CHARITY IN FAITHThe Good News is more than words. It is about a person, Jesus the Christ. Jesus makes the Good News concrete by His words and actions. For this reason, to spread the gospel, we need the signs that those who do not have faith in Jesus can recognize. These signs would of course include the works of charity and compassion. But beyond works of compassion, the greatest gift we can give is the gift of faith. Proclaiming the Good News that falls short of giving the faith is to shortchange our recipients. This is because we fight shy of sharing the source of all our gifts.
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ENSURING THAT WE DO NOT LOSE JESUS AND OUR LOVED ONES If we want to ensure that we never lose our loved ones or our Lord, we must take heed of what the Lord is saying to us. “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” Only lovers can hear the voice of the beloved. If we are to be one with Jesus and be His sheep, then only love for the Lord will enable us to respond effectively to His call and His voice. If there is no love, the voice would not be heard.
AUTHENTIC LEADERS PASS THROUGH THE GATE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD Many people aspire to be leaders. But instead of leading their people to a higher level of life and in turn making them leaders rather than followers, they lead people to death. How do we distinguish between authentic leaders who serve the people and those who serve themselves? How do we discern whether the leaders are leading us in the right direction and not to perdition?
EXAMINING THE CAUSE FOR FAILURE IN LEADERSHIP We all know how it is to be in leadership. We can never please everyone. It is extremely challenging to unite people with different personalities, interests, views and perspectives to work together. What could be the reasons why there are people who oppose us in leadership? Can we truly say with Jesus when He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep”?
THE TEMPTATION TO ABANDON THE LORD IN DIFFICULT TIMES What do we do in times of trial? Do we, like the disciples in today’s gospel, abandon Jesus because it is too trying to cling on to the little faith that we have? Or do we, like Peter, exclaim: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.” What must we do to strengthen our faith?
THE EUCHARIST MUST BE INTERPRETED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE INCARNATION, THE RESURRECTION AND THE CHURCH Faith in the Eucharist is but a continuation and extension of the Incarnation. Only because of the incarnation, is the Eucharist possible. For if the incarnation was possible, why shouldn’t the real presence of the Eucharist be possible, since both are connected with the Father who gives life through the Son? Of course, we know that faith in Jesus’ incarnation and the Eucharist presupposes faith in His resurrection. For it is only because of the resurrection that the Spirit of Jesus could give life to the flesh and therefore makes His presence real in the bread and wine. Without the resurrection, it would not be possible for Jesus to be truly present in the Eucharistic species.
LEADING OTHERS TO CHRIST OUR TEACHER If Philip was a good pointer to the Lord, it was because he was led and moved by the Spirit. If we want to be used by the Lord to lead others to Him, then we too must be available to the Lord like Philip. We must not resist the Holy Spirit but be attentive to how He leads us. By all means, we must prepare and plan but we must also be receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who is one of surprises. Finally, if we are to be true guides to others in bringing them to the Lord, we must not make ourselves the focus of attention.
LIVING WITH THE TENSION OF CHANGE AND GROWTH We are all creatures of habit. We do not like change because change involves adaptation. It means going through the pain of adjustment. But the reality is that nothing remains static. This is true of the development of the Church as well. In a changing world, either we take flight or fight or engage in dialogue. Flight would only make the Church outdated and out of sync with the modern times. Fight would make the Church an enemy of the world. If we just stay in our enclave, we will lose the world entirely. So what is needed is relationship first. It is not to say that doctrines do not matter. Truth matters because love is built on truth. But we need to win over our people with love before we can lead them to a deeper understanding of the truth of love.
RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT Although we live under the new covenant, many of us are not living the life of Christ. We disobey the teachings of Christ and fail to live the life of Christ. We do not take the Word of God seriously. We pick and choose what we like and not what the Lord tells us. When we read what we like and reject what we do not like, we are not believing in the Word of God but in ourselves. We seek to interpret the Word of God according to our so-called context. We make the Word of God approve what we seek to do. Instead of hearing the Word of God and taking it for what it really is, we make the Word of God adapt to our sinfulness.
WORKING FOR GOD We must never forget that when serving the poor, the needy and the sick, our ultimate goal is not just to feed them, give them material help or even heal them physically, but to give them faith in Jesus. This is what what it means to work for God.