Reflection on Hebrews 7: 17 by Sr. Maria Venidora, SND.
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Reflection on Hebrews 7: 17 by Sr. Maria Venidora, SND.
(Listen to the Podcast here)
“This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”" - Hebrews 7: 1-2 (NIV)
A person is known to have 'a big name' not only because of heredity. It is determined by how he lives his life. Melchizedek was a priest who had a noble position in the history of the life of the Israelites (verse 1). Abraham who was called the father of believers had a status that was no less honorable. They both lived in mutual respect (verse 6-7).
The author of Hebrews points out that Melchizedek was a king and therefore received an honor from Abraham. More importantly, he was the priest of God Most High, and thus received tithes from Abraham. This purpose was put forward later by saying that Melchizedek was the priest of God before the institute of the Levitical priesthood. In the accompanying section, namely verses 2 and 3, it is stated that Melchizedek did not have a list of descendants and there was no substitute. His birth or death was not recorded. His life record shows that his days had no beginning and no end, and because of it he was made the same as the Son of God. The absence of input regarding the time of his birth strengthens Melchizedek's typology in relation to Christ. Thus Psalm 110: 4 emphasizes the immortality of the Melchizedek priesthood - which is forever.
Melchizedek had an initiative to honor and bless Abraham who came home after defeating other kings. Accepting the award did not make Abraham proud. Abraham reciprocated by giving Melchizedek an offering as a priest, which is a tenth of all the best spoil (verse 4). The two great men had shown mutual respect.
In this life, we have met our neighbors with various characteristics, nations, habits, and different backgrounds. Hopefully we can respect each other and strive for a better life together. Do not use our strength as a tool to demean others. We can pray to God so He can give us the sincerity in respecting others. The world will be more peaceful when everyone is willing to work for mutual respect.
Reflection on Hebrews 7: 1-10 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz
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"The elementary doctrines of Christ" – Hebrews 6: 11 (RSV-CE)
Sometimes it is good to ask yourself what your faith is about? Sure, you are Christian. So there are some fundamental truths you should accept. But let us ask ourselves about our personal experience of faith?
As Catholics, we have the official teaching of the Catholic Church: teaching about sacraments, resurrection, and eternal life. We do not want to disobey this teaching. But we just reflect on our personal relationship with God.
There are some simple questions: Why do I pray? Why do I open the Scriptures? Why do I attend Eucharist and confess my sins? Does it happen because I was taught to do that or there is anything else?
Each day I am looking for the Lord. I try to hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I search for God's light to make the right decisions. In addition, I receive heaven's gifts in the holy sacraments. Thus, I partake in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.
Consequently, I can testify that God's word is good. Meditating and sharing the Good News make me glad and peaceful. From the Lord, I get the strength not to give up but carry my cross. I also look forward to the heavenly kingdom.
Therefore, I am not going to abandon my faith. Surely, I feel sorry that my faith is so weak. But I ask for God's forgiveness. Especially for all my sins when I was crucifying the Son of God. I am ashamed of all mistakes which made the Lord suffer in my brothers and sisters.
Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless me and strengthen my faith. Amen.
"But solid food is for full-grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil." – Hebrews 5: 14 (ASV)
In our reading for today, the writer of Hebrews spoke to the readers about their status. He told them that they were just babies in Christ and not mature Christians. The cause of their growth problem was dull of hearing (vs 11). It wasn't because they were deaf, but because of their refusal to do what the Bible instructed them to do. They picked and chose the Scripture that they wanted to obey. This had cost them their maturity. They weren't able to be partakers of the strong meat of the Word (vs 12). It was just too much for them.
The writer made a comparison between the babies with the milk and the mature person with strong meat to show the readers of the book to examine their spirituality or their walk with God. The babies that can only handle milk are the believers who never grow up in their walk with God. Christianity is just a façade of spirituality to fulfill their own needs. As a result, they have become soft Christians. Just like Job's wife who told Job to curse God and die, soft Christians don't last when bad times come their way.
The writer urges the readers to move from babies’ status to mature Christians’ status by "having their senses exercised" (vs 14). In other words, the believers must start doing what the Holy Scripture said. Full obedience to the Word of God will give the believers the exercises they need to grow. By doing so, the believers will become a godly discerner that has been molded by the Word of God.
Believers, God has called us to love Him, to obey Him. What is your status? Are you in full obedience to the Word of God? Are you following His commands?
We all know that although we have been saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we still could fall into committing sin. For Jesus himself encourages us to pray and guard ourselves from temptation, as the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).
Temptation lurks everywhere. The world offers worldly pleasure that would cause us to lust and forget the holiness expected from the followers of Christ. Love for the world is also including running after money and make it our main goal. Not to mention the everyday sins - be it impatience, anger, arrogance, uttering harsh words, favoritism in loving people, neglecting our loved ones, laziness to seek God in praying or reading the Bible and many more.
Based on my personal experience, sin would make me feel far from God. As a kind of perfectionist, I was ashamed with myself and thus unable to pray and read the Bible well. I would stay away from God. A friend of mine once shared his struggle on fighting sin. He said, “But where else could I go except to Jesus…” which I found so deeply true.
Where else could we go to get ourselves cleansed? To get rid of the frustration as we fight over sin? Our reading today reminds us of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, who has made the atonement once and forever for us. He is able to empathize with our weaknesses as he has been tempted in every way – yet he did not sin.
When we sin, let us not even run away from Jesus. No matter how heavy or shameful the sin might be. He has won over sin by sacrificing His own life and receiving the wrath of God as a replacement for us. “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Heb 7:25).
How great it is to know that Jesus lives to intercede on behalf of me before God the Father! I was touched by His understanding. He knows who I am. I am only dust - incapable of doing good things, but enabled by the Holy Spirit who works inside me. I thank Jesus Christ for because of Him this verse is real – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb 4: 16). All the glory be to my God in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reflection on Hebrews 4: 14 – 5: 10 by Desire Litaay
The audience of the letter to Hebrews was the Jewish Christians who knew all the details of the Old Testament, especially the five books of Torah and Psalm. We have a clue, in the other chapter, that the people of this audience were facing persecution and imprisonment, because of their association with Jesus. Some of the community were walking away from Jesus and even abandoning the faith. The author urged to remind his audience, which is Messianic Jews, not to accept local Jews teaching that was contrary to Christian faith and to keep loyal to the Messiah.
One of the teachings the author exhorted the audience was that Jesus was greater than Moses, the most important prophet in Judaism. Moses was a faithful servant in God’s church, BUT God, who is the builder of the church, has all the glory. Jesus, the Son of God, is in charge of the Church.
So, who is the Church? The church is you and me, our self, if we walk with Jesus and never abandon the faith.
Difficulties in life can make us walk away from Jesus. The first example is the life pressure during the pandemic - such as losing jobs and economic fallout - which has taken a toll on families. Some of us try to control our lives and solve problems with our own strength and mind. Others tend to take the way out that the world offers by compromising our commitment to Jesus. Second, we are leaving in the era of overloaded information. Too much mislead information and religious persecution during pandemic around the world could lead us to abandon our faith. According to the letter to Hebrews, we can see how crucial it is to stand strong in our faith. No matter what position we face.
So then, let us not be like the rebelled Jews who left Egypt - led by Moses, but never entered the Promised Land. God warned the Israelites to persevere in their faith, but most of the first generation did not. They wandered in the wilderness and died, never reached the promised land.
Today, what is our “Promised Land” according to the Letter to Hebrew? It is Salvation - the new creation. God never boasts about the salvation. He never lies. All the books of the Bible show that God is consistent in his promises.
Then, how do we achieve our Promised Land?
1. Do what God asks us to do.
2. Persevere and when things get tough, do it one step at a time.
3. Stand strong in our faith in Christ. No matter what.
Reflecting this passage, I was enlightened that God almighty is a consistent God. As a quite logical person, I need a longer time to grasp the meaning of salvation. Today I am certain that God is not just boasting about the salvation through Jesus Christ. The Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) shows how consistent God is in His promises. The letter to Hebrews shows the connections clearly. Every promise He said He fulfilled it. Now or later. Immediately or in thousands years. Salvation, the new creation, does really exist.
"Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord comes...” – James 5: 7a
Brothers and sisters,
How patient are you in this pandemic time to stick to your house while working and learning from home? To obey the health protocol? Since last year, we are prisoned in our home and required to carry out the government regulation. It is not easy, isn’t it? We deal with the restriction of our freedom to gather together with our friends or travel to exciting places. During this pandemic, maybe, some of us experience the decreasing benefit in working even loss of employment. Here, our patience is tempted and our perseverance in dealing with failures is challenged.
Last year, when the early pandemic hit my life, I had to study from home. There were many assignments I had to do and accomplish. Initially, I complained because I had no spare time to do my private activities. Slowly, I could adapt to the new situation. I did not grumble about the condition as I could not change the situation. On the contrary, I changed my way of thinking to view that event from another perspective. I remember a quote, “Rather than curse the darkness, it’s better to light the candle”.
James 5: 7 advises us to “Be patient”. The word “patient” - according to Oxford Dictionary – is related also to the meaning of "a person who is receiving medical treatment, especially in a hospital". It means that “be patient” contains our behavior to persevere in enduring the suffering. Thus, when James advises us to “be patient” we are asked to have perseverance in a difficult time. In James 5: 11, it mentions a prophet name as an example. His name was Job. He was an innocent person though he was suffering in his life. He lost his richness and children, and for seven years, he got skin disease on his whole body. However, Job saw what happened to him with grateful feeling.
Today, we are celebrating Ash Wednesday and begin the Lenten season – forty days before Easter. It is a spiritual journey to be aware of our humanity. On one side, we are God’s image, but on the other side, we are like dust – insignificant in the presence of the Almighty God. We are asked to implement abstinence and fasting while praying and accompanying Jesus in his suffering.
Let us ask God to encourage us during this spiritual journey to be more patient and persistent. We are sure that in the name of Jesus, we can. God bless.
Reflection on James 5: 7 - 12 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD
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Every start of the year, a business unit head usually holds a meeting to present the 90 day, 1 year, 3 year and 10 year plan to the whole organization. This is for all the members of the team to get a clear picture of the direction of the company and what is expected from each one.
This particular year, I presented what we have accomplished last 2020 and where we want to go this 2021. I ended the presentation reminding my team that while I trust in our capabilities, the most important thing that we must do is to ask God to bless our plans and then offer our best work to Him.
When we ask God to steer us in the right direction, which is not a one-time conversation with Him, but a series of committed prayer or listening time, there is peace and that extra boost of confidence. That will help us sail through the rough times, and help us to be humble and even more dependent on Him in good times.
Most plans fail, but God does not. No risk mitigation planning could have prepared us from the pandemic that has started last year. It has upended all normal routines in our lives and remains a threat to our health, ministries and source of income. While it is not an experience we will be glad to look back on and cherish few years from now, this extraordinary time has shown us that even the grandest of plans can fail. It is only God who can bring our vision into fruition – if He wills it.
Three things we can see from the gospel story today. First, a humble attitude. A leper said to Jesus, "If you want, you can purify me". This shows an attitude of utter humility and submission. The leper does not demand to be healed, but he pleads with great humility.
Whether in personal prayers, we always demand that our prayers be answered. Are we patiently waiting, or vice versa - demanding that those prayers be answered quickly by God? In my personal reflection on prayers, I experienced that God first granted my need which was once my wish. Each of my prayers also requires my real effort and action to make these prayers come true. If I just simply say a prayer and ask for a miracle, it might be longer than expected.
Second, love. The love that Jesus taught transcends all boundaries, both physically and mentally. Today we celebrate Valentine's Day. The question is: Is it only on February 14th that we share our love with one another? Aren't we obliged to have compassion towards each and every one? Not only because we are Catholics, but because of our nature as humans, believers, and creatures who are interconnected and complement one another.
Third, human nature after receiving what they want is often ungrateful. After being cleansed, Jesus advised the leper not to make Jesus' name public. Maybe Jesus didn't want to be famous or known by many people. It also shows a great attitude on humility. He doesn't like showing off. The leper does not know how to be grateful and appreciate the message of Jesus. Instead, he spread the name of Jesus publicly and as the consequence Jesus couldn't enter the city openly.
Sometimes we can't keep secrets very well. We like to spit things that are really our privacy and affairs. We sometimes get too involved in the affairs of other people's lives without realizing the many positive things that those people have given us. We may take the advice given lightly. We become indifferent and only seek advantages from others. We tend to choose friends who give us material and monetary benefits, and think that those who are not in the same direction with us are enemies to beat. In fact we can pray! We can actually learn from those we look down on – those underprivileged or even from people who are not in line with our mindset.
We learn from Jesus to get along with anyone, also to help people with problems. We also learn from the person who was cleansed from leprosy to know how to be grateful, how to protect the good names of others. Keep them private - it is not to be vomited in public!
My dear brothers and sisters,
We have many opportunities to use wisdom to rebuke, lead, and teach our neighbors or families. At that time we need wisdom that comes out of gentleness so that the actions we take are good and in accordance with God's will. I want to say that gentleness doesn't mean weak or sweet, but true and firm.
This passage shows us that there are two kinds of wisdom. First, wisdom that comes from above – from Heaven. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (verse 17). The purpose of this wisdom is to fulfill what is wanted from Heaven among us on this Earth. As taught by the Lord Jesus in his prayer – The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Second, the wisdom that comes from this world. It comes with jealousy, selfishness, boasting, lying, confusion, and all evil deeds (verses 14-16). We must realize that whoever keeps such wisdom must end up in punishment. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Brothers and sisters,
As God’s people, we must have the wisdom from above. How do we get it? Heaven is a source of great wisdom. Therefore, to get this wisdom, our life must have a connection with Heaven. We must build a good relationship with God through our prayers and worship God earnestly. When we pray and worship God sincerely and seriously, we are connected to Heaven.
So, my brothers and sisters,
As I reflect on this chapter, I realize that what Saint James said was true. In reality, our tongue is just a small part of our body, yet one of the most important senses in every human being. With a tongue, we can taste tasty foods. With that tongue, we express our feelings and happiness by saying the loveliest words to others. With the same tongue, we bless the Lord through prayers and chanting hymns. But with our tongue also, we kill other fellows.
As Saint James said that tongue is also a fire, a restless evil, and full of deadly poison. It can burn those whom we do not like. Contemplate our days, sometimes we may witness or encounter lots of discrimination or favoritism based on status or wealth or different religions in our societies. People are easily judged or violated by others without compassion. It may not through war but words that are often irresponsible.
In today's Gospel, the Lord Jesus cast out a demon who possessed a daughter of a Syrophoenician woman. Even though at first the Lord Jesus responded to her very harshly, the woman accepted his words patiently, calmly - full of faith. Because of her attitude and openness to God, her daughter was healed.
Today the Catholic Church commemorates the World Day of the Sick. We are often not physically sick but mentally because we are bound by hatred, resentment and hurt. Let us imitate this Syrophoenician woman who was patient and calm even though she received harsh words and treatment.
Sometimes harsh rebuke and words are one of God's teachings for us to be more patient. May we not return evil for evil. Let's pray that God will heal all our hurt and inner wounds.
God’s Word has always been about love. A love that encompasses and a love that includes everyone. For today’s scripture, we are reminded not to discriminate. We are invited to be like Jesus. Such as He came for everyone, we are invited to love everyone in equal measure.
We are invited not to look down on the poor and raise the rich to pedestals. It is so easy to fall into the trap of judging our neighbors by the standards of this world. We are reminded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and to look at others with mercy instead of judgment.
God bless us all and may God’s love shine through us.
"Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires" (James 1:20)
Anger is one of the seven major sins. In our daily life, we often don't realize it. We get angry when something is not going the way we want. Sometimes small problems become a great problem because of our anger. Where does all this anger actually come from - if not from ourselves? Anger arises because we want the other person to be perfect according to our will, according to our standards. Why we want others to follow our standards if we realize that all humans are unique?
Some people in this part of the world may resemble but they will never be the same. Likewise behaviors, words and actions of other people are not always the same as what we expect. Never expect others to behave the way we want. We ought to first reflect within ourselves. Am I perfect in their eyes? When we realize that we are all the same, then we will behave well without anger.
On Calvary , Jesus was never angry. He never cursed those who crucified Him. Instead of getting angry, He prayed for them. As His followers, we are also invited to practice praying for people who make us angry. Pray for ourselves too, that have caused others to be angry with us. We need to learn a lot from Jesus.
Blessed who endures trial. —1 Jas 1:12
You need to face trials in your life. How many trials have you already experienced in your life? Which of them do you still keep in your memory? Some of them are more and some of them less painful. You can call the most difficult one - the cross of your life.
With the grace of God, you face these struggles and overcome them. You are able to do that because you believe in loving God. You also follow the example of Jesus Christ who took his cross and fulfilled the will of his Father. The Son of God prayed in Gethsemani and got the strength from above to carry his cross. He was tempted to choose his own way but he stayed faithful until the death on the cross.
Obviously, you can follow your own ideas and desires. You might be easily deceived by evil spirits and people. Consequently, you commit sins and live far from God. But such deeds bring death. You feel it when you do something bad and make the wrong decisions. Your soul slowly becomes depressed and you cannot enjoy your life.
As a Christian, you need to ask for divine inspiration from the Father of light. You should be faithful especially when you are in trouble and experience suffering. You are to trust God who prepares everything which is good and perfect. Be strong with the word of truth which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection on 1 James 1:12-18 by Fr. Józef Trzebuniak SVD
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. —1 John 5:21
The Bible clearly warns us repeatedly against idolatry (e.g., Gen 35:2, 1 Cor 10:7, 14; Lev 19:4, Jdg 10:13, Exo 20:3-6).
An idol is anything that might take God’s place in our hearts. It can come in different forms, such as relationship, family, image, status, position, work, comfort, money, pride, success, ambition, and the list goes on.
Just like everything God had created, biblical warnings serve a purpose. They are designed mainly to benefit us and allow us to have an abundant life rather than restrain us.
God has been using the pandemic to help me focus on Jesus and understand who He is. He has been using it to expose my idols, which are consuming my time away from Him.
All this time, I’ve been wrestling with God, yet God remains patient. The pandemic became a temporary limp, which reminds me to stop relying on my own strength and to instead fully rely and trust the one and only true and sovereign God.
By God’s grace, I was able to reconsider my life priorities and give up my idols. But God isn’t done with yet—I’m still a work in progress. But thankfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I now desire to run away from my idols and follow His will.
God has replaced the counterfeit gods in my heart with real joy, which allows me to remain grateful amidst challenges. He allowed me to discover the abundant and abiding joy in obeying and serving Him. Praise God!
Reflection on 1 John 5:21 by Ruth Francisco