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(Part 30)


May 31, 2010

Today’s readings
Zephaniah 3:14-18
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 1:39-56

Today’s readings interestingly contain our themes for the last two years--that of joy for 2008 (Zep 3:17) and trust for 2009 (Is 12:2). Then the gospel is about Mary. On the eve of our anniversary month, the Lord is saying something important to us.

Let me first put things in perspective. In “Our theme for 2010 (Part 4) - Within the context of our life and mission” issued last November 17, 2009, I spoke of several periods in our life and mission. The first 20 years (1981 to 2001) was a period of rapid and massive growth. The next 5 years (2001 to 2006) was a period of emergent decline. Though there were still many blessings and the work proceeded, the heady growth had stopped and membership was declining. Finally, the next 5 years (2006 to 2011), the period we are now in, would be a period of intense spiritual warfare, with the enemy, having already infiltrated CFC, trying to destroy it completely. He succeeded in causing a split, but God responded by raising a remnant. That is CFC-FFL. We are still in this period of intense spiritual warfare.

This period of 2006 to 2011 is crucial. It will determine whether CFC will go the way of the flesh or persist in the Spirit. As God raised CFC for His own purposes, He works to preserve us. His chosen way, as is often the case with those who stray, is affliction. It is suffering that purifies and is redemptive. Thus for 2007 God brought us to Lamentations, and for 2010 has brought us to Job. But even as God brought us to Lamentations, He gave us our theme of hope. And even as God brought us to Job, He gave us an assurance of His justice and righteousness.

In between 2007 and 2010, since affliction is very difficult to bear, God wedged in our proper posture in the face of difficult challenges. Those are joy in 2008 and trust in 2009. Today, through the readings, God reiterates the gifts of joy and trust that He had given us. We are always to trust in Jesus for He is our Savior, and because of this we are always to have joy in our hearts, no matter what trials we are facing. In fact, we rejoice for the privilege of suffering for the cause of Christ.

But there is more. Today’s readings also bring us to the gospel story of Mary’s visiting Elizabeth, and to Mary’s Magnificat.

On August 10, 2007, right after the split, the remnant that was CFC-FFL consecrated itself to Mary. Since then the role of Mary has been significant in our life and mission.

When Mary visits, as with Elizabeth, she brings Jesus. When Mary visits with Jesus, we can only leap for joy (Lk 1:44). Mary and Jesus always come together. It is Mary who brought Jesus the Savior into the world. It is Mary who engages, with her son Jesus, the enemy, from the very start (Gen 3:15) to the very end (Rev 12:1ff). It is Mary who was there at the foot of the cross, when Jesus won for us our salvation. Mary always points us to Jesus, as she said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (Lk 1:46).

Now note something significant that Elizabeth did. First she proclaimed Mary blessed among all women, and then she said that the fruit of her womb was blessed (Lk 1:42). This was in accordance with what God had done and was doing. God chose Mary and blessed her, and then caused the blessing of the life conceived and borne in, and then born from, her womb. Though Jesus is God and Mary is human, in the mysterious plan of God for the salvation of the world, He deemed it right to look to Mary first, and then use Mary to point us all to her Son Jesus.

And so the role of Mary is very important and crucial. While Jesus is the one mediator between God and man (1Tim 2:5), Mary is our mediatrix. While Jesus is the one Redeemer of the world, Mary is his co-Redemptrix. Jesus and Mary always go together.

We have one more year in this period of 2006 to 2011. Spiritual warfare of course will always be there, so long as we are doing the authentic work of God. But this particular period is the make-or-break period. The result is not up to the enemy, who will always try to destroy us. The result is entirely up to us, determined by our responses.

As we see in the case of Job, it is interesting that the enemy uses affliction in order to destroy us, while God allows affliction in order to redeem us. And so, as I have said time and again, we need to learn the lessons of Lamentations. Now we also need to learn the lessons of Job. Do not try to ignore or avoid these lessons, as many do, or you will be fated to fall under the assaults of the enemy. Know that God is preparing us for even greater work. He is allowing us to go through the crucible of fire to purify and strengthen us.

In severe affliction, we cling to Jesus, trusting that He indeed is our Savior. Because of this, we rejoice even in affliction, or precisely because we have been deemed worthy to be afflicted for His sake.

Know that our Mother Mary is always there. In our sorrows she comforts and consoles us. In our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, she assures us of God’s love. In our weakness, she embraces us. In our fight against the enemy, she guarantees that she and her Son have already won the victory.

* * *

For you to appreciate what God is doing, you need to read and study:
1. Forty Days of Lamentations
2. Forty Days with Job (coming out in June 2010)
3. A Future Full of Hope
4. Mary in the Work of Evangelization and Family Renewal (coming out in June 2010)



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