How God Loves Us and Our Response to Him.
Exodus 19:2-6, Romans 5:6-11, Matthew 9:36-10:8
There was a story of a man who sent his son on an errand to a faraway village. Before He asked the little boy to do this, there was a disagreement between the father and the mother to allow the little boy to go alone.
The mother disagreed that the little boy should not go alone because the place was very far.
This is due to the distance of the place He was sending the little child. Later, the little boy obeyed His father and went.
The father knew that the journey was so far. He did not bother to check up on his little boy. He expected him to be back at least before 4 pm in the evening.
The little boy went and came back even before the time. But when He came back, there was nobody at home. All the rooms were locked. He managed to sneak inside her sister’s room to have a deep sleep due to the tiredness and lack of sleep.
The sister in question was not around. So, when the man and his wife came back, they did not bother to check on him because they knew he went far away.
Around 6 pm to 7 pm, the boy woke up but decided to know how his parents would react in his absence. When it reached 8 pm to 9 pm without sight of their child, they became restless. They could not sleep.
The parents did not know where and how to find their child. They could not eat again, so they came outside the compound walking from one distance to another, asking people if they set their eyes on the little boy. The boy noticed how his parents loved him.
The parents could not eat because of him. They could not rest, nor could they sleep. He was saying to Himself “Imagine how my parents love me”
When the boy came out of the room and greeted his parents, they shouted and ran to him and embraced him deeply.
This is how God loves us so much. As the parents keep seeking the child’s return, God also seeks our return always whenever we go away from Him.
In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give good things to them that ask him? God loves us so much.
He longs to save us. In the same way, we have to respond to Him with obedience. The only way to prove that we truly love God is to obey Him. This is the message of today’s readings.
How God Loves Us
The story above gives us a hint of how God loves us so deeply. If parents can love their children unconditionally, what of our heavenly Father? This is the theme that plays out in today’s readings.
In the second reading, Paul writes that the love of God is made visible through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sense that Jesus Christ died for us even while we are still sinners.
It is not easy for anyone to offer his life for good people, not to talk of someone who offered His life for evil men, sinners, ungrateful people, and wicked generations.
Despite His sacrifices for us, we keep on wounding Him through the sins we commit. Yet, He does not destroy us, He does not eliminate us, He did not give up on us. He continues to wait for our return.
The love of God is excess. In Fact, His love is abundant and radical. Despite our ungratefulness, God still loves us. The love of God for us is inexplicable that He sends His Son Jesus Christ to die for ungrateful creatures like us.
He allows His natural resources, air, sun, water, rain etc to fall for everybody. He continues to expect that one day we shall repent and come back to Him.
2. In the first reading, Moses went up to God, and God called Moses from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself”.
God reminded Moses how He loves His people and was able to save them from the hands of the Egyptians. He declared that he carried them on eagle’s wings which indicates how God carried His people with honour and dignity and made them to be feared among nations.
The point is that God chose Israel as His people. Through this singular privilege, He cares for them, protects them and nurtures them. He was with his people in a time of suffering and sorrow. God saved them from torment at the hands of the Egyptians.
Therefore, God knows that the people may one day choose not to follow Him. God knows how ungrateful we are. He longs for this intimate relationship with His people.
In the same way, this is how God has done a lot for us. God is doing and continues to do a lot for us. God answers our prayers, He loves us in an excessive way. The only thing that we give back to God is ungratefulness.
This is why He reminded them of all that He did and is doing for them. The only thing God demanded from His people is nothing but obedience to Him.
Just like the Israelites did in their own time, we could not also keep to this demand. Rather We repay God with ungratefulness and disobedience to His commands.
God is Always Merciful.
One day a parishioner approaches His parish priest and asks the reason He always preaches about Visitation to the Blessed Sacrament.
The parishioner says that their parish priest always derives Joy in encouraging people to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
The priest always tells them that any soul who develops love in visiting the Eucharistic Jesus is blessed. The Blessed Sacrament is the throne of grace and mercy. Even if one does not get what He or she asks from the Blessed Sacrament, the adorer is hundred per cent sure that He or she will encounter the mercy of God.
God cannot but be merciful. The mercy and graces of God abound in His presence.
In the gospel today, immediately Jesus sees the crowds, He feels so sorry for them because they are like people forlorn and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. This is Jesus for you. He cannot but show us mercy when we come closer to Him.
When Jesus sees the crowd, He tells His disciples that the harvest is rich but the labourers are few. So, they have to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.
Jesus did not send them away, rather Jesus feels for them. He became one in their condition. This is a lesson that any leader must learn.
b. Who actually knows how these people appeared? Maybe they were totally worn out. Jesus sees that the people are deeply suffering. He did not send them away.
He did not express any sign of regret as to why they are following him without giving Jesus anything. Rather, He had pity on them.
When He was sending His disciples, He sent them to the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel.
According to 2nd Peter 3:8-10, it is not the will of God that any souls would lose or perish. In Luke 19:10, Jesus says that His coming is to seek and save the lost.
Therefore, just like He sends His apostles today to the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel, God is also interested in the lost.
He longs to see the unbeliever come to Him. He longs for us to repent and not for us to be destroyed. God demands that we be saved.
Hence, out of ignorance, we always long to be destroyed. We neglect Him and do not even have His time.
Our Response to the Love of God.
In the first reading, God tells Moses, “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself”.
Then God adds, “From this, you know that now if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation”.
Therefore, this is like a covenant. God has reminded them what He does for them and is doing for them. Then, God reminds them of their own obligations towards Him.
Therefore, they have to hold fast to the covenant, if they hold fast to this, then He shall make them a kingdom of priests and a consecrated nation.
Therefore, we also have a responsibility towards God. What this means is that even in this responsibility, it is still for our own good. When we truly obey God, we shall also be the people that we will gain from it.
The Harvest is Rich.
1. After creation, God blessed man in Genesis 1:26-28, God says to them ‘Increase and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it’. We have a command from God to work on the earth.
Then, in the gospel, when Jesus saw the crowds, Jesus exclaims that the harvest is rich but the labourers are few. He says that we have to ask the God of the harvest to send labourers to His harvest.
Therefore, God sends His labourers to work in His vineyard. You may be part of them. We have a big responsibility to obey this injunction and keep to it. Therefore, what this means is that there are many things to be done in this work of God.
There is also something you can contribute to the work of evangelization. We need to be part of this work of touching and saving lives.
This is one of the ways we can repay God for His love. God does not send us into this world to fold our hands. He blesses us with enormous gifts and talents. We have to use them to work.
2. In the gospel, when Jesus summoned His twelve disciples. He gives them authority over unclean spirits with the power to cast out demons and cure all kinds of diseases and sicknesses.
Jesus sends them out, to go to the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.
Jesus does not send just one person. He sends all of them. Jesus does not send them just to one house. He sends them to many villages and towns.
Therefore, we have to widen our horizons of evangelization. Our call is not just limited to a particular group of people, to a small town or just one person. We have to widen our horizons.
3. Also when Jesus sends His twelve apostles, He gives them these instructions:
a.To go the lost sheep of the House of Israel: This involves all those who have lost hope in God.
It involves all who do not want to hear anything about Jesus Christ, and many who have never heard about God before.
This also involves the sinners, the evil men and women and the wicked generation. Our work is not only for those who have already accepted to be with us.
We have to engage those people whose faith have fallen and many who do not care about their relationship with God.
B: To proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand: Jesus sends them to preach about the mysteries and the coming of God’s kingdom which is fulfilled in Him. Therefore, it is a call to change our lives and repent from our sins knowing that our lives are limited here.
Therefore, God sends us into the world to preach repentance for sins. This is the first.
Our presence always should be able to touch the lives of anyone who comes in contact with us. When people encounter us, they encounter Jesus Christ and not the other way around.
C. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: Therefore, this is a call to be light to souls who are suffering, those who are sick, the abandoned, rescue people from lepers’ spirituality and the bondage of the devil.
Raising from the dead involves the act of uplifting the faith of the people. We have to be instruments to raise those whose faith and love of God are dead.
Our call is to reach out also to people whose relationship with God is dead, those whose morality is dead and many whose lives of prayer are dead.
Casting out devils here does not only mean when we shout to expel demons but the ability to be a willing tool to free others from the bondage of sin, demons, leadership problems and political instabilities.
We should not just fold our hands and allow things to go wrong wherever we are. As Christians, our call is to cast out whatever will hold the people in bondage.
D. You received without charge, give without charge: Jesus says that we are given without charge. In the sense that God has willingly given us the gifts, power, strength and talent to do these things free of charge. His graces for us are superabundant.
Therefore, we do not wait to be paid before we do these things for God. Whether people appreciate you or not, always be willing to touch souls.
4. Therefore, the harvest is plentiful and rich. In Fact, the harvest is indeed rich, but those who are willing to work for God from the abundance of their hearts are limited. We need to join in this vocation.
From what Jesus did in the gospel today, you will discover that the harvest is not just a place that is full of enjoyment, where we eat and drink.
The harvest involves the sick, the dead, the outcasts, the abandoned, the depressed, the wicked, those who have lost hope, and many who are blinded by the power of sins.
In Fact, it involves the rich, poor, young, old, political class, ruling class, the peasants etc. The harvest involves all the needs of people. Therefore, what apostolate do you choose today?
There are many languishing in pain. There are many in the hospitals, prisons, the orphans and the outcasts, that is those rejected. Our work and willingness to join this work of evangelization is a way we also respond willingly to God’s love.
When Jesus sends these apostles, none of them said no to Him, in the same way, our response to God should always be in the affirmative.
1. The love of God is so great. God shows us this love every day. He has not withheld His good things from us because we made mistakes. The love of God for us is so great that He still allows us to enjoy His rain and sun without favouritism.
God is so merciful, that like the story in this reflection, He continues to seek and search for us. The point is that God also gives us freedom to choose or not to choose and God does not interfere with our freedom.
Therefore, let us, first of all, understand in this reflection that the love of God for us is so great. Therefore, this is a call to quit thinking that God hates you.
Quit thinking that God loves others more than He does you. Our subconscious mind is what is affecting us and not God. God cannot hate.
This is the reason Saint Paul says that God loves us even though we are sinners. We are the people who always repay Him with indifference.
2. In the gospel, immediately Jesus sees the crowd, and He is filled with pity. Jesus was filled with compassion and mercy for the people. This shows how merciful and deep the love of God is.
Therefore, if we are truly followers of Jesus, we have to emulate these qualities. Our hearts must be led by pity, mercy and compassion. Any leader or member of the body of Christ must be inspired by compassion for the sick and suffering.
This is what truly makes us understand the plight of the people. You cannot be a political leader and your people are languishing in pain. What you can do is to show an I don’t care attitude. We have to be inspired by compassion and love for the vineyard of God.
3. We have to understand that as Jesus calls His disciples today and sends them out, He continues to call us. Jesus still calls, as He calls the twelve.
He is calling you to remember the sick, the suffering, the oppressed and the devastated. In Fact, He is reminding us that we still have a lot of work today.
Jesus is calling us to cast away the devils in our lives, that is anything that is keeping us away from God.
He is calling us to cast away evil. He calls us to cast away hatred, division, dissension and wickedness in our families, towns and villages.
Jesus calls us to continue the loving ministry of Jesus in the world. The needs of God’s people are as great today as then. He calls us to bring Good news to the world that is full of complications, a world of addiction, suicide, confusion, poverty, injustice and many other big needs.
Today, many people still look ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. Our vocation is to reach out to them. We should not be satisfied with the status quo.
4. Now, the consummation of everything is the first reading. God says
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine”
Therefore, what this means is that if we accept to be His instruments of changing the lives of the people, we shall always be His own possession.
This is like a pact or covenant. The love of God is so great. He provides us with whatever we need. He gives us access to a whole lot of possibilities.
God blesses us and provides us with the strength and grace that we need. Then God asks us only to be willing. What He needs from us is nothing but availability and willingness to be His worthy instruments. He promises to be with us always.
These covenants between God and us will be more beneficial to us. What God needs from us is to respond positively to His call.
Our responsibility is to obey and say yes to God, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did and she became a worthy instrument of bringing salvation to the world.
What this actually means is that when God puts a dream into your heart, always be willing to say yes to it. We have to wake up and pursue all the good dreams that God puts into our hearts.
When we say no to God, we remain where we are. Hence, when we say yes to Him, our lives will always change. In essence, we are now ready to be that change that we have been waiting for.
Remember that God says in the first reading “If they will do that, God will make them ‘my possession” among all the peoples. In essence, when we say yes to God, He makes us His own, then we will be a light to the world. We can then stand tall despite the crowd.
5. The problem today is that we do not care. He continues to call us back to Him. The love of God and compassion for humanity is so great. God loves us even when we still do not have His time. God loves even when are running away from Him. He loves us deeply.
God loves us even when we think He abandons us in the time of suffering. Hence, we repay Him with indifference, ungratefulness and lack of attention. Many today do not even have His time.
There are also many works and apostolates to do. The issue is that many do not care. Every day, many souls keep losing faith in God but we seem not to care that, that soul is precious to God. Every work is not only for priests. We have to be part of the work of touching souls.
6. There are many times we have gone to God in prayer. We pray for a change and pray for His intervention. In order to answer that prayer, God then puts a dream into our hearts and inspires us to pursue it. But because of fear and indifference, we refuse.
Because He does not interfere with our choices, we lose that opportunity, yet we continue to pray and cry to God without knowing that we are the cause of our problems.
Another scenario is that somebody somewhere may be praying for something, and the Spirit of God inspires you to help, pray, encourage and do something for that person but because of selfishness, lack of generosity and indifference, we refuse to do that.
When God blesses us, there is a need for that. When God also puts a dream into your heart, there is also a need for that. It is not for you alone. Remember the others as well.
7. In the gospel, Jesus did not send the apostles to their families alone. Jesus sends them out to people with different characters, mentality and family backgrounds.
This underscores the value of serving others with love and generosity. What you are is not for you alone.
What you are will blossom more, if you use it in the service of God and humanity. Let us learn this and respond to God positively, instead of being in one place doing nothing and waiting for manna from heaven. God loves you. He has blessed you, so let us rise up and put our hands to work.
May God bless us and give us the grace to work for Him with our whole hearts. Amen