Commission by Fr Jerry Orbos SVD

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time C (2014)

The story is told about a mother superior of a small congregation in a remote village. She was dying and she would not eat or drink anything. One of the nuns saw an Irish whisky in the kitchen and poured a generous amount of it into a glass of milk. When the mother superior tasted it, she took one more sip, then one more until she finished the whole glass! After she said her final instructions and goodbye, she closed her eyes. Suddenly she opened them again and said: “Oh, one more thing: No matter what happens to our congregation, don’t sell that cow!” And with that, she expired, with a smile!

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 16, 13-20) Jesus entrusted the church to Peter, giving to him the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. Peter, the rock, was by no means a solid rock. He was weak, shaky and unsteady, but still the Lord put His trust and confidence in him to take care of the congregation. Aren’t we all like Peter? And yet the Lord commissioned us, and took a chance on us. Unworthy and unable as we are, we are called to continue His mission. What a privilege, what a responsibility! What a loving God we have, who trusts us and believes in us!

* * *

Be not proud. As long as we remember our unworthiness, we cannot be “selfie” nor be too self-confident. We have been called not so much because of us as in spite of us. As we journey on, let us stay on the road of humility and be constantly led by prayer and penance. Nobody is indispensable. Long before we came, this world was long in existence; and long after we are gone, this world will long go on.

* * *

Aug. 28 is the feast day of St. Augustine.  Prior to his conversion, he was very proud of his worldly blessings and achievements.  He was very attached too to worldly pursuits and pleasures. But, by God’s grace, he had a conversion when he realized his littleness and sinfulness. Humility was the key. Humility is still the key to a life that is holy, meaningful and free. And it all begins with a sincere acknowledgement and constant awareness of our sinfulness and unworthiness.

* * *

Humility will save the day for our Philippine politics. If only our leaders and aspiring leaders will, in humility, acknowledge their unworthiness and inadequacies and cut down, if not all together put off, their political ambitions, then we will have a better Philippines! The problem is that many are so greedy that they will not give up. Because of pride, they can’t say “No,” nor say “No more!” Please be kind to the Philippines and to the Filipino people!

* * *

Tomorrow is National Heroes’ Day. What is a hero? He is someone who lived and died for something or for someone greater than himself/herself. In other words, a hero is someone who worked hard, suffered much and sacrificed much (even life!) for others. Inversely, a villain is one who hardly works, who enjoys comforts, who has all the perks, who gains much and who keeps on gaining more. Wanted: Heroes, not, villains in the Philippines!

* * *

Jesus commissioned Peter and the disciples to continue His work. He authorized them, empowered them and designated them to do a mission. Too bad that “commission” has taken on a negative meaning when it is used in the context of money, especially in our country today, where projects and transactions move on commission basis.

* * *

We take note of four Filipino missionaries of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) who take their commission to serve the Lord seriously, and have decided to stay on in Sierra Leone where there is an ebola outbreak. Fathers Roy Baluarte, Russel Lapidez, Dennis Castillo and Bro. Jonathan Jamero said: “We are all afraid, but we choose to continue to give hope to them especially this time of difficulties.” We praise and thank God for Filipino missionaries “out there” who have left home, country and family for the sake of the Gospel, braving deprivation, loneliness, sickness and persecution.  Mabuhay kayo!  One with you in prayer and in mission, “co-missioners”!

* * *

We praise and thank God too for giving us a simple, loving, and exemplary Pope who is leading us to be more Christ-like by word and example. He is leading us back to the original meaning of mission and discipleship.

* * *

Think about this: “God uses the difficulties of life to build and refine our character. He uses hurts to make us more like Him.

Trials do not harm us, rather they protect us by teaching us humility and dependence on God. They make us focus on His will and not in our wants. When we allow the hand of God to build His character into our lives, we become the persons God purposed us to be.”

* * * 

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to remember that I am a “co-missioner,” and that the mission goes on. Amen.

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