Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
September 29, 2013
who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.
where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
When I was in high school, our Science teacher asked us to do a group project to be submitted a week after. Our group agreed to do the project at the house of one of our classmates. It happened that my group mates were the top guns of our class. So, I thought to myself that they could already finish the project even without my help. I decided not to go there and told them that my mother asked me for an errand. I lied. I did not really carry any errand but I only played chess at the city park on the day of our work. I saw our project during the submission day and it was, indeed, perfectly done. My group mates were very happy with the outcome of their work and, of course, with the excellent grade given to our group. I joined them with their celebration. But behind every smile and laughter, pain of guilt was piercing my heart. I felt unworthy of the accomplishment of our group. It gave me a kind of feeling of isolation, uneasiness. It was as if there was a great “chasm” that separates me from their merriment.
The story of the rich man in our Gospel today is about his suffering, a suffering from great isolation, his deep longing for somebody who could help him ease the pain of loneliness, somebody who could at least give him a drop of water to quench his “thirst” for a companion. But no one could come near him because of the great chasm that separates him away from his father Abraham and Lazarus and to the rest of his loved ones. He was all alone. His situation apparently tells us that pain must be so intense that he thought immediately of his brothers. He was hoping that they may not experience the same fate by begging God to send Lazarus to warn them. Yet God rejected his request. Instead, he totally cut off all his means of communication.
It is the feeling of being taken for granted that really hurts the most especially if it is done to you by someone really close to you, someone whom you really expect to be caring for you and loving you. In our story, the fact that Lazarus was able to pick up the crumbs under the table of the rich man suggests that he must be one of the rich man’s relatives, friends or maybe servants, somebody whom he knows personally. Thus, the closeness of Lazarus and the rich man, in terms of distance and relationship, added more to the pain that tormented Lazarus in his earthly life. Apparently, the rich man is guilty of sin of omission; a sin that is committed by not doing what is ought to be done, basically good acts towards our brethren, to ourselves and to God. In the case of the rich man, he deprived Lazarus (not to be confused with Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary) of his basic needs in life; food, water, shelter, medicines, etc. Rather than extending his arms, he turned his back away from him, treating Lazarus as if he does not exist. At that very point, he deliberately cut off his connection to him. He gave up his obligations towards him and totally neglected him. He might have thought that by doing so, by denying his existence, Lazarus would never become a burden to him anymore. But he was wrong. Little did he know that after his earthly life, he will find himself all alone, separated from everyone. Now, his suffering is even worse than what Lazarus experienced during his earthly life.
We always isolate ourselves from God, from others, every time we commit sin. We isolate ourselves by failing to express our charity to our needy brethren. We isolate ourselves every time we fail to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit a sick person, a prisoner, bury the dead; when we do not correct others of their faults and teach them of good things to be done, when we do not pray for others for the conversion of our fellow sinners, when we fail to love our brothers and sisters, especially our poor brethren.
We create our own “chasm” that isolates us from others and from God, the source of our life and happiness, by not doing our part in realizing the plan of God for all of us, by being selfish and self-centered. We have to overcome this isolation by being generous and charitable to other. Let us act now and start building connections with all humanity by doing good things at all times.
ABOUT THE SHARER:
SEM. EMIL D. VALEZA, O.P. is member of the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines. He is a Theology IV student of the University of Santo Tomas the Archdiocese of Caceres.
Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Domfrat, Guilt, Suffering, Isolation, Longing, Loneliness, Parable, Sin, Love
Monday, September 23, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
25th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
September 22, 2013
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
REFLECTION: Riches to Heaven
It is a nice story to hear whenever a taxi driver or janitor would return a large sum of money left by a customer. That money could help them change the status of their life, but they chose to be an honest man. Some stories would irritate our ears. We hear scandals over public funds used by corrupt individuals. Nowadays, money can easily turn into an object of temptation. Will we uphold good virtues or shall we give in to greed? Our Lord reminds us of this fact. He said, “Man cannot serve both mammon and God.” The riches of this earth are entrusted to man from the very beginning. God entrusted to Adam the stewardship of this earth, and gave Adam the privilege of naming the plants and animals. The worldly treasures should be seen as means to build treasures in heaven.
Our Lord calls us to gain spiritual wealth through the earthly goods. In the recent calamities, people are encouraged to help those who are affected by the typhoons. Some cook meals, others gather clean clothes, and some would volunteer to help in the distribution of these relief goods. Imagine how many people could be helped if a person shares. If companies would truly embrace corporate responsibility, how many uplifting projects can be organized for the needy? The spirit of true charity overpowers the wickedness of money. Money becomes an instrument to show our care for others, which is the essence of Christian brotherhood – to love one another. Our Lord tells us to detach ourselves from the material wealth, because it enslaves us in greed and hardens our hearts.
As ordinary people, lay Christians were privileged to manage our financial resources. God entrusted to us riches, and gave us freedom to utilize our resources. Our freedom enables us to make decision about the material things we possess. That freedom should also move us to become more responsible in our actions. We should realize that our actions have consequences. When treasures and money are involved two virtues always pop in my mind: temperance and charity. The virtue of temperance is not just about controlling our emotions, but having mastery over our whims and pleasures. Large amount of money might lure us to buy things we don’t need, and to buy luxurious items.
Similarly, in the Parable of the Unfaithful Steward, he wasted the master’s goods. Pope Francis said that whenever wasting food is like stealing from the table of the poor. We might fall in the trap of consumerism, but through the virtue of temperance we would control our expenditures and acquire only what is necessary. We would gain mastery of ourselves and we will learn how to weigh the value of material things. Our moderation will have deeper meaning whenever we mortify our urge of buying and offer it to something greater.
They say Christians have charitable hearts which make them distinct in the early years of Christianity. I believe that Our Lord truly inspired them to be generous to one another. One of my friends said that it is not evil to aspire greater wealth. She said, “Be hopeful and keep on dreaming, don’t you see how much good you could do if you have great wealth.” It gave me another perspective of money and material wealth. Yes, some people go astray when they have huge wealth and become greedy, too. But as long as our heart follows God’s voice, material wealth will become a passport to heaven. We are always reminded by Our Lord to serve God and not the mammon, and we should always adhere to that. If we had all the resources in the world, won’t we ask God, the Creator of universe to guide us? God knows everything, and God has the perfect knowledge of creating good in this world. He will certainly love to hear your voice. We must seek His advice with our decisions. God will not only guide us, but He will help us to become detached from the worldly goods. He will stretch out our arms to become charitable. Hence, we would never be a slave of money, but a servant of God who is willing to share his material possessions for the good of the many.
ABOUT THE SHARER:
MS. ANNA GEFRELIZ PEÑARANDA is a graduate of Bachelor of Library and Information Science at the University of Santo Tomas. She is currently the librarian of the Philippine Dominican Center of Institutional Studies.
Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Institutions, Corruption, Greed, Charity, Love, Wealth, Money, Temperance, Generosity
by Sister Eppie Brasil, OP
When was the last time have you experienced being kissed by the breeze? If you have never felt that, come to RICA! Yes, I mean it. But you have to be quiet and be still to notice and to experience. That is the only way to become aware that you are being kissed by the breeze.
St John of the Cross, the great Carmelite Mystic (1542-1591), experienced so much beauty and so much suffering, too. He never separated the two. He called it loving attention or attencion amorosa. When we are attentive to what we do, what we say, where we are going, what we are hearing, tasting, feeling… we join the mystical and poetic way of life. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the place where St. John of the Cross wrote his beautiful poems in Segovia, Spain. I saw what he saw on that lovely spring day. I also felt the surging of joy within as I watched the sun rise in the hills in the hazy morning fog. The snow-capped mountain lets me breathe the crisp air of the morning. I was transported through time, when I sat, where he sat in the mountain ledge, feeling the soft breeze caressing my face. It was indeed an experience that made me realize I can find God in contemplative attentiveness.
Contemplation is described in the book, The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th century treatise as: "The awareness of God, known and loved at the core of one’s being.” When we seek this awareness, every moment is an experience of God found in tears and in laughter, in joy and in sorrow, in beauty and in the ugly. We accept them all as part of God’s creation and divine plan.
As we face all the megatrends in our century, trends like urbanization (the need to live in the urban areas) and mobilization (the need to be always on the go), we are called ever more deeply to respond to the call to be mystics in the world today. The great theologian, Karl Rahner (1904-1984) writes that with the breakdown of cultural Christianity in the West, "the devout Christian of the future will either be a 'mystic', one who has experienced something, or he will cease to be anything at all."
Jesus has gifted us with His presence. He is risen from the dead. Jesus is alive! Jesus invites His disciples to touch Him, see Him, and feel Him; to listen to His words, “Peace be with you”! He showed them how He enjoyed the taste of baked fish! In a word, he sanctified the senses. He is alive. He invites us to be alive, too!!! To see, smell, hear, taste, feel. To be aware, alert, attentive, alive! This is what contemplative attentiveness means. Be alive. Notice, look, observe, experience. Taste and see, how good our God is.
As I walk around Regina RICA, I am filled with awe by the gifts of color I see, sounds I hear, different aromas of herbs and flowers I smell. (That includes the smell of horse, carabao, duck, chicken and sheep dung); I delight in the green and blue neck feathers of the peacocks, the black belly of the sheep, the sheer energy of our Labrador, Sam and Carla. Contemplative attentiveness is very simple. It is accepting the heat and the cold, the comfort and discomfort, the music and the noise, the big tree and the small shrub, the concrete building and the nipa hut… just stay still, pause awhile and discover the blessing of being attentive to the gift of the now.
Our Lady on top of the hill, (tawag ng mga tao sa kanya “ ang malaking Virgen sa taas ng bundok”) shows us how to be attentive and how to be a contemplative. Mary kept and pondered all things in her heart. Be still, be!
The gift of AWARENESS will teach us contemplative attentiveness. It is a new way of living where we seek to:
A ccept our dark side, dark moments, dark moods
W aste time for God
A llow events to happen, God has plans for us
R enew our dedication to a new way of living
E xperience God in the ordinary as well as in extraordinary events
N urture our spirit, the society, our self, the soil
E nter in loving relationships
S eek solitude
S pend time in silence
About the Sharer
Sister Eppie Brasil, OP is a prayer companion. She teaches contemplation as a way of life. She is the founder of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii and Regina RICA in Tanay Rizal.
Keywords: OP Sisters, Contemplation, Silence, Still, Awareness, Mystic