

Today even kindness, love, mercy, marriages, relationships, bearing children, going to school are done for money’s sake. Whatever does not have some financial gain in it we are not interested. Many people divorce, separate, quit relationships because of money and power. Other people tell lies, blackmail, and persecute others because of money and power. Some people give fake services and goods such as food, medicine, treatments which might be detrimental to human lives for the sake of money and power. Today people kill and destroy property for the sake of money and power, for instance, the crisis and war in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The promotion of ideologies such as planned parenthood, contraception, same sex union, mercy killing, atheism, and the freedom to do what you want is all because of money and power to control. Yes everyone wants to be in-charge, in control or the boss, then who become their servants?

Remember that worldly greatness is temporal but greatness in the kingdom of God is everlasting. Which one do you prefer? Being a servant to others is what qualifies you to be great in God’s kingdom. You do not need too much or deadly struggles to become great in his kingdom. All you need do is serve others and you will become great forever in his kingdom. So why suffer that much to become great only for short time in this world instead of struggling to be great forever in his kingdom? Our mission is to give ourselves and resources to build God’s kingdom.

The second reading said that Jesus is our high priest who understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses and is ever ready to grant us forgiveness and the grace that we need to become servants to others in order to become great forever in his kingdom. So go to him with confidence and ask for his mercy and grace to become servants and great in God’s kingdom.

TWENTY- NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

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The Wisdom of Following Jesus Christ by Fr. Joel

The first reading of today is from the book of wisdom which says that wisdom is much more than riches, health mary martha jesusand beauty. Her splendor never yields to sleep. That is to say she will never disappoint or fail you. Therefore, making wisdom a priority in our lives is the best thing to do.

The Psalm for today says, ‘’teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” That is to say, if you know how short this life is you will be wise in the way you live your life because you will know that you will not live forever. You know you will die some day and be held accountable for your life style here on earth.

In the gospel we saw how, unfortunately, the rich man allowed wealth to triumph over the wisdom of following Jesus Christ. He started well by asking what he must do to inherit the kingdom of God? He wanted to earn his inheritance to God’s kingdom – he did not want to leave it to chance but to work hard for it. That was good of him. He met the requirement of keeping the commandments of God, but did not meet the requirement of selling his possessions and giving to the poor and following Jesus. Rather than doing so, he walked away very sad because he could not afford to part with his great wealth.

The second reading said that the word of God is like a two-edged sword that penetrates every soul and spirit, able to discern the thoughts of all hearts and minds. No one can hide from the word of God. It keeps challenging us to take account of our lives and deeds. The words of Jesus wanted to cut loose the rich man from the chains and slavery of his wealth that weighed him down and prevented him from inheriting the kingdom of God. But the man would not let go of his possessions, instead he clung to them and lost his inheritance to the kingdom of God.

You cannot eat your cake and have it. You must let go of something in order to get another. You must sacrifice before you gain or achieve something else. The seed must be buried in the soil and die before it can produce more seeds or fruits.

As a person, what is weighing you down in this life? What is blocking your chance of inheriting the kingdom of God? What is preventing you from having a personal relationship with God? What is preventing you from receiving communion? What is making you unhappy in life? Why is your marriage or family or relationship or job experiencing crisis?

The answer to all of these questions is lack of wisdom, the wisdom to handle various issues in this life. We need wisdom much more than wealth, health, and beauty to overcome all of the problems in life. We need the wisdom whose splendor never yields to sleep or never fails or disappoints. We need to make wisdom our priority in life in order to overcome problems in this life and to inherit God’s kingdom. And the source of this wisdom is the Bible, prayer, parents/elders, religious leaders, and experience.

Some people think that once they have wealth, health or beauty they have everything in life. That is not true at all. We need wisdom to manage wealth, health, beauty, and all of the things in this life. If you do not have wisdom, all of these things will be useless. We need wisdom to budget, cut down unnecessary spending, eat good food, rest and relax with family members and friends and stop being worried and anxious about so many things like Jesus told Martha in the scriptures. Instead, let us be like Mary who chose the better thing to do by sitting beside Jesus and listening to his wisdom. We need wisdom to be selfless in our marriage, family, community, and society for peace, love, unity and progress to be achieved. We need the wisdom of serving one another for the world to be a better place to live in. We need the wisdom of sharing our possessions with others for us to inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus said only those who show concern to the sick, hungry, naked, prisoners, homeless, or the poor in our society will enter the kingdom of God. But those people who do not help the poor will not enter his kingdom. He also said that it will be difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. This is because, as we saw in case of this rich man today, their riches will become a source distraction and a stumbling block to the kingdom God. He also said we should store our treasures in heaven, by sharing and doing good, where there are no thieves or mod that will destroy them.

TWENTY EIGHT SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B

Marriage as a Divine Institution by Fr. Joel

Wedding ringsToday we celebrate marriage and family as instituted by God himself. It is a holy union between a man and woman who are open to accepting and nurturing children. That is the plan of God for marriage and family. The family is the smallest but most important unit in society. It is the foundation and pillar of society. Therefore, it has to be cherished and protected by all means for the good of humanity and society.

In the first reading of today, God said, ‘’it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a suitable partner for him.’’ And of all that God created, none proved to be the suitable partner for man. So, God made man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, God took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. God then used this rib to create a woman and brought her to the man, and the man said, ‘’this one, at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ’woman’ for out of man this one has been taken.’’ This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

In the gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. And Jesus referred them to the laws of Moses which permitted them to do so because of their stubbornness of heart. But, that right from the beginning of creation God made one man and one woman so that they can be joined together and become one flesh and no longer two. And that what God has joined together, no human being must separate. That is no divorce. And that whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery. These are the words of Jesus from the Bible directly. The church only teaches and enforces this teaching about marriage and she has no right or power to change it. Even though some people argue that the bible was written by human beings. That is true. Human beings wrote it but it is not human words, God gave them and they wrote it down. We know the story of how Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. They were not his commandments. He was simply a messenger of God.

So when people are questioning these laws, they are questioning God’s authority. The fundamental understanding of marriage is being questioned by modern society. Some people feel that the church should change these laws and allow them do what they want. For example to redefine marriage is to question God’s authority and plan on marriage and the family. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and he does not change. He is our creator and master of all things and civilizations. We are to conform to his teaching and not him to conform to our wishes or ways. For us to be truly happy as human beings, we need to obey his laws.

Marriage is a divine institution created by God for the good of human beings and society. It is the union of love and life-giving- love that brings forth life to the world. That is, in marriage, you are participating in God’s divine plan and creation of the world. Anything other than that is not marriage according to God’s plan and design for the world. Marriage is a life of sharing as in a community. It entails sacrifice and self-giving, collaboration, humility, sacrifice, suffering and service to each other. And so if you are selfish, greedy, unforgiving, and afraid of sacrifice and suffering, you are not a good partner in marriage. Many people are not happy in marriage and want to divorce because they are not willing to share and sacrifice. Both of you must work hard and contribute to make your marriage work and make your home a happy, peaceful and loving place for you and your children.

Jesus had high regard for marriage that is why he compared it with his relationship with the church. He is the head while the church is the body, and separating the two is disaster and death. Moreover, he had high regard for children who were considered like property in the Jewish culture. Jesus proposes them as our instructors to receive God’s kingdom. If you want to enter the kingdom of God, you must accept little children and be like them. Marriage is the place where children are born and nurtured. And it is the primary responsibility of parent to take good care of them. If you are not willing to accept children from God in your marriage, you are not following God’s will.

Please endeavor to do all it takes to maintain and sustain your marriage and family. Listen to God’s plan and will for marriage and the family and not some selfish human thinking. Listen to the truth that will make you happy and set you free now and on the last day. Choose today, either to marry and have a family according to God’s plan and will or according to you selfish desire. The choice is yours.

 TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY OF YEAR B, 2015