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
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
According to the second Vatican council, the church is missionary in nature. And her mission is to evangelize the world and spread the gospel of her master, Jesus Christ. All members of Christ’s church are called upon to participate in this wonderful mission of the church.
In the first reading, the prophet asked the people to rejoice with the city of Jerusalem because of her forth coming joy to them from God. God was going to bless her with abundant blessings and prosperity so that all the people in her shall be comforted and satisfied and will no longer mourn over her or lack anything. In like manner, the Psalm says we should cry out to God with joy for his wonderful blessings upon us.
In today’s gospel reading, we heard Jesus telling his disciples to rejoice that their names are written in heaven; that is after they had accomplished their mission as his disciples. Jesus himself sent seventy two disciples two by two on mission to preach the gospel to the world. These people were not prepared for this mission well ahead of time, but they responded anyway to go on this mission. All they had was their faith, trust, and experience of Jesus with them. Jesus knew they were weak but yet he called them and gave them this great mission to carry out. And he gave them authority to preach the good news, to heal, bring people into his kingdom, and establish a community of love and peace where people will be rejoicing and praising God.
Every one of us by virtue of our baptism has been called to participate in the mission of the church like these seventy two disciples. St. Paul in the second reading said that he boast of nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was proud of suffering for the sake of our Lord Jesus. And that the sacrifice of following Jesus brings about new creation, peace, love, and mercy to his people. So, because of these he endured all kinds of hardship for the sake of Christ. In the same way anyone who is called to participate in the mission of the church must experience hardship. There are very many of our brothers and sisters who are going through a lot of hard times because of the gospel of Christ in different parts of the world. However, this should not discourage us rather we should be strengthen by their courageous examples. Only through the cross the world can be saved. To participate in the mission of Christ entails carrying the cross with him like St. Paul did.
It is very important to note that Jesus asked them not to carry any luggage with them. This means anything that will serve as a distraction to the mission, especially material possession that could serve as distraction or cause delay of the spread of the gospel, should be avoided by all means. Furthermore, he sent them two by two. This is in line with the passage in Deut. 19: 15 that says; the testimony of two witnesses is required to for establishing a truth. Therefore, the disciples needed other persons to testify to their teaching of the gospel. He also said to them that the harvest is plenty but there are few laborers, so they should pray for more people to join them in this mission. We are having a similar situation today in the church that is why we are praying for more vocations. There is also some sense of urgency to their mission of spreading the gospel because there are many people out there who have not yet heard about the gospel; and others who heard but did not understand or believe it. Therefore, there is need for us to act without delay to make sure that everyone hears this gospel of Christ so that they too can be saved by Jesus. Jesus encouraged them not to bother about what to eat or where to stay because the people to whom they were sent to would provide for their needs. Hence, the saying, the laborer deserves his wages. Therefore, as we contribute and pay our tithes to the church, our ministers, staff, and facilities are being maintained from that. Jesus also warns them about wolves that might want to devour them in the course of their mission. This refers to opponents and persecutors. So, they should watch out for such people and situations.
Every one of is called to this mission in different ways and times. Therefore, all should endeavor to participate according to our calling to bring people into the kingdom of God. Many people need to hear the gospel and to receive from us charitable gestures that will uplift their souls. There are so many problems and challenges faced by many people and they need our help to get out of such situations. We have been called to go on this mission to bring the good news to them. And now is the time, please respond without any delay.
FOURTEEN 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.
Today’s readings invite us to praise the Lord FOR his suffering, death and resurrection for our sins. In the first reading, we read how the Sanhedrin and high priest questioned the apostles for preaching about Jesus and blaming them for killing him. And Peter replied, ‘’we must obey God rather than men.’’ The apostles were bold in their presence and they rejoiced that they were suffering for the sake of Jesus. The psalm says, ‘’I will praise you, Lord for you have rescued me.’’ And in the gospel, Peter was asked three times and he responded three times that he loved the Lord more. And he was given the responsibility to feed the flock of God.
This is the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples. This time around it was at the sea of Tiberias where he called the first apostles and they left their work of fishing and followed him to become fishers of men. Out of frustration and disappointment because of what had happened to Jesus, the apostles when back to their old profession of fishing at the same sea they were used to. And Jesus decided to deny them any catch all through the night until he came at dawn and instructed them where to cast the net and the caught a huge number of fish. This story is very important and symbolic. This was to tell them that without him in their lives they can do nothing. They could not recognize him except John the beloved. This also shows that only when you love Jesus that you can recognize he and his will. They caught plenty fish because they obey his instruction. The number 153 represented the different kinds of fish found in that sea that time. And so this in turn represented the different races and nationality that we have in the world. That is why the church is universal. So stop fighting over space and position in the church, there is room for everyone.
Jesus was trying to tell them to go preach and catch all people for his kingdom. And despite the huge catch the net never got torn. That represents the unity of the church in spite of diversity and many people that are inside it and that no force on earth is capable of destroying the church. Three questions about love to Peter were very important and symbolic too. The amount of love was very important in making Peter the leader of the church because if you do not love something and you are given custody of it you will not be serious in doing so. Jesus wanted to be sure Peter had greater love for him before he would give him the responsibility of feeding his sheep. Deeper level of love entails greater level of commitment and sacrifice in your duty. Peter denied Jesus then because his level of love for him was low, therefore, Jesus wanted a higher level of love before he can entrust him with his sheep that he died on the cross for. Saying something three times in most cultures suggest the seriousness of the issue. Jesus asked three times to make sure Peter knows the seriousness of the matter. It was also to remind him of his denial of Jesus three times and meant for him counter them. This was like giving him second chance. After this we saw how Peter became bold in speaker about Jesus without fear. A good example is in the second reading of today where he told the Sanhedrin that they would rather obey God rather than men. And he continued with this courageous leadership of the church till his crucifixion upside down on the cross for Jesus.
We should learn from this story how to praise the Lord for his goodness to us, to bear witness boldly to him at all times especially difficult times. Learn to share the gospel with everyone and welcome them into the kingdom of God for he is the father of all people. Learn to trust and obey the Lord especially during hard times in our lives because without him we can do nothing.
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C