|THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT||
The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday challenges us to a higher calling: to “be watchful,” to be vigilant, and to be responsible. The founder of Opus Dei, Jose Maria Escriva, gives this exhortation in his book Friends of God: “Your life is for God, for the good of all men, through your love for our Lord. Your buried talent - dig it up again! MAKE IT YIELD.”
The word of God in Luke 21:34-35, written over 2000 years ago, prophesied to the struggle that generations would face in pursuing the virtues of Christian living. Fast forward to the 21st century. Newark is in one of the most technologically advanced societies and the most densely populated states in the United States. This is the reality of the environment of a BLD disciple, and this message is more urgent and critical than ever.
Life is definitely full of challenges. Many times I thought of just giving up and letting go when challenges come my way, especially when it comes to my marital relationship. Who wouldn’t think of giving up particularly if the pain is caused by someone we love so much and dear to us? Some people easily forgive, move on and forget the pain; others hold grudges in their hearts and continue to hurt. The latter is definitely unhealthy, though this is the typical way of dealing with pain; after all, we are just humans.
In Part 1 of this series on the Book of Revelation, we reviewed the basics of the Book of Revelation: it is a letter, a prophecy, and an apocalypse all in one. We also reviewed how Catholics are to interpret scripture. We also briefly noted Raymond Brown’s outline of the structure of Revelation. In this post, we will pay close attention to the Letters to the Seven Churches.
As a prophetic, apocalyptic, and “epistolary” text, Revelation is addressed to real communities living in the first century A.D. Just as Paul wrote letters to specific communities with specific issues, we must assume that John of Patmos did not pick seven churches on whim. He had their situation in mind. So it may be helpful to ask, “What did John of Patmos see?”
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:2-3)
God has given me so many great things. Even though I don’t always realize His blessings, I’m so thankful for all He’s done. He gave me a great family and loving friends that I can always count on. God provided me with a safe home and school to attend. I can’t thank Him enough for helping me go through all my hard school work every week. The Lord helps me realize that everything is possible and that I shouldn’t give up. He’s blessed me with my John 6 and JC #14 family who make me smile each day. I thank God for the gift of life, from waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night. He’s given me the ability to pray and to worship Him every Friday. God is the reason why I smile, laugh, and live each day. Even though I don’t see Him, I know He’s there watching over me. I thank Him for everything! - JC 6
When we read the Book of Revelation, we may wonder, is the world really ending, and is it ending soon? These are two questions that the Book of Revelation poses. The answers are not always clear if we read the Book of Revelation on our own, and oftentimes the interpretations offered in popular books are not helpful either. In the last two hundred years, it has become popular among some Christians to read Revelation as a step-by-step prediction of the end of the world, which they believe to be near. We need to remember that this is a difficult text. Yet despite it complexity, we can certainly appreciate the message at the heart of the Book of Revelation: Jesus is Lord, and we need to undergo ongoing conversion and persevere in true faith, not simply so that we ourselves might be saved, but also as a sign to others.
“Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” (Lk 19:45-46)
Whenever these verses of the Bible are read, my mind harkens back to when I was young, back in the Philippines. There the approaches to the churches were full of vendors selling their wares.
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” (Matthew 25:21)
God’s word this past Sunday is ideal for the occasion as we all share in the Master's joy for blessing our community with nineteen couples who are the members of ME #44. Our listening God answered our prayers and rewarded our efforts because of our Faith in Him. We feel the joy of serving because our efforts were done out of love and humility.
Let us welcome the 19 members of ME #44 with the love of God through our prayers so their journey will continue, preferably with our community and through the guidance of their class shepherds, Nelson & Noemi Ilagan.
“… older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.” (Ti 2:3-5)
Indeed witnessing is a powerful tool. The caring words we speak, the careful steps we take, the just actions and wise decisions we make can convince a negative and doubtful person to believe God’s words. Alternatively, our insensitive words and actions can lead hopeful Christians astray and cause unfavorable long-term consequences.
Two interesting but contrasting figures appear in this Sunday’s readings. The woman in Proverbs can be seen as a very busy and accomplished wife and mother. She applies herself, industriously utilizing her personal skills; she is compassionate and generous to the poor and has reverence for the Lord. Meanwhile, in the Gospel’s parable of the talents, we see the rejected servant as totally unproductive.
To nurture and promote the love of the Gospel of Christ.