The Abundance of the Poor

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

In countries where there is seeming abundance of food and benefits, where things are seemingly in place, where different kinds of insurances and life plans are set up, and where the pace of life is fast, the stories of the widow of Zarephath who entertained Elijah with what she thought was her last meal, and the widow who put two copper coins in the treasury of the Temple, may just be taken as mere events of the past. However, they showed unconditional trust in God and a generosity beyond compare. They certainly reflected the generosity of God who gave His Son to us and the trust of Jesus who willed to die on the cross for the salvation of all. Jesus did this for people who were and are not even lovable because of their sins.

John Maxwell, in his book Think on These Things, noted that there are two types of people when it comes to the matter of giving: Some give to live, while others live to give.

  1. Those who give to live expect rewards. When they give, they give “just enough.” They strongly desire recognition. This is what the Levite and the priest manifested on their way to Jericho. They did not extend a helping hand to the man left dead by bandits because no one would see them; there was no audience. While the Samaritan, who was also travelling alone, took care of him, gave his time for him and brought him to an inn. Those who give to live are selfish and lonely people.
  2. Those who live to give make their decision and action on account of the need of the other person or the cause in need. They respond to the need so that the problem is solved or the need is met. They do not need recognition, as they know that they have received much and fully realize that they should also share much. They do not need an audience. Jesus could not emphasize it more when He said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

Yet today we see people racing to the top of the economic ladder and social power. They hoard riches, cling to power and display their fame despite the call to aid needy nations and to respond to crises throughout the world.

Being a widow was associated with poverty. The widow of Zarephath gave her last meal to the prophet and she received a prophet’s reward. The widow at the Temple gave all that she had to live on and was immediately recognized by Jesus. Both mighty widows had the attitude of openness to a need and the disposition of generosity to others, as well as the awareness of their need to give. They did not need an audience. They did not care whether what they gave was big or small. They just gave. Their reference for giving was not themselves nor the need to be recognized, but the need of the stranger (Elijah) and the obligation to give to the temple, to God.

We will notice in the Scriptures, that the “other” that is being helped is not just the person/s being served, but God Himself.  And the source of this gift of generosity comes from Jesus Himself who accepted the will of the Father to be born and to live among us, and to die on the cross for our redemption.

Some characteristics and significance of selfless giving are the following:

  1. You alter and improve the situation of the other, the people involved or the cause in need, spiritual, psychological or temporal.
  2. You give joy to the other person or people involved as you help uplift their intellectual, psychological, spiritual and/or social condition.
  3. Because it is selfless, you give glory to the greater Other, God, who is the source of all generosity and the reason for relationships that lead to unity and peace among brothers and nations.

Generosity is a virtue and a situation where no one stands alone. Everybody is happy. It is a ground for development and peace where no one is too poor to suffer need and no one has so much to over-indulge in surplus and greed. It is also a foretaste of that glory in the company of God, the source of life.

Let us then exercise this gift of generosity from God by being open to the Holy Spirit who leads us to spend time in prayer so that we can gain more wisdom in responding to God in the needy. Let us keep our minds and hearts open to respond to needs in rather difficult times so that we don’t lose our strength despite all odds. Then the Lord will fill us with love for the Eucharist and the Sacraments, as we realize that His act of self-giving was more than all the acts of giving and sacrifice that we make. With Mary our Mother, who generously gave Her life to bear the Savior of the world, we commit ourselves again to Jesus, so that He can strengthen us as we share our time, treasure and talent for the total human development of peoples. Let our generosity grow in our love for the Eucharist, and let the abundance of the blessings of God overflow in our life and in others.

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Faith: Jesus’ Energy In Us

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

We celebrated the opening of the Year of faith on October 11, 2012 and also the canonization of 7 more Saints on October 21st. In his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, the Holy Father shows us that the “door of faith” is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church…. and to enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism, through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory” (#1). He also mentions that the renewal of the Church can be achieved in the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world as they radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us (#6).

For this temporal world of ours, faith or trust means that someone has something that others do not have or has leverage that others cannot attain without them. So we hear the words popularized in movies: “trust me”!  Faith is also attributed to belief that a person can attain anything that he wants and get anything that he desires. Thus also the popular words: say it and you’ll get it, and think of it and you can do it. This kind of faith or trust has become too common because people simply want to be nice, to please others or to get attention or recognition; and certainly that is temporary.

However, the faith that we want to live out is one that is based only in Him who has given it to us as a gift, and we can see this gift expressed in creation, in the incarnation, death, resurrection and His ascension of Jesus into heaven, where, because of His promise, we hope to be with Him, and His promise is trustworthy. We seek not simply to be nice but to be truthful in our endeavors and relationships – the truth that comes from God and the truth that is God Himself – thus be able to proclaim His life in every aspect of life.

This is the faith we want to live, the faith in Jesus who is the source of life. He is the energy of our life. Many times though we try to seek energy from vitamins, sugar-filled drinks or other energy related drugs and at times from overwhelming technological activities. However, without our vision for life and our focus on the origin of our faith, life can be listless and exhausting, for only in relation with the person of Jesus, the source of this gift of faith can we grow in our relationship with God who calls us to His Kingdom.

Our Gospel today leads us to the very action of faith. It is the action that God wants us to do and to become, so that faith will not be lifeless. It is the expression of our trust in God, for “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Ja 2:17); and as one of the scribes responded to Jesus: “to love him with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mk 12:33).

Again in his Apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, the Holy Father says, We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; … and also the source from which all its power flows.” At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year (#9).

We were baptized and most of us have received the sacrament of confirmation, and to live this faith, St. Paul invites us to live out the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and against which there is no law (Gal 22-23). Faith is not just an idea. It is life in action, a life full of love for God and neighbor, and a life of anticipation to cross that threshold to the Kingdom promised us by the Lord Jesus.

As we celebrate the Eucharist we proclaim that Jesus did not just tell us to live life fully, but He gave His life for us. Let us make our conviction ring throughout the world that our faith in God is the only way to peace in this world, and it leads to eternal life.

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Throw Aside Your Cloak

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Let us look into the characters of the Gospel today.  

1) The Disciples and the crowd. Some of them scolded Bartimaeus and tried to stop him from calling Jesus. They did not want anyone to disrupt their pace and the seeming order they had as they walked with Jesus.

2) Bartimaeus.

a) He was blind and was sitting at the sidewalk. He must have already heard that Jesus who came from Nazareth taught with authority, unlike the Scribes and Pharisees, and that Jesus could heal infirmities. This made his faith in Jesus alive. 

b) He called Jesus by using a powerful title, “Son of David.” He was trying to bring upon himself the powerful name of David’s lineage and God’s promise that a Messiah was to come to bring salvation to the world. By his humble acknowledgement of his weakness, Bartimaeus could allow Jesus to come and serve him. 

c) When called, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.” For the people of Palestine, the cloak was the person’s covering under the heat of the sun and in the cold of the night. The cloak was a possession a person simply could not throw or give away. But Bartimaeus took off his cloak, threw it aside, and approached Jesus.

3) We, the People of God, are participants in the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not an ordinary book of past events. It is life for the Church. Can we relate with the persons who said, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Or do we sympathize with those who scolded Bartimaeus and who would not want the Master to be disturbed or who did not want their travel to be disrupted by one like Bartimaeus? He brings to us a picture that there are many people in society who are on the sidewalks of life, marginalized and unattended. They may be in their condition because we have not cared enough, or have been indifferent, or have probably scolded them for their weak disposition or simply have not called them to approach Jesus. It is also possible that we are blinded by our indifference to others, by a scandalous convenience of our lifestyle and affluence in society.

How many times have we scolded our elderly at home because he/she spilled milk or dropped his/her food of the floor? How many times have we scolded, even just in our thoughts, a beggar who showed up at our door at a wrong time: we were eating or resting? How many times have we scolded a child for crying, and we did not even know why he was crying? How many times have we stopped a person from coming into our company just because he was not invited? How many times have we broken the heart of our friends and relatives because we did not listen to them, and all we wanted was to talk? How many times have espouses hurt each other for being rude and arrogant, or simply insensitive and inconsiderate? How many times have we hurt children because we thought we were always right? How many times have children hurt their parents for being offensive and disrespectful?

4) Jesus:

a) Jesus called Bartimaeus so that he could be free from being marginalized. Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to walk along with him on the road of life, where people who followed Jesus would move towards Jerusalem, where the author of life was to be killed for the life of the world. This was also to prefigure that the call of Jesus is always a call to discipleship, to listen to and learn from Him, so that we can walk in faith on the road towards the New Jerusalem which is Jesus Himself. 

b) Jesus asked Bartimaeus what He (Jesus) could do for him. Jesus wanted him to be aware of what he wanted. Bartimaeus would think, if Jesus could heal the sick, make the deaf and mute hear and talk and the lame walk and bring the dead to life, He could also make me see!

Even if God already knew what we needed, He wants us to be aware of what we ask of Him, things that are worthy of Him as our God and King. He can heal us and make us walk, so that we can follow Him on the road to life, and He can also free us from slavery to sin and lead us to eternal life. 

c) Jesus sent Bartimaeus off to witness to his people the healing power of God. When Jesus calls us, He does not keep us simply sitting or standing. With the power of His call in our hearts, He sends us to return to our responsibilities and relationships to proclaim that He who walked towards His death courageously, gives life to those who receive Him.

Healing, safety, security and peace are not found in a beautiful and well guarded place or in a fat bank account or in a good economic program. They are found in the Person of Jesus Christ. Only when we acknowledge our weaknesses and need for help and throw away the cloaks of our comfort zones can we approach Jesus, so that He can come, heal and serve us. So we approach Jesus who calls us to celebrate the Eucharist. When we receive Him in Holy Communion, we also accept our neighbors and the marginalized, for we all are the Body of Christ. The letter to the Hebrews tell us: “No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God” (Heb 5:4).

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Training In The Virtues

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

In today’s world, we clearly observe the following tarnished situations, and they seem to be the order of the day:

1. Many people seek power and strive to stay in power, if possible, for life, because:

a) power allows them to dictate what they want;

b) power allows them to manipulate facts and people for their own convenience; and

c) power makes others subservient for the sake of being felt by their inferiors.

2. Many people accumulate wealth and attempt hard to keep it for themselves for life because:

a) wealth can make them comfortable enough with convenience to do and acquire what they like, and overlook others who have to work hard for their daily subsistence;

b) wealth gives them access to amenities and services that ordinary people cannot have; and

c) wealth allows them to indulge in selfish pleasures that may particularly be displeasing and unacceptable to society.

This was also the situation that the apostles were facing. In fact, James and John approached Jesus to request Him that they be able to sit one at His right and the other at His left in His Kingdom. But “you do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said. Jesus was preparing them to witness His greatest act of sacrifice for the salvation for all. Jesus was then teaching them the following:

 1. Humility. The apostles had to realize that they were chosen, not just to enjoy the conveniences of life only because they were with Jesus, but they were to be sent throughout the world to preach the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of love.

 2. Obedience. The apostles would realize that obedience was the mark of being followers of Jesus. In contrast with seeking power which allows them to seek their own ways, they would preach to the whole world that obedience to the commands of God would be the means to salvation, to wisdom and to growth in the life in and with Jesus.

 3. Servanthood. The apostles would realize that to follow Jesus was to undergo His suffering, and that this suffering would not be meaningless, but a powerful manifestation of God’s glory for the salvation of the world. In fact, the apostles had to suffer martyrdom just like their Master. They would also realize and teach the world that to be great in the Kingdom of God is to anticipate and serve others’ needs as duty and love for neighbor rather than as favor.

When athletes train for competitions, they are served while being trained, hopefully, to be on the advantage. We, Christians, also need to train to compete against the acts of the devil and the distractions of the world. We also need to be helped so that we can have the advantage over the evil one. And to be trained in God’s ways we need the following:

1. A life of prayer. We always hear the saying “first things, first.” When we love a person we spend time with him/her, a lot of time, and whenever possible, for life. If we love God we would spend a lot of time with Him in prayer and focus our attention on Him. To be with God and to be united with Him is to abandon ourselves to Him wherever we are and whatever we do so that He can work in us.

2. Love for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Everyone wants to be forgiven, but not everyone wants to come to the Sacrament. A real Christian goes against the tide of self-seeking ways. In this Sacrament, we seek the mercy of God. God is merciful, and He forgives. This is a way of the Church: to seek forgiveness from God through the blessing of the priest, and this leads to reconciliation with God and with the whole Church.

3. Frequent reception of the Eucharist. If we as Christians have to go against the tide of self-seeking ways, we need the strength of God; and we get this strength from the Eucharist, who is Jesus Himself, the life of the world. The Eucharist, as a memorial and celebration of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, is a way of combating our self-centered ways.

4. Love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church. We dedicate this month of October as the month of the Rosary. To pray, to meditate and to contemplate the Mysteries of the Rosary is to be drawn to the Blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (4:16).

As we celebrate the Eucharist, let us commit ourselves again to the Lord, and allow Him to rule over us and be our strength and security in our relationships, responsibilities and endeavors.

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One More Thing

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Values govern people and society. They determine the ways of acting, living and being of persons and of society. Of the many values that people have, the economic, cultural, moral and religious values are prominent. The hierarchy (by priority) for the good of man and society should be the following: religious, moral, cultural and economic. To invert the order would be to focus on temporal things to the detriment of the growth of the human person and his relationship with God. If bodily beauty and fitness takes the rank over the moral and religious values, we will have great athletes and slim bodies to the detriment of values, like honesty, self-control, justice, dignity of persons, and fidelity. If the economic values disregard the other values, we will have fat banks, big malls, big and long highways, but small hearts to serve and short roads to love. Only by putting God on top of our doing, living and seeking His wisdom in all situations, can our being be meaningful and worthy of our Creator. The book of Wisdom tells us about seeking the Wisdom of God: all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands” (Wis 7:11).        

The Gospel tells us that after Jesus told the young man to sell his properties and give to the poor, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:22-23). Acquisition of wealth can dominate our lives. It can dampen our search for God who gives joy to our life. Wealth can distort our judgments and can also make us complacent and unconcerned of the plight of the voiceless and the needy. Wealth can lead us to indifference to the call to solidarity with the poor and lead us farther from God who gives lasting peace, security and happiness.

Wealth is not only of material things. It can also be one of relationships, of attitude and of virtues. And the negative of these is also true. We can be rich in unhealthy and sinful relationships, in arrogance and complains, in dishonesty and fraud, and others. It is in these situations that Jesus is addressing us today. These things are heavy and bulky. Jesus wants us to carry His yoke, one that is light and easy, and leads to everlasting life.

To pass through the eye of the needle is an expression that describes a person’s experience of difficulties and suffering to achieve something desirable. Jesus had to pass through the eye of the needle in His life, suffering, death and resurrection, to bring us back to the Father. In this life of uncertainties and difficulties, Jesus provides us with vision and strength through and in His Church. He restores life to us in the Eucharist. He presents Mary to be our Mother and great intercessor before Him. He brings us forgiveness and restores our relationship with Him through the blessing of the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He also presents to us the saints throughout the centuries as models toward eternal life. Moreover, He grants us wisdom and peace in prayer and in the reflection of the Scriptures for meaningful relationships and responsibilities.

To respond to the call of Jesus to follow Him, we need the humility to listen, the humility to accept His call, and the humility to offer our will and our time to God, and face more opportunities of growth in the life of Jesus, not only for ourselves, but also, and especially, on account of others.

Today Jesus is asking of you “one more thing.”

  • Is it forgiving your spouse and deciding to be more tolerant of shortcomings?
  • Is it abandoning your habit of criticizing others of their imperfections?
  • Is it giving up your favorite sins that lead you away from your family?
  • Is it offering a kind word or greeting to the person you do not like?
  • Is it being kind and loving to your children and spouse?
  • Is it being respectful and friendly to people you work with?
  • Is it spending a little extra time in church to pray for others’ needs?
  • Is it returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek God’s mercy?
  • Is it living a little less luxuriously in consideration of the needy?
  • Is it bringing back the name of Jesus to your family?

What is that “one more thing” that Jesus is asking of you today?

In his address to Bishops of the United States on April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict said: “Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain, our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance.”

Jesus is God’s Wisdom, God’s gift to all of us. Let us celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist as our number one value in life; He gives Himself to us as our food on our way to the Father. Let us furthermore renew our commitment to follow Him in the simplicity of living, of doing and of being­­.

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Joy In Relationship

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Loneliness, division, animosity, and frustration are prominent situations we see throughout the world, in our families and in our communities. We see these especially in the rise of divorce and abortion cases, in heavily militarized regions, in places of reckless production of weapons, nuclear or otherwise, in wars between and among nations, in emotionally and mentally upset persons, in the uncontrolled downfall of the economy, in the dramatic breakdown of morality, and many others.

God did not create all these. He wants us to be happy in relationship. The book of Genesis tells us that God is concerned with man’s loneliness. He did not create man to live in solitude, but in relationship with others. So, God also created someone suitable for him. Though animals may be good pets and companions, only human beings created in the image of God can be suitable and proper companions for one another. Though marriage between man and woman is considered of high degree for happy relationship, it is not the only joyful and wholesome relationship and not the only way to overcome loneliness. Friendship, service to the needy and relationship of brothers and sisters in religious communities also lead to joyful relationships. All these relationships in marriage, in communities, in service and in friendship are responses to God’s call to a life of holiness. The letter to the Hebrews tells us about Jesus, the reason for any relationship: He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers’” (Heb 2:11).

Since all relationships are meant to be happy, loving and holy, God united Himself with His people and with His Church. God’s commandments and Jesus’ command to love one another are one and the same instruction for eternal life. Holy Scripture tells us that, for reasons of discontent and impatience, the Israelites worshipped other gods and turned away from God. Thus, God called His people adulterous. The Gospel today tells us also about the sin of adultery that married couples commit when they divorce each other and marry another. In the light of God’s loving relationship with His people, adulterous situations may also mean:

– leaving God, our first love, by worshiping the gods of power, wealth and pleasure, and going with the devil, who promises only temporal and fleeting pleasures;

– deliberately and consciously leaving the faith for another solely for monetary reward and other forms of compensation;

– compromising virtues for temporal and fleeting gains;

– compromising honesty for a short-lived gain;

– taking advantage of knowledge and authority to gain power and wealth at the expense of the weak and the poor; and

– many others.

“To accept Jesus’ teaching on marriage requires the openness of children and a sense of dependence on God’s strength matching the child’s sense of dependence on parents. When love is authentic, strong, sincere and firm, it is accompanied by vision, joy and creativity, new life and a desire for holiness” (Fr.T. Rosica, CSB, Marriage and the Family: Humanity’s Future, Biblical Reflection for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time B). So, to walk in the ways of the Lord, we need to be always mindful of His presence and of His love for us. We also need to take into account the following:

1. Our vision of the Kingdom of God even in this life, a humble consideration of our origin, that from dust we came and to dust we shall return, and a hopeful consideration of our destiny in the glory of God.

2. Our determination and perseverance to be faithful to Jesus. These are gifts that the Lord Himself gives to those who prayerfully seek Him at all times and who gratefully abide by His commands.

3. Our readiness to respond and our commitment to His call to holiness through prayer, study of the Scriptures, service to the needy, and participation and involvement in the activities of the Church and in the celebration of the Sacraments.

Our joy in relationship comes from God, and the more we persevere in friendship with Him, the more He will continue His work of salvation in us. Today we thank the Lord for families that mirror the love of Jesus for His Church. We promise to remain faithful to Him and to live as obedient children of the Father; and we renew our commitment to be instruments of the great love the Eucharist proclaims for the life of the world.

God bless you all.

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Great Surprises

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

God’s generosity always brings great surprises. All that we are and have are gifts that we need to share with others. He created us with all our capabilities not for selfish interests, but for the good of all. He created our eyes so that we can see His Glory. He created our feet so that we can reach people and their situation, especially God’s poor, and to preach the Good News to them, for “how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God is King” (Is 52:7). He created our hands so that we can reach out to our neighbors in their need. But because of our selfishness, envy and jealousy of others, we promote our own glory and fame, we nurture our comfort zones and become complacent, and we aim at taking and receiving more and keep for ourselves all that we have. This is one reason why Jesus would say that it is better for us not to have what we have – our eyes, feet, hands, intellect, will, time, talent, treasure and our capacities – if they hinder our relationship with God and lose eternal life. For it is when we withhold our capabilities for God’s glory and the good of His people, that we bring scandal, especially to His little ones.

God bestowed His Spirit on the seventy two elders (1st reading) and they proclaimed His presence among the Israelites. We also receive this gift of prophecy at baptism. Moses told Joshua: Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” (Nm 11:29). Thus, envy and jealousy have no place among us, in our families and in our community. Envy and jealousy corrode the love and goodness in our hearts, and they erode our hope in God and in God’s people. Envy and jealousy lead us to complain about other people’s capabilities and criticize arrogantly their weaknesses. This is one reason why many are alienated from one another.

St. James declares that withholding what is meant for others is a transgression against the generosity of God, and God will also withhold what is meant for you or take away what He gave you, for you cannot legitimately take both what is yours and what is not yours:

– if you withhold love, you lose others’ love for you;

– if you withhold respect for others, you lose peace with your neighbor;

– if you withhold the care of your family, you lose your sense of responsibility that promotes a happy family;

– if you withhold the life of the unborn and promote the culture of death through abortion and artificial contraception, you lose God’s gift of life;

– if you withhold time for prayer because of too much exposure to television and to the world’s distractions and pleasures, you also withhold what is proper to God, and you lose the wisdom that God can give you in silence, study, reflection and prayer;

– if you withhold the goodness of your soul, you also lose grasp of the beauty and glory of God manifested in His creation;

– if you withhold food for the hungry and waste it at the same time, you lose your opportunity and obligation to be in solidarity with the poor, whom God loves; and

– if, with extravagance and vanity, you turn away from God’s children and withhold your capacity to uplift their condition and develop their capacity to grow in the knowledge and love of God, you defeat God’s purpose of life for you to live as brother or sister to others.

In his letter to the Philippians St. Paul tells us: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus” (2:3-5). Every act of forgiveness, of generosity, of conscious and humble example of justice, of active participation and involvement in the life of the Church, of bringing the life of God to His people, all these will not be wanting for reward and are manifestation of the generosity of God.

God calls us to rise from our graves of envy, jealousy and selfishness that bring alienation and animosity among His children. Only the love of God can make this happen. In the book of Ezekiel, God says to him: “prophesy over these bones…. I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you….thus you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ez 37:4-6).

With Mary, our Mother and Queen, let us stand before Jesus who gives us life and strength, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, and brings us forgiveness and confidence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that He can continue the good works He has started in us. Let us bring life and joy to God’s children through our generosity and love for them; and let no capacity be wasted for selfish motives only, but only for the glory of God and the salvation of all.

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