How God looks at us...
Anniversary celebration El Shaddai Amsterdam
On saturday the 4th of november the charismatic catholic Philippino community of El Shaddai celebrated its anniversary, with a joyous celebration in the Vredeskerk, where they have their H. Mass on sundays. We reflected on the gospel of this liturgical day, where Jesus a little parable about taking the lowest place.
Several priests concelebrated. The Philippine chargé d'affaires was there too and spoke a few words at the end of the celebration. The ambassador was in Manilla for a meeting and apologized.The choir sung beautifully and full of enthusiasm and many people where there to attend the celebration.
How God looks at us...
EL SHADDAI Saturday 4 November, Lk. 14, 1, 7-11
How is God watching us?
He is watching us with compassionate love.
He is not watching us like the Pharisees and the people
in that house of one of the leading Pharisees,
we heard about in today’s gospel! No!
There they were observing Jesus carefully,
but not out of love;
no, they wanted to find something
that would allow them
to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing.
They keep an eye on Him
looking for an opportunity
to humiliate Him and to judge Him.
Slander and gossip
Surely, we too happen to meet such people,
persons who are very judgmental
and inclined to gossip about others.
And maybe we would have to admit
that we ourselves sometimes
speak about others not in the right way.
Slander and gossip are not quite
the best apostolic activities for a Christian,
but they are widely spread.
Let us be different.
Let’s talk about what edifies
and about positive things
that might inspire others to live
a good and Christian life.
Let’s look at each other with merciful love.
Sure, hardly anybody is perfect in this field,
but let’s try to respect in our words and deeds
the human dignity of other people.
A vindictive God?
Some people feel that God is observing them
like these Pharisees do;
they can’t get rid of the impression
that God is a severe, vindictive, revengeful Lord;
some feel that God is just looking at them
in order to see whether they are doing wrong
and to punish them.
But those people are wrong,
their whole idea of God is a mistake,
it is an image of God
that does not come forth from Revelation,
at least not from the New Testament,
where God is revealed to us as Love.
He loves us already, if we are still sinners;
His love for us is not less
if we have sinned, no!
He continues to love us.
That is what Saint Paul teaches us today
in the first reading form the letter to the Romans.
There Saint Paul is dealing with the question
that came up so many times in the
two thousand years of history of Christianity:
Did God reject the Jewish people
because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Saviour?
“No, of course not” Saint Paul answers,
“the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable”
and so is His love, for them and for us.
That too is what the life of Jesus Christ teaches us:
God came into this world
not because of the virtues
and the excellent performance of mankind,
but in order to free us all from the burden of sin.
So, that is the way the Lord looks at us,
even if we have sinned greatly:
He wants to save us,
He wants to show us His mercy,
He wants to encourage us
and help us to make a new start.
He is the good Father
who is there for us with His arms wide open.
So, let us thank God that He
does not observe us in a judgmental way,
not like the Pharisees,
but with compassionate love,
full of the desire to set us free and help us.
And this merciful look with which He sees us,
should inspire us
to do the same
and look at our fellow man
with this compassionate love,
that we learn from Jesus.
How do we look at each other?
If we despise others or judge them
in a negative way,
tell gossip or slander,
than we put ourselves
above that person we judge,
we make ourselves superior to them
and we are divisive.
But Jesus came down from heaven,
He was the greatest,
He was worthy of the highest honour.
But He took the lowest place,
was born in a stable and placed in a manger,
he died on a cross,
that was the place that Jesus took!
In the little parable Jesus tells us in today’s gospel,
He invites us to follow Him and do the same:
take the lowest place,
be humble and meek,
the one who humbles himself,
will be honoured and exalted by others;
But self-exaltation does not connect us with God,
nor with our fellow-man.
the one who takes the place of honour for himself,
he shows himself as a more selfish person.
A humble person is attractive to others,
he creates community, people get connected
and they may recognize
the humble Jesus in that person.
That is the way Jesus choose:
He was humble, He hated sin,
but He loved sinners
and gave His life for them.
Let us try to be like Jesus
and be humble, loving and merciful.