THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves.
The aim of Christianity is to prepare souls for eternal life (salvation). To be saved is to achieve what theologians describe as Beatific Vision. This means having a personal union with God where you are welcome to enter His celestial abode. He reigns and sits on His glorious throne in His Kingdom. His Kingship is without end, and we become His princess and princesses. We will see Him face to face as He truly is; we will enjoy the eternal bliss forever and ever. No sickness, no worries, no disappoints nor everything negative that the world gives.
Nonetheless, the Kingdom of Heaven and salvation do not come on a silver platter. In order to gain access to them, one must be ready and willing to sacrifice everything in life to do the will of God. Their prices cannot be quantified, so they are the valuable treasure or pearl of great worth. Hence, it takes great sacrifice, faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ to be eligible.
In our first reading, Solomon touched the heart of God when he asked for an understanding heart to judge his people and to distinguish right from wrong. In effect, he asked for the virtue of prudence and wisdom. He becomes a model and a challenge to us to be cautious and to discern appropriately and prudently our choices, decisions, actions, plannings and dealings. In doing so, we express our readiness and willingness to do the will of God in our lives. It is a great treasure of accepting God to rule in your life. This calls for discipline, shrewdness, carefulness, caution, skill and good judgements in your life.
St. Paul, in our second reading, reminds us that we have the right and privilege to enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven and to be saved because we are already predestined, called, justified and glorified. So, what is left is to apply the cardinal virtue of prudence. Application of proper discernment and right judgement in our everyday life is crucial in the fulfillment of the will of God. Let our love for God work everything good for us.
Thus, the Psalmist reiterates, “For I love your commands more than gold, however fine.” (Psalm 119:127)
Finally, in our gospel reading Jesus uses a parable to express how the Kingdom of Heaven should be treasured more than anything else in our lives. Like the character in the story, we should be ready to sacrifice everything in our lives to acquire the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, it should be our priority to go to Heaven and be saved. We should not allow anything else to take that valuable treasure from us. Faith, prudence, obedience to the will of God and having a personal relationship with Jesus are indispensable means. Solomon was just prudent! Be a Solomon and your life will never be the same.
Stay Healthy… PRAY… Keep the Faith… Enjoy the sunshine….
Let PRUDENCE lead…
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"Have patience with all things, but first with yourself."
The presence of evil and its patronage vis a vis the existence of God and the call to obedience to His commandments have baffled the minds of many humankind for ages. Those who believe in the existence of God cannot fathom why God should allow evil and its perpetrators to still live among the good ones. On the other hand, others believe that the prevalence of evil activities and wicked people who continue to have power and control in our world proves that God does not exist.
Our readings today seek to address this. They spell out the approach of God in dealing with evil people amongst the good ones. The author of our first reading was addressing a prevailing social and religious situation among the Jewish community in diaspora in the hostile Greek world, Alexandria. Evil activities were in abundance in that society, which became an embarrassment to the Jews who were religiously faithful to God. In the attempt to bolster their faith, this piece talks about the patience and compassionate nature of God who is hopeful for the repentance and conversion of evil doers.
God, who is merciful and tolerant, who does not take hasty judgement to discipline and punish, uses love, leniency, clemency and care to lure evil doers and sinners to change and be saved out of charity. No matter what our story is, God still has hope in us. He does not easily give up on us. That is why the Psalmist echoes, "You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity." (Psalm 86:15) As Christians, this should be our attitude towards those who have problems complying to the high ethical standards of our faith community, family, relationships and society expected of a Christian.
Paul in our second reading motivates us that the spirit of God empowers us in our weaknesses. It is by this same spirit that we can do the will of God. Therefore, it is needful to be patient with ourselves and others around us.
Finally, Jesus in the gospel uses a parable to express the Divine wisdom and patience to allow both evil and good to co-exist, as time will expose the difference. He teaches that, through the power of the spirit and time, God can change evil into good.
Hence, as Christians we must be patient, merciful and tolerant to those considered to be the “weeds” in our lives. We can do this by our good example, counselling, sharing the Word of God with them and fervent prayers. Remember, your act of loving correction, charity, and selfless service can prompt an evil person to reassess their lives and modify themselves to be good.
Stay Healthy… PRAY…Keep the faith…Enjoy the Sunny weather….
Let PATIENCE lead…
THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. So, choose your words wisely.
Human beings use words to interact and communicate with people around them. Words are powerful. A tool that expresses your intent and desires; good or bad. It portrays your identity and your level of responsibilities. People hold you accountable, respect you and tag you by your utterances and words.
Your words can engender people to have faith, hope and trust in you, or the opposite. This is because they can build or they can destroy. So, choose your words wisely. Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out. Every word always has an impact and results, positive or negative. But there is no doubt that good words are always nurtured by the right frame of your mind and the right disposition of your heart. Have the right foundation to grow your words to achieve their rightful goal and purpose.
In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah compared the effects of the word of God to raining water and snow. In as much as raining water enhances the growth of field crops, so every word that comes from God has impact and results in our lives. This was a message of consolation to the Jewish slaves in Babylon, assuring them of God’s words of promise to liberate them to return to Jerusalem to live peacefully as freed people. Hence, motivating them to be hopeful in every word that came from God amid the ongoing persecution and servitude. The reason is that His words manifest the Divine plan, will, purpose and destiny in their lives; and nothing can stand His way. His words are always efficient and impactful.
As Christians, regardless of any overwhelming circumstances beyond our control, let us take consolation and strength from God’s word. For, God does not lie or deceive us with His promises. Those who hope and trust in His words will have successes and peaceful life.
Apostle Paul, in the second reading, reminds us about our obligation to trust God’s word. He exhorts that pains and sufferings are permitted by God in our lives to help our redemption. We are to cultivate patience to wait for eternal reward, as we continue sowing the word of God, diligently suffering for the Lord.
Lastly, in our gospel reading, Jesus uses a parable to teach a lesson about the need to prepare our hearts and minds as a rich soil to nurture and grow the word of God like the seeds. It motivates us to willingly accept and positively respond to the word of the Lord. As Christians,it is incumbent on us to enable the word of God make impact in our lives, families and societies.
It is needful to shape and correct the “rocky,” the “thorny” and the “weedy” paths of our lives. This includes working on our addiction to evil habits and tendencies, and cleansing our hearts filled with hatred, jealousy, fear, greed and inordinate desires for worldly vanities and interests. Remember you are the product of your words. Allow the word of God to discover who you are.
The WORD is God.
Stay Healthy…. PRAY… Keep the faith… Enjoy the SUN…
Let THE WORD lead…
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus - a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.”
The rhythm of life comes not without uncertainties and surprises against our personal wishes and plans. Pain, burden and suffering are the bitter side of life we grudgingly taste. One will see it as a jinx if a friend dares to bring such topics in discussions. But in the realities of life, these are simply indispensable and part of the flow of the current of the water of life. Man does not own and control life, but rather life owns and controls man. As Christians, our response and approach to these unfortunate circumstances are the most significant. How do you respond to someone who is going through pain, burden or suffering? Even if it is you, what do you do?
Our first reading presents to us the unfortunate situation of the Jews under the oppression of Alexander the Great (King of the Greeks, 333BC) in Palestine. They were treated without justice, liberty and peace. So the prophecy of Zecheriah was a message of consolation. He promised a meek Messianic King of peace, who would give them rest and liberty. He empathized with them that the Lord would conquer their foes and liberate them. He would rule not with imperialism but with justice and fidelity to the invisible King - God. A time would come when the enslaved people would have their long-awaited prosperity, stability and peaceful days.
As Christians, we are encouraged to show care for people facing troubles in life. We are to console, empathize and encourage to increase hope for better days to come. And if any of us is battling with any insurmountable crisis in life, let us always look up to God and draw our strength. For there is nothing impossible before God. No condition is permanent. Just have faith and trust in God; your story will change one day!
Always remember this from the Psalmist, ”The Lord is faithful in all His Words and holy in all His works. The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:13-14).
In our second reading, Paul dichotomizes between the yoke of the ”flesh” and the yoke of the ”spirit.” He challenges us to reject the former and accept the latter. This is because if we belong to Christ, the Spirit of God dwells in us. Christ sets us free. We have been rescued by Him. With Christ we are bonded by love which brings us together, working against the yoke of the ”flesh” (human weakling inclinations, etc.) with the strength of the Holy Spirit; making us eligible to our loving Father in Heaven. Christ is the answer to our pains, burdens and sufferings in life. Indeed, a life without Christ is full of crises!
Lastly, the gospel reading summarizes everything as Jesus Christ offers to those ”who labor and are burdened” to come to Him. He makes our yoke easy and burden light. By this, He admonishes us that love and care make even the hardest burden light. We should rely and depend upon Him with personal and family prayers to deal with the pains, burdens and sufferings in our lives. With Him, we are freed from unnecessary burdens. Just give Christ a chance and see the difference! Christ will not disappoint you. You are not abandoned. Christ is working and walking with you. You are not alone.
Happy Independence Day to the people of America. May God bless those who stand for liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Blessings and love to all my Family, Friends and Faithful. May God bless America. Peace and Love.
Stay Healthy.. PRAY... Keep the faith... Enjoy the July 4th!
Let Christ lead...
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.