GOD FIRST: A WAY TO INNER CONVERSION AND COMMITMENT PART III
A visiting preacher was really getting the congregation moving. Near the end of his sermon he said, "This church has really got to walk," to which someone in the back yelled, "Let her walk, preacher." The preacher then said, "If this church is going to go it's got to get up and run," to which someone again yelled with gusto, "Let her run, preacher." Feeling the surge of the church, the preacher then said with even louder gusto, "If this church is going to go it's got to really fly," and once again with ever greater gusto, someone yelled, "Let her fly, preacher, let her fly." The preacher then seized the moment and stated with utmost gusto, "If this church is really going to fly it's going to need money." There was silence. Then someone in the back seat cried, "Let her walk, preacher."
Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday or in other words, Passion Sunday. It is the day which marks the first day of Holy Week. Being true to its name, we hear the long narrative of the Passion of Christ. The long narrative underscores Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross as narrated by St. Matthew himself. Moreover, as we dwell on the Gospel further, our commitment is being challenged. Our theme says, “God First: A Way to Inner Conversion and Commitment.” The fact that we have this in our theme is an indication that we recognize the need for commitment in our Church.
Let’s go back to the Gospel. The apostles slept while Jesus was anxious about his impending death; Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver; and Peter, the one who promised to be committed to Christ till death denied him three times. What do these instances in the passion tell us? They tell us that even among Jesus’ followers, commitment has also been an issue and remains a big issue even today. But why? Because people lacked the passion that Jesus has in His own commitment with His Father to the point of dying on the cross. Question is, do you have Jesus’ passion and commitment?
Now, what’s causing the lack of commitment in today’s generation? We can highlight a number of things but let me point out only one: IT IS THE REFUSAL TO LOVE THE CHURCH AS JESUS LOVES HIS FATHER! Yesterday, in our SERRA class I pointed out the essence of the family as a “Domestic Church.” Being a domestic Church, the “home” should run first place where values of the Gospel are taught in the family, and where the initial appreciation of the sacraments must take place. We send our children to Church in order that the Church would form our kids to become good Catholics, when by virtue of our own baptism the family “domestic Church” should already be doing that. To do so is contrary to what our second reading says about Christ that though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God. Jesus humbled himself in order that the will of the Father would come into play. If we love the Church, a living sign of God here on earth, in the same way as Christ loved His Father, then I believe, we don’t need to remind each one about their basic duties in the Church. We don’t need to remind people about their financial obligations to the Church. We don’t need to ask for something which all of us faithful are already aware of.
The starting point of commitment centers around accepting Christ into one’s heart for salvation, and then following Him in obedience and true Christian witnessing. All of us need to make a new commitment to diligently seek to do the will of our Heavenly Father. Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday reminds us of our commitment to the Church as Christ totally loves His Father even to His death. Commitment is a pledge or promise to do something. More than a promise, it is one’s dedication of himself or herself as Christ did in the passion narrative. So now, let the Church walk, run, fly and let us remind ourselves of our basic duty to love the Church as Jesus loves His Father … with PASSION!