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(Part 10)


November 3, 2014

Today’s readings:
Philippians 2:1-4
Psalm 131:1-3
Luke 14:12-14

Our theme for 2015 is about building the Church of the Poor, and our theme verse is Acts 4:34a, supported by the wider passage of Acts 4:31-35. The components of our life and mission in 2015, to equip us for work with the poor, are the following: worship (relationship with God), unity in community (relationship with brethren), stewardship (relationship with culture), and evangelization (relationship with the world). The intent is fullness of life, not just for the poor but also for ourselves, with no one in need. This has to do not just with material things, but also with spiritual, relational and cultural aspects of life.

A proper relationship with God and with one another is what equips us for the challenging work of bringing good news to the poor. For how can we look to others, especially in the difficult area of poverty, if we ourselves are not right with God and with one another?

How do we become right with each other in community and in the larger Church? How can we move forward as one, doing the one work? We need to be “of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing” (Phil 2:2b). As we are all supposed to be centered on Christ (our first Core Value), that is the key.

We need to continue to grow in our life of prayer and worship. We stand in humility before our God, knowing that apart from Him we are nothing. “Lord, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty.” (Ps 131:1a). We do know that God uses us for great work, for divine work, and this is a great mystery. But we simply obey. “I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.” (Ps 131:1b). We fully trust in God, we fully put our hope in His great care and plan for us His children. “Rather, I have stilled my soul, like a weaned child to its mother, weaned is my soul.” (Ps 131:2). If we focus not on ourselves, not on what we want, not on what our own priorities and preferences are, but we simply focus on Jesus and what he tells us to do, then we will move forward as one.

So we focus not on ourselves but on God. Now we also focus not on ourselves but on our brethren. “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others.” (Phil 2:3-4). We must not be self-seeking, self-referential, self-satisfying. Rather, we must be selfless and self-denying. We must not seek our own glory, satisfaction, interest, power, position, preference, perquisites. We are mere servants, and if not by the grace of God, could never accomplish what God allows us to accomplish.

Further, we must look to the well-being of others. We love our neighbor as ourselves, and our closest neighbors, aside from our spouse and children, are our brethren in community. We must look to how they can move forward in the Lord. We look to their interests, both spiritual and material (especially for the poor).

Right with God and right with each other, now we are ready to serve the poor. While we focus on God, while we focus on our brethren in community, we also must focus on the marginalized. “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors” (Lk 14:12b). The Church has much to offer. The Catholic Church is the largest and most active social service provider in the whole world. But it is not just about providing for earthly needs, but more importantly, for preparing souls for heaven. Parishes have a banquet prepared, centered on the Eucharist. But most Catholics do not know about this feast, do not participate in it, do not care about it. Thus we need to be about a work of massive evangelization, focused on reaching the non-practicing or lapsed Catholics, many of them among the poor. “Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (Lk 14:13). This is why LCSC, through the NONe movement, is doing a lot of work with prisoners, migrants and families stricken by calamities. We work to bring them back to God and back to the Church.

We say we are not self-referential and we look not to repayment in this world. This is one blessing in work with the poor, for “blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.” (Lk 14:14a). We look to making it to heaven, and bringing along with us as many as we can. That is where we look to our eternal reward. “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Lk 14:14b).

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