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January 15, 2023; The Second Sunday after Epiphany / The Feast of the Lord, the Giver of Life

Jeremiah 31: 10 -17

Psalm 10: 2,3; 8,9; 16,17

1 Corinthians 15: 19 -26

Matthew 18: 1 – 5

Bishop Ariel P. Santos

The Lord is the Giver of life, not the taker. God doesn’t take life. He doesn’t kill nor destroy it. It is the thief who comes to kill, to steal and to destroy. Jesus, as the representative of God, came that we might have life. It is not just life, but life abundantly. We are thankful for the greatest gift of all, which is the life that God gave us.

Today was formerly known as “Sanctify of Life Sunday”. We uphold the sanctity of life – all life is sacred. We are all children of God. St. Paul quotes a Greek poet who said that all of us, Greeks and Gentiles, are God’s offspring and he confirms this. Jesus is our Great Shepherd and Father of all.

Some people may be estranged, lost, weak, sinful or are wrongdoers, but still, all of us are children of God. Parents have children with different characters and personalities, but just the same, they love them hopefully not playing favorites. All men are children of God. Therefore, every human being is our brother. Every human being is God’s child – not just Christians or people that we like. Even those who are astray from their family, and haven’t find their way back to their home yet are children of God. If we don’t see every one as our brother, we will see them as our enemy or our rival.

Instead of languishing in a place of hatred, instead of getting stuck on unforgiveness and blaming, instead of pointing a finger and accusing a brother of what we think they have done wrong, let us focus on what they can do right. We have been enabled by God to do so. He causes all things to work together for good. Even if we are right and people are wrong, David said in the Psalms, “Do not be anxious because of the wrong doers.” Do not hate or be angry with them. Instead, cultivate faithfulness. Take care, nurture, be steadfast, be committed, do not give up and do not grow weary.

God spoke to me about this: having a point is not the point. Love, respect, and ascribing worth to our neighbor is what we should focus on. Each one is our brother. St. John says in 1John3:11-12, “To love one another. Do not be like Cain who killed his brother.” Who is our brother? People whom we see each day. We should not kill them. Who should we kill? No one! Who should we condemn? No one! Everyone is our brother and our sisters. St. John says in 1John 4:20, “He who doesn’t love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he doesn’t see.” We love God. God is in our brother. If we hate our brother, we hate the God who is in them. Christ is alive in everyone, working in them, restoring them back to His image and likeness. If we understand this, we will love our neighbor.

It is said that we really only love God as much as the person we love the least. If we believe all life is sacred, we shouldn’t hate, exclude, or marginalize. If we see the image of God in our brother, there will be no competition. The first apostles, the first leaders of our Church, wanted to know who among them is the greatest and they fought about this. Jesus corrected them and said, “Be like children.” Be the least. Our attitude is being a servant. Do not cause anyone to stumble. Receive each other and be the first. No one-upmanship. The insecurity in us makes us to want to be better than others. There is nothing to prove because all of us are loved by God and this is all that matters.

Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” We shall not want to be better than others. What can be better but to be loved by God Himself? Being one of the great contributors in the Church, St, Paul’s attitude was, “I am the least of all the apostles.” All of us are saints because of God’s grace. Division happens when people think they are better and more important than others. “I am better. I can’t join your circle. You belong to people who are less than me. I am with the elite, so I separate myself from you.” This should not be done. A song says to break through the bonds of self-concern that seeks to stand apart from others.

Why are their crimes like stealing? Why is there sexual abuse? In most cases, because they think their needs are more important. Why do women have abortion. In most cases, because they think their life is more important – their selfish needs and thoughts. They don’t see that all life is sacred. Sometimes, we think that our life is more important than anyone else. All life is equally sacred. If we do this, we will ascribe worth and value to the lives of our brethren.

The Jews thought that they were more favored by God than the Gentiles. They were wrong because from the beginning, God wanted to bless all the families of the earth from Abraham. During the time of Hitler, he thought that Christians are more important in the eyes of God and the Jews are lesser of importance so he had the six million Jews killed. He thought God was on his side and Christians are favored, and the Jews who rejected Jesus Christ deserved to die. Don’t ever think of this. God doesn’t have human friends or enemies; all are His children. In fact, Jesus gave His life for ALL because all life is sacred. We must not see anyone as less than ourselves; instead, we value them more.

St. Paul said in Philippians 2:3, “Do not be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as more important than yourselves.” This should be our attitude and this is the reason why we don’t grow weary in doing good for others, of giving our time, talent and treasure. Love is desiring the good of another. The Lord takes care of us and He does so much that we are overflowing with blessings to bless others.

Our Project of Love is not for our own comfort. This building will stand for generations. We build it not just for us. Some of us may not see the fullness of this building. If we value the life of our children and their children’s lives as well, and say that their life is sacred, let us ascribe worth to this. Let us show them that their life is sacred by doing the work now in raising funds, in doing our ministries, not allowing situations and circumstances to affect us. Let us not grow weary in doing good.

Hebrews 6:10-12, “God is not unjust as to forget your work and the love you have shown in ministering to the needs of the saints, and continue to do. We want each of you to be faithful to the very end. If you are, then what you hope for will fully happen. We don’t want you to slow down. Instead, be like those who have faith and are patient. They will receive what God promised.” In fact, even if we don’t see the promise, we are still one with next generation. If they accept the promise, we also have received it because we are one with them.

Jeremiah 31:12-14, 16-17, “They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion. They will be joyful because of My provision - grain, new wine and oil, the healthy flocks of sheep and cattle. Israel will be like a well-watered garden. And their sadness will be gone. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their sorrow into joy, and I will comfort them, and they shall rejoice. I will fully satisfy their priests with abundance of offerings, and My people will be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord. Stop crying. Wipe away your tears. You will be rewarded for your work, declares the Lord. There is hope for your future; your children will come back home. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

There is hope for our future; for our children. God, in them, is greater than he who is in the world. This will make a difference in their generation. There is great reward although our attitude is not, “I want the reward.” We do good not for the reward but because we know that all life is sacred and we have received life, the greatest gift of all. We shall not want. If we have this outlook, this in itself is the reward and the way it is in the kingdom of our God.


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