Daily Bread

When Sharks Won’t Bite

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

Read: Proverbs 27:1–10

My chil­dren were thrilled, but I felt un­easy. Dur­ing a va­ca­tion, we vis­ited an aquar­ium where peo­ple could pet small sharks kept in a spe­cial tank. When I asked the at­ten­dant if the crea­tures ever snapped at fin­gers, she ex­plained that the sharks had re­cently been fed and then given extra food. They wouldn’t bite be­cause they weren’t hun­gry.

What I learned about shark pet­ting makes sense ac­cord­ing to a proverb: “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hun­gry even what is bit­ter tastes sweet” (Proverbs 27:7). Hunger— that sense of inner empti­ness—can weaken our dis­cern­ment as we make de­ci­sions. It con­vinces us that it’s okay to set­tle for any­thing that fills us up, even if it causes us to take a bite out of some­one.

God wants more for us than a life lived at the mercy of our ap­petites. He wants us to be filled with Christ’s love so that ev­ery­thing we do flows from the peace and sta­bil­ity He pro­vides. The con­stant aware­ness that we’re un­con­di­tion­ally loved gives us con­fi­dence. It en­ables us to be se­lec­tive as we con­sider the “sweet” things in life—achieve­ments, pos­ses­sions, and re­la­tion­ships.

Only a re­la­tion­ship with Je­sus gives true sat­is­fac­tion. May we grasp His in­cred­i­ble love for us so we can be “filled to the measure [with] all the full­ness of God” (Eph­e­sians 3:19) for our sake—and the sake of oth­ers.

What are you most hun­gry for in life? Why does Je­sus ful­fill you in a way that noth­ing else can?

Those who see Je­sus as the Bread of never be hun­gry. Life will A

PPARENTLY today’s cul­ture teaches us to love only those who love us, like only those who like us, to some point to like only those who look like us or fall un­der our stan­dards and dis­re­gard those we con­sider less than us. And what is worse is when our cul­ture pro­motes vi­o­lence and fear.

Today you have to be ‘use­ful’ to be valu­able. We measure oth­ers like the way we measure things. We seem to love peo­ple like the way we love things. Love has to­tally lost its mean­ing.

In one of the gospel sto­ries in the bi­ble Je­sus made a “ser­mon on the plain.” In the story, Je­sus chal­lenges us to love dif­fer­ently from the way we nor­mally love. From lov­ing dif­fer­ently, Je­sus in­vites us to act dif­fer­ently. Love is a verb. Love is revo­lu­tion­ary and turns ev­ery­thing in­side out. He is ask­ing his dis­ci­ples to do what is con­sid­ered im­pos­si­ble and not the nor­mal way to act. Je­sus is invit­ing you to do the same. This is the norm for Je­sus.

Love your en­e­mies! Je­sus calls us to a de­mand­ing and challengin­g task - to love your en­e­mies, not to curse them, to present the other cheek to any­one who slaps you on one cheek, and do not protest or com­plain when some­body takes what is yours.

In or­der to help us un­der­stand what He wants us to do, he gives us two state­ments: the Golden Rule, “Treat oth­ers as you would like peo­ple to treat you!” (Lk 6:31) and, “Be mer­ci­ful as your Father in Heaven is mer­ci­ful!” (Lk 6:36).

Je­sus not only wants to change the sit­u­a­tion but he wants to change the whole sys­tem. He started a rev­o­lu­tion - a rev­o­lu­tion from the heart. He wants to build a world from a new ex­pe­ri­ence of a God, He calls, Abba (Father), who is full of ten­der­ness and mercy. Je­sus is coun­ter­cul­tural.

One gospel com­men­ta­tor wrote that, “Love can­not de­pend on what I re­ceive from oth­ers. True love should want the good of oth­ers, in­de­pen­dently of what he or she does for me. Love should be cre­ative, be­cause that is how God’s love is for us: ‘Be mer­ci­ful, as your Heav­enly Father is mer­ci­ful.’”

Je­sus’ words are universal. In Luke’s Gospel, the Golden Rule says, “Treat oth­ers as you would like peo­ple to treat you!” (Lk 6:31). Al­most all re­li­gions in the whole world have the same Golden Rule ex­pressed in dif­fer­ent ways. This is a sign of Je­sus’ universal and in­clu­sive de­sire which is ex­pressed in His ac­tions and words. Today Je­sus calls us to make the choice - to choose in fa­vor of the poor, the bro­ken, those con­sid­ered worth­less and garbage. We are called to love dif­fer­ently.

Pope Francis re­flect­ing on the same Gospel reading in which the Lord tells his dis­ci­ples, “Love your en­e­mies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mis­treat you,” the Holy Father af­firms that this is a model of Chris­tian life – of un­con­di­tional love in action. And Pope Francis rec­og­nizes that this new way of the Gospel is dif­fi­cult to live by.

And so I end this brief re­flec­tion with the prayer of Pope Francis, “Lord, give me the grace to be­come a good Chris­tian, be­cause I can­not do it on my own.”

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