17 Sep – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Christ, The Son Of Man
We worship the man Christ, who accepted every weakness of our human condition, renouncing himself and taking up the cross.
– the Sunday Missal
One of our readers suggested that instead of merely an invitation to prayer, that I write out a proper prayer to include with each day’s OXYGEN. So let’s try it out.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard,
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.
My vindicator is hear at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who dare condemn me?
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, “I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty” without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: “You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.”
Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist,” they said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked, “who do you say I am?” Peter spoke up and said to him, “You are the Christ.” And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way, but man’s.”
He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
How do you wish to die? Some people would say that they would prefer to die suddenly in their sleep, to be spared from the agony of dying while conscious. Others will say that they prefer to die painlessly, but have been forewarned of their impending death, so that they will have time to set their earthly affairs in order. Still others would say that they do not wish to talk about this now, because death is still a very long time away for them.
The truth is, we do not know when we are going to die, or how. It could be later today, it could be next week, it could be a few years time, or it could be decades later. We don’t know, and we have little control over it. What many people try to do is to not only prolong their life, but also to prolong their youth.
Some clear indications of this is by looking at the advancement of medical sciences and cosmetics, to see how much of it is geared towards helping people to achieve a longer life, and to achieve a youthful life. But at what cost?
It is true, that life is a gift from God. But with life comes death, naturally. Our life on earth is valuable only because we are going to die one day; death is what gives value to life. It’s going to happen to us, one day or another. So why not start preparing for it today? I’ve always believed that a person who is not prepared to die, is not prepared to live. This is because life’s true purpose shows itself only when we view life from death’s viewpoint. To lie on my death bed and look at my life, to see what are the things that really matter in life, and what did not.
This reflection on life and death does not have to take place on our death bed. It can take place at any point of time in our lives, even right now. For me, it took place when a loved one was near death, and I pictured myself lying in that bed and looking at my own life. And I saw what was important in life, and what was of no significance at all. And I resolved to work towards placing those important things foremost in my life.
What are these things? For me, they are relationships – with the people around me, and with God. Because Jesus came into the world to show us that death is not the end of existence. Death transforms our existence from one plane of life into another plane. And if there is one thing that we can take with us from this life to the next, it is our relationship with God, and with the people we love. At the point of death, nothing else really matters.
How does one transform that understanding and apply it to one’s life? For starters, it is good to keep in mind what we have learnt from our own reflection on our life and death. Keeping it in mind all the time, we weigh all our options and choices in life, our day to day work and play, we weigh them all against what are our true purposes in life. If it affects that purpose, then these choices require more of our time and effort to prioritize. If they are of no significance at all to our lives in the view of eternal life, then it can wait. Chances are, it will probably sort itself out without us having to do anything about it.
Dear Jesus, you came down from heaven to become one of us, to show us the way to the Father. Throughout your life, you kept in mind your purpose for being made man, and you brought that purpose throughout your years in ministry, and to the cross on Calvary. We pray that we might be able to imitate you in realising our purpose in life, and always keeping it in mind, so that we may be more like you. In your name, Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: The gift of life and death.
Mon, 18 Sep – 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33; Luke 7:1-10
Tue, 19 Sep – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a; Luke 7:11-17; Memorial for St. Januarius, bishop, martyr
Wed, 20 Sep – 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13; Luke 7:31-35; Memorial for Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon & comapnions, Paul Chong Hasang, martyrs
Thu, 21 Sep – Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:9-13; Feast of St. Matthew, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 22 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3
Sat, 23 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15; Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
Sun, 24 Sep – Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9:30-37; Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.