Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
There are conditions for a person to learn and understand things that can be meaningful to him:
1. A person has to have the personal decision to imbibe what he sees, hears, feels or experiences, and not to disregard the information and the stimulus of the moment. The person responds to the information positively and deals with the experience as a learning point, whether good or not good, thus will make life profitable for himself and for others. Jesus told his disciples and the crowd to learn from the Pharisees, but not to imitate them. His followers would need the credibility of being disciples.
2. A person may also experience forced learning whereby he finds himself in a difficult situation that he just has to respond to it and live accordingly. This kind of learning we find in many situations of poverty, oppression, fear, violence, discrimination and many others. Many Jews in the time of Jesus found themselves in this condition especially in relation with the Scribes and Pharisees. The Scribes and Pharisees made themselves the standard of the law and of life. They elevated themselves too high on a pedestal that they did not want to be reached by the simple and unlearned, neither did they want to be stained by what they judged was the ignorance and sinfulness of the lowly.
3. A person may also be or has to be infused with the Spirit of the God in order to be informed and to understand what he needs to learn. This is the condition that St. Paul was speaking about in his first letter to the Thessalonians when he said,
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us…. Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe (2:8-13).
In learning and living the Word of God, we all are given the mission of Jesus Christ, the mission of the Church, the mission that Jesus Himself gave to His disciples:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).
Jesus’ command comes to us in three parts:
First, the command to go into the world, from where we are, from the comfort of our homes, from where we enjoy influence and affluence and from situations where nobody may dare to bother us, so that we may reach out to our neighbors;
Second, the command to build faithful relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and with others who are instruments of salvation, especially in the celebration of the sacraments and in life of the Church;
Third, the constant memory of His presence and protection now and till the end of time for there is no other God who can take care of His creation. Our constant memory of Him leads us to make life and the celebration of the Eucharist meaningful and effective for teaching, learning and understanding about God in our life.
Jesus wants us to learn from Him, and whatever we do should be done on account of the mission He gives us. Let us then celebrate the Eucharist in the spirit of learning the faith, hope and love for God and for others, in obedience to the mission that Jesus gives to us, and in fidelity to the teachings of the Church.