A GOD OF STRENGTH

 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST

(Part 40)

 

A GOD OF STRENGTH

 

August 5, 2011

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-40

 

 

Our God is a God of strength and power. This is what Moses reminded the Israelites, on the eve of his death, at 120 years old, having brought God’s people from Egypt to the desert and to the edge of the promised land. Moses told them how God made a nation for Himself “with his strong hand” (Dt 4:34), how He personally led them “out of Egypt by his great power” (Dt 4:37).

This is the same God who has raised us today as His people. God has a purpose, that we might be His servant through whom He will show His glory (Is 49:3). This is our great privilege, to be able to be God’s instrument, to do His very will, to accomplish His divine purpose for the life of the world.

As such we must respond. How? “You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.” (Dt 4:40).

 

First, we must obey God. God gives us the Ten Commandments (through Moses at Mount Sinai) plus all the other commandments given by Jesus directly and through his disciples. For us as CFC-FFL, there are two basic commandments that can encompass everything else. One, we are to grow in holiness (1 Pt 1:15-16), and two, we are to do the work of evangelization and mission (Mk 16:15).

Second, we must observe God’s way of life as given to us. As CFC-FFL, this way of life is represented by our covenant. We are to be faithful to our covenant, knowing that this is not meant to burden us, but to support us to live out our calling. God calls us not only as individuals and as families, but as a community, as a family of families. We can only be properly formed and become what God intends if we remain faithful to every aspect of our covenant.

Three, we must realize that our work of evangelization is done within the context of renewing the family and defending life. When we obey God’s commands and live His way of life, then, as Moses says, our children will prosper and we will have a long life on the land. Obedience directly impacts on family and life.

 

After 30 years, God has formed us as a community, including our wandering at times in the desert. “Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you” (Dt 4:36a) in order that we might be chastised, purified and grow in holiness. Then “on earth he let you see his great fire” (Dt 4:36b), witnessing the rapid and massive evangelization work made possible by the Holy Spirit. God has given us our very clear vision and mission. Now, on this our 30th year, the fullness of God’s strength is being made available to us. It is now entirely up to us how we are to respond.

We have already seen what God can do–in our personal lives, in our families, and in the world through our work. “All this you were allowed to see that you might know the Lord is God and there is no other.” (Dt 4:35). Our God is victorious, and His strong right hand continues to be outstretched. In that let us rejoice, and confidently march on into the promised land.

 

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Philippines and Vatican City the only countries w/o divorce

What a great honor! The Philippines and Vatican City are the only two countries in the world where divorce is illegal! I do not know if there are any married couples living in Vatican City, but in the Philippines there are millions of them!
The anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist forces will rage against the Philippines as they already rage against the Vatican. The Vatican located in the West overseeing the worldwide Church and the Philippines located in the East fielding its Filipino diaspora throughout the world will more and more constitute the two gravity centers for the defense of the faith and the re-evangelization of the world. As such, the full force of our diabolical enemy will be unleashed against these bastions of Christianity.
There is even more reason to re-evangelize the Philippines during this decade of grace. And let us continue to strongly and aggressively defend traditional marriage and family life.
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Maltese parliament passes divorce legislation

Thaddeus Baklinski Wed Jul 27 16:05 EST Family

VALLETTA, July 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The parliament of the officially Catholic island country of Malta voted on Monday to legalize divorce, following a May referendum that saw 53% of voters approve of divorce legislation.

Malta was the only EU member-state that did not allow divorce, now leaving the Philippines and Vatican City as the two remaining countries in the world where divorce is illegal.

The measure was passed by the country’s parliament in a 52 to 11 vote with five abstentions.

Although MPs of the ruling Nationalist Party were allowed to vote according to their conscience, the results came as a blow to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, who had opposed divorce ahead of the referendum; he had voted against the measure. Nineteen of the 35 Nationalist Party legislators voted in favor of the measure.

It was reported, however, that Gonzi, while not pleased with the result of the vote, acknowledged that amendments to the legislation, which now allows couples who have lived separately for at least four years to file for a divorce, makes it more acceptable than was its original form.

The Catholic Bishops of Malta had urged citizens to vote “no” in the divorce referendum, maintaining that divorce was the “wrong solution” to marital problems.

“A choice in favor of divorce,” wrote the bishops in a pastoral letter in May, “leads to the further destruction of marriage and the family and, as a consequence, the destruction of values and the quality of life.”

Malta, with a population of 410,000, has recognized divorces that were obtained by Maltese couples abroad for about thirty years. Statistics show that approximately 785 Maltese couples have obtained divorces out of the country during this time.

The new legislation is expected to come into effect in October after President George Abela signs it into law.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)

u.s. embassy’s cultural terrorism

The US ambassador to the Philippines had a similar gay rights party in Manila. We stand with our Pakistani brethren in condemning such cultural terrorism. The US government is clearly, overtly, aggressively mounting an attack on family and life and against our Judeo-Christian values. The US government under Obama is the worst imperialist neo-colonialist power in the world today.
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Pakistanis denounce U.S. Embassy’s gay rights party as ‘cultural terrorism’

Peter J. Smith Tue Jul 26 15:54 EST Homosexuality

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A U.S. Embassy party in Islamabad billed as a celebration of homosexual rights inflamed conservative Pakistani groups, who condemned the event as an act of “cultural terrorism” aimed at the country’s Islamic values.

The U.S. Embassy held a “gay pride” celebration on June 26, the first ever promotion of homosexual rights by U.S. diplomats in the Islamic nation.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that a coalition of religious and political leaders, including Pakistan’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, released a statement condemning the U.S. government’s homosexual advocacy, calling it the “worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.

The group called it the second most dangerous U.S. attack on Pakistan, following the unmanned drone attacks carried out by U.S. forces on suspected Islamic terrorists.

According to the AP, U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Hoagland hosted the party, which was co-sponsored by Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. Seventy-five individuals attended the party to show solidarity with homosexuals seeking social and political acceptance in the country.

“I want to be clear: the U.S. Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way,” stated Hoagland.

The AP adds that Pakistan’s penal code punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with a fine, prison sentences between two years to life, or both. Homosexual acts may also merit the death penalty under Sharia law.

The embassy’s public revelation of the celebration after the fact provoked protests in major cities across Pakistan, fanning anti-American resentment.

“We condemn the American conspiracy to encourage bisexualism in our country,” said Mohammad Hussain Mehnati, Karachi’s chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, according to the Express Tribune. Over 100 persons reportedly attended the demonstration.

“They have destroyed us physically, imposed the so-called war on terrorism on us and now they have unleashed cultural terrorism on us.”

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)

THE PARADOX OF OUR LIFE AND MISSION

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

THE PARADOX OF OUR LIFE AND MISSION

 

July 25, 2011

 

Today’s readings:

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Psalm 126:1-6

Matthew 20:20-28

 

 

The authentic Christian life is a counter culture to that of the world. That is why it is so difficult for sinful humanity to live out what is authentically the way of Christ. That is why we are called on to put on the mind of Christ. The way of the world is a wide road that leads to destruction, while the way of Christ is a narrow path that leads to salvation.

Today’s readings are very interesting, in that they speak about some of the paradoxes in living for and serving Christ while in the world. Let us take a look at these.

 

Bible verse

The world

The Christian life

2 Cor 4:7a

earthen vessels

treasure

2 Cor 4:7b

power from us

power of God

2 Cor 4:8a

afflicted

but not constrained

2 Cor 4:8b

perplexed

but not driven to despair

2 Cor 4:9a

persecuted

but not abandoned

2 Cor 4:9b

struck down

but not destroyed

2 Cor 4:10

the dying of Jesus

the life of Jesus

2 Cor 4:11

we who live are constantly being given up to death

so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh

2 Cor 4:12

death is at work in us

but life in you

Ps 126:5

those who sow in tears

will reap with cries of joy

Ps 126:6

those who go forth weeping

will return with cries of joy

Mt 20:25-26a

the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them

but it shall not be so among you

Mt 20:26b

whoever wishes to be great among you

shall be your servant

Mt 20:27

whoever wishes to be first among you

shall be your slave

Mt 20:28

did not come to be served

but to serve

 

In the topsy-turvy world of Christian discipleship, the first is the last and the greatest is the least. Suffering for the cause of Christ brings joy. Human weakness is strength in God. The humble are exalted. The foolish shame the wise and the weak shame the strong. The lowly and despised reduce to nothing those who are something.

Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, came as a suffering servant. For all those who wish to follow Jesus, he gives the directive: deny yourself and embrace the cross. For those who truly want to serve him, Jesus says, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20:22b).

We may give up many things, like our time, talent and treasure, we may endure many hardships, but we are assured that we are on the right path. We simply have to trust in Jesus, “knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” (2 Cor 4:14).

The paradoxes of life point to the reversals in our earthly fortunes, as God works in and through us. When we finally look back on all the ups and downs of life, on all the seeming tragedies and pain, we can confidently say, “The Lord has done great things for us; oh, how happy we were!” (Ps 126:3). Even happier will we be as we go about our work of evangelization and mission, bringing more and more people into a vibrant life in Christ. Everything then works for our good and for the good of God’s people. “Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15).

 

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CALLED ACCORDING TO GOD’S PURPOSE

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

OUR THEME FOR 2011

(Part 45)

 

CALLED ACCORDING TO GOD’S PURPOSE

 

July 24, 2011

Today’s reading: Romans 8:28-30

 

 

According to God’s eternal plan for our lives, He proceeds according to a process. First, He knows about us from all eternity, and according to that foreknowledge, He predestines us (Rom 8:29). Then God calls those whom He has predestined, then He justifies those whom He has called, and finally He glorifies those whom He has justified (Rom 8:30). The process flows like this: God foreknew –> predestined –> called –> justified –> glorified.

We see this process at work in our 2011 theme verses from Isaiah.

Isaiah 49:1b — “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” This speaks about God’s eternal plan for us, and the destiny to which we are called. God knew from all eternity that in this third millennium there would be a great need for a community that would evangelize massively and do worldwide mission, while renewing the family and defending life. This is CFC-FFL.

Isaiah 49:2 — “He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.” Because God has an eternal plan for us, He justifies us, that is, He makes us right in our relationship with Him, He forms us according to “the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29b), and He molds us to become His fitting instruments. Because we are to be at the cutting edge and at the forefront of His spiritual work, then He makes us sharp-edged swords and polished arrows. Because we will be afflicted in spiritual warfare, then He protects us by hiding us under His arm and in His quiver. In offense and defense, God is there for us.

Isaiah 49:3 — “You are my servant …. through whom I show my glory.” When God makes us His properly-formed instruments, then we are able to serve Him effectively and be instruments for His glory to shine forth. We too share in that glory, as we stand in for God and His work. Thus we are “made glorious in the sight of the Lord” (Is 49:5c).

 

We could view it this way.

 

God’s work

Romans 8

Isaiah 49

Foreknowledge

Predestination

Call

“For those he foreknew he also predestined …. and those he predestined he also called” (v.29a,30a) “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (v.1b)

Justification

“and those he called he also justified” (v.30b) “He made me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.” (v.2)

Glorification

“and those he justified he also glorified.” (v.30c) “You are my servant …. through whom I show my glory.” (v.3)

 

Why is all this important to us? Well, first of all, because we want to do God’s will. We want His will to be accomplished in our lives. Too many times so-called Christians go their own way, with their own direction, agenda, priorities, preferences, etc. But God has already predestined us. We simply need to realize His call and give ourselves fully to Him.

Second, God gives a wonderful promise. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28). If we allow God to work His will in and through us, then we know that everything will work out for our good. No matter what is happening to us right now, especially if we are facing affliction and suffering, we know that God will make things right.

Now there are two conditions to this promise being fulfilled. One, that we love God. Two, that we are called according to His purpose. Well, we know we love God, even as we are still far from loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. The second condition can be problematic. Are we living our lives according to God’s will and purpose? Have we discerned and heeded His call? Are we allowing ourselves to be His instruments as His servants?

God has made known our call in all of our 30 years as CFC. The vision and mission God has given us ought to be clear by now. But we need to continue giving our “yes” to God, and allowing Him to form and mold us, simply for His own purposes. Then God’s eternal plan for our lives, as CFC-FFL, can unfold. Then we can truly be God’s “light to the nations, that (His) salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6d).

 

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FROM EGYPT TO CHINA

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

THE CULTURE OF LIFE

(Part 1)

 

FROM EGYPT TO CHINA

 

July 11, 2011

Today’s reading: Exodus 1:8-22

 

 

Abortion has been with us since time immemorial, and widespread forced abortion has also already been state policy in the past. Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill the unborn or newly born child. “When you act as midwives for the Hebrew women and see them giving birth, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live.” (Ex 1:16).

The contemporary of the Egyptian abortion policy today is that of China. In the case of China, the girls rather than the boys are being killed. As the state has decreed its one-child policy, many parents choose to abort those who are female, since they prefer to have a male child.

Such a policy, aside from the terrible holocaust of millions of the unborn, has resulted in a demographic imbalance, with males far outnumbering females in the nation. This presents its own problems, as the Chinese try to cope with the imbalance. Millions of Chinese men are now unable to find a bride. Unmarried men from 20 to 44 already outnumber their female counterparts two to one.

What alternatives do the Chinese now have?

(1) Kidnapping of women, both within China and from other countries, to be sold as brides. There is already a thriving business in this.

(2) Homosexuality. If a Chinese male cannot find a female, then look to another male. There are plenty of them around. (This promotion of homosexuality will please Obama, the European Union and the United Nations).

(3) War. With tens of millions of excess men, a solution to the imbalance is in getting them killed in battle. A bonus to the Chinese government is the prod to its expansionist and imperialist ambitions. (Beware SouthEast Asian nations. China has already claimed the whole South China Sea and is building more fortifications with heavy weaponry on atolls).

 

Why did Pharaoh institute such a policy? They were afraid of the Israelites who were growing in population. “Look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country.” (Ex 1:9-10).

There are a number of realities that, just as then, are so today.

(1) Population is power! “Look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing.” The words “numerous” and “powerful” go together! The western world today wants to limit the populations of the developing world, because such large nations are a threat to their dominance. “The Egyptians, then, dreaded the Israelites” (Ex 1:12b).

(2) The populations of the western world have peaked and in more and more cases are beginning to decline, resulting in the so-called demographic winter. “Look how numerous and powerful …. (they) are growing, more so than we ourselves!” By their own choice in adopting abortion, homosexuality and a selfish lifestyle that does not want children, the peoples of the developed world face a bleak future. What could be bleaker than outright extinction as a people, as a race? Now that is their choice. The problem is that they want to drag other countries into the mire. They want to totally transform the pro-life and pro-family traditional values of much of the developing world. This is cultural imperialism at its worst.

(3) Western nations and western powers remain selfish, colonialist, imperialist and now diabolical. It is all about self-interest. Knowing that population is power, they want to limit the potential power of future opponents. Opponents in what? One, military power. “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us ….” Two, economic power. “…. and so leave our country.” The west just wants the resources of the world, and to keep the hungry populations of the developing world in servitude, either producing low-cost resources for their use, or as domestics and other low-paying jobs in their countries. The poor of the world are the slaves of the dominant rich, and the resources of the poor countries are “stolen” to satisfy the rapacity of the rich. “Accordingly, taskmasters were set over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses.” (Ex 1:11).

 

This is what was behind the infamous “NSSM 200.” This is the “National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests” issued on December 10, 1974 by the US National Security Council under Henry Kissinger. It was adopted as official US policy in November 1975.

Its basic thesis was that population growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) was a concern for US national security and inimical to the national interests of the US. It gave paramount importance to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey).

It recommended that the US government influence national leaders of these countries in the push for population reduction efforts. It recommended increased emphasis on mass media. It recommended pushing population education programs by the UN, USIA and USAID.

These are what we are seeing being done vigorously today.

 

Why are these things happening?

First, there are those in power who do not know God or who have rejected God. The US is now prohibiting prayer or the display of the Ten Commandments in schools and government offices. For a nation founded on God and on Judeo-Christian traditions, that is a radical shift indeed. Obama is just the latest (and possibly worst) in a long line of government officials who either do not live out their faith or have turned away from their faith. “Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” (Ex 1:8). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If we reject God’s ways, then we certainly will go astray.

Second, the world has lost sight of God’s plan, of the importance of the family and of life. Much of the world just wants power, possessions, pleasure. Much of the world has looked to secular ideals, taking on the very wisdom of the world. And they want to impose their liberal, so-called progressive and hedonistic agenda on the rest of us. “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase.”

 

How do we, the people of God, respond?

We of course must defend life. We must fight for the culture of life.

Further, since we face Goliaths in our anti-life enemies, we must be prepared to be oppressed, persecuted, to suffer for the cause. With laws on such abominations as abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage already in place, further laws will be passed (already passed in some countries) to stamp out opposition, such as laws on hate speech or the abrogation of conscience protection. If we violate these laws, we can be jailed, our property confiscated, our business shut down.

However, in such oppression, we must know a fundamental truth. “Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.” (Ex 1:12a). Our Christian faith  spreads and thrives on the shedding of the blood of the martyrs. We are called to take up our crosses, in imitation of Christ. So the more we are persecuted, the more we ought to grow strong. The more we grow. We must not only have more children (that we can properly care for), we must also grow in our Christian faith and in our passion for the defense of the culture of life. “The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.” (Ex 1:17). Authentic faith leads us to renew the family and to defend life.

The family is a creation of God, and life is fundamental to family. The ultimate strength and well-being of a nation depends on the well-being of its families, the basic units of society. If we look to faith, family and life, then our nation will be strong, with the very strength of God. “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives. The people, too, increased and grew strong. And because the midwives feared God, he build up families for them.” (Ex 1:20-21).

 

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IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS AND THE APOSTLES

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 11)

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS AND THE APOSTLES

July 7, 2011

Today‚s readings:
Genesis 44:18-45:5
Psalm 105:16-21
Matthew 10:7-15

We in CFC-FFL are called to be an evangelistic and missionary community. The mission of Jesus is the same mission he passed on to the Twelve, and now to all of his disciples. In the same way that Jesus commissioned the Twelve, so too are we commissioned. In this we do the very work of God.

Jesus told the Twelve, „As you go, make this proclamation: ŒThe kingdom of heaven is at hand.‚‰ (Mt 10:7). When Jesus proclaimed his mission, he said, „To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.‰ (Lk 4:43). The mission of Jesus is the very mission he gave to the Twelve.

Jesus further told the Twelve, „Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.‰ (Mt 10:8a). When Jesus was asked if he was the messiah, he replied, „Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised‰ (Mt 11:4-5a). The works of Jesus are the very works he instructed the Twelve to do.

When we do the work of evangelization and mission, we are doing the very work of Jesus and the very work of the apostles. As such, we are to heed Jesus‚ instructions on how we are to do this work.

Jesus said, „Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.‰ (Mt 10:8b). Jesus gave his all in order to save us, and requires no payment but our acceptance of his free gift. As such, the great apostle Paul offered „the gospel free of charge‰ (1 Cor 9:18). This is why our evangelistic programs, such as the CLS, are free of charge. Even our formation courses for members, part of our continuing evangelistic work, are free. If we „charge‰ fees, it is simply to cover expenses. We are not here to make money like a secular corporation. Whatever money comes in, we fully spend to continue with our work. The great majority of our workers are not paid. A few do get salaries, but only as a way of supporting themselves and their families as they have chosen to serve the community full-time. There are no monetary dividends for members, but only the dividend of eternal life.

Jesus then instructs something very challenging. „Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.‰ (Mt 10:9-10a). So when we go on mission are we to have no money at all in our pockets? Are we not even to have a backpack? Are we going to walk barefoot?

Jesus is talking about principles of going on mission. After all, according to Mark, the apostles were to have a walking stick and wear sandals, but take nothing else (Mk 6:8-9). Jesus does not give contradictory instructions. Rather, he emphasizes his point in different ways in different settings or with different audiences.

What Jesus is requiring is (1) a total dependence on God for food and shelter and whatever we will be needing. Thus when we go on mission, we do not have to spend for anything because those who invite us will provide us our shelter, meals, transport, and other needs. As Jesus said, „The laborer deserves his keep.‰ (Mt 10:10b). Further, (2) because of the urgency of the mission and the single-mindedness required of missionaries, we are to avoid any attachment to material possessions. For us, when we go on mission, we are to be focused on the work. We are not there to see sights, or to go shopping, or to have a relaxing time (though God might provide for these as well).

„As you enter a house, wish it peace.‰ (Mt 10:12). We are disciples of the Prince of Peace. We bring the peace of Christ to all. What is peace? It is being in right relationship with others. We help bring people back to Christ, or deepen their relationship with Christ. We help renew the family, and bring peace into the home and in family relationships. We bring peace to communities as evangelized persons become instruments of God‚s grace in their day-to-day environments.

„Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words–go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.‰ (Mt 10:14). God‚s gift is free, and people are free to accept or not. When people do not accept the gospel message, we simply move on. If a parish priest refuses to allow us to do our work, we move on to the next parish. We are not to be dejected or angry or discouraged. We are simply to persevere, knowing that the harvest is abundant. We are to simply do our work, and leave the results to God.

In fact, when untoward things happen, we are to know that God is still in control, that God loves us and has an eternal plan for us, and that God intends to use us for His glory as He has already made Himself dependent upon His disciples to do His work.

Not many will experience greater hardships than what befell Joseph. He was „sold as a slave‰ (Ps 105:17b) by his very own brothers, and the Egyptians „shackled his feet with chains; collared his neck in iron‰ (Ps 105:18). He was separated from his family for so long, especially from his father Jacob who loved him best. But it was for a purpose, according to the plan of God. As Joseph himself realized, „It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.‰ (Gen 45:5b). Joseph did not whine and complain about his lost years. He said God sent him ahead of his brothers. In the seemingly unrelated and tragic events of his life, he realized God had sent him on mission.

How about our lives? Are you suffering from cancer, have a broken marriage, have a child that has gone astray, gone bankrupt, separated from your family due to overseas work, are not sure where to get the next meal, serving a prison sentence, been betrayed by loved ones, are maligned by brethren, opposed by clerics? If you try to live for God, then God will take care of you, and accomplish His eternal plan for you. You may not see it in the trial of the moment, as Joseph did not, but trust that your life and future are in the hands of the Savior, who now sends you forth to make his salvation known to others.

The ups and downs of life go on. Joseph, from his lowest points of life, rose to great heights. He became „the equal of Pharaoh‰ (Gen 44:18b) and Pharaoh „made him lord over his palace, ruler over all his possessions.‰ (Ps 105:21). Jacob and his clan had grown prosperous, but then God „called down a famine on the land, destroyed the grain that sustained them.‰ (Ps 105:16). Because of Joseph, the whole clan moved to Egypt, were favored by Pharaoh, and again prospered there. Many generations later, with a new pharaoh who knew nothing of Joseph, they were enslaved. From soaring to the heights they were now down in the depths. Of course we know that they would soar once again as God‚s favored people Israel. But that is another story.

What is important for us is to know who we are called to be and what we are commissioned to do. We in CFC-FFL are evangelizers and missionaries. In this work we will encounter great challenges and suffering. But we do it for Jesus who already went before us. Now we are privileged to carry on his work.

Whatever happens, whether we are up or seemingly down, we simply carry on, with trust in Jesus and joy in our hearts.

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