CEC Foundation Day, the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 28, 2020
“We Proclaim Commitment!”
Jeremiah 28: 5-9; 15-17
Psalm 89: 1-3; 19-21; 35-37
Romans 6: 16-23
Matthew 10: 37-42
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
In the Gospel, Jesus said, “He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Same goes for sons and daughters. Jesus continues, “He who finds his life will lose it; he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Is Jesus, God, jealous or insecure? God instituted family and it seems like Jesus competes with us. God gave us life and it seems that Jesus wants us to lose it.
This is not what Jesus wants. Jesus came so that we, along with the whole world, can have life in abundance and in fullness. Jesus shows us the way to obtain this: to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto us. If we have our priorities backwards, then we lose the fullness that He intends for us to have. This is what He means when He says, “He who seeks to keep his life will lose it.”
We tend to pursue the things of the Gentiles, that which the world pursues – riches, pleasures, praise of men. We call having them ‘living the life’ or ‘living the dream’ only to find out how these are fleeting and we find ourselves with emptiness. We discover these things and they don’t give us the true joy and happiness.
When we trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding, we will find out that He gave us this life, and He knows what makes it full and complete. This is the reason why Jesus says that the Father has chosen gladly to give us His kingdom, and seeking it first is what will give us joy, fulfillment, and fullness of life.
Inheriting the kingdom is partaking of God’s divine nature, and being holy as He is holy. Holy doesn’t mean being religious, puritan or goody–two-shoes. Instead, holy means peculiar, other, distinct, different, and unique. When we say, “Holy, holy, holy,” it means that there is nothing in this world that compares to our God. He is transcendent and unfathomable.
Sometimes, we use language to communicate ideas about God, but words fall short because God is infinite. Figures of speech like metaphors and parables are used to convey God’s attributes. For the Eastern Orthodox Church, they use the apophatic approach where things are defined by negation like God is not man that He should die. Another example is what Scriptures says that the kingdom of God is coming that eye has not seen nor ear has heard. We should understand that we gain some knowledge of Him. One day we will see Him face to face, but we have to acknowledge that at this point, we see Him dimly. Our finite mind can't contain God.
There is a story about St. Augustine while he was writing a book about the Trinity. He was walking by the beach and saw a child who dug a hole in the sand. He was going back and forth and he was scooping water from the ocean to bring into the small hole that he had dug. Augustine asked the boy what he was doing, and the boy said, “I am scooping water from the ocean and transferring it to my hole.” St. Augustine turned his back from the boy and just smiled, and soon, the boy was gone. Then, St. Augustine heard a voice saying to him, “This is how we think God is.”
God is not Someone that we can contain in our minds. God is beyond our understanding. It is arrogant and idolatrous for us to claim that we have this figured out. Our human idea of Him will be wrong if we think as such. In Psalm 50, God said, “You thought I was just like you.” The best way to communicate Him is to have others experience Him, which means, we first have to have known Him and have experienced Him so that imparting or sharing Him becomes naturally. Peter said, “Be holy as God is holy.” Be set apart; be like Him first; so that proclaiming becomes second nature and spontaneous to us.
In teaching Math, I tell the students not to memorize formulas. What they need to do is to learn to analyze the problems in order to solve them. In doing so, they can solve any problem because it is in their hearts and it becomes second nature to them. With God, we need to absorb who He is. We do not need to memorize verses and study theology. We will need to impart shared time, experience, and fellowship with God.
We appeal to the senses of the audience, not just to their hearing or to their intellect, but to their hearts. When we speak of love, we need to experience it for us to show how it feels. I have been to New York and there are three things that I really love – pizza, bagels and cheesecake. Yesterday, I googled cheesecake and I got 51.3 million Google results. I told my children that even if this is the result, they wouldn’t understand what cheesecake is all about. How do you explain colors to a blind man? How do you explain music to a caveman? We cannot describe certain things in words. The dictionary can try to define these things for us but words will still fall short.
St Francis said, “Preach the gospel at all times; but if necessary, use words.” We should be sharing the gospel through our experience not by our words. The Charismatic Episcopal Church, where we belong to, will not be known by its doctrine, its music, or its three streams, but by its relationship and fellowship with one another. It is by demonstrating how we love and care for each other.
St. John said in 1John 1:1-3, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was from the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” One major way for others to have fellowship with Jesus and the Father is through fellowship with us.
To appeal to audience’s senses, the actors internalize. They get in character. As Christians, we don't just internalize or get in character, but we actualize; we live out. It is the real thing. We are not in a performance. We are into eternal life.
The vision of Cathedral of the King and our Diocese is to know God and to make Him known. We want to fulfill this vision so we need to do our best in communicating the good news; but we must understand that when words fall short, imperfect examples also sometimes do. Sometimes, we might not be able to demonstrate the goodness of God, His character and His divine nature; but where we fall short, the Holy Spirit comes in and He accomplishes what we can't. It is up to people to respond, but nevertheless, we do our part.
St. John also said in verse 4, “We proclaim what we have seen and heard; what we have experienced and have fellowship with so that our joy may be made full and complete.” Partaking the Divine nature is sharing it. Sharing it bring us fullness of joy.
This is what Jesus means when He said, “He who loses his life.” Share it; give it away so that we can find the fullness of life for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.