Abide in Him

April 28, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Eucharist, Faith, Father Nixon, Love, Obedience, Sacraments, St. Paul, Strength, Trust

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Acts 9:26-31 / Ps 22 / 1 Jn 3:18-24 / Jn 15:1-8
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

As we come to the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves immersed in a season of renewal and growth.  The readings for this Sunday offer profound insights into the themes of love, unity, and the transformative power of faith.

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, offers a powerful example of the transformative power of faith.  We witness the conversion of Saul, who after encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, undergoes a profound spiritual transformation.  Formerly a persecutor of Christians, Saul becomes Paul, one of the greatest apostles of the early Church.  His conversion serves as a reminder that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy.  It is never too late for redemption, and God can work miracles in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the second reading, from the first letter of John, we are reminded of the centrality of love in the Christian life.  Love is not merely a sentiment or emotion, but a concrete expression of our commitment to God and one another.  As followers of Christ, we are called to love, not only in word or speech, but in deed and truth.  Our love for others becomes a tangible sign of our discipleship and a reflection of God’s love for us.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus presents the metaphor of the vine and the branches, illustrating the intimate relationship between Himself and His disciples.  Just as branches draw nourishment and life from the vine, so we too draw our strength and vitality from our connection to Christ.  This imagery reminds us of the importance of remaining rooted in Christ, for apart from Him, we can do nothing.

This passage invites us to reflect on the nature of our own relationship with Christ.  Are we actively abiding in Him, allowing His love to flow through us and bear fruit in our lives?  Do we seek to cultivate a deep and abiding faith that sustains us through life’s trials and challenges?  As we ponder these questions, we are called to recommit ourselves to the journey of discipleship, continually striving to deepen our connection with Christ and bear witness to His love in the world.

Somebody once compared a Christian to a basketball player.  He said that to be a good player, it is not enough that you know how to dribble or avoid getting fouls.  What matters most is to be able to shoot, to make points, and to be productive.  We are called to not only observe and learn about Jesus, but also to allow Jesus and His presence, His message, His attitudes to become so much a part of us that Jesus lives in us, and we live in God and abide in each other.  Further, we gain our source, our meaning, and our fruitfulness from that connection to Christ.  Without Jesus, our efforts are misdirected and fruitless.  Connected to Jesus, our actions and efforts can bear much fruit by God working in and through our lives.

The great saint Thomas Aquinas contended that we could have an idea of religion through the meaning of the three etymologies of the Latin word religio:  to bind—religare, to read—legere, to choose— eligere.  We are by nature religious beings.  We come from God, and we’ll return to God.  We can lead the fullness of human life if we fully bind ourselves with God.  We read our life’s situation in the light of God’s kingdom, and we choose to love God above all things.  Real happiness results when there is communion with God in our lives.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit.”  The connection to this image of the vine and branches can’t help but highlight the importance of the Eucharist.  In the Eucharist, Jesus comes to us in the form of food and drink.  We take Jesus in, and He becomes part of us so that we may become more like Christ in our words, actions, and lives.  The gospel you heard today is very special, because it shows us that we are all connected to our Lord.  We are friends and members of Jesus.

What Jesus wants to teach us in today’s gospel is the extreme necessity for us to remain.  What does to remain in Christ mean?  To remain in Christ means first, to listen to Him and keep His words.  Actually, we can refuse to listen to Him at all or we can listen to Him and then render Him lip service unsupported by any good deeds.  We can accept Him as Lord and then abandon Him in the midst of difficulties and temptations or attribute all of our difficulties and temptations to Him.

Second, is to recognize that Christ alone is the real vine, and that without Him we can do nothing of value to God.

Third, is to live in the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ.  (One of the popes appropriately said that one who does not have the Church as his or her mother cannot have God as his or her Father.)

Fourth, is to see God in all persons and things, even in our enemies and those things we do not like.

Fifth, is to have an active sacramental and prayer life.  Do we always pray?  Do we regularly attend Mass on Sundays?  Do we avail ourselves of the sacrament of confession?  How about if we spend just a few minutes talking about the word of God instead of talking about nothing?

Lastly, is to be convinced that there is a need to prune the structures, methods, approaches, and other things that have become old and obsolete in order to give way to new ones and to remain always with Christ, the everlasting, who Himself is the vine.

As we meditate on the readings this Sunday, may we be inspired to deepen our relationship with Christ, to bear fruit in our lives, and to love one another as He has loved us.  May we, like the early disciples, be empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of salvation and to be agents of transformation in the world.

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He Lays Down His Life

April 21, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Comfort, Discipleship, Father Nixon, Obedience, Service, Trust, Vocations

Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 21, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Acts 4:8-12 / Ps 118 / 1 Jn 3:1-2 / Jn 10:11-18
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Perhaps you are already very familiar with Psalm 23, the most popular psalm, on the Good Shepherd. Jesus, in our gospel today, tells us that He came precisely so that we may live with that life, peace, and happiness described in Psalm 23. Part of it I will read to you:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures He gives me repose.
Beside restful waters He leads me.
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil.
For You are at my side with Your rod and Your staff that give me courage.”

As we ponder upon our readings this Sunday, our hearts are drawn to the profound imagery of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In this beautiful passage from the Gospel of St. John, we are reminded of the tender care and unwavering love that Jesus, our Shepherd, extends to each of us.

As we reflect on this imagery, we are invited to contemplate our relationship with Jesus. Just as a shepherd knows his sheep by name and lays down his life for them, Jesus knows each of us intimately, and selflessly offers Himself for our salvation. It’s a comforting thought, knowing that amidst life’s uncertainties and challenges, we have a shepherd who guides, protects, and sustains us.

This middle Sunday of Easter season is traditionally celebrated as Good Shepherd Sunday. We lift up the particular image of Jesus and the way of thinking about God’s care for us. We hear the deeply comforting words of Psalm 23. We are reminded that Jesus not only protects us in our darkest hour, but that He freely laid down His life for us. What greater love can be imagined?

This image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is one that is well-known, and so it should be. When we think of Him in this image, it brings to our mind all kinds of images which recall the ways in which Our Lord cares for us. As stated in Psalm 23, God Himself is depicted in lovely ways as the shepherd of His people.

Perhaps most significantly are the promises that God makes through His prophets that, since no one else is worthy or able to assume the responsibility, He will Himself come and be His people’s shepherd. In His care, people will be safe, and they will be content.

With this in mind, we hear Jesus’ claim, and we cannot help but be struck by the significance of it. His claim is that He is God, come to His people as promised, to be their shepherd. He is the fulfiller of the long hopes of God’s people.

Why did Jesus use this image of the Good Shepherd? In Palestine, the shepherd brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night. It was a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night, the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body, which meant they would not get out at all during the night.

Jesus is the gate, and anyone who enters through Him will be safe and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

The Church calls us to reflect on our role as sheep in Jesus’ flock. Do we listen attentively to His voice, trusting in His guidance, even when the path ahead seems unclear? Do we allow ourselves to be led to the green pastures of spiritual nourishment and the still waters of His peace? Or do we wander off, entangled in the destructions and temptations of the world?

Moreover, the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd challenges us to consider our own role as shepherds to others. How do we extend Christ’s love and compassion to those around us, especially to those who are lost, vulnerable, or in need of care? Are we willing to emulate Jesus’ sacrificial love, laying down our lives for the sake of others?

This Sunday is also known as Vocation Sunday, and vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are highlighted. There is something that we are asking of the Lord. There is something that we want of the Lord. We are asking the Lord to send more men and women to serve in His vineyard and especially more men to serve as shepherds as priests and deacons in the Church. Yet the fact is that many are called, but few have responded.

So let us ask the Lord to open the hearts of those He has called, so that they will follow the Good Shepherd in laying down their lives to serve God and His people. On our part, let us pray, and let us also encourage those who are discerning the call of the Lord, that may the Eternal Shepherd send us good shepherds who will serve with love and lead the people of God to green pastures and peaceful waters as well as through the valleys of darkness and distress.

In the vales of the world, often fraught with division and uncertainty, the image of the Good Shepherd offers us hope and reassurance. It reminds us that we are never alone, that we are cherished and protected by a Shepherd who will never abandon us. As we journey through life, let us strive to follow the voice of our Shepherd, trusting His guidance, and seeking to share His love with all whom we encounter.

May Jesus Christ be praised.

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Who Is This Man?

March 24, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Commitment, Discipleship, Faith, Father Nixon, Lent, Obedience, Sin

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
March 24, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Is 50:4-7 / Ps 22 / Phil 2:6-11 / Mk 14:1-15:47
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Today we embark on a profound journey that encapsulates the contrasting emotions of jubilation and solemnity, celebration and sacrifice.  As we wave palm branches and chant “Hosanna,” we join the crowd in welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem, acknowledging Him as our King and Savior.  Yet, intertwined with this triumphant entry, is the shadow of the cross looming over Him.

Today, the Church begins Holy Week with Palm or Passion Sunday.  What is the correct title?  Is it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?  Well, actually, it is both. At the beginning of the Mass today, there is the blessing of the palm branches, and then there is the long gospel narrative of the suffering and death of Jesus.  What does all of this mean as we begin Holy Week, going on to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter?

With Palm Sunday, we begin the yearly journey, a journey not so much toward a destination, but a journey into a sacred time.  We follow Jesus as He accomplishes His Paschal Mystery, which is His suffering, death, and resurrection, or in simple terms, the saving mission of Jesus.  Jesus wants to save us from our sins and bring us closer to God.  The readings of Palm Sunday invite us to reflect deeply on the mysteries of Christ’s Passion, inviting us to walk alongside Him in His final moments.

In the gospel narrative, we witness the fickleness of human nature as the same crowd that hailed Jesus with hosannas later cries out for His crucifixion.  This stark comparison challenges us to examine our own commitment to Christ.  Are we truly devoted to Him, or do we falter when faced with adversity or societal pressure?  From the depths of human weakness and sinfulness, Jesus wants to lift us up to God and to living a life of holiness, a life for which God has created us to live.  As we walk with Jesus through St. Mark’s account of the Passion, we are challenged to answer, perhaps for the first time, or perhaps for the hundredth time, the Jesus question:  Who is this man that died on the cross and what does His death have to do with me?

The painfully detailed description of Jesus’ sufferings will bear no fruit in us unless we face this question and offer our personal answer.  Our answer may start us on a lifelong commitment to Christ, or it may deepen a commitment we made long ago.  We may struggle with darkness and with many more questions and find ourselves on our knees at the foot of the cross, but we cannot walk away from the Passion without an answer.

There is so much to ponder as we read the account of the plot to kill Jesus, the anointing at Bethany, the treachery of Judas, the Passover preparations, Jesus’ prophecy of His betrayal, His institution of the Eucharist, His agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal, arrest, and trial, Peter’s denial, the judgement of Pilate, Jesus’ humiliation and torture, His crucifixion, death, and burial.  We could spend a lifetime mining the depths of the Passion narrative and this would be a fruitful way to spend a lifetime.

The urgent issue, however is that we truly encounter Jesus through this story.  We do not know how long our lifetime will be.  We cannot wait.  We cannot put off our answer until a tomorrow that may never come for us.  The Passion narrative invites us to contemplate Christ’s unwavering obedience to the Father’s will, even in the face of immense suffering.  Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane reveals the depth of His humanity as He grapples with the impending ordeal, but His prayer, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me.  Still, not my will, but yours be done,” embodies the epitome of submission and trust in God’s plan.

As we meditate on Christ’s journey to Calvary, we are confronted with the harsh realities of sin and its consequences.  The betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter, and the abandonment by His disciples, serve as poignant reminders of human frailty and the prevalence of moral weakness.  Yet, amidst these betrayals, Jesus extends forgiveness and compassion, exemplifying divine mercy in the face of human sinfulness.

At the heart of Palm Sunday lies the profound mystery of redemption, the sacrificial love of Christ poured out for our salvation.  Jesus willingly embraces the cross, bearing the weight of our sins so that we may be reconciled with God.  His cry of abandonment, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” echoes through the ages, encapsulating the depths of His solidarity with humanity in its darkest hour.

Palm Sunday beckons us to journey alongside Christ embracing the paradox of the cross, the instrument of suffering transformed into a symbol of victory and redemption.  May we, like the faithful centurion who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, profess with conviction, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”  May our hearts be stirred with gratitude for the immense sacrifice of love offered for our salvation, and may we respond with renewed dedication to follow Christ faithfully, even to the foot of the cross.

As we enter into Holy Week, no matter how many times we have walked the way of the cross with Jesus, watched Him die, attended His burial, and dwelt in darkness at the tomb waiting for the light, it is a time for us to face right now the central question, Who is this this man who died on the cross and what does His death have to do with me?

 

 

 

 

 

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Ascend the Mountain of Prayer

February 25, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Baptism, Commitment, Discipleship, Father Nixon, Lent, Obedience, Prayer, Trust

Second Sunday of Lent
February 25, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 / Ps 116 / Rom 8:31b-34 / Mk 9:2-10
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

As we journey through the Lenten season, the readings invite us to pause, reflect, and deepen our commitment to spiritual growth and transformation. This Sunday’s scriptures call us to embrace the call of discipleship, acknowledging the challenges and joys that come with following Christ.

The first reading, from the book of Genesis, recounts the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, demonstrating profound obedience and trust in God’s providence. Abraham’s faith challenges us to examine our own willingness to surrender our desires and plans to God, even when it requires great sacrifice. Like Abraham, we are called to trust that God will provide and to step out in faith, knowing that His promises are faithful and true.

In the second reading, from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, we are reminded of the power of God’s grace to transform us from within. Paul writes of the assurance we have as heirs with Christ, heirs who are called to share in His suffering and glory. This passage invites us to reflect on the ways in which we are called to die to self and to live for Christ, allowing His grace to shape and mold us into His likeness.

The gospel reading from Mark recounts the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, where Peter, James, and John witness His divine glory. This extraordinary moment reminds us of the importance of encountering God in prayer and contemplation. Like the disciples, we are called to ascend the mountain of prayer, to seek moments of intimacy with God, and to be transformed by His presence. In these sacred encounters, we are reminded of our identity as beloved children of God and are empowered to live out our faith with courage and conviction.

There is a story of a young shepherd named David, who lived in a small village nestled between towering mountains. David was known throughout the village for his unwavering faith and his deep connection to the land. One day, as David led his flock to graze in the lush meadows, he felt a strange pull toward a distant mountain peak. Despite the warnings of his elders, David felt compelled to climb higher and higher, drawn by an inexplicable force.

As he ascended the rugged terrain, David encountered trials and obstacles along the way, but with each step he felt a sense of peace and purpose guiding him forward. Finally, after a long journey, David reached the summit of the mountain and there, in a breathtaking moment of revelation, he beheld a sight that filled him with wonder and awe. The sky seemed to open up, and a radiant light enveloped everything around him. In that divine moment, David experienced a profound connection to something greater than himself: a glimpse of the glory of God. It was a great mountaintop experience.

As he descended the mountain on the return to his village, David knew that he had been forever changed by his encounter with the divine. Though he could not fully describe the experience, he carried within him a newfound sense of purpose and clarity. From that day forward, David lived his life with a renewed sense of faith and devotion, sharing his story with all who would listen. And though some doubted his tale, those who truly listened could sense the truth in his words, a truth that transcended the limitations of human understanding.

In the gospel of St. Mark, Jesus’ disciples have been following Him and watching what He does. What they were seeing was the human side of Jesus, who was mostly healing people and telling them not to tell anyone, because He didn’t want to become known just as a healer. In earlier passages Jesus had healed a blind man and told him not to return to his village. He told the deaf man that he healed to tell no one. And He told the leper that He cured to tell no one anything.

In a previous passage in Mark, Jesus told His disciples that He would suffer greatly, be killed, and rise after three days. What kind of human leader could this be? So, to help His followers see more than His human side, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop to reveal His divine side. Even after that experience, Jesus wanted it to be a secret until after He had risen from the dead, because only then would His followers be able to understand that He was the Son of God.

The deeper meaning of Mark’s narrative for us during Lent is that, even after moments of transcendence and transformation, we must come back to earth, continue to hear the voice of Jesus, and follow Him on the way to the cross.

After the Transfiguration, Jesus’ followers had to leave their mountaintop experience and descend down the mountain to continue to follow Jesus and to do the more mundane things of building up the Kingdom. We too cannot continue to live on a mountaintop, but we have to come down to help build up the Kingdom. Like Peter, James, and John, we cannot remain there, but we have to come down to wherever we spend most of our regular life.

Jesus’ disciples did their part two thousand years ago. We must do ours in our home, school, place of work, in the parish, and wherever we connect with God’s people.

At Baptism, our ears were blessed to hear the Word of God, and our mouth was blessed to proclaim the Word of God. So, how is our proclamation going? Are we telling people about the way to salvation, or do we need to seek a mountaintop experience to set ourselves in motion? Just as Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, so too can we experience moments of profound transformation, when we open our hearts to the mystery and wonder of God’s presence in our life.

So, as we reflect on the readings today, may we be inspired to deepen our commitment to discipleship, to embrace the challenges and joys of the journey, and to trust in God’s unfailing love and providence. May we ascend the mountain of prayer, encounter Christ in His glory, and be transformed by His grace, so that we may shine as lights in the world, bearing witness to the love and mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Into the Desert of Lent

February 18, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Faith, Father Nixon, Lent, Obedience, Reconciliation, Repentance, Self-Reflection

First Sunday of Lent
February 18, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Gn 9:8-15 / Ps 25 / 1 Pt 3:18-22 / Mk 1:12-15
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Liturgy invites us into a period of reflection, repentance, and spiritual renewal.   As we embark on the journey through the desert of Lent, the readings and themes for this day serve as guiding lights, illuminating the path toward deeper communion with God.  Lent comes from a Latin word meaning to soften.   Lent is a forty-day period which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends before the celebration of the Pascal Triduum.

Forty is the number often associated with intense spiritual exercises.  God caused it to rain for forty days and forty nights to cleanse the earth.  The Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.  Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mt. Sinai, and Elijah journeyed forty days and forty nights to Mt. Horeb.

The gospel reading for this Sunday centers around Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, highlighting the struggle between the forces of good and evil.  It prompts us to contemplate our own vulnerabilities and the temptations we face in our daily lives.  Through Jesus’ example, we find encouragement to resist these temptations with the strength of faith and reliance on God’s word.

In the Old Testament we encounter the story of Noah and the flood, symbolizing purification and renewal.  This narrative reminds us of God’s covenant with humanity and His promise of redemption even in the midst of trial and adversity.  It serves as a reminder of faithfulness and obedience in our relationship with God.

St. Jerome, the brilliant doctor of the church, lived for twenty-five years in the cave where the child Jesus was born.  One time he prayed to Jesus thus, “Dear Child, you have suffered so much to save me.  How can I make amends?”  “What can you give me, Jerome?” a voice was heard.  “I will spend my entire life in prayer, and I will offer all my talents into your hands,” Jerome replied.  “You do that to glorify me, but what more can you give to me?” the voice asked again.  “I will give all my money to the poor,” Jerome explained.  The voice said, “Give your money to the poor.  It would be just as if you were giving it to me.  But what else can you give to me?”  St Jerome became distraught and said, “Lord, I have given you everything.  What is there left to give?”  “Jerome, you have not still given to me your sins,” the Lord replied.  “Give them to me, so I can erase them.”  With these words, Jerome burst into tears and spoke, “Dear Jesus, take all that is mine and give me all that is yours.”

Brothers and sisters, the liturgical season of Lent calls us to introspection and self-examination, urging us to identify areas for growth and transformation through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  We are invited to draw closer to God and to our neighbors, embodying the love and compassion of Christ in our actions.

The gospel reading today tells us that Jesus went into the desert and spent forty days there.  It tells us about the first time that our Lord was tempted.  It was the first time that the devil openly confronted Christ and put Him to the test.  But as we know, Jesus did not sin.  He was like us in everything but sin.  The devil tempted Him overtly, but Jesus did not give in to the temptations that the evil one placed before Him.

This is a very important event in Jesus’ life.  This event in Jesus’ life shows us that we should not believe that Satan would never tempt us openly.  We cannot say as some do, that I do not ever commit a sin.  Satan puts everyone to temptation, and many times we give in to him, something that our Lord Jesus did not do.

Lent is a time for us to show our repentance through fasting and abstinence for the sins we have committed.  Mortification, penance, strengthens our souls so that we can resist the devil, who as tradition tells us during the entire year, but especially during these forty days of Lent and during the days that we commemorate the Passion of Christ, will try to tempt us with greater determination and venom.  We should not forget that even though Satan will tempt us, Christ, especially during these forty days, will help us to free ourselves from sin.  He will give us the graces that we need to conquer those temptations.  Of course, He will do this if we prepare ourselves, if we wipe clean our souls of sin, if we ask Him for those graces. When we are sincerely repentant and we say, “Lord, protect me from all sin,” He will do just that.

The season of Lent, the season of mercy is the best time for us to purify ourselves and strengthen ourselves to change our lives, to repent and follow Christ.  We begin to feel this process of conversion when we firmly resolve to better our spiritual lives and to change our lives if they need to be changed.  If we truly believe in the Good News, the Gospel of Christ, we must feel the radical need to abandon our lives of sin.

In those forty days spent in the desert, fasting and praying, our Lord gave us an example of what we need to do to prepare spiritually for Easter.  During these forty days of Lent, Jesus asks us to let go of all those worldly things that tie us to sin.  He asks us to let go of our selfishness, our sinful pride, our belief that we are better than everybody else.  The conversion that the Lord asks us to go through really means maintaining a close relationship with God.  It would be a lamentable error if we did not take advantage of these Lenten days, leaving for later what we know we need to do now in order to change our lives, with an ardent desire to change our lives, remembering that there is still time today, but it may be too late tomorrow.

Let us repent and confess our sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation.  As we reflect on the readings and themes on this first Sunday of Lent, we are reminded of the significance of this season as a time of spiritual renewal and preparation for the celebration of Easter.  It is a time to reorient our hearts and minds towards God, to seek forgiveness for our shortcomings, and to deepen our commitment to living lives of holiness and discipleship.

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The Ultimate Authority

January 28, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Commitment, Discipleship, Father Nixon, Mission, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 28, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Dt 18:15-20 / Ps 95 / 1 Cor 7:32-35 / Mk 1:21-28
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Once, a government surveyor brought his equipment to a farm, called on the farmer, and asked permission to go into one of the fields and take readings.  The farmer vigorously objected, fearing that the survey was the first step toward the construction of a highway through his land. “I will not give permission to go into my fields,” said the angry farmer. Whereupon the surveyor produced an official government document that authorized him to do the survey. “I have the authority,” he said, “to enter into any field in the entire country and take necessary readings.”

Faced with such authority, the farmer opened the gate and allowed the surveyor to enter the field. The farmer then went to the far end of the field and opened another gate, through which one of his fiercest bulls came charging. Seeing the raging bull, the surveyor dropped his equipment and ran for his life.  The farmer shouted after him, “Show him the paper! Show him your authority!”   Yes, the unfortunate surveyor has the authority, but the farmer’s bull has more convincing power.

Brothers and sisters, the same can be said about the gospel we preach and teach. The people of Capernaum received sacred instruction in their synagogue every Sabbath.  One Sabbath they had a different teacher, Jesus.  What Jesus taught them that day, as well as the way He presented and demonstrated His message, simply astonished them. Why?  It is because He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Jesus’ teaching contrasted sharply with that of the scribes. In one word: Jesus taught with authority. The scribes did not.

Jesus astonished the people around Him for three big reasons. First, the teaching of Jesus is from the heart and not just from the head. He teaches with absolute conviction in his message, because He knows that His message is in accordance with the mind of God.  As He says in the gospel of St. John, when trying to persuade His unbelieving audience, “Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, yet you do not receive our testimony.” His preaching is a personal testimony of His intimate relationship with God, His Father, unlike the scribes. They got their knowledge, not from their personal communion with God, but from their long and intricate commentaries on the law. As a result, most of their teaching is from the head and not from the heart.

If we claim to have faith in Christ, it is essential that we must listen to Him. We need to open ourselves to His wisdom and authority. The bottom line is not to take His teachings on the level of theories and ideas. Rather we must situate it into our faith life experience. For faith, devoid of practical action, is empty.  Theology without praxis is nothing. Knowledge waning in application is useless.

Second, it focuses on the spirit, and not on the letter of the law.  The scribe seeks to apply the prescription of the law to the letter. Jesus goes deeper, to find out the spirit, the original intent of the law, like for example, the law of the Sabbath observance. The scribes would busy themselves trying to determine precisely when the Sabbath begins and ends, and what constitutes work and what does not. Jesus would rather seek the mind of God, who gave the law to His people as an expression of His fatherly care and love.  His conclusion is that the Sabbath is a day we keep away from our work in order to serve God and do God’s work.

Lastly, it inspires a positive change of heart in the hearers, and not just to make the people feel bad. Like, for example, the man born blind.  The scribe seeks to explain why he is blind: whether it was he who sinned, or his parents. Jesus, on the other hand, is only interested in curing the blindness. For this reason, Jesus performed healings and exorcisms together with His teachings to show that His primary concern is to change the human situation and not just to explain it.

These are the three big reasons why people get astonished with Jesus: He teaches from the heart and not just from the head. He focuses on the spirit and not on the letter of the law. And he inspires a positive change of heart in the hearers.

There was an Indian prince who was a lover of knowledge. He had collected thousands of books in his large library. It happened that he was appointed the right hand of the king.  This position demanded that he travel almost always, in the kingdom’s vast territory and neighboring kingdoms, to represent the king. He brought along with him his books; thirty camels were needed to carry them.

Realizing the impracticality of loading all the books, he said to his chancellor, “Read all the books and then give to me the only book that is most important for my journey.”  After some time, the chancellor gave to the prince the book that summarized all the wisdom of the world. It was the Bible.  The prince asked, “What authority does this book have for it to be the only one that I should carry with me? Whereupon the chancellor replied, “It is the authority of the Son of God.” Shortly afterwards, the prince was baptized.

Brothers and sisters, we witness Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue with a profound authority that astounds the people. The crowd is amazed, not just by His words, but by the power with which He speaks. His authority is not like that of the scribes but comes from a deeper source. It is the authority of the Son of God, the Word Made Flesh.

As we reflect on this gospel passage, we are invited to examine our own lives and consider who or what holds authority over us. Do we recognize Jesus as the ultimate authority in our life, or are we swayed by the many competing voices in the world?

Jesus’ authority is not oppressive, but liberating. It brings healing, freedom, and a deeper understanding of God’s love.

In our daily lives, we may encounter challenges and struggles that test our faith. The authority of Jesus is a source of strength and hope during these times. When we submit to His authority, we open ourselves to the transformative power of His love and mercy.

So, as we continue to celebrate the Holy Mass, may we take a moment to reflect on the authority we recognize and submit to.  Let us renew our commitment to follow Jesus, allowing His authority to shape our thoughts, words, and deeds. In doing so, we embrace the freedom and joy that come from being in communion with the One who has authority over all creation.

May Jesus Christ be praised.

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Answer the Call

January 21, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Commitment, Courage, Discipleship, Father Nixon, Mission, Obedience, Uncategorized

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 21, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Jon 3:1-5, 10 / Ps 25 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mk 1:14-20
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

There is a story about a despondent man who came to his mother and said, “Mom, I’ve stopped going to church, for two reasons.   First, I don’t like the people and second, the people don’t like me.”  And the mother looked at him and said, “My son, you should go back to church for two reasons.  First, you are already fifty-nine years old and second, you are the pastor!”

But, brothers and sisters, as we reflect on the readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are invited to ponder the profound concept of Divine Calling.  In the gospel, we witnessed the pivotal moment when Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John to become fishers of men.  This summons, with its immediacy and simplicity, carries timeless significance for each of us.  The gospel narrative unfolds with a sense of urgency, mirroring the immediacy of Jesus’ call.

In our own lives, we may hear the echoes of that same call, urging us to respond promptly and wholeheartedly to the divine invitation.  Jesus calls us to a life of discipleship, to follow Him with courage and conviction.  Simon, Andrew, James, and John provide us with inspiring models of immediate obedience.  Without hesitation they leave their nets and professions in order to follow Jesus.  Their response challenges us to examine our own readiness to abandon whatever may be holding us back from fully embracing our calling.

The metaphor of fishers of men calls us to engage actively in the mission of spreading God’s love and compassion.  We are called not merely to catch fish, but to cultivate relationships, to cast the net of love and inclusion.  This mission beckons us to be present in our communities, reaching out to those who may be lost or in need of hope and help.

A story was told about a pious Christian lady who had to do a lot of traveling for her business, so she did a lot of flying.  But flying made her nervous, so she always took her Bible along with her to read, and it helped her to relax.  One day she was sitting next to a man who didn’t believe in God.  When he saw her pull out her Bible, he gave a little chuckle and went back to what he was doing.  After a while, he turned to her and asked, “Do you really believe all the stuff in there?”  The lady replied, “Of course I do.  It’s the Bible – the Word of God.”   The man said, “Well, what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?”  She replied, “Oh. Jonah.  Yes, I believe that.  The Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and I believe it, and if it had said that Jonah had swallowed the whale, I would believe that too.”  The man laughed and asked, “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?”  The lady answered, “Well, I don’t really know, but I guess when I get to heaven, I will ask him.”  “What if he is not in heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.  “Then you can ask him when you reach hell,” the lady replied.

Brothers and sisters, in the first reading, we encountered Jonah’s mission to Ninevah.  Here, too, we witnessed the transformative power of responding to God’s call.  The people of Ninevah heed Jonah’s warning and repent.  This reminds us that our response to God’s call can have a profound impact, not only on our lives, but on the lives of those around us.

In fact, the entire readings of today’s liturgy emphasize the absolute need for total repentance and our immediate need for a quick and prompt response to God’s invitation to repentance.  Whereby, we face God’s wrath of perpetual destruction in hellfire should we ever play down the entire content of divine revelation, seeking our redress as portrayed in the funny response of the pious traveler to the atheist in the story.

In the second reading, St. Paul orders the Corinthian Church to waste no time in embracing the message of the Good News and in renewing their lives with repentance.  Whereas, the gospel reading describes the summary of Jesus’ preaching, “Repent, and believe in the Good News.”  It also describes how Jesus called His first set of disciples, Andrew, Peter, James, and John, which portrays how we sinners need to respond to God’s call with total commitment by abandoning our accustomed style of sinful life.

Today’s readings are all rather extraordinary.  Each of them shows an immediate and wonderful response.  First Jonah preaches, and the Ninevites surprisingly repent and change immediately.  Then Paul calls upon everyone to live in the immediate moment, for the day of the Lord is imminent.  Then Jesus calls His disciples, and they leave immediately.

Jesus’ call is offering a whole new world, a new vision and a new set of relationships.  The values of the Gospel are revealed in their fullness.  If the disciples had paused and thought about what they were doing, they could have dreamed up heaps of reasons why they should not go – their business, their insecurities, and so on.  They did not let these things get in the way.

Thank goodness they responded to the call straightaway.  This is not encouraging recklessness, because surely Jesus called people after a lot of prayer and discernment, and He called disciples whom He had observed were already living in the way that showed their longing for the value of the Kingdom to be established in its fullness. Along comes Jesus and He says, “The time has arrived.  Come, follow me.”  And they do – immediately.  It is what they had been waiting for.

In our lives, brothers and sisters, Jesus calls each one of us in big and small ways.  In the daily events of life, in our words, actions, and priorities, let us respond immediately and with trust.  As we reflect on the readings today, let us prayerfully consider the nature of God’s call in our lives.  Are we attuned to His voice?  Are we ready to leave behind our nets and respond with unwavering trust?  May the example of the first disciples inspire us to embrace our calling with joy and purpose, recognizing that in our response lies the potential for transformation, both for ourselves and for the world.

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The Invitation

January 14, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Discipleship, Evangelization, Father Nixon, Obedience, Service

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 14, 2024 — Year B
Readings: 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19 / Ps 40 / 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20 / Jn 1:35-42
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

As we gather on this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, the readings invite us to contemplate the significance of responding to God’s call and recognizing Jesus as the Lamb of God. The scriptures today beckon us to explore the depths of our own hearts considering how we, like the disciples of old, respond when God calls us. How often do we pause in the midst of our busy lives to discern God’s voice, to recognize His call amidst the noise of the world?

In the first reading Samuel hears the voice of God calling him in the night. Initially he mistakes the call for that of Eli, his mentor and priest. However, as he discerns the voice, Samuel realizes it is the Lord reaching out to him.

Just like in our lives, too, God’s call may sometimes be subtle, easily mistaken for the familiar voices around us. Samuel’s response echoes the sentiment of recognizing and responding to God’s call. Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.

The psalmist declares the simple, yet profound statement that encapsulates the essence of discipleship; a readiness to align our will with God’s will, a willingness to respond to His call with a resounding “yes.” It challenges us to examine our own hearts and ask if we are truly open to doing the will of God even when it diverges from our plans and desires in life.

In the gospel reading, we encountered the scene of Jesus being identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. Two disciples, upon hearing this proclamation, decide to follow Jesus. When Jesus turns and asks them, “What are you looking for?” it prompts us to reflect on our own motivations for seeking Him. Are we following Jesus merely for personal gain, or are we sincerely seeking the transformative encounter that comes with recognizing him as the Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sins of the world?

We are presented with a powerful narrative that invites us to reflect on the transformative nature of encountering Jesus and responding to His invitation. This passage unfolds with the testimony of John the Baptist, as he points out Jesus to his disciples, setting in motion a series of events that revealed the depth of discipleship.

“Rabbi where are you staying?” they asked Jesus. It’s a simple yet profound inquiry. In their question lies the recognition that Jesus is more than just a passing figure. He’s someone worth knowing intimately, understanding where He abides and by extension, where He invites them to dwell.

Jesus responds with an invitation that reverberates through the ages, “Come and you will see.” These words encapsulate the essence of discipleship. An invitation to experience, to witness, to dwell in the presence of the One who is the source of life and love. It is an invitation not just to observe from a distance, but to engage personally and intimately with the teacher.

The disciples accept the invitation, and what follows is a transformative encounter. They spend time with Jesus, learning from Him, experiencing His presence, and allowing their lives to be shaped by His teachings. One of the disciples, Andrew, is so moved by this encounter that he seeks out his brother Simon and declares, “We have found the Messiah!” It is a powerful passage.

We find an invitation echoed throughout the ages. Jesus is calling each of us to come and see, to experience His transformative presence. It prompts us to ask ourselves, have we, like the disciples, responded to the call to seek Jesus, to dwell in His presence, and to witness the depth of His teachings?

Moreover, the passage challenges us to be like Andrew, sharing the good news of our encounter with Jesus with others. In our daily lives, are we actively inviting those around us to come and see, to experience the life-changing presence of the Messiah?

Jesus calls us to the primary vocation of being servants and disciples of Christ in our daily lives and work. We achieve this by staying very close to Jesus in prayer, in scripture reflection, in reading about the teachings of Christ, in worshipping regularly, in union with the Christian community, and learning from the teachings of the Church. Christ must live in and with us as we with Him. It is a deep and wonderful connection that we are invited into. Each one of us today is called by Jesus and our response like Samuel’s is, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

Just as Jesus received opposition, misunderstanding, and rejection, so too, can we expect this for Christ’s Church, but we keep persisting in this life-giving message. Inspired by today’s second reading, we recognize that Christ and His Church have a rather powerful and different view of the human person and the human body than do some sectors of the world.

Saint Paul sums up this gospel understanding, “You know surely that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ. Anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, since you received Him from God. You are not your own property. You’ve been bought and paid for by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.”

At its essence, this is extremely positive and encouraging teaching. To put ourselves — mind, body and spirit — at the service of God and God’s vision, our lives are to be lived with intention, not so much rights, but responsibilities.

As we continue our Mass today, let us open our hearts to the invitation of Jesus. Let us respond with a sincere desire to dwell in His presence, to learn from Him, and to share the transformative power of encountering the Lamb of God with those around us. May this passage inspire us to be not just followers at a distance, but active participants in the journey of discipleship guided by the teachings of our Rabbi Jesus Christ. In the ordinary moments of our lives, may we find the extraordinary grace to recognize and respond to God’s call. Let us embrace the invitation to follow Jesus, the Lamb of God, with sincerity and openness, trusting that in doing so, we will discover the abundant life He promises to those who respond with faith and love. May Jesus Christ be praised.

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Perfect Surrender

December 8, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Father Nixon, Humility, Mary, Obedience, Reconciliation, Repentance

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 8, 2023 — Year B
Readings: Gn 3:9-15, 20 / Ps 98 / Eph 1:3-6, 11-12 / Lk 1:26-38
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

A preacher once said, “Saying yes to God does not mean perfect performance.  Rather, it means perfect surrender to the Lord, day by day.”  Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on whom we are going to follow:  Adam, who in our first reading said no to God, or Mary, who in our gospel reading said yes to God.

Today, in our first reading, we hear the Lord call to Adam, saying, “Where are you?”  Adam replies, “I hid myself.”  In our gospel, we also hear Mary, whose response to the angel’s prophecy of her Son was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”

In a homily many years ago, Pope Francis said, “’Here I am’ is the opposite of ‘I hid myself.’  ‘Here I am’ opens one to God, while sin closes, isolates, and causes one to be alone with oneself.”

The words of Mary today are full of wisdom.  We should use these words every time we pray to the Lord each morning.  If we say to the Lord, “Here am I, your servant,” like Mary with all sincerity, that shows humility within us. These words would show that we are willing to do what God asks us to do for the rest of our day.  This is an act of humility because a person who is open to the will of God is a person who recognizes that God will continue to work in his life no matter what happens along the way.   Mary is our example in this.  Mary experienced many difficulties, especially witnessing the suffering of her son.  She was able to endure everything because she knew very well that God was with Him, blessing Him, giving Him the grace that He needed in order to survive any challenges in life.

Some people, however, do not love or respect the Lord and are not willing to admit that they are God’s servants.  They think that they can live without God.  These are the people who are proud, because they do not want to be told what rules to follow, such as the commandments.   For them, the ten commandments are a hindrance to their happiness.  They think they want to be independent.  If they are independent without any moral guide to follow, then their only guide is their own personal desires and cravings in life.  That’s what they follow.  People without a moral guide, or no God, are guided only by their desires.  If they like to eat, they do that, if they get angry, they hurt people. They are not much better than animals.

Christians have a moral guide, a guide that does not curtail our freedom, but rather gives us freedom.   The more we follow this moral guide, the more it makes us realize the true meaning of what we are doing.  It will make us realize the meaning of our existence in life.

Sin puts us away from the grace of God.  It isolates us, as Pope Francis says.  It causes us to be alone with oneself.  Every time we fall into sin, we feel like Adam who hid himself.  Every time we fall into sin, we have no face to show in front of the Lord.  That’s the normal feeling brought about by sin.  That is why we should always remember that the Lord is willing to search for us when we lose our way by sinning.  Every time we fall into sin, God always searches for us.  He will always claim us as His own.  God will tell us, “You are mine.  I created you.  I made you.  I made you to be good.  When you go astray, I have to look for you.”  We sinners should not continue hiding ourselves as Adam did.  We should get out and show ourselves with all humility before the Lord.  We must say to the Lord, “I’m sorry.  I want to start over.”  There is no sin that God cannot forgive.

Nothing is impossible with God, as the angel said to Mary.  God can take the most evil thing in the world and make it holy.  One example of something evil that God made holy is the cross.  Before they hung Jesus on that cross, a cross was a symbol of shame, a symbol of death, a symbol of defeat, embarrassment, and everything negative.  But after they hung Jesus on the cross, the cross became holy, a source of life, a symbol of salvation, a symbol of power.  That’s how powerful God is.  God can take the most impossible thing and make it possible.  There are many examples of this in scripture.  Today’s gospel provides the example of what happened to Mary.  How could she conceive?  Mary asked the angel, and the angel told her nothing is impossible with God.

We should not be afraid.  We should strive our best to offer our whole life to the Lord. Every time we fall into sin, we should remember what Saint Paul says, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.”  Ask the Lord’s forgiveness.  Go to confession and start all over again.  Never give up in following the Lord.  One day, the Lord will show us how He has prepared us for the place He has made ready for all His faithful followers.  Let us not forget that saying yes to God does not mean perfect performance, rather it means perfect surrender to the Lord day by day.

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Consistency in Word and Action

October 1, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Discipleship, Evangelization, Father Nixon, Generosity, Grace, Humility, Obedience

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 1, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Ez 18:25-28 / Ps 25 / Phil 2:1-11 / Mt 21:28-32
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Today’s gospel is a parable about the contrasting attitudes of two sons. The first son said no, but after he came to his senses, he did his father’s wish. The second son said yes, but later, he did nothing. The meaning of this parable is crystal clear: The Jewish leaders are people who said that they would obey God and then did not. The tax collectors and the prostitutes are those who said that they would go their own way and then took God’s way.

There was a minister who was walking down the street, when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between ten and twelve years of age. The group surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked, “What are you doing with that dog?” One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home, so we have decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.”

Of course, the reverend was taken aback. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies,” he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten-minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it is a sin to lie?” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.” There was a dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he had gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “Alright, give him the dog.”

I think, brothers and sisters, we all find ourselves guilty at times of stretching the truth, sometimes innocently at first, but over time this can begin to affect our relationships. For instance, we have all known someone at some point who has a habit of saying one thing but doing another. I think that can be a frustrating experience over time.

The common question for today’s gospel is: Who is better between these two sons: the one who said no, but at the end fulfilled his father’s wish, or the one who said yes, but later did nothing? Maybe our answer would be: the one who said no, but in the end did fulfill his father’s wish.

The key to the correct understanding of this parable is that it is not really praising anyone. We have to admit that neither of these is an acceptable way of conduct. Neither was better than the other, in the sense that the two sons both caused the father pain and sorrow. The one caused pain at the beginning and the other one at the end. Neither of the two was the kind of son to bring full joy to his father. Both could have been better sons by giving a wholehearted Yes, spontaneously and joyfully, and by carrying out the order efficiently, and not the other way around, by which the No of the first son turned into Yes, and the Yes of the second one became a No.

The true Christian should be better than both: What he says, he does. There should be consistency in his words and actions. What he teaches is what he acts.

The readings this Sunday pack a powerful message and tell us very clearly that we have to have a healthy Christian moral life. This healthy Christian moral life is founded on three pillars.

The first pillar is the assurance of grace.  Our God who is gracious is a forgiving God. His assurance of grace to us is this: He who has chosen to renounce all his sins shall certainly live (Ez 18:27). This grace is so insistent that by its force many can undo change. In other words, we must develop our friendship with God and follow Christ faithfully.

In one of the chapters of the book, The Purpose Driven Life, which was subtitled, Developing Your Friendship with God, it is said that, like any friendship, we must work at developing our friendship with God. The author gave at least four ways to develop our friendship with God.

First, we must choose to be honest with God. God does not expect us to be perfect, but He does insist on complete honesty. If we look at the Bible, friends of God were not perfect. If perfection were a requirement for friendship with God, we would never be able to be His friend. Fortunately, because of God’s grace, He is still the friend of sinners.

Second, we must choose to obey God in faith. Every time we trust God’s wisdom and do whatever He says, even when we don’t understand it, we deepen our friendship with God. We obey God, not out of duty, fear, or compulsion, but because we love Him and trust that He knows what is best for us.

Third, we must choose to value what God values. This is what friends do. They care about what is important to the other person. The more we become God’s friends, the more we will care about the things He cares about, like the redemption of His people. He wants all His lost children found. Friends of God tell their friends about God.

Fourth, we must desire friendship with God more than anything else. An example of this is David in the Book of Psalms, in which he uses words like “longing,” “yearning,” “thirsting,” “hungering,” etc.

The second pillar of Christian morality is the awesome gift of personal responsibility. This means that to be a person is to be responsible. To be responsible is to do one’s duty. God never excuses us from our duty. It is our duty to be consistent with what we say and do, as proclaimed by Jesus in today’s gospel. As Christians, there should be consistency in our words and actions. What we teach is what we act.

It is like the story of a businessman who was ordering five hundred ball point pens from an office equipment salesman. The latter was writing the order in his notebook, when suddenly the buyer exclaimed, “Hold on, I’m canceling the order.” The salesman left the store wondering why the wholesaler suddenly changed his mind. “Why did you suddenly cancel that order of ball point pens?” asked the surprised bookkeeper. The businessman angrily answered, “Because he talked about ball point pens to me for half an hour, using every convincing argument, and then he wrote out my order with a pencil. His practice did not agree with what he professed.”

In other words, a man’s words must be followed by action. No one likes a person of empty promises. “Seeing is believing” is what an old adage has said.

The third pillar of Christian moral life is self-forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is not a false humility. It is rather to consider the other person better than us, so that nobody thinks of his own interests, but the interests of others. Just like what St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:3-4) in our second reading: Thinking of other people’s interests first, like the common good of the society, may entail larger considerations.

Neither of the two sons in the parable is a model of obedience, because both were imperfect. The perfect model is Jesus who, in obedience to the will of His Father, emptied Himself, accepting death, death on the cross, as St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians in the second reading today. It was the unwavering obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father that saved us.

Brothers and sisters, as we obey, we listen to the word He is speaking to us, either audibly or in silence, in a continuous encounter that entails “un-selfing,” just like Jesus emptying Himself.

May Jesus Christ be praised.

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