Some of us might have heard of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. On the night of March 24, 1980, as he was saying a memorial Mass for a friend’s mother, he was shot through the heart by some ‘hired’ killers, because he was giving voice to the needs of the oppressed. The day before that he still preached his homily addressing the soldiers in his country, pleading them: “In the name of God, in the name of these suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression.”
Many of us here would also have heard so much of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was just a humble, a seemingly insignificant little old lady but had done so much for all the world. She taught everyone of us not by her words but mostly by her example. Her secret: She always finds Jesus in the person of the poor, the sufferings and the needy. When she touches and looks at the poor person she sees Jesus Christ in them. ‘They are Jesus’ she said. Everyone is Jesus in a distressing disguise.”
Some of us here today might have heard of Cardinal Sin in the Philippines who was instrumental for the fall of the late Dictator and corrupt President Ferdinand Marcos on February 25, 1986. Cardinal Jaime Sin could no longer take the manipulation of the truth and the corruption in the government that he called all Filipinos to go out to the streets and protest against Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of people responded to his call. They faced the soldiers in their tanks and guns. They didn’t have guns themselves, but the nuns handed their rosary beads to them, gave them flowers, and tried to persuade the soldiers to side on the truth.
Three different stories of real life experiences but are speaking the same message- the three persons involved were standing on the firm ground. Because of their firm foundation, they not only spoke with authority but they really carried out their words even to the extent of putting their lives at risk, even to death. All of them were not afraid to take risks because they believed that standing for God is worth taking the risks.
In our Gospel today, we also hear Jesus speaking with authority to the scribes and Pharisees. He was teaching ‘something new’ according to the listeners, because he, unlike the scribes has shown that he really was convinced about what he was talking about. He spoke with authority because he knows and is convinced that what he is doing is to fulfil his Father’s mission. He is so convinced of his calling and mission that he made it the ground of his ministry and life on earth. He never took back his words because his words are true. He faced the religious authorities courageously because he knew that he was representing the truth. He even faced and embraced his own suffering and death because he was just wanting to do the will of his Father. He claimed as the truth, and because of that he was crucified.
Jesus taught with authority by doing miracles because he has God as the centre of his life. His relationship with his Father is so intimate and unique that He can claim all authority over everything in heaven and on earth. Jesus takes his authority from God. As his followers we are also called to make God the centre of our lives?
First, is to stand for the truth. The Truth is God, and we are called to stand for it. It is a tough call for us because standing for the truth also means sufferings, crucifixion, humiliations, etc. But if we have God as the centre of our lives, we would realize that we really don’t have to be afraid of anything else because God would become our refuge, shelter and strength. If God takes on our lives, we can do unexpected and even unimaginable things. Jesus himself has shown us this. Archbishop Romero, Mother Teresa, Cardinal Jaime Sin, were able to do this, and so are we. I can understand why it is hard for us to make ourselves available for God because our human tendency tells us to own, contain and even control God. We exercised this tendency when we say or sigh: ‘Oh God should have done something about this’ or ‘God should not be doing this to me’, etc. Sometimes however, the problem with us is not that we ‘can’t do it’, but ‘we just won’t do it.’ But the question for us is ‘What is the truth?’
Second, is not to worry about many unnecessary things in this world as expressed by St Paul in our second Reading today. Yes, we may worry about Djokovic being defeated by Nadal in the Finals of the Australian Open tonight, but the situation of the Asylum seekers are worth worrying more. What we are to worry about is how do we make ourselves available for God to be his instruments of love, care, forgiveness, hope for all his people. But then again, if Jesus Christ is in us, we need not to worry about many things, St Paul would assure us this when he said to the Philippians: ‘I can do everything’ he said in his letter to the Philippians ‘Because of Christ who strengthens me.’ (Phil 4:13).
Third is to open our hearts for the Voice of God that we hear today as we said in the Responsorial psalm. This Eucharistic Celebration today is a concrete evidence that God is speaking to us: through the Word and the Sacrament. Through our participation in this Holy Mass, in singing, in listening, in responding, even in silence, we are making ourselves a place of encounter with our God. Let’s just listen to him. By coming frequently to the Holy Mass we are welcoming God to come to us as our spiritual food and drink that assures us of eternal life after this earthly life.
As we continue our celebration of the Holy Eucharist today, let’s examine ourselves where is God in our lives. Is he at the centre or in the far dark corner whom we only call upon when we need him?