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(Part 11)


November 4, 2014

Today’s readings:
Philippians 2:5-11
Psalm 22:26-32
Luke 14:15-24

In everything, our focus needs to be on Jesus. This is key to our relationship with God, with others, and with our work with the poor. “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). We often let our own emotions, preferences and desires rule us. And that is where all the trouble comes. But we must take on the very heart and mind of Jesus. What is that?

Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, .... he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8). Here we find a number of necessary postures.

  • We do not stand on power or position or pomp. If we do God’s will, God will certainly use us to do great work, for it is His work after all. But we do not let this get to our head and cause destructive pride. We in fact should know that God does His work in spite of us, as we are often the obstacles.
  • We must then take on the heart and mind of a servant, of a slave. We stand not on privilege or personal rights. We have nothing to boast of on our own. We are useless vessels, and can only be used by God as we empty ourselves of what is worldly.
  • As such, we must simply obey. We do not profess to know more than God, to advance our personal plans and priorities rather than His. We must simply and humbly accept what God tells us.
  • As we obey, we must know that God calls us to the cross. We are called to die to self. But given the ongoing and escalating persecution of Christians in the world today, including in the supposedly civilized western world, we could actually be called upon to give up our very lives. We are martyrs.

Now with power to witness, we are prepared for the work. What is the goal? It is salvation. “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 14:15b). God desires this salvation for all. “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.” (Lk 14:16). Thus he sends his disciples (that’s us) to bring the invitees in. “When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’” (Lk 14:17). Unfortunately, many do not want to come to the feast. “But one by one, they began to excuse themselves.” (Lk 14:18a). They are not necessarily doing bad things, but might be absorbed even by the good things in life, such as livelihood and family (see Lk 14:18b-20).

This is also the case with some of us who are called to participate in the work, preventing us from participating more fully in our work of evangelization. We must be warned. If we do not do God’s work, in obedience, with priority, with total self-giving, then we endanger our own salvation. “For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.” (Lk 14:24). The invited are not just those who are to be evangelized, but also those who are invited to become workers in the vineyard.

The world is too preoccupied with itself. This is especially for those who are rich, or even just those who are blessed with livelihood and family. Who are more receptive to the gospel message? Is is the poor, who have nothing. Now God loves the poor. And His Church is to have a preferential option for the poor. Thus this is our work too. “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.” (Lk 14:21c). By this work, “the poor will eat their fill” (Ps 22:27a).

But again, salvation is for all, not just for the poor. In the Kingdom of God, “there is room” for all (Lk 14:22). And so we are to cast a wider net. We are to try to reach everyone, especially lapsed Catholics. “The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.’” (Lk 14:23). This can happen through LCSC.

Would it not be a glorious day if and when “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11). This is the goal of our work of massive worldwide evangelization, that “all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of nations will bow low before him.” (Ps 22:28).

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