Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
For many, God and the Church are an encumbrance to their freedom. They take freedom literally as a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions (Dictionary), and without consideration of other people’s rights, privileges and conditions. The world is their god because it recognizes their whims. However, where whims reign, there is selfishness, arrogance and conceit. God asks people to give so that they will be rich. This is absurd! They should keep what they have, and have it only for themselves. To have simply means having the basic necessities, and more for their whims and pleasures; and these are an expensive commodity. God also asks people to serve so that they will be great. This is also absurd! They should have servants to serve them at all times, for to be served is to be great.
Many want easy money and comfortable life. One of the reasons many people and governments suffer and fail economically is that many hoard wealth and reserve for themselves all the comfort they get at the expense of others. Wealth and comfort are not bad in themselves, but when they hinder others to find opportunities to grow and be deprived of their basic necessities of life, Isaiah has this to say: “What will you do on the day of punishment, when ruin comes from afar? To whom will you flee for help? Where will you leave your wealth….” (Is 10:3)? So, Jesus proclaims: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk 12:15).
Anonymity is the way of the world. People want to be left alone so that they can do what they want, seek the things that bring them pleasure, and work selfishly for what bring them recognition and rewards. They have lost their sense of community, so they live in their own world away from relationships that may have to check and correct them. They seek comfort in illusions, excitement, pleasures and violence, as escape from reality and from responsibility to grow in the love of virtues for the good of the community and the whole Church.
All of us need healing and hope. There are various ways that God, the Sun of Justice, sends His healing rays (cf. Mal 3:20) and restores us from our hurts and weaknesses, and gives us hope. Among them are the following:
1. Prayer and the Sacraments. It’s sad though when Christians have to see prayer and the celebration of the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, as routine that they have to do, for they see only the inconvenience and burden, without taking into account that what they do is God’s work of salvation. Prayer and the Sacraments when celebrated selflessly are acts of hope; they are also an art of living the life of Jesus in this world full of illusions and deception.
2. Honest work and living according to one’s means. Man’s dignity emanates from work, honest work. His dignity does not come from having lots of money or properties or people under him, but being able to work not only for himself, but for his family and for his community, for the continuous development of God’s creation. (Here we do not talk about the sick or elderly or the invalids who are unable to work. In fact, they are part of the consideration of honest work.) Any dishonesty in work is an offence against God who taught us to work in His dignity, and any gain dishonestly obtained is disobedience to God, just as Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command when He said: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die” (Gen 2:16-17). Honesty in work brings out genuine consciousness of oneself, the community and God. Honest gain is man’s happiness, while dishonest gain is his loss and downfall, “for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Lk 12:34).
3. Wholesome relationships and high regard for the wellbeing of others. The world is not a place where everything should be nice and good according to our likes. It is a place of hope where we grow in confidence that the Creator, Redeemer and Savior will gives us the strength in the midst of suffering and pain. It is a place of hope where we gain wisdom because of God’s protection over us. This world is a place of anticipation of God’s Kingdom, and because of our perseverance, God will lead us to the glory of His Kingdom. This hope grows only through our determination to live faithful, loving and wholesome relationships that lead to openness to the plight of the needy and the voiceless in society.
Where Christians do not perceive the meaning of the Eucharist, life becomes empty. So we celebrate the Eucharist with fervor, for, full of hope, we rejoice that Jesus fills us with His gift of anticipation for the coming of His Kingdom, and certainly, by our perseverance we will secure our lives (Lk 21:19).