Sunday, July 26, 2009

We are "food"

Cycle B
17th Sunday

Food has always been a central theme in the scriptures, starting from Genesis where God instructed man to eat anything except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There seems to be two kinds of food after that: food that leads us to life and one that leads us to death.

In our world today, "food" continues to be the main ingredient to sustain our lives here on earth. Unfortunately, the quest for our own food also leads many to death, crime, poverty and corruption. Selfishness causes food to become scarce and eventually, death.

Jesus chose the metaphor of food to connote his mission and our vocation as Catholics and Christians. Jesus gives himself as food to nourish our souls. His food is not in short supply; it always serves a great many. Finally, his food leads us to eternal life where there is no more hunger.

When we think about food, could we also apply these principles? Food that nourishes the souls of many, food that feeds many, and food that lasts forever that we in our lives here on earth are not found wanting? Obviously, as Jesus is our Food, once we receive it, He is commissioning us to be "food" for others. Who would assist our neighbors to have food on the table starting from the poor? Who would be instruments in leading our brothers and sisters regain their dignity back as useful members of society, worthy of respect instead of constantly extending their arms to receive a coin or an old gift? Who would give them jobs to sustain their families? Who would teach them that God exists and that God is our Food above anything else. If our neighbors are becoming increasing poor, we have ourselves to blame. But if we become instruments of the Lord, we give ourselves a pat on the back. Jesus is dwelling in all of us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Good Shepherd

Cycle B
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings about the good shepherd should be a wake-up call for all Christians to take up the task Jesus did as the "good shepherd" from the clergy to the laity.

The good shepherd "gathers" and not scatters. We are fond of gatherings. We have our own friends. But what are we gathering for? If it is not for the Lord or for some good effort, that gathering is useless. Secondly, are we gathering only for a few friends and families? Increase that to "all people". For the Lord wants everyone to be saved, not a chosen few.

The good shepherd "takes care of his flock." But before taking care of the flock, the flock has to "listen" to the voice of the shepherd. Jesus in the gospel felt pity for the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, at the start, he taught them. To whom do we listen to? What area do we have more knowledge than the rest? Could we honestly say that despite the things we have, it is the Lord whom we listen to? Do we take time to reflect the gospels and share them with others? Do we engage in holy conversations? Do we influence others to "listen" to God? Do we heed to the call of the Church? In this present day and age, are people still attuned to the voice of the Lord in the deepest recesses of their hearts?

The good shepherd "offers his own life for his flock." We may not be able to offer everything, but we can at least offer a little bit of time, talent, and treasure to do God's work. We may be lacking in time simply because we are desperately trying to save our lives. But notice that we are also losing every opportunity to good to others. Let us multiply time, talent, and treasure for the Lord and for others. You'll see that there will be an outflow of graces from God!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Are we so different from God?

Cycle B
14th Sunday

In the first reading, God called the Israelites rebels. But in the end, He blessed them saying, "There is a prophet among them."

God's approach of solving things is really so different than ours. Imagine, the normal reaction would be to take revenge, to retaliate. After all, God is God. But He showed His true nature as a loving God, a merciful God, who would do everything to lift us up.

In the gospel, Jesus was totally mangled by his townmates, ridiculing him in every way. But Jesus was not concerned with that. Rather, he was totally amazed at their lack of faith. How could a people loved by God be so uncaring? What an irony from the first reading.

How could we have turned away from Him who loved us? What happened to us? What did we exchange him for? Are we reaping the fruits of our denial of God? What could we do to bring us back to Him? Perhaps the second reading will give us a clue. The clue is - we have been given a thorn in the flesh. This is the effect of sin in our lives. Like a scar, we are condemned to live with struggling to remove all these. But as Jesus said, "My grace is enough for you," it gives us a reason to continue fighting till we see that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

May this give us inspiration to go back, to start from the very beginning - that it is God who is the source of who we are.