September 6, 2017
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
If you have been following the readings in the Daily Office of Prayer, this morning’s Old Testament reading is all about King Solomon. He is being used by God to be a witness to the world, particularly for Queen Sheba, who came from a far country and heard about Solomon. This should be like the Church, who should be the joy of all the earth, and being heard of making and spreading the good news of God’s love to all. Solomon was used by God as an instrument of displaying His wisdom. Solomon prayed not for riches, not for conquering nations, but for wisdom. He was setting His mind on God’s interests.
Sadly, toward the end of Solomon’s life, he went astray and started pursuing man’s interests. The Queen of Sheba saw all that Solomon did, and how there was order and beauty in all that he set his hands on. She saw the temple, his house, how the servants conducted themselves; and she heard for herself the wisdom of Solomon. Queen Sheba was so awed by Solomon’s wisdom, and hearing the words from Solomon himself.
When Jesus was in Samaria, in John chapters 4 and 5, the Samaritans told Jesus, “We already heard of You, and we believed You. Now, that we are in Your presence, the more we believe in You because we heard it directly from You; we saw it for ourselves, and we have proven to ourselves the news that we have heard from people.”
This is what we have been talking for the past Wednesdays: we are witnesses. God is using us to be a witness, thus, we should be thankful. We should not fear nor complain that we have a responsibility. Rather, we should be glad that God is using us to spread His love, the good news of His kingdom. Our mission is to be witnesses of these things.
Jesus said, “The truth is something greater than Solomon is here.” If Queen of Sheba believed in Solomon, the truth of our salvation and the redemption that we received from Jesus should all the more bring gratitude in our hearts. We have received something greater than Solomon, and we should rejoice.
It has been that our standard has always been material things. Solomon was materially rich, but there are ways we could be blessed than material things. The Old Testament was a shadow of the things to come. It showed us the richness of Solomon, and his wisdom to show us how priceless and how valuable is our salvation that Jesus gave. Our blessedness is not all about material things because the kingdom of God is not about only these things, but joy, peace and righteousness. We just don’t see how blessed we are. Today, we are even more blessed than Solomon to see and hear the wisdom of God.
In Ephesians 3, St. Paul talks about the wisdom of God and the mystery of God that was hidden in ages past. Now, it is being revealed that God also loved the Gentiles, and they are also heirs of the kingdom of God. Ephesians 3:10 says, “God’s will is to display His manifold wisdom through the Church” – through you and me. This is why we are called witnesses. The manifold wisdom of God is displayed through the Church, through the administration of the good news of His kingdom. This is our Church’s: to know God and to make Him known. We make known His wisdom, His compassion, His love and His kingdom and the good news to all.
God is using the Church to display this. There is this greater blessing of being used by God. If God is using us, we are blessed, but we overlook this. In the parables, God uses those who are fruitful, and for those who do not produce, God takes away their ministry, and they lose the blessedness of having one. We are to set our minds on God’s interests. How do we know His wisdom and make Him known? The first step is to know Him through the Word. We can’t make Him known if we for ourselves don’t know who He is.
Back in our early years as a Church, Romans 12:9-21 was always read for almost a year, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good….” It seems that we haven’t gotten this. This is how we can display the wisdom of God. The ways of the world point towards self. The wisdom of God tells us to love others, and to treat them as more important than us.
The things of God is giving of ourselves to others. St. Paul said, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” We are partakers of the Divine nature. If we love our enemies, if we bless and we do not curse them, this is love, and this is not hypocrisy. If we don’t love our enemies, this is hypocrisy. Love is unconditional. Jesus said that if we only love those whom we choose to love, how does that make us different from the Gentiles? If we are partakers of the Divine nature, we are to love, to bless, to pray and not to curse our enemies.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Let us be diligent in our ministry, and fervently serve the Lord. Do not complain, but rather see the blessedness of being used by God. “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation.” Don’t give up on our tribulations; persevere; do not walk away; do not complain or point fingers. “Be devoted to prayer.” How are we doing with our prayer time and our quiet moments with the Lord? Do we still hold our vigil every Saturday evening? “Contributing to the needs of the saints.” When was the last time we gave to alms? All our thanksgiving offerings received during the Mass goes to alms because a lot of our Church members have needs. Not only do we pray for them, but we also extend help to them financially.
“Practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice.” We should not be jealous of other’s blessings. Rejoice with them because we are one with them. Their blessing is our blessing, too. “Weep with those who weep.” Be one with those who suffer. “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.” Renew our minds and renew our brand of justice. “Never pay back evil for evil. If possible, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge.” If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. An enemy is one whom you think is against you, so feed him, give him a drink, and do not curse him. Verse 21 says, “Overcome evil with good.”
This is the truth. We need to hear Romans 12:9-21 over and over again because we are witness of the things of God. If people see these in our lives, it displays the manifold wisdom of God because it is a blessing to be able to practice what St. Paul says.
We are witnesses of these things, not of an extraordinary phenomenon called the resurrection of somebody who died physically. Jesus’ life is what we are witnessing to people, making truth of Jesus’ giving His life to others, even to His enemies. Forgiving others and praying for others is what we are to witness.
We are witnesses of a restored life; of a resurrected life; of a life that is full of love just like God’s love. This love is for all. This is the mystery that was hidden but is being revealed to us today – the wisdom of living God’s life. It takes time or it may even take a lifetime. This is why our vow is to follow Him from this time and forever.
We have to make a choice. The Cross before us, and the world behind us. There is no turning back. This is how Jesus was for us. When He became man, there was no turning back on His purpose.
This is the wisdom that we are to be witnesses of – wisdom of living Christ’s life and saying, “Yes,” to it forever. See to it that we finish it after we have started it. God is the Alpha and the Omega, and He is faithful to complete that which He has started in us, for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.