Reflection for September 2018
Community Word: Honoring God’s commandments brings peace to our hearts.
Order: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”(Jas1:22)
Peace is difficult to define and more challenging to attain especially when we are caught in a whirlwind of conflicts and anxieties. Oftentimes when we choose to follow our instincts and be led by temptations, we experience restlessness in our heart that reveals such negativity as, guilt, bitterness, resentfulness, discontent, doubt and fear. But when we obey God’s instructions and are guided by His precepts, inner peace prevails even in the midst of struggles and difficulties. During this month of September, we are given this core message: Honoring God’s commandments brings peace to our hearts.
God’s word is like a mirror that reveals our very thoughts and the intentions of our heart. It exposes our self-centered attitudes, our unrighteousness and pride, our uncaring attitude towards other people. It uncovers our vengeful anger, our deception, our greed and lustful disposition. And if we ignore God’s commandments and remain lukewarm or indifferent towards addressing our sinfulness, we will never be brought out of our chaotic and unproductive lives. Peace in our hearts may come in many ways as we reflect on our themes for this month.
The theme for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we confess our sins. When we sin, especially grievous ones, there is a resultant guilt that disturbs our heart and we lose our joy. But with the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can experience once again peace in our heart and soul that only comes from being in the right relationship with God. Forgiveness lifts the heavy burden of sin. Some may hesitate to go to confession, feeling afraid and ashamed. But when they have made a good one, they leave forgiven, free and liberated from sinful bondage. The beauty of confession is expressed in this promise from the Lord: “Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart … shall never be disturbed,” (Ps 15:2).
There is peace in our hearts when we are open to God’s saving power – is the theme for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Through God’s marvelous grace, we are delivered from sin and brought into a saving relationship with Father, by the work of Jesus Christ, completely as free gift. Such love and grace continue to be poured upon all faithful believers in their lifetime to eternity. Because of grace, we constantly receive the blessing of peace that will rule our heart as we live a life with God. For this is His spoken promise to those who remain faithful and obedient to the Lord: “Here is your God… he comes to save you,” (Is 35:4b).
For the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the theme is – There is peace in our hearts when we deny ourselves to follow Christ. Many people today seek contentment through worldly and materialistic desires. Many turn to fleeting pleasures of illegal drugs, immorality, adulation or wealth. There are those who embrace their comfort zones and do not lift a finger to serve the last, the least and the lost. They are afraid to be inconvenienced and are insensitive to compassion and kindness. But the word of God teaches us that these are fruitless and wasteful endeavors and calls us to follow Christ, to die to self and start serving Him through our neighbors. We cannot profess our faith without service, because following Christ is much more than just lip-service. When we follow Christ, we receive peace as He promised: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it,” (Mk 8:35b).
The theme for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we surrender our selfish ambition in serving Jesus. Surrendering our life to serve the Lord is an act of giving back to Him the very life He gave us. It is relinquishing our will, our heart, our mind, our soul, our ambitions and plans, and giving Him control over everything our life is all about, in all that we say and do. We may encounter many obstacles and challenges along the way because of our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Christ, but we can hold on to this promise: “God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” (Ps 54:4). When we live for God’s sovereign pleasure, we will never lose sight of our eternal reward in God’s kingdom.
Finally, our theme for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – There is peace in our hearts when we do not allow sin to separate us from the love of God. Sin forms a barrier that isolates God from the people He loves. Because of sin, the mind is perverted, imagination corrupted and faculties of the soul degraded. There is a great abyss between light and darkness that cannot be bridged except by accepting the salvific gift of Christ. But when a heart is pure and the life and character of a person is transformed, he becomes a testimony to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because Christ lives in him. A person who is renewed in mind and spirit will be granted this promise: “… because you belong to Christ …you will surely not lose his reward,” (Mk 9:41). Be righteous and holy then, that you may inherit heaven as your reward.
Lord, you command us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only,” (Jas1:22). Grant us the grace to be obedient to your precepts and be followers of Christ in all that we do and say. In our faithfulness, give us the willingness to serve Your Son, Jesus, as we become transformed in His likeness, doing what is holy and pleasing to Your Holy Will. Amen.