Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Food for Our Soul

Fight From Victory, Not For Victory
Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

God does not need you to defeat the devil today. Jesus has already done it and given you the victory. (Colossians 2:15, Romans 8:37) Your part is to enforce the victory by simply standing your ground, which is victory ground. In other words, you “fight” from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.

In Ephesians 6:10–18, the passage on spiritual warfare, the word “wrestle” appears only once (verse 12), while the word “stand” appears four times — “stand against the wiles of the devil”, “withstand in the evil day”, “having done all, to stand”, “Stand therefore”. (Verses 11, 13–14) Four times the Holy Spirit tells us to stand. Yet, many Christians are focusing on wrestling their way to victory! 

My friend, you are already on victory ground. You already have everything in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:21, 23) You are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3). The devil knows this. And that is why his tactic is to deceive you and make you think that you don’t have the victory. 

So when he attacks you by saying, “Look at that small sum in your bank account! How are you going to pay the bills?” stand your ground. Declare, “I am not trying to be rich, I am rich. In Christ, I am rich!” It doesn’t matter how much you have in the bank. You are rich because you are in Christ. And as the need arises, the supply will be there if you believe that you are already rich. 

It is the same with healing. The devil will try to attack you with symptoms in your body. He will try to put pain in your body, and make you feel weak here and there, so that you think that you are still sick. He is trying to make you believe that you don’t have your healing. That is the time to be conscious of Jesus’ finished work and declare, “I am not trying to get healed, I am healed! I am standing on the victory ground which Jesus has given me!” 

Beloved, it makes a world of difference when you fight from victory and not for victory!

Gospel Reflection

August 28, 2012
St. Augustine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
by Rev. Fr. Chris Habal

First Reading:               2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-17Psalm:                         Psalm 96:10-13
Gospel:                        Matthew 23:23-26         

23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.


Today, we honor one of the great pillars of our faith, St. Augustine. He was extraordinarily gifted with intelligence, with brilliance, with eloquence, so that he can expound, explain and express our faith. Augustine was gifted with pastoral charity. As a Bishop, he served his people so well. His influence, whether we are conscious or not, still affects us to this very day - in theology, in literature, in spiritual life, in many things. Although he lived some 1,600 years away from us, we can still feel the tremendous influence that Augustine has for our civilization, specifically, Christian, Catholic civilization. 

But for us, simple faithful believers of Christ who may not have the same brilliance and intelligence as Augustine - we may not be equal to Augustine in his great eloquence - what can we imitate from this great man? 

Although we may not be as great as Augustine, we share the same humanity with him. We share the same faith in Christ, with him. Certainly, we can learn a lot from this great man. 

Reflecting on his life and his teaching, I was struck with two great learnings we can get from Augustine. First is - Augustine is a man filled with holy desire. He was a man of restlessness, and finding rest in God. All his life, Augustine experienced that sense of restlessness. He was so restless that he went from one place to another, He studied and wanted to discover that which can truly satisfy him. He studied so well - searching for the truth, searching for wisdom, trying to quench that deep restlessness in him. 

Maybe we can learn that from Augustine - to be aware of that innate restlessness in us. That in this world, all things always fall short of the human heart, and are insufficient to satisfy the human heart. If we look at our experience, we can see that technological development is so fast-paced - which shows the restlessness of the human spirit. But one of the dangers of these modern times is to be just contented in this world, and to no longer feel restlessness for God. We tend to satisfy ourselves with things that are less than God himself. That is why we have addictions of all sorts - trying to fill that restlessness within, but in the wrong places. 

Augustine felt the insufficiency of this world, and he found that which can satisfy him, only in God. That's why he said in his famous saying " We are made for you, O God, and our hearts remain restless, until they rest in You." While we learn from Augustine the restlessness of the human spirit, that nothing in this world can satisfy us, we can also learn from Augustine that only God can satisfy the human heart. A true encounter with God can make us at peace, and give us the contentment that we all long for. Let us ask God to give us the grace to encounter Him, for He alone can give us true peace. 

Second, we can learn from Augustine the overwhelming power of God's grace. One of the greatest conversions of Christianity is, of course, that of Augustine. Augustine was so restless in life, that he explored all things, all sins under the sun - name it - Augustine had experienced it. But there came a point when grace overcame Augustine, when grace overwhelmed him, and God took over Augustine. When Augustine was exhausted with his searching, he fell in the garden, and then he heard a voice saying, "Take and read, take and read". And when he read the Bible, he opened on the writings of St. Paul that says, "turn away from all human vices". That was a starting point - a movement of grace - for Augustine. And it changed him. It transformed him. 

Just like Augustine, we should learn to dance with the movement of grace. It may come in very simple and subtle ways. It may come in the form of an inspiration, a resolve to make our lives better, a feeling of repentance, a feeling of sincere sorrow for sins, a feeling of desire to be closer and closer to Christ - these are silent movements of grace. If we allow it to overcome us, it will transform us, just like it has transformed Augustine. 

My dear brothers and sisters, through the intercession of this great saint, Augustine, we pray that we may find our true satisfaction, true rest, true fulfillment, only in God. And that we may experience this transforming grace in our daily lives, Amen.

St. Augustine – Pray for us