Sunday, November 25, 2018

Totally different from earthly rulers

Christ the King 

John 18:33-37

The Son is coming as a king, "On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship."

The second Reading tells more of this King, "It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

In the gospel, Jesus admits he's a king.  But his kingship is far from that of earthly kings.  Our task is to demythify the concept of kingship.

1. The language of earthly kings is that of power, money, and influence.  Jesus' language is that of service, poverty, and humility.  Let us aim to serve rather than be served as Jesus did.

2. Jesus gives witness to truth.  His kingship is marked by truth.  In our times today, there's an increasing incidence of trolls utilizing fake news to advance propaganda of political leaders.  This is far from the truth.  But the truth sets us free.  And the only truth is that Jesus is king and we are his servants.

3.  Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.  His kingship belongs to the first beginning and the last end.  Earthly rulers are temporal.  Rely solely of God.  Secondly, our lives are also temporal.  But we shall be held accountable after our lives here on earth.  Strive to dedicate each moment serving the Lord.  The consequence is eternal.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 13:24-32

Before we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King next week, let's allow ourselves some time to reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God.  The culprit ultimately is delaying this thought.  But as early as in Daniel's time, the end is foreshadowed:  "Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace."

In today's gospel, Jesus is the key to the end of time: "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."  There's also judgment, salvation, and new world to come. 

Let's then reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God; it's here and now, not tomorrow and not during our old age. 

First, the Kingdom of God changes our outlook on life itself.  Inasmuch as we're thinking of so many things, all of these things will end.  If they will end, why continue investing in them?  Let's start thinking of the more important things like God's reign in the family.

Second, God's reign is found in Jesus alone.  Life is not simply doing good and avoiding evil.  It's not even in praying and rituals.  It's simply about letting Jesus rule over us.  Do we take time and attention to knowing, loving, and living out Jesus?
The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?
Third, God's reign on earth is found in the Church.  We don't wait till the end of our lives to realize the Kingdom of God.  God's kingship connects heaven and earth.  His presence on earth is found in the Church that faithful proclaims his Good News.  The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?  If we focus on exclusivity instead of communion, heaven will be far away.  But if we focus on loving and serving now, heaven will be right here in our midst. This lifestyle reflects
God's reign.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Total generosity

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:38-44 

The story of the widow of Sidon is truly incredible.  It puts Elijah on a dark spot because he kept on asking for food despite the woman's pleading that the bread would be their last meal till she and her son dies.  But his reason eradicated the woman's anxiety: "“Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.”’  True enough, the jars of oil and meal were not emptied.

The message of the readings is not about giving; rather, it teaches overly generous giving, as in the giving even of one's own life.  This is particularly true of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, "who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Phil 2: 7).

The widow in the gospel also found the favor of the Lord, because "she gave everything she had."

A true Christian would follow the Lord's path "to empty oneself" or kenosis.  Jesus' self-emptying is what brings us our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Also, a true Christian would be more concerned with giving rather than receiving, taking after the quotes, "It is better to give than to receive" or "it is better to give than to receive."  If we're preoccupied by what we want to receive, we haven't entered into the realm of self-giving.  But if we know that giving begets giving and love begets love, we would not hesitate to give.

A life of generosity is a reflection of the Kingdom of God, because in Heaven, all the residents of Heaven are givers and not receivers.   May we start our journey to Heaven by a life of cheerful generosity on earth.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The law of love

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:28-34

God is clear on what he wants us to do: love him above all things.  This is also reechoed by Jesus in the gospel, thus, affirming the very heart of the faith.

It is true that Jewish religion enunciated the ultimate laws.  But the spirit of the law could only be interpreted through the eyes of God's beloved Son - Jesus Christ.

First, to love God above all things - demands utmost total and unconditional obedience, adoration, and offering of one's life to the Father, the source of all life.  Who could ever have authority over life itself?  Isn't it God alone?  Who could ever hold the key to true life and order?  Isn't it God alone?  Do we want an organized life?  Then follow God!

Second, to love one's neighbor as oneself - to love others means to recognize the other has the same dignity as I have for being a child of God.  Thus, to accord justice, respect, as well as honor in the same way as I treat myself becomes an absolute norm, considering that I and my brothers / sisters are created in the image and likeness of God.   The second norm is a call to build ourselves as one family of God.

Third, these two laws point to Jesus who fulfilled God's commands and brought it to fulfillment.  He is God's perfect priest who offered the perfect sacrifice, himself all for our sake.  Now he says to us, "Love one another as I have loved you."  This law manifests perfect communion with God and with one another and eradicates all tinge of separation, selfishness, and animosity.  This law reflects the true picture of heaven.  If we live out this law of love, God resides in us and we in God; we also reside in the hearts of one another.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

What makes a saint?

All Saints Day

Matthew 5:1-12

We celebrate the Communion of Saints every first of November.  "All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints" ("All Saints Day", Catholic Org, last accessed Nov. 1, 2018).

It is meant for us to remember all unknown saints, yet in perfect bliss with the Lord, who are now in heaven.  November 2, we would offer the mass for our suffering departed in purgatory.

Three messages:

1. It is meant for us to incorporate ourselves in the communion of saints right this time of our lives and not just consider sainthood in the afterlife.  Our lives today reflect our willingness to be counted among the saints.

2. The Church is also equipped with the communion with holy things that are mainly rooted in Jesus, the source of our salvation.  These are:

2.1.  Communion in faith (CCC 950) - let us nourish this faith and also ensure that others deepen in their faith.

2.2.  Communion of the sacraments (CCC 951) - communion with Jesus through the reception of the sacraments

2.3.  Communion of charisms (CCC 952) - These are gifts coming from the Holy Spirit meant to enrich every Christian community.  Let's offer to use this gifts for God and others.

2.4.  Communion in charity - (CCC 954) - In the Acts of the Apostles, it's clear after the Christians shared their resources with one another, nobody is found wanting (Acts 4:34).  Love abounds.