“Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth – Heirs of Eternal Life in Heaven,” SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Fr. Serge Santos OFM

God in his mercy and compassion is calling everyone to be ready when he calls us to see him face to face. We must be always ready to face our judgment. We don’t know the day nor the hour when we will be called from this life.

But we have control about the state of relationship with God when death comes. “We cannot avoid a sudden death, but we can avoid an unprepared death.” With the aid of God’s grace we can ensure that our relationship is more or less ok. We can strive always to live in peace with God. This does not mean that we must be always on our knees praying to God and that we take no interest in the things and joys of this world. Far from it. God wants us to use the things of this world, but to use them so that they will not hinder us on our journey ‘as strangers and pilgrims’ on earth.

Today we can ask ourselves: “How would I fare if I were called to render an account of stewardship tonight?” If I find there are many things I need to put right before I face my judge Jesus Christ, I will start promptly to put them right. I will not dilly-dally. I may or may not get a second warning or chance. I value my eternal happiness, so I will put my books in order. I will make peace with Jesus Christ and my neighbors. Acknowledging His grace and compassion, I will be creative and wise to trek the right road to eternal life in heaven.

“When the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) took our human nature, he made us capable of becoming sharers in the eternal glory and happiness of the Infinite God.” We can not fathom that God raised us up to the status of adopted children. “He (God) had no need of us, he did not require our company or adoration, he is infinitely perfect and happy in himself.”

God gave us the gift of incarnation. Jesus Christ became our brother and through him we became adopted children of God and therefore heirs to heaven. “The sins of mankind which had corrupted the world brought about the death of Christ on the cross – a death he freely accepted.” “Christ’s offering himself on the cross was sufficient to obtain eternal sanctification for all humankind. Christ’s one act of self-sacrifice on the cross is sufficient for all time. It need not be repeated. Through that death and as our representative and senior brother, he made perfect atonement to God the Father for all our sins. His triumph over sin and death was our triumph; ever since his ascension, the incarnate Son of God is in the seat of glory in heaven interceding for us sinners; he is preparing a place for us, his brothers (and sisters), which will be ours when life on this earth ends.”

“The members of the Chosen People who did God’s will earned heaven through the merits of Christ and only after ascension. Because of God’s loving generosity these infinite merits of Christ were applied to all Jews and Gentiles, who, before Christ, lived according to their lights. They will be applied to all provided they act according to the revealed or the natural knowledge of God which is given them.”

We can resolve to be good and holy in the light of Christ. With God’s grace we will do in our power and creativity to pursue this resolution until we finish the race to eternal life. Not all of us would avail of this bounteous divine mercy but those who believe in and acknowledge and accept the merciful plan of God would certainly receive an eternal reward.

Knowing all these facts and truths, it is just right to offer God endless gratitude and thanks. I believe that God will let us live long enough to earn eternity. For those who are worried about their weaknesses, temptations and trials, are reminded that they are not left orphans…they are not on their own, they are not left to fend for themselves…they have Jesus Christ as brother, in heaven pleading with the Father of mercies on their behalf. We cannot lose our inheritance provided we do our very best to be true and loyal Christians. Being grateful we can gladly cooperate with God to earn the eternal merit already won by Christ.

Pilgrims and Strangers on Earth, we are Heirs to Eternal Life in Heaven. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

(Reference: The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM)

About Fr. Serge and his reflections…..

Advertisements

RATED X (FOR ADULTS ONLY) – PG (PARENTAL GUIDANCE) SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME by Fr. Sergio Santos, OFM

This reflection is rated X-PG: Parental guidance for children is required as heard in many teleseries dramas nowadays. Why do many people, even today’s Christians like to watch them? One reason is possibly because the so-called bed scenes excites/stirs up sexuality/sensual desire/libido – seeing two naked persons performing sex. Usually the characters are not married yet either civilly or in Church but because of their passion (strong feeling of romantic love for each other), they grab the opportunity/right to consummate the physical act reserved for married couples!

First of all, there is an alarming increase of divorce rate in Western countries (USA and Europe); there are also increasing numbers of legal separations here in the Philippines.

In a course on Marriage, Family, Sexual and Crisis Counseling at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the professor states that DIVORCE IS NOT THE SOLUTION FOR MARRIAGE on the verge of failure. He further said that marriage of so short a term of three years is salvageable. Married couples could avail of marriage/psychological counseling and/or spiritual direction to save the marriage.

“Some psychologists are pointing out that divorce does not solve problems, but only opens up an avenue of temporary escape, an avenue with a dead end. They observe that after divorce, a trauma of failure remains, with loneliness and guilt as constant reminders of what might have been. Family counselors have long maintained that children need love and guidance of both parents, and they insist that divorce destroys a part of children’s birthright and jeopardizes their future happiness. There is growing awareness, among some at least, that the relaxation of divorce laws is a favor to no one.” (The Word Made Flesh by Fr. Charles Miller, CM) Jesus Christ in the Gospel takes a strong stand on marriage and divorce. “He clearly states that from the very beginning, God’s plan for marriage was that it should be a life-long unity of one man and one woman. Its purpose is the procreation of children and their education, as well as the mutual love and fulfillment of the husband and wife. These demand this life-long bond. Divorce, which tries to break this bond, breaks the law of the creator who decreed what was best for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the human race.” (The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, OFM)

It is important to mention here about the children. Jesus Christ loves the children; he told the disciples: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Married couples have the choice to practice true Christianity by following Jesus’ teachings/commandments in a child-like way: Humble, Receptive, and Grateful. A child is unselfconscious, happy and content to be dependent on the elders.

Married couples have a choice to practice true faith by the total acceptance of commitment to each other and to the covenant with God. They could act like adults with no parental guidance required!

About Fr. Serge and his reflections…..

Jesus Christ has the Words of Eternal Life, SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time By Fr. Serge Santos, OFM

Around the year 90 A.D. when St. John wrote the Gospel, the doctrine and practice of the Eucharist was well established. The discourse on the Bread of Life given by Jesus Christ at Capernaum foretold the installation of the divine gift of the Eucharist. The Christians at that time accepted the Mass and Holy Communion as the essential act of Christian worship.

In today’s Gospel the “disciples” murmured because they could not accept that Jesus Christ came down from heaven and offered himself as the bread so that they would live forever. They must partake of his body – flesh and blood – if they want true life in them.

The “disciples” were a group different from the apostles. Their reason was the same as the multitude i.e. Jesus Christ was a mere human being. It seemed natural for them not to accept this teaching of Jesus Christ to eat his body and drink his blood.

Christ said that they lack faith due to the fact that he gave enough proof that he was more than a human being. These “disciples” closed their minds to the evidence; this is their guilt. Faith is a gift from the Father, as Christ said to them: “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father,” but the Father offered this gift and they refused to accept it; otherwise they would not have been guilty. The divine spirit which produces “faith” is alone capable of giving life and meaning to his words.

We in this day and age accept that Jesus Christ is both human and divine. It is easy for us to believe he left us himself in the Eucharist as a sacrifice and a sacrament. We may not understand this act of divine power in its fullness due to our limited comprehension. However, we do understand and believe in the words of Christ. JESUS CHRIST HAS THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.

“In Galilee he promised to give his body and blood – in the Eucharist – Communion – and our means of offering an absolutely pleasing sacrifice to God every time his body and blood are made present by the words of the ordained minister. He fulfilled that promise at the Last Supper. He gave to his apostles and their successors the power to repeat this act of divine love when he said: “Do this in memory of me.”

When Jesus Christ asked the twelve apostles, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered, “Master, to whom shall we go?” You have the words of eternal life.” This statement of faith was not only for the apostles but also for all Christians who truly believe that CHRIST IS THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD. Peter was convinced that Christ was intimate with God and his words are TRUTH.

At this point in time for some of us it would be wise to examine ourselves how we appreciate this gift of the Blessed EUCHARIST. When we come to Mass, do we acknowledge that Christ offers himself to the Father for our SANCTIFICATION and for all humanity?

Do we know that through the priest at the altar we are also offering thanksgiving, adoration, petition, and atonement to our eternal Father in heaven through the sacrifice of his divine son in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Ask ourselves if we receive Holy Communion with a clear conscience.

We can APPRECIATE with gratitude and THANK always what Jesus Christ has done for us and still continues to shower blessings to us. Joyfully, we proclaim JESUS CHRIST HAS THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.

(Ref. Kevin O’Sullivan, OFM, The Sunday Readings)

About Fr. Serge and his reflections>>>>>

“Jesus Christ, Son of God is a Merciful and Compassionate God” SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time By Fr. Serge Santos, OFM

Have you ever thought that our savior Jesus Christ could have done differently in proclaiming the Gospel to the world? In today’s gospel Jesus Christ sends the apostles two by two to the neighboring villages, preaching repentance, casting out demons, and healing the sick. They are to trust absolutely in Divine Providence for daily sustenance.

It’s over two thousand years ago since the time of Jesus Christ. Millions of people have come to know about him and his message. It is a reality that this is still far from the millions and millions in this world who are not evangelized yet. We are still waiting for the event when he would endorse to God, Father and Creator, everyone so that the New Heaven and New Earth could usher in.

As God and Son of God there are alternative ways Jesus Christ could have adopted to evangelize the world quickly. After his resurrection, he could have gone to all corners of the world and could have taught his doctrine to all humanity, proving his words with supernatural deeds (miracles). Yet he chose the more human way of evangelization…he sent his own fellow human beings to bring the good news. In this way he shows his divine love and understanding of weak human nature. This is a lot better way than the supernatural means which he could have done.

God gave humanity free will. Human beings are able to choose between alternatives. Jesus Christ has never used force or coercion on persons to choose heaven as eternal home. The person who chooses heaven can select the means for reaching it. By appointing mortal beings to bring the good news of salvation and the means of getting there to all of us, Christ gives us the opportunity to exercise our free will and thereby merit heaven. We can accept to reject the Gospel of Christ. If Christ chose to inform us miraculously or taught us personally, it is impossible to refuse the Gospel.

Jesus Christ earned heaven for ALL people and not only for Christians. He founded the Church with its truth and aids and shared to those who would become his followers. By virtue of our baptism, we are followers of Jesus Christ. For us, the way of the Gospel is a sure way to reach heaven, if we are faithful to the commandments.

There are still millions of people who have not heard Christ and the church. Other millions who heard of Christ and his church did not accept the Christian way of life because of their upbringing, culture and environment; would Christ exclude them from heaven? Jesus Christ is aware of these millions and He wants them to be in heaven. It could be that their situation and circumstances, lack of knowledge of the Christian truths, limited perception, personal biases, which were brought by circumstances beyond their control prevent them from being attracted to become Christians. Would Jesus Christ exclude them from Heaven? Certainly NOT!

Jesus Christ has foreknowledge of those who could not accept his Gospel and yet they want to reach heaven. This is why he lets other persons who may be doubted to proclaim the Gospel. It would not be acceptable to refuse to listen to his teaching if it was delivered by some other form or preached by Christ personally. These people could be excused if they doubted Christ’s human stewards because of some reasons like their personality and lifestyle. Christ would let them enter heaven! This is telling us that Christ found ways and means to excuse those who choose to trek the wrong way rather than travel on the highway to heaven that he offered.

In all of these we see Divine Mercy and Compassion at work with Jesus Christ. We are all children of God regardless of nationality, race, color and language. The will of God is that all people may be saved, that is, to be able to enter heaven. While on a pilgrimage on earth, we serve Jesus Christ according to our God-given talents. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Divine Mercy and Compassion could reach frontiers and trails less traveled through his chosen workers/followers. Christ continues to shower Mercy and Compassion to people along the way.

With expectant hope may we all enter heaven and live blissfully ever after because our Friend and Good Shepherd Jesus Christ, Son of God, is a MERCIFUL AND COMPAASIONATE GOD.

(Ref: THE SUNDAY GOSPEL by Kevin O’Sullivan, OFM)

About Fr. Serge and his other reflections…..

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION By Fr. Serge Santos, OFM

Our brother and friend, Jesus Christ, obeyed totally his father and our father in his life acknowledging his mission as Son of God, undergoing his passion, crucifixion, and death on the cross in Calvary.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful to God the Father in the Holy Spirit from the beginning of his life as Son of God, teaching in the synagogues of Nazareth and Capernaum.

Jesus Christ’s saving mission benefits the disciples, including us, because he promised for those who believe him and are baptized that none will be lost of those given to him by God the Father. Our pursuit of this so-called Salvation depends upon our intimate and loving relationship with our God.

As finite human beings, we have choices and priorities in life.  Because of the freedom of choice, we practice what we believe is right and good.  At times, usually we do not care about something that we do not understand; therefore it is hard to believe and practice.

The Holy Trinity (Blessed Trinity) is a doctrine of the church.  This doctrine teaches that there are three persons in one God.  The one God (Yahweh or Lord) in the Old Testament is the God that the Israelites (Jews) believe in and no other.  However, we the New Testament people are blessed with stories in Jesus’ life which help us understand the mystery.  For example, during the baptism of Jesus Christ by his cousin John the Baptist, we recall, “Jesus too was baptized.  Then while he was praying, the heavens opened.  The Holy Spirit came down upon him in the bodily form of a dove and a voice from heaven was heard, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you.”  (Luke 3:21-23)

It is known that the relationship of the Most Holy Trinity is personal and intimate.  Christ invites the disciples including us to be friends – no longer servants – with him.  Praise the Lord, we could have Jesus Christ as best friend.  We stay united with Jesus Christ by obeying his commandments in loving God and neighbor (everyone is our neighbor).

Jesus Christ is very personal and intimate with us.  He revealed his secrets in the Holy Scriptures (secrets of his Father) to us as we always have God with us (Emmanuel – Incarnation).  We are all spiritually blessed.  What more can we ask for from God? Paul in the second reading today reminds us: (Rom 8:15-17)  “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”  As we share with Jesus Christ in the cup of passion (suffering and death), we also share in the cup of glory (Resurrection and Ascension). Jesus Christ is present with us in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass).  That is why the priest who represents Jesus Christ in the Holy Mass intones the doxology of the Blessed Trinity.

We must come to appreciate the value of praying to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.  After all, when Jesus taught us to pray he said, “When you pray, say “Our Father…”  It has been observed that Christianity is not much looking at Jesus as it is looking in the same direction with him.,. that is, to the Father.  And so the Trinity is indeed a very important mystery for us, not just something to believe and then we forget.  This great truth should shape our attitude toward the three persons in God and influence our prayer.  Indeed the mystery of the Trinity is a very personal matter.

Because we have joined a pilgrimage towards a loving, compassionate and merciful God, we could always be grateful and thankful to God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for an intimate and friendly relationship with them (hopefully and peacefully).

About Fr. Serge and his other reflections…

GO FOR IT!, Sunday Gospel Reflection 3rd Sunday of Lent by Fr. Sergio Santos, OFM

Our Lord Jesus Christ in his public ministry had spent time preaching in Galilee and its neighborhood, as well as Jerusalem. He gave the “leaders of the people” in Jerusalem lots of chances of hearing his message and mission. He performed miracles in and near the city.

His miracles: The man crippled for 38 years (Jn 5); the man born blind (Jn 19); the raising of his friend Lazarus from the tomb for 4 days (Jn 9).

The Gospel writer St. John emphasized that the leaders (priests and Pharisees) in Jerusalem were given the opportunities to know who Jesus Christ is and to believe in him. However, they did not listen to him and therefore lost due to their fault.

In the Gospel scenario, it is clear that he is extraordinarily unique; he is very intimate with God and the Son of God. This was the first time that Jesus Christ got angry with those in the temple area selling oxen, sheep, and doves as well as with the money changers. He “spilled the coins of the moneychangers” and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he shouted, “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a market place.”

In a mysterious language, Jesus Christ revealed to them that he would be put to death but would rise again. Some of the leaders seemingly remembered this saying after he was put to death at Calvary; they requested Pontius Pilate to post a guard by his tomb lest his disciples might remove his body and pretend he had risen.

This event of Jesus Christ’s RESURRECTION did not make the majority believe he is the Son of God. They had closed their minds and thought he was supernaturally gifted and believed he was juts a miracle worker. Whatever their reasons for not believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God could be the same for the millions of this present day and age who refuse to believe and live the Christian faith. Like those leaders in the year 28, they are engrossed in worldly affairs, ambitions, and desire for wealth, fame, and power that they neglect their own spiritual life. They literally sold their souls to the devil.

The priests and the Pharisees were hoping for a Messiah who could build a world empire, including limitless wealth, fame and power. They wanted more than political freedom from Rome. Worldly ambitions and allurements are the priority in life, thus forgetting the spiritual realm of life.

In our present day and age, there are many little or big events in life, things, nature, and people that should tell us of the power and grandeur of God, as well as the LOVE of God shown in his MERCY and COMPASSION. There are many beautiful temples and churches in the whole world that could remind one of spiritual life.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the agnostics and the scientists of this digital age would one day realize that Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father out of LOVE to save humanity from sin and death. The saving events of the INCARNATION of Christ, PASSION, DEATH on Calvary, RESURRECTION and ASCENSION into heaven are the fulfillment of our SALVATION. Jesus Christ did not leave us orphans because he made us the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit and thereby we have GOD WITH US eternally. As Roman Catholic Christians we admit that Jesus Christ is the center of our life and the CONTROLLER o the world and the universe.

We are greatly blessed with our spiritual heritage from the Old Testament to the New Testament down to the present digital generation. If we could only be always thankful and grateful to God by living our lives according to his will, with expectant HOPE for his grace of MERCY and COMPASSION, so that on the Last Day (Final Judgement), we would be allowed to enjoy the dwelling place reserved for each of God’s children who are FAITHFUL to him. This is the CHALLENGE for everyone. “Do not be afraid” and GO FOR IT!

About Fr. Serge and his other reflections.