There are two actions when responding to an invitation. We can either accept it or reject it. I realize that some people may say that there is also the “maybe” or “tentative” response. At the end, however, you either go or don’t go where you are invited.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 7:36, 8:3), Jesus accepts an invitation by a Pharisee to dine at his house. Doing so led a sinful woman to find him. Through their encounter we witness the power of repentance and forgiveness. The woman is so sorrowful that her tears wash Jesus’ feet.  Her pain becomes an invitation for our Lord to come into her life. Jesus accepts this invitation too and, thus, forgives her sins.

Another option we have when we receive an invitation is to reject it. In the Gospel of Mark, the encounter between Jesus and the rich man (Mark 10:17-31) illustrates this point. When Jesus invites the man to follow him, he rejects the invite. The man was too attached to his possessions to accept the invitation.

In our daily lives, we are constantly sending, accepting or rejecting invitations.  It is a way of controlling who becomes part of us. Who are you inviting, accepting or rejecting? What is your motivation in either case? Is God invited or rejected into your house? Are sinners welcome into or avoided in your life?

To know the answers to these questions, we must be intentional in our prayer. Our salvation depends on it because through our decisions sometimes we are like the Pharisee, the sinful woman, the rich man, and Christ. Which one are you?

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.

My Dad and the Canaanite Woman

Years ago during a job interview something unexpected happened, I began to cry. Yeah, I cried during a job interview. What caused such a moment? Talking about my Dad.

The moment unfolded while discussing role models. My father has always been my first role model. He taught me how to be a good Christian, husband and father. He taught me that to die for God and family was more important than to live for myself.

During the interview, I was mentioning when my father sold our family car so we can have clothes for school. Since then, my Dad has been my hero. I guess crying during the job interview was the most public way to thank him for all his sacrifices.

You may wonder why I am mentioning this story. Today, while listening to Fr. Barron’s homily on the Canaanite women’s faith (Matthew 15:21-28), tears began to flow as I reflected on this woman’s love for her daughter. Like my father, the Canaanite woman understood that having faith is more important that pride. That to place our family first is more important than ourselves. To me that is the message of today’s gospel; a the lesson my Dad has taught me all my life.

By the way, I did not get the job, but I became a better man!

 — God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

The Good Seed

Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).

This scripture in today’s gospel (MT 15:1-2, 10-14) reminds me of the parable of the weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). God only plants good seed, but the enemy plants weeds among them. However, when is harvest time, his laborers will “first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning, but gather the wheat into the barn” (Matthew 13:30).

In this world, there will always be weeds among the wheat; war and peace, love and hate, good and evil. Their coexistent is humanity’s imperfection exposed. However, God’s perfection through Jesus’ divinity will free us from the weeds in our lives as today’s psalm reassure us: “The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die” (Psalm 102:20-21).

God loves us as a gardener loves his most precious flower. This may be difficult to believe because of the many heartbreaks we have experienced in our lives. As the prophet Jeremiah tell us “All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you” (Jeremiah 30:14). We can be relieved that God is more than a short-lived love. He is our heavenly Father.

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–