MONDAY: Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Neighbours on a Journey in Christ
Once people become ignorant of the divine presence within and without their bodies, if they negate God’s omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, it is likely that the human conditions, which confront them, will dictate the seriousness or superficiality of their relationship with God. Whenever the cares of this world take preference over spirituality, faith and fidelity suffer, integrity is the next causality then virtues and values will be used as accessories for regression, complacency and self-degradation.
The prostitution of virtues and values are commonplace in today’s world. Individualism, materialism, peer pressure, social pressure and the like, proffered by worldly philosophies and the gospel of prosperity act as the stimulus for the rapid erosion of faith in today’s world. The new thrust is the theology of plenty, self-indulgence and a person’s right to determine their own sexuality and code of conduct.
All the above-mentioned are rapidly nibbling away at the notion of Redemptive Suffering and the devaluation of the promise made in baptism. How easily we forget that from the moment we made our baptismal pledge to God we are no longer our own property; we belong to Christ (1Cor.6:19-20). Consequently, the language of the Cross of Christ (1Cor.1:18) prefigured by Israel’s journey through the desert is now losing its importance. Christian, like the Israel of old, are opting to return to the fleshpots than to continue the journey with the suffering Christ to the kingdom.
The notion that each individual must fend for himself/herself still dominates our consciousness. Protectionism, isolation, insularism in sections of the first world, are flushing out the concept of Caritas and Filial love in the mane of protecting their five loaves and two fish. Even those who preach the gospel now treat those who slaved to bake the five loaves and to provide the fish with repugnance. How conveniently we forget the word of God, which says threat the foreigners among you, as your neighbours for you, and your ancestors were once foreigners (Lev.19:34). That is the significance of Christ Jesus saying to the disciples, do not send them away but feed them yourselves (Matt.14:16).
The manner, the five barley loaves, the two fish are symbolic of the food of redemptive sufferers, enduring the desert in collaboration with Moses, God and Christ Jesus who are willing to sacrifice everything in the interest of sufferers so that together they may become a people of God. He who feeds the poor multiplies his blessings (Prov.28:27). Five loves and two fish yielded twelve baskets full of leftovers. God multiplies our blessing when we behave like the Good Samaritan (Lk.10:29-37). The Lord’s Prayer reminds us, we are all neighbours.
God can only build us as his people when we willingly cooperate with his plan. Only when we are willing to sacrifice our all, to be one in our sufferings with others to achieve our ultimate satisfaction and fulfilment in God through Christ, who like Moses is leading us to our new Promised Land – the kingdom of God our Father. Redemptive suffering is never only for our personal good; it is always in the best interest of those who are with us on the journey with Christ.
Lord, keep me always conscious of my neighbours’ struggles. Grant me the grace to be their strength and their hope.