The Gospel for today teaches us the two important commandments. First is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. Second is love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Seek God First
Similarly, also in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus tells us to seek first the righteousness of God.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and everything will follow unto you.” – Matthew 6:33
Fr. Arlo showed the effect of putting God first and the effect of giving Him the least priority in our lives. He demonstrated this using the three oranges being symbols of God as Faith, Hope and Love. In the opening prayer you will notice that Faith, Hope and Love are recited. Also, the grains of rice inside a container which signify the seconds, minutes and hours of the day was displayed.
While pouring the grains of rice inside the container, Fr. Arlo discussed our typical daily routine. We wake up every morning and have breakfast. After that we take our bath (during the month of December since its cold, we no longer take a bath.) =) Then we go to work, whole day at work. We go home and eat dinner with family. After eating, we clean, relax and watch 100 Days to Heaven, My Binondo Girl, Nasaan ka Elisa? (Where are you Elisa?) and Budoy. Finally, we try to squeeze in our Faith, Hope and Love. After filling the container with the grains of rice, Fr. Arlo put the three oranges in. Unfortunately, they do not fit inside. This illustration tells us that if we put God last in our daily activities, his presence will not fit in our lives because we are already overwhelmed with other tasks.
Three elements in life that are very limited
In our life, there are three things that are very limited and scarce. These are time, money and health. Fr. Arlo discussed them one by one.
Fr. Arlo cited that a student who prioritize doing Facebook, changing profile information among others than doing his research in school is not using his limited time well. Likewise, if a married man have another other woman (the woman might be as beuatiful as Anne Curtis), she will demand time. In effect, your time with your family will be insufficient. That’s why all those married man who are always not around at home might be doing something else. The 24 hours we have daily will not be enough. If they have serious relationship, the other woman will demand time. This is the reason why the husband will look for more alibis on how he can go out late at night without being caught.
We have limited money. If we do not proper prioritization on the things we buy, our money will be insufficient. There are people earning a salary of AED 18,000 but still not sufficient. Why? May be the reason behind this is prioritization. We should also differentiate what are our wants vs. needs. Fr. Arlo confessed that he went to Gitex twice. He also admitted that he really likes gadgets. He shared the new technology from Seagate which came out with a hard drive which is wireless and with wifi feature at around AED 850. But he assessed because it might just be a “want” and not a “need”. Ultimately, it is not how much you earn that matters, it is how much you keep. Manage our money wisely because it is limited.
Our health is also limited. We should take good care of our health because it will only take one stroke to take us to heaven. Fr. Arlo exemplified that before December 25, may be five of the audience will get stroke. He even look for any volunteers. =) That is why we need to be moderate on the foods with fats and cholesterol and high sugar content especially if we have history of diabetes. If we want to live a happy old age, we need to take care of our health.
In all of these limited things, we should always remember to set our priorities appropriately. Just like our Faith, Hope and Love. To further explain this, Fr. Arlo transferred the grains of rice from the container. This time he put the oranges (Faith, Hope and Love) first inside which implies seeking God first and all his righteousness. He again stated the daily routine of a person but now putting God first in his priorities. When we wake up, we pray. When we eat our breakfast, we pray. While taking a bath, its optional to pray. =) Then we go to work, whole day at work. We go home and pray before eating dinner with family. After eating, we clean, relax and watch 100 Days to Heaven, My Binondo Girl, Nasaan ka Elisa? (Where are you Elisa?) and Budoy. Everything were filled and fitted inside. That is the effect of putting God first in all our activities. All will be in place accordingly.
Righteousness vs. Lefteousness
On the contrary, even if we seek God first, it does not mean that we will not encounter any problems. The difference is all the answers to these difficulties will be given by God because we put him and his righteousness first.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and everything will follow unto you.”
What is the opposite of righteousness? The opposite of righteousness is lefteousness. =) To illustrate this, Fr. Arlo requested everyone to raise their hands and imagine holding a big screw. We noticed that to make the screw tight, we turn it to the right and if we want to make it loose, we turn to the left. That is why to us Filipinos, when a married person has other party, we call him/her “kaliwete”. Because every time we do wrong things, we are becoming loose from the hand of God. We are moving away from Him and from our family. We are turning our screw to the left. And when we do the right things, our relationship to the Lord and to our family becomes tight and is turned to the right direction.
Example is when browsing your Facebook account, you noticed your former classmate and he/she is willing to have a date. Your screw is turned left a little. Another one is in your office, you have a colleague who is crying because of marriage problem. And as a married man, you presented yourself until you arrange a date. Your screw is turned again to the left a little more. Before, you are going out with the lady in Starbucks and since you are running out of your resources, now its only in Moonbucks. =) Until, she brings you to her accommodation and something happen. Ask yourself a question, “How will you stand proud in front of your children if you do these things?”
Do the Right Thing
In Abu Dhabi, there are many children who are being baptized. Unfortunately, most of the parents of the children were not married and solemnized in the church. With due respect to our Ambassador to UAE, many of our Kabayans are married in the Philippine Embassy. And these parents promised to be married in the church when they apply for the baptismal of their children. Fr. Arlo called Boyet aka Christopher De Leon, assistant of Fr. Troy in handling documents. Boyet brought on the stage a file full of papers indicating that the parents promised to be married in the church during the baptismal application of their child. Unfortunately, the application is very thick which covers only the year 2011. Fr. Arlo thinks that these parents missed a lot. They are loosening their screws not only with each other but to the Lord.
Fr. Arlo went to the crowd and looked for a family. He found the family of Brayan (sibling of Pantyan) =) and Emily with their child, Lily Bray. He brought them on the stage and interviewed them. Brayan came from Davao and Emily is from Mati (just like playing chess, mate) =)
Bryan was asked as father of the family, what is his plan for them. He responded, “Give sufficient food and have their child to finish school. And also fear to the Lord.”
Fr. Arlo searched inside the bag of the child. He found some milk and diapers. The parents simply wants to give their child the best. And if they want to give her the best, health care should be included that is why we are giving insurance. On the contrary, aside from the health care insurance, there are two important things that is necessary to give to the family. One is the love of the parents. Even though we secure the insurance of our family, if couples are always fighting and arguing, it is useless. The nicest gift to give our child is to be faithful with one another and live happy. And most importantly, they should be married in the church. Bryan and Emily was already married in the church. This will not only give insurance to their child Lily Bry but also assurance that God will never abandon their child and He will not let her to be an orphan.
Imagine if you are the lady and you have a boyfriend, it is your right to ask what are the plans of your boyfriend for the future. Fr. Arlo conveyed, if the man says he will marry you and only in the Embassy, he does not love you. Why? because he will do it fast. But if you will be married in the church, although there are full of paper works he will endure it because he loves you. It is better to undergo procedure even it is lengthy because you love each other.
One of the wishes of a lady during their wedding is to walk on a long aisle in order to really feel and internalize the moment especially with their bridal gown. Fr. Arlo shared a similar story of a lady who wants to do it that way. But only having a small wedding in a small church, Fr. Arlo told the lady that she can start walking at the other block around 4:30pm and they will wait for her at 5pm in the church. =)
Fr. Arlo congratulated the couple because they did what is right. They are married and solemnized in the church.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and everything will follow unto you.”
If you are not yet married in the church, correct it to prove that you love your family. Most of us wish that our children should be God-fearing, but if we are not solemnized in the church; it is contradictory. Think about it.
It is also one of the concerns of Bishop Paul Hinder in UAE. That is why Fr. Arlo is encouraging those who are concerned to do what is right.
The Lord teaches us to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves especially our family. Do what is right and everything will follow unto you because God is faithful in his promises.
During our wedding day on May 16, 2007 after the solemnity of our marriage in St. Peter and Paul Parish in Makati, I remember my uncle telling us “If you do what is right, you will never go wrong.” If we look at this literally we can easily say that we will not go wrong when we do the right things. But, for me upon contemplating on what he said, we really have options in life. If we choose the right directions (righteousness) we will enjoy the corresponding rewards but if we choose the left directions (lefteousness) we will suffer the appropriate repercussions.
We are given a free will to what we can do to our life, the Lord is really great that He decided to make it that way so that we will really appreciate His presence and power to our life. The quote let me discern and think thoroughly every decision that I make along my journey including my family to be a good disciple of the Lord.
What does it take to do the right things? Share your thoughts and meet us in the comments.
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