26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: "Purity of Living"
We are here to know God and to make Him known. This is what God wants for us – to know Him and to grow in Him, to be like Him and to be in union with Him more and more each day.
In the gospel, Jesus rebukes His disciples when one of them said that there was someone who was casting out the demons, but they were not from their group. Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” As people of God in His kingdom, what we are after is not credit or exclusive privileges and rights to the ministry. We need not be insecure, jealous or envious of people who are able to build the kingdom of God. We share the same cause; what we are after is the restoration of life, the building up of the Kingdom and its furtherance, and the destruction of stumbling blocks, which is anything that is opposed to the life God has given, His children. God does not want these stumbling blocks. In the Old Testament, He said, “Utterly destroy your enemies.” The enemy is whatever it is that is the enemy of the life of God in us. God’s intense zeal is for His house and for the destruction of forces against His chosen ones and the apple of His eye.
The Old Testament is an allegory in which the enemies of Israel, people, nations and tribes were used. We look into this and see that the enemies of the people of God are anything that would destroy the plan of God, the life of God, and the will of God in us.
In the book of Esther, we find the enemy of the people of God named Haman. He wanted to destroy the people of God. Esther petitioned the king for her life and the life of the Jewish people. The story shows that whatever attack on God’s people is, is what God uses to destroy the enemies of His people. As with Haman, he built gallows on which he planned to hang Mordecai, a leader of the Jews. What happened was that Haman was hanged on this gallows. God causes those who oppose His will in us to fall into their own trap and to suffer the consequences for the snares that they set up for us. God causes the enemy to pierce their own heart with sword and to fall into their own trap.
Remember, our enemy is not flesh and blood, but we struggle against principalities and power and these forces of evil that uses people – may it be our friend, our brethren. The enemy is what influences or affects people. We must not allow ourselves to be the instruments of evil, but of God for good. We must participate in the propagation of life, peace, love and the building of the Kingdom.
Jesus said, “You must have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” Salt is an an enhancer, a preserver of life. Have salt in you; and do not lose your saltiness. The salt is something that is made available to us by grace. Our part is to avail of that which is given to us freely. This all started in our baptism where the priest tells us, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever.” The evil has no power in us and the gates of hell cannot prevail against us. No weapon formed against us shall prosper because we now belong to the household of God, to the chosen race, to a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and in us, the destruction of death has begun. Life is little by little formed in us until we reach that point here we are made like God.
In the song “In Christ Alone” it says in one portion, “And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost ts grip on me; For I am His and He is mine - bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death - This is the pow'r of Christ in me; From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He return or calls me home - Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.”
The work of God in us begins, and we are being transformed in a process called theosis, deification, or divinization, meaning it is a process where we are being made like God. We are being made one in union with Him. It is a process so that one day, we will see Him and we will know Him because we will be like Him.
Of course, there are still the battles. Jesus said that in the world, we will have tribulations. We cannot be in denial and with our hyper-faith we say, “No, I am not sick. No, I don’t have problems.” We do have problems and face challenges, but the truth is that He who is in us is greater than he who throws these things at us. This is the bottom-line and the unchangeable truth.
In the song “We Can Make A Difference” it says, “
We live in a dream if we really think everything's alright
This world is in need crying out to be free,
We got to shed some light.
Teach the world to smile and hear angels sing,
Feel the breath of God and the pow'r it brings.
It's time to come together you
and I and share the love of Jesus Christ.
Do you know a man who's needing a hand?
Do you walk on by?
A sister is sad, lost all that she had. We got to take the time.
Look around your world, it will testify.
Some have empty hearts, some have hungry eyes.
God can heal the suff'ring through our hands.
Find compassion. Take a stand!
C) We can make a diff'rence, we can make a change.
We can make the world a better place.
We can make a diff\rquote rence, we can make a change.
We can make the sun shine through the rain,
shine on through the rain.
Everybody faces a challenge. A philosopher said, “Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Be kind to everyone we meet. Strengthen them. Encourage them. Share our peace and hope to them. James 4 said not to judge because we don’t know what is happening to somebody. If we judge, we become a judge of the Law, not a doer of it. We must be doers of the Law, which is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
Several days ago, I started doing something which was impressed in my heart. I try to sense people’s struggles, and I would approach someone and ask two questions: “What is your struggle and current battle or challenge?” “How may I help?” We are supposed to instruments, channels or conduits of God’s strength, hope, and peace. Sometimes, we meet people with a smile, but behind the smile is a façade, a defense mechanism that they are currently carrying a heavy burden.
We are supposed to be channels of blessings, conduits of hope and encouragement, but sometimes we lose our saltiness and sensitivity. There are people who are struggling, and we need to participate in the propagation of life, encouragement, and hope that we receive from God. We have that saltiness, but do we still have it in us and can God still use us? This is why we are called to be an instrument of peace.
Going back to the story of Esther, Haman’s plan was to kill all the Jews. His plan was prospering, but a man named Mordecai won’t bow down to him. Haman felt that his happiness wasn’t completed not until he gets Mordecai killed. He made gallows for Mordecai. One night, the king was unable to sleep, so the chronicles was read to him, and he discovered that Mordecai saved him from a plot of two bad guys. The king learned that Mordecai was not given a reward for what he did, so Mordecai was given honor. Haman did not like it, but the people around him told him this, as written in Esther 6:13b says, “If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him.”
Our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemy is sin, the consequences of sin like sickness, poverty, hatred, depression and even death. If these befall us, and we are the chosen people of God, these things will not overcome us. They will surely fall before us. If we belong to the chosen family of God, sin, sickness, poverty, depression, things present, things to come, scheme of man, powers ofhell, tribulation, persecution will not overcome us. We can say this to the devil or whatever we are facing now because we belong to the chosen people of God and no weapon formed against us will prosper. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us because of the grace of God in us which started when we were baptized. It is just a matter of time that we will be like God when we see Him.
We are suppose to be salt, instrument, conduits so that if we are convinced of this, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Then, we can encourage others and we can be instruments of strength, of hope, and encouragement and we can ask people, “What are you struggling with? What is your battle and how can I be of help?” Remind them that they are the child of God, that they belong to the family of God, and nothing can prosper against them. No Haman, no evil, no satan, no sickness nor anything that the devil can throw to us will prosper and will prevail against us because of the grace of God in us. But we must have this in ourselves first. Have salt in us first before we can give.
In Acts 3, there was a poor man begging from Peter and John, but Peter said to the man, “I don’t have money, but what I have, that is what I will give you. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The grace of God, the salt of God was what Peter used. We need the salt in our lives first. Taste and see the goodness of God for ourselves first before we can share it. St. Paul says that the hardworking farmer should be first to partake of his harvest.
There is this true story of a mother and her baby who were trapped in the rubble because of an earthquake that occurred in Eastern Europe. They stayed there for several days, and they were discovered when the cry of the baby was heard. Unfortunately, the mother died because what she did was to bite each of her fingers and she made her baby suck the blood that came from each finger. This sustained the baby for several days and the baby was healthy when she was recovered. As the mother was giving life, she lost her life.
Many lessons can be gleaned from this story, but my point is that we have an exhaustible source of life. Do not block the flow of that life into ourselves. If we do, we won’t have life in ourselves and life will not flow through us. The first step is to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Have salt in us; have life in us first, and then we can be a channel through which that life flows.
Let me remind you that this life is inexhaustible and available. The only scenario that we don’t have this in us is if we block it ourselves. The choice is ours; the decision is ours. If we block it, and stop it from coming to us, we can’t make it available to others. We are called to be instruments of peace, life, encouragement, of hope, and love so that where there is none of these things, we can bring them there and make a difference. We are not to pretend that everything is all right with others. Recognize that they are facing a battle and this strength can come from that which is available in us. Have salt in ourselves and be at peace with one another. Pursue peace and the building up of one another because this is precisely the way it is in the kingdom of our God.