Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time A Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A: Reflections – Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 11:18, 26-28, 32; Ps 31: 2-3, 17, 25; Rom 3:21-25, 28 and Matt 7:21-27


Jesus, the Rock and Foundation of our Salvation

We are few days away from Lenten Season which begins with Ash Wednesday.  Our Bible readings and reflections are intensely shifting  to  an invitation for us to build our lives around Jesus the Rock of our salvation. We are invited to listen to the Word of God very closely and at the same put them into practice. Our interior and verbal prayer lives must be accompanied with deeds of spiritual and material works of mercy on  any given circumstance we may happen to find ourselves: at school, at home, offices, factories, on the road and here in church community.

This challenge goes back to the time of Moses.  We recall at Moab, during his farewell address to Israel, in the first reading of today, Moses stresses the need to keep those covenant laws, including the Ten Commandments (Exod 20–23) which has its vertical and horizontal dimensions.

Moses reminds the community that those laws written and given to him by God (Deut 5:16-22), which he had taught Israel (Deut 5:31), and was also put and carried around in the Ark of the Covenant (Deut Deut 10:2) is now written in their hearts (Deut 11:18-19). These laws, Moses says we must be careful to do and live them (Deut 11:32).
 These laws are the injunction of love of God and neighbors: worshiping God alone, honoring our parents, seniors, teachers even ourselves, temples of the Holy Spirit, respecting our brothers and sisters,  together with peoples of all walks of life, “Jews and Gentiles," men and women, children and adults, including their properties and opinions.

Jesus the new Moses was so conerned with interior life prayer and faith put into good deeds that he declares in today's Gospel 
(Matt 7:21-27), that “ Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”
For Christ,  our spirituality need not remain on the level of lip services, externalism but in combining our deep faith in Jesus with works of charity that still remain very challenging to all of us today.    In the case of our children, this precepts could be lived by not  talking back to  our parents or by not disrespecting them or be mean to our friends and neighbors. We can live the teachings of Christ by not stealing or throwing stones on the glass windows of our neighbors or abusing drugs, alcohol and ourselves sexually or cheating on exams and home works.
Especially as Lent approaches it can be lived  faithfully by all kinds of works of charity and mercy directed towards our brothers and sisters.  As Paul would put it "the person is justified by faith in Christ apart from works of the Law" (Rom 3:21-25,28).   This is the faith that motivates love, forgiveness, mercy and acts of charity.

Being his style Jesus concludes his message today with the parable of two identical houses built at the same time in the same neighborhood (Matt 7:24-27). But the only difference between them came when the testing time of wind, heavy rain and flood arrived. One of them stood firm because it had a solid rocky foundation, the other fell because it was built on a sandy foundation. Jesus call the builder of the first house, “wise person,” while the builder of the second house he calls a “fool.”
The truth is that the wise person obeys the teachings of Christ and lives it. While the foolish person does whatever he /she likes. He/she does not listen to God. A wise person lives and practice faith, hope and charity. He/ she does not measure truth base only on his/ her limited self-driven view points but by the parameter of the Gospel. With the foundation of deep rocky faith, he/she resists temptation, illness, slander and all kinds of injustices. Without faith, without our foundation in Jesus it will be too easy for us to be swept by temptations like the house built on sand. I have seen people before who are sick,  some have lose  their jobs and loved ones, many persecuted unjustly, yet they would still keep their smiles and the strengths of faith endurance, because they have Jesus as their Rock and Foundation.

Let us pray at this mass that as we get ready to begin Lent we may deepen our personal relationship with Jesus, build our homes on a solid rock, by the way we listen to the word of God and act upon them.
Peace be with you!