Reflection for October 2021

Community Word : The Kingdom of God is for those who obey His commandment of love.
Order : “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk 12:30a, 31a)

God calls us to keep His commands and reminds us that His laws are not hidden from us or beyond our reach. We can expect opposition as we submit to God’s commandments. To guard against these pressures, we must rely on God for strength and pray to Him daily for wisdom to see through these deceptions.
The community word for the month of October which states that The Kingdom of God is for those who obey His commandment of love, shows that every believer must have their hearts set on God’s commandment, in spite of their imperfections. Immature spiritual growth and limited fruitfulness are but the consequences of undiscerned actions and careless disregard of God’s commandment. The steps of a (good) man are directed and established by the Lord, and God has promised guidance to those who submit to His commandment, as expressed in the chosen Order for the month: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk 12:30a, 31a).
How do we live our lives in obedience to God’s commandment of love? Our themes for this month help us to reflect.
Our theme for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We obey God’s commandment of love when we trust Him with a child-like faith. What qualities of children make them so open to God? In their helplessness and vulnerability, children are by nature trusting, guileless, and totally dependent. The heart of a child is a loving sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. And we are exhorted to present ourselves before God in the same manner. Faithful followers of Christ allow themselves to be childlike in relating to Him, confident that His ways and plans, His power and providence, are in their best interest. They put their faith in His words. To be fully surrendered to God, we are therefore to be childlike in obedience and in following the footsteps of Christ, and live as He lived His life on earth. Consequently, we can claim this promise for the 1st week – “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!” (Ps 128:1).
We obey God’s commandment of love when we deny ourselves of worldly attachments is our theme for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. God’s encompassing love cannot be felt by people who are engrossed with their own self, their self-sufficiency, their attachment to self-serving comfort, pleasure, power and wealth. The message of the readings is the need for detachment by way of sharing our time, talent and treasure for the good of others. The way towards God is following the example of Jesus in serving others – His care, empathy, compassion and sacrifice, not only by words but through actual action and service. To do good to others and our neighbors is an expression of our love and concern for them. What Jesus did on earth – doing good and sharing God’s goodness with all, should serve as our inspiration when we endeavor to make our life fruitful and pleasing to God. Let us not wait for tomorrow to discover the joy of being free from the vanity of material things and to share the wonders of God’s boundless blessings. Indeed the promise “… give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven,” (Mk 10:21b) encourages us to imitate our ever generous and loving God.
The theme for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us – We obey God’s commandment of love when we wholeheartedly serve, not counting the cost. Jesus told James and John – “Are you ready to drink the cup that I drink, to be rejected and despised for continuing my work? Would you stand by me before false accusations and malicious intrigues? Would you still trust and tread my footsteps if the cross were to be laid on your shoulders?” (cf. Mk 10:38). Jesus was telling His disciples that greatness lies in our ability to suffer with Him and for Him. To be great is to be of service to Jesus and His flock. Greatness is not about power or authority, but about service, being responsible, and fulfilling one’s responsibilities with love. It is not about lording over them, or dominating them. Greatness is the ability to serve, and the readiness to be of help. Greatness is bearing one’s burden without complaint or strings attached, but with loving commitment and concern. Jesus gives us this assurance, “If he gives his life as an offering……the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him,” (Is 52:10b).
Our theme for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We obey God’s commandment of love when we persevere in our faith. Like Bartimaeus in the gospel, Jesus is also asking us, “What do you want me to do for you?” (cf. Mk 10:51). He longs to see us cast aside anything that limits our vision and expectations. He wants to heal our hearts and fill it with the fire of His love. Like Bartimaeus, we too can be blind. Our blindness may be compared to those of the crowd who rebuked Bartimaeus, telling him to be silent (v.48). Sometimes, we too keep silent when we ought to be speaking out against what is morally and legally wrong. We turn a blind eye to what is good in other people, quick to notice their mistakes, or discredit those who are more effective, acceptable and credible than us. Let us thank God for the gift of sight and resolve to take care and respect the greater gift of moral insight called “conscience” and the gift of spiritual sight called “faith.” The Lord reaches out to us and gives us His word of life: “I will console and guide them…so that none shall stumble,” (Jer 31:9b).
Finally, for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is – We obey God’s commandment of love when we sincerely love our neighbor in word and deed. Deuteronomy 6:2 says, “Fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments… and thus have long life. To fear God does not mean to be afraid of God. It means to place oneself in His presence in an attitude of total self-giving and trust and of acceptance of His will. Let us first see what “to love” is for us. For instance, how do the children show their parents that they love them? Smiles, good behavior, promises? Children show their love by helping their parents. Love for God is not proven by words, solemn rites or beautiful songs, but by accepting the plan that He has revealed to us in Jesus. We are being asked to obey the two commandments which Jesus emphasized during His sermon in the temple: in life one has to get involved in helping people, educating them, providing them with food and shelter, clothes and assistance. Also, to take care of our family. However, Jesus reminds us not to neglect our duties towards God: prayer, scripture reading, and Sunday mass, devotional practices. Thus, we will be able to claim this promise: “… that you may grow and prosper the more…to give you a land flowing with milk and honey,” (Dt. 6:3).
Lord of heaven and of earth, walk us through in these turbulent times, as we follow You and obey Your commandment of love. Amen.


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