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(Part 33)


February 9, 2020
Today’s readings
Isaiah 58:7-10
Psalm 112:4-9
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Matthew 5:13-16

How are we to be founded on the Rock that is Christ? Like Paul, we must resolve “to know nothing …. except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2). We are to be totally focused on Jesus and the salvation he won for us on the cross, and we are to know and live out his ways.

If we do so, then God can use us for His purposes. We can become instruments of His holy will. And God does intend to use us, to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13a,14a). Jesus calls us to be his witnesses. This is both a silent and a verbal witness. In living our lives as salt, we are to silently bring God’s flavor to a flavorless world through our good deeds and holy lives. In living our lives as light, we are to verbally proclaim the gospel, which dispels the darkness in people’s lives. God does not touch and change our lives just so that we can live for ourselves and not influence the world around us. People do not “light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:15-16).

How does our light shine forth? This is through virtues that God develops in us, as He moves us on to holiness. “Light shines through the darkness for the upright” (Ps 112:4a). What are some of these important virtues?

  • Graciousness (Ps 112:4b). We should respect and show kindness to others. In our dealings, we are gentle, forbearing, tolerant, understanding, courteous, decent, patient, benevolent, affectionate, empathic.
  • Compassion (Ps 112:4c). Like Jesus, our hearts should be moved with pity for all those who are like sheep without a shepherd. We must be mindful of the sufferings and misfortunes of others.
  • Righteousness (Ps 112:4d). We are to be morally upright and strive to live lives of purity. We are to be holy as God is holy. We are to live our lives with integrity.
  • Justice. It is about a man “who conducts his affairs with justice.” (Ps 112:5b). We are to give others what is their due, looking on everyone as a child of God, for whom Jesus died and whom God wants to restore to Himself.
  • Generosity to the poor. “Lavishly he gives to the poor” (Ps 112:9a). One of our seven MFC Core Values is living a preferential option for the poor. We look to the least and most vulnerable among our brethren.
  • Mercy. We are forbearing and extend forgiveness to those who wrong us, try not to take offense, pass over slights and insults, turn the other cheek.
    Not being judgmental. We are to remove “the accusing finger” (Is 58:9d). We avoid being critical of others, we are not into fault-finding, we do not condemn nor disparage others.
  • Righteous speech. Our speech must be upbuilding. We are to remove “malicious speech” (Is 58:9e), such as lying, maligning, gossip.

If we do all these, and more, “then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (Is 58:8a). “Then your light shall rise in the darkness” (Is 58:10b). Then you would truly be founded on the Rock that is Christ.

We must realize who we are and what we are called to do. As instruments of God, we are about “proclaiming the mystery of God” (1 Cor 2:1a). We tap into the inscrutable mind of God. We proclaim the mystery of salvation in Jesus. We are weak, sinful flesh that act in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

As part of the armies of God, we go forth in God’s power. We go forth “with a demonstration of spirit and power (1 Cor 2:4b). In our work of evangelization and mission, we rely not on our own capabilities and resources but totally on God, so that our “faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:5). This is so liberating as we go about our work. We can do God’s work even without “sublimity of words or of wisdom” (1 Cor 2:1b), even “in weakness and fear and much trembling” (1 Cor 2:3), even if “my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom” (1 Cor 2:4a). Indeed, in our weakness is the strength of God.

Therefore, being founded on Rock, we trust fully in God. How should this trust be manifest in our life and work?

  • We must never be afraid and must always rest in the peace of Christ. “His heart is tranquil, without fear” (Ps 112:8a). Even as we face a formidable enemy, we are confident of God’s victory. The holy warrior simply goes about his work, “till at last he looks down on his foes.” (Ps 112:8b).
  • We must not be discouraged by challenges or even occasional defeats. “He shall not fear an ill report” (Ps 112:7a). We know God is with us and we are doing divine work. When seeming negatives happen, God wants us to learn from mistakes and grow deeper in virtues. The holy warrior simply plods on, as “his heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord.” (Ps 112:7b).
  • We must stand firm in our resolve, enduring and persevering. “For he shall never be shaken” (Ps 112:6a). We must know we are built on Rock, and the winds and floods that assault us cannot bring us down.

As holy warriors, we go forth into spiritual war. We go forth in God’s power and provision. We trust in Him and always rely on Him. As this is God’s divine work and He has sent us, then God will always be there for us. “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: ‘Here I am!’” (Is 58:9a).

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