A Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are already on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. We are now preparing for the coming of the season of Advent. In today’s Gospel our Lord is emphasizing that God is the God of the living and not of the dead. He is the God who would satisfy all our longing here on earth, the God who would satisfy our unquenchable thirst and unsatisfying hunger. With this in mind, I would like to share with you three points: first, to perceive is to be convinced; second, to have a transcendental perception; and third, “God is the God of the living and not of the dead,” who is with us and truly alive in us.
FIRST POINT: It is an undeniable that oftentimes we are uncertain of God’s existence, since he is someone who cannot be perceived through our senses. Oftentimes, many of us are like some of the people in the Bible who only believed when they have already experienced God in their lives. We are only convinced when things are presented to us concretely, when things are right there in front of us. I believe that this is the reason why God himself became man in the person of Jesus Christ the par excellence of all revelation for us to believe in him. Also I believe that this is one of the many reasons why Jesus performed things that are unnatural to human nature for us to be convinced that he is the Messiah. God still needs to prove himself to us humans before we could love him and believe in him. He keeps on loving us though we are not proving and doing anything for him. Indeed it is undeniable that God is present and living in us. We are just apathetic of his presence in our lives.
SECOND POINT: To perceive transcendentally. We are challenged to see, and to seek God in every single moment of our lives, in every ordinary activity that we do, and in every simple thing that we perceive. We need to recognize God, no matter how simple are the things around us. With this, we are likewise enabled to see ourselves on the place of others, most especially the poor and the needy. We are called to gaze on them face-to-face, to share our time and what we have, to see through their eyes, and eventually to lay down our life for them.
To perceive transcendentally is to perceive the suffering Christ in our suffering brothers and sisters. As the late Bishop Oscar Romero once said, “learn to see that the face of Christ is also the face of the suffering human being, the face of the crucified, the face of the poor. The face of Christ is in the poor who ask us for their voice to be heard.” As Christians this is a great challenge for us, to see our Lord Jesus Christ in the poor and the needy, not only economically, but socially and emotionally. We ourselves must not be torturers and destroyers of our brothers and sisters. Rather, we must become helpers and builders of their faith and love in God. God created our eyes to see in small things his miracles. He created our ears to hear those who are calling us for help. He created our noses for us to recognize our own foul ways which shun away the flock from the Church. He created our mouth and tongue to speak and share eloquently his words. And he created our hands to reach out and touch the hearts and lives of the poor and the needy. Through these simple acts, we can prove that God is of the living and not of the dead, and this God is with us and truly alive in us.
THIRD POINT: To perceive Christ in every moment of our lives is to claim that indeed God is really with us. By claiming such, we are able to effectively share Christ. “Nemo dat quod non habet” as the old Latin adage would say. If we do not have Christ it is very impossible for us to share him to other people and we might only bring our brothers and sisters to the hungry wolves that will devour them. We should bring our brothers and sisters not to the wrong path but to God himself.
These things are indeed very difficult to live out, but these things are very much expected in us as Christians. We must always remember that we live in a world that is diverse, multifaceted, and constantly in flux. People nowadays are seekers and inquisitive. They seek not the abstract truth of our preaching and of the message of the gospel but the reality of witnessing them in our own lives. These things are realities that we have to embrace in every day not for earthly perfection or glorification but for our perfection as imitators and followers of Christ. Through these things we can proudly say that our God is the God of the living and not of the dead because he is present in our midst, in our lives and above all in our hearts. May this lead us to serve and love whole-heartedly our brothers and sisters to make them realize that the God of the living is with them through us.
(Arjay B. Flores)