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(Part 44)


September 22, 2011
Today’s reading: Haggai 1:1-8

Israel was raised by God, with whom He entered into covenant and established to be a mighty power in the world. However, they were consistently unfaithful, and lost everything with the destruction of the temple and exile of the Jews. But God gave them chances over and over again. Now God allowed the Jews to return from exile in Babylon under King Darius, and they went about the task of restoring Jewish life in Judah and rebuilding the temple.

The story of CFC is similar, as we hopefully can still recall when we stressed this in 2007 prior to the crisis, with the story of Lamentations. But the hardheartedness persisted, resulting in the split. Now just like with Israel, God restored CFC to its authentic charism through CFC-FFL. We are rebuilding. And, after 30 years, we once again face a crossroad this year.

We can learn much from the words of the prophet Haggai. The crossroad for us lies in this question: “Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” (Hg 1:4).

The enemy continues to afflict the world, trying to destroy faith, family and life. And the enemy has succeeded to a significant extent.

  • CFC has been weakened. CFC-FFL, though restored, continues to struggle against infidelities. There is lack of faithfulness in living out the covenant. The work of evangelization and mission is not surging.
  • The Catholic Church, of which we are an integral part, has been weakened--by the sex abuse scandal, by dissidents within, by the nominalism of many Catholics. Most Catholics do not regularly go to Sunday Mass. Many Catholics are in favor of the RH bill, which surely will usher in such abominations as abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage.
  • The Philippines, where CFC started and which is among the last nations standing against abortion and divorce, is plagued by massive corruption and widespread poverty.

Now God raised CFC precisely for the work of this third millennium, to do rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization, and to do the work of renewing the family and defending life. These three--affecting faith, family and life--are the most crucial aspects of spiritual warfare today. And when we do our work with zeal, we positively affect our Church and our nation.

But how are we responding? Have we been too concerned about our own house that we are neglecting the Lord’s house?

  • Have we neglected prayer and scripture reading because we hardly have time for our other personal, family and work activities?
  • Have we been unfaithful to household meetings and prayer assemblies, where the first order is to worship the Lord, because we have other things to do and other concerns to take care of?
  • Have we failed to support the community with our finances because we are looking to our own needs first?
  • Have we failed to evangelize in our day-to-day environments (like company and school) because we are too busy with the tasks at hand and have too many things on our mind?

What is the result of all the above? The Lord’s house remains in ruins, but our own houses remain in ruins too! “You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.” (Hg 1:6).

Why, despite our best efforts, have we been failing at our various aspects of life? It has to do with a spiritual principle: God first, and everything else follows. We may be doing things in reverse. Our error is to look first to our own needs and activities, before venturing forth to really serve the Lord. We want to fix our family life first before trying to fix the family life of others. We want to accumulate money first before deciding to give a tithe. We want to pursue our career first before giving more of ourselves as a servant to the Lord. We want to lick our wounds first before helping bring healing to others. We have our priorities backwards!

“Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!” (Hg 1:5). God first! And right now! We give of ourselves to God in our weakness, not in our strength. It is in fact in our making God first that God then helps us with all our human and secular concerns.

Let us consider our ways in relation to God’s ways.

  • In neglecting our prayer time or rushing through it because of our busyness, consider how God promises to be there when we call on Him and He will change our lot (Jer 29:12-14).
  • In looking at our time and the many things we have to do for earning a living for our family, consider that God gives to His beloved even when we are asleep (Ps 127:2).
  • In skipping community meetings so that we might have more time for rest, consider how it is the God whom we worship who will give rest to His laborers (Mt 11:28).
  • In withholding a tithe because we have so many more expenses and there is not enough funds, consider that God challenges you to tithe and then expect Him to open the floodgates of blessings (Mal 3:10).
  • In worrying about life or food or body, consider God’s promise to give us all these if we but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33).

Once again, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!” (Hg 1:7).

Let us build the house of the Lord--in our hearts, in our homes, in our community, in our nation, in our Church. Let us respond wholeheartedly to God’s call, giving Him our all--the fullness of our time, talent and treasure. Let us put God first and foremost, loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and living our lives according to such selfless unconditional self-giving.

“Go into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the Lord.” (Hg 1:8). In other words, God says to us, as we look to our life and mission parallel to Israel, “You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.” (Is 49:3).

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