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Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Lord says ... Luke 14:1, 7-14


*SUNDAY GOSPEL
On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing Him carefully.  He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.  “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.  A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,  ‘Give your place to this man,’  and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.  Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say,  ‘ My friend, move up to a higher position.’  Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.  

"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, 
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  

Then he said to the host who invited him,  

“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, 
do not invite your friends 
or your brothers 
or your relatives 
or your wealthy neighbors, 
in case they may invite you back 
and you have repayment.  
Rather, when you hold a banquet, 
invite the poor, 
the crippled, 
the lame, 
the blind;  
blessed indeed will you be 
because of their inability to repay you.  
For you will be repaid 
at the resurrection of the righteous.”


GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS
Generosity and kindness are two simple words to comprehend easily, but hard to put into practice in our life. Because in reality, how come we are more generous and kind towards other people whom we know personally or have become intimate with rather than to beggars living in the streets, especially those knocking at our car’s window?  How come we often speak well and nicely to other people, like our work associates and friends rather than to our own family members?  How come we are hospitable to our friends to welcome them in our house rather than to our own family members? 

In other words, being the giver, generosity and kindness should be deeply rooted in our hearts to feel the unexplainable spirit of happiness about giving without expecting anything in return and being kind to others.  On the other hand, if we are going to put ourselves in the shoes of the one begging,  how do we feel when we ask and be rejected and treated unkindly by other people?  So, which side should we choose?

I have a friend who has been living in California for many years already.  In our conversation, she told me this story about her humble beginnings before she finally settled down in her own apartment.  She used to live in a boarding care facility only because she worked as a caregiver.  One time, she was invited by her cousin to stay with her family because she would become homeless already within two days after quitting her job.  She accepted her cousin’s invitation, packed up her things, and picked up by her cousin as scheduled.  Upon her arrival, she greeted her unmarried aunt (not her cousin’s mother) who was living with them in the same house.  Instead of being hospitable to her, she grudgingly threw harsh words on her.  In spite of her aunt’s untoward behavior,  she didn’t respond to her negatively.  Her cousin couldn’t respond to what their unmarried aunt was doing.  Her cousin’s mother was not living with them anymore, but her father is.    

While in the room together, her aunt was still annoyed with her presence in the house because she kept on murmuring.  She was really wondering why her aunt bent all her anger to her for she hasn’t even done anything wrong to her personally.  Her aunt mentioned about her eldest sister and brother not treating her well previously in the past.   My friend told me that she asked her eldest sister about such unkind treatment she showed to their aunt, but her eldest sister denied it. So, in other words, my friend was in the middle of war between her aunt and her eldest sister.   Because of the uncompromising situation, she left her cousin’s house two days after.  Luckily, she got hired by a good company and has been living life alone by herself in her own apartment.  

On the birthday celebration of her cousin,  she was invited again by her cousin to join them.  Their two other elder aunts were also present, as well as, her cousin’s father.  During the meal, the same unmarried aunt who hates her, uttered harsh words again to her.  In front of everybody, she courageously just asked her unmarried aunt why she had to bend her anger on her for she hasn’t done her anything wrong.  Everybody was quiet, but her unmarried aunt replied by saying,  “Because you are the sister that I needed to inform you of my grudges against your eldest sister and brother.”  Then my friend didn’t finish her meal and decided to leave the celebration.  She saw her elder aunt talking to her unmarried aunt, while her cousin’s father showed sign of irritation with his sister-in-law’s improper behavior. 

Few weeks passed,  her unmarried aunt called her, but my friend didn’t answer her aunt's first call.  At the second try, she picked up her phone and answered her aunt’s second call calmly.  Her unmarried aunt talked to her calmly, too, as if there was nothing that happened.  But she didn’t apologize for her unruly behavior. 


One time, while at work, her elder aunt called her, too, to ask her to forgive her youngest sister for what she did.  Because of her elder aunt’s pleading, she forgave her unmarried aunt in her heart. In ending my friend’s story, she found out that her unmarried aunt left the country already. 

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"I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a


Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Lord says ... Luke 13:22-30


*SUNDAY GOSPEL
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as He went and making His way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked Him,  “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  He answered them,  


“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, 
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, 
but will not be strong enough."  

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying,  ‘Lord, open the door for us.’  He will say to you in reply,  ‘I do not know where you are from.’  And you will say,  ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  Then he will say to you,  ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!’  And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.  And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  


"For behold, 
some are last who will be first, 
and some are first who will be last.”

  



THE NARROW GATE
Oftentimes in our life, we always strive to be a better person in the midst of failures, trials, struggles, or problems.  But why is it that there are instances that we become good or better for few days, or weeks, or months only and then we go back to our old self, even worst than before?   Mainly, because we give in more to our inner desires that are detrimental to how we should live our life  which can affect our relationship with God.  To put it simply, we, humans, are weak.  Life is full of struggles and in every stage of difficulties, our inner self is always challenged to make a decision.  No one has a shield, like an “iron man” to protect him or her in the battlefield of war between good and evil.  It’s either we succeed or fail, gain or lose, die or live, fight or surrender in our life.  That’s why, at this stage, the narrow gate to salvation is not for every one of us.  It’s not a guaranteed that we can all pass through this narrow gate,  if we are not faithful and consistent with our living the Gospel in our daily life.  Our strength and hope are found only in one, true God – Jesus Christ, who can accompany us in our journey of life’s struggles.

I have a friend whose husband has physically and verbally abused her for many years.  He did it not only once or twice, but every time he is being confronted by his wife, he physically and verbally abuses her.  Every time he becomes physically brutal to her, she wants to leave him and calls for legal separation to threaten him.  At this instance, he mellows down and asks for forgiveness.  He promises to be good to her and won’t hurt her anymore physically and verbally.  My friend told me that he would just behave for a month only and turn to his old self once he becomes agitated again. He likes gambling, drinking, and womanizing. My friend detests all his wrongdoings, while he is not willing to give up all his vices.  But she still wants to have her family intact and save the marriage for the sake of her two children.   I salute her for all the sacrifices she has been doing for the sake of her children.  Only God can judge....       


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" I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."

Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a