Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Today’s society instills in us the idea that each one should get as much as what his neighbor gets or even more, especially when one has to work harder. Others would go to the extent of doing even what is dishonest and immoral just to get what they want. One would claim a bigger share just because he’s older or bigger or has worked for a longer time than another. This is a situation of taking advantage of others, especially when there is a condition of stronger or weaker person or group.
On the occasion of St. Paul’s Jubilee year, the Holy Father cited three characteristics of Paul as the Apostle of Christ (Saint Paul’s Concept of Apostolate, Benedict XVI, http://www.vatican.va, Sept 10, 2008):
The first is to have “seen the Lord” (1Corinthians 9:1), namely, to have had a decisive encounter with him, virtually chosen, by the grace of God…. In a word, it is the Lord who constitutes the apostolate, not one’s presumption. The apostle does not make himself, but is made by the Lord.
The second characteristic is to “have been sent.” The Greek term “apostolos” itself means, in fact, “sent, ordered,” that is, ambassador and bearer of a message; therefore he must act as charged with and representative of a mandate. It is because of this that Paul describes himself as “Apostle of Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1), namely, his delegate, placed totally at his service, so much so as to call himself “a slave of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1).
The third requisite is the exercise of the “proclamation of the Gospel,” with the consequent foundation of Churches. The title “apostle,” in fact, is not and cannot be honorary…. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul exclaims: “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?” (9:1).
Isaiah encourages us to “seek the LORD while he may be found, (to) call him while he is near” (Is 55:6), so that God’s peace will reign in our hearts. In his book, The Imitation of Christ, Thomas á Kempis writes,
We should enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?…. We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent…. He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace” (Bk 1, ch 11).
In today’s Gospel God is leading us to consider very real situations in life:
1. Avoid the temptation of thinking that you should always get more than what your neighbor has. If you take something that God has not given you, God will take away something that He has given you, because God cannot fill you with His graces if you are full of yourself or full of the things of this world. You cannot have what is given to you and what is not given to you at the same time.
2. Thank the Lord at all times for what you have and for what you are. Be grateful to God for the people in your life. They are your way to the Father. Make sure that you are able to share your capacities with people who are in need. Gratitude will always make you conscious of your dependence on the providence of God.
3. Remember that it is the generosity of God that counts in life. You are only a dispenser of God’s blessings to your family and your community. So, you cannot claim having been ahead of anything or having worked so hard for anybody or for any cause.
The Eucharist is our celebration of Christ’s offering of Himself for the glory of God and the salvation of all. He is the life to imitate and the meal to partake. With our life and example, may others also live in grace and grow in the life that God wants us to live.