THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2013
BE ON GUARD!
This year, to enable us to embark on the New Evangelization,
God has given us a powerful theme: Faith Works Wonders. But
do we truly BE.LI.EV.E? Do we have the confidence that God
enables us to do even greater works than Jesus? Often, we
do not. Thus our constant prayer should be: Lord, “Increase
our faith.” (Lk 17:5). If we truly listen to Jesus,
if we truly understand our calling, if we truly realize how
important our work of evangelization is, then we will hear
Jesus tell us, “If you have faith the size of a mustard
seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted
and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
(Lk 17:6). Now that is powerful! It is just the kind of power
needed to assault the diabolical forces of the enemy.
an essential part of experiencing such power is our living
the way of Christ. We who have been given that great privilege
of doing God’s very own work must be righteous. “Love
righteousness, you who judge the earth” (Wis 1:1a).
We must be holy instruments.
do we grow in righteousness?
of the Lord in goodness” (Wis 1:1b). Always think
and reflect on how good our God has been to us. God is good;
all the time! This fosters gratitude, faith, hope, endurance.
“Seek him in integrity of heart” (Wis 1:1c).
We must have integrity. Say what you mean and mean what
you say. Stand on your word, even at whatever cost to you.
Do not renege on what you have agreed to do, especially
living out our covenant. Do not stab brethren in the back.
not test Him, so that we will find Him (Wis 1:2a). Do not
put God to the test. God does not have to prove anything
to us, already showing us the greatest love in giving His
very own Son Jesus. And time and time again He pours out
His bountiful blessings upon us. We simply trust in Him,
and take Him at His word. We obey whatever He tells us.
not disbelieve Him, so that He will manifest Himself (Wis
1:2b). Have faith. Believe in all His promises. If Jesus
says we can do greater works than he, believe that. Know
that our promised eternal reward awaits us.
The other essential part of experiencing the power of the
Spirit in our life and work is for each of us to help build
community, which is then used by God for His work. We are
not just called as individuals, but also as a group of disciples.
How do we build community? We need to relate well with our
brethren, who are our co-workers.
we are all sinners. We can and will do wrong at times. Since
we are our brother’s keeper, “If your brother
sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (Lk
17:3b). Simple, is it not? This is the way to preserve relationships.
If you think your brother has done wrong, go to him directly
and point it out. If he repents, forgive him. The problem
is (1) when we go to others to speak about what we think a
brother did wrong, even if those we speak to have no authority
over the brother, and (2) if we are unwilling to forgive.
In fact, even if a brother is a persistent wrong-doer, if
he asks for forgiveness, then we forgive (Lk 17:4).
we are imperfect people in an imperfect community, there will
be such wrongdoing from time to time. Our part is to try to
make sure that we are not the ones who sin. “Things
that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person
through whom they occur.” (Lk 17:1). Now this is not
just about our committing the sin, but also about how we handle
the sins committed by others. If we can, we should rebuke
the sinner directly. If we cannot do that, then what we should
not do is to speak about his sin with others. This is gossip,
which makes us, according to Pope Francis, Christian murderers.
So we understand why Jesus has such a harsh word about such
people. “It would be better for him if a millstone were
put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for
him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Lk 17:2).
The little ones are our innocent brethren who have nothing
to do with the situation of others but who are influenced
negatively by our gossip. When we gossip, we plant the seeds
of unfair judgment of others, of unjust criticism of others,
and in so doing are planting the seeds for dissension, disunity
and even break-up of the community. The devil delights in
promoting such. So Jesus says to us, “Be on your guard!”
do we fall into this very dangerous sin?
When we give “perverse counsels” (Wis 1:3a).
This is when we judge and end up maligning others and we
speak about their perceived shortcomings with innocent brethren.
Such acts “separate people from God, and his power,
put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy” (Wis 1:3b).
It indeed is the height of foolhardiness when we allow ourselves
to become Christian murderers. So be on guard!
we become “a soul that plots evil” (Wis 1:4a).
Now we might not think we are doing evil, and when done
with others, are plotting evil, but that is what we end
up doing. We say, “I am just thinking about the good
of the community,” but actually cause tremendous damage
to the body. We say, “We just want to discuss it among
ourselves to see how to move forward,” but we already
plant the seeds of dissent and disunity, thus actually setting
the community and our work backward. With such acts, “wisdom
does not enter” (Wis 1:4b). But what, or who, actually
enters, is the evil one. So be on guard!
Thus the body is seriously affected negatively. With now not
just the sin (perhaps) of the person criticized, there are
now many Christian murderers. And wisdom does not “dwell
in a body under debt of sin.” (Wis 1:4c). In fact, wisdom
and the Holy Spirit flee! “For the holy spirit of discipline
flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels and is
rebuked when unrighteousness occurs.” (Wis 1:5).
do the Spirit and the Wisdom that is of the Spirit of God
flee? Because God cannot be in a body that is filled with
Christian murderers. God cannot tolerate sin. “For wisdom
is a kindly spirit, yet she does not acquit blasphemous lips”
(Wis 1:6a). In fact, whether we gossip or not, if we hold
judgmental and maligning thoughts, we are guilty. God knows,
“because God is the witness of the inmost self and the
sure observer of the heart and the listener to the tongue.
For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing,
and knows whatever is said.” (Wis 1:6b-7). So be on
God thoroughly knows us, His own creation (Ps 139:1-6), and
God is everywhere so we can never avoid Him (Ps 139:7-9).
Thus we must be on guard. How can we have the mulberry-moving
faith? If in holiness we take on the wisdom of God. Then we
stand on the very power of God’s right hand. “Even
there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast.”
and power that comes from God. Then our faith can indeed work
Of course, in community there should also be the corresponding
pastoral corrective actions.
 As used here, this is another name for Wisdom.