DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY NON ESSENTIALS, REMAIN FOCUSED ON THE MISSION

MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL FOR YOUR SELFLESS LOVE

HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER. MAY 10, 2020

“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at the table”

My dearest friends in Christ,
With the joy of the Risen Lord, I welcome you to this special moment of encounter with God Who speaks to us in the readings. May this encounter transform and renew your life.

The readings of today remind us how the Apostles resolved disunity that threatened the early Church by fashioning out of it, a serving and worshipping community; thus keeping alive the memory of Christ who is the Truth, the Way, and the lLife.  

Each one of us has a special mission ordained by God. To fulfill that mission, we must remain focused lest we become distracted by many side attractions. The Church today more than before, needs people who are focused on the mission of proclaiming the Good News .There are many things that are competing for our attention daily, so much so, that the spiritual resources we need to remain focused on our mission are greatly reduced. The devil has restrategized and has devised new ways to steal our attention from spiritually to physically rewarding activities.

In the first reading, the devil tried to corrupt the Church from within, by creating opposition within the rapidly growing early Christian Church. It came as a complaint against the Hebrews by the  Hellenists saying that  their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food.  This strategy , though, was unsuccessful in stopping or slowing the work of the Church. Now the devil hoped to “divide and conquer” by raising one group of Christians against another. The Hebrews tended to regard the Hellenists as spiritual compromisers of Greek culture, and Hellenists regarded the Hebrews as holier-than-thou traditionalists. There was already a natural suspicion between the two groups, and the devil tried to take advantage of that standing suspicion. The early Church took its responsibility to help and support widows seriously because they often had no other support; but they also expected these widows to serve the church faithfully (1 Timothy 5:3-16). So there is a possibility that the widows were not actually neglected but that the Hellenists imagined that they were and complained. Just as I said earlier, if you do not remain focused on your mission the devil will devise ways to distract and lure you away. The Church has a principal mission of proclaiming the Good News. While not relegating charity to the poor to the background, the Church is not essentially an NGO or charity organization. It is  a spiritual entity that supplies both the spiritual and bodily needs of the faithful. To emphasize the material more than the spiritual is a deviation from the norm. So, in order to keep  the mission of evangelization which is most important afloat,  the Apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, chose  7 deacons who were  good and reputable men and entrusted them with the mission of service, especially sharing food.  The Apostles then  focused more on the ministry of prayers and preaching the word of God. “Therefore, pastors must not think that they have so done their duty that they need to do no more when they have daily spent some time in teaching.” – Calvin

The division in the church was orchestrated by two factors: mutual suspicion between the Hellenists and the Jews and secondly, material resources. These two factors to this day have continued to be a source and a cause of friction leading to various factions among the clergy and the Christians. We all must realize that we cannot maintain the unity of the Church if we allow mutual suspicions and material benefits to distract us from the noble mission God has entrusted to us. While we all need material supplies, and works of charity to the poor, we must maintain checks and balances in order not to allow it to be a source of disunity among us. We must follow the example of the Apostles in handling administrative problems by choosing not just people dear to us or related to us,  but people who have the gifts and spiritual disposition to carry out the missionary work of God. The Apostolic approach for me remains a model for solving administrative issues in the Church today. I strongly believe that it is the work of evangelization ( preaching and prayers) and not the sharing of food, that draws people more to God, as we see in the increase of the early Christian community. Although people today may be attracted to the Church because of material benefits, such people often do not grow strong in faith if the material benefits do not lead them to Christ.   

We all must remain focused on the mission we are called to discharge. Don’t give the devil the opportunity to distract you from your purpose in life. Outside the Church, there are many such distractions coming our way daily. We need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to find ways to handle such distractions in order to focus on the essentials.  ” I just follow God’s lead one step, one day, and one opportunity at a time. The hardest part is not becoming distracted.” – Carlos Wallace

As Thomas does in the Gospel, we have to ask, “…how can we know the way? ” Jesus answers Thomas’ question with, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through  Me.”  The basic doctrine of Judaism is that Yahweh is the Way the Truth and the Life. Hence, Jesus is making a revolutionary claim that He is equivalent to Yahweh. Jesus also declares that He is the safest and surest way to God; thus discrediting the notion that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God , or that organized religion is unneeded and only living a good life of sharing love is necessary to reach God. Jesus, however, is the Way which He calls narrow because it is *The Way Of Focused, Loving, Humble, Sacrificial Service.*  The question we all have to ask ourselves today is – Am I still following the way to actualize my mission or goal in life or am I being distracted by side attractions?  I was told of the story of the young man whose father sold a piece of land and sent him to start a business in a big city. He was distracted by city ladies and invested in them instead of investing in his business until he went begging for food and returned home dejected. We need three basic things to remain focused in life. 1.By accepting Jesus as the Truth through learning and practicing what He has taught us, as given in the Bible and in the teachings of the Church. Without knowing the truth, you will remain in darkness and endless search for meaning In life . 2. By sharing the Divine life of God through making use of the means Jesus has established in His Church. 3. And finally through prayers. Each day we are confronted with new challenges forcing us to make decisions to remain focused on our mission. We need the inspiration of the Holy spirit to discern the truth and to make the right decisions. It was the Holy Spirit who guided the Apostles to decide on choosing the deacons. We too can handle the distractions of life and maintain our inner peace and unity with others by following the prompting of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit leads us like a mother. He leads His child by the hand…as a sighted person leads a blind person.” – St. John Vianney

Christ did not make a vain promise when He said: “Whoever believes in Me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father.”  Yes, we can do all things through Him that strengthens us (cf. Phil 4:13) if we remain focused and follow Christ, our way to God. Many today are claiming to be the way. Many religions and pastors are claiming to possess the truth and many still are promising to give you a better life, often at the expense of your worship and adoration to God. Be careful dear child of God!  If you truly believe in God and worship Him wholeheartedly, you are unstoppable and insurmountable.

May Christ live in you and may His Holy Spirit direct you to walk on the path that leads to Heaven where Christ has gone to prepare a way for you. Keep it in mind in your daily struggles that someday you are going back home. Christ is coming again to take you to where He has prepared for you. Do not miss that opportunity to be there.

I keep you and your family always in my prayers. ©️Clem C. Aladi (2020)

The word of God is alive and active…

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