God’s Relentless Faithfulness

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 – JON 3:1-5, 10
Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading 2 – 1 COR 7:29-31
Gospel – MK 1:14-20

In his faithfulness, God cannot help but warn us when we are in peril of losing our souls. This is the reason why He always sends his prophets to get our attention, as when he sent the prophet Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you” (JON 3:2).

God did likewise with the disciple Paul who warned the Corinthians “I tell you, brothers, the time is running out…For the world in its present form is passing away
(1 COR 7:29, 31).

Of course, no other prophet embodies God’s faithfulness as His Son does. Unlike Jonah, Christ never said no to God. Unlike Paul, He never persecuted Christians. Christ’s whole human existence was a bright light to point us to salvation. It was through that light that He worked wonders as He did for Paul on the road to Damascus – the conversion we celebrate today.

In His Son, we get a glimpse of God’s mercy and fidelity. These are the same graces Christ sought from the disciples when He called them to join Him “Come after me”
(MK 1:17).

By being relentlessly faithful, God is always willing to give us mercy if we ask “Teach me your ways, O Lord” (PS 25:4a). When we do so as the Ninevites did, His hearts bursts with forgiveness “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to the them, he did not carry it out”
(JON 3:10).

It is up to us now to listen to God’s words so we, too, like the Ninevites, the Corinthians, and the apostles cannot only heed the words of God, but also imitate His faithful deeds.

Do not Worry! Riiiiiiiight…

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:34)

Do not worry about tomorrow!? Wow! That’s a juicy one for me; easier said than done. Worry has been a constant companion of mine. Sometimes, her presence is more present than others, but she is never too far away. Sometime I overcome my worries and sometimes they overcome me. So many things to worry about: What do people think about me?  How do I look? Do I have enough money, power, prestige? Am I making the right decisions? How is my English or my writing? Would I be able to support my family emotionally and financially? Am I Christian enough? Am I a good co-worker, father, or husband? How do I get what I need or want? Why are my wife and children this and that? The list goes on…

What leads to worry? Fear! When we are afraid we worry. Father Anthony De Mello, in his best-selling book Awareness, beautifully wrote the following about fear “It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you don’t know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. Fear to lose something.” What are we afraid of losing – our pride, vanity, honor, power, wealth, reassure, affection, safety, loved ones, friendships, employment, etc.?

Worries in themselves are not terrible; they are part of our self-defense and survival kit; they can be a source of strength when facing uncertainty or difficult situations. However, when we let them control us or when they are misdirected, they could lead us to suffering; they become heavy emotional loads that hold us in bondage and harm others.

Fortunately for us, we have God by our side. God does not promise a worry-free existence. Life is full of misfortunes, successes, opportunities, and challenges; worries are part of being in this world. However, if we ask, God can give us strength, perseverance, consolation, and joy to live a life filled with light instead of fear.

When we surrender to God’s will, he shines his light on our darkness; If we do not surrender, “the path of the just is like shining light, that grows in brilliance till perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know on what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:18:19). Moreover, when we walk in the light, we become God’s light to the world: “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father…you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness” (Matthew 5:14, 16; Romans 2:19).  When we offer up our worries to him and go about our life without grumbling or questioning, we are like “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom  you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

Worries have always been a “thorn on my side.” Like Paul, I have asked the Lord to remove it. Conversely, I have been just as unsuccessful. However, I hope like Paul did that the Lord’s “grace is sufficient” for me “for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-9).

The next time I am worried, I will make an effort to become aware of her power and the opportunity for spirituality. I will face my fear with courage even if I fail trying. I will pray “teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11). I will remember Christ’s words “Do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. ” (Matthew 6:31-34)

Acceptance of Divine Will Prayer

May the most just, most lovable, and the most high will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised and exalted in all things forever.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

Tragedy and Death

“Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9a, 10

This week’s Boston Marathon attack and last night’s blast at a Texas fertilizer plant are public reminders of how fragile our existence in this life really is. Death is ever present; it always has been; it will always be. During these tragic moments some may ask “why would God let this happened?”

We live in a world where evil does exist. There are bad people in this world and tragic events are part of life. Evil and death have been among us since the fall of Adam and Eve. God does not create death; the Bible tells us so “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.” ~ Wisdom 1: 13; 2: 23-24

These tragic events are also reminders of the mercy and love God has for us. Some may ask “where was God during these events?” He was in all the people whose first action was to kneel to pray for the souls of those who lost their lives; he was in the first responders’ skillful actions to save lives; he was in all the people who provided aid, comfort, condolence, and empathy for those suffering pain. Moreover, he was in His son Jesus Christ whom he sent to die for us on a cross so that we may be freed from death and evil and enjoy everlasting life.

My heart and prayers go to the victims and their families of these tragic events.

“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” ~ Romans 12: 9-10, 12

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.