Reflection for February 2020

Community Word: The love of Jesus sanctifies us for God’s glory.

Order: “Your light must shine before others…” (Mt 5:16)


Reflection:
God the Father in His love for us sent His Son to assume our humanity so that we may share in His divine nature. His love is manifested in Jesus who left a lasting memorial of that love by instituting the sacraments, through which we are purified and strengthened to follow the Father’s call to holiness “Be holy for I am holy,” (Lev 11:45). For one, our encounter with Christ through the Eucharist enables us be transformed and follow His example of humility, meekness and patience and to bear witness to His love in our daily lives and thus fulfill the order for the month, “Your light must shine before others…” (Mt 5:16).

The weekly themes for the month of Februaryshows us how the love of Jesus can sanctify us for God’s glory.

For the 1st week (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord), we are given the example of Anna, the prophetess, a widow who was advanced in years. She dedicated her life to prayer and fasting. Losing her support from a husband, she had nowhere to go, no one to share her life with and no security by normal standards. Yet she chose to say no to hopelessness, bitterness and uselessness and allowed the Spirit of God to give her the strength she needed. Like her, we are sanctified when we overcome our trials with prayers and fasting, which is this week’s theme. There are those, because of their dire circumstances, may feel hopeless. But being in the presence of God should bring life and hope, because as He promises, “… He is able to help those who are tested.” (Hb 2:18b)

For the 2nd week (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time), Jesus uses the symbol of salt and light as means for us to follow His footsteps as His disciples. We are sanctified when we render works of mercy is the theme this week. The little things we do to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, console those who mourn and other acts of charity, can have meaningful consequences in the lives of people we touch. No matter how small our contribution may be, we can be the salt and the light if we allow Jesus to give flavor to our lives and let His light shine in us and through us so we can be like “a city set on a mountain” that is not hidden. He will supply what is lacking in us as He promises in Psalm 112:9 – “Lavishly he gives to the poor, his justice shall endure forever, his horn shall be exalted in glory.”

For the 3rd week, we are reminded that we are sanctified when we obey and teach God’s commandment,as the theme reads. We can truly follow the law of love that Jesus came to fulfill if we do it out of a sincere desire to honor and please Him. As Fr. Nil Guillemette puts it, “the true Christian’s external behavior must be the result of a good heart.” It is the heart that devotes itself in following Jesus faithfully, yearns to serve God’s people unreservedly and commits itself to upholding the common good. When we focus our life on God, everything we do will be in accord with His will and purpose. When we trust Him, we shall reap His promise, “You too shall live,” (Sir 15:15b).

For the 4th week, the theme says, we are sanctified when we love our neighbor unconditionally and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus takes love to another dimension which seems to be difficult – to love just our neighbor but our enemies as well. This may be a hard teaching, but by God’s grace, it is possible as St. Paul tells us,“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil 4, 13). Jesus knows the importance of love in the family and community. “Love unites because it forgives, bears, corrects gently, is patient and tolerates,” (1Cor 13). He condemns revenge, but encourages endurance even in the face of oppression or persecution.

A few years ago, golfer Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament. Instead of congratulating him, a “jealous” man called Fuzzy Zoeller responded with some mean, racist remarks. For this demeaning comment, this man received a great deal of criticism from the world press, but Tiger Woods’ response was to say, “We all make mistakes, and it’s time to move on”instead of retaliating. How many of us would share Tiger Woods’ response? Jesus was not in the business of getting even. Instead, he preached love for ones enemies and generosity towards them.

Vindictiveness corrodes our heart. It sours and grieves our spirit. We are very much unlike Jesus Christ who did not threaten His accusers with harm, but showed them love as He simply prayed to God: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Indeed, He is faithful to His promise from Ps 103:3-4, “He pardons all your iniquities…He crowns you with kindness and compassion.”

Our pursuit of sanctification is anchored on the unconditional love of Jesus for us despite our sinfulness. Holiness is the heart of our mission as His disciples. We were not born holy. But Christ’s example of prayer and fasting, concern for the poor and downtrodden, obedience to the Father’s will and love for enemies, are shown to us so that we can correspond with His grace to be made holy. If we choose to walk with Him on the path to holiness, we allow Him to transform our heart and be more and more like Him. Ultimately, we give glory to God by imitating Jesus and live in the same character as He is.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, You came to fulfill the commandment of love for us to emulate. We can only do as well if we focus on You as first in our actions. Help us persevere in nurturing a profound prayer life rooted on Your word, so that we can bear fruit abundantly as Your disciples for Your greater glory. Amen.

 
 

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