Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
On July 10, 2000, more than 200 people died and hundreds more were injured when the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City, Philippines, collapsed in heavy rains. The collapse buried shanty homes of the nation’s poorest. Most of the victims were children, at home on a day declared a holiday because of an impending typhoon (www.unep.or.jp, INSIGHT, November 2000 Edition). Everybody blamed everybody for negligence and indifference to the plight of the poor. They were tolerated to live around the dumpsite, in shanties or cardboard houses, to scavenge from the site what they could live on.
In Christian living there are also trash that can kill God’s life in people: hatred, vengeful mindset, grudges and indifference. As in rubbish, they decay first from inside and under. They destroy enthusiasm, unity and love; and from the heart they are thus expressed in negative attitudes, hurting expressions and violence or abuse. Hatred, revenge, grudges and indifference are avenues that bolster selfishness, unrecognized hurts, overly bloated self-importance, pride and resignation to discontent.
(There once was an Indian brave who was walking down the trail when he discovered an eagle’s egg had fallen out of its nest…. So he placed the egg in a nearby prairie chicken nest. When the egg hatched, the little eagle thought he was a prairie chicken. Prairie chickens stay on the ground and eat only worms and grubs. So, as the eagle grew, he ate nothing but worms and grubs and walked around with the other prairie chickens. One day, he looked up in the sky and saw some eagles soaring high above. He asked: “How can they fly up there while we are down here eating worms and grubs?” The prairie chicken answered, “They are the eagles, they can do that but we must stay down here. We are prairie chickens and that is what we do.” So, the eagle spent the rest of his life flying very little and eating worms and grubs just because he was told that was all he could do (www.boyscouttrail.com).)
St. Paul tells us today: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Cor 3:16-17). So, we consider the following:
1. Of all creatures, we have power to choose. We have the power to choose good over evil. If we choose the food that we like or the food that can make us healthy, why can we not make decisions that will promote healthy relationships with our families and friends? Animals don’t have the power to choose. They just do what they are. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We were created to be able to choose the things of God, for we are God’s. So, Jesus leads us to His ways: non-violent reaction to persons who bring evil, generosity, joyful service, love and healthy attitude toward neighbor and enemies, and single-mindedness and determination to grow in perfection and holiness.
2. Our human effort plus God’s providence make life worth living. Water is very hot at 211 degrees Fahrenheit. One degree more makes it boil and produces steam. Only one degree more makes the whole difference; and when contained, steam moves anything, like locomotives. A little more effort than what we think we can do can make the whole world moving. A little drive to our attitude will brighten the life of others. A little positive effort to serve brings joy and peace to people. A little effort in our work can bring about everyone’s accomplishment and joy to all. We need self-discipline and dedication to focus our attention on Jesus and the church, so that our efforts will become effective now and for eternal life. As Jesus proclaims: “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles”…. and “if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? (Mt 5:41 & 46).
3. God expects us to do all that is possible for us to do and expects us to ask him for His help in what seems to be impossible, for nothing is impossible with God. That’s not all. Jesus tells us: Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48). Perfection is not having any fault. It is walking in the ways of the Lord and living out His commands, for He promises: “to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Lk 19:26).
Imperfect and sinners though we are, Jesus does not give us anything that is imperfect. He gives us the Father and the Holy Spirit. He gives us the best Mother, His Mother, to guide us and lead us to Himself. He gives us Himself in the Eucharist. This is the perfect food that we can receive from Him. For us who are imperfect, He is the best. May the Eucharist make us strong to do His will, to be worthy of who we really are, and arrive at the Kingdom He has prepared for us.