Midweek Fellowship – July 13, 2016
Bishop Ariel Cornelio Santos
I really believe that God has something great in store for us. Prepare! I saw this picture on the internet about a man on the street with a placard saying, “Prepare, the beginning is near.” I want us to prepare because the beginning of something great is near. It is the beginning of birth pangs, which is good. It is the beginning of a new anticipated birth. Birth is a beginning; it is not the end. We wait in joyful expectation for that which is not the end, but the beginning of something good.
Understand that one major way that Jesus’ prescribed for preparing is very, very simple: “Occupy until I come.” Continue to work. Rest does not mean or is not equivalent to no work. Rest is not in the sense that we think God wants us to have. Rest is found in peaceful work of service to God.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are heavily laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus gives us rest by giving us a burden. He gives us a yoke which is for work. The rest that He gives to us is not necessarily that we are not going to do nothing. The rest that He gives us is the same rest that He gave Adam when he was living his eternal life in Paradise before the fall was. Adam’s rest was to cultivate and to keep. Jesus worked in his burden and in his yoke and he found rest. Adam wasn’t a “Juan Tamad.” He worked but he worked in peace. In fact, Adam did not sweat until he fell. Sweat was a sign of a curse. Sweat represents anxiety in work; a lack of peace. The difference between a peaceful man and an anxious man is not work, but it is lack of peace.
In the Old Testament, there was a rule for altar ministers especially for priests. They were not to sweat at the altar. It doesn’t have to do with temperature because sweat was a sign of anxiety. In the presence of the Lord, there should not be anxiety. In the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy; there is fullness of peace so there is no sweat. This is why the priests were given headbands to wear right on their forehead which means holiness unto the Lord. It means they are delivered from the curse which sweat represents.
The curse that God inflicted on Adam was, “By the sweat of your brow, you will work and till the land.” There is also the saying, “The wicked have no rest and the righteous don’t need it.” The wicked have no rest because they have no peace. The righteous don’t need rest in that they don’t need stoppage from work. If you want rest, do the right work – the work of God, that which is done in peace.
As we work in the service of God, I would like to emphasize that we don’t always expect the spectacular. Success is not measured only by in leaps and bounds but in small increments or in small things done faithfully, consistently and continually every day. As the children of God, we must banished from our mentally the “jackpot” mentality; the “get rich quick mentality.” We work; we prove ourselves faithful in small things so that God will increase us.
The kingdom of God is eternal. We have time in the Kingdom. Just do little things every day. This is why we have Daily Office every day. Sometimes, there is exuberant joy or emotions involved. Sometimes, we feel the presence of God more intense than other days; but these things are not wasted. These things add to the growth process and to the prospering. It is not always spectacular.
When Jesus gathered everyone on judgment day and He had on His right the sheep, the righteous, and on His left the goats, the wicked, He told the righteous, “Enter into the kingdom of My Father for I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was naked…and you came to Me.” What did the righteous say? “Lord, do You not remember that what we did to You was part of our everyday routine?” These are small things and they are not wasted. “Lord, we just went to this community and we ministered to the people.” “Lord, the youth went to Pilillia and visited those who are in need. Lord, do You not even remember?” Jesus said, “I do. Those little things, they come. I saw what You did to the least of My brethren.”
The little things that you do, God sees it. I am not saying that we just give a little. No, our little is always our all, but sometimes, we don’t see drum rolls and the effects. The prayers of the people, the prayers of the saints and the martyrs, they accumulate into a big incense bowl and this eventually goes up to the heavenlies and God knows that.
Somebody consistently tells me, “You look so tough.” In my mind, what I do with my body is to keep myself under a routine. I don’t work out like Arnold Schwarzenegger. We are to do little at a time but consistently. For those who have Facebook accounts, how many times have you snippets of eating something for so many days and watching what happens? It is better to have a training split. Instead of working out your full body at one intense time, what you do is exercise one part of your body in a day and exercise the other parts on other days, and you do it consistently – faithfully and persistently.
Jesus said, “Who is then is the wise and faithful servant who feeds his master’s household every day? He is the one whom his master finds so doing when he returns.” When He returns, what will you say? “I did not do something big. I just fed the household including the pets every day. I was just being faithful to the small things that were given to me.”
When I showed you the title of our property in the name of the Cathedral of the King, what was that a product of? Out of 37 years, it was a product of twenty-five years of praying the Corporate Petition. Sometimes you were into it, sometimes you mumbled it while you were thinking of something else, but little by little, it was prayed for twenty-five years. It was also a product of eight years of giving to the land offerings. I don’t recall a person giving one million pesos for land offering at one time, but the small, consistent giving, what we could afford at that time, gave us a result and this is just the beginning. Prepare, the beginning is near. As Jesus said, “As you do it to the least of My brothers, you do it unto Me.” There is no fanfare; no spectacular things needed to happen.
In building a physical edifice, sometimes, we don’t feel or see growth. There is seemingly no progress. Putting a hollow block on top of another, cement is placed and this cement adds to the growth, but we don’t even see it. On one day, if cement is filled on the hollow blocks, we will observe that nothing happens to it and we will only say there is progress when we see windows and doors. No, there was progress all along because every single step is important and part of the progress.
Success is not measured by just spurts and in leaps and bounds. The small increments are important. There is no such thing as “Low Mass” or “High Mass”. At every Mass, Jesus is present. Every time a priest prays the prayer of Consecration, Jesus comes down to overpower the elements and makes them to be His body and His blood. Quoting former Patriarch Adler, “There is a lot more things accomplished in one hour of Mass toward the restoration of new birth than a whole day in Congress.” Sometimes, we don’t even feel alive that we go to Mass out of obligation; but it accomplishes much more than Senators and Congressmen would do in one day toward the restoration of all things. Be it a Mass in a big Cathedral with five to ten thousand people or in a small gathering of two or three where Jesus said He will be there, it accomplishes much. Even a prayer of one righteous man accomplishes much. It doesn’t matter what he is going through, even if he doesn’t feel like praying, he accomplishes much. Don’t lose your rest; don’t lose your peace in anxiety that your work was wasted and did not contribute to the prospering of man.
Some are on the verge of giving up. Some are thinking, “Is it worth it? Are we going somewhere? Are we moving? Are we being around?” Sometimes, we doubt if God is still with us. Will He provide for us? Darkest is darkest right before dawn. Lift up our heads because I can feel and sense in my spirit that God is preparing something great. I am not prophesying but I really believe this because the time is now. Be consistent. Do whatever we are tasked to do. No matter how small we think it is, do things consistently.
James 5:7 says, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.” Do what you are supposed to do every day. Parents, pray for your children every day. Be consistent about it. The Church staff, while you may drag yourselves to Daily Office every day, be consistent about it because one day, you will see results.
In the Parable of the Seed in Mark 4:26-29, “Jesus was saying, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows – how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” After the man casts seed upon the soil, he has peace going to bed at night. He is not anxious thinking, “Did I plant it right?” No, as long as he did it faithfully, with all his might, serving God and planting the seeds upon the soil, he goes to bed at night in peace. The seed sprouts that he himself does not know how because it is not his part. It is God’s part. The multiplying is God’s part. Our task is just to be faithful to casts seed. God will take care of the multiplication. The soil produces crops by itself.
Twenty years ago, at my wedding, somebody told me, “This is the time to relax. You have been anxious and working for the past three to six months. You can’t do anything at this point. What you need to do is to enjoy the fruit of what you have done in the past several months. If you are anxious now, you have just wasted what you have built up to this day. Relax and live it up all to God.”
This is the essence of Sabbath. We work six days, we go to bed at night and let God do His task of multiplying what we have worked for. A former Archdeacon in St. Michael’s in California, in the former headquarters of CEC, would tell us the things to prepare and what to train for a big event, and when the day comes, he would say, “Forget everything I told you. Drop every anxiety and just be led by the Spirit. Be at peace because what you have prepared for should guide you now and it should now flow naturally. The more you are anxious, the more you will not be effective. Be at peace; you have done your preparation.”
In the Old Testament, God would command the Israelites to gather manna for six days. For the first five days, they will gather for what is good for one day. If you gather more, it would spoil and they could not eat it and it would stink. On the sixth day, they were commanded to gather for two days, and miraculously, every week, on the Sabbath day when they were not allowed to gather, they had provision. Manna did not lack for that special day. God was doing His work after they had done their work for the week. Rest is found in peaceful work in the service of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not in doing nothing.
St. Ignatius of Laodicea says, “Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away. God is far away, Christ stays in the past, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is simply an organization, authority a matter of domination, mission a matter of propaganda, liturgy is only nostalgia, a reminder of the past, and Christian living a slave morality. But with the Holy Spirit, God is with us, the universe is resurrected and groans with the birth pangs of the kingdom, the risen Christ is here, the Gospel is a living force, the Church is a communion in the life of the Trinity, the body of the living Christ, authority is a service that sets people free, mission is Pentecost, the liturgy is memory and anticipation, and human action is God at work in this world.” The Holy Spirit gives life in anything and in everything that we do – small and great. St. Paul says that without the Holy Spirit, no one can say, “Jesus is Lord.”
We are CEC. We are Charismatic – sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I believe that this has been a dormant characteristic of our Church. We need to revive it. I can remember Patriarch Adler, who was a prophet and very sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and he was crying one time and he said, “Do not ever let go of the Holy Spirit. You are fast becoming Roman Catholics. Remember who you are. You are charismatic, evangelical, and sacramental.” Our spirits should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we are dead and we just go round and round. Without the Holy Spirit, what we do has no meaning. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no life. We proclaim that Jesus is Lord by the Holy Spirit. We do all things for the glory of God by the Holy Spirit. As many are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God.
I can’t say this enough: do not stop doing the things that glorify God. Do the things that God has given you – small or great. Even if you get or not get the affection or the praises of people, the small or the great, they are all part of building up and coming together to a result to something great that God has in store for us. This is only the beginning. Do not stop. Everything sown, including those sown in tears, will one day be reaped with joy.
We will shortly see the reaping come soon. With the Holy Spirit, we can do all things. Through Him, we do all things. Those things don’t go to waste. Those things add up for the growth, the progress and for the glory of God. With the Holy Spirit, we are able to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and we are able to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Do not judge what you do. Just do it faithfully and consistently because they all build up to something great. God sees every deed of what we do. Do it faithfully and consistently and do it for the glory of God. The joy of our Master is just the beginning of more and exciting fulfilling tasks. The work may be work, but this is what God wants us to experience. When we see that, work will not be a burden but we see it as a joy, a fulfilment, a privilege and a honor. We will be thankful for it and not to be forcing ourselves to do it. His joy is what God wants us to experience because this is the way it is in His kingdom.