Thursday, September 22, 2011

Acclaim Jesus as Lord

Acclaim Jesus as Lord

A Reflection for the Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

In the first reading for this Sunday we hear Ezekiel telling us “When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:28) What a wonderful affirmation for us, to know that we are guarantied forgiveness of our transgressions, which as humans we are bound to commit, if we but ask God for forgiveness.

In Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi Paul tells us that LOVE is what binds us together as Christians. “ if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind.” Paul goes on to say; “Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.” … “Being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1 – 11)

In Paul’s letter we are advised to emulate Christ and be considerate of others and not just of ourselves. Paul goes on to describe how Jesus, even though he was divine, humbled himself and took on human attributes even to the point of accepting the ignominious death of a criminal on the cross just so we could have complete forgiveness of our sins and have everlasting life in the hereafter with His Father , himself and all the heavenly elect.

The Gospel reading ends with Christ telling the chief priests and the elders that; “I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you”. .. “John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did” (Matthew 21:28 – 32)

The lessons to be learned from these readings, I believe, is that no person will be denied acceptance and the promise of everlasting life if they repent for their sins and seek God.

Seeking God means to live our life in a manner that extends love to ALL those we come in contact with and being considerate of their needs rather than our own self interests.

In these days of turmoil in our world and financial turmoil in our country it would be very easy to forget about others and only look after our own self interest. If this is the road we choose to travel, we become no better than the Chief Priests and the elders who professed to be servants of God yet rejected God’s messengers John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.

Sometimes I feel that some of our professed Christian leaders have followed the same path as the Chief Priests and Elders in that they have failed to live in a manner consistent with Christ’s teachings and example. They promote things that will insure them popularity and financial security and power rather than a spirit of welcoming and Love for ALL God’s Children.

Recently I have been given a great opportunity to witness and put into action Christ’s teachings. I will not go into all the details but I was blessed to be able to assist a man who has suffered the loss of much of his muscles and has difficulty eating by preparing food in a way that he could swallow it and would gain nourishment.

I considered this opportunity a gift from God because it brought home to me the knowledge of how many blessings I have been given throughout my life in spite of all the medical problems I have had during the last year and the discord and upheaval of our Franciscan order and the struggle to keep this ministry alive..

The key to receiving God’s blessings, I believe, is to be willing to accept all that God sends you without grumbling and willingly as Christ did and to put your entire life in God’s hands.

We need to open ourselves up to God’s will and stop trying to analyze God’s intent. God has a reason for all that He has done. God creates people as they are for a reason and it is not our place to reject any of God’s children or to deny them the same rights and privileges as every other citizen. We need to have compassion for those who are sick and the poor and do all in our power to ease their suffering so that they will know that someone cares for them and by that action we can bring them to know of God’s infinite love.

By living our life for others and not ourselves we then “Become united in our love” not only for God but for all God’s children and in so doing we “acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

Let us go forth proclaiming our love of God through our actions and by exhibiting God’s love by our love toward all God’s children we encounter in our daily lives. Let us be more aware of the needs of others so that we become less self centered and more generous toward those who God has given to us for that purpose. AMEN

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