“Purity of Life”
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 12, 2018
1 Kings 19: 1-8
Psalm 34: 1-10
Ephesians 4: 25-32
John 6: 41-51
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
Today is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. For two hundred and twenty-four days now, God has remained faithful. Each day is a unique experience of God’s faithfulness throughout this year. We gather today with this great truth in our hearts and in our lives.
From the gospel, in John 6:51, Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.” Jesus offers this life to the world, but the first question that I would ask is: what is this life all about? Is this life intended for ourselves or is it a life that Jesus intends for us to live? The next question is: are you satisfied with the life that you now have? If you are, the question to ask is: why do you say so? If you are not yet satisfied, what is lacking?
If we would seriously ponder upon these questions, it will reveal our hearts and God will begin to show us the things which are really essential for us. Many times, we are anxious and worried for things we want to have, but are not really the essential for life. This is what we call “luho” – something that we want for the added benefit of pleasure, of feeling good, and of being cool but really, they are not the essentials in our lives.
Man today has apportioned life in many aspects and parts (i.e. social life, political life, financial life). In fact, we have separated the secular life from the spiritual life. We have thought that our lives are composed of two sides – the spiritual side which we do every Sunday; and the secular life – the everyday and real life that we live the rest of the week. Seemingly, we could not reconcile these two because what we think of life is that which we have learned all our years of studying.
In 1 Kings 19, having just come from a victory at Mt. Carmel where he annihilated the prophets of Baal, Elijah thought that everything would be fine and pleasant. He thought that this will now stop Ahab, the king of Israel, and his wife, Jezebel, from doing evil things. But his troubles were just beginning in our reading as Elijah was very distracted by the threat of Jezebel about taking his life. Elijah was tormented and distracted by the threat and intimidation to the point that he wanted to die. He was looking at life not the way God intended his life to be. He was looking at life the way King Ahab and Jezebel wanted him to have. Elijah, in his desperation, was fed by God by heavenly food, symbolic of the provisions of God when times get tough.
We have our own spiritual Jezebels that torment us, that causes us sleepless nights, and that makes us worry, fear and cause our blood pressure to rise. We have our own stress levels and points of depression that we feel that we can’t take it anymore, but God feeds us constantly with heavenly food to strengthen us and to make us understand that life is all about God’s food for us and His strength in us.
Last week, Fr. Gary shared: our prayer must always be, “Lord, what is Your desire for me?” God’s desire, Christ’s desire starts at the Table of the Lord. This Bread which comes from this Table gives life, not just to our mortal bodies, but life to the world. It all starts at the Table - with the body of Christ, the bread of heaven; His blood, the cup of salvation. This desire of God flows from the Table and it flows out. It is God’s will for Christ to suffer on the cross. Jesus says, “Lord, that is Your desire, and if it is Your desire, it is My desire.”
If we took time to ponder upon last week’s word, it will bring us to a point to challenge and to provoke us to see the true feelings of our heart. Let us explore this even more and let it try to bring a greater understanding to us. Therealways seems a struggle between man’s desire and God’s desire; between God’s view of life and our desire of life. There is that conflict between the ideal life of a true Christian and the manner of the world. We live in this world filled with sharks that threaten and annihilate our lives. There is that conflict between what has God done and how we are responding. There is seemingly a desire in each of us to attain a certain moral standard of right and wrong (to assuage our conscience, to please people, to avoid guilt, etc.). There is the conflict of our performance in the light of God’s expectations.
I would like to read Ephesians 4:25-32 in Tagalog to bring out a beauty in the language. “Kaya't pagkatapos itakuwil ang kasinungalingan, ang bawat isa ay magsalita ng katotohanan sa kanyang kapwa, sapagkat tayo'y mga bahagi ng isa't isa. Punong-puno ng kasinungalingan ang mundo at kaplastikan. Our workplace has always that façade of trying to have a life that is okay. Looking at social media, we see all the smiles and the beauty in the life of a person, and here is a another person in his lonesome saying to himself, “Why am I not like them?” not seeing that it is a lie.
26 Magalit kayo ngunit huwag magkasala; huwag hayaang lubugan ng araw ang inyong galit,27 at huwag bigyan ng pagkakataon ang diyablo. Are we harboring hatred against another person to say, “Medyo galit ako say iyo,” or saying, “Parang galit ako sa iyo.” We are somehow immersed in this situation where we have reservations for our feelings.
28Ang nagnanakaw ay huwag nang magnakaw pa, kundi magtrabaho at gumawa siya sa pamamagitan ng kanyang sariling mga kamay ng mabuting bagay, upang siya'y may maibahagi sa nangangailangan.29 Anumang masamang salita ay hindi dapat lumabas sa inyong bibig, kundi ang mabuti lamang para sa ikatitibay,[a] ayon sa pangangailangan, upang ito ay makapagbigay ng biyaya sa mga nakikinig.
Today, it is cool if one is able to say the “F…” or the “S…” word. One would say, “Oh, My f… G!” St. Paul says, “No unwholesome speech come out from us,” this means something that is rotten should not come from us. People like saying the “S…” word which is a rotten word because of where it comes from; and yes, it is what it is - rotten. Scriptures says, “Come children now and hear from Me: if you want to live long life, just keep your lips from wickedness and lies.”
30At huwag ninyong pighatiin ang Espiritu Santo ng Diyos, na sa pamamagitan niya kayo'y tinatakan para sa araw ng pagtubos.31 Lahat ng pait, galit, poot, pag-aaway, at paninirang-puri ay inyong alisin, pati lahat ng kasamaan,32 at maging mabait kayo sa isa't isa, mga mahabagin, nagpapatawad sa isa't isa, gaya ng pagpapatawad sa inyo ng Diyos kay Cristo. This is what the conflict in life is all about.
We can summarize man’s deepest desire and life into three areas. There are three things that man seeks for and needs in his life: one is the way of life. He is looking for direction – a college course, an employment, or whom to marry. People now are direction-less. They don’t know the way; but deep within, they want to know it. 1 Peter 2:25 says, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
The second thing that man wants to know is the truth because we are in the midst of falsehood and empty facades. Isaiah 28:15b says, “For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.” The third thing man wants to know is life – what is it really like? In a culture of death, what is life? In John 10:10b, Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” 1John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Man looks for the way, the truth and the life. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life! Obviously, the only and true answer to the dilemma of man is Jesus Christ. In John 17:3, it says “Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”
We are all in the Church and we constantly go through the motions of coming to Church, reading our Bible, praying, and even coming to the Eucharist. All of these points to Jesus, the One that we are seeking for in our lives – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Knowing Christ is having a personal, deep, and intimate relationship with Him. I cannot know Christ for you. I can pray, I can ask God and seek the Lord for you, but you would have to settle that for yourself and Him. It is not just to know about Him, but to know Him and to experience Him because experience always precedes understanding. Many people are still in the head knowledge.
A father can talk to single men about loving a woman or a father can talk to them about loving the children. A husband can talk to a single man about the joy of marriage, but the single man will never understand this until he says, “Lord, I am going to date this girl, and I am going to commit myself for better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health.” Vows are not necessarily for the better, for the richer or when in good health, but when it is the worse, the poorer, and in sickness. People will not understand these things until they come to marriage and bring life to these vows.
We can talk about forgiveness of those who hurt us, but until we experience the forgiveness of God in the person of the Holy Spirit for our failures, we cannot understand what forgiveness means. This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is very important because we are able to come as a person before Christ and say, “I have failed You.” Once we experience the forgiveness of our sins, then, it is now so easier to forgive. This is why the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us.”
In the Mass and the other Sacraments, we encounter Jesus Christ. We should continue doing so to encounter Him because He is the One who would show us life. I am not talking about religion, vestments or ceremonies. I am talking about a real, living encounter with Jesus, and this happens as we immerse ourselves so that we will experience His love. Immerse ourselves in Scriptures that show us forgiveness and love. Let us allow the Spirit of God to just envelope and completely immerse us in the love of God because He is the only One that could give this to us.
In John 6:29, Jesus said, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.” He is the Owner of our lives. He is the Lord. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. Jesus is the Lord of our life. Everything we have belongs to Him. Knowing and loving God demands our personal choice, intention and resolution. It is saying, “Lord Jesus, be my Lord.” We must first empty ourselves before we can be filled with His life. We must first detach ourselves from our old self, from the world, before we can attach ourselves to Christ. We first must die before we can have life.
This is the life God has, and I go back to my first question: What is life all about? Come before Christ and know the answer!