Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Keeping the Pledge: Message for the BC 2nd Anniversary

Brothers in Christ 2nd Anniversary

Keeping the Pledge
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
[Jn 3:30]

Keeping the pledge we made of living the way of love is largely contingent upon the grace of God and how we, as Christians hold on to it.   We are able to carry out the good acts that we do only through his grace and never through our own capabilities.

This generation where we live is preoccupied with achievement and self promotion, a generation obsessed with doing something out of one’s own power, in order to be noticed and recognized. The many popularity contests on TV, the hundreds of social network sites where being ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ by the most numbers of fans becomes a status symbol, or the attention grabbing posts, wall photos or profile pictures  are a testament to this “instant celebrity” culture that pervades our generation .  Young people are anxious to receive all the possible attention and approval.  We have made all efforts to draw attention to ourselves and to what we can and have achieved. Regrettably and ironically while we try in vain to focus our life to ourselves, we end up with our lives derailed, obscuring the one who gives the real meaning to our lives – Jesus Christ himself.

We find an opportune time in this another milestone in the brotherhood to stop and reflect on this reality.  Are our efforts to live the Gospel, however wanting, aimed at proclaiming Jesus or at just promoting ourselves?

We have chosen St. John the Baptist as our patron in celebrating our second year.  John the Baptist reminds us of our baptism where we receive our share in the missions of Christ, the very foundation of our Code of Honor.  As we commemorate the day on which we etched this brotherhood in our hearts, allow me to lead you into reflecting about St John the Baptist and on one of our Christian missions, our being a prophet.

John the Baptist knew that his mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He lived his life, not to promote himself, but to promote the Lord. This does not mean that John the Baptist was unimportant, he sure is. But there’s a big difference between being important and self-important. John the Baptist bears witness to that. 

Reflecting on Johns’ Gospel [John 3. 22-30] focuses our attention to one of John’s role: John prepares the way for Jesus, here the analogy of a wedding feast is used to describe this role: John as the best man and Jesus as the bridegroom.  During the time of John and Jesus, a best man plays a very important role at a wedding. He was instrumental in arranging and inviting people to the wedding. And once his jobs were done, he willingly and graciously fades from the picture. He had a prominent place, but he was not center stage.  John the Baptist knew that this was his role.   John understood that his ministry, his moment in the limelight, and his waning fame, were all a part of God’s sovereign plan. John showed no tinge of jealousy, no hint of insecurity, no suggestion of bitterness, for he knew clearly what his role was.  Jesus must be pre-eminent. John must fade.

 John is an important witness for us and he challenges our society’s preoccupation with self-promotion. He reminds us that Christians shouldn’t aspire to be a celebrity, but should strive to be a servant. We should live lives that shout not “Look at me!” but “Look to Jesus.” (Msgr. Charles Pope, June 23, 2012. blog.adw.org)

As brothers, we could learn a great deal of humility from John for he was a sort of person who knew how to think outside his self.  But thinking less about one’s self does not mean one is not important, rather, it means being aware of the other people around us – of their status, of their need, of their longings.  If we think less of ourselves, we are able to love others more. Thinking less of ourselves allows us to empty ourselves of selfish ideals so that we may have more room in our heart & mind for others. Thinking less about ourselves helps us gain the courage to say, “He must increase and I must decrease”.

These help us realize that power, achievement and fame are nothing if they are used only for self-promotion just as how Pope Benedict summarized:  “Human logic, however, often seeks self-realization in power, dominion, in powerful means. Man still wants to build the tower of Babel on his own to reach the heights of God, to be like God. The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that full realisation is found in conforming our human will to the Father, in the emptying of one's selfishness, to be filled with love, God’s charity and thus truly be able to love others”. (Audience, June 27, 2012)

We do not claim to be perfect people fulfilling the will of the Father. We are not saints, at least yet.  Rather, we are sinners who hope, through the grace of God and with this brotherhood to become saints in God’s time by discerning the His holy will and fulfilling it in our time. We mirror the characteristic of the church just as the Holy Father aptly described in his homily as being “not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God’s love” (June 29, 2012 Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul, Imposition of Pallium)

Brothers, we do not keep the pledge to draw attention to ourselves but to proclaim Christ.  Our aim for keeping this pledge is clear from the very beginning: Our brotherhood is not about achievements, it is never about popularity; it is plainly about following the will of the Lord and being truly able to love others.  I urge you then to remain faithful to the pledge we have made at the foot of the cross by seeking to follow Jesus in the ordinary tasks of our daily lives.  May Mary, our mother of Perpetual Help who followed every footsteps of Jesus guide us, through this brotherhood to become better Christians.

Cathedral Shrine & Parish of the Good Shepherd, August 24, 2012.

Brothers in Christ

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