“Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kin will keep to the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.” (1 MC 2: 19-22)
When we joined Love and Life Programs, we made a decision to follow, not our plans for marriage, but God’s will, His plan. Even though “all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey” different visions for marriage, we “will keep to the covenant of our fathers.” As witnesses, we can inspire many and change this world.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading.” (LK 19: 12-15)
We remember the story: the first brought another 10, the second another 5 and the third one nothing. We are invited to do exactly the same. When we had made a decision during Program 1 to change ourselves, not our spouses, we are like servants, who recognized received talents and followed God’s will: “engage in trade with these until I return.” People who are focused on changing their spouses, not themselves, are like the servant who did nothing to improve what he received. We are chosen to “bear fruit that will last.”
“I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.” (LK 19: 1-4)
Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was.” He used “a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.” Our Lord was, is and will be the same; also today He “passes through our towns.” Today’s “sycamore tree” depends on our “shortness” and could be the Church, a Bible, but also our spouse or friend, who is closer to Our Lord and could help us to “see who Jesus is.”
“God loved us, and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” (PRV 31: 10-13; 19-20; 30-31)
The first step in “entrusting his heart to her” is the moment when he learns how to defend, not to attack. An attack is when we try to change our wives to our own image and likeness; a defense helps us to recognize her beauty, her differences and talents and results in “entrusting his heart to her.” When women are recognized in their dignity, we can expect all of those things mentioned in today’s first reading.
“Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me bears much fruit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that your children might be preserved unharmed.” (WIS 19: 6)
We read today that :”Your all-powerful word, from heaven’s royal throne” came to make everything anew. We and our relationships are always in hope “to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we work close with His “all-powerful word,” we can expect His grace working with us, especially to help us grow as spouses, “that your children might be preserved unharmed.”
“God has called us through the Gospel, to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“On that day, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” (LK 17: 31-33)
We must remember, one day, “on that day” we will continue our lives in Heaven. Our eyes should be focused on that direction: “whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” Like we do for our children all the best, also Our Lord wants us to be in Heaven forever.
“Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” (LK 17: 20-21)
“The Kingdom of God is among you,” so we can see our spouses, children , co-workers and our neighbors in a totally different way; today, we—weak people, with our limits and defects— can expect the Kingdom of God. There is no need to look for it somewhere else—with “better” people or more prestigious communities; just remain in Him.
“I am the vine, you are the branches, says the Lord: whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, ‘Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!’ And when he saw them, he said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.” (LK 17: 12-16)
Gratitude is a measure of our value. Ten lepers were cleansed; only one, “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Every day we can and we should recognize God’s gifts and be thankful: “for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made them. But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.” (WIS 2: 23-24)
We are God’s creation. God “formed man to be imperishable.” We carry in ourselves the desire for eternity, so our every action or thought, even very small, but done with love, has the potential to bring us closer to Him.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him.”
“Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart; Because he is found by those who test him not, and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him.” (WIS 1: 1-2)
When we “seek Him,” we have to do it in “integrity of heart,” praying as a wife or husband, as a mother or father, as a friend or colleague. When we come to Our Lord as His children, we can expect that He will “manifest himself” as Our Father—“in integrity of heart.”
“Shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)