Keep your eyes on the Lord.
SUNDAY 6TH WEEK YEAR C
Today’s readings teach us that true happiness, or beatitude, lies in the awareness that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and that we will be happy only when we share our blessings with our brothers and sisters in need, and when we work to uplift them, thus declaring our “option for the poor,” as Jesus did. In the first reading, Jeremiah tells us that true happiness consists in placing our trust in God and in putting our trust in His promises. St. Paul warns us that true beatitude is obtainable only in Heaven and that Christ’s Resurrection gives us our assurance of reaching Heaven for an everlasting life of happiness. In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution. “Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted and denounced,” because in poverty, we recognize our dependence on God; in hunger, God’s providence; in sorrow for sins, reconciliation with God; and in persecution, the true joy of standing for the Faith with heroic convictions. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for the Faith but living these in the context of our commitment to Jesus and his spirit of sharing.
We need to respond to the challenge of the beatitudes in our daily life. The only way the promises of the beatitudes can become a reality is through the efforts of people like us. That is why we are told that we will be judged on the basis of our acts of mercy and charity (Mt. 25:31-46). St. Teresa of Calcutta, (Mother Teresa) and her Sisters have accepted this challenge and demonstrate that we can “live the beatitudes” in the modern world. Hence, let us remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick, and the oppressed, we share with them a foretaste of the promises of the beatitudes here and now. Just as the apostles were called to minister to society’s untouchables, all Christians are called to minister to the untouchables, and the discriminated, and the marginalized in our own modern society.
God wants us to live as brothers and sisters who care for one another. That is why, down through the centuries, individuals, congregations and church bodies have practiced charity in creative, faithful ways.
In the Beatitudes, the Lord reminded all of us His people, that unless we learn and try to let go of all wicked desires, and restrain all those thoughts of pride, ambition, and not allowing our ego and pride to overcome us, we will end up falling into sin, deeper and deeper, and eventually sin leads to death, and not just any death, but eternal death and damnation. For those who sin and does not repent, they have no part in the Covenant that God had made with all those who are faithful to Him.
Moreover, through the Beatitudes, God is calling us all to follow the path that He had set before us all. He is calling us to be faithful, in all things and in all of our dealings and actions, that we place God as the very core and center of our lives and existences. We are called to be peacemakers, to be those who bring the love of God to one another, sharing the love and blessings, which He has so generously given us, so that each one of us may enjoy the fruits of God’s wonderful love.
Let us all grow in faith in God, and devote ourselves to love God and to turn ourselves away from the path of sin and wickedness. Let us all strive to overcome our attachment to worldly temptations and goods, and instead, make the effort to put our complete trust in God. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our strength, and let us all grow ever closer to Him, from now on, through the lessons of the Beatitudes, and bear the fruits of the Beatitudes of Christ in our daily living.
SUNDAY 5TH WEEK YEAR C
In each of the three readings Isaiah, Paul and Peter feel they have very good excuses for not accepting God’s call. None of them feels worthy or capable enough. Isaiah’s reply is “What a wretched state I am in, I am a man of unclean lips”. Paul says that he hardly deserves the name of apostle, being the least of the apostles at a time when nobody even himself remotely expected this. Peter tells Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish: “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man”. Each one knows that he is in the presence of the Holy One and believe that they are totally unworthy of God’s choice of them. They experience what we might call ‘Spiritual Inferiority’
God chooses us because He is good and not because we are worthy. Jesus does not deny what Peter says about being a sinful man but he calls him nevertheless in the hope that Peter will realize that the work Jesus is entrusting to him could never be accomplished by man or woman without the powerful help of God’s Spirit. It will take a whole lifetime to realize how we need God’s help. So here, Simon as he was then called gets a new name, Peter, a new job and a new image and all three take time to complete their transformation.
In that we are baptized we too, like Peter, are called to witness to God in the world. It is not Isaiah, Paul and Peter who choose God. It is the very opposite and that is what matters. Maybe we can see the demands involved. We might prefer to opt out. If that is our choice then God will leave us free to do if we wish. But we will never have the deep peace and joy we seek if we search for it in other places apart from God.
God sees the marvelous potential in each of us. We each have different roles to play in God’s desire to bring about his kingdom of truth, peace, justice and forgiveness here on earth be it as parents, children, priests, religious etc.
Peter had worked hard all night and caught nothing. Jesus asked him to try again. He could have objected saying he was exhausted or that there were no fish where they had failed to catch any. However, he responded to Jesus and tried again. Look at the result. Sometimes we too may get tired of trying to be good Christians. We may get bored, disillusioned with what we sometimes see going on in the church. We may want to give up on ourselves or on others who disappoint or even betray us. To all of us Jesus says, ‘try again’. I am with you. I count you worthy. You have great potential. But we must be like Isaiah, Paul and Peter realize deeply that we cannot succeed alone. Like Peter, we may fish all night in darkness, but Jesus invites us to call on his help. He is the Light of the World and he will make our efforts fruitful in his own way and in his own time.
In the gospel today Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom (verses 1-3) and fishing, the daily work of these people (verses 4-7) are interrelated. It is an important lesson for us. The gospel must be proclaimed on the basis of people’s lives – yours and mine. Ultimately, of course it is only out of our own personal understanding of who God is that we will witness to here and now. If we think, God is out to punish us and send us to hell then that is the God we will reveal to others. If my experience of God is of someone who loves me passionately and unconditionally, chooses me to work for him despite my failings and sins, knowing that I am forgiven, a loved saved sinner, then that is the God I will witness to.
Jesus invites us all to enter into a new experience of God, to a surprise which only God can work out. God wants to use each one of us to do His work. He does not look at our sinfulness; rather, He comes to our aid. Peter though he was a sinful man was given the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. It is not sin that keeps us away from God but the persistence in sin. Peter after hearing Jesus’s words followed him and became a new being.
Today’s Gospel invites us to do what peter and his companions did, to persevere in our efforts in life. It also invites us to involve Jesus in our efforts in life.
SUNDAY 4TH WEEK YEAR C
The central theme of today’s readings is that we should have and show the courage of our Christian convictions in our day-to-day lives in our communities, when we face hatred and rejection because of our Christian Faith. In both the first reading and the Gospel, Jeremiah and Jesus are presented as prophets, chosen, consecrated and sent to their brothers and sisters as emissaries of the Word of God. The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In the second reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts was causing competition, jealousy and divisiveness. He courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love. He warns them that, if exercised without love, even the gifts of tongues, knowledge, Faith and generosity are useless. The reading shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Along with Jeremiah, Jesus and Paul believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
Let us face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect or abuse. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of such rejection. We must realize that God’s power is always available to transform even the most unlikely people and that His power may come to us through unlikely instruments.
Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives. The story of Jesus’ rejection by his townsfolk is also a story about how we often ignore and reject God.
We must have the prophetic courage of our convictions. By our Baptism, God calls us to be prophets like Jesus, sharing his prophetic mission. The task of a prophet is to speak and to live out God’s truth. We must never be afraid of this call, for it is Jesus who will supply us with the courage, the words and the deeds we will need to oppose the many evils in our society.
We reject Jesus Christ when we give hatred to others instead of love. We reject Jesus Christ when we close our minds and hearts to the commandments of God. We reject Jesus Christ when we plan and execute evil and fail to do good. The opposite of rejection is acceptance. God is inviting us today to reappraise how we accept and return His unfailing love for us. Furthermore, there is the need for us to examine how we accept the good news through commitment and active participation in the celebration of the Word and the Sacraments.
We need to rise beyond the name “Christians” and thrive to live the Christian life. The Christian life consists of total acceptance and purposeful choice of doing the will of God in season and out of season. The Christian life also involves defending our faith even when we are confronted by trials knowing that He who knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb would protect us from the siege of those who fight against us.
We are told in our first reading, an incredibly important truth, The Lord Rejoices in YOU!
We often feel incredibly unworthy, but God rejoices in us.
Baptism of the Lord.
A picture is worth a thousand words.