Wealth

During our gospel reflection today in the Diocese of Imus servant’s training, I reflected on this message, is it hard for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God?

The rich young man was an upright Jew who obeyed the commandments of the Lord all his life. Yet was attached to his wealth and could not follow Jesus as a disciple.

Wealth

Saint Paul tells us that nothing can outweigh the knowledge of Christ Jesus. But in this man’s case in the gospel, he had allowed something else to outweigh Christ. Comfort, security and material things beat the invitation of Christ to be perfect. Attachments lead to sadness; there is no room for God in a heart that is already full of the things of this world. Only detachment leads to true joy. God gives himself to the one who seeks him without any strings attached.

Wealth, if earned through honest means, is not intrinsically evil.

In fact, wealth can be used to do much good for others. Jesus does not demand that we give up all our wealth before we can become his disciples.

Jesus cautions us against attachment to our riches which limits our freedom to go where the Lord bids and do what the Lord asks of us.

I was inspired by the story of Sis. Siony, she was 84 years old, a retired public school teacher and chose to serve God more together with the senior catechist of the diocese.

They opted to serve God more than anything else and share the catechesis with children.

The Bible readings remind us that as Christians, we are called to go beyond just keeping the ten commandments to the point of being willing to surrender all that we have as we face trials and tribulations in order to follow the Lord Jesus.

We, too, are asked to do what is humanly impossible, but with GOD’s help is possible – to surrender our lives for the GOoD of others.

Let us be faithful to our calling to be disciples of Christ as we face the trials we face as His followers.

Let us also be willing to let go of our possessions so we can both follow the Lord Jesus more and also share with those who have less than us.

For us, it is impossible to love at all times, but not for God. All things are possible with God. If we ask the Father for forgiveness and lean on Jesus and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit, we become more loving. We become more heavenly.

Heart

I grew up in the artsy and historical neighborhood of Sta. Ana in Manila and Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM was our Parish Priest in Our Lady of the Abandoned back then.

I will never forget his informative homily and inspiring messages of hope.

He gave profound messages about the love of God and love as a verb in the light of the gospel.

Sharing his reflections, which was the main theme of the Gospel this Sunday.

Love one another, heart

Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM in action. My wife and I visits the historical Spanish architecture inspired church of Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in Sta. Ana, Manila last December 2017

During the early centuries of the Church, when Christians were being persecuted and martyred, some of them offered to die in place of others (just like St. Maximilian Kolbe did during World War II in the concentration camp of Auschwich). The pagans were amazed at this and remarked, “See how they love one another.”

Reading today’s papers or watching the news on TV, all we can say is, “See how they kill one another. See how they cheat one another. See how they insult one another.” (Wait till the electoral campaign begins.)

The great Mahatma Gandhi, when asked to express his views about Christianity, said: “ I have great respect for Christianity. I often read the Sermon of the Mount and have gained much from it. I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. However, the trouble is with you, Christians. You do not being to live up to your own teachings.”

Another Hindu monk who read the story of Jesus in the gospel said to a Christian: “If you can live what is taught in this book, you will convert the whole of India in five years.”

Of course, not everything is dark and negative about us.

There are also some good things going for us. Fr. Joseph Dau Vu, SVD, chaplain to Vietnamese refugees in Morong, Bataan, tells how the “boat people” were abused, robbed and even killed by fishermen from neighboring countries. But when Filipino fishermen spotted them, they offered them food and shelter. Why – they wondered? Because they are Christians. (Cf. Bel San Luis, SVD, Word Alive, Year C. p. 57)

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Jesus made this pronouncement in his farewell discourse, during the Last Supper. Hence, it is his last and most urgent wish.

As if he were saying: “I am going now. You might forget all the other things I did and said. Just don’t forget this one. This is the summary of everything I have told you.” And so it is indeed; for this is what our final “exam” will be about: Not about doctrines, not about catechism, not about the Bible, but about LOVE: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Etc.

Why is this commandment called new? What is new about it? Love of neighbor is found in the Old Testament: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev.19:18) All other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) teach about love also.

What, then, is new in Christ’s commandment? “As I have loved you,” that’s what is new. Our love has to be like Christ’s, that is, sacrificial. Not emotional, not romantic, but self-sacrificing – to the point of death.

Love means different things to different people. It is perhaps the most used and abused word in the dictionary. In the name of love, young lovers elope, or steal. In the name of a newly-found “love” some spouses abandon home and children. That might be passion, infatuation or lust; but certainly not Christ’s love.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ”We usually recognize people by their uniform or attire, by which we can tell whether a person is a doctor, a policeman or a security guard. In church we wear habits, pins or crosses.

We know well, however, that these external symbols can be quite deceiving.

We often hear stories about truants disguised as priests, policemen, collectors etc. whose sole purpose is to extort money.

Christ did not choose any external mark or symbol to identify his followers.

Love is, or should be, the mark of our identity, our uniform and our habit.

We may wear crosses or pins, recite rosaries and novenas, receive holy communions, etc.

If then we go home and abuse or insult our household help, our yayas, our drivers…we simply are not true disciplesof Christ. Discipleship is not a matter of external attire; it is a matter of a loving heart.