November 24, 2014

The Gospel Today

Memorial of Saint Andrew D?ng-L?c, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):

            In today’s Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, martyrs all, the Gospel account takes on a deeper aspect of offering, and that is oblation.  The widow who gives all the worldly wealth in her safekeeping brings to mind the example of Abraham.  In his old age, God promised the father of nations a son, and descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens.  When Abraham finally receives the gift of fatherhood, God asks him to bring his son, Isaac, to a mountain in order to be sacrificed on an altar.  With his entire lineage on the line, Abraham obeys God.  The Creator, in turn, liberates him from the potential sacrifice, gives his faithful servant prosperity beyond measure, and innumerable descendants.  The models of sacrifice, that of Abraham and the widow, point to the definitive sacrifice of God, who suffers all injustice and dies violently on the cross, an instrument of public humiliation, not for his own benefit but for humanity.  The only motivation behind such an oblation is love.  A perfect love that is capable of doing away with all comforts, including the shedding of His transcendence in order to exemplify the ardor of His love for His creatures, whom He elevates into the status of adopted children.  The love of the Father, who sends His Son into the world, who in turn sends the Holy Spirit to continue His work, manifests itself in this saving work.

            When I ponder this Trinitarian love, originating outside time and continuing until eternity, no complaint of mine is justified.  God provides everything I need, including things that I want.  Necessarily, not all my requests are granted, for they impinge upon other people’s needs and wants.  This dynamic is important, especially since I continually beg God to transform me into the person I ought to be, an imitation of His Son, our Lord Jesus the Christ.  This denial of my wishes purifies my intention to sustain my relationship with God.

            At the beginning of our friendship, God granted me numerous realizations that helped me to put some order into my life.  With his unmitigated help, I disengaged myself from vices that brought me deeper into sin, and embraced virtues that brought me closer to Him.  He conferred consolations upon me that brought me to an ecstatic state, which enflamed my desire for union with Him.  That blazing desire brought me to a radical conversion, which developed my sensitivity to the priestly vocation.

            However, now that I embraced this way of life, challenges threaten my determination and force me to question the veracity of my desire to serve God as a priest.  Unwanted changes in my family relationships, inconvenient truths about the clergy, uncomfortable demands from the formators, and a gap between who I am and who I ought to be weaken what I thought was a robust resolution to obey God’s invitation to the ordained ministry.

            But then again, the examples of Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, Abraham and Isaac, the Widow, and Jesus, prove to me that, human as I am, it is absolutely possible to be an oblation, a religious offering, a person who loves God and his neighbor in a perfect way, that no pain or hindrance is too great to surmount.  Life itself, a God-given gift, can be let go in an unselfish manner so that the good work that God began in me, through God’s own volition, be brought to fruition.

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