Read this week's guidelines and be nourished as you journey with our Community in Cebu.
The Lord is Compassionate and Merciful
(cf. Sir 2:11)
General Theme: God’s Merciful Love
General Objective: To experience the joy of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness that impels the person to desire to live and start anew, with the heart filled also with mercy for others.
Objective of the week:
To lead us more to experience that compassionate and merciful love of God, capable of doing everything for us in spite of our sinfulness.
The Lord cares for each individual, and none of us are considered by Him to lack value. In the times when we are lost, in the different moments in our life, it's easy to be absorbed by situations without seeing the reality that Christ, by the merciful love of the Father is at work in us.
We continue to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is the wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. (MV 2)
God's will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God's desire for our salvation is the primary and preeminent sign of his infinite goodness...so it was that Christ proclaimed that he had come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous, and that it was not the healthy who require a doctor, but the sick. He declared that he had come to look for the sheep that was lost, and that it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that he had been sent...You can be sure that there is joy in heaven, he said, over one sinner who repents. ( Maximus the Confessor: Letter)
Life starts today. Every moment are opportunities for us to experience God’s mercy and grow closer to Him. Let us grab this chance and start living fully.
(St. Martin of Tours)
Looking for the lost
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them—what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, ‘I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.
When we are lost, God expresses deep and genuine concern and compassion that He leaves the comforts of glory to find us and leads us back to His dwelling. The state of being lost is caused by our inability to seek God - to find our way home. For man is responsible for his lost state, so it is up to man to respond to the Lord by means of repentance. Only through penance and forgiveness do we experience once more the joy of His love and start a life renewed in spirit.
In the times when we are lost, do we recognize God's mercy at work in our lives? How am I responding to God’s call of repentance?
Exalting the humble
But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
God hears the voice of our hearts. The burden of guilt from our sins are lifted when we learn to be sincerely open to God of what is in our hearts rather than deceive Him with nice-sounding words or empty words. It is by humbling one’s self that we can reveal what our heart has longed for. When we humble ourselves and pray, we can see past the veil of pride that prevents us from acknowledging our sins.
Has my worldly titles and possessions made me lose sight of God? How open am I to God in prayer? Do I come to Him with sincerity, simplicity and humility of who I am within?
Forgiving our sinfulness
Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Sin can spiritually paralyze us in fear and comfort us in the guilt of the wrong we have done, preventing us to open ourselves and be vulnerable to the goodness, mercy and compassion of God. We cannot sincerely ask for forgiveness if we ourselves do not believe in being forgiven. Living with faith, transforms us from within and leads us to move away from our old ways. Being free from the complications of sin makes us more compassionate towards our brothers and sisters. When we learn to forgive and receive forgiveness, we bring ourselves and others to experience God’s merciful love.
In my sinfulness, how do I look at God's mercy and love for me? Do I sincerely ask for forgiveness for the sins I've done against God? How am I responding to His compassionate and merciful love for me?
Being with a new heart and mind
I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart.
The Lord says, “Now, let's settle the matter. You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool.
God's mercy to us, like an overflowing waterfall - is softening and shaping even the hardest part of a rock. He never stops pouring it out into our hearts until we become aware and sensitive to His love allowing it to transform our lives. In the face of God’s mercy, He comes to us and asks us to allow ourselves to be forgiven, to let his love meet our wounds.
Do I recognize God’s merciful love for me? What are the sins that have deeply stained my life? Lord, by your Word, cleanse me from within.
(St. Albert the Great)
Holding back one’s anger
Once again the Lord spoke to Jonah. 2 He said, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to the people the message I have given you.” 3 So Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to walk through it. 4 Jonah started through the city, and after walking a whole day, he proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!”5 The people of Nineveh believed God's message. So they decided that everyone should fast, and all the people, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth to show that they had repented.6 When the king of Nineveh heard about it, he got up from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth, and sat down in ashes. 7 He sent out a proclamation to the people of Nineveh: “This is an order from the king and his officials: No one is to eat anything; all persons, cattle, and sheep are forbidden to eat or drink. 8 All persons and animals must wear sackcloth. Everyone must pray earnestly to God and must give up their wicked behavior and their evil actions. 9 Perhaps God will change his mind; perhaps he will stop being angry, and we will not die!”10 God saw what they did; he saw that they had given up their wicked behavior. So he changed his mind and did not punish them as he had said he would. Jonah was very unhappy about this and became angry. 2 So he prayed, “Lord, didn't I say before I left home that this is just what you would do? That's why I did my best to run away to Spain! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change your mind and not punish.
But God was merciful to his people. He forgave their sin and did not destroy them. Many times he held back his anger and restrained his fury.
Our God is a merciful God . He shows compassionate mercy to all His people, His children – the wayward as well to the self-righteous. His patience is everlasting. His love far outshines his anger. His love is real and alive in us. He silently attracts us, draws us closer to Him, and gives us joy from within. He has shown mercy on us, that we too might show mercy to those in need. No matter how far have we fallen, His hand guides us back to Him as His people, beloved children.
Looking back at my journey of faith, when have I experienced God’s merciful love? How do I treasure them?
Responding with love
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. 2 “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ 4 For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, ‘Even though I don't fear God or respect people, 5 yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don't, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’”6 And the Lord continued, “Listen to what that corrupt judge said. 7 Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?”
Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.
When we experience God’s love and mercy, we allow ourselves to live life anew. Despite our sinfulness, we are shown gentleness and compassion by our Lord. Let us continue to take a step towards God, and experience his merciful love.
Do I believe in God’s unfailing love and mercy towards us? Is there someone I can extend mercy? In what way can I concretely express the same merciful love that God has shown to me?
33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
1st Reading – Malachi 3:19-20
Resp. Psalm – Ps 98:5-9
2nd Reading – 2 Thes.3:7-12
Gospel – Luke 21:5-19