The third Sunday of advent, is traditionally called ‘’Gaudete Sunday’’ which means ‘’rejoice’’ or ‘’Rose Sunday’’ that is why we wear rose vestments for this mass. The rose color symbolizes the joy of the celebration today. It represents the lightening of the dark violet color of the rest of the penitential season of advent. This lightening has two significant, namely: Firstly, it is a sign that the coming of light, Jesus Christ into the world is very near; secondly, it signifies the joy that accompany the coming of this light, Jesus Christ.
It is because of this reasons that our readings are centered on the theme of ‘’Joy’’. This is to tell us that Christmas is near and so begin to celebrate with carols, music, drums, bells, and all the musical instruments. We praise God for his wonderful deeds to us. He brought us salvation through his son Jesus Christ.
The first reading said the deserts and unproductive lands will blossom with abundant flowers and fruits; sorrow and bitterness will be replaced with joy and gladness. This simply means that God will liberate us from the bondage of the devil and bless us with abundant gifts such as: opening the eyes of blind and ears of the deaf, making the lame to leap, losing the tongue of the dump. Therefore, let us rejoice and praise the Lord.
The Psalm said, ‘’ Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God’’. This is a song of thanksgiving to God for granting justice to the oppressed; food to the hungry; freedom to captives; healing to the sick; and protection to the orphans, widows, and strangers. In the second reading, Saint James encouraged us to be patient, persistent in prayer, and doing good works for the coming of the Lord is near. While waiting we should make sure that we are not found wanting when he comes.
The gospel reading demonstrated the fulfilment of the prophecy in the first reading. Jesus was anointed with the spirit to bring good news to the less privilege people. Jesus started performing wonderful works and miracles for the people. He brought the people healing, joy, and freedom from captivity of the devil. John the Baptist sent the people to see and experience the joy brought them by Jesus. This was to enable them to be convinced and believed that Jesus is the true messiah. When the people met Jesus he showed them his wonderful deeds and confirmed to them that John came to prepare the way for him. Jesus demonstrated to them that he was indeed greater than John the Baptist. These are reasons for our celebration during this Christmas.
Jesus brings to us good news and joy every day of our lives. We experience healing, miracles, and freedom from captivity of the devil. Jesus is a friend to the poor, sick, orphans, widows, and the oppressed in our society. We shall continue to receive these blessing from Jesus if we listen and follow him. In addition, during our baptism we were anointed with oil and the Holy Spirit so that we can bring the good news to others. Therefore during this Christmas period, we must not forget to bring the good news to other people especially the less privilege people in our society. We should share with the less privilege people our blessings. Let us give the poor gifts of food, clothing, money, toys, smiles, visits, outings, apologies, forgiveness, reunions, and above all the love of God.
Saint Teresa said: ‘’we can cure physical disease with medicine, but the only medicine for loneliness, despair, and depression is love. There are many in the world who are dying for food but many more are dying for lack of love’’. Therefore, this Christmas offers us great opportunities to reach out to those people in need and give them love, joy and peace of Christ Jesus. Think of what you shall give to others but not what you shall get from others. Remember not to celebrate Christmas with malice, anger, hatred, sin, bitterness, and jealousy, instead be joyful bring that joy to people that you come across. Follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ and bring the good news to the less privilege in our society at Christmas.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT A (GAUDETE SUNDAY)
WE REJOICE AND CELEBRATE THE COMING OF CHRIST
The first reading of today talked about a shoot that sprouts from the stump of Jesse and a bud that blossom from his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him and he shall be given the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. He shall judge the world with justice and fairness. The wicked shall be condemned while the righteous shall be rewarded with eternal glory in his kingdom. His reign shall bring about peace, love, unity, and understanding even amongst wild animals and their preys in the jungle.
The Psalm said that ‘’justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever’’. Saint Paul in the second reading told the Romans that the scripture was written for instructions, encouragement, and to give hope to people. He said that scripture helps us to endure and be united in the worship of God and to proclaim his truth and mercy to the world.
In the gospel, John the Baptist called on the people to prepare for the coming of Jesus by repenting of their sins. John is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah about a voice crying in the desert for the people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the shoot that sprouts from the stump of Jesse and the bud that blossom from Jesse’s roots. Therefore, he is the fulfillment of the prophecy in today’s first reading. Jesus Christ will bring peace, love, unity, and understanding into the world. He will judge all people with justice and fairness. Therefore, in order to escape his anger, we need to repent and bear good fruits in our lives.
John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees ‘’brood of vipers’’ and asked them to repent of their evil deeds and produce good fruits. He said to them, being a descendant of Abraham does not give them advantage over other people who are not. It cannot guarantee them salvation or heaven. But that everyone must have faith and work hard for their salvation and the kingdom of God. He acknowledged Jesus as being greater than him. John baptized with water while Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus will judge and separate the evil people from the good people like a winnowing fan does to chaff and the good seeds. The chaff will be burnt while the seeds stored in the barn. John asked the people to prepare to welcome Jesus in their lives and avoid judgment and his punishment.
As we prepare for the birthday and second coming of Jesus, let us repent of our sins. Advent season represents the voice crying out loud for us to repent and produce good fruits. Unfortunately, in our world today, we do not produce good fruits instead we are producing bad fruits every day. We have misplaced our values and priorities in life. George Carlin said that we have turned the order of things upside down. ‘’We have taller buildings but shorter temper, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too little. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We have learned how to make a living but not a life. We have added years to life but not life to years. We have been to the moon but we have trouble crossing the street to meet our neighbors. We have conquered outer space but not inner space. We have done larger things, but not better things.
We have learned to clean the air but polluted the soul. We have conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We have learned to rush but not to wait. We have built more computers to hold more information, produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.’’
Furthermore, instead of cutting short our temper and building good relationships with God and our neighbors, we are building taller walls against each other; instead of focusing on God and his holistic view of the world, we are viewing the world with the telescope of the devil. Instead of creating time to sleep and rest, we take drugs that complicate our system.
We have completely destroyed marriage and family life. We prefer keeping pets as companions instead of giving birth to more children. Instead of teaching children how to wash and clean up, we buy disposable plates and cups. Children can operate complicated computers but cannot clean their mess in the house. Our children can call the police on their parents to report abuses but they cannot pray to God and ask for his grace to be responsible. We teach our children to demand justice and freedom, but we do not teach them how to love, sacrifice, share, respect elders, and be merciful to those who offend them. We teach our children complicated science but we do not teach them about morals and religion. Many of us know when there are cheap sales in various stores, but we do not know the schedules for masses. We know the schedules for various sports and movies but we do not know the schedules for spiritual activities in the parish. Some of us remember the church only when we need help, but we cannot contribute to it.
Today the voice of God is calling on us all to repent and produce good fruits. Prepare the way for Jesus into our lives grand us salvation. Let us listen to God in the scripture and allow him to guide us to salvation. Make sure you are not blown away by the winnowing fan of Jesus on judgment day.
SECOND SUNDAY OD ADVENT CYCLE A
A VOICE CRYING OUT LOUD FOR REPENTANCE
Today marks the end of our liturgical year and at the same time the beginning of a new
year in the Church’s calendar. On this day, we celebrate Christ as the universal king. Celebrating Christ as universal king at the end and beginning of our liturgical year suggests that Christ is the beginning and the end of all creation and all that we do.
In the first reading of today, David an anointed king was acknowledged and accepted by all the tribes of Israel. On the other hand, in the gospel, Jesus an anointed king after his ancestor, David was ignored and rejected by the people. Jesus demonstrated his kingship through suffering on the cross. He won victory and salvation for us through the cross. Unlike worldly kings, his throne and palace are suffering on the cross. Through his cross we have passed from darkness into the kingdom of light.
Psalm 122 says let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. It is a song of thanksgiving and joy for the privilege of being members of God’s house/kingdom. In the second reading Saint Paul asked the people of Colossians to thank God for making them share in the inheritance of his kingdom of light. Heaven is our inheritance as children of light. Jesus has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of light. Christ is king of heaven and earth, controller of dominions and principalities. He is the head of the church. He shed his blood to gain salvation for the church. He is the good shepherd that lay down his life for his sheep. His sacrifice on the cross was heroic, and a source of power and strength for his people. To give one’s life to save others is heroic. He said, to be great before God, is to be a slave or servant to others. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Only those who fear God can make sacrifices and render services for the sake of others. One of the thieves recognized the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. That is why he asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom. In the same way we too should recognized Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and we shall be remembered by him in his kingdom. In addition, when we make sacrifices for the sake of others we are acknowledging Jesus as king of our life and are working under his commands.
Jesus gave us a perfect example of good leadership. He came to serve but not to be served. Each of us has been called to serve as leaders in different capacities, for instance as parents, teachers, adults, mentors and as Christians. But how many of us know the implication of the leadership role we have been called to play? Many of us aspire for various leadership positions only for the benefits and glories attached to them. We do not think of the services and sacrifices that are required of us as leaders. Many of us have excluded God in our leadership roles and are working had against God’s command as leaders. We are afraid of God’s rule over us and we do not want to hear about him anymore. We think of God as a bully who wants to deny us freedom to do whatever we want. Many leaders want to have absolute power to control the world and do whatever they want. As a result, we are experiencing numerous violence and destruction of life and property. But no one can have absolute power except Jesus, the universal king. He has the power over the whole world. We are all called today to submit to his authority at all times. Only those who submit to his rule and authority can be successful leaders and followers of him. Until we accept Jesus as the universal king before our world can experience true freedom and peace.
Jesus gave a good example of leadership for us to follow; he sacrificed himself on the cross for the world. As leaders, we must acknowledge the power of God and follow his commands. We must be ready to provide protection and support for others especially the most vulnerable ones. We must not oppress others or humiliate or abuse them in any way. We should lead people to success, happiness and a peaceful life. We should use our authorities for the good of other people. We are called to be source of strength, unity and love for other people. We should be ready to be misunderstood and persecuted like they did to Jesus. Know that leadership is sacrifice and service to the people.
We must acknowledge Jesus as our king and ruler of our lives and nation. We are to pledge allegiance to the king of the universe, Jesus Christ. We must not submit to the devil for he will destroy us. When we reject God in our society and institutions, we invite the devil into our lives. The devil will make us experience all kinds of bitterness and destroy us. It is because of our selfish desires that we fight God and reject him in our lives. It is a fight that we can never win instead it is a fight that will bring us sorrows and bitterness. We must decide today who we want to rule over our lives. Is it Jesus or the devil? Who is our king and ruler of in our lives?
If Jesus is your king you will follow his rules but not that of the devil. For example, the laws encouraging abortion and same sex marriages are not coming from God. Racism and discrimination against people is not God’s law. Divorce and division amongst people is not God’s will for us. Therefore, acknowledge Jesus as your king and learn to emulate him and follow his commands in your life. We have been called to be servants to others as a leader. Please let us try not to fail them. Let us be like Jesus to them and bring them justice, happiness and love.
CHRIST THE UNIVERSAL KING
In the first reading of today, God promised to punish the proud and evildoers. But to reward those who fear him and do his will with justice and healing. The Psalm said that the Lord will come and rule the earth with justice. It is a song of thanksgiving to God for his rule of justice to his people.
In the second reading Saint Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to follow their examples of lawful and hardworking lifestyle in order to earn a living. He discouraged laziness and unlawful behaviors by the people for the sake of peace and justice. He said those who do not want to work hard should not eat. I think that is justice and fairness.
In the gospel, Jesus talked about uprising in the world that will serve as signs of the end of the world. He encouraged his followers not to panic but remain faithful to his teaching. He said there will be uprising such as fighting among people and between nations, earthquakes, plagues, and signs in the sky. Furthermore, he said we shall be persecuted because of our faith. All of these are causing fear in us. But he promised to be with us and support us with wisdom and strength to overcome our fears and enemies. He said that we should bring all our labors and burdens to him and he will give us rest. He also encouraged us to persevere to the end in order to be reward with justice and peace.
All of the readings talked about justice to the people of God. Unfortunately, there are many instances of injustices in our society. Many people are mistreated and denied their rights. Many people are discriminated against in our society. There are many people who deserve justice but they are denied. There are many others who do not want to work but want to eat in our society. There are those who work less but receive more pay than those who work hard. There are divisions in our families and communities. There are all kinds of violence and lack of peace as a result of lack of justice around us. Our world needs justice in order for peace to reign in our lives. When our lives are full of uncertainties, fears, injustices and dangers, is time to go on our knees and pray to God for help instead of fighting one another.
Therefore, we must all come together, stay together, pray together, and work together for justice and peace in our society. These, we need to do urgently and now before it is too late. The elections are over but our feelings toward the outcome of the election are different. Before and after the election we were divided. We should embrace the spirit of sport men and women and be united as a nation and accept the results. We must not allow the outcome of the election to divide us and lead us to hatred for one another. Let us pray to God and ask him to intervene and to be with our new leaders and give them the wisdom that they need to lead this country toward peace, love, unity, and progress.
As Christians, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we must not forget our mission to preach the gospel. The gospel of Christ has not changed. It is still the same and we are all called to preach and bear witness to it at all times. Though we might be persecuted for doing so, we should not give up. Therefore, let us be at the fore front to promote peace, love, unity, and progress in our country. Let us be kind to one another, show love to others, forgive one another, and support each other to succeed. let us pray for our leaders so that God will use them to take away our fear, anxiety, division, and hatred, and use them to bring to our families and communities love, peace, unity, and progress.
The God that we serve is capable of making a path for us even in the sea; provides food and drink in the desert; and pulled down the walls of Jericho and delivered to his people victory against their enemies as he did to the people of Israel. The Bible tells us that the spirit of God given to us is not the spirit of timidity but of courage and strength to withstand challenges to the end. Therefore, let us go on our knees and pray to God for help. He is capable of assisting us especially in times of trials. Let us concentrate on living out the gospel values and bearing witness to it so that the God of justice will grand us eternal justice on the last day.
THIRTY THREE SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
OUR GOD IS A GOD OF JUSTICE
The first reading of today talked about God’s mercy and compassion to his people. It said that God overlooks people’s sins that they may repent and receive his mercy and compassion. God rebukes offenders and reminds them of their sins so that they can come back to him. God loves all the things that he has created. Psalm said, ‘’I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.’’ It is a song of thanksgiving to the Lord for his mercy and compassion to his people.
In the second reading, Saint Paul assured the Thessalonians of his prayers for them so that the purpose and will of God will be done in their lives always. Furthermore, he cautioned them not to panic regarding any false teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ that is not coming from true ministers of God. These are very important lessons for us as well. We should learn to pray for one another so that God’s will shall be done in our lives. In addition, we should be careful of false prophets and their false teachings so that we are not deceived by them and then lose our salvation.
In the Gospel, Jesus showed mercy and compassion to Zacchaeus, a sinner. Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector who cheated people in his job. He wanted to see Jesus but could not because he was a short man. Therefore, he climbed up a tree to be able to see Jesus. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and asked Zacchaeus to climb down the tree. Jesus followed Zacchaeus to his house and said to him salvation has come to your house today. The people were surprised that Jesus went to the house of a sinner. However, Jesus came to the world to call sinners to repentance. With this gesture from Jesus, Zacchaeus repented of his sins and promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back those he cheated four times more. All the readings of today are centered on the theme of God’s mercy and compassion.
Unfortunately, instead of taking advantage of God’s mercy and compassion and repenting of our sins, we are promoting and committing more sins day by day. We see God as a terror. We see his commandments as oppressive rules for us to follow. We want the kind of freedom our secular world is offering us to do as we want to. We talk about justice and freedom for all but we are denying the most vulnerable freedom and justice. The abortion of unborn children and adoption of children by same sex couples are injustices done to innocent children. We deny them their rights and freedom to a better life because of our selfish desires. The minorities and less powerful in our society are denied opportunity to prosper like others. We cheat and extort from the less privilege in our society. We segregate and discriminate against those who are different from us. In the name of civilization we commit and support all kinds of evil and atrocities. True civilization can only be attain when the less privilege and most vulnerable are protected. True civilization, freedom, and justice can only be achieved when the the same opportunities to develop and live a better life are given to everyone in society. Every one of us is guilty in one way or the other. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Therefore, we are like Zacchaeus, short because of our sins and as a result we are unable see Jesus. Our sins serve as stumbling blocks between us and Jesus. Sin stops us from being in communion with the Lord. We need to climb up a tree like Zacchaeus in order to be able to see Jesus. The tree we need to climb is the sacrament of reconciliation. In this sacrament we ask God for forgiveness and receive his mercy and love. We need to repair the damages we have caused others and ourselves too. We need to apologize to those we have cheated and mistreated and pay back to them for what we have done them. Our prayers and sacrifices will not be accepted if we do not repent and correct our mistakes. The Lord said that we must keep aside our offerings and sacrifices and go make peace with those we have wronged first before we can offer him worthy sacrifices. He also said in ‘’the Lord’s Prayer’’ that we should forgive other just as we want him to be forgive us. Therefore, repentance and forgiveness is very important for every Christian to be able to relate well with God and one another.
Please do not be afraid for God is willing, at any time, to show us his mercy and love. All we need to do is to make effort just as Zacchaeus did and salvation will come into our lives. Our sins are excess luggages that are not need for our spiritual journey. Therefore, we need to get rid of our sins as soon as possible to have an easy and smooth journey. Christ came to the world and died on the cross because of our sins. Let us go to him to receive his mercy and love. Do not allow the devil hold you hostage in his kingdom of darkness. Instead come to Jesus and enjoy freedom, light, and peace in his kingdom.
It is honorable and a blessing, as Christians, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as well. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do, but is very important in our lives as Christians. Lack of forgiveness means carrying a great burden and is a disaster to a Christian. It robs us of our joy and peace. It breeds hatred, division, and violence in our society. Therefore, we need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness as well. We need to forgive in order to experience peace and joy in our society. Therefore, let us repent of our sins and forgive those who have wronged us. Let us emulate Zacchaeus who made effort to see Jesus and after encountering the mercy and love of Jesus, he repented and repaired the damages he had caused himself and his victims of corruption.
Lastly, as we prepare to vote, please pray and ask God to guide you to vote those who will promote peace and love but not those who will promote evil in our society. We may not have perfect candidates but, at least, vote for those who will promote better life and lesser evils in our society.
THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
OUR GOD IS MERCIFUL, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING
‘’Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant.’’ Naaman said this after receiving healing from leprosy by God. Naaman demonstrated profound faith, humility, and thanksgiving to God for the healing he received from him. He was humbled by God’s healing power in his life. The prophet, Elisha showed faith in God by giving Naaman instruction to go bathe in the river for his healing. The prophet refused to receive the gifts from Naaman as a sign of his humility. He did not want to take the glory that belongs to God.
The Psalm says, ‘’the Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.’’ This is a song of thanksgiving to God for his wonderful deeds to his people. St. Paul in the second reading demonstrated humility and strong faith in God. In spite of his suffering for the sake of Christ, he remained faithful and gave thanks to him for the salvation Christ brought to the world. In the Gospel, ten lepers asked for healing and were healed but only the Samaritan came back to give thanks to God.
The themes of thanksgiving, faith and humility came up very strongly in the readings of today. To give thanks to God means humility and faith in God. The characters involved here have given us beautiful examples to learn from. Our world is full of pride, unfaithfulness, greed, selfishness, hatred, division, and violent destruction of lives and property. As a result there is depression and lack of peace in our world. God has blessed us with many wonderful gifts in this world. Let us be humble and give thanks to God for everything that we have comes from him. The Lord has been faithful to us, so let us be humble and faithful to him as well. Let us not be carried away by our gifts and achievements and forget that without God we could not achieve anything that we have. So, be humble and give him the glory that is his due.
We experience God’s power and miracles everyday of our lives. Therefore, we need to give him thanks for all of them. Our lives, health, energy, time, seasons, jobs, parents, children, neighbors, and other resources that we have come from God, so, let us give him thanks for all these gifts. Our faith is a gift from God so, let us appreciate him. We go to sleep and wake up afterward, that is a miracle from God, let us give him thanks. We get sunshine, rainfall, the air that we breathe and other beautiful gifts of nature from God, let us give him thanks.
Let us learn from St. Paul be humble, faithful, and give thanks to the Lord in spite of our daily challenges in life. We may suffer imprisonment and hardships in this world but we should be happy that our Lord Jesus has set us free and given us salvation by his suffering and death on the cross. For if we suffer and die with Christ, we shall rise and live with him; if we endure to the end, we shall receive a crown of glory with him; but if we deny him, he will deny us too; even though we are unfaithful, he is faithful.
St. Paul encourages us to remain faithful to God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. God is always faithful, merciful, and compassionate to us. We need humility and call on him in times of need for help. If we ask in faith we shall receive his blessings and we should give him thanks for all the wonderful things he has done to us. It is important that we give thanks because God is pleased whenever we do so. God is displeased at ingratitude from us. Therefore, let us learn and teach our children how to give thanks for any favor received from God and from people. Any thanksgiving for favors received by us opens the door for more blessings to come our way. In fact, the best way to ask for more favors is to give thanks for past favors received. But ingratitude will close up the doors so that no more favors will come our way again. Therefore, let us give God the glory and thanks for all the many blessing we have received from him in our lives.
TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
GIVING THANKS TO GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS TO US
It is not the quantity of faith but the quality that is very important for a Christian to be successful and powerful in spiritual warfare.
The first reading of today encouraged us to remain strong and faithful to God even at the times of misfortunes and calamities. It says that only the just can be patient and faithful to wait for the Lord’s time and the fulfilment of his promises in their lives. The Psalm says, ‘’if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart,’’ which means believing in the words of God and acting according to them. St. Paul tells us that the spirit of God is not that of fear but of strength, faith, charity, and self-discipline, which enables us to bear witness to him without fear even at difficult times.
In the gospel, the apostles asked for their faith to be increased and Jesus replied them saying that if they have faith as small as a mustard seed, they can move and uproot trees and mountains. This means if there is as small but solid, compact, and unbroken faith as the mustard’s seed it will be more effective than having an increased faith. Jesus was telling them that it is not the quantity but the quality of their faith that matters. With a strong and in-depth faith we can do great things for God. A faith in God that is strong and qualitative is capable of making us keep his commandments. Quality faith in God leads to quality works for God. Hence, St. James said that we cannot be saved by faith alone, but by faith and good works. That is, a faith that is firm and solid as a mustard seed is capable of enabling Christians do wonderful things for God. These great things are not in the sense of worldly greatness but heavenly greatness. For instance, a quality faith is capable of making us endure hardships gracefully and be fulfilled in life. But someone without faith that is deep enough will not be able to endure hardships without going through severe pain and depression. Such people can easily fall away and deviate from the path of the Lord.
Unfortunately today many people in our world do not have quality faith in the Lord. Our faith is shallow and that is why we fall cheaply as preys to the devil’s manipulation. Many people measure and count God’s blessing in terms of material things. Today many people want to be recognized as successful and great people in a worldly sense in order to boost their ego. This kind of greatness does not give us lasting joy and fulfilment in life. For example, good professionals in any field do not derive joy from their pay or material benefits of their job but from doing quality job. They have passion and faith for their job, which gives them joy and real satisfaction. In the same way worldly things cannot give us eternal peace and salvation. But only quality faith in God can guarantee us peace and salvation. Only those who have passion for their job or faith in God can find fulfilment in this life and here after. Therefore, quality faith is the major ingredient that is needed to bring us joy and satisfaction in our lives as Christians. It is the singular factor that enables us to become authentic, joyful, and productive children of God. It is quality faith that enables us to carry our crosses daily and follow Jesus as he commanded us. Quality faith is required for us to get healing from God. Good faith is necessary for our growth to maturity in the Christian life. With faith, God can do great things in our lives. In-depth faith is required for the manifestation of our spiritual gifts and to be able to use it for service in God’s kingdom.
Remember that quality faith should not be express to impress people but to demonstrate real and genuine love for God and his people. Quality faith is to be used to glorify God but not human persons. Quality faith enables us to hear his words and keep them; to be strong, courageous, self-disciplined, to bear witness to him in the world, to endure hardships, and be fulfilled in life. It is not the size of our faith but the quality of it that matters in our life as a Christian. ‘’Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord’’ (Jer. 17: 7).
TWENTY SEVEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
FAITH THAT CAN UPROOT MOUNTAINS
Jesus wants us to be as clever as serpents and as gentle as doves. In the first reading, Amos warned the rich and those who take advantage of the less privileged in our society. He said that the Lord will judge them and punish them for cheating the poor in our society.
The Psalm said we should praise the Lord who lifts up the poor. This means God is the defender and protector of the poor people. In the second reading St. Paul encouraged us to pray for one another especially for those in authority. This will enable us obtain peace and joy in society. Furthermore, he instructed us to ensure that everyone gets to know about the good news in order to be saved.
In the gospel we read the story of a dishonest steward who misused his master’s property and the master decided to terminate his work. Though, the master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently in planning for his future so that he will not be stranded and be without a place to go after he had been laid off. He is praised for being wise with worldly things.
But we children of light, Christians do not possess such kind of wisdom in spiritual matters. We do not prepare for the future especially spiritually for death. We do not prepare ourselves for heaven, our future and eternal home the way we prepare for our earth home. Today we are being called to be wise as this steward and prepare for the future, heaven, using our resources here on earth.
‘’Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.’’ This means we should be generous with our possessions so that we can gain more blessings from and be with God. If you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, worldly things, who will trust you with true wealth, eternal wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, the excess wealth you have which belong to others, who will give you what is yours, your inheritance in heaven? This means, if we cannot be generous with our material possessions, especially the excess which technically belongs to the poor, you will not get to heaven and see God. He said that no servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Therefore, use your resources to serve the Lord and the less privilege people around you.
Do we use money to further the kingdom of God? Do we try to see the good in people, their potentials? We should be prudent in managing our resources in order to get rewarded and gain salvation. We should use them to store up treasure for ourselves in heaven. As servants of God we should not be dishonest in our dealings with God and his people. Rather be sincere stewards and use whatever God has given you to serve him and humanity. We should use our resources and position to help others and gain rewards in heaven. Do not use your position and resources to oppress or take advantage of the less privileged in society. We have been called to be good stewards in our families and communities. Please ensure that you are an honest and a good steward before God in order to receive an excellent reward in heaven from him.
TWENTY FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD
Our God is full of compassion and mercy to his people. In the first reading God told Moses to go down from the mountain because the people had made for themselves a god, a molten calf to worship and offer sacrifice to it. By so doing, the people were rejecting the God that brought them out of the land of Egypt, the land of slavery and bondage. The Lord was angry with them and wanted to destroy them and make a great nation from Moses instead. But Moses on the other hand pleaded with the Lord not to destroy the people and reminded the Lord of his promise to the people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to make their descendants as many as the stars in sky. The Lord listened to Moses and demonstrated his mercy to them and he did not destroy the people.
The Psalm said, ‘’I will rise and go to my father.’’ It is a song of repentance to the Lord for our sins. In this song, we ask the Lord to forgive us and not to destroy us. In the second reading, St. Paul gave thanks to God for forgiving him and calling him into his ministry in spite of what he had done to the church (persecution). The Lord was merciful to him and gave him the opportunity to minister to his people. In the same way, Christ came to call us, sinners, to repentance and to participate in his mission of evangelization of the world.
In the Gospel, Christ was accused of eating with tax-collectors and sinners by the Pharisees and Scribes. This was a taboo then in the Jewish tradition for a rabbi to interact with sinner and tax-collectors. Jesus replied to them using the following parables. First, is the parable of the lost sheep in which the shepherd left 99 sheep to go in search of one missing sheep and when he found it he called his friends and neighbors to celebrate with him. Second, is the parable of the lost coin in which the woman who lost one out of ten coins, light her lamp and swept the floor of the house until she found it, then, she celebrated with her neighbors. Last, is the parable of the prodigal son who collected his own share of the father’s property and left for a distant country where he squandered everything and later became so hungry that he wanted to eat with pigs in order to survive. Then he realized his mistake and decided to go back to his father and ask for forgiveness and to be accepted not as a son but a slave instead. But on his return home, his father saw him from a far and ran to welcome him home. The father decided to celebrate his return in special way. The elder son was not happy with the father’s love, mercy, and lavish celebration of his younger brother who was wasteful and deserved to be punished. On top of that the father gave the younger son new clothes, shoes, and ring to symbolize that his position, rights and privileges as his son has been reinstated.
All these readings and parables demonstrated the compassion and mercy of God to his people. He does not judge nor condemn the sinners but celebrates their return and repentance to him. Likewise the angels and saints in heaven they celebrate each time we repent of our sins. If this is how our God is why do we delay coming back to him and repent of our sins? No matter how many or terrible our sins are, the Lord is ready to forgive us and use us for his mission here on earth. All we need do is to make up our minds and return/repent. There are no any jail terms or death sentence on us if we come back to him, instead we shall receive joy and peace. We will be release from the shackles of the devil and be made clean of our iniquities.
We are guilty of so many sins just like the people of Israel. For example, pride, idolatry, doubt, persecuting others, Ignorant, in fact we are lost like the prodigal son and have gone far away from God. Living in sin is slavery to the devil. Remember the devil was an angel who disobeyed God and is undergoing punishment. Therefore, he is looking for disciples to join him in the kingdom of darkness. Please do not succumb to his tricks or temptations. Stand strong and resist him by all means. Let us take advantage of the compassion and mercy of the Lord and gain our freedom from the devil so that we can enjoy peace and love from God the father. Also remember to pray and come for forgiveness of your sins and pray for others just as Moses did, forgive others just like God does to sinners. The sacrament of reconciliation is there to help us come back to God. Please know that repentance and forgiveness are the secrets of happy life in a family and a community.
Please learn and know how to confess your sins to the priest. Wait for appropriate time to go for confession. Do not feel guilty whenever you remember past sins that you did not confess because they were forgiven already at your last confession. Never make reference to the sins that you confessed last time because they have been forgiven and are not to be remembered. Begin to count your sins for next confession from the moment you leave the confessional. Be honest, specific and call your sins by their names and not by numbers or symbols. Confession time is not time for long counselling or for story telling because others are waiting to confess as well.
TWENTY FOURTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
GOD IS COMPASSIONATE AND MERCIFUL TO HIS CHILDREN
Today, Jesus tells us the cost of being his disciples. We must consider this cost very seriously before making the commitment to become his disciples. Jesus is very blunt, serious and sincere in telling us these requirements for being his disciple. Being his disciple is not an easy job.
The first reading said: ‘’who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends? But when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?’’ This means that no one is capable of knowing God’s mind except he decided to reveal it to you.
The Psalm says that, in every age, o Lord, you have been our refuge; for a thousand years in his sight is like a day; teach us to number our days a right so that we can gain wisdom; fill us with your blessing so we can rejoice all the days of our lives. This tells us how God has been gracious to his people, from one generation to another and how his ways are different from ours. But understanding his ways gives us wisdom that leads to eternal life.
In the second reading, St. Paul emphases the importance of our spiritual bond with each other; is like blood relationship. And he encourages us to accept one another as brothers and sister in Christ Jesus.
In the gospel, Jesus told his disciples the blunt and hard truth that anyone who wants to follow him must hate his family members and himself and carry his cross and follow him. Hatred for family members and yourself means accepting and choosing to do the will of God instead of your own will or that of your family members. And you are doing so because you recognized God’s will to be superior and the ultimate thing to do. And carrying the cross means being disciplined to avoid sins such as greed, Idolatry, impurity of any kind, stealing and cheating of all kinds, hatred and injustice, malice, envy and jealousy, enduring hardships and the challenges of being true disciples. It includes regular prayer life, receiving the sacraments and being in the state of grace always, taking decisions in favor of God’s will and against your personal interest and the wish of your family members. You do all of these because you want to do God’s will instead of humans will. Therefore, you are willing to give up human desires and interest for the will of God to be done in your life.
The cross also means any difficulties, hardships, and challenges that you encounter trying to be his true disciple. This includes accepting and accommodating the weakness and failings of your spouse, children, family members, friends, and, neighbors; training of children, giving care to the sick, elderly and those in need, and participation in different ministries and mission of the church. And for us to be true and successful disciples we must seek God’s counsel, will, blessings, wisdom, make him our refuge, and see other people as our sisters and brothers and render them good services.
We are not only to follow him by words but to imitate his lifestyle especially his suffering and sacrifices for the world. After washing the feet of his disciples he said to them, ‘’I have given an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’’ (John 13: 15). Remember that one strong condition of becoming his disciple is to carry the cross and the cross means suffering and sacrifice. It means accepting the will of God and rejecting our wills. No other way to be his disciple except through this way he has given us. Therefore, the cross is part and parcel of being his disciple. Anyone who preached Christianity without the cross is not speaking the mind of Jesus. A good Christian do not see suffering as a curse from God but as an opportunity to be a strong disciple of the Lord. We have been called to be another Jesus Christ to those around us beginning with our spouses and other immediate family members.
Therefore, do not just say yes to him without knowing the cost implication of following him. Just as you will want to buy a car or house you must first consider whether you are capable of paying for it or not. The dealers have the price for their goods and you cannot make them change the price to favor you. In the same way, you do not become a Christian and change the conditions given by the founder of it. These conditions have been given by him and no one is capable of changing them. You take or leave it.
Please note that however difficult it may be to be his disciple, the blessings of being a true disciple are amazing. The benefits are outrageous. Therefore, risk whatever it takes to be his true disciple and gain the ultimate reward from him.
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP