October 16, 2020 – 28th Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of St. Gerard Majella, Redemptorist Brother and Patron of Mothers, Parents-to-be and their Infants

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A wise man once said, “Never underestimate our power of speech. It can make life better or bitter”. True indeed, the words we use, either written or spoken, for better or for worse, can affect and influence us & others. Like, better or bitter. Simple play of spelling and pronunciation may invoke both courage and discouragement, can be empowering as well as alarming, and may connote many meanings and messages. That is how powerful our words are. They can influence LIFE (yours and mine) for better or for worse, better or bitter.

Along with these words is also a warning that we should also be conscious of our influences, i.e. – either by words or action, we should be careful on how others are influencing you and on how you are influencing others as well. Nowadays, by the words you post, comments you made, posts you shared, you are already influencing others. And the vloggers, life-coaches, and so-called influencers you follow, the book you read, the movies & news you watch are already influencing you. That is why we should be conscious and careful of our influences, and be cautious of our words for it can make or break our lives.

This is what Jesus warns us in our gospel when he said: “Beware of the leaven – the hypocrisy- of the Pharisees”. For Jesus, we should be conscious of the many influences in our lives – and should prefer to choose the life-giving and encouraging influences that recognize our worth and value before God, over and against soul-crushing and life-breaking worldly influences in our lives. Here, Jesus challenges us to direct and allow our minds, heart, life and soul to be influenced by God’s grace & spirit rather than be influenced by rigidity and oppressiveness of our earthly hypocrisy of human laws and practices.

Same way with Paul. He believes that God has a better plan for each and everyone of us, but it can only happen in our lives, if and when we allow God’s will and plans to influence our very lives rather than be influenced by the soul-crushing, demanding, and life-breaking influences of our world nowadays.

Consider St. Gerard. In our Redemptorist house in Caposele, Italy where he lived until his death, you can find at the very door of his room a wooden signage posted by St. Gerard that says: “Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills it.” These words represent the very orientation and spirituality that influence the life & faith of St. Gerard, which is God’s will. For him, Everything (life here & now, has been, & will be) is all about and centers on God’s will. All that has happened, is happening & will happen is a chance-encounter & a fulfillment of God’s will, according to God’s plans & ways, and in accordance with God… rather than of ours, & by ours. These words are reflective of St. Gerard’s single-minded devotion to God & his straight forward messages & influences to all those he has ministered and shared his witness of faith and life.

Again like our power of speech, let us be cautious then of our influences on others & influences in us of others, for it can be life-giving or life-breaking. And like St. Gerard may our influences be of God rather than of men, be for the better than for worse, be for the better & not for the bitter. Amen.

By  Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR 


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