Last Sunday, our readings began this reflection about the after-life and urged us to entrust ourselves into God’s hands, for He is the God of the living. Today again the liturgy wants to call our attention to the fact that the end of all things will come and then there will be judgment. That this world, with its beauty will all come to an end. Some how the liturgy paints a frightening picture of this end, with statements like "nation shall rise against nation, plagues and famines, fearful omens and great signs, persecutions and trials" will all take place. Understanding these statements about the end time has distracted humanity all through history. Many sects and groups have arisen to claim to know the exact date of the Lord’s coming, and the failure of previous predictions never seems to discourage them from settling on another date for Armageddon. This continues to confuse and distract many Christians from the actual message about how to prepare for the Day of the Lord. But how should we understand and interpret the message of Jesus about the end of time?READ MORE
Last week the focus was on the evil of pride and the need for true humility which was exemplified by the Tax collector in the Temple. This week the readings continue almost on the same topic to show us another fruit of humility produced by a single action of overcoming pride by another Tax collector, who encountered Jesus the Christ.
Zacchaeus was a rich man that had everything he needed materially in life. According to some commentators he had own all the 4Ps, Power, Pleasure, Pride and even Problems but one thing was lacking. He was not happy. He is lonely because nobody would like to befriend him. He chooses the way that makes him an outcast. Everyone hated tax collectors. His greatest joy was the news making the rounds that Jesus welcomes tax collectors and sinners. Then he want to see Jesus.READ MORE
A news reporter once asked St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) if she had ever been tempted to be proud. Mother Theresa retorted with a smile, “Proud about what?” The reporter replied, “Why, about the wonderful things you have been doing for the poorest of the poor!” Then came her answer, “I never knew I had done anything, because it was God who worked in and through my Sisters and volunteers.”
Today's readings teach us that true humility and repentance for our sins must be the hallmark of our prayers. However, the central focus is on the evil of pride, the need for true humility and the role of God’s grace in our salvation.
Sirach helps us understand why the prayer of the tax collector in our Gospel resulted in his justification, while the Pharisee left the Temple unchanged: “The Lord is a God of justice, Who knows no favorites.” Although the religious man had much about which to brag, it was the tax collector’s heartfelt cry for mercy that was heard in Heaven.READ MORE
Most of us have experienced drowsiness when we try to pray. This can happen when we are dealing with distressing situations and God seems to delay attending to our intentions. The human side of us manifests, and often times ends in frustration and giving up praying completely. Moses, in today's first reading gets fatigued . He grew exceedingly weary holding up his arm in order to give Joshua victory over his enemies. He had to appeal to superior power for help in order to defeat the Amalekites.
Like the Israelites of the time of Moses we too are today in a mortal struggle with dangerous enemies that threaten to kill us. Our modern enemies include among many, deprivation, oppression, alienation, and aggression. To stay safe, we must do what God’s people did in the desert. We must engage in battle with the enemy, throwing the best of our forces into the struggle, and never given up until total victory is achieved. Imitating Moses, we must hold up our hands in prayer to the God who is our source of power and will give us strength.READ MORE
We all know how satisfying it is to receive a sincere “Thank you” for a service truly appreciated. The contrary also holds, of course: how hurtful it is to be consistently taken for granted, without ever a word of appreciation.
The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us as exemplified by today's main characters, Naaman, the Syrian General and the Samaritan.. We also have on the other hand the story of ‘the forgetful lepers’ which reveals God's disappointment and pain at our ingratitude.
Indeed, the readings encourage us to learn from Naaman and the Samaritan on how to live in gratitude to God for we too have been the greatest recipients of His choicest blessings. Their acts of thanksgiving as recorded in the Scriptures deserve some special reflection. The two cured both returned glorifying God. To understand this from a theological point of view , giving praise to God is much more than saying thanks. It’s an act of worship! Saying thanks to a good deed could be just an act of courtesy and not worship; theirs was much deeper. They both were converted and developed faith to worship God. They saw their healing as a privileged experience and that led them to conversion and giving glory to God.READ MORE
Today the church takes us back to the topic on "Faith” and how it works in our lives. What comes to mind when talking about faith is Thomas Aquinas's great statement as he was quoted to have said: "To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.” This statement cannot be less true because Faith is the nucleus of all the entire being of every Christian, and more so as it appeals more to the intellect, according to Vatican II Fathers.
In today's readings we get three dimensions of Faith. The theological virtue of Faith enables us to believe something to be true and therefore worthy of trust simply because it has been revealed to us by God. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul, who elsewhere defined Faith as, “the assurance of the things hoped for,” shows Faith operating as a believing, trusting, loving relationship with Christ. Thus, Faith is our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. He goes further to stress the need for a living Faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings handed down to us by the Church. Finally, Christian Faith is that trusting Faith in God in action, expressed by steadfast loyalty, fidelity and total commitment to Him, resulting in our offering ourselves to Him in those we encounter, through our humble, loving service.READ MORE