Sunday, June 5, 2016


My brothers and sisters in Christ, may the grace of God be with each one of you as you hear today's spiritual message that comes from the readings.

The First Reading from the First Book of Kings [1 Kgs 17:17-21, 22-24] took place in the days of the great drought that was long remembered and even recorded in the Tyrian annals, as Menander of Ephesus testified when writing about the reign of Ittobaal of Tyre.

When Elijah visited the widow’s house, she felt that Elijah had been sent by God to make sure that she knew why her son had died. According to the mentality that prevailed in the days of the Old Testament [Jn. 9:2], the people believed that bad things happened as a punishment for their sins. So here we have a women who affirmed that (1) she was a sinner, (2) that her son had died because of her sins and (3) that Elijah had come to make sure that she knew her son’s death was God’s punishment.

But after Elijah’s triad prayerful intercession to God, the child was revived and Elijah gave him back to his mother. This event, the resurrection of the widow's son, enhances the reputation of the Prophet Elijah and thereby helps to establish the authority of his word.

As one would say, by his action, you will know that he is of God. For words without actions are dead. [James 2:17]

In today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians [Gal. 1:11-19], we heard Paul defending his apostleship. Why did Saint Paul have to defend his apostleship? Why did he have to voice his surprise and shock at the Galatian’s falseness that was taking place? Paul was denouncing another teaching that was taking place and being believed. He condemned this unauthentic gospel, affirming that his alone was the real "Gospel of Christ." [Gal. 1:5] Paul was shocked to see how easy, soon after their conversion, and his evangelization, the allowed themselves to be brainwashed and poisoned by false teachings.

Paul made it clear that since his Gospel originated from Christ, He Who is not divided [1 Cor. 1:13], there can only be one Gospel. [Eph. 4:5]

It appears that the Judaizers had accused Paul of having derived his message not from Christ, but from other preachers, and of having watered it down for the Gentiles by eliminating the obligation of circumcision. His reply reaffirmed the Divine origin of his apostolic commission by explaining his relationship to the mother Church of Jerusalem.

Paul rejected their accusation that he was watering down the Gospel to win many converts, that he was trying to please men. Paul explained that his conversion had freed him from the "yoke of slavery," which was the Mosaic Law that emphasized human achievement.

It is interesting to hear that even 2,000 years ago, some were persecuted and accused of watering down the truth. This is obvious today by the number of religions in the world. For a few centuries now, the attitude has been, “If you do not like a teaching of the Catholic Church, start another Church without that teaching.” And so we now have 30,000 different religions. The Bible does not lie when it says that God hates divorce [Mal. 2:16], that He condemns abortion as murder, that there is no place in Heaven for those who practice homosexuality, and the list goes on. Starting another religion that supports divorce, abortion and active homosexuality is not going to change the fact that the Word of God is unchanging. Those who change it, they shall be judged accordingly!

The same applies to politicians who have two faces. They tell the people what they want to hear so they will be elected. Once elected, they do what the party wants, not what the people wants, not what is right, nor what God teaches.

Paul emphasized that the Gospel that he preached was from Christ, such being a revelation he received on the road to Damascus.

Paul brought up the fact that prior to his conversion, he violently persecuted the Church of God in an effort to destroy it. His faith was in Judaism, the religion of his ancestors. And he was very zealous in promoting and defending his tradition. No Church of Christ was going to turn the people away from their Jewish belief.

That reminds me that 'by the sacrament of Confirmation, [we the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence [we] are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.'" [LG 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2.] (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1285)

Paul continued, that while he was a zealous member of the Jewish faith, by the grace of the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was revealed to him. God had set Paul apart so that he may proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul emphasized that since he had "seen the Lord" [1 Cor. 9:1], he was therefore an Apostle. When Paul connected his apostolic mission to the Gentiles, it was because of the revelation of Christ that he had received. It was not his decision; it was God’s decision. Paul continued by indicating that his basic insight into Christ did not come from the traditional center from which the "Word of the Lord" went forth to men. [Lk. 2:3; Lk. 24:48] He had gained Divine knowledge of God's purpose for the Church through supernatural means, not through human flesh and blood.

The point that Paul was making here was that his teachings were authentic Christians teachings that were personally taught to him by the Lord Jesus Christ. The teachings did not come from men. They did not come from the Apostles. They came directly from Jesus Christ Himself. As such, the Gospel of Christ must be accepted as being 100% pure and worthy of association.

Today’s Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 7:11-17] is a record of the event that took place in a village called Nain (modern Nein). This event concerned the raising of the widow’s son. Nain, not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, was located two to three hours by foot South-East of Nazareth and about eight to nine hours South-West of Capernaum.

The Evangelist Luke took special delight in portraying Jesus, not only overwhelmed with pity at the sight of tragedy, but also turning with kindly regard toward women. The dead boy was the mother's only son.

In this event, we have two crowds coming face to face. Jesus approached the town with His disciples and a large crowd. At the same time, the funeral procession, another large crowd, was leaving the village, going towards the graveyard that was just outside of the town.

Coming face to face with each other, Jesus could not avoid seeing the widow. This was one of those instances where you are at the right place at the right time. Jesus appeared clothed with the exalted power over life and death by which he became the object of his Church's faith and worship.

And so it was as we heard, Jesus told the young man to rise and he sat up. Then Jesus gave him to his mother. Imagine the shock of the two crowds that were present! In Jesus they perceived that a great prophet had risen among them. According to them, with this kind of a sign, it was clear that God had looked favorably upon His people!

It did not take long afterwards for the word to spread out all over that Jesus, the Prophet of God, had risen the widow's son.

What messages do we get from these readings?

For one thing, we should not be corrupting the teachings of Jesus Christ that were handed down to us through apostolic succession and Divine guidance.

Secondly, when something bad happens to us, it is not a punishment from God. Sometime we are to blame for our own misfortunes. At times mother nature is to blame. Mechanical failure has been known to cause endless accidents. Aging has its impact on the human body. And the list goes on. We live in a world of many seasons and beauties. At the same time, we know that this world is called to die. This world is just a stepping stone towards the next world, the eternal spiritual world that awaits the faithful.

Thirdly, having being confirmed in Christ, we are called to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. We are called to be missionaries in the world, not oversee, but locally. We are called to evangelize to our family, our neighbours, our friends, our co-workers, our community, all with who we come in contact, in words and actions. Words without actions are dead! Faith without works is dead!

And so my brothers and sisters in Christ, that is today’s message from God to us. We possess the truth, therefore, let us go forward and share it with others in the love of Jesus.

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