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Daily Reflection: September 18, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ:  

JOKE: Unappreciated: One evening a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room, the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door. He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried that she might be ill or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. “What happened here today?” he asked, “Are you okay?” “Yes, I am fine,” she replied. “You know, every day when you come home from work, you ask me what in the world did I do all day? Well, today I did not do it.”      

Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 8: 1-3. And in this gospel passage, we read about the women who accompanied Jesus and His disciples during His preaching and teaching ministry. During the time of Jesus, strict rabbis were not allowed speak to a woman in public and the very strict ones would not speak even to their wives or sisters in the streets or public places. So, having women accompany Him and minister to Him and His disciples, Jesus lifted women up from the agony of degradation and servitude to the joy of fellowship and service. In the Jewish cultural context, women were not allowed to learn from rabbis. By allowing these women to travel with Him, Jesus was showing that all human beings are equal in the sight of God. These women supported the ministry of Jesus with their personal money, gifts, time, and talents. The women owed a great deal of debt to Him because from some of them He had driven out demons and the rest He had healed of various illness and infirmities. Through this gospel passage, we get to see and know few of the people behind the scene during the public ministry of Jesus.    

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that the work of evangelization handed over to us by Jesus through His apostles is for all believers to share in—whether as a clergy or a lay faithful. In today’s gospel passage, we see a list of women whose help were very practical in the life and ministry of Jesus. Being women, they were not allowed to preach in the Jewish cultural context of that time, but they gave the gifts and talents they had in order to help in the growth and spread of the gospel message. There is no gift or talent which cannot be used in the service of Jesus Christ and His Church. Many of His greatest servants are in the background, unseen but essential to His cause. Can He count on you today to be one of the unseen hands that work behind the scene in the spreading and propagation of His gospel message in your community and Church? As indicated in the story above, women play an especially important role in the family, in the Church, in the school and in the community. We need to appreciate these significant roles and encourage them to take up more positions and bring their experience, expertise, and talent to serve God and His people.       

God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 19, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ:  

JOKE: Gratitude for the grace of two teeth: It was Thanksgiving season in the nursing home. The small resident population was gathered about their humble Thanksgiving table, and the director asked each in turn to express one thing for which they were thankful. Thanks, were expressed for a home in which to stay, families, etc. One little old lady when her turn came said, ’I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw that match so that I can chew my food.’  

Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 8: 4-15. In this gospel passage, Jesus tells the parable of the four soil types. It is one of the parables in the New Testament that is documented in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In His preaching ministry, Jesus communicated spiritual truths by making use of parables, short stories, or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation and give it a starting new twist. In making use of parables to convey His messages, Jesus links the known with the hidden thereby forcing His listeners to think. Thus, parables point spiritual truths to His listeners. They compel listeners to discover truth, while at the same time concealing the truth from those too lazy to see it. In this parable, the sower is God. The seed is the Word of God. The farmland is the earth. The seeds that feel on the road represent people such as the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ time who refused to listen to gospel message preached by Jesus thereby refusing to believe in God. They represent lazy people who refuse to accept the gospel message and what it represents—eternal salvation. Because of pride and prejudice the Jewish religious leaders refused to listen to the truth and many people today are in this category. The seeds that fell on rocky soil represent people in the crowds who followed Jesus, believed His message but never got around to doing anything about it. The seeds that fell among thorns represent people who are overcome by worries and the lure of materialism left no room in their lives for God. The seeds that fell on good soil, represent people who followed Jesus no matter what the cost. Which type of soil are you?  

Dear Friends as we face God this day, let us look inwardly into our lives and make a decision that will certainly determine our eternal destination. Which soil type are you? How can we change our lifestyle, mentality, and attitude so that we can also become rich, fertile, and good soil? That some of the seeds did not produce any fruit was not the fault of the sower or of the seed. On the contrary, the yield depended on the condition of the soil where the seed fell. Jesus wants us to be hearers and doers of the word of God. To hear the word of God and not obey it means we are like the seeds that fell on the path, on rock or on thorny soil. Such soil type are people who harbor hatred, bitterness, and are wicked. They are selfish, and are controlled by jealousy, bitterness, and animosity. People who are driven by pride, arrogance; people who are promiscuous, materialistic, and atheists. People who are judgmental of others and have no personal relationship with God. To hear the word of God and do it mean we are the seeds that fell on good soil and produced numerous fruits. What kind of fruits did they produce? Fruits of justice, mercy, love, peace, kindness, compassion, righteousness, forgiveness, humility, and a good relationship with God and neighbor. I will recommend that you make a commitment today to read, digest, and assimilate at least one chapter of the Bible every day. That is obviously how the word of God grows and motivates our lives for good.  

The Amazing Grace: The man who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace had been a slave trader and had taken part in the most inhuman and cruel treatment of people. He called himself a wretch who deserved nothing but contempt and punishment but instead found himself pardoned and raised to a position of trust and responsibility. How else could he describe it except as Amazing Grace? Many people seem to feel poor always, because they never give themselves to the cause of God, whereas, people like John Calvin felt that his life was always rich because his one purpose in life was to serve the Lord. Therefore,  when the physician told him that he must cease from working so much or he would die because he had a complication of a painful disease, he replied, “Would you have my Master come and find me loitering?” No servant of God can get tired of serving the Lord. He may be tired in the service, but never tired of it.  

God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 20, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ: 

JOKES: 1) After the birth of his baby brother, a little boy was thoroughly annoyed at all his crying and screaming. “Where did you get him from, anyway? He asked his mother. “He came from heaven!” his mother replied. “Well I can see why they threw him out!” the little boy replied.  

2) Question: Does the Bible say that if you smoke you cannot get into heaven? 

Answer: No, but the more you smoke, the faster you will get there.  

LESSON FOR TODAY: Generosity is the Secret to our Joy: There is an old rabbinic parable about a farmer that had two sons. As soon as they were old enough to walk, he took them to the fields, and he taught them everything that he knew about growing crops and raising animals. When he got too old to work, the two boys took over the chores of the farm and when the father died, they had found their working together so meaningful that they decided to keep their partnership. So, each brother contributed what he could and during every harvest season, they would divide equally what they had corporately produced. Across the years the elder brother never married, stayed an old bachelor. The younger brother did marry and had eight wonderful children. Some years later when they were having a wonderful harvest, the old bachelor brother thought to himself one night, "My brother has ten mouths to feed. I only have one. He really needs more of his harvest than I do, but I know he is much too fair to renegotiate. I know what I will do. In the dead of the night when he is already asleep, I'll take some of what I have put in my barn and I'll slip it over into his barn to help him feed his children. At the very time he was thinking down that line, the younger brother was thinking to himself, "God has given me these wonderful children. My brother has not been so fortunate. He really needs more of this harvest for his old age than I do, but I know him. He is much too fair. He will never renegotiate. I know what I will do. In the dead of the night when he is asleep, I'll take some of what I've put in my barn and slip it over into his barn." And so, one night when the moon was full, as you may have already anticipated, those two brothers came face to face, each on a mission of generosity. The old rabbi said that there was not a cloud in the sky, yet a gentle rain began to fall. You know what it was? God weeping for joy because two of his children had gotten the point. Two of his children had come to realize that generosity is the deepest characteristic of the holy and, because we are made in God's image, our being generous is the secret to our joy as well. Life is not fair, thank God! It is not fair because it is rooted in grace. (John Claypool, Life Is not Fair, Thank God!) 

Today is the 25th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year. Today’s readings speak to us about the goodness, justice, mercy, and love of God towards His children. They speak to us about the extravagant grace of a merciful God. The gospel passage reminds us in an incredibly special way that God’s ways are not are ways. God is a loving and forgiving Father who pardons us unconditionally and rewards generously our hard work by assuring us of eternal life with Him.  

In today’s first reading from Prophet Isaiah 55: 6-9, we are reminded that we should always call on the Lord while He is near. This statement does not mean that God is going away, but that we humans often move far away from God and sometimes we even erect a barrier that hinder us from reaching Him. We must not wait until we have drifted so far away from God to begin to seek Him. If we refuse to return to Him now, it might be too late because God may come to judge the earth before we decide to turn to Him. So, seek Him now while you can, tomorrow might be too late. 

And in today’s gospel passage from the Gospel of Matthew 20: 1-16, Jesus shares with us the parable of the workers paid equally at the end of the day. In this parable, God is the landowner, and believers and non-believers are the laborers. This parable speaks to believers who feel superior because of heritage or some favored position they occupy in life. It speaks to believers who feel superior to others because they have spent so much time with Christ that they feel the kingdom belongs only to them. Most importantly, it speaks to new believers reassuring them of the love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, generosity, and grace of God. Grace of God is readily available to all His children as they navigate their way through life. Thus, we should not begrudge those who repent and turn to God in the last moments of their life, because in reality no one deserves eternal life. The criminal who repented and pleaded for mercy at the cross is a perfect example to us that those we do not expect to be in God’s kingdom will be there and unfortunately those we expect to be there may not be there. We should be careful not to condemn anybody because only the one condemned by God stands condemned. We have no authority, power, and prerogative to judge, condemn and throw anyone out of the Father’s Kingdom. Today we must examine our consciences and ask ourselves: Do you resent God’s gracious acceptance of the despised, the outcasts, the poor, the sick, and the sinners who have turned to Him for forgiveness? Are we ever jealous of what God has given to another person? God has blessings for every human person He has so graciously created, and it is better to wait patiently on the Lord for your own blessings to manifest in your life. Focus on God’s gracious benefits to you and be thankful for what you have.  

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that God is always near to us in this life even nearer than we are to one another. If we remain near to Him while our earthly existence lasts, we can always trust in His love and mercy that He will keep us near to Him in the eternal life of heaven. Today’s gospel is not about rewards but about salvation. It has a lot to teach us about grace, mercy, love, and kindness of God. The disciples and all those strongly associated with Jesus should not expect any special treatment. Both those who were admitted into His Church as infants and those who were admitted at the very last hour of their lives have the same reward—eternal life in His Kingdom. But we are not to relax and wait for this last hour for we do not know when He will demand account of our stewardship from us. We are to be prepared always and we are to see every new day as a second chance He has so graciously offered to us to amend our ways and make our paths straight in His sight. In God’s Kingdom, there is no discrimination on any basis because we are all children of God and as Saint Augustine rightly said: God loves us all equally as if there is only one of us to love.          

God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 21, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ: 

JOKE: An old priest lay dying in the rectory.  He sent a message to a banker and lawyer in the parish, asking them to come to his home. When they arrived at the rectory, the housekeeper ushered them up to the priest’s bedroom. When they entered his bedroom, the priest held out his hands and motioned for them to come sit down beside him, one on each side of the bed. He grasped their hands, looked at them, smiled contentedly and then just lay there staring at the ceiling. No one said anything for a long time. The banker and the lawyer were flattered that their pastor thought so much of them, that he asked them to be with him during the last moments of his life. However, they were puzzled. He had never given them any indication that he was particularly fond of either one of them. They remembered far too well, many of his uncomfortable homilies about greed and materialism, that made them squirm in their seats. The banker finally came out and asked him, “Father, why did you ask us to come to see you?” The old priest really had to struggle to speak, but finally managed to tell them, “Jesus died between two thieves, and that’s how I want to go too.” 

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Matthew; he was an apostle and an evangelist. Originally named Levi, he was a publican and a collector of custom duties for the Roman government when Jesus called him to be His follower. Filled with great joy he organized a great feast in his home for Jesus and His disciples as well as his fellow tax collectors. It was natural for Matthew to rejoice in his new calling and vocation by celebrating with his friends who were considered outcasts in the eyes of the people. As a result of this, the Pharisees were filled with anger when they saw Jesus and His disciples eating and drinking with these despised publicans, extortionists, and traitors. Aside these few facts however, not much was known about this great apostle Matthew. It was obvious that he knew Greek language and was accustomed to writing in Greek for he had certain amount of education. The name Matthew (Mattija meaning ‘Gift of Yahweh’) was probably given to him by Jesus. He became one of the first apostles who sat down to put into writing the essential events of our Lord’s life and discourses as he himself had witnessed them and as have been taught orally by the apostles. His gospel was written in Aramaic which was the language widely used by many Jews and others at the time of Christ. The gospel of Matthew was written not just as a complete biography of Jesus but as a means of consolidating the faith of the Jewish Christians, who were still exposed to the strong Judaic influences. The gospel was also written to persuade his still unconverted Jewish brethren to accept the Good News of Salvation which Jesus brought for the salvation of all.  

In todays’ passage, we read how Jesus called Matthew to the apostolic service. Jesus spoke two words—just two words: “Follow Me” and Matthew got up and followed Him. This calling of Matthew as an apostle reminds us of the immensity of God’s love for us sinners and challenges us to put into practice this same love shown to us by God in our relationship with others. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus and so they saw His association with these lowlifes as the perfect opportunity. They were more concerned with their own outward appearance of holiness than with helping people; with criticizing people than offering encouragement and support; with outward respect from people than practical help. On the contrary, God is concerned for all people both the hurting and the sinful. The Christian life is not a popularity contest. To be able to follow Jesus’ example, we must be ready to share the gospel message with the poor, immoral, lonely, outcast, etc. and not only the rich, the popular and the powerful.     

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that when God calls us to His ministry, we must follow or obey Him, like Matthew did in today’s gospel. Matthew got up and followed Him leaving behind his lucrative career and job. Sometimes, the decision to follow Jesus requires difficult and painful decisions on our part but like Matthew we must be open to accept Him wholeheartedly. When Jesus visited Matthew with His disciples, He hurt His own reputation before the Jewish Religious leaders. Matthew was a tax collector, generally considered a public sinner by all Jewish people but Jesus found and changed his life. We too should not be afraid to reach out to people who are living in sin—the Good News from God can change even the worst sinner.   

God loves you and so do I

 

Daily Reflection: September 22, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ: 

JOKES: 1) Heading down the aisle: A man and a woman are standing at a cocktail party when the woman remarked, “You know…you look like my third husband.” “How many times have you been married?” asked the man. “Twice!” replied the lady. 

2) Happy father of the bride: All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom. Then the beautiful bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand. That surprised the father so much that he dropped the object. He had not expected her to give him anything in the presence of all who have gathered in the Church. Ripples of laughter waved through the sanctuary as the guests watched as he bent down and picked up his credit card.  

Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 8: 19-21. In this gospel passage we read how the mother of Jesus and His close relatives came to visit with Him. Unfortunately, they could not reach Him because of the crowd. However, words were sent to Him about the visit of His mother and His close relatives. Jesus seemed to ignore the request of His mother who along with His close relatives had traveled the long distance of about twenty miles to visit and talk to Him. This special visit is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In His preaching ministry, Jesus was confronting the Jewish Religious leaders and their teachings and challenging their authority before the people. Thus, His mother and relatives came to whisk Him away, take Him home and see what they can do to talk some sense into His head since He was obviously in danger of being arrested and put to death. Unfortunately, Jesus’ family members did not fully understand His ministry and mission on earth. But it was obvious to His disciples and all those close to Jesus that He will never ignore His mother no matter the situation. His mother has an incredibly special place in His heart and this He manifested by taking adequate care of His mother until He began His public ministry as an itinerant preacher. When He was informed that His mother and brothers were looking for Him, Jesus answered and said to them: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” We must make it abundantly clear here that Jesus was not in any way denying His responsibility to His mother and relatives. Rather, Jesus was criticizing the Jewish Religious leaders for their hypocrisy in not honoring their parents as enshrined in the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus even provided for His mother’s security when He was hanging on the Cross by ensuring her safety and well-being. His mother and His brothers (disciples) were present in the upper room as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day. In this gospel passage, Jesus is pointing out to His disciples and followers that spiritual relationships are as binding and strong as physical relationship. In doing this, Jesus was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal Church), our spiritual family. For Jesus therefore, true kinship is not only a matter of flesh and blood because the gracious gift of God is made profound and manifest when through our baptism Jesus adopts us as His sons and daughters. Through this gracious gift offered freely by God we can identify and associate with all those who associate and follow Jesus Christ as true brothers and sisters. So, in this gospel passage, Jesus endorsed and complimented His mother who always listened to the voice of God and obeyed it to the letters. It is important to clarify here that the “brothers of Jesus” mentioned in this gospel passage are not His blood brothers but His cousins as cousins were often called brothers in those days.     

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us remember that Jesus’ true family members are those who listen, hear, and obey His words. Hearing and not obeying is not enough. As Jesus loved His mother so He too loves us and by loving us He offers us an intimate family relationship with Him. Through our baptism we become children of God, adopted sons and daughters of God and co-heirs to His Father’s Kingdom. By virtue of this therefore, we are privileged to belong to the heavenly family of a Triune God. And because we belong to the family of a Triune God, we have the obligation of treating others with love and respect. God’s family is accepting and does not exclude anyone. We can reflect this love God has shown on us to our neighbors through corporal and spiritual works of mercy as the Church teaches.  

May we continue to be hearers and doers of the word of God every day of our lives.      

God loves you and so do I