READINGS for 2009-01-17
GOd OF OUTCaSTS
Jesus was eating with these outcasts and tax collectors. – Mark 2:16
When I was in college, I thought I received a call to abandon my dreams of having a family in favor of a lifetime service to God. In my resentment, I abandoned God instead.
You can’t imagine the shame and self-condemnation that response brought. I made myself into an outcast, thinking that I could never face God again because of my weakness.
What made me return wasn’t a renewed strength or a conviction of faith. It was more from desperation born out of a hunger for light after living in prolonged spiritual darkness. After I hit rock bottom, I realized that there was no one else to turn to. So even with plenty of misgivings, I took Jesus’ invitation to join His table.
He accepted me, gently cared for me, and in His constant pampering I was healed. I looked into His eyes and saw a beautiful reflection, one that mirrors the image He has of me. I have never left since.
How about you? Are you condemning yourself for a terrible sin or loathsome weakness? Don’t. It is exactly to you that Jesus beckons to share in His banquet.
So what are you waiting for?Cecil Lim
God’s love is bigger than our sins.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-69)
Let us never doubt that the Word of God has the power to change our lives for the better. The Word of God will ultimately bring judgment to any sin we may commit because it is the truth of God. It is God’s truth alone that can set us free from the lies and passions of the world that lead us astray. We have a choice to make – namely, will we allow the Word of God to form our minds or will we leave this task to the ways of the world?
12 The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
P S A L M
Psalm 19:8. 9. 10. 15
R: Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
7  The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. (R) 8  The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye. (R) 9  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. (R) 14  Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (R)
G O S P E L
In the midst of the healings of Jesus, we have a very significant story of the call of a tax collector who comes to follow Jesus as His disciple. Tax collectors are the ‘scum of the earth’ to the Jews as not only do they take their money from them on behalf of the occupying Roman power, they are usually corrupt into the bargain! Yet Jesus chooses one of them to be His follower. This affirms to us that there is no one beyond the power of redemption in Christ. If we are willing to have faith, then God will do the rest for us.
13 Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. 14 As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 15 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16 Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
think: There is no one beyond the power of redemption in Christ. If we are willing to have faith, then God will do the rest for us.
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Luke 13-16
The SimPle, The Sick, The Poor
February 23-24, 2008 — a weekend I will never forget. I did not finish the Mass for the priestly ordination of Fr. Lito Layug. Right after laying my hands on him as the Rite of Ordination prescribed, I left Makati to catch my 12:00 p.m. flight for Cotabato City. Upon arrival at the Cotabato City airport, I was fetched by enthusiastic parish lay workers of the Immaculate Conception Parish and brought to their place in Alamada, North Cotabato. For over a month, the entire parish had been preparing for the Healing Mass the next day, February 24 (Sunday). It was the first Healing Mass in the place, an idyllic town at the foot of the mountains. Fr. Ike, the pastor, told me that his parish covers 18 villages with 82 chapels, mostly accessible only by foot — by hiking, crossing narrow footbridges and climbing bamboo poles.
As early as 4:00 p.m. of February 23 (Saturday), many parishioners from upland villages descended to the parish church for the Healing Mass, bringing their old and sickly folks. They spent the night in the cramped parish facilities, bringing along their food provisions. As early as 5:00 a.m. of the next day, they flocked to the Church and patiently awaited for the Healing Mass, the only Sunday Mass that day. After the multilingual Mass, we started the individual pray-over and finished by noon. Most folks stayed on and joined the Rosary prayer and the 45-minute praise and worship that followed. Their faces lighted up. Many came to kiss me and talk to me in dialects I felt and sensed but never fully understood. I am sure they felt Jesus’ embrace for they came as they were — simple, unsophisticated, transparent, genuine and so easy to love.
I then realized why Jesus loved to spend more time with the simple and sinful flock — the tax collectors and those looked down upon by the Jewish authorities. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
Who are the people you love to be with? Why? What makes them attractive to you? Do you also have a genuine human and Christian love for the sick, the sinners and the poor? What do you feel deep inside you when you are with them?
Lord Jesus, grant me a genuine love for the poor, the sick and the sinners in our midst. Help me to be Your presence to them.
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