Reflections for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Feb 15, 2017

As followers of the Lord, we must be people who are open

As we continue to grow in the Lord, we may discover that there are a number of things that we need to do in our lives in order to be fit for the Kingdom. It is not always easy for us to get along with people, whether they are members of our family, friends or acquaintances. It is a challenge that we have to overcome in our spiritual journey because it has the potential to cause us anxiety and to discourage us. There are some personalities that are, by nature, made to share peace and love with one another. They are a blessing to have in relationships of friendship, marriage, and groups, etc. These individuals are very discreet, calm and are able to be faithful, to share, to cooperate and to offer their support without any complication. Those personalities are very reliable and they are very prudent. They do not spread false rumors about things and people, and they know how to control their tongues to avoid being uncharitable.

However, they are some others that are more inclined to be like warriors ready to fight. They fail to be instruments of peace because they are very volatile. Anything that is simple can become a source of argument because they are not at peace with themselves. In order to feel like they have some personal control in their lives, they will manipulate your words in order to gain power and, in so doing, cause turmoil which they prefer because it is only in this kind of setting that they can function. They need disorder to feel powerful; they don’t like environments where things are calm and peaceful. These kinds of people are everywhere. It is easy to recognize them because even though they initially appear to be friendly and they are often very popular, after a while you discover that they are actually difficult people.

But in all these ways of being different from one another, we have to find a way to live in harmony and unity with one another as the Lord encourages us to do: Let them be one. Before our last day on earth, it is essential that we do our best to be channels of peace. If our temper is causing us to become angry quickly or to be so oversensitive to the point that we turn our friends into enemies, we must modify our personality under the guidance of the Lord. It is not a healthy way to live. If there is love, it must be expressed and shown in a consistent manner which reveals the spiritual and psychological maturity of the person. If one day there is love and the next day there is a fight, we must understand that there is something abnormal in this particular setting. It means that there is something wrong in the personality of the person who is acting this way. The Lord has offered us another way to live in peace and harmony with one another.

As is presented in Isaiah 11:6-9, only those who are, filled with the knowledge of the Lord will make the effort to change their hearts and their behaviors especially if they fail to contribute to unity and peace. This is why it is essential for us to experience the gift of openness, which will allow us to receive God in our lives. God, because of His omnipotence and His divinity, has many ways to intervene in our midst. It is important that we pray for the virtue of flexibility so that we do not develop habits that impede us from accepting others and situations that are different from what we are accustomed to. If they are not sinful, we should not reject customs, food or manners practiced by other cultures. We all can learn from one another and so improve ourselves through the cultures or values of others. Such an attitude of openness is also something important to develop as we come to the house of the Lord so that we may experience the fullness of our faith and our lives. When we have a better understanding of our origin and of our faith, we have no other choice than to be open.

Only by making efforts to be open we will be hospitable and welcoming people because, in welcoming another person, we are also welcoming God. We all are created in God’s image and if we fail to welcome others who come to worship in our church we are missing the opportunity to be charitable. And if we don’t have charity in our hearts, it is one of the vices that will impede us from entering into God’s Kingdom. It means if we are in the habit of not wanting to welcome people who come to our church, we are just harming ourselves. We will be the losers. We will only have our prejudices satisfied here on earth but in the eyes of God, we will be considered wicked. So, why should we waste our time subscribing to those cultural and personal customs that separate us from other people? As we get older we are invited to be mature, intelligent, wise and realistic because our last day is getting closer and if we don’t begin to reform our lives, it will be too late. As it is said in 1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, let your love for one another be constant, for love covers a multitude of sin. Be mutually hospitable without complaining.” It means that as we follow the Lord, it does not matter where we come from, we must understand that we are all children of God and we are all alive because of His mercy. We should not have any pride in being rigid by accepting things, food or people which we are familiar with. We all make mistakes; no one is perfect. Our entrance into Heaven does not depend on our color, our social rank, our desire or on our multiple efforts to get there; it depends most of all on the mercy of God. This is where we all are called to make progress. We must seek the mercy of God before anything else. Through prayers, we will be able to evaluate our relationship with God and with one another.

When we become close to God, we are able to see our own weaknesses, our shortcomings and our inability to love sincerely. The Lord is the mirror in which we have to look at ourselves. Only this way, will we be able to fix within ourselves things that are mediocre. The Lord is the light of our lives in the sense that when we live in harmony with Him, everything becomes clear and it is easier for us to live in harmony with others. There cannot be errors and doubt when we live our lives fully in the Lord. If we are so accustomed to control and to making other people’s lives miserable, we will not see anything bad in what we are doing. It is in this kind of situation where, if we are not challenged by the words of God, we will continue living with the habit of being difficult people. Everything has to be done according to our controlling and demanding attitude to the point that if we are not in charge and in control, nothing good can be reached. Such a personality carries with it a form of illness, which can be treated, not only by coming to church, but also by psychological and psychiatric professionals. But in order to see it we must remain open until our last day. Only in this way, will we be able to cooperate with God and receive His help which can be manifested in many ways because He does not function like us. His ways are filled with many curves which will ultimately lead us toward His Kingdom. Therefore, as followers of the Lord we must do our best to always open our hearts, our eyes and our personalities to experience the goodness of the Lord.

--Fr. Joseph