El Shaddai chapter Amsterdam celebrates 21th anniversary
On saturday the 5th of November I visited the parishchurch of ‘O.L. Vrouw Koningin van de Vrede’ in Amsterdam where El Shaddai was celebrating its 21th anniversary. This catholic charismatic community counts its members mostly among the Philippine people and is spread over the whole world, present in many countries.
In the afternoon of this annual prayer meeting we celebrated the holy Eucharist in a beautifully decorated church with a nice choir. Many young people came to serve the Mass. And of course after mass there was a nice anniverary cake and food for everyone.
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is a joy for me to celebrate
together with you
this 21th anniversary
of El Shaddai Amsterdam chapter.
You have grown adults now!
This 21th anniversary is a sign
that you are mature:
El Shaddai Amsterdam
was not just a hype,
not just a transitory impulse,
but an expression of steadfast love
and faith in Jesus Christ.
I would like to encourage you today
to stay faithful and strong.
Let Jesus Christ be not your last resort
but the foundation,
and first principle of your lives!
You can't take it
But real life seems different.
“Money, money, money,
it’s a rich man’s world”,
Abba was singing forty years ago.
Everything seems to turn on money and power.
Many times the foundation of people’s life
seem to be power and wealth.
But they will all die and pass away
and they can’t take it with them!
The only investment that gives you a profit
in the moment of passing away
are your investments in heavenly life!
Temptations of the rich man
We are all very much in danger:
We all live in a wealthy, rich society
and we know from the gospel
that it is hard for a rich person
to enter the kingdom of heaven.
This becomes very clear in our Dutch society
since it secularised very much
and very rapidly,
after wealth entered here.
As a child I loved
- and even now I like -
to read the stories
of Uncle Scrooge McDuck,
who is swimming in his pool,
filled with money,
but closes his heart for anyone
who knocks at his door
for some help.
That is the temptation of a rich man!
Wealth easily closes our hearts,
makes us individualistic;
we feel independent
and we are tempted to think
that we do not need anyone else,
which is nonsense, of course!
We are all just vulnerable, simple people
who cannot add even one second to our lives!
Every second of our lives
we are dependent on God’s grace!
Don't close your eyes!
Sure, we hear about people
suffering from war, disasters, hunger and persecution,
sometimes this comes close to us
if we hear about terroristic attacks in Brussels
or if we have family-members for instance
in territories that were hit by disasters.
Or we may have visited
one ot those Italian towns
that were hit by the terrible earthquake.
Most of the time however
those wars and disasters
seem far away,
but don’t close your eyes!
Investment in heavenly life
This is not just a problem of today’s world.
Saint Paul is complaining already
in today’s first reading
from his letter to the Philippians,
that the Philippians were the only christian community
to support him financially:
they sent him something for his needs,
to be able to carry out his missionary work:
“Not a single church shared with me...
except you alone”.
Their gift, their financial help
is called by Saint Paul:
a fragrant aroma,
an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
This help was an investment
in heavenly life!
This too, is what Jesus himself
tells us today.
In the gospel from Luke that we heard
Jesus was talking
which he calls “dishonest wealth”.
The Lord himself gives us a good advice.
First of all He counsels us
to make friends with our money,
so that we will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
If you have money,
try to make those in need
benefit from it,
since the good you do to others
opens for you the doors of heaven,
it is the admission ticket
that gives you access
to the eternal dwellings.
The second counsel the Lord gives us
is to be trustworthy.
How difficult is it
to restore mutual faith and confidence,
once we feel deceived,
when the trust we had in someone
was put to shame.
It is hard working
to restore reliability and trust.
If we have a financial problem, for instance,
we need to acknowledge the problem.
If we cover it up
by taking money or profit from others
we are not trustworthy.
Many times at the end
this will be discovered
and we are ashamed,
our good reputation destroyed;
and, whatever there may be,
the Lord will call us to account.
For Him we cannot hide or conceal
who we are
and what we did.
He knows our hearts,
He knows our weaknesses
He is merciful and ready to forgive us
if we feel sorry.
The Lord or your money
The third counsel the Lord gives us today is:
Let the mammon,
that means: let money
not be your God.
We cannot serve two masters:
the Lord and our money.
If money is your master,
this will destroy your relationship
with your dear ones
and with God.
Let the Lord be your master
and consider every topic
under His light and wisdom.
Self giving love
Yes, we are called to love God
and to love our fellow man
and even the smallest act of love
will be rewarded,
here and in the life here after.
Since only through love
we can foster good relationships.
Yes, let us not seek
what is of human esteem,
but let self giving love,
love to God and our fellow man
be the principle and foundation of our lives.