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
In the first reading, the Lord said he will gather all nations to come and see his glory. This he will achieve by his open invitation to everyone and by using us, his disciples to reach out to those who have not heard or seen his glory and bring them like offerings to the Lord and the Lord will use them as well for his work and to manifest his glory in the world. The Psalm instructs us to go out to the entire world and tell the good news. This mean everyone is invited into the kingdom of God. And no one should be an obstacle to anyone else’s opportunity to enter the kingdom of God. We are all invited and instructed to invite others to come into the kingdom of God. We can do this by proclaiming the good news to the world by our words and deeds.
Second reading talks about discipline of the Lord. It says for whom the Lord loves he disciplines. Endure your trials as discipline. The word discipline has the same root with the word disciple. A disciple is one who is being disciplined or undergoing some training for a goal. Therefore, discipline should not be seen as a punishment or a curse, rather as a source of strength and stamina that brings about great achievements and successes in the life of the disciples. As a result of discipline, we can grow in righteousness. Discipline is a training and attitude that helps us to achieve our goals in life and salvation. When you discipline yourself you will be organized, successful and as a result experience peace, joy, and happiness here on earth and eventually in heaven with the Lord.
The gospel teaches us to enter through the narrow gate, the kingdom of God. Only those who have disciplined themselves can enter this gate. If you are not disciplined, the gate of heaven will not be open for you to enter. The key to success and any achievement is discipline and hard work. To achieve heaven we must discipline ourselves by listening and keeping to the teachings of our Lord. If you do not discipline yourself and work hard, you will surely regret it in future. Therefore, if we do not discipline ourselves and pass through the narrow/difficult gate, we shall be rejected on the last day. And we will see others come from behind, pass us, and achieve salvation while we will be thrown to the place where there is wailing and grinding of teeth with the devil.
Therefore, the criteria for entering heaven are discipline, hard work, and entering through the narrow or difficult gate. This means having faith in God, listening to, and doing the will of God in your life and avoiding evil. Everyone has been invited to enter the kingdom through this narrow gate. There are no short cuts or any other ways other than that. No one has advantage over others because of race, color, nationality, family background or gifts but everyone has the opportunity to get to heaven if they follow through the narrow gate. But only your faith and good works will take you to the kingdom of God.
TWENTY FIRST-SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THE NARROW GATE IS THE ONLY WAY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD
In the first reading, we are told that the people of Israel had faith in God to fulfill his promises to them and deliver them from their enemies. The Psalm said that blessed are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. The second reading said that faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. And reference was made to Abraham who demonstrated his faith by obedience to the call to go out to an unknown place to receive his inheritance. He journeyed into the unknown in a foreign land but with great hope for the fulfillment of God’s promise in his life. Even though himself and Sarah, his wife, had past the age of child birth and Sarah was sterile, he trusted in the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him anyway.
The fulfilment of God’s promised to give him numerous descendants as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the sea shore started with the birth of Isaac, their only son. And shortly afterward his faith was tested again, he was asked to offer his only son, Isaac, the fulfilment of God’s promise, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham again, full of faith agreed and went to offer Isaac as requested by the Lord. He trusted God could still fulfil his promise anyway.
In the gospel, Jesus said to his disciples not to be afraid anymore for their father is willing to give them the kingdom. He urged them to give away their possessions as alms to others and acquire great treasures in heaven that cannot be destroyed or stolen by thieves because where your treasure is that is where your heart will be.
Get ready and be awake as servants waiting for the coming of their master to open the door for him. Those servants who are found ready and awake to open the door for the master shall receive a beautiful reward and enter the kingdom of God. This means we should prepare for the second coming of the Lord at any time by being pure and holy in our words and deeds. Keep doing good works as good stewards and bear good fruits in your lives for when the Lord comes he shall reward you greatly. Do not be discouraged and distracted by anything for he will surely come but at a time you do not know.
Remain strong in faith and work hard so that you are not found wanting on the arrival of the master and thrown in a place together with the evil one where there is everlasting pain. He also said for those of us who know more about his teaching and refuse to live accordingly, we shall be more severely punish than others who knew little or nothing about it.
Many of us take things for granted, thinking we still have plenty time left to live on earth. We all know that death can come or strike at any time at our door steps. Some of us rebel against God and refuse to live good lives because God has not given us what we wanted or some misfortunes have befallen us. We need to know that God is a mystery, difficult to understand by humans. His ways are different from ours. He has a way of doing things that is beyond our understanding. He has a way of answering our prayers either positively or negatively for our own good but we cannot understand it. Sometimes he allows us to go through pain and suffering just as he did to his son Jesus Christ on the cross. Why he does that is known to him alone. Therefore, no matter what situation we find ourselves let us not give up on him but remain vigilant and strong in faith because he is capable of fulfilling his promises to us as he did to Abraham.
Let us not give room for the devil to use us and lead us astray from God’s will. Just keep doing God’s will always and his promises shall be fulfilled in your life. Avoid all kinds of evils such as: malice, greed, jealousy, selfishness, cheating and wickedness and show love to your neighbors. Begin now to live the kind of life that you will like death to find you living, a life that will merit you heaven. Love God with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
NINETEEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
BE VIGILANT AND STRONG IN FAITH
Last week we reflected on the story of the Good Samaritan which reminded us to see those in need as our neighbors and assist them. This week we are reflecting on the story of Martha and Mary, the two sisters that received Jesus in their house as guest. We are called upon today to keep a balance between our activities and prayers. Martha was involved in activities while Mary was seated and listening to Jesus. Both actions are needed and required for us to become good Christians/disciples.
In the first reading we saw how Abraham welcomed three men who were passing by his house. He insisted that they stop by for him to entertain them before they proceeded on their journey. As a result of his beautiful and kind gesture, he got the promise of a child as a blessing from God. In the second, St. Paul rejoiced over the opportunity given him to suffer while rendering service to God and his people. He saw himself as an instrument of God’s mercy, goodness, and teaching to the people. While in the gospel, Martha asked Jesus and said, ‘’Lord do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? And Jesus replied her saying, ‘’ Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it must not be taken from her.’’ This sounds ridiculous to Martha and many of us today. Why should Jesus say that to her?
As Christians we are encouraged to practice the virtue of hospitality and be charitable to our neighbors especially those in need. Abraham gave us a perfect example in the first reading of today. And he was rewarded for that. Martha did good job as well by providing service to Jesus during his visit to their house. This represents and encompasses all the corporal works of mercy that we are encouraged to practice such as: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, providing home to the homeless, visiting the prisoners and the sick, and burying the dead. Mary on the other hand sat down listening to his words. Her action represented the dimension of prayer and contemplation in our lives as Christians. It is important for us to sit and listen to Jesus just as you are doing right now reflecting and savoring the sweetness of his words and his company in our lives as Mary did. This dimension encompasses all the spiritual works of mercy that we are encouraged to practice such as: admonishing sinners, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubt, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrong patiently, forgiving all injuries, and praying for both the living and the dead.
Both Martha and Mary; service and contemplation are two dimension that constitute true discipleship and are inseparable in the life of a Christian. They are meant to be integrated and not to be contrasted in our Christian lives. These dimensions enable us to practice the commandment of love to God in prayer and contemplation, and love of neighbor as ourselves in doing service to them. Therefore, Jesus’ reply to Martha’s question was to caution her not to be distracted from her service and to allow Mary to do what she was doing because it was equally important. When he said Mary chose the better part is to emphases the importance of seeking God’s will first in prayers before embarking on any service that we may want to do. You have to listen to your master’s or teacher’s instruction first before you can carry out the assignment or task given you to do. If you do not do the work according to his instructions you will not get the desired reward or credit for it.
Jesus said only one thing is needed but Martha worry about so many things. That one thing and most important thing is our salvation or going to heaven and be with the Lord. So everything we do as Christian should be geared toward salvation and heaven which is our final destination and ultimate goal. And do not do so in order to impress people rather do them so that God who sees and knows every human mind and intention will reward you accordingly. This one thing is seeking the kingdom of God first and placing God above all things in your life. And do not be distracted by any other thing else especially worldly things. Psalm 27:4 says: ‘’I ask the Lord, one thing I seek, to live in the house of the Lord.’’ In another way we could say listening to the word is much more important than preparing a banquet. Just as it is said that it is better to go where people are mourning than to go where people are celebrating; there you gain more spiritually and have the opportunity to reflect over your life. We also need to be careful not to be carried away by too much work and forget to prayer to the God that gives strength for the work. Have a blessed week.
SIXTEEN SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Forty days after the resurrection of Jesus he ascended to heaven. Forty days is significant number in the scripture. Moses went up to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promise land. Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of the Lord. And for forty days after the resurrection Jesus appeared several times to his disciples to prove to them that he was truly raised from the dead and to prepare them for the mission of bearing witness to the world.
The departure of Jesus was like an end and a beginning at the same for the disciples. It was the end because that was the last time they will see him physically. It was the beginning because they will begin to experience him in a different way going forth. Jesus promised to be there for his disciples always to the end of time. As he ascended into heaven, he promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would empower them and teach them more on how to preach and be his witnesses to the world. Therefore, his departure did not leave them in sorrow but in joy because they were filled with the expectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit that will give them strength.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord empowers us to bear witness to the world. The risen Lord is in heaven on his throne reigning over the earth and heaven as king. There, he intercedes for us and empowers us with the help of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to him in the world. This is so that the world will hear from us the message of his gospel and be saved from condemnation.
How can we become effective witnesses of Christ Jesus? When we receive the Holy Spirit it will empower us to be his witnesses to the world. The gospel is the power of God that releases people from the burden of the devil and brings healing and restoration to us all. We are his ambassadors in the world, to represent him and bear his witness. That is the great commissioning given to us as his disciples. And all who believe in him share in this responsibility of spreading the good news. We are to wait on and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will empower us to be able to be his witnesses to in the world. We are to bring joy, love, and peace to the world as his disciples. When we receive power from the Holy Spirit we shall bear his witness to the world. We have to dispose and open ourselves for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and strengthen us to do his will. Have faith in him and allow him to come into your life and take possession of you and use you for his work in his kingdom.
We are depressed, sick, unhappy, confuse, and in difficulty because we have not allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives. We rely on human wisdom so much today in our world that is why we cannot be happy and peaceful. Seek the will of God and allow him access into your life to take charge and your life will be wonderful. Discard your pride, selfishness and evil desires and allow God a space in your life and see how happy you will be.
Our world is full of all kinds of distractions: noise, pleasure, power, freedom, additions and so on. That is making us confused and leads us to destruction. We need to have faith in God and allow him to use us for his mission and glory in the world. His ascension is to allow the Holy Spirit to come take control of us and empower us to do his will here on earth. We must be willing and ready for the spirit to manifest in our lives and enable us do his will. Therefore, prepare yourself for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower you for his mission. At baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and it was strengthen during confirmation. Now, you must open up to the Holy Spirit to empower you do his will on earth.
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
In our first reading today, we are told Ezekiel was sent to the people of Israel who had rebelled against God to let them know there was a prophet among them. In the second reading St. Paul was assured of sufficient grace to overcome his weaknesses in his effort to preach and live out the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we saw how Jesus was rejected by his own people because he told them the truth. Many of us have rebelled against God by committing sin. Some of us have rejected the words of the prophets sent to us by God to teach us about the truth. Our world today is going against God’s teaching. Instead of asking for God’s sufficient grace to help us overcome our weaknesses, we are asking for approval of our weaknesses.
Please do not get me wrong. I want to express and teach what we believe as Christians. And to explain the response of the Bishops as regards the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage. The church is not in any way attacking anyone or rejecting anybody but just proclaiming what we believe and teach. The Church loves and welcomes everyone and at the same time has the mandate to teach us how to live according to the standard of God given us in the Bible. What we believe and teach comes from the Bible, the word of God. The Bible is the word of God and not the word of human beings, and so no people or government has the power to change it. The Bishops in their response said that the same constitution that has legalized same sex marriages protects the church’s right to carry on with her historic teaching regarding marriage as a sacrament and between a man and a woman.
In May this year, Ireland voted for same sex marriage, in June this year, the US Supreme Court voted for same sex marriage. I also read from the internet that adultery has been legalized in South Africa, that in Germany, their National Ethics Council has called for an end to criminalization of incest between siblings after examining the case of a man who had four children with his sister, and that in Japan, the court rules that adultery is ok if it’s for business purpose. Furthermore, I read somewhere that some people are also claiming right that, relationships between adults and minors should be legalized; and marriage between humans and animal should be legalized because that is their own sexual orientation too. Where is the world heading to for God sake?
Surely, the devil is at work and he is succeeding quite fast in turning things around in his favor. If God and the devil were to stand in for an election in the world today, God will lose the election to the devil because he has more followers. We see moral cases that have been known for ages to be sinful are being accepted and declared legal in our society today. People are now rejecting the natural way God design things to be and are now accepting what is unnatural. Someone said that there are no gay genes and that God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. Another person said that even the devil who is the king of all evils was attracted to the nakedness of Eve and not Adam. How come you were born that way? When no one in your family was like that all these years, until now. I think after redefining marriage, the next thing to do is to redesign the human body parts to enable same sex couples to be able to give birth to their own children without adoption. Because, adoption of children by same sex couples, is denying those children the right to grow and benefit from the natural family of man and woman. We are only thinking of our own rights as adults, what about the children’s rights. We kill some of them in the womb in the name of choice, now we are denying them the right to a natural family and giving them wrong sexual orientation all for our selfish interest. We call the attitudes of Islamic extremists and dictators barbaric but we call gay relationship civilization.
All of these changes are done in the name of modernism and civilization. God is older than time itself and he is the same at all times and civilizations. Whatever was wrong in the past is still and will remain wrong forever. Whatever is sin is always sin no matter what you call it. The Bible forbids all kinds of evil including: Adultery, stealing, killing, cheating, false witnessing, injustice, incest, same sex relationship and many others. Remember legality is not the same as morality. Slavery is evil even though it was legal, abortion and euthanasia are evils even though they are legal, and same sex union is morally wrong even though it has been legalized. According to the standard of God in the Bible, all these are evil. The Church does not condemn anyone, but she calls all of us to repentance of our sins. The Church has no right or power to change anything in the Bible because it is God’s word. Christianity is not democracy where you vote for what you want and the majority wins.
The founding fathers of this nation said it is a nation created under God. In our currency, it is written, ‘’in God we trust.’’ We are no longer under God but above him and no longer trust God to rule our lives. Are we now telling God that he does not have the right to tell us how to live the life that he gave us? Are we saying that what people say is more important than what God said? Where is the supremacy and sovereignty of God in our lives? Are we now backing down from what we believe from the Bible because other people will be offended? Are we now accepting and making legal what the Bible forbid? Remember what Jesus Christ said, ‘’ if you deny me before people, I will also deny you before my father in heaven.’’ The apostles said to the government of their time that they will rather obey God than to obey men. Are we going to deny Jesus because we are afraid to offend people by expressing our faith?
The gospel today tells us how Jesus was disrespected by his own people because they knew his background. And because of that reason, he could not teach and perform miracles among his people like he had done in other places. And Jesus said, ‘’ a prophet is only despised in his own country, among his people.’’ This means, familiarity breeds contempt. Many of us are guilty just as the people at the time of Jesus. For instance, many cradle Catholics Christians take their faith for granted and are not committed like adult converts to the faith. It happens in marriages and family life as well, where members get familiar to each other and begin to disrespect one another. This often leads to crisis and division in a family. In the same way, when we get use to sin, we loss the sense of guilt and see sin as a normal way of life. That is exactly what is happening in our world today with the legalization of evil practices by various governments. We have become too familiar with God that we no long see him as the God who can direct our lives. And so we want to decide how to live our lives. We are making decisions and voting against the commandments of God. The gospel is meant to change the sinner. Not for the sinners to change the gospel to suit their sins. We are voting God out of our lives. Can we survive without God?
As Christians, we must remain firm in our faith and proclaim the teachings of God, the truth of the gospel and nothing else. We must stand on the side of God and his gospel and not what society said is acceptable moral conduct. Obedience must be to God and not to man. May God grant us the grace to be committed in proclaiming and living out his gospel truth.
FOUTHEEN SUNDAY 2015
Geese 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.
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER 2015
Today we celebrate the baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This Sunday marks the end of Christmas season, and the beginning of the ordinary season in the Church’s calendar. As we all know, Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation of our Lord in the person of Jesus Christ. That is, God’s self-revelation to humanity. This revelation was to the Jews first, and second, to the gentile (non-Jews), which we celebrated as epiphany, and then today at the baptism, to repentant sinners. This also means, from 25th of December till this day, we have been celebrating God’s revelation to humanity.
Baptism is the washing and cleansing of individuals, and empowering them for mission. Christ wanted to fulfil this ritual for righteousness sake, and not because he was a sinner, before the beginning of his public ministry. At his baptism, the heavens were opened, a voice spoke, and a dove descended on him. All of this happened in order to introduce him, identify him, confirm him and anoint him as the savior of the world. By his baptism, he identified with our humanity and was able to carry the burdens of our sins.
This baptism was very important to Jesus because: 1. It was a moment of decision to begin his public ministry, and submit to the will of God the father. 2. It was to infuse his divine essence into the water and ceremony of baptism to enable it to have the power to wash us clean from our sins. 3. It was a moment of approval, introduction, and assurance of his identity and mission. 4. It was a moment of conviction. 5. It was a time to equip and empower him by the Holy Spirit to begin his mission.
The implication of his baptism to us is as follows: It gives us new life in Christ Jesus; makes us sharers in his mission (priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles); it enables us to renew our baptismal promises to God, which is to reject doing evil, but accept doing good always; it opens the gates of heaven for us to enter; it empowers us for ministry in the kingdom of God; through it, we are welcomed and accepted into the kingdom of God.
Therefore, by virtue of our baptism, we have been made children of God and sharers in his mission to proclaiming the good news to the world. As we celebrate his baptism today, it reminds us of our baptism and that we are his children. Children have rights as well as responsibilities in the family. The father loves and cares for them. They too should appreciate and contribute to the welfare of the family. We share in the love and mission of our father. Baptism empowers us for this mission to love, forgive, heal, console, support one another, and to proclaim his good news.
Just as Jesus was empowered for mission at his baptism, we too have been empowered to carry on with his mission. Therefore, go spread the good news to the whole world.
THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD