“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” (JAS 3: 17-18)
The qualities of the wise man, endowed “from above,” are detailed: “first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits.” All of this shows a man who is focused on others, not on himself. The giver of self looks for any opportunity to serve, to support and to comfort others. It is, let’s say it straight, imitating the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “Prince of Peace” and full of mercy.
“God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved.” (LK 8: 11-12)
“The word of God” and we have the same enemy—“the Devil,” who “comes and takes away the word” from our hearts. The word of God goes directly to our “hearts that we may believe and be saved.” This is the main concern of God’s word for us—to save us. The devil, an enemy, tries to do everything to “take away the word from our hearts.” He knows perfectly how much God’s word can change ourhearts for the better. What we can do to protect ourselves is to start our meetings with God’s word articulating loudly—“I do believe, and I want to be saved; Jesus, be with me and protect me with my Guardian Angel and the Holy Family.”
“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.” (1 TM 6: 11-12)
Married couples who recently attended Program no. 4 made a lot of comments about Program no. 1. The main opinion was—Program 1 is a never ending story. There is no way to grow together in marriage without gentleness and patience. Love without these two is empty. The same is true of faith and devotion; their strength comes also from “patience and gentleness.” Spirituality which is not based on strong foundations also could be dangerous. When we would like to grow, we need to start with good foundations.
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.” (1 TM 4: 12-13)
Timothy is asked to be an example “in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity,” the areas where we can always grow with God’s help. As a means to this end, St. Paul suggests: “attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.” Reading the Bible daily enables us to meet with the love God extends to us, exhortation shows our involvement in helping each other, and teaching is instructing with love and faith God’s children. Our Lord is always with us with His love, taking all our burdens and labor and giving us rest.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I am writing you, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 TM 3: 14-15)
We “should know how to behave in the household of God” because we are part of God’s family; we are “the Church of the living God,” and we have found in His household “the pillar and foundation of truth.” We receive “the manual,” written by God and His servants: holy writers, prophets and apostles, to guide us and lead us to God’s world: His words about “how to behave.”
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life, you have the words of everlasting life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (JN 19: 26-27)
Our Lady in many different ways is connected with her Son. After the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate today her feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Connected with Him all her life and assisting Him on His mission, she is under the cross receiving His last message: “behold your son.” And now she starts a new mission—to assist us: “and from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” From that day she is always with us in our homes when she is invited.
“Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“…Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (JN 3: 14-15)
Our lives have a purpose: eternal life. Between eternal life and our lives there is sin. Only Our Lord, the Redeemer, can take all our sins upon Himself on the cross and liberate us from sin. What we need is just to leave our sins at His feet. Confession is a place where we can find God’s merciful love and start life again. From both perspectives, as a penitent and as a priest, we adore Our Lord as Our Redeemer.
“We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’” (MK 8: 32-33)
When God became Man and shared with us His life and mission, we became able to think “as God does,” not just “as human beings do.” There is always a temptation to look at our lives only from a human perspective, escaping from challenges, from what is difficult or unpopular. It is hard to be His witness, uncompromising to the world.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” (LK 6: 45)
The Descartes era identified the knowledge of man through cognition. The Bible (and in our times St. Karol Wojtyła in his book The Acting Person) characterizes man as the person in action: “out of the store of goodness in his heart [, he] produces good.” When man is a husband or wife, his or her action should reveal his or her identity. Like the ancient world used to say: Agere sequitur esse.(Action follows being). We ARE our God’s children; we are spouses, parents, priests, friends, brothers or sisters. Action follows.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” (LK 6: 42)
How easy we can see others’ limits and weaknesses. Art historians used to say: we see what we know. The danger of being focused on others’ limits rather than ours lies on a lack of truth. The truth about us is that we are sinners; Our Lord saved us, but with His blessing and help we can change. Our responsibility is to change ourselves for the beauty of our brothers and sisters (or spouses) and not to change them because we know better.
“Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)