My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?
Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. In spite of this, you have no respect for anybody who is poor. Isn’t it always the rich who are against you? Isn’t it always their doing when you are dragged before the court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the honourable name to which you have been dedicated? Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme law of scripture: you must love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin, and under condemnation for breaking the Law.
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.’
“Whoever acts without mercy will be judged without mercy but mercy can afford to laugh at judgement.”
In today’s readings we read of a familiar sight, the difference between the rich and the poor. Today I will share about rich and poor in terms of pride and humility.
It is important to be proud of who you are but desiring others to be proud of you is where sin and condemnation enters.
When we want to become ‘rich’, we make distinctions and have more expectations of situations and of people. When we desire recognition, power, wealth or fame, that’s when we want something in return and we measure what we receive based on the effort we have put in. This will then result in frustrations and sin when we do not get what we want.
Christ, on the other hand, is the model of humility and love. Like the ‘poor’, it is not about what we can receive but what we can give. We focus on the mission, om the purpose of our lives. We focus on the people around us, we focus on family, friends and loved ones and not want them to focus on us. It is that selfless giving for we can only give because we have already received.
Our judgements will become that of compassion, where we are grateful for all that happens to us for even in bad, there is good, in suffering, joy, in death, life.
As we continue to battle this virus, may we open our eyes to see all the good that is being done, to support others who truly need our support, even in the midst of risk. To risk our lives just as others are risking theirs. To be responsible, having good hygiene, to trust in our leaders, to take care of ourselves and others. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to be compassionate, kind and caring brothers and sisters during this period of uncertainty. May we learn to look out for each other instead of looking out for masks and sanitizers. May we learn to touch the lives of those around us despite us not exactly being in contact with others. May we not be influenced by fake news but be inspired by Your Word. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for showing us the way. Thank you Lord for leading by example. Thank you Lord for being with the ‘poor’, for it is in our ‘poorness’ that we are rich in you.