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CFC Begins the Year with the First Fruits Offering
Monday, January 15, 2018

The Couples for Christ Mission Core of Metro Manila began 2018 with the First Fruits offering at St. Paul's College Gym, Pasig City on January 7, 2018. First Fruits ceremonies also took place in Mission Core assemblies held in the provinces and the international missions.

 

The First Fruits offering is traditionally the highlight of the first Mission Core gathering of every year.This year’s MM First Fruits Offering started with the Holy Eucharist, celebrated by the Most Reverend Arturo Bastes, SVD, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Sorsogon.

 

In his homily, Bishop Bastes emphasized that the Epiphany is a special feast of the whole Church. Epiphany is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. In the second reading, St. Paul proclaimed to the Ephesians that not only the Jews, but peoples of all the nations will be called children of God.

 

Reflecting on the gospel, which was about the three Magi who came to worship the child King, and their taking a different route to prevent Herod from finding Jesus, Bishop Bastes asked: “How did Herod react to the coming of Jesus at that time?”

 

“First reaction was of hostility and hatred. Herod wanted to destroy the Christ Child because he did not want to compete with anybody for his title or interfere with his plans and the power and glory he was accustomed to,” the prelate explained.

 

According to the bishop, unfortunately, there are people today who, like Herod, wish to destroy Christ because if Christ is present in their lives, they cannot continue living a life contrary to His teachings.The second reaction, according to Bishop Bastes, came from the scribes and Pharisees, and it was that ofindifference. They knew that Christ was born in Bethlehem, but they did not care about Him.

 

The third reaction, that of the three magi, was the desire to adore, worship and offer gifts to the new-born King. The bishop exhorted, “Today, you have come to give your first fruit offerings, to offer what you have, to offer yourselves. The meaning of this sacrifice is to do the will of God.”


He added, “The will of God simply means fidelity, obedience to the commandments. This is a good day to renew your fidelity to Jesus. Like the three magi who offered their gifts, so offer your gifts heartily.”After the Mass, Rouquel Ponte, member of the Inter-national Council and Pastoral Formation Office Director, gave an exhortation on the first fruits offering, a community tradition started in 2003. The biblical basis for this tradition is from Deuteronomy 26: 2-11 and Leviticus 2:12-16.

 

The prophetic basis, however, came through a prophecy in 2003 given during the annual International Council planning and discernment for the next year’s theme—“I want to start a TRADITION . . . a TRADITION of ‘FIRST FRUITS’. At the start of each year, the very first ECG gathering, and the subsequent first gatherings of every group down the line to every member . . . should be consecrated to Me. It must be a most solemn and sacred occasion . . . worthy of my Holiness. This is how the consecration must be done: You are to prepare an altar. On the altar you are to put an appropri-ate vessel or container to hold the offerings. Place a crucifix in front of the vessel. Light candles. Adorn with flowers. I WILL BE PRESENT ON THAT SPECIAL OCCASION. MAKE THE SETTING WORTHY OF MY MAJESTY. Worship Me. Sing solemn songs. Then one by one, everyone present including children, without exception, should stand in line. And one by one, each should approach the altar with great reverence. Then offer your FIRST FRUITS, a symbolic amount of money, equivalent to how much of your heart you offer to Me. Your money is of no consequence to Me. But I delight in the amount of love that you will offer to me through that money.


“My arms are raised to bless. My hands are poised to give. Honor Me with your FIRST FRUITS solemnly, joyfully, and willingly. Dedicate yourselves to Me through your FIRST FRUITS OFFERING—not because you are just interested in the good results you expect Me to give you – but because you really love me and you delight in honoring Me. Then you will see . . . if I don’t open the windows of heaven and pour down upon you in abundance all kinds of good things.” Ponte also shared that the 

offering of first fruits is a symbolic act for CFC - individually, and as a community. This is a symbolic act of bringing back to God—and thanking God—for the many blessings He has given each one.

 

The money that CFC offers the Lord likewise stands for the following blessings received:


1.  Good health. “You would not have earned any amount of money had I not made you healthy and well.”


2.  Talents, skills, and capabilities.“With the abilities and gifts I bestowed on you, you are able to provide for your needs and for the needs of your family.”


3.  Work, career, profession, and livelihood. “Your job is the vehicle I use so that finances would come to you.”


4.  Community.“It is here in CFC that I ask you to perform this act, because it is in this community where I have brought you so that you may come nearer to Me.”


5.  Protection. “I guard your children. I care for you. I watch over your home so that no harm would come to you.”


6.  Mastery of heart.“This would reveal the victory of your heart over greed and selfishness.”



Ponte added, “However, the first fruits offering is not about money. It is not a fundraising activity. It is not buying God’s favor so He may bless us. After all, He owns the whole earth and its fullness thereof.”He emphasized that the first fruits offering is an indicator of the community’s faithfulness to the Lord in all areas, as the Lord looks at the condition of the Giver’s heart.


“We cannot buy God’s favor by giving Him money. But what thrills the heart of the Father is that we hear His voice, we listen, and we do what He says,” Ponte concludes.He ended his talk with this challenge: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Andrelene D. Veloso)





 

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