Saturday, July 29, 2017

Choosing the real treasure

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Matthew 13:44-52

Christian life is ultimately choosing the real treasure, like choosing the better part as Mary, sister of Lazarus did.  She chose Jesus.

To choose the better part or to make a decision based on what is of true value is known as wisdom.   In the first reading, instead of power or wealth, Solomon chose wisdom.  In the gospel, the kingdom of God is aptly visualized and explained.  Do we choose God's kingship over earthly lures?  Are we all choosing the better part?

The parables of the kingdom enable us to open our minds and hearts to its values, benefits, and advantages among all others.

First, wisdom helps us to let go of everything to follow the kingdom

The most common hindrance to God's kingdom is the kingdom that we have created for ourselves and our families.  We practically own everything in our lives with no space for God.  When the time of trials come, only then do we realize our kingdoms collapse.  But God's kingdom will not collapse.  And in God's kingdom, we truly live.

Second, wisdom helps us to know what is useful and useless

What is useful we keep; what is not, we throw away.  But what is useful according to our standards?  Where are our standards based?  On our own lives?  We are not the kings of our lives.  We are useless servants.  God has no need of us.  But our total need for God enables us to detect what is useful and what is useless.  How do we spend our time, talent and treasure? On useless things or in Godly works?

Third, wisdom helps us to use our talents for all

The wise person knows how to use his talents, both old and new and use it accordingly, all for God's greater glory.  If in the past we have this orientation to use everything for our luxury, now, use it all for God!  Then our wisdom would convert to glimpses of the kingdom of heaven!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Images of God's kingdom

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:24-43

The gospel exposes us to various images of the kingdom of God.  There is already a light into this.  The kingdom is not just an end reality.  It has a process - a beginning, a middle with complications, and an end (fruitfulness).  Every process involves the participation of the person in the kingship of God.

From the book of Wisdom, it tells about virtuous man who knows about the justice of God and how he is to be kindly with his fellowman.  This is the kingdom of God unfolding in the person himself / herself.

How do we let the kingdom of God blossom in our lives?

First, the kingdom starts with acknowledging God as king of our lives.  

Recall when we started to know the consciousness of power of God, who taught God to us, and how we can learn from him.  That is planting the seed of faith in our hearts.

Second, the kingdom of God is nourished in our lives.  

The book of Wisdom precisely tells us of the many opportunities by which we can be virtuous, filled with compassion for our neighbors and profound love for God.  I'm sure our lives would change radically if we have God in our hearts, with virtues nourished to perfection in us.

Third, the kingdom of God reaches its fullness in our lives.  

Fullness and perfection are states of God reigning in heart of every person, regarding himself / herself as a son / daughter of the Lord.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our hearts

Matthew 13:1-23 

It is stated in the first reading: "the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do." (Is. 55: 11)

Without doubt, God's words will not come back to him empty-handed.  His will will be carried out.

Apparently, the ones who would carry out God's word to completion are us as described in the parable.  But there is another key here: the heart.

The heart which is exposed to all kinds of situations and circumstances account for the the fruitfulness or barrenness of the word in their lives.  It is the heart that is ultimately ready or not to receive the word that makes make it fruitful or barren.  Let us analyze our hearts on how open we are to receive the word in our lives:

First, the hardened, close-minded heart

Nothing could be done with this kind of heart.  It is still beating but it seems dead.  But the point is that it's still beating.  We who possess this kind of heart should ask: if we're so closed-minded, why are we still alive?  What is there to live for?

Second, anxious heart

Sooner or later, this heart will stop beating.  It's so exposed to the stresses of this world.  It's so tied up to this world that it forgot to beat with God's beating heart.  If our hearts beat only for this world, what accounts for it beating?  Who and what makes it beat?  Know that it is only God who makes it beat; we just chose to jive with the world's affairs, and forget God's.

Third, the fruitful heart

This heart beats with life, zeal, and health.  Scientists have studied the dynamics of the two hearts that beat as one: "Two hearts really DO beat as one if you're in love: Scientists find couples' vital signs mimic each other."

What more if our hearts beat together and in-sync with God's beat?  What if the world's hearts beat as one?  Would there still be killings?  Would there still be poor?  Would neighborhood communities continue not to have compassion with one another?

Final point, notice the words of Isaiah: "The word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do."

God's will will be fulfilled, but woe to those whose hearts do not beat as one with God.  Blessed are those who do otherwise.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

13th Sunday in Ordinary time, A

The first reading from the second book of Kings may seem like a simple repayment for a hospitable gesture.  But it is much more.  The women served Elisha because she can see God in him because he is a prophet of the Lord.  Thus, she is serving the Lord above all others.

In the gospel, Jesus warned those who give priority to their families rather than to him: "He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me."  This statement is so true.  If we prioritize our families more than we love God, it shall be manifest immediately in the lifestyle of the family.  Whereas we give priority to God, we end up becoming good fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and good children.  This is the essence of what it means to be a good Christian.

How are we to give priority to God then?

First, let us recognize that without God we are nothing.

Second, let us appreciate what Jesus did for us.

Third, let our faith in the Lord be manifest in our concrete actions on mercy.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who God is

Matthew 11:25-30

Rejoice, because the King comes, and he rules with justice.  He is also humble.

In the gospel, Jesus also exulted his Father for being just, for revealing himself not to the clever but to mere children.

The readings point to the reality of God who is all-powerful, yet filled with mercy and compassion.

Eventually, Jesus points to himself, whose yoke is easy and his burden is light.

How should our relationship to the Lord be?

First, appreciate the faith

Relationship with the Lord should lead us to appreciate the faith we have received. This faith opens us to the world which only the eyes of faith can see.

Second, let us see the world through a different lens.  

The lens is Jesus himself.  If we feel the need to retaliate, know that this God opts to forgive and give sinners another chance.

Third, let's carry God's soothing yoke with joy. 

It's like carrying the burdens of our brothers and sisters beset by trials and suffering.  It is a lot better than the yoke of sin.