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Missions 109

Wednesday Reflection

Wednesday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time Year 1

(Dt 34:1-12; Mt 18:15-20)

We remember Mother Teresa who said this prayer: “The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us. In our silence, he will listen to us, he will speak to our soul, and we will hear his voice. We must learn to listen.” She urged practice of inner silence in four ways: Through our eyes. Look for the beauty of God’s creation and his goodness everywhere. Shut your eyes to others’ faults and what disturbs your soul. Through your ears. Listen to God’s voice and those in need. Close your ears to gossip and mean talk. Through your tongue. Praise God. Speak from his Word with peace, hope, and joy. Refrain from self-defensive and destructive talk. Through your mind. Pray. Ponder God’s marvels. Reject revengeful, destructive thoughts and rash judgments or suspicions. Love god and avoid envy and greed. (taken from The One Year Book of Encouragement, by Harold Myra, p.175) Mother Teresa speaks of one’s surrender to the virtue of love. Love makes us absorbed and be overwhelmed with the voice, the call, and the grace of God. Both readings today speak of what love could bring and inspire us. Moses, saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel. God pointed out to Moses the Land that the Israelites should possess and shall they no longer be slaves. “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give to their descendants.” Love makes us see tangibly the promises made by God. Jesus in the Gospel, stipulates and instills in the minds of the disciples that forgiveness is part of the entire mystery of love. Forgiveness finds its basis also from listening for without it selfishness hardens one’s heart.

1. Love is at the heart of the one’s faith- Moses is pictured out here as the faithful servant who was able to bring the whole nation of Israel to the Promised Land though Moses will not be able to enter into it. What counts most here is the mission that Moses was able to accomplish. Though it may be painful to think of Moses unable to touch the land promised to him and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, what was consoling was that Moses was able to introduce and make known the God who rescued them from slavery. Moses learned to love God and make the people love Him too. He was able to engender the necessary response the people of Israel should make before a God who accompanied them for 40 years in the desert as they made their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Without the love of God for His people, the entire nation of Israel could not have crossed the Red Sea, the Desert, and the territories of the Canaanites, Jebusites, Hittites, etc. It was love that made them the Chosen Ones enjoying God’s prerogatives.

2. Love entails sacrifice- Moses became the exemplar of true love and sacrifice. After all the years of pain and suffering as they traversed the whole desert and crossed the various occupied lands where they had to wage war with in order to get through, the painful complaints and grumblings of the people in their journey, and the incidents where they became “stiff-necked” people Moses had to be the mediator, the intercessor, the law giver, and executor of the commandments of the Lord. His mission had to be fulfilled with sacrifice. God just gave the consolation after this long journey home to the Promised Land: with His own eyes that God fulfills His promises. Moses had just to be satisfied by his eyes seeing from afar the Promised Land. To see from afar was enough for him. He would be happy to see the entire Israelite reach and live in the land filled with milk and honey without him. He is sure that God will not abandon them as they were not left orphaned in the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. A wonderful experience of what love is all about- Moses was witness how God loves His people and how this love entails all sacrifices and pains for Israel to possess the Land. Moses sacrificed for the people he also learned to love and the land he was eager to enter but it was enough for Him to see from afar. What was important is God’s will is been completed. “The LORD then said to him, this is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give to their descendants. I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over.”

3. Love remembers the good- Moses experienced how it was to train and make the people learn to love God and be faithful to Him. Though many got angry at him on their journey for 40 years to the Promised Land for they were an impatient, inconsiderate and stiff-necked people, at the end of the journey, the people learned to love Moses as their leader, intercessor, and mediator. The fidelity of Moses to the Lord became a very remarkable thing to the Israelites and they remember the good things Moses did for Israel. His eyes might have been closed by death but his memory for the Israelites was a light for them all. “Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated. For thirty days the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab, till they had completed the period of grief and mourning for Moses.” God never abandoned His people and He was working with Moses all throughout the journey. Jesus, in the Gospel today reminded His disciples “For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.” Love accompanies persons in their journey and in their life as they approach their final goal.

Wednesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time Year 1

(Col 1:1-8; Lk 4:38-44)

A story has been told of a missionary who was swept overboard while traveling on very high and rough seas, and was subesequently washed up on a beach at the edge of a remote native village. Nearly dead from exposure and lack of food and fresh water, he was found by the people of the village and nursed back to health. He lived among them for twenty years, quietly adapting to their culture and working alongside with them. He preached no sermons, and made no claim of personal faith. He neither read nor recited Scripture to them. But when people were sick, he sat with them sometimes all night. When people were hungry, he fed them. When people were lonely, he gave a listening ear. He taught the ignorant and always took the side of one who had been wronged. The day came when missionaries entered the village and began talking to the people about a man named Jesus. After listening for awhile to their story, the natives began insisting that Jesus had already been living in their village for many years. “Come,” one of them said, “we’ll introduce you to Him.” The missionaries were led to a hut where they found their long-lost comapanion. (taken from God’s Little Daily Devotional, p. 300) To witness the faith is always an irreplaceable priority of missionary and Christian living. Faith is complete when it influences others. Witnesses are great teachers of the faith. Paul VI said “people today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41) Today’s readings speak about witnesses. The Colossians were admired by Paul because of the faith, hope and love they live because of the Gospel that was preached to them while the Gospel Jesus becomes the Witness of the Father who was sought for by people because they witnessed in Him the goodness of God.

1. A new way of living- a true witness is one whose life has been influenced by the Gospel. He lives with the Word that is proclaimed to Him and makes Jesus as the model of every human undertaking. His perspectives in life are shaped by Word of God. Paul admired the Colossians for their fidelity to the Church and to the Word of God. He addressed the letter calling them the “holy ones” and “faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” Though Paul was no longer with them they still kept the faith and strove to foster a new way of life in Christ. The letter was written sometime in 60-61 AD when Paul was in prison in Rome. Though the Colossae Community was not directly founded by Paul during his second missionary journey, but by Epaphras, it was attached to the Apostle. The community was of Gentile origin yet a new way of living was described by Paul in two directions: first, a new way of life meant living out the virtues of faith, hope and love. These three theological virtues are signs of the presence of God, and the witness of a new life in Christ. Man cannot produce these virtues but they are infused to man, thus, theological. Paul, admired them for keeping these virtues discernible in the community. He said “we always give thanks to God” for “we have heard of your faith” and the “love that you have for all” and the “hope reserved for you” in heaven. Second, is the effect of the faith which is growing and bearing fruit. Faith becomes strengthened and effective when it is shared. The goodness that radiates projects springtime of one’s life.

2. Desire for more- witnessing introduces others to the new things of God. The Word that is proclaimed either by mouth or by way of life communicates the grace that is beyond human measure. Once a person is touched by the grace of God, he yearns for more. He continuously expects for more. In the Gospel, we were told that the people desired Jesus to perform more healing, feeding, preaching, and teaching. Though they may pragmatic but there was already a developing spiritual attachment in them. Three important gestures of attachment becomes detectable or perceptible in them: first, the crowds were looking for Him. This is indicative of faith. Faith makes one search for God; it is born with an encounter and yearns for more encounters. Second, the crowds desired that He should not leave them. This is indicative of love. Love desires company and “being with” the beloved and it pictures out a journey with the other. The crowds long that Jesus would be with them and journey with them. Third, the crowds became attached to the person of Christ. This illustrates hope. We were told in the Gospel that the crowds were looking for Him, and they came to Him which alludes to man’s desire for goals in life. Jesus presents to them that the goal of life is a Person and it is Him.

3. Effective leaders- Witnessing demands effective leaders. It recognizes leaders who are capable of carrying new ways of living out the faith and living out new expressions of hope in a shattered and fractured world. The Colossae community was formed by Epaphras because he was a “trustworthy minister of Christ” and he admired their “love in the Spirit.” An effective leader is one who is trustworthy and who appreciates the good things or new things in the community. In the Gospel, Jesus was demonstrated having the three qualities of an effetive leader: first, He practiced a life of solitude. He was away from the crowds and went to a “deserted place” to reflect and be in communication with the Father. Effective leaders have time to pray and be led by the will of God. Second, He did not center His ministry to Himself but allowed others to discover the Father instead. When He healed those who were sick and possessed by demons, He “did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.” Faith was enough as of the moment. Third, He was inclusive. His purpose was to make the Kingdom of God known and present in their midst. The healing of the sick was a prelude that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The universality or the inclusiveness of Jesus’ ministry is found in His words “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”