Great Surprises

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

God’s generosity always brings great surprises. All that we are and have are gifts that we need to share with others. He created us with all our capabilities not for selfish interests, but for the good of all. He created our eyes so that we can see His Glory. He created our feet so that we can reach people and their situation, especially God’s poor, and to preach the Good News to them, for “how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God is King” (Is 52:7). He created our hands so that we can reach out to our neighbors in their need. But because of our selfishness, envy and jealousy of others, we promote our own glory and fame, we nurture our comfort zones and become complacent, and we aim at taking and receiving more and keep for ourselves all that we have. This is one reason why Jesus would say that it is better for us not to have what we have – our eyes, feet, hands, intellect, will, time, talent, treasure and our capacities – if they hinder our relationship with God and lose eternal life. For it is when we withhold our capabilities for God’s glory and the good of His people, that we bring scandal, especially to His little ones.

God bestowed His Spirit on the seventy two elders (1st reading) and they proclaimed His presence among the Israelites. We also receive this gift of prophecy at baptism. Moses told Joshua: Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!” (Nm 11:29). Thus, envy and jealousy have no place among us, in our families and in our community. Envy and jealousy corrode the love and goodness in our hearts, and they erode our hope in God and in God’s people. Envy and jealousy lead us to complain about other people’s capabilities and criticize arrogantly their weaknesses. This is one reason why many are alienated from one another.

St. James declares that withholding what is meant for others is a transgression against the generosity of God, and God will also withhold what is meant for you or take away what He gave you, for you cannot legitimately take both what is yours and what is not yours:

– if you withhold love, you lose others’ love for you;

– if you withhold respect for others, you lose peace with your neighbor;

– if you withhold the care of your family, you lose your sense of responsibility that promotes a happy family;

– if you withhold the life of the unborn and promote the culture of death through abortion and artificial contraception, you lose God’s gift of life;

– if you withhold time for prayer because of too much exposure to television and to the world’s distractions and pleasures, you also withhold what is proper to God, and you lose the wisdom that God can give you in silence, study, reflection and prayer;

– if you withhold the goodness of your soul, you also lose grasp of the beauty and glory of God manifested in His creation;

– if you withhold food for the hungry and waste it at the same time, you lose your opportunity and obligation to be in solidarity with the poor, whom God loves; and

– if, with extravagance and vanity, you turn away from God’s children and withhold your capacity to uplift their condition and develop their capacity to grow in the knowledge and love of God, you defeat God’s purpose of life for you to live as brother or sister to others.

In his letter to the Philippians St. Paul tells us: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus” (2:3-5). Every act of forgiveness, of generosity, of conscious and humble example of justice, of active participation and involvement in the life of the Church, of bringing the life of God to His people, all these will not be wanting for reward and are manifestation of the generosity of God.

God calls us to rise from our graves of envy, jealousy and selfishness that bring alienation and animosity among His children. Only the love of God can make this happen. In the book of Ezekiel, God says to him: “prophesy over these bones…. I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you….thus you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ez 37:4-6).

With Mary, our Mother and Queen, let us stand before Jesus who gives us life and strength, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, and brings us forgiveness and confidence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that He can continue the good works He has started in us. Let us bring life and joy to God’s children through our generosity and love for them; and let no capacity be wasted for selfish motives only, but only for the glory of God and the salvation of all.

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