October 14, 2022 – Friday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101422.cfm)
What usually influences me? There are many influences in our life. These influences can be in the form people who are significant in our life and so we could become dependent on what they tell us. This means that we could make life-decisions based on the influence of these significant persons in our life. We could be influenced also by our peers and close friends in terms of choices in life and ways of living. Depending on the trend our peers are following, then we could be carefree, careless or careful. We could be extravagant in our spending even beyond our financial capacity because we try to fit in with our group.
In terms of our psychological state, our emotions can be easily influenced by chemical substances especially when it has become our habit to be drunk, to abuse drugs or indulge ourselves into some addictive behaviors. Our attitude towards people around us may also be influenced by our major emotional disposition. Meaning, we could just react out of our emotional impulse. With the surge of information we have in the social media, our “opinions” about politics, economics, religion, history etc. are also being influences by so-called “media influencers.”
When we are surrounded also by mature people, a supportive circle of friends and an encouraging community, then, we are being helped to process our difficult experiences, understand our emotions and being led to discern and decide maturely. Indeed, we may not be constantly aware of these but our actions, words, thoughts and way of life are being influenced by the interweaving influences that we receive.
Having all these influences in our life, as Christians, it is also good that we become aware of these so that our thoughts, our actions, our decisions and the way we respond to the realities of our life will be done in mature way, and in a way that we are able to embrace the inspiration from the Holy Spirit and become life-giving.
This is how the Gospel today sheds significance into the many influences in our life. Jesus continued to denounce the behaviors and the evil intent of the Pharisees and scholars of the law. Jesus warned his disciples, “beware of the leaven, that is, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.” Jesus knew their hearts, corrupted and filled with malice.
The “leaven,” which is typically a yeast, used for the dough to rise, is the very image employed by Jesus of the evil influence that these people bring into the hearts of many. The influence they bring would lead the people away from the grace of God. The strict observance of the law up to its minutes details, becomes the focus. Yet, showing mercy to the sinners and compassion to the sick and the weak is alien to that way of life.
Thus, Jesus challenged them and their way of life that does not believe in the mercy of God. In fact, they cannot recognize God in Jesus because they were so full of themselves. Such influence can truly lead many away from God.
Yet, St. Paul reminds us today, “In Christ we were also chosen… we were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit.” This is the influence that the Lord wants us to realize today. Being chosen by the Lord means that God has already embraced us and accepted us because the Lord wants us and desires our redemption. This promise of the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in us and among us bringing us closer together as a community and allowing our person to grow.
Therefore, we ask the Lord for the grace to make our hearts more attuned and warm to the influences that the Holy Spirit brings into our life. May our thoughts, our actions, and words be more influenced by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. May our relationships, our way of life and our daily dealings with people be influenced by the presence of God dwelling in us so that we may become life-giving people. Kabay pa.