October 5, 2020 – Memorial of Blessed Francis Seelos, CSsR
Redemptorist Missionary, Priest
A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (2:2-8)
Brothers and sisters, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the Gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For out appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is out witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we speak praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you., like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
The Word of the Lord.
A reading from the Holy gospel according to Matthew (28:16-20)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with your always, to the end of the age.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Paul expressed intimately to Thessalonica his affection, “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” This statement of Paul was born out of friendship, of journeying together and of discovering together God’s presence and invitations in the community. Of course, this friendship was not without difficulties and challenges but filled with opportunities of learnings and knowing one another.
This relationship was a result of that deep relationship with God. Paul and his co-ministers recognized that their ministry was not out of deceit or impure motives neither a way of pleasing others, but to please God. This tells us that Paul and his co-ministers were filled with gratitude to God. That gratefulness in them filled their hearts.
Moreover, Paul and his co-ministers did not look at or relate with Thessalonians as people different from them, but as their brothers and sisters. Intimacy and affection towards one another without any trace of manipulation or impure motives, were present in their community. This is what made that community life-giving.
What Paul and his friends did was a response to the words of Jesus to go and make disciples. And through their very presence being shared to the people, Jesus’ presence was ever felt as Jesus himself promised, “I am with you always.”
This tells us that in the ministry of Paul, his presence and of his friends and of the people in Thessalonica, they have become a “collective presence of Jesus” because each of them too, was a living presence of Jesus shared to others. Being a “collective presence of Jesus” also means that our community has become the very presence of God that gives life.
The Lord is truly with us. As Christians, we live in the grace of God because God desires to be identified with us and to live among us. Thus, each of us, whoever we are and whatever our status in life, whatever failures and sins we have committed, is being called by the Lord to be his living presence today. It is indeed the desire of God that He will be truly present in the world through us, through you and me.
This means that each of has the capacity and gift to be the presence of God today for our brothers and sisters. This is what we remember also today, as we celebrate the feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a Redemptorist Priest. This German Redemptorist Missionary who was sent to the United States in mid-19th Century, became a living presence of Jesus to his parishioners and to the people whom he ministered as a priest.
Blessed Francis Seelos did not have miraculous works during his lifetime. There were no stigmata and mystical experience in him. The ordinary Blessed Francis just did his ministry and service to the people in an extra-ordinary way.
He took care of the sick and the poor in his parish. He preached well that everyone can understand. He guided people to discover and recognize God in their life. Indeed, in this way, Blessed Francis Seelos became a living presence of God because he was grateful, his heart was filled with joy and confidence in God.
In the same way, God also calls us to be His living presence in our own homes, workplaces and communities. God does not expect us to make miraculous and mystical activities. However, what God wants us is to express our gratitude to him in simple and creative ways that will surely allow us to make our presence as Jesus’ living presence for others.
To be able to become God’s living presence, we need first to listen to Jesus. We are invited to allow the Lord to speak to us and to transform us in the way God desires it to be.Tweet
As Jesus told his disciples to go to the mountain and encounter him there, we too are called to climb our own mountains of failures and mistakes, of successes and joys with others, of our personal difficulties and problems, of our issues and concerns with our work, family and or studies. Remember, even among the disciples, not all of them believed at once, others also doubted. However, the Lord encountered them according to where they were at that moment.
The Lord will surely meet us where we are now as long as we allow him too to encounter us. Let us make an effort in encountering the Lord. Let not our anxieties and fears hold us back because Jesus himself promises us today, “I am always with you.” This is an abiding and faithful presence of Jesus that both brings comfort and challenge, light and growth. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR