[COLUMN] To be like Christ

“Be imitators of Christ!” This is the theme of this year’s Together in Mission Appeal. Its aim is not only to appeal for help for the poor parishes and schools of the archdiocese but also to encourage us to emulate Christ: to have His mind and heart, to be loving, generous, and compassionate, especially towards those on the margins of our society.

This Sunday’s (February 11) Readings align with the theme of this campaign as they remind us to reach out to those in need, particularly those who feel estranged from our society. During biblical times, lepers suffered from exclusion, loneliness, and abandonment due to being regarded as unclean and unfit to mingle with the rest of society, especially those who worshipped in the temple. Any close contact with them was   prohibited as it was believed to render others and their surroundings “unclean.” One can only imagine their pain and loneliness.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we encounter an incident involving a leper who knelt before Jesus, begging Him for healing. The leper hesitantly told Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” His words were not a demand, but rather a hopeful expression that Jesus might desire to heal him. To the astonishment of both him and those around him, Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

The same response is expected from us if we desire to be like Christ. We must give willingly, not begrudgingly, but joyfully and wholeheartedly. As St. Paul reminds us in this Sunday’s Second Reading, we should do all things for the glory of God.

The most effective way to awaken generosity in our hearts is to consider how blessed we are and how lovingly gracious God has been to us. Our response to God’s generosity, faithfulness, forgiveness, and providence should be a life filled with care and hope for all people. Love begets love, as the saying goes. To proclaim God’s goodness to us, we must demonstrate it through our concern, care, and assistance towards people who are in need and marginalized in our society, those who do not enjoy the same privileges.

Thank you for your support of the Together in Mission appeal. On behalf of the thousands of families and children in poor parishes and schools, may God reward you for your kindness and generosity!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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