Last week we read about the call of the disciples to journey with Jesus and to continue his mission after he is gone. We too have been called to do the same as the disciples of Jesus. Today we are being called to practice living out the beatitudes. The beatitudes were delivered by Jesus to his disciples on the mountain. This is soon after calling the disciples to follow him so that he will make them fishers of men and women. These beatitudes are not different from the Ten Commandments received by the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. They are the rules for true discipleship and supreme happiness in life. It is only those who live according to them that can be truly happy in life, says Jesus.
The antiphon of today said: ‘’save us, o Lord our God. And gather us from the nations, to give thanks to your Holy name and make it our glory to praise you.’’
The first reading said: Seek the Lord, seek justice, and seek humility. These are qualities expected of a true disciple of Jesus Christ and they are qualities that can bring true happiness in their lives.
The Psalm said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is theirs. It means realizing how poor we are in spiritual matters and desiring them from God. Poverty in spirit encourages humbly serve God and our neighbors. This is an attitude expected of true disciples of Jesus and when we possess such attitude were shall be truly happy in life.
In the second reading, Saint Paul said: God chose the foolish, weak, lowly, and despised of the world to shame the wise, strong, and the privilege people of the world. This means that worldly possessions and achievements are not capable of giving us true and lasting joy but heavenly riches are capable of doing so for us.
The gospel clearly explained the beatitudes as given by Jesus. It explain how seeking humility, justice, mercy, love, purity of heart, service to others, making sacrifice for the sake of God and our neighbors and so on are very rewarding to true disciples who are able to do so. Unfortunately, many people thing that worldly possessions and achievements are capable of giving lasting joy. But that is not true because worldly things can only give surface level happiness. We need to live our lives according to the beatitudes in order to experience true and lasting happiness in life. To be blessed means to be supremely happy in life. That is the kind of happiness Jesus promised his disciples if they practice the beatitudes.
The Ten Commandments are summarized into two commandments namely: love the Lord your God with all your strength and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself. That is exactly what the beatitudes are demanding from true disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus is emphasizing the benefits of being true disciples and practicing the beatitudes so that we can be encouraged to so. Therefore if you want to be a true disciple, truly happy and gain salvation please practice the beatitudes.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THE BEATITUDES ARE TRUE SOURCES OF HAPPINESS
God created everything good on earth but the devil is making God’s creation bad. That is what this parable is teaching us today. The wheat is God’s creation which is very good, and the weed is the evil that the devil brings into our world. 1Peter 5:8 says, ‘’ be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings’’.
Today the devil has devised several means of making our world bad. Our society has been so influenced that God is no longer given a place in our lives. Our world today makes us think of ourselves alone and any other person is not important. We think of only our own comfort, interest and satisfaction, and we do not care how others are faring. Some people can go to any length to ensure that evil is done in our society. They make it look good before our eyes and insist that we accept it. If we do not accept it they make life unbearable for us. Good examples are the issues of abortion, mercy killing, same sex marriage and avoiding mentioning God in public places. Many people are made to work on Sunday with no time to go to Church, some work all day and night so much so that they have no time for themselves and God. Others are made to work in places and do things against their beliefs and wishes. We are being forced day by day to do evil directly or indirectly by others because we depend on them for our survival. In other places, people are being killed and their property destroyed because they are Christians or believe in God. We also see all kinds of evils in our families and immediate environment. We see lack of love, peace and unity amongst family members. We see hatred, divorce, jealousy, unhealthy competition, selfishness and greed in our homes and families. The weed planted by the devil is growing fast and making life unbearable for many people today.
Unfortunately God is not willing to get rid of the weed. He is giving us more time to repent of our evils. That is, the mercy and compassion of our God. We must take advantage of his mercy and love and repent from our evil ways. Each one of us must repent from sin so that our world can truly be the kingdom of God where there is peace and love for everyone. Remember the Bible tells us that there is joy in heaven over the repentance of one sinner (Lk 15:7).
The other parables are: parable of the mustard seed and of the yeast. These two parables explain the growth of the kingdom of God from very humbled beginning to a state where it becomes a home for very many people. We should allow the seed of the word planted in us by God to grow and bear fruits that many people can experience love and peace in our world. Do not allow the weed planted by the devil to grow in your life so that you are not condemned on the last day.
SIXTHEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In the first reading today, prophet Isaiah says the word of God has the power to give life to people. It is like rain and snow that come down and does not return without watering the earth and making it fertile and fruitful. That is, making the soil produce food for the farmer. That is how the word of God is when it is planted in the hearts of men. It does not return empty handed without doing the will of God the father.
The gospel is about the parable of the sower. He planted seeds and they fell on four different types of soul: hard path, rocky, thorny and rich soils. The sower is Jesus and any messenger or prophet of God, the seeds are the words of God, and the different soils are human minds and hearts.
The seeds germinate and grow in some soils but not in other soils. Why is it so? It depends on whether or not the conditions of those soils are favorable to the seeds. Why do people refuse to believe in God? It depends on how their minds and hearts (soils) welcome and allow the seeds planted in them to bear fruits. The rich minds and hearts (soils) produce good harvest in the church and society. The four groups of people received the gospel message; those minds like the hard path are those who soon after hearing the word of God, allows the devil to take it away from them. Those like the rocky soil allow them to germinate but do not allow them grow deep because of the hard nature of their minds. Those like the thorny soil are those who receive the word with joy but temptations and distractions of worldly pleasures do not allow it to grow and bear fruits. While those that fall on the rich soil are those who accept the word and allow it to germinate, grow deep roots and bear much fruits in their lives.
Base on this parable are you? Are you a soil or seed or a sower? You can be all of these in different ways. Sowers include: Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, parents, religious teachers and any disciple of Jesus. Being a seeds include, any time we die to ourselves in order to give others life. Parents make sacrifices to give their children good things and future. Teachers and instructors put in hours to train others to succeed in life. Friends and neighbors assist each other to achieve success in life. As soils, our responses to the word of God correspond to, at least, one of the soil type mentioned early. What kind of soil are you? Are you a hard path, rocky, thorny or rich soil? If you think you are a rich soil, how would you rate your fruits? Is it 100%, 60% or 30%?
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven after promising his disciples the Holy Spirit as their source of power, and instructing them to be witnesses to world. Jesus ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to strengthen his disciples. This feast is the celebration of Jesus’ glory after his suffering and death; the glory in which we also hope to share.
Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the good news and bear witness to the world. ‘’you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’’ (Acts 1:8). ‘’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.’’ (Mt 28: 19). ‘’Go into the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’’ (Mk 16: 15). In these passages, the disciples received instructions to preach the good news with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, and by virtue of our baptism, we have been called and commissioned to be evangelizers. Unfortunately, many of us, Catholics Christians are not living up to the expectations of our calling. After the reception of the sacraments we go to sleep as regards our faith. We are not involved in any activities or ministries that would help us demonstrate our faith to the world. Most of us cannot defend our faith when ask, either because we don’t know or we are shy or afraid to speak about our faith as Catholics. The Catholic Church is richly blessed with the fullness of the truth, yet many of us cannot bear witness to all of these riches. Let us renew our commitment to be true disciples everywhere we go, beginning from our families and communities. The second reading tells us that it will not be an easy job. However, we should be happy that we are sharing in Christ’s sufferings and mission. We shall be insulted, ridiculed, misunderstood and hated by others because we are Christians. These shouldn’t discourage us from doing what is right for sake of Christ and his kingdom. We should never allow sufferings, insults or hatred to make us shy away from the truth. We didn’t become Christians because we wanted the comforts and convenience of this life, but because we believe in the truth of Jesus and his church.
In spite of the ridicules, misunderstandings and insults, God is still present in the church, and is still using her to perform wonders in the world. Jesus entrusted his disciples with the mission entrusted to him by the father. Despite their weaknesses, Jesus still entrusted them with this great task and sacred duties of shepherding his flock. Our consolation is in the words of Jesus: ‘’I will be with you all the times and no gates of the underworld shall subdue my church.’’ God is still willing to use weak humans being like me and you to do his work in the world. All we need do is to give ourselves willingly and he will make good use of us to make disciples of all nations for his greater glory.
The apostles and most of the Jews were expecting a triumphant Messiah. They were disappointed when Christ said he was going to suffer and die. Many Christians also think that by becoming Christians no more sufferings or challenges in their lives. That is not true. There are still sinners, challenges and misunderstandings in the church. The church is not perfect; however, she is constantly working towards perfection. Only God is perfect. We should all join in the struggle towards perfection by participating in the saving mission of the Church. God is calling you today to come and be entrusted with a responsibility in his church; a responsibility to spread the news to the world. Don’t run away and don’t delay, he wants you to suffer with him and bring his salvation to others.