We often talk about relationships, because it is constant in everything we do and it is a recurring phenomenon globally, whether you are interacting with people here in China, in your home country, in your business, work or education there are relationships of some sort in it. Relationships are very crucial for our survival in the world. For example, a student must have a good relationship with his teachers and parents will endeavour to build quality relationships with their children etc. We can categorize relationships into vertical and horizontal relationships. Vertical relationship entails setting up a good relationship between us and God. This relationship with God is the fundamental form of relationship, upon which we build all other relationships we have. First, we must understand who we are and who God is. God is the creator of the universe – the air, time, and space. So, it is imperative that we set up a harmonious relationship with God, as we live in the universe he created. Not having a harmonious relationship with God means we cannot survive. How do we set up this harmonious relationship with God? To build a quality connection with God, we must not take anything for granted rather we must acknowledge God in every aspect of our life. For example, when we wake in the morning, we must give thanks to God for giving us a new day and making us alive in it. We must understand that many people die every night and the fact that we have our life is enough to glorify and give thanks to God. We are not better than the people who die, rather it is only God’s grace that keeps us in this universe that he created. So, the morning prayer is a great way to set up a good relationship with God. Another way to connect to God is through the mass and the liturgy. Through the mass we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist just like Christ and the apostles did during the Last Supper. In the mass, we also listen to the word of God, not only the word but God’s life and Spirit as well. By paying attention and understanding the word of God, we understand who we are and understand God’s purpose for us, as God’s children. Being the children of God means that we must set up a great relationship with God, and that is the vertical relationship. If we have a healthy and harmonious relationship with God, naturally, we will have a harmonious and healthy relationships with the world and everyone in our lives, and this type of relationship is the horizontal relationship. In today’s Gospel reading, we heard the word “whoever” repeated severally, as Jesus tells us the importance of having a great relationship with God. For example, we read, “Whoever loves their parents, children, jobs etc. more than me, is not worthy of me”. This simply means that if we place anything or anyone above God, then we are doing the wrong thing. It should be God first before anything or anyone else. Consider the love God has for us that He sent His only son Jesus Christ to die for us, and Jesus loving us greatly allowed Himself to be nailed on the cross giving us His body and blood to save us. That is the greatest love of all, which nobody or anything can give us. Therefore, we must place God who loves us above everything first in our lives. God is love my brothers and sisters, and whoever loves God is worthy of eternal life. When we love God and place Him first, it helps us to love the people in our lives and helps us to function optimally. With the love of God in our hearts, we can face challenges and overcome. The love of God in us helps us to be better parents, better colleagues at work and helps us to be good children. So, relationships, whether vertical or horizontal is very important in our lives. As today’s second reading reminds us, Jesus Christ saved us through his death and resurrection. With Christ’s salvation, we have the grace to live in the universe and in God’s love. Without the love of God in us, we cannot tell our fellow humans that we love them. God is love and love is God. God’s love is sacrifice too, so, it is from our dedication of our lives to God that we can acquire the ability to love our fellow humans like God loves us. So, do not waste the grace of God, use it to build great relationships with people around, because relationships are so important.
May God bless you.