"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Height of Christ

        I've been posting about the depth of Christ and how exciting it is for us to enter and explore this depth, both simple and profound. Now I see it more as a height because after you discover more of its beauty, you are lifted to new heights by the Lord. Perhaps I can see it as a width too, as he is infinite in every dimension. 

Be Humbled Before All

        Today's Response to Psalm 51 is: "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn." I am thinking that the Lord equates loving him to loving others (the least of his brothers and sisters), then if we are to remain humble before God, we are to do so before others too. This will keep us from passing judgment on others. Basically, God wants us to have peace, since a heart contrite and humbled is one that has made his peace with God.

Accomplishment That Matters

         February is coming to an end today and I can't help feeling how time flies again. So, what have I accomplished this month? I've enlarged the irrigation circles under the growing fruit trees, replaced a defective smoke alarm in the house, and done other things like that; but they are just part of what you have to do in life. The accomplishment that truly matters comes down to just how much more I have loved God over the period.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Forgiving Others

        In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus taught his disciples the Our Father. Then he added, "If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." Straight and clear speaking. It comes down to whether you want God to be lenient with you or not.
        If there are men who have transgressed against you, then you pray for them. This may be extremely hard, so I suggest that you don't think of them as your personal enemies, but as sinners in general ~ they simply offended God as you did. Besides, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies ~ what beautiful teaching this is! If you can forgive all your transgressors from your heart, you will receive absolute peace and great joy for obeying and glorifying God! This reward alone is worth the work. 

In Harmony with God

        Great feeling at Mass. God is sitting on the throne within my heart in full command. He knows everything about me and I am in total communion with him.

Choice of Future

        Thoughts early today. I can plan my future so that I shall receive the most security, comfort, and enjoyment of life ~ it seems such a natural, sensible thing for me to do. The other choice: I don't know what the future holds, but I know that God knows what he wants for me and I am giving him the honor to unfold the future before me.

Revealing Dreams

        Early this morning I dreamed that I was eating a meal at what appeared to be a big dining hall. I just finished my soup and got up and walked away a few feet to look at some magazines or something for a short time. Then I returned to my dining table and saw that my main plate with nothing touched yet had been taken away already ~ apparently, the server thought that I wasn't going to be back anymore. I was somewhat upset and found and told the server that she should have made sure that I was done with the meal. 
       Then I somewhat woke up and realized that in a dream, I behaved exactly the way I was. In fact, thinking about all the past dreams, I have never reacted in a situation as if I were someone else. For example, if I was kind, then I was never mean in a dream. It's always been me. In a dream if there are still things buried in my subconscious mind, they can surface too, so I may not be the person as good as I appear to be in my waking hours. I want to ask the Lord to remove all that shouldn't be in my subconscious so that I would be truthful even in my dream. This has been an interesting learning experience.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Critical Information

        If you are not at Mass today, I urged you to read the Gospel for today, which is Matthew 25:31-46. It's about Jesus' second coming, the judgment, what love is all about, eternal punishment and eternal life. What's said is crystal clear and all should pay great attention to it because of its critical nature.

Blindly Following Jesus

        Before Mass started this morning, I felt the joy of blindly following the Lord. To follow him blindly is not to be blind ~ what I mean is to follow him unquestioningly with no reservation whatsoever. It's an abandonment in him, a desire to be with him alone, and this brings great joy and freedom.

How to Get Detached from the World

        I see so many people so deeply attached to this material world that this picture comes to my mind. Imagine that each of us is a piece of iron and is positioned between two opposing magnets, one of which is Satan and the other one, God. The magnet of God is so much stronger, but since the hearts of those deeply immersed in the world are open to Satan and not to God, they are drawn toward the former. The only way to sever that attachment and get attached to God is for them to turn around to face him, open their hearts to let him in ~ then he will pull them toward him. Remember that Satan is a master of slavery and God, the Lord of freedom.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Experiencing the Truth

        Say you have an ailment, hear about a wonderful medicine, and decide to try it. Then the medicine completely heals you and you are very happy and become a firm believer in it. Jesus is like this medicine. I did not firmly believe in him at the beginning, but I decided that he's worthy to be trusted. As I got to know him better and better, I received so many blessings that it's as if God had started giving me his own testimony. My actual experience finally confirmed for me the truth of Christ beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Repent and Believe

        In today's Gospel reading from Mark 1, after John the Baptist had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Now that the gospel is already here, the time to repent and believe is any time. God does not hold office hours only at certain times ~ he is wide open at all times. Repent and believe right now! There's never any waiting to see him either.

No God, No Peace

        It's undeniable that we are all sinners and as long as we sin, there will be no peace in our hearts (and in the world). Without God, sinners try to ignore and forget their sins. They seek escape in worldly pleasures or consolation from others, but the stains on their souls remain. God is the only one who can take away sins ~ there are just no other means! 
        In Matthew 16, Jesus said to Peter, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be be loosed in heaven." For us Catholics, we just take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation instituted by the Lord to get ourselves absolved of all sins. In any case, believing in the work of Christ and turning to God to repent are essential. Peace comes only to the one whose heart is clean and pure.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Prayer Request

        Coptic Christians in Egypt are now the target of attack by militant Islamic extremist groups. Please pray for both sides that there will be peace and that meanwhile, God will keep the Copts out of harm's way. 

God All-Knowing

        Today I become extra aware that God knows everything about us. To him, both our minds and our hearts are exposed bare in the most bright light (x-rays might be more suitable). Every desire, wish, need, joy, sorrow, emotion, thought either good or bad... he knows. This awareness can make us aware of his constant presence and help us become holier.  

Following Jesus

        In the Gospel, Luke 5 this morning, Jesus saw Levi, the tax collector, and said to him, "Follow me." When I heard this, I was again elated because I knew that by following Jesus, I'd be walking in the truth.

Walking in the Truth

        The Response to readings from Psalm 86 at morning Mass: "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth." When I heard "walk in your truth," I was elated because it just feels so good to walk in the truth ~ you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, and you know exactly where you are and where you're going ~ feeling both secure and carefree. 

Why Go to Mass?

        Going to Mass is not just an obligation. I go because I am going to meet God in person, not only meeting him but also becoming one with him. Then God already dwells within me, so I go to receive him again in the Holy Eucharist to seal this intimate relationship one more time. I do not see any contradiction here because God is present everywhere, both within and without me. The Lord cleanses and heals me again, transforming me some more. At Mass, it's as if I were present at the Last Supper. At Mass, I get to celebrate again the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. I won't want to miss Mass for all the world.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Get an Audience with God

        Today's Response to the Psalm comes from Psalm 51: "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn." So, being contrite and humble is the way to get the Lord to see you. If you are proud and unrepentant, you might as well not even try. In this case, even though he'd love to admit you, you have not met the entrance requirements. 

Addiction Is Enslavement

        Last December shoppers fought for the new Nike Air Jordan shoe. Today crowd is rushing for another new Nike limited-edition shoe. On last Black Friday after Thanksgiving, bargain-hunters stampeded stores, resulting in shootings and pepper-spraying. In a way, this kind of addiction to material goods is no better than addiction to narcotics or drugs because it can ruin your soul too. We could call all of them world addicts. And as long as you are one, you are a slave to the world and not free to attach yourself to God, who alone can and is ready to free you.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Accessing God's Power

        The power of God is infinite. He runs the universe, keeps us alive, works miracles... the list goes on and on. Great news! This same God is accessible to us and wants to share his power with us ~ we can do great things in this life, be saved, and have eternal life in heaven, all through his power! To gain access, just follow Jesus.

Be Delightful!

        There is much beauty in both nature and man's creations in the world. I see even beauty in music that may be considered by some to be worldly. If you hear the Gershwin song "Embraceable You" arranged by Earl Wild for piano (Yeol-Eum Son played very well on YouTube), you must agree that it's beautiful. When I hear the melody, the excellent arrangement and beautiful interpretation by the artist, they lead my thoughts directly to God, the source of all beauty. The talents of the composer, arranger, and pianist as well as our sense of appreciation and enjoyment all came from the Lord. 
        Since beauty is delightful, I thought that we can be delightful ourselves too. By letting God make us pure and holy, we become delightful to him ~ what can possibly be more delightful?

A Paradoxical Truth

        In the Gospel reading from Luke 9 at Mass, Jesus said to all, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever wishes to lose his life for my sake will save it." This is another simple paradoxical truth revealed by the Lord. The key is to live (lose one's life) for his sake.

Security in Jesus

        This morning's at Mass, the Responsorial Psalm was Psalm 1. As soon as I heard read the verse "Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away," I felt the rock-solid security in Jesus. Again, how good it is have him!

How Good It Is to Not Be...

        impatient, rude, jealous or envious, self-centered, quick-tempered, acting pompous or inflated, feeling hopeless, lonely or self-pity, brooding over the past and complaining about the present. How good it is to have Jesus!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hypocrisy Displeases God

        Today is Ash Wednesday. In the Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus makes it crystal clear to his disciples that when they perform good deeds, pray, and fast, they are to do them in secret with only the Father knowing. In other words, if we truly wish to do good, it must be for God alone and not the slightest for ourselves. We'd be hypocrites if our goal is to make others see and notice us or to win praises from them, for all glory and honor belongs to God. For anyone who still has some hypocrisy in him, getting rid of it during Lent would give great glory and honor to the Father indeed. As I said in an earlier post, "the ego's gotta go". 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Good Am I Doing?

        I've been talking about praying, transforming ourselves, loving God, etc., all this time, and I can hear someone say that rather than doing all this, why not go into the real world and do something constructive and helpful! Actually, I am doing things out in the world, but not in a big way in the eyes of the world. My answer to the question: "The reason why our world is such a tumultuous, disorderly, and tragic condition, needing much help, is because people in general have lost their faith in God and no longer love each other. What I am doing is exactly trying to correct this situation through God." 

God the Ultimate

        In the material world, there are good things and better things. First, the radio, then TV showed up and it became colored. Compact discs have displaced vinyl records. Even in the cooking business, you cook something good and someone else comes along to make the same dish a lot tastier. (But I must say that the flavor of the roasted peanuts I once had in a small Guatemalan village can't ever be bettered!) Moving into the intellectual world, we have the same. Certain areas of knowledge are definitely more advanced and a lot more exciting to study. There is great music and there's not-so-great music. In the spiritual realm, the ultimate is definitely God through Christ, for we cannot possibly find anything or anyone more satisfying in making life meaningful and in fulfilling our needs. He is the ultimate and a must-have for all of us ~ the improvement stops there.
        Mark 8.36: "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" The way to go: "Gain God and forfeit the world!"  

Lent Intentions

        Tomorrow Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. You can choose to make more sacrifices or to love more. While the former brings up a gloomy image, the latter sounds so much more cheerful. Besides, in loving you are making sacrifices and you don't even think of it as such! I think it's the better intention of the two. Lenten season is a perfect time for us to grow holier. 

Love Ever Present

        God is ever present and since he is Love, his love is ever present too. God has no beginning nor end, so his love is everlasting too. All creation may pass, but not his love ~ this is of great comfort to me. On top of it all, it's yours whenever you ask for it ~ I would ask for as much as the Father will give me. The more love you receive, the more fringe benefits you get too.        

Love like Fire

        God's love is gentle and soothing, yet serious and intense at the same time. If you welcome and embrace this love, it will heal, cleanse, and purify your heart. If you ignore, reject, or offend his love, your risk getting yourself separated from him forever. Like real fire, the love of God can warm or scorch you, so don't play with it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

God's Takeover

        This Morning when I received Christ in the Holy Eucharist, I just remained open, passive, and let him take over, knowing that he's going to heal my soul. I instantly felt myself "weightless" and free. When the Lord takes over, all shackles and fetters vanish.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Most Personal God

       The God of Christ is a most personal God. He died for all of us to redeem us and he would have done the same even if you are the only person existing. He loves you as if you're the only one in his sight. And everything you do, no matter how small, affects him! His blesses us as much as we ask for. Whoever believes in him becomes a son or daughter to him. And through union, you and God can become one, belonging to each other. You cannot possibly get more personal than that. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Self-Control Not Needed

        I mentioned in an earlier post that once you are in union with God, the free will is no longer exercised because your will is already following God's will. In the same way, self-control is no longer needed because you now automatically do what pleases God. In theory, when you are in perfect union with God, you become truly Christlike. 

Melting in God

        At Mass today, as the consecrated host of the Holy Eucharist slowly melted in my mouth, I felt myself melting away in the ocean of God's love ~ a great feeling and a great mental image. 

Remain True and Secure

        Do not let anyone who says false things about you disturb you, for what's true remains true and what's not will self-destroy. God is the eternal truth and nothing man does can change that. Untruth vaporizes before God. Remain in the Lord always and you will be secure.        

Choosing Your Part

        In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus made it clear that Mary, for sitting beside him at his feet and listening to him speak, had chosen the better part. Today, amidst all those people who have succeeded in the eyes of the world, I know that I have chosen the best part, for I have the Lord.        

Friday, February 17, 2012

Communion Time Give-and-Take

        Today, before I received Holy Communion, I prayed to God to make me perfect for his joy.
        After I received Holy Communion, he told me to treasure everything he had given me.  

God Has Made Us So

        I've quoted at lease twice before St. Augustine's saying "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you." That's how God has made us. This morning at Mass, it was still hard for me to believe that God would give his own Son to save us (John 3:16). Then I saw that this is also a built-in thing ~ God wants us to wonder about his incredible love and be amazed so that we may believe and be drawn to him. 

Jesus Is All We Need

        In my younger days, it's important to me that I go through my life to leave a mark in the world. I did not exactly rule out making the world a better place for all to live in, but I basically wanted to feel good about accomplishing something on my own. Looking back, I see the foolishness of it all. Today I'd rather remain unknown and aim only to please God ~ so much more satisfying, and peaceful too. I could hear mentally Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach playing.   

Beware of False Prophets

        Today's Gospel Acclamation at Mass is the verse John 15:15b. "I call you my friends, says the Lord (to his disciples), for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me." I believe that Jesus had revealed all we need to know for our salvation and that his Church has preserved all his revelations to this day. Therefore, anyone who claims that he or she has received new revelations from God that change the status of Jesus or contradict the preserved revelations has to be a false prophet, and there has been plenty of that kind popping up now and then.

Most Amazing Love

        This is Friday, the day to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. I thought about the first mystery, Agony in the Garden. Earlier, Jesus already told his disciples that he's going to suffer and be killed. Personally, I believe that unlike prophets who realized their roles only at the time God called them, Jesus, as God, knew all along his mission from the very beginning. Imagine the agony he must have felt in all those years leading to his Crucifixion! One consolation I see is that his love for us is so great that you might say that he gladly suffered and died for us and was happy that he completed the work of salvation he'd set out to do. No matter what you think, his love is the most amazing thing in the whole universe.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Think as God Does

        Today's Gospel reading came from Mark 8. Jesus openly taught his disciples that he must suffer greatly, be rejected and killed, and rise after three days. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Jesus then, before all the other disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Naturally, to be correct, we must think as God does. And the only way to achieve that is to be in union with him. 
        I heard on radio while driving back home after Mass two speakers talking about the Catholic Church (and other denominations and sects). It shocked me to hear that in their opinion, the teachings of the Church are just human inventions ~ they have absolutely no understanding of what I and many of you the faithful believe in. Here's an example of thinking totally as human beings do. At the end, as I had suspected, the program turned out to be an atheist one. One interesting thing though I caught in the last minute or so ~ when one of the speakers asked the other if religions will all be gone a couple of thousand years from now, the other said probably not because people always want to look for a god. This just confirmed what St. Augustine said.

God Deserves the Best

        This morning the new tabernacle finally showed up at my church. Before Mass began, the priest, with all of us present gathered in front of it on the altar, blessed it and placed the Most Holy Sacrament in its new abode for the very first time. This is the tabernacle which had been anticipated for a couple of months already. It's quite beautiful and shows the detailed craftsmanship ~ perhaps this explains its delayed arrival. Seeing it made me see that God absolutely deserves the best. He deserves the best from each one of us ~ this means that we must present ourselves in the light that makes us appear most pleasing to him. This calls for nothing short of being pure and holy in his sight.   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heavenly Feast

        As I was going up to receive Holy Communion at Mass this morning, I knew that I was going to a heavenly feast. God himself was the host who invited me on this occasion and the feast was nothing but Jesus himself, the bread of life, who heals my soul. I mentioned before that I receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist to express my love for him, but I also need constant healing of the soul too. When he heals the soul, it is made fit for heaven. A taste of heaven starts right here on earth.

No Escape from God

        Thought of this morning. I am alive with my heart continuously pumping ~ surely it's not me who is making this possible. In fact, I don't even know how I got here nor when I'll be leaving this world as so many others have departed, often rather suddenly. Therefore, I am totally in God's hands ~ it's his call. We all came from him and we shall return to him too. Escape from God is impossible. To run away from him is worse than self-banishment to oblivion. Recognizing our total dependence upon God, the only wise and sensible thing left for us to do is to stop running and hiding from him. Instead, turn to him and embrace him with all our heart and you'll know that you've made the right decision.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Praying for Enemies

        If you find it difficult to pray for those who are enemies or whom you find it hard to forgive, pray for them for the sake of pleasing God. This shift of focus makes your job easier, while following God's will.

Love Needed for Happiness

        It is common knowledge that even any infant knows whether he or she is being loved by the parents or other adults. A child so loved becomes a happy grownup. This works for adults too. If we acknowledge that God is our Father and let him love us, we'll invariably be happy. This morning as I received Holy Communion, love came to dwell with me in solid form.

God Most Tender

        The Gospel Acclamation today is based upon John 14.23: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him." I hear these words of Jesus said with such tenderness and love ~ how anyone with a heart can possibly shut him out?

God Is Our Friend

        Today is the Memorial of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. The Entrance Song reads: "These are holymen who became friends of God, glorious heralds of divine truth." What strikes me is that we worship our God, but we are also his friends. This means that we can approach and talk to him as if he is our equal, for he is humble. There is no doubt that he is the best friend we can possibly have and basically the only friend we'll ever need. I do not know other religions in the world well, but I venture to say that this is a unique aspect of our God as revealed through Christ our Savior. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

One More Mark of Truth

        In John 3, Jesus said that "everyone who believes in him may have eternal life". Later in John 14, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." These and others are familiar sayings of the Lord, but pay attention to the boldness of these claims! Either he spoke the truth or falsehood. We see that everything he said or did challenges us to deal with it. A big sign could be placed next to him that literally says "Ignore me at your own peril!" There isn't another human being like that. To me, this is another one of the marks of a true God. 

Freedom Under God

        By my own free will, I have chosen to surrender to Christ. Never at any time have I felt that the Lord has shackled me in any way. On the contrary, I've never felt so free in my whole life. Should I decide to break off my relationship with Jesus, I am entirely free to do so. In other words, the Lord only loves and teaches me, never trying to control me (the free will is mine to keep) ~ another reason why I love Jesus. (Psst, I am not going to break off with him.) 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Unseen Miracle

        In the Gospel reading from Mark 1, a leper came to Jesus and asked Jesus to make him clean. The Lord, moved with pity, touched him and said, "I'll do it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately. To us that was obviously a miracle. Then I saw that every time we repent and Jesus forgives us and removes our sins, that's a miracle too! In a way, it's even more wonderful than physical healing and we should take full advantage of this power of God at our beck and call.      

We Are of Christ

        In Reading 2 at Mass from 1 Corinthians 11 was Paul's plea: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." It struck me that if we are faithful Christians like Paul, each one of us should be able to declare "I am of Christ" openly with great joy, pride, and satisfaction. 

We Cannot Beat God

        Today's Response to Psalm reads: "I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation." The Lord is always ready for us, so the question is whether we are ready to turn to him to receive his joy. Suppose we view this as a contest to see who can maintain his stance longer ~ you or God. Of course, God will always be looking at you. If you don't turn to him, you ultimately lose. But if you give up and turn to him, then both you and he win. In other words, in this game you must lose to win. The truth is that we can never beat God in any game we play ~ submission is our only sensible choice.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Christian Life a Crescendo

        At this morning's mini-retreat, I heard the word "crescendo" and I thought of the Christian life as being a crescendo. As you discover Jesus and move closer to him toward union, you experience more and more love, freedom, joy, and peace and see that the Lord will be all yours at the end.

Becoming Fearless

        A Christian lives for God alone and not for himself. Because he has no more concern for himself and there is no need to fear for God, he becomes fearless.

"Porta fidei"

        At a mini-retreat, I heard part of this letter by Pope Benedict XVI on the "Year of Faith" read. It is very beautiful and well worth reading if you have some time. The letter was made public on Oct. 17, 2011 and the "Year of Faith" is to begin on Oct. 11, 2012, so you will probably hear more about it as we approach October. On the following site, you can read extracts of this long letter in PDF form: http://www.smcim.org/files/portal/news/attach1_307.pdf

Are You Harvesting?

        Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few." Today, the laborers are still few, so where are you?

Should You Be a Saint?

        Look at St. Peter and St. Francis ~ they both gave up everything to follow Jesus. Can we do it too? 
  1. Did God make them humanly superior to us?
  2. Is God limited in his power to transform us into saints?
  3. Should we love God less than Peter and Francis?   
        If your answer to each of the above questions is no, then aim to become a saint.

Jesus Is My...

Lord, my God, my most beloved, and my life and my soul a well.

God Is Personal

        In today's Gospel read from Mark 8, Jesus multiplied seven loaves of bread and a few fish to feed a hungry crowd of about 4,000 because his heart was moved with great pity for them. This was a great miracle, but his mercy was even greater. I love Jesus because he became one of us and identified himself with us! He is not untouchable or high and mighty. On the contrary, he is both personal and humble, ready to become one with us! Through Jesus, we're able to see clearly what God is truly like. For this, I am eternally grateful. 

From Submission to Peace

        Total submission to God leads to perfect harmony with God's will which leads to complete peace of the heart. Pure, simple logic.

The Apostle Advantage

        When you feel the Lord's presence at all times, you feel as if you are one of the Apostles, seeing and following Jesus at all times.

Friday, February 10, 2012

All About Love

        At morning Mass today, I realized that I was back again. Why did I want to receive the Lord again in the Holy Eucharist? I've received him countless times already and he has poured grace upon grace on me, and I am now completely open to him. The answer that came up in my heart was that I wished to receive him simply because he is love and it's this love that has made me love him.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Experience the Greatest Freedom

        I've been weeding outdoors for a few hours. The weather is perfect, and even if spring is not here yet, new weeds have come up. Rather than bending down each time to pull the weeds, I like to sit on the ground and move sideways. I enjoy the solitude alone with God.
        Today he made me see that if we make him number one in our lives, that is, if we are willing to give up everything for his sake, then we shall experience the greatest freedom. Now, this could strike fear in us. I must hasten to add that it does not follow that once we have expressed our willingness, God is actually going to take everything away from us. No, not at all! The Lord only likes to test us, for he loves us so much that he wants us to be his completely. If we pass the test, for sure more blessings will come our way and great freedom is just that first blessing.                   
        [Recall the story in Genesis 22 about Abraham following God's order to offer his son Isaac up as a burnt offering? When Abraham was ready to slaughter his son, an angel appeared and stopped him. Because Abraham passed the test, God promised to bless him and his descendants.] 

Transfiguration & the Eucharist

        As I was meditating on the Transfiguration of Jesus, the fourth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, I thought of the changing of the elements of the bread and wine, when they are consecrated in the Eucharist, into the body and blood of Christ. Looking at the consecrated bread and wine is much like looking at the untransfigured Jesus ~ you see an ordinary human being, yet he is divine.

Let's Do Great Works

        Jesus promised us that whoever believes in him will do great works (John 14:12). How good it is to let God accomplish great things through us! And this includes the transformation of us.  

Do All with Your Heart

        This morning I got up before six and it's still quite dark outside. Figuratively speaking, I could say that this is what God sees when he looks down upon the earth and sees the hearts of the billions of sinners. Then I saw the bright beacon of light that is Christ, shining among us; but the people who see it do not understand because they do not see it with their heart. To see the truth, we must involve the heart. When we believe, we must believe with our heart. When we love, we must love with our heart. In sum, do all with our heart for God, then we shall shine in the darkness too.

Life of Wonderment

        As I said in my last post, I felt very content in Christ. But at night when I am supposed to fall asleep, I often stay awake, still amazed and overwhelmed by the love of Christ ~ who am I that he should care for so much? The Christian life is a life filled with great wonderment.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being Content with God

        My only feeling this morning at Mass was contentment. The first part of Psalm 23, a psalm of David, describes it well ~ "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along the right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are will me; your rod and your staff comfort me." 
        Now I know exactly how David felt. He has the same God!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happiness in Christ

        Left on our own to pursue my own happiness, we'll never be happy ~ you can count on that! That's why Jesus came along to show us the way, which is to seek his will and not our own. Believe me, he knows what he's talking about. Following him leads to freedom, fulfillment, and interior peace. Some may have found peace in this life by some other way, but it cannot be at such an exalted level because happiness in Christ is never ending, becoming even more intensified after this life!

Hypocrisy for Fools Only

        Today's Gospel reading from Mark 7 reveals the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes. Today's government officials, politicians, businessmen, commercials... do no better. There is not much trust among our own people and among the nations anymore. But for Christians, hypocrisy has no place ~ a Christian must be 100% genuine, for God sees right through the heart. To be hypocritical is to try fooling God.  

We Are the Chosen!

        After hearing the reading from 1 Kings 8 and the Resporsorial Psalm at Mass today, I was amazed that the Israelites had believed in one God from the very beginning ~ they had to be the chosen people by God. Then I saw that we Christians were a chosen people by God too. I felt this especially after receiving Holy Communion, for I became a chosen one among the chosen.  

Why Love Jesus

        Last night on PBS radio, someone whose upper body got completely burned in an accident was being interviewed. He said that when it happened, he knew that there's nothing he could do about it and that later no medication could stop the pain he suffered. Now he's finally recovering. Right away, I thought of hellfire which you can do nothing about and causes pains that cannot be eased. What's worse ~ you will never recover from it! Even though you don't hear too many fire-and-brimstone sermons preached nowadays, it doesn't mean that there's no punishment after death anymore. What I want to tell all is that never, never end up in that place of inferno! If you are not a believer in Jesus yet, believe now and you won't have to worry about those fires anymore. Better yet, believe out of love for him, for he loves you! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

What Life Is Like

        You may know the saying "Life is just a bowl of cherries," which really doesn't mean too much. To me, it all depends upon if you know Jesus or not. If you don't know him, I'd say that life is more like a bad dream or movie with an unknown ending. Once you know Jesus, life becomes absolutely real and you know exactly how it's going to play out. I know because I have lived both.

God Grants Peace

        I caught a little bit of an EWTN program Living the Discerning Life, based upon the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola and presented by a Father Gallagher. The topic was Spiritual Consolation and Desolation. A line caught my attention ~ Fr. Gallagher said that when you are under tension, rest in God and it will go away. I totally concur here. For without God, the tension will go away only after the cause of your tension is removed. With God, you turn to and rest in him and he will give you peace, for he is greater than us.

God Dwelling in Us

        Today's first reading at Mass from 1 Kings 8 talked about the Lord dwelling in the cloud that filled King Solomon's temple after the ark of the covenant of the Lord had been brought into its sanctuary. This really made me think of us as temples of the Holy Spirit that the Lord dwells in us as well ~ something I knew but perhaps never quite fully realized. Every time I look up into the universe, I feel humbled. Now the creator of this universe actually dwells within me ~ I must take my time to digest this! The more I think about this, the more overwhelmed I am, and the more amazed and appreciative I become. Yes, the cup overflows! 

Why I Like My God

        There is only one God and I like him as revealed to us by Jesus, that he is all love as demonstrated by Jesus, God Incarnate, himself. Some other religions also believe in God, but he is not so personal nor conceived as Love. Still other religions teach you to be kind and loving, but they do not have any clear conception of God. That's why I choose the God of Christ, most incredible, yet most approachable. 

No Point of No Return for Us

        Look at what's happening in Syria. During this so-called Arab Spring, some leaders are wise enough to initiate reforms or step down early enough to prevent worse unrest. In Syria, it seems that President al-Assad has already gone beyond the point of no return in dealing with his own people rebelling against him.   
        Then I thought of our loving Lord. With him, as long as we are still alive, there is no point of no return for us. It's never too late to return to him. Anytime we are ready, he is ready ~ this is the beauty of his great mercy, guaranteed by his love for us. How blessed we are!       

God Our Only Hope

        There is just so much bad news you hear from all over the globe. Again, I want to remind all that God is our only bright hope. Focus on the fact that God has turned many human beings into saints. So if we all let God transform us, then we'll have a peaceful world ~ it's as simple as that. In reality, of course, not everyone will listen to this truth, but this does not invalidate the truth that God, the God of Christ, is our only hope.          

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Christian Life

        The Christian life can be said to consist of two parts. You find Christ, believe in him and ask him to come into your life ~ this is the first part. You want him to transform you until you become like him ~ this is the second part. It's in this second part that you become holy, experience freedom, and know that you are now a new creature. Without this part, you are only a Christian in name only. 

Best Discovery of My Life

        I watched a documentary on a legendary photographer who photographed what people wore (clothes) in New York City. He's good and loved what he did. I totally understand it because I used to photograph a lot myself. And it's through this medium that I discovered myself. I reached a point that I felt exactly what emotionally moved me and knew how to capture that image, and that anyone who saw my work would recognize that it's mine. In other words, the images became me. This gave me great satisfaction because those serene, calm, and somewhat enigmatic images showed clearly what kind of person I was.
        The discovery of Jesus changed everything. I see now that the discovery of myself still kept me self-centered. The light of Christ has totally revealed him to me and me to him. It's this mutual understanding that matters. Essentially, knowing that I am loved by him has freed me, making my old discovery totally forgettable.

How Important Is Jesus to You?

        Today is Super Bowl Sunday, a big special day for football fans. It's a fact that many Catholics do not attend Mass on Sunday except when it happens to be Easter or Christmas, just to ease their conscience. Now, for many football fans who normally do attend Mass, skipping it on Super Bowl Sunday for their convenience does not seem to bother them either. The question basically boils down to whether you love yourself or God more. 
        The following comes to my mind. (1) Is Jesus truly your shepherd? As you know, his sheep hear his voice and follow. (2) The first disciples dropped everything instantly to follow the Lord when he called them. Hesitation or looking back shows unfitness. (3) Matthew10.32-33: "Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father." Obviously, if Jesus is not number one in your life, you won't be treated as number one by him in your next life. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Holy Eucharist

        As I received the Lord in Holy Communion this morning, I realized that I had done it innumerable times already. I started attending daily Mass in November, 2007; so counting just these last 4+ years alone, I have done it over 1,500 times! So, if I have not been a better Christian by now, I really should be ashamed of myself and might as well turn into a log. Fortunately, I am most grateful that Jesus has blessed me more than I deserve. If we will just become a tiny bit holier each day, we can go a long way after a thousand days! [This reminds me of a story about Irena Orlov, the pianist I mentioned in a post late last December. A student told her that a piece was too hard for him to learn. She asked him to count the number of measures in the piece and it turned out to be 54. Then she asked him if he could learn to play just one measure a day, and obviously, the answer was yes.]

Joy and Sorrow

        I was praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary today. The Sorrowful Mysteries, culminating in Crucifixion of the Lord, will follow later. Then the Glorious Mysteries come at the end. In our own life, joy and sorrow take their respective turns. It's easy for one to be in one state and not think about the other. But for us who believe in Jesus, no matter how much sorrow we experience, let's always remember that our final state will be everlasting joy!   

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dark Days Are Here!

        Just read on BBC News that a Christian group in Bath has been banned from claiming that God can heal illnesses on its website and in leaflets. The Advertising Standard Authority there said that such advertisements could encourage false hope and were irresponsible. The dark days are indeed here. Christians are now being squeezed on all sides. The happy news is that this will only hasten the Lord's return. The sad news is what he will find when he comes.  

God Is Humble

        Again, after seeing some stunning pictures of galaxies on a TV program, I was in a way "stunned" by the humbleness of God, the creator of our universe. With such great power, God has never tried to show off in any way ~ that's saying that he never looked down on us. Jesus came into our world ~ he healed the sick and raised the dead, multiplied fish and bread and calm the wind and sea; but he did all out of love, never for a moment intending to show that he was superior to us. Of course, since the Lord is already the greatest, what's the point of letting others know that he is great? More basically, I believe that God is humble because that's his nature, for without humility you cannot genuinely love others. As for us who are definitely not the greatest, all the more we should remain humble. We should never show off before others to make others feel inferior.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Loving All Equally

        We naturally feel that our family members among all the people in the world are the closest to us. What does Jesus see? He said that whoever does the will of God is his brother and sister and mother (Mark 3.35). And he wanted to love our neighbor as ourselves. And Jesus identified himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, and one in prison (Matthew 25). It's clear that to the Lord, every single soul is equally dear to him. To follow his example, we must see all as loved ones of God and love them with no differentiation. 

Do All for Love

        Once you have been compelled to love Jesus, let this love, which really came from him, propel you in all that you do.

Love Compelling

        When you read the Gospels and finally realize how amazing God's love for us truly is, you will be compelled to love Jesus ~ only an irrational person will not so choose.

Battling Satan

        In fighting a battle, every little effort matters and every single moment counts. Remember that Jesus wants us to be perfect and this is how we should deal with Satan. In other words, we must be fully vigilant and do whatever we can to help without hesitation.

Time to Consecrate Ourselves

        Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, a good day to consecrate or reconsecrate ourselves to God. I feel great sorrow that the Church is being persecuted by the current administration at the top and "under attack" by other non-Christian organizations. Religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution is losing its protection. When Satan seems to prevail, we need to seek refuge in the Lord more than ever. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vision Affects Living

        A vision of a child is different from that of an adult who has many more life experiences. A farmer's vision is again different from what a high government official sees and understands. What we see affects how we live our lives. If we have the vision of truth, we will live right too. So, get to know Christ and ask him to let you have his vision of the world.