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(Part 35)


February 13, 2018

Today’s readings:
James 1:12-18
Psalm 94:12-19
Mark 8:14-21

We, as Christians in general and as CFC-FFL in particular, are destined for greatness. This is in accordance with God’s plan and will. We are God’s children, Jesus’ servants, and the Holy Spirit’s warriors. We are priests, kings and prophets. In particular, as CFC-FFL, our charism is evangelization founded on family renewal. Our mission is to help renew families and to defend life.

Our greatness is God’s work and is powered by grace. We are mere instruments. What we need to do is to allow God to mold us and use us. For that to happen, we need to understand what God wants and how we are to go about being His useful instruments. This is where it all breaks down. Many are simply unaware, despite years of formation in the community and exposure to our work. So as Jesus asked his disciples, we ask our brethren: “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?” (Mk 8:17b). Without vision a people perish. Without understanding the vision, a people will simply go around in circles and not fully achieve God’s purpose for them.

What causes lack of understanding or comprehension, that prevents one from greatness in Christ? Among others:

  • Hard hearts. “Are your hearts hardened?” (Mk 8:17c). Many people have hearts of stone rather than of flesh, even as they have already heard the gospel. They do not allow Jesus to fully change their hearts, but stick to their human perceptions, preferences, priorities and ways of thinking. They at times think they know better than God. They stubbornly stick to their human ways. There is no humble submission to the will of God, wherever that leads.
  • Blindness or deafness. “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” (Mk 8:18a). The wonders of God are all around us. His blessings, both big and small, abound. Community itself is such a strong support to us­in our spiritual life, for our family, in our service. But many take these for granted. Failure to appreciate all this makes us not search for and long for more. We remain wallowing in mediocrity rather than attaining to the greatness that God intends for us.
  • Forgetfulness of God’s goodness. “And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand” (Mk 8:18b-19a). They are those who easily forget what God has done for them. When they are in trouble, they are deep in prayer and petition. When the trouble passes, they are back to their old ways. Gratitude to God does not become a wellspring that gushes forth in profound awe of God’s majesty, and a great desire to serve Him in return.
  • Lack of perseverance under trial. “Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation” (Jas 1:12a). God is able to use affliction to mold us and allow us to grow deeper in the faith. For some, when such trials come, they fall away. They are not willing to learn the hard lessons. They do not realize God’s purpose, that “when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life” (Jas 1:12b).This shows a basic lack of trust in God. They do not realize that “the Lord will not forsake his people, nor abandon his inheritance.” (Ps 94:14). Perseverance is essential to greatness in Christ.
  • Deception by the enemy. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers” (Jas 1:16). The enemy is of course at work. Satan is the father of lies, and uses deception well. He deceived Adam and Eve by telling them they could be gods by their own effort, even as they were already living a perfect life by God’s grace. They failed to see that “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17a). Many today are led by their own desires rather than simply appreciating the blessings God gives in abundance. They are thus prevented from seeing the even greater blessings God has already prepared.
  • Not being guided and instructed by God. “Blessed the one whom you guide, Lord, whom you teach by your instruction.” (Ps 94:12). God guides and instructs us, through our formation programs and the pastoral care of elders. But many who have gone through the formation programs do not live out what they have learned. They revert to acting in unchristian ways when clear instruction has already been imparted to them.
  • Not appreciating the justice of God. “Judgment shall again be just, and all the upright of heart will follow it.” (Ps 94:15). Justice is giving to the other person what is his due. To God is due awe and worship. To the community and its leaders is due respect, loyalty and submission. To brethren in community is due respect, fraternal love, caring and sharing. To fail in this is to fail to see God’s purpose for community. In turn, this prevents community from accomplishing the fullness of God’s intent for it.
  • Not recognizing the extent of spiritual warfare. As an evangelistic and missionary community, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. This is God’s war, and we are His warriors. So God asks, “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers?” (Ps 94:16). The world is being overwhelmed by the forces of the enemy. To not fully respond as holy warriors is to lose by default. To not aggressively assault the enemy is not to experience the great victories intended by God.
  • Not simply resting in God’s care. We all have problems. Our advantage is we have God to turn to. “When cares increase within me, your comfort gives me joy.” (Ps 94:19). We know God makes all things work for our good. So whatever is happening, whether good or seemingly bad, we can rejoice, as indeed we are to rejoice always and to give thanks in all circumstances. Such an attitude helps us greatly in pressing forward, even in the darkest of times.

God has already revealed a lot to us. We have undergone extensive formation. We have been sent on worldwide mission. We should know better. Think about these things. And answer Jesus’ question: “Do you still not understand?” (Mk 8:21).

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