I still get a kick out of remembering my younger sister’s chitchat with her son, Tristan, while in the car on the way to school. Noticing that my nephew was putting gel on his hair, my sister asked him, “Tristan, why are you fixing your hair well? Are you trying to impress a girl in school?” “Oh no, Mom,” Tristan answered, “I’m not going to impress a girl, I’m going to impress Jesus! It’s my first day to serve Mass as an altar boy, you know. ” My sister couldn’t help smiling about this incident throughout the day.
On this Sunday, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, isn’t this the kind of attitude that we need to have at Mass and every day that we live out our lives as Christians? We’re at church not to impress anyone but Christ our Lord—we come to church and we live our faith to honor him, to give him praise, to love him and to show our full loyalty to him.
As a priest and preacher, I try to be more conscious of this attitude. I’m not out to preach about myself but to preach Jesus and the remarkable ways that God has shown his love and mercy to me. I do my job not to please anyone or myself but to please God. When I keep this attitude, I experience peace, become centered in God and not self-absorbed because I do my job for the right reason.
Indeed, this attitude is transformative. It takes away our pride, makes us humble and dependent on God’s grace. It fills our hearts and minds with faith, knowing that the Almighty God has all the power over our lives to keep us strong and confident to face every challenge and trial of life.
Doing everything for God’s glory gives us a prayerful spirit and removes and selfish motives. It generates generosity, care, kindness and justice to others. It allows us to see others as brothers or sisters in Christ. It takes away our competitive and comparative behaviors with them.
Putting on this attitude requires discipline. It means that we take time everyday to pray to give praise to God and to declare to him our loyalty and love. It involves having a contemplative spirit by lifting up our hearts and minds to God and abandoning our wills to him.
We live and die for God who is filled with love and mercy for his people. In the end, our loyalty and strong connection to him will also transform our relationship with others. Our vocation is to live in his image and likeness as he had shown in the life and teachings of His Son, Jesus, on earth.
May we forever show our fidelity to God! May the Kingdom of Christ—a Kingdom of justice, peace, and love reign in our lives, especially in these times when the world is beset by violence, hatred, and terrorism. May the Jesus Christ, our King, intervene to bring peace in this world! Amen.
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.