Bukas Loob sa Diyos

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

 

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Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community
Reflection for Oct 2008
   
Word: God calls us to fruitful servanthood in His vineyard
Order: “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)

 

Reflection:

 As part of the Body of Christ, the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community, welcomes into its fold all who wish to have a personal encounter and relationship with the Lord, and to personally experience the love of Jesus Christ.  The charism of Servanthood, with its Vision and Mission (as expressed in shepherding and guiding the flock), form the basis of the BLD formation and nurturing of each disciple in the Lord.  Our Community Values, Norms and Culture for attaining this objective of Christian discipleship is founded upon the values of the Gospel. 

 Under our Community Values, we have both Personal and Communitarian Values. Among the personal values, grouped under self-responsibility, is FRUITFULNESS, which is best described as the habit of choosing to live one’s life in Christ as His witness and disciple.  The opposite of fruitfulness is barrenness, which implies a meaningless, unregenerated existence.  SERVANTHOOD is the umbrella value of all Communitarian Values.  It encompasses openness to love, willingness to serve, readiness to offer, preparedness to give what is valuable or useful to others.  As disciples of Christ, it is our responsibility to be fruitful in God’s vineyard. 

 The word for the month – “God calls us to fruitful servanthood in His vineyard” – brings us to the purpose of our membership in this Community of believers.  Our faith tells us that we are created “to know, to love and to serve God”.  First and foremost we are not only exhorted, but also commanded to know God, for that is the way we can love Him and eventually serve Him.  This call to service takes away from us any ground for boasting, for everything is grace.  This grace to respond in service does not come from us, anymore than faith is our own doing.  These are gifts from the Father and the initiative is His, “We love because he first loved us” (1John 4:19).

 For the first week, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, our theme is:  Fruitful servanthood in God’s vineyard is living out our formation in Christian discipleship.

 If we are to produce good fruit for the Lord, we need to ask him for a strong aversion to sin, especially lack of charity and critical spirit towards others, our impatience, festering resentment, unforgiveness, and sloth.  Time and again we need to reject whatever displeases the Lord and live by how we have been formed as disciples of Christ.  If we do not, then we shall be cut off from the vine as unproductive branches are cut and put into the fire.  Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, to make it bear even more” (John 15:1-2). But if we do live in him, God’s love will permeate our lives.  Our minds will be filled with all that is true, honorable, upright and pure, good and praiseworthy, fruits that God expects from us (Philippians 4:8.)   As we live a fruitful life, we receive the peace of God, which “surpasses all understanding and will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).   When our minds are filled with God’s goodness, we will bear fruit for his kingdom. His promise is: “The Kingdom of God will be…given to a people that will produce its fruit”. (Matthew 21:43)

 The second week is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the theme is:  Fruitful servanthood in God’s vineyard is responding to His invitation to evangelize.

 The Lord invites us to a lavish banquet, and God himself is leading us to this place, the holy mountain, where the Lord of hosts has prepared the very best that only he can give. Jesus, as our Shepherd is inviting and calling us to follow him to the many different paths to which each of us is called.  This royal banquet represents the salvation that Jesus spoke of in the parable of the king who gave a marriage feast.  But he respects our freedom, and here, we are told of the many who refused the invitation.  Although he has tried to inveigle the invited guests with the excellence of the feast he has prepared, the invited guests make all kinds of excuses, refusing the invitation. Still God never tires, and the invitations continue.  Today, every movement of the Holy Spirit in the Community is yet another invitation from God to the banquet of his kingdom.  Let us respond to the call, we who have experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and let us help others to respond to the invitation with a renewed desire to evangelize and strive for unity in his Body.  In this we will bear much fruit for the Kingdom. Our promise is: “Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (Psalm 23:6)

 The third week of the month is the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time and our theme is:  Fruitful servanthood in God’s vineyard is giving what is due to His Name.

 In asking to see the coin that pays the census tax and being handed a Roman coin, (Matthew 22:19), Jesus reaffirms our duty to obey civil authority.  But he also states quite clearly, that we are to respect the rights of God.  Human activity cannot be reduced to strictly social and political spheres of action. Every individual has a profound religious dimension to his being.  The image on the coin reveals both its origins and its value.  Similarly, our heavenly Father has etched his own image on each of us (Genesis 1:26) and placed an indescribable value on every human life.  Even though we may turn away from God in sin, he never withdraws his image from us.  God is patient and faithful, though it may take time for the Spirit to restore God’s image in us when we desecrate that image through sin. 

 To address him as “Lord” is not merely to acknowledge his supreme authority over our life.  It is not only a matter of speech and action, but a conversion of the heart, an experience of personal transformation that makes of one a good tree capable of bearing good fruit.  The good impression one tries to give will not hold if one harbors evil in one’s heart.  With this transformation, one begins to speak and act based on the Word of God.  One listens to and lives according to the Word.  “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit…nor do they gather grapes from bramble… For every tree is known by its own fruit.  A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good…” (Luke 6:43-45).  And the promise is:  “I have called you by name, giving you a title…” (Isaiah 45:4b).

 The fourth week brings us to the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time with the theme:  Fruitful servanthood in God’s vineyard is loving Him in our neighbor.

 In some ways, we understand that we must love God wholeheartedly, but we still struggle with the call to love our neighbors just as radically.  That is why the Law of Moses strictly warned the Israelites that they must not molest or oppress an alien (Exodus 22:21).  Our natures are not inclined to love others so deeply. What is asked of us is to humbly submit our need for God and to find our strength in him.  He gives us the grace and our hearts can be softened as we yield to Jesus. By the power of his Spirit we, in turn, can open ourselves to him and find freedom from sin and a divine ability to love others, far surpassing the limits of our human nature.  This reminds us to refrain from attaching our self-worth to our service to him and to the ministries we are involved in. Our self-worth is found in God’s unconditional love for us as his children.  Our service is based on our love relationship with him, and others, not on our desire to gain prestige as a measure of our innate goodness or our position of leadership, or the number of activities we engage in the Community.  It is the realization that it is when God works through us that we can bear the fruit he desires from us: “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so proved to be my disciples”.  (John 15:5-8) .  All of God’s disciples are to exercise servanthood in its deepest meaning that points to Jesus’ own service to the people of God - his own vineyard.  And the promise is:  “If he cries out to me, I will hear him for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:26b)

 Fruitful servanthood entails sanctification and offering up to God of every noble human reality.  As part of the Body of Christ in our Community we encounter many opportunities to give good fruit to the Lord. As we heed God’s order for us this month of October, let us look to the cloud of witnesses we have – St. Therese of the child Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi who have borne much fruit in the seed that the Lord has planted in them.  St. Paul tells us boldly to “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)  He made himself as a model for us to follow because he is assured that it is no longer the person Paul that lives, but Christ who lives in him. (Galatians 2:20) We can also claim the same, by God’s infinite grace.