No media available

Slideshow image


The message for last Sunday was about humility and gratefulness, as we meditated on Isaiah’s prophecy about a new shoot that shall come out from the stump of Jesse, King David’s father – an imagery that depicts the humble nature of the Messiah who comes in a form from a seemingly dry and barren tree, a forgotten family tree of the Davidic dynasty.

Reflecting further on humility, I remember a politics and economics teacher Mrs. Chung in my junior high school. She used to talk about the Go-Mi-Ahn policy that works effectively in human relationships before talking about politics. Go-Mi-Ahn is an acronym for:

(1) Go-map-sup-ni-da (2) Mi-an-ham-ni-da   (3) Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo

In Korean, they mean, (1) thank-you, (2) I’m sorry, and (3) hello or how are you. We were taught to say these three things to have a good life and a good relationship with others – recognizing other people’s kindness and expressing our gratitude always; acknowledging our mistakes or wrong-doings and making amends quickly; and greeting others in delightful manners whenever we encounter them.

The Go-Mi-Ahn policy seems so easy to execute, but it is not quite so because for the proud it can be difficult to speak those words out. This so-called Go-Mi-Ahn policy should be applied to our faith life, as well. I might want to rename it as GST – Greetings; Sorry; Thank you!

Start each day we wake up by saying to God “Good morning, how are you?” Then, say to him, “I’m sorry” about taking for granted his amazing grace that saved us. Lastly and importantly, thank him for every blessing and his unchanging love and compassion. As a matter of fact, these three are the key liturgical components that encompasses our worship services.

In reality, our faith is not always robust. There are moments we want to complain to God by saying why-God, why-me, instead of greeting delightfully or saying words of gratitude. When tragedy happens and hardships continue, our faith gets tested. We lack patience and get mad. That’s human. Our crosses can become too heavy to carry. We struggle at times and become desperate for quick fixes. But, when there are no immediate remedies, listen what St. Peter says to us (1 Pet 5.7-11):

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen."

Along with humility and gratitude, another character trait we need to strengthen is patience. In due time, the Lord will exalt you.  

Today’s Gospel passage (Mt 11.2-11) has something to do with this character trait, patience.

While in prison, John sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask if Jesus is the Coming one or if they look for another. Does this mean he doubted Jesus’ identity? I don’t think so because John clearly recognized Jesus as the Messiah before. Yet, indeed, this is a puzzling question.

Isolated from the rest of the world, along with a growing anxiety, John might have needed assurance from Jesus. Some Jews of that time distinguished between a prophet to come promised by Moses (Deut 8.15) and the Messiah.

Jesus reminded them that his power would be displayed mostly in humble acts of service, meeting individual needs, and not in spectacular displays of political deliverance. He did want to assure both John and his disciples that he was the Messiah.

The way of the Lord’s service is the way of perseverance in the doing of things that look small, in a simple yet stunning way, working for the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, and the poor.

We all get it, but our next question would be “Why isn’t he doing more?” This is one of the lessons most difficult to learn.  

Harold Kushner, an American rabbi, wrote a book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), following the death of his son from the premature aging disease progeria. In that book, he said:

Pain is the price we pay for being alive. Dead cells—our hair, our fingernails—can’t feel pain; they cannot feel anything. When we understand that, our question will change from, “Why do we have to feel pain?” to “What do we do with our pain so that it becomes meaningful and not just pointless empty suffering?" . . . . .

"What did I do to deserve this?” is an understandable outcry from a sick and suffering person, but it is really the wrong question. Being sick or being healthy is not a matter of what God decides that we deserve. The better question is “If this has happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?” . . . . .

If we think of life as a kind of Olympic games, some of life's crises are sprints. They require maximum emotional concentration for a short time. Then they are over, and life returns to normal. But other crises are distance events. They ask us to maintain our concentration over a much longer period of time, and that can be a lot harder. . . . .  

Such a hard time is also a time of spiritual warfare.

Jesus says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and violent people take it by force” (Mt 11.12). His reference to violence refers to both the intensity of spiritual warfare surrounding the ministry of Jesus and his herald John the Baptist and to the intensity required to persevere in our followership of God in his kingdom.

We are exposed to such spiritual warfare, but the kingdom has come with holy power to push back the frontiers of darkness.

We, followers of Christ, need to stand up to take hold of our responsibilities, with courage and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom founded on God’s work on our behalf will never be received passively. God’s work produces a response in us. Having been baptized, and set on the road to eternal life with God, do you take a daily decision to be a disciple of Jesus? How do we respond to God?  

Abraham is the model of obedient faith and patience offered to us by Sacred Scripture. Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, is also an embodiment of such faith and patience. Like them, we need to be faithfully obedient to God as his son or daughter, enduring every challenge in life, whatever it might be.

With our whole being we give our assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, ‘the obedience of faith.’  To be obedient to God means to express godly qualities such as love, kindness, tenderness, patience, and charity, with a deep trust in God. As Apostle James said, “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7).

We wait in patience, with an obedient heart, without grumbling against one another, because God the ultimate authority is in control.

While we are going through many unknowns in our current time, if we obey God and wait on God’s timing patiently, knowing that he has the best for us, we should be able to feel a true peace and joy in him. We walk by faith, not by sight. God will come and lift us all. What we have to do is to invite him in. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy” (Isa 35.5-6).

May the Spirit of the Lord God be upon you and anoint you to bring good tidings to those around you. Amen!