Reflections for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Feb 10, 2017

We must do our best to learn the doctrines of our faith

In this life, in which we are exposed to so many challenges, we all need guidance and direction in order for us to do the right thing. It is not always easy to respond properly to the numerous temptations that come to our minds. It is often difficult to do the right thing especially if our knowledge of the faith is not solid, and if we listen more to the world than to what the Church is saying. Therefore, it is prudent that, if we are Catholics, we continue to improve and increase our knowledge of the faith. Only this way, will we be familiar with the values and the principles that compose our faith so that we may act adequately and so, give glory to God. Even though our prideful personality will force us to believe otherwise, or to be indifferent to things that are spiritual, no one can live without the principles and values that will allow him to avoid catastrophe and disaster. If we want to succeed in everything we do, we need to choose values coming from the faith and not from the secular world. We have seen, on many occasions, how children have destroyed their lives by failing to listen to God, to their parents and to the teachings of the Church and followed the wayward direction of a friend.

While it is important for each of us to have the ability to follow our conscience, it is essential that our conscience is formed and educated under the divine messages and instructions encountered and transmitted into the teachings and doctrines of the Church. Indeed, as individuals, each one of us must follow his conscience whenever we are faced with a dilemma and whenever we need to make a choice in our lives. However, a conscience can be deformed by errors and false doctrines spread, and promoted, by the secular society in which we are living. The problem is that the current social environment tends to build a world without God to such a degree that some of its promotors will contradict everything God has given us as commandments for us to follow, and these contradictions are seeping into the Church. This is the reason why there is tension even inside the Catholic community.

Some people who were baptized in the Catholic faith have made up their minds to remain obedient and be faithful to God through everything they have learned at home and in their Catechism. Others have chosen to go against the interpretation given by the Church which covers every topic of our lives. Though they choose to feed themselves with the perceptions given by the world on many aspects of their lives, they still want to remain Catholics. But is it right for them to act this way? In a way, no! They are wrong. If they say that they are Catholics they should be honest with God and with themselves. They should go with the Church because the Church is the only organization that is divine and that has the authority to teach us. It was not built by men; rather, it was established by Jesus. Indeed, we are all free but if we are Catholics we must educate ourselves with the teachings of the Church. The secular message appears to be easy and simple without any law. Indeed, when you can do whatever you want without any restriction, it is tempting. This is exactly what transpired with Adam and Eve when Lucifer told them that his message was better for their future, and their freedom, than what God said. This is exactly what is happening in many households. How many young adults, who were well educated at home and who were given a fair and religious education by attending Mass with their parents, today have stopped practicing their faith? The problem is that once they encounter a boy/girlfriend who was not educated in the faith, and who discouraged them from practicing the faith, they will give up all their beliefs without any shame to be with that person. That often happens when young adults go to High School or College. The environment of today’s world is so hostile to anything God has said in the Scriptures that it is a challenge to be a solid believer who follows the commands of God. So, it isn’t enough to rely on ourselves only and remain stubborn in our pride erroneously thinking that this is a sign of our independence and maturity. It is humility: the main virtue that will open the doors of our hearts, to forgive, to love and to move forward. Through prayer, reflections and guidance from those who have the experience of life, and who can give us a good perspective, we will always find the proper answer to the challenges that come into our lives. It means that no one should trust himself to the point that he closes the door to any advice from God through others who are wiser and more experienced.

We all can make mistakes; but, God always gives us a second chance to reform our lives before we die. We should not waste our time practicing gossip and wickedness. The reality is that we are not self-sufficient. It takes more than two eyes to see the different angles of a particular problem. It is an act of self-depreciation when a young person develops habits thinking that he knows it all and no one can give him advice regarding decisions he needs to make in his life. It is important to teach children at an early age the necessity of learning codes of conduct which will give them the opportunity to be kind, respectful, responsible etc. It is also important to teach children how to share their belongings so that they may learn the necessity of sharing with others. A child who never shares his possessions and has been accustomed to having everything for himself, will experience a lot of problems when entering into a relationship of marriage. This is one of the most disastrous elements of divorce in our world of today. Many who enter into relationships of marriage are so selfish that they don’t understand the reason why they have to share with their spouse a bathroom or any other thing that is part of the house. Those are the laws of etiquette that we all need in our lives in order to live in harmony and peace with others.

Certain people have this animosity toward anything that is law, but as human beings we cannot live without laws. In the same way, as Catholic people, we have to learn more about the content of the doctrine of the Church so that we may know how to maintain our identity in a world that appears to believe in God but they don’t want to live according to His Law and to His message. Numerous people claim themselves to be prolife but few understand the meaning of this commitment. When the Church says that she is a prolife organization based on what God said: You shall not kill, she wants to say that no one has the right or the authority to destroy the life of a person from the moment of conception to natural death. When the Church says that she protects life, it is a complex statement that we all need to understand with the purpose of avoiding mistakes toward our loved ones. The problem is that we are dealing with a society that tends to reverse the values promoted by the faith. If we do not take the time to really know the content of our faith, we will participate in many acts of homicide aiming at killing our loved ones. Sometimes we hear about situations in hospitals where they say that one part of the body is not functioning but the heart is still alive. It means that person is still alive even though his brain is not responding. Even though it will be a difficult task to take care of the person, we should not make those kinds of wills stating: don’t let me suffer. If there is life, we must wait for natural death. We should not ask a person to unplug the tubes for us and accelerate our death. This would be a homicide. If there is no life, then that is something else, we should not try to maintain a person with artificial machines so that he can apparently be alive. As Catholics our belief in life spans from conception to natural death. Natural death means when the entire body stops and not when a part of it is paralyzed.

--Fr. Joseph