Midweek Fellowship – August 16, 2017
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
I don’t think that we barely scratched the surface of understanding the love of God. Scriptures says that the earth is filled with the loving-kindness of the Lord. Oftentimes, we see tragedy, criminality, man’s deception, suspicion, lying, theft, and adultery, and we are more sensitive to these things rather than to see that inspite of all these, the earth is still filled with the knowledge, the wisdom, and the love of the Lord.
Looking to our theme on “You are Witnesses of These Things,” I have subtitled our theme to say that in being a witness, we have to have eyes of faith. Reading from Romans 10: 6a – 11, “But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the word of faith which you are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scriptures says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
From a Tagalog version, “Gayunman, ang katuwirang mula sa pananampalataya ay nagsasabi: Huwag mong sabihin sa iyong puso ang ganito: Sino ang papaitaas sa langit? Iyon ay upang ibaba si Cristo. 7Huwag ding sabihin: Sino ang bababa sa walang hanggang kalaliman? Iyon ay upang ibalik si Cristo mula sa mga patay. 8Ano ang sinasabi ng kasulatan? Ang salita ay malapit sa iyo, ito ay nasa iyong bibig at sa iyong puso. Ang salitang ito ay ang salita ng pananampalataya na ipinahahayag namin.9Ipahayag mong si Jesus ay Panginoon at sampalatayanan mo sa iyong puso na binuhay siyang mag-uli ng Diyos. Kapag ginawa mo ito, ikaw ay maliligtas. 10Ito ay sapagkat sa pamamagitan ng puso ikaw ay sumasampalataya patungo sa pagiging-matuwid. Sa pamamagitan ng bibig ikaw ay nagpapahayag patungo sa kaligtasan. 11Ito ay sapagkat sinasabi ng kasulatan: Ang bawat isang sumasampalataya sa kaniya ay hindi mabibigo.”
All of us have encountered frustrations in life – from our friends, in our studies, in our job expectations, and even in our love life. Scriptures says that whoever believes in God will not be disappointed. Having faith in Him brings us to a place of not being disappointed because we know what God is doing in our lives.
Faith is very important for every believer. Romans 1:17 says, “The righteous will live by faith.” Habbakuk 2:4 says, “The righteous will live by his faith.” 1 John 5:4 says, “He who is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.” In Ephesians 6:16, it says, “Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Many times, the enemy throws arrows at us even though he is powerless and a defeated foe. He will deceive us to think that he is powerful. Many Christians are easily deceived by this, so that when Satan throws his darts of depression and self-pity, his flaming arrows of poverty, sickness and disease, they easily succumb. God has given us an armor, and part of that armor is the shield of faith which is able to extinguish what the enemy throws at us.
How do we allow this faith to work in our lives? Romans 10 says that the Word is near us, in our hearts. Jesus, through His Spirit, is always with us. We receive Jesus through the Eucharist, through His Spirit, and He is with us, and we become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We need to understand that we have to have faith in our hearts to be able to know and to look beyond the things that we see.
We live in a world that is deceiving. Even the disciples were not able to recognize Jesus. They saw with their physical eyes, but they failed to recognize Him. In Luke 24:16, in the story of the Road to Emmaus, it said, “They failed to recognize Jesus when He joined them on the road.” It was only much later in the day when they were already having their meals when Jesus broke the bread that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.
We, too, succumbed to this because we are so engrossed with many things that are happening around us. We fail to see Jesus in the midst of the problem. In our Sunday’s gospel in Matthew 14: 22 – 33, when Jesus came and approach the disciples, what were the two things that they had, and then later, Peter had a problem with? Fear and faith. “Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” Verse 24, “But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened.” They saw, but they did not really see because they did not look at it with the eyes of faith. They thought they saw a ghost.
Jesus comes to us, maybe in a tragic situation or in something that we were aspiring to get but did not get, and we do not realize that it was really God who ordained it. We do not see that He is the One at work in our lives. Every time God closes a door for us, He opens up another, another path which is His chosen path for us.
Many times, we see ourselves going to a dead end, to a terminal point. For a Christian, always remember that the beginning and the end, the author and the perfector, the starter and the finisher of our lives is Christ. In Hebrews 12:2, it says, “When we run the race, we are to run with endurance.” Life may be wearisome, but let us not give up no matter how hard the trials we may face. It is easier said than done because we have different loads to carry, but we must realize that there is only one God who is mighty to save. He is powerful and He is willing to help us in whatever situation we are in.
I may not be going through situations in the same way that you are, and sometimes we fall into that trap where we compare what we undergo with others and seeing ourselves as the most aggrieved party. To God, it doesn’t really matter. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus. The last word of the Bible is: Amen, and 2Corinthians says that Jesus is the Amen because what He did is the finality of our lives; this is our destiny.
In 2Corinthians 4:7-9, Paul says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” Verse 17 says, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” St. Paul described what he was going through as momentary, light affliction. We must see our tribulations in life as momentary, light affliction. There is an end to whatever hardships we may be facing, and the end of that is the life of God. We are sustained by the grace and mercy of God in our lives.
Verse 18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” This is what we have. We must begin to see things that are eternal because we were made to live forever. We have been given this life by God, and this life is a destiny of everlasting life. Nothing can stop us.
In the gospel, the disciples were in fear which caused them to sink. It is only when Peter had faith which caused him to walk on water. Fear causes our lives to sink, and there is fear because we see things as temporary. Realize that this is not the final authority, the absolute or the final say in our lives. Yes, we all go through difficulties and problems, but one day, we will see all of these things come to an end because the end of all is Christ.
This is a truth that we must constantly live out day by day: whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.