Archive for July, 2013
Charles L. Allen once said, “When you say a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.” I do not exactly the context when and why he said it but considering the message in itself in the light of the gospel we can somehow conclude that he was indeed correct when he said it. Why? Because there is no such thing as hopeless situation only people who have grown hopeless about their situation. And more importantly, with God nothing is hopeless. No one is hopeless. To the one who believes nothing is impossible. To the one who persistently prays nothing is impossible.
The gospel parable that we just heard is commonly known as the “The Parable of the Persistent Widow.” As the title suggests, the main theme of the Gospel is PERSISTENCY IN PRAYER.
There are people who have stopped praying because they claimed their prayers were not answered by God or they can no longer stand the delay. The way this group of peoply pray is this: “Lord, I pray for this. And I want it here and now.” Fundamental question about prayer such as “Until when should I pray?” always pops up like adwares, starwares and trojan viruses in the internet even among the devout believers? Today we are happy to know that the theme of today’s gospel parable gives us an explicit and direct answer to the question.
Considering the gospel as a whole it gives us several points:
First, the duty to pray, to pray constantly, to pray with confidence and persistence. As Jesus assures us: “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts (see CCC 2613).
Second, the answer to the prayer, persisted in, is certain. “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mk 11:24). Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22). This is best articulated to us by Bruce R. McConkie when he wrote:
“If an unjust earthly judge will finally dispense justice because of the repeated importunities of the widow, how much more shall the God of all the earth, who is the embodiment of perfect justice and impartiality, grant the just petitions of his faithful saints.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 542.)
Third, God is always on the side of the poor, needy, exploited, and oppressed. When we are suffereing and when we are in need, exploited, and oppressed the more reasons for us to pray with confidence and persistence because the Lord is always our side. If the evil judge grants justice to the widow, however reluctantly, how much more will a loving God vindicate God’s people in times of need and crisis.
Fourth, prayer is rooted and flows from faith. When we are no longer praying constantly, confidently and persistenly it’s a sign, an indication that our faith is already wavering. This is the reason why Lord warns for the failure of faith when he comes again as judge both of the living and the dead. See to it, therefore, that you still believe and pray with persistence even in a seemingly hopeless situation, even in times of desperation, even in moments when God seems to be sleeping, far and busy with other concerns.
If you belong to those group of people who stopped praying because they claimed their prayers were not answered by God or they can no longer wait pause and think about this:
God always says yes to our prayers. The yes of God however is not the yes we want it to be. If he does not give us our request, it is because he gives something better.
Yes God always reply to all our prayers. His reply may be as follows:
3. I have something better for you.
When you pray always consider and be consoled with these:
1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it.
Allow me to end my homily with an exhortation taken from the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus, “ (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
Ancient oriental culture puts a high premium on hospitality. It was considered a great honor to serve strangers. The people believed they were serving God by serving their fellow man. The people of the East base this custom on the belief that something of God is in each person. Therefore, they were very welcoming, protective and courteous to strangers. Today, in an age when picking up hitchhikers is risky and people fear strangers, true hospitality is rare.
What is hospitality? What does it mean to be hospitable?
Hospitality, in Hebrew, literally means “the bringing in of guests and strangers.” Scripture is thick with this practice. More than once, God instructs his people to welcome the stranger because “you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In Genesis 18, Abraham gives food to three strangers who turn out to be angels come to announce Isaac’s birth (it is to this event that Hebrews 13:2 refers when it instructs, “Do not forget to welcome strangers; for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”). The apostle Paul placed such a high value on hospitality that he listed it—along with temperance, sobriety, and gentleness—among the characteristics required of church leader.
What are some of the stages of hospitality?
· First, welcoming or the bringing in of guests and strangers. This also involves setting aside and preparing a welcoming space for the guest, stranger and the needy in our home and family.
· Second, the feeding and lodging of the guest, stranger, and the needy. In doing this your making your home and family a place of refuge and security for them. The basis of this is love and the understanding that all we have is from God and meant to be shared with others. Hence, hospitality is the overflowing of a heart that has to share what it has received.
· Third, the availability, the opening up of oneself, and the welcoming of the guest and the stranger into our hearts. As Christians, we aren’t meant simply to invite people into our homes, but into our lives as well. More so if our guest is Christ who is our Lord, Teacher and Savior.
This is the reason when Martha was distracted by her tasks came and asked Jesus: ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me'” (Lk 10:40). Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:41-42). Mary, by making herself available to Jesus in listening, has chosen the better part and has served the Lord in greatest hospitality as a host, friend and as a disciple of Jesus.
Christians and Jews hold in common one theological basis for hospitality: the Creation. Creation is the ultimate expression of God’s hospitality to his creatures. In the words of one rabbi, everything God created is a “manifestation of his kindness. [The} world is one big hospitality inn.” As church historian Amy Oden has put it, “God offers hospitality to all humanity … by establishing a home … for all.” To invite people into our home is to respond with gratitude to the God who made a home for us.
God calls us to do the same, not just in our homes or schools or places of business but, most especially, in our hearts. There, in such an intimate place of hospitality, we will come to hear God’s word of Love and salvation, spoken through the least of our brothers and sisters whom Jesus has identified himself when he said: “Whenever you do this to one of the least brethren of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
Jesus appointed seventy disciples and sent them on ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself intended to go. [Lk. 10:1]
The commissioning of the seventy (or seventy-two) broadened Jesus’ mission beyond the twelve disciples. In the last chapter (Lk 9:1-6), Jesus commissioned the Twelve, whom we might equate with the bishops, the clergy and the religious. Here, he commissions the Seventy, whom we might equate with the laity.
Just like what he required from the the apostles, Jesus demands from his disciples a sense of urgency, total detachment and complete abandonment to divine providence. Proclaiming the kingdom of God, therefore, becomes a responsibility for disciples in general, not just the twelve. As Pope John Paul writes, “Missionary activity is a matter for all Christians, for all dioceses and parishes, Church institutions and associations” (Redemptoris Missio, n.2).
In the past, most Catholics thought of “mission” and “missionary” only in terms of priests, brothers, and religious who were sent to the “foreign missions.” This is mission is called mission ad gentes or mission to the people who have not known yet Christ as Lord and Savior. Today, we realize: “Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his ability” (LG 17). PCP II asserts: “All are called to mission…all – without exception – are called evangelize” (PCP II 402).
What is our mission? Our main mission is evangelization. This is strongly echoed strongly by the Philippine Bishops:
This is EVANGELIZATION: the proclamation, above all, of SALVATION fro sin; the LIBERATION from everything oppressive to man; the DEVELOPMENT of man in all his dimensions, personal and communitarian; and ultimately, the RENEWAL OF SOCIETY in all its strata through the interplay of the GOSPEL TRUTHS and man’s concrete TOTAL LIFE (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 9, 29). THIS IS OUR TASK. THIS IS OUR MISSION (cbcp, “The Bond of Love in Proclaiming the Good News, ” (Pastoral Letter in The Philippine Bishops Speak 1968-1983 (Quezon City: Maryhill School of Theology, 1984), p. 145.
This mission of the Church has given rise to numerous ministries within the Church (cf. LG 18; CCC 874) and lay apostolate. The laity, therefore, is called and sent to: 1) forming a community of families; 2) Christian presence in the world; 3 service and evangelization; and 4) social transformation (cf. PCP II 419-38).
The Lord’s call to proclaim the Good News is still valid today: indeed it is ever more urgent. The call to mission acquires a singular urgency, particularly if we look at that part of humanity which still does not know Christ or recognize Him. Like Paul, we are cursed if we do not preach the Gospel. Preach, therefore, Christ and his Gospel in season and out of season! (Pope John Paul II, 75th anniversary of the World Mission Sunday)
The entire mission of the Church … needs apostles willing to persevere to the end, faithful to the mission received, following the same path traveled by Christ, “the path of poverty, obedience, service and self-sacrifice, even to death” (Ad gentes, 5). The entire mission of the Church needs not only bishops, priests and religious but, most of all, the majority lay men and women that can “make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth” (LG 33; cf. CL 14) such as “the vast and complex world of education, politics, society and economics, as well as the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts of international life, of the mass media” (cf. CFC 1425).