FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Exodus 19:2-6a | Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5 | Romans 5:6-11 | Matthew 9:36—10:8
Following the 50 days of Easter and the observance of two solemnities, we now mark the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today is also a special occasion as we celebrate Father's Day, a time to honor our fathers, grandfathers, and all those who have fulfilled a paternal role in our lives. During this Mass, our prayers will be directed towards invoking abundant blessings from God upon the living and seeking heavenly joy for those who have passed away.
A father engaged in a conversation with his daughter, expressing congratulations for her academic achievements. As a token of his pride, he decided to present her with his 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut, a vehicle he had owned for numerous years, noting that it had aged significantly. However, before handing over the car to her, he provided her with a task. He instructed her to take the Benz to a used car lot located downtown and assess its value. Following his suggestion, the daughter proceeded to the used car lot and later returned to her father, relaying that they had offered her P5,000 due to the car's worn-out appearance. The father then directed her to visit a pawn shop, urging her to explore the car's value in that setting. Once again, the daughter followed her father's advice, and upon her return, she shared that the pawn shop had offered only P3,000 for the car, taking its age into consideration. Recognizing the potential of the vehicle, the father proposed one final step. He requested his daughter to take the car to a car club and exhibit it to the members. Subsequently, she came back with astonishing news, informing her father that certain individuals in the club had offered a remarkable sum of P1,000,000 for the car. These individuals recognized the car's true value as an iconic and sought-after vehicle among collectors. Seizing this opportunity, the father imparted a valuable life lesson to his daughter, expressing, "The right place values you the right way." He elucidated that if one is not appreciated or valued in a particular environment, there is no need to harbor anger or resentment. Instead, it simply signifies that they are in the wrong place. The individuals who genuinely comprehend and appreciate one's worth are the ones who will value them accordingly.
Did you know that God thinks about you? You are precious in His sight. The passage from Exodus urges us to understand that God conveyed to Moses the immense value of the people. God instructed Moses to remind the Israelites of how they had been lovingly taken care of, rescued from the Egyptians as if carried by eagles. All of this was done with the purpose of making them God's own, a unique and cherished possession, unparalleled on the planet. Furthermore, God clarifies that all of these blessings were not solely for their own benefit. They were chosen by God because of the role they were meant to fulfill for others: to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. As recipients of God's love, they had the responsibility of representing God to the rest of the world.
There is a tale recounting the relationship between a father and his estranged son. The son had fled, causing the father to embark on a quest to locate him. Despite his efforts, the father was unable to find his son. As a final act of desperation, the father decided to place an advertisement in a newspaper in Manila. The message within the ad was as follows: "Dear Emil, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father." When Saturday arrived, a staggering number of 500 individuals named Emil showed up, each seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. We were unlovable and undeserving, yet Christ still died for us. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul underscores that God's love for us is vividly illustrated by the fact that He dispatched Jesus Christ to perish on behalf of our sins, even when we were still entangled in wrongdoing. This act of love is extraordinary and surpasses our ability to fully comprehend it. It is a love that exceeds all human understanding and remains beyond our complete grasp. If God exhibited such immense love and generosity by sending His Son to endure suffering and death for us while we were sinners (considered as "enemies"), then it is even more assured that now, as we have been reconciled with God (referred to as "friends" and justified), His love will lead and safeguard us until the very end.
Dr. Henry's young daughter made a promise to her father that she would grow while he was away on a trip. Upon his return, she eagerly welcomed him with the words, "Daddy, come home quick! See how much I grew!" They proceeded to their home and measured her height against the closet door. It might have only been a minuscule increase of a millimeter or two, yet the little girl enthusiastically exclaimed, "Daddy, I told you! I did grow!" Later, after her excitement had subsided, she posed a thoughtful question: "Daddy, why do grown-ups stop growing?" Her father, finding her query amusing, responded with a playful answer: "Well, they stop growing taller, but they start growing wider." Although we smile at his response, it brings attention to the underlying seriousness of the little girl's question. Why do adults cease to grow? I'm not referring to physical growth, but rather spiritual growth.
The Kingdom of God is set up in our hearts and we must be aware of his reign. In today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we are prompted to contemplate the significance of the Good News that Jesus instructs the apostles to proclaim. Their mission is specifically directed towards the Jewish people, declaring the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven. While this concept may not hold great meaning for us, it would have carried profound implications for the Jewish community during Jesus' time. Many of them would have associated the Kingdom with the arrival of the Messiah and hoped for liberation from Roman rule, as well as the freedom to worship Yahweh without fear. For some, the Kingdom represented the restoration of the previous Kingdom of Israel. However, Jesus's understanding of the Kingdom extends beyond political or territorial aspects. He teaches that the Kingdom is the manifestation of God's presence in the world. It is truly present within each individual who follows God and seeks to live according to His word. The Kingdom resides within us. Furthermore, when we come together with other faithful believers, the Kingdom becomes evident within the community of believers. When Jesus perceives a multitude of people seeking God and desiring to follow Him, He declares that the harvest is plentiful. How does this relate to our present time? Are people actively seeking God? Are we personally seeking God? These questions present a challenge and an invitation. God invites us to actively search for His Kingdom. And as we embark on this search, we come to realize that the Kingdom is already in our midst. Similar to the chosen people in the Exodus, we may encounter hardships along the journey to discovering the Kingdom, despite its close proximity. On this Sunday, let us pray for a heightened awareness of God's divine presence in our individual lives and in our Christian communities.
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum