Greetings to all my brothers and sisters in Christ! How pleased the Lord must be to see so many of His children obeying the precept of the Church, to observe Sunday as a day of obligation.
Today's three readings share one common denominator. During the First Reading from the First Book of Kings, [1 Kings 19:9, 11-13] we heard that Elijah had gone to a cave at Horeb, the mount of God, where he stayed for 40 days. Why was Elijah at the cave? He was hiding there because Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, had sent a messenger to inform him of her intent to kill him.
During the Second Reading, [Rom. 9:1-5] we heard how Saint Paul was saddened by Israel's unbelief and rejection of the Lord. Expressing the great love that he had for his own countrymen, Paul was willing to undergo the worst possible fate, being cut off from Christ, if such could possibly save those that he loved.
During the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, [Mt. 14:22-33] we heard that when St. Peter started walking on the water towards Jesus, he became frightened and began to sink. Consequently, he called out to Jesus, "Lord, save me!" [Mt. 14:30] This is the common denominator! "Lord, save me!"
Elijah, fearing for his life, he called upon the Lord to save him. The Israelites, while they too wanted to be saved, they rejected Jesus and the only Mediator between God and man. And Peter, fearing for his life during a moment of human weakness, he too called upon the Lord to save him.
They all called upon the Lord to save them. Our forefathers called upon the Lord to save them. Our grandparents called upon the Lord to save them. Our parents called upon the Lord to save them. And most of us will call upon the Lord to save us if we have not done so as of yet.
In view of the fact that everybody is bound to call upon the Lord, the question is, "Will the Lord answer our call?" Allow me to elaborate on this subject.
Some time ago, a couple asked for my urgent prayers. I was told that, while both were fully employed, being in severe debts, they risked losing their homes, everything they had worked for. They needed a miracle, a quick fix for their problem. They did not believe that their prayer, "Lord, save me!" would obtain a miracle. And so they came to me to intercede on their behalf, hoping that the Lord would hear the prayer of a priest versus their personal prayer and that the Lord would have mercy on them.
We all prayed and the Lord answered their prayer intention. The Lord saved them, but not the way that they wanted to be saved. They only wanted the Lord to provide for their physical needs. Instead, the Lord provided for their spiritual needs. After losing everything, their house, their land, their vehicles, after having been humiliated before their family and friends, after having declared personal bankruptcy, after having put an end to their wasteful spending, their high class living and their endless partying, they rented reasonable accommodations, settled down to a normal life and finally found the Lord Jesus in their lives.
When they had everything, they did not need Jesus. They had the great "ME," the "My way Lord or no way!" They never prayed. They did not have time to worship. They never received the Sacraments of eternal life. They had three goals: fame, wealth and the flesh. What a good life! At least they thought so, until their worldly kingdom came grumbling down.
The Lord saved them! He opened their eyes. Once blind, now they could see. He made them realized that while they were abundantly blessed, they showed no appreciation whatsoever for it. They were walking on the wide road of perdition.
The fate of this couple is not uncommon. Many of the rich people have no time for God. They are too busy managing their wealth. How often do we hear today of parents complaining that their children are living common-law? They do not practice their faith. They are walking the wide path of life, living a life of mortal sin, partying, doing drugs, neglecting their children, many of the grandchildren are no longer baptized, and so on.
What we see today is the fruits of a society that lacks morals, a society that has placed employment and fame before the family life, a society that has remained silent to the immoralities that were breeding all around them. Now, the people are crying out, "Lord, save me!" Do we honestly believe that the Lord will save such a society? Is this the kind of life that the Kingdom of God is all about? Certainly not! To save this generation, the Lord must sanctify it! He must destroy this society in order to rebuilt it in His holy ways!
Yes, the couple that lost everything, it suffered for awhile. But in its suffering, it found life in Jesus Christ. Its suffering was a blessing in disguise! Suffering was the means towards salvation!
Sometime ago, I was reading a piece of prose that is called, "Secrets of the Cross." I would like to share it with you because I found it to be spiritually rich.
Secrets of the Cross
"An earthly day without its afflictions
Would surely appear to be a heavenly day.
Crosses come and go as showers and downpours,
Light and heavy, most abruptly and unforseen.
To the majority of the faithful believers,
Crosses appear to be ongoing nuisances,
Their existence not worthy of being present.
Yet, all what God has permitted serves a purpose!
Although often disguised during their occurrences,
Their intentions are subsequently revealed.
While your crosses may appear to be a burden,
Consider the spiritual benefits to your soul,
Ascertaining what you have gained from them.
If you are blind to the personal progress
That has been derived from your trials,
Then, you have failed to see the hand of God,
Silently and wisely guiding you in life,
Nurturing you as a parent teaches a child.
For every cross holds a secret behind it!"
What possible secret can a cross hold? What holy qualities can we gain from bearing a daily cross? Consider some of these virtues: charity, [pause] chastity, [pause]compassion, [pause between each one] decency, faith, fear, fortitude, friendship, generosity, honesty, hope, humility, justice, knowledge, love, modesty, obedience, patience, peace, piety, prudence, purity, respect, servitude, solitude, submission, temperance, trust, and wisdom.
Next time, when an affliction crosses our path, rather than saying, "Lord, save me!", we should consider saying, "Lord, what do you want me to learn from this cross?" Then, once we have learned the spiritual lesson that the Heavenly Father allowed to be placed before us, having understood why the finger of God has touched our lives, the affliction should go away. Having been strengthened in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be then able to continue in our spiritual growth. We will be ready to welcome the next affliction in order to learn the next lesson so we may all become great saints on earth as we will be in Heaven.