Dying to . . .

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

A person wrote, “When I was a small boy, I was dying to finish high school and go to college. When I was in college I was dying to graduate and work. When I was working I was dying to get married and have children. Then I was dying to retire. Now that I am dying, I remember, I forgot to live.”

We’re always dying to do something. But when we’re actually dying, we realize that we cannot do anything more that we had been dying to do. St. Paul says,

I should like you to be free of anxieties…. not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction (1 Cor 7:32-35).

What St. Paul is referring to can also refer to anyone today who gets married deeply and many times to his work, his acquaintances, his property, or his favorite vices, to the detriment of his family and his spiritual life. We have not allowed God to work through us, for we forgot that there are many things that He can accomplish through us rather than we can accomplish through our own efforts. Yet we pray daily: “….Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The devil is also dying to beat us in the following and in many other ways:

a) In our laziness. Idle minds are the favorite playground of the devil. Lazy people are easy prey to the devil’s means to lead them away from the ways of God.

b) In loose families. A loose family doesn’t care much about growth in love and in spiritual life, as long as everyone survives. They usually are more concerned about their livelihood, accumulation of property, and convenience. The devil is an expert in presenting that accumulation of material things is very necessary to life, and he starts to work in breaking up the family that also leads to the breakdown of communities and nations.

c) In our lies. The devil is the master of deceit. He is even better with half truths. People who do not form themselves in the truth, or who do not earnestly seek the whole truth are very vulnerable targets of the work of the devil in bringing chaos and misunderstanding in families and communities.

How do we work against the devil?

a) Don’t settle for the mediocre or for an idle moment. Pray. Read the Scriptures or any valuable book. Work conscientiously. Don’t waste your precious time in gossip and useless media materials. Learn to listen actively to people who are more knowledgeable and wiser than you are, and visit people who are weak and suffering. God will not abandon you.

b) Be faithful to your family. It’s the only and best family that you can have and love intimately. If you think that grass is greener on the other side of your fence, then you have not worked on your lawn. So love your family. Pray with your family to Jesus as your daily Guest and Provider, and to Mary as your Mother and Protector. Jesus and Mary will never put you down.

c) Always seek and face the truth. The devil, who is the master of lies, hates Jesus, who is the Truth. Jesus shows us the truth, Himself. To seek the truth we need to have the humility to learn, to listen and to follow Jesus. With truth and real humility, the devil is defenseless. So speak only what is useful to your family and your neighbor, do what is right and forgive the faults of others. Do not carry the heavy burden of defending what is not true and what you have not verified. The devil will put you down, but Jesus, the Truth, will always lift you up.

The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation are very clear examples of the power of Jesus to drive out the evil spirits in us, in our families and in our communities. They make us humble with the humility of Christ. So be humble in accepting Jesus in the Sacraments, for He came to destroy evil and bring us back to the Father. With Mother Mary on our side, let us be firm in our faith and hope in Jesus as the protector of our families and our way to peace. Our responsorial psalm today should resound to us daily:

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Ps 95).

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