I am attending an end-of-the-month retreat at a local retreat center. I wasn't getting much out the presentations until Mass this morning at which I was overwhelmed by receiving the Lord in the Eucharist. It's as if nothing can satisfy me anymore except the Lord himself. I expect a lot more to come from him!
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
God's mercy is so great that he wants to save us in any way he can. He checks us thoroughly to see if there is any redeeming good in us, no matter how small. He wants to make absolutely sure that if anyone gets condemned in the end, it'll be entirely due to that person's own fault.
I am impressed by the most personal relationship between God and us. Psalm 18 is the Responsorial Psalm for today's Mass. In it the Lord was addressed by the psalmist as his rock of refuge, his fortress, his deliverer, his shield, the horn of his salvation, and his stronghold. Then Christ came to us and further strengthened this relationship, as the Entrance Song, 1 Peter 2.24, states: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed." Each of us is now the Father's favorite child. In receiving the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we attain union with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our God is not far away! On the contrary, he died for us and is now in us who believe. It's impossible to get more intimate than that.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
In today's Gospel reading from John 8, Jesus said to the Jews, "Whoever keeps my word will never see death." Obviously, Jesus was not referring to the death of the physical body ~ he was talking about what happens to the eternal soul. Since the soul is imperishable, it's what we should pay attention to.
You hear the advice "make the most of your life or the situation you're in or what you've got." This makes sense because we live in a world in which everything passes and you want to use every opportunity to your greatest advantage while you're around. Then it struck me that in heaven, this advice is no longer relevant, for there you'll have the best to the full and have it for all eternity to boot.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Since nothing is impossible with God, whether you are shy or outgoing, awkward or adroit, physically weak or strong, clumsy in speech or eloquent, unlearned or well educated...these things do not matter. In fact, it's often the poor, the weak, and the wretched that the Lord delights in choosing to be his servants, hands, or instruments to do the work for his glory. Many great saints are such examples. Therefore, always try to see yourself as what God can do with you. If you like it, then he will fulfill your desire.
Learning about the horrific sins committed against God throughout the world nonstop surely brings tears to anyone who loves Christ. But we do have a counterweight ~ the joy and hope we have in Christ restore our trust and peace in him, and our tears stop flowing.
Today's Gospel reading came again from John 8. I was thirsty for it like parched land. A couple of Jesus' sayings are: "If you remain in my word...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin."
How simply true these statements are! To sin is to become a slave ~ that's why a sinner has no peace because he is not free. (You might say that he's like one who lives in a fish tank.) But Jesus frees us because he is the truth! I place freedom ahead of peace and joy, not because it's more important, but because peace and joy cannot come unless you are freed first.
As I posted before, the Holy Spirit sharpens our conscience. Not only that, it purifies the heart to the point that sinful thoughts can no longer originate from it, let alone take root in it. This is a great gift from God. It makes you acutely aware that the Lord is holy! He truly deserves all the glory.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
During Mass, I thought about how instant God can be. When I repent, my sins are taken away without delay. He's already anticipating what I'm going to say before I start to pray. He's instant because he's ever ready to please us. Yes, to please us by sending his only Son to us to serve and save us ~ this is our God!
The Gospel reading at Mass was taken from John 8. Jesus couldn't have been clearer. He is "I AM" and those who do not believe in him will die in sins. He also said that he was sent by the Father and the Father was with him. The sayings are all pivotal and so challenging that they need to be fully accepted or fully dismissed. At the time, many came to believe in him. You are not dealing with another ordinary human being here.
Last thought. We must accept what's presented to us by God as is and not keep looking for what's palatable to us.
Last thought. We must accept what's presented to us by God as is and not keep looking for what's palatable to us.
The Christian as a worker has the best boss he can possibly work for. The boss is most kind and merciful, and provides all that the worker needs to do his work and to live on. His fellow workers are all members of the same loving family. After he retires, he'll receive a permanent dwelling place in paradise. Better yet, when you apply for such a position, you don't need to compete against other applicants, for there are always welcoming vacancies. Furthermore, you won't be screened for academic qualifications or health, and it's never too late to apply as long as you are still living in this world. As a worker, you fulfill a most urgent need. Overall, it's the best and most rewarding job there is.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The angle Gabriel was sent from God to Virgin Mary to announce her conception of Christ. Mary's final response was: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." The response to Psalm 40 at Mass read: "Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will."
What a joy it is to be ready to do God's will! What a joy it is to hear his will made known! And what a joy it is to actually do his will! These three consecutive stages continuously fill the whole of the Christian life with joy. Enjoy our God!
Saturday, March 24, 2012
I watched a documentary on Mother Teresa. Most memorable saying of her was, when she told others why she's doing her work, "All for Jesus." One of the commentators, Dan Rather, also said something memorable. Let me paraphrase him: "In contrast to the simple, humble, little woman who did truly great work, people in the world with big egos who try hard to accomplish their dreams are living in illusion." After seeing how Mother Teresa loved others, the love of Jesus is more beautiful and more glorious than ever.
I attended vigil Mass today and the Gospel reading was taken from John 12. Most memorable sayings from the reading: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be."
As I received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, I saw the opportunity to ask to die in him like the fallen grain of wheat so that I might serve him and be with him always.
Friday, March 23, 2012
In doing the Stations of the Cross after Mass, at one place John 16:22 was read: "But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." My heart was already rejoicing. Hearing that no one will take my joy away from me simply doubled my joy!
In today's Gospel, we also heard at the end that the authorities tried to arrest Jesus, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come. I realized that there is an hour for everything in our lives too. Based upon how we live for God, when these hours will arrive is determined by God. The faithful waits for them with total calm.
Yesterday I attended a forum on "Reproductive Justice: Does a Woman Have a Right to Choose?" at a local college. The panelists were made up of five well-known pro-choice, pro-abortion females. Naturally, abortion was the biggest issue among the reproductive rights claimed. What I basically saw was that they don't believe that anyone, not even God or Church, should tell a woman what to do with her body, not admitting that the child conceived is not really a part of the mother's body. They admitted that abortion terminates a life, but it's the mother alone who knows whether it should keep the baby or not. One panelist had gone through an abortion herself and knew how painful an experience it was, so she wanted to make sure that others would have an easier experience ~ why didn't she make sure that others wouldn't have to go through an abortion?
They used the position taken by Catholics for Choice to bolster their own. I almost laughed out loud when one said that the bishops should not tell women what to do with the unborn because they don't have any children themselves. I wanted to tell them since they don't really know God, they are not qualified to preach to others on moral matters.
I believe that they're probably all church goers and do care about women's welfare; but unfortunately, they are misguided. Until the heart is touched by the love of God and converted, the chasm remains between the pro-abortion camp and the pro-life one. I also sensed that they might feel that the pro-lifers care only about the unborn ~ how I wish they know that we love the pregnant mothers, the unborn babies, and even them!
Thursday, March 22, 2012
In theory, Jesus can transform us instantly into a holy person. In practice, how much we change is proportional to how much we let him change us. In other words, we reap what we sow. My thought today is that as we grow older, our bodies get weaker; one excellent way to balance or counteract that is to grow stronger spiritually. That is, as we age, we let Jesus change us more and more, if not the whole way instantly.
What is always puffed up? Answer: the ego. As long as it's puffed up, it'll get punctured sometimes and hurt you. Only God can take the ego away. Once it's gone, you'll never be hurt that way again.
Without the ego, whether people praise or ignore you, it doesn't matter anymore. You are here to serve the Lord alone and do whatever he asks of you. The big gain is inner peace.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Gospel reading for today's Mass is John 5:17-30. Again, what Jesus said was crystal clear. He revealed that God is his father and that they are equal. This is great news for us who follow him. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to address his father as Our Father, so God is our father too. By the same token, all Christian become truly brothers and sisters to each other. Since only Christians address God as Father, we are indeed special among all who believe in God. Treasure this unique relationship and thank Jesus for it.
I've learned that to hear the Lord speak to your heart clearly, it's best that you first surrender all your thoughts to him so as to be in tune with him. Otherwise, either there'll be no communication or what comes across may not be all from the Lord. By the way, surrendering your thoughts brings peace to the heart too.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A Christian martyr is one who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her faith in Christ. Chances are we who are faithful will not meet actual physical death, but we must be willing to suffer any other thing less severe for love of Christ. It is immensely satisfying to stand on the side of Christ and glorious to add more glory to God.
Monday, March 19, 2012
RIP is the abbreviation for "rest in peace." We normally pray for the deceased to rest in peace. Then I started thinking. To rest in God is to rest in peace. When we rest in God, we trust in him and rest in his infinite love. The end result is peace. So, why not start to rest in peace while we're still alive?
When Mary said yes to God to become the mother of Jesus, her decision affected all of mankind. Our daily decisions may not be that influential; but nevertheless, they are consequential. Every decision is important to God and you. At judgment time, all your past decisions will be reviewed by God.
Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. In the homily at Mass, the priest brought up St. Bernardine, who said that when God chooses you to do something, he will supply you with all you need (courage included) to make it possible. This is comforting to know and I believe it. There are times you feel that God is speaking to you about doing something, but you feel somewhat insecure (me doing it?). This is a good time to remember what St. Bernardine said.
I realize that when the Lord gives me thoughts to share with others on this blog, he's basically teaching and shaping me. I remember that when I was learning mathematics in school a long way back, I could just sit back and listen to the teacher or actually work the problem along with the teacher. The second approach really helped in learning the subject. So every time I post something, I am reinforced and God shapes and molds me a little bit more. It's been enlightening and joyous.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Just before receiving the Holy Eucharist at Mass this morning, I felt great joy in kneeling before the Lord. I strongly felt that he was the one who was drawing me to him, had chosen me first, and loves me. I felt that I had stepped into heaven.
The Gospel reading at Mass was taken from Luke 18. It's about how a Pharisee and a tax collected prayed. As you know, the Pharisee only told God how good he was (he's quite proud of himself) and the tax collector just beat his breast and begged for God's mercy.
This got me thinking about how we normally pray. We probably all pray for our loved ones and others. We pray for our own health, God's blessings, etc. But do we ever pray like the tax collector who went home justified? Do we honestly admit to God all our faults, shortcomings, imperfections, bad habits or addictions, and all tendencies to sin and ask him to root them out, take them away, and transform us into better, holier persons pleasing to him?
The bottom question for all: Do you really pray for yourself with humility?
How big is the universe? If its size is finite, then what's on the other side of it? We have no satisfactory answer unless we accept infinity. If the universe did start off with the Big Bang, then what was it like before it and before the last "it"...? Is the expansion of the universe going to continue forever? Again, we can't say that there was a beginning or will be an end. We are compelled to admit that there must be an infinite God who exists forever. If there is a beginning and an end, they are in him.
I drove to my gym early this morning a little after six. Since we just switched to daylight saving time, it was still quite dark outside. I looked up through the windshield of the car and saw the crescent moon. I knew that the shape was caused by the shadow of the earth cast by the sun on the opposite side. Then I remembered that even with the earth rotating on its axis day and night and the moon orbiting around the earth, somehow when we look up, we always see the same side of moon. We have the earth itself and other planets all orbiting around the sun in perfect balance. Every day we have 24 hours and every year, 12 months. While the earth is solid, the sun is just a ball of gas and plasma. The solar system is just a part the galaxy called Milky Way, which is traveling through space among billions of other galaxies. Amazing facts don't stop here. The Big Bang theory tries to explain the expansion of the universe that started some 13.7 billion years ago ~ I am interested in knowing how the earth with all the other planets and the moon acquired their round shape.
Can you be sure that it's by accident that things are so marvelous the way they are?
Friday, March 16, 2012
My wife was amazed that in a few days, new green growth has already sprouted from some cut rose stems she had dipped in a glass filled with water. I saw it but was not amazed at all because I knew that we have an amazing God working in the background on all things at all times.
In praying the Stations of the Cross with others at church after Mass, we read that Jesus has conquered the world at one of the stations. To me, it means that Jesus has come and redeemed us, he has conquered death and risen, and has completed the work of salvation. Although looking around the world, you still see disorder, unrest, and stains of horrific sins in every corner of the earth, Jesus has done all the necessary work in the background and the path to eternal life has been paved, waiting for us to tread on.
Thoughts at Mass this morning. The religious consecrate their lives to Christ and take vows openly before others. It seems completely appropriate that we who love God no less should also consecrate ourselves to Christ and make our own comparable vows in private.
Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than on others. For example, if someone does a better job than we in performing a certain task, we can accept that because the other person is better. But if our performance by ourselves falls short of our own expectation or goal, we get really disappointed. The Lord showed me that I shouldn't distinguish between the two. In either case, pride is involved. As long as we do God's will or at least have good intentions, we should be content and let neither success nor failure affect us.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
As I was looking at the beautiful blossoms on a flowering tree, I thought of the source of all beauty, God. This made me want to return to him. I believe that he made us with the intention for us to be with him always, for he is love. Our journey is not complete until we back with him. On earth, it's as if we are at a junction, facing the choice of taking the road on the right or the one on the left. Perhaps this is what makes life interesting, but the correct or wrong choice makes all the difference. For me, I know that following Christ will leads me back to God in heaven.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I had posted about abortion quite a number of times. A search should bring up all the past postings. Two thoughts came to me today.
(a) Pro-abortion people argue that women should have the right to do whatever they want with their body. The fact that they don't want to have the right to cut off any true parts of their body such as the fingers, ears, tongue, legs, etc., proves that the unborn baby is not really part of their body.
(b) By God's design, the precise reason that the infant needs to dwell in the womb of the mother for nine months before its birth is so that it may be fed, nurtured, and protected by the mother. Therefore, to terminate the pregnancy is to go directly against God's will.
Today's Gospel reading at Mass is Matthew 5:17-19. I am not going to comment on the message; but rather, I want to share that as the Gospel was read, I came to appreciate greatly all that Jesus had said to us. His words speak to the soul, impart wisdom, refresh the spirit, light the way to set us free, and give us new life. They are most precious.
It was raining this morning as I arrived at church for Mass. A few others just got there too and I watched them leaving their parked cars and walking toward the church entrance. It was a beautiful sight because I saw them on their journey to heaven. The faithful already possess the kingdom of heaven, but they have not entered heaven yet, but the journey is a continuous one. As one journeys toward God, he finds the journey increasingly more beautiful and will find the greatest beauty at the end, heaven. (I am tempted to add that heaven is the most beautiful place on earth or that it's the most beautiful place under heaven, but neither one makes sense.)
Saw the National Geographic program Moment of Death on TV yesterday. It deals with how to determine that a person is truly dead. Interestingly, toward the end it showed two cases in which the subject came back to life and described how he or she experienced going through a tunnel with light at the end and one case in which the person during a heart operation left the body, looked down and saw exactly what the doctors were doing to him on the operating table. At any rate, if this proves anything, it's that there is a soul and life after death.
The program made me think how fragile and precarious life is. We must look beyond things like buying life insurance for the family, getting a will ready, and buying burial plots in advance. We should plan first our eternal destination ~ to be or not to be with God.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
This morning's Gospel reading from Matthew 18 ~ The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, is on how Jesus wants us to forgive others, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
I always wonder if we should forgive someone who is not remorseful at all. Let's look at how our Father forgives us. Since his mercy is infinite, he is ready to wipe away our sins any time we repent. If we don't repent, then he can't do anything. Obviously, getting ourselves condemned is not saying that he's no longer forgiving. Perhaps it's more correct to say that we should be willing to forgive anyone, regardless of whether the person is remorseful or not, as God is willing to forgive us always.
As one becomes more Christlike, sin becomes more and more repugnant to him. He feels more the hurt that sin inflicts upon the Lord and wants to do whatever he can to lessen it. He cries out to the Lord and begs for mercy, and the Lord hears and consoles him.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Personally, I am against the death penalty. It is general knowledge that China is not lenient on criminals ~ sentencing and execution can follow quickly, but the legal system is changing. Recently, 13 crimes have been removed from the list of capital offences and cases that are considered fit for lenient treatment are given leniency. One judge even commented, "A life could end in the twinkling of any eye after a trial. I'd say this is also very cruel. It's also a means of getting rid of evil deeds through an evil deed. Since the death sentence for criminals is itself a violent act, then we should abolish it. However, I don't think our country is ready yet." Interesting!
Inner peace does not come from enjoying good health, having no family problems, enough money to acquire anything you want, success in all your pursuits in the world... True peace comes from having trust in God, a heart that's totally lifted up to him, and a mind that's emptied of everything except Christ.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
You can learn spiritual lessons from even secular programs on TV. One Korean film titled Poem on Netflix shows the poetry teacher introducing poetry to a new class. He shows the class an apple and asks if they have seen one before. Naturally, everyone has seen one ~ the point is if they really know one. He continues by saying that to really know an apple, one must be interested in it, understand it, converse with it, gaze at it for a while, observe its shadow, feel its every curve, turn it around, take a bite out of it, imagine the sunlight absorbed in it... Then it's really seeing it. Well said. I thought of knowing Jesus ~ it works the same way.
When we say we decrease in Christ, we are referring to the old, sinful self. To vanish in Christ is to decrease the old self to nothing and let the self be renewed in Christ. The transformed self is now totally immersed in Christ, indistinguishable from him. This is one way of describing the perfect union with God.
The Mass this morning started off with a song reminding all that we were on holy ground and that where God is, we have his holy presence. Since we are temples of the Holy Spirit, the most holy Lord dwells within us. With this thought, we must be holy to honor his presence ~ reverting to any sinful way is out of the question. Once we see this clearly, the Lord will keep us holy and we shall immensely enjoy his presence.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
The Apostles followed Jesus, but they did not understand everything fully until after the Resurrection of the Lord. We have the advantage because all that Christ had revealed to us has been made clear by his Holy Church. In addition, we are able to learn more about the truth from the writings of the great saints throughout history.
Today's Gospel story at Mass was the familiar parable of the lost (prodigal) son. The younger son, after squandering his inheritance on a life of dissipation, got himself into a desperate situation. He finally came to his senses and returned to his father, repentant of his sins against God and his father. Here a bad situation turned him around. A fellow parishioner and good friend told me that he remains faithful to God because every time he strayed, something bad happened. In my own case, when I deviate from God's will, my inner peace leaves. Bad happenings can be blessings.
When things don't go right, people tend to blame God. My questions to them are: (1) Do you really know your God? (2) Do you really love him as you should? Remember how the scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman who had been caught in adultery to Jesus and told him that in the law, Moses commanded them to stone her. The Lord resolved the situation by saying to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." My point is that before pointing your finger at God, make sure that you are blameless yourself. I know that the saints argued with God sometimes, but they never really told the Lord that he was the one at fault.
Friday, March 9, 2012
At the end of praying the Stations of the Cross, the closing prayer contains what Jesus said to his disciples in John 16.22: "I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." What encouragement! What consolation! What joy! And how sweet and loving the Lord is!
Today being Friday, those who remained after Mass did the Stations of the Cross. At the 10th Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments, I felt particularly sad when we read that after the soldiers crucified Jesus, they divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. What's displayed were an utter disregard for suffering, a total lack of compassion, and the complete absence of heart! Is today's world any better? Jesus wept over Jerusalem and I wouldn't be surprised that he's weeping over us now.
Holy Communion was another miracle for me at this morning's Mass. I am not thinking about the Holy Eucharist, which is possibly God's greatest miracle ~ rather, I am thinking about how this Holy Sacrament actually miraculously heals and transforms us, changing us also into miracles! Come to think of it, everything God touches becomes a miracle.
People care about what others think of them, but the liberated Christian only cares about what God thinks. His soul rests securely in God and he is not affected in the slightest by anything others think or say about him. Look. If Christ is in you and with you, what can anyone do to harm your soul? If God has already forgiven you, what can others add to or subtract from it? Love everyone to keep the peace in your heart and rejoice in the Lord alone.
Contraceptives are creating a big controversy now because the current government is infringing more and more upon the religious freedom of Catholics and other Christians. But what I want to talk about is the use of contraceptives. Like abortion, it is a subject that unfortunately, many Christians have not thought deeply about and therefore, allow. Here's my simple view.
Why did God implant the sexual desire in us? Is it because (a) he wants to ensure that the human race will continue or (b) he just wants us to enjoy the pleasure of sex? If 'b' were the answer, then God would have not have attached baby production to having sex. So the correct answer is clearly 'a'. Therefore, the Church views the use of contraceptives as thwarting God's intention, a sin ~ logical and clear. Let me add that the Church is not again birth control; she objects to the use of artificial contraceptives only. The rhythm method under natural family planning is a form of birth control, but it's natural and approved by the Church. Again, God looks at our intention.
Contraceptives, which may be abortifacient, only leads to more sex, then more unwanted babies, and finally more abortions ~ this is a fact! And abortion is the termination of an innocent life, no matter how you slice (pun not intended) it.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Today's Gospel reading at Mass is taken from Luke 16, on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man, who did not care for the poor, ended up in the netherworld and Lazarus, in heaven; and there is obviously a great chasm separating the two sides. The rich man ended up where he was because he did not listen to Moses and the prophets. Of course now, Jesus is the one we should listen to since the Lord had come himself. If we do not, we'll end up as the rich man. The message of this parable should be loud and clear to all.
Jesus made it clear that he wants us to believe in him like children. In other words, before we can become the children of God, we must first be like little children. A child has a simple soul. The younger ones are especially innocent. They believe in whatever they're told easily. Unlike adults, they don't plot or scheme with selfish motives in mind. Unlike adults, their minds are not cluttered with complicated analyses or plans. We grownups can all recall our carefree childhood days when we just ate, went to school, and played, not worrying about what all the adults had to worry about. When Jesus renews us, we are actually transformed into such new childlike creatures, living the carefree days again.
What is time? Is it just something conjured up in our conscious mind? Is it truly another dimension like width, length, and depth? Einstein showed that one who travels at the speed of light will never age because time stops for him. For God who has always existed and will always be the same, you could say that time is at a standstill too. I believe that time is a concept we get when we see things change. Imagine that everything in the universe, including all of us, become frozen in motion, remaining perfectly still, then time becomes meaningless because nothing happens. So you could say that we simply exist in space with just changes going on constantly. Forget that time exists to eliminate all the worries and anxieties. Instead, let's just concentrate upon making changes for good.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Communion time thoughts. In Luke 2, after Joseph and Mary found the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple after three days of searching with great anxiety, Jesus said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you know that I must be about my Father's work?" As followers of Jesus, we must also be about our Father's work. Obedience to God's will takes precedence over family ties (and all else).
Thoughts received after the Gospel reading (Matthew 20:17-28) at Mass. When we submit before the rulers of the world, such as a king, a general (if you're in the army), the president of a company where you're employed, the principal (if you're a student)... any of them can lord it over you. As Jesus said, they can make their authority over you felt. Then I think of Jesus, our Lord. When we submit ourselves to him and realize that he is also our brother and our servant, all fears vanish. We are submitting to Love to become love.
Politicians come to my mind again. In a recent post, I expressed my disapproval of the dirty attacks some of the presidential candidates had made on other fellow candidates. All sinful actions stem from the heart and God will look at the intention more than the subsequent actions, not that he's going to neglect any part of the consequences. Let's recall what Jesus had said, "From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts... All these evils come from within and they defile." (Mark 7:21-23)
Before Mass this morning, I felt that beautiful stillness of the heart, like the calm surface of an undisturbed pond. The message of the short homily given by Fr. A at Mass happened to be trust in the Lord. Indeed, if we trust in him with our whole heart, even though there are a million things going on all around us that can easily be upsetting, we turn to God, pray, and he lifts all the burdens off of us, restoring that stillness in the heart.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
As I drove to Mass in the morning, flowering trees had already started blooming along the road and in the fields in anticipation of spring. The colors were beautiful. There are thousands of man-made colors out there which you can find at any paint store, but it's impossible to come even close to the gorgeous colors of fresh flowers. Artificial flowers look very realistic today, but hold them next to the fresh ones in the sun and you know that they are dead and fake. What God has made, man cannot approach. Even man's best art creations appear unnatural and contrived. We are doing OK only if we judge ourselves by our own standards.
God also creates amazing human talents. One example is Derek Paravicini, the blind British autistic pianist. The blindness was caused by oxygen therapy given after his premature birth at 25 weeks. It also affected his brain, resulting in his severe learning disability. He doesn't know his right hand from this left nor his own age; yet he is a genius on the piano, for he can play any tune, in any style, in any key instantly. You can easily search and find him online to check him out.
But it's the other aspect of what God has created in us that amazes me the most. Like God who's not only a builder of the physical universe but also pure love, we feel many emotions, sense the good and the evil, appreciate beauty, can reason and deduce, find life meaningful or empty, become aware of the existence of the soul, desire to find God, and so on. Let's say that science has advanced to the point that we can actually create a physical copy of a human being down to the last cell and molecule, do you think that this model will become alive? I don't think so because it'll be just like a masterpiece in a museum exhibit. Will it get feelings, understand the good and evil, appreciate beauty, be able to conceive God, and so forth? Even less likely. In any case, examining ourselves, I've come to see how truly an amazing creator God is.
Monday, March 5, 2012
This was how I felt during Holy Communion today when Christ came and entered me again. It's a moment personal beyond words. If only everyone would have such an intimate, loving friend, there would be peace in all the hearts and in the whole world.
In today's Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist pleaded with the Lord to free those doomed to death (Psalm 79:11). The phrase "doomed to death" somewhat shook me a little when I heard it read. In the last post, I touched upon the joyful death of the old self in Christ; here I am thinking about the horrible eternal death of the soul. This really needn't happen because we all have the choice to steer clear of that for good! Our loving Father would gladly grant us eternal life, not death, if we will only ask for it. So, change "doomed to death" to "destined for life" once for all now.
I am not talking about the physical death, although it can be joyful too. This morning before Mass, I sensed the great joy in dying in Christ. When you die in Christ, you become a new creature filled with him. Now you are his! This is total abandonment that opens wide the floodgate to joy and freedom. Nothing more needs to be said.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Jesus said, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." This goes directly against those who seek only earthly pleasures for themselves. They are not willing to suffer, but since life always has its hardships, they basically have no inner peace. Jesus was actually showing us the way to freedom! He is the only one who can lift us out of this world so that we are in the world, but no long of the world. He raises us to live on a higher plane (closer to heaven), you might say.
Many of us, including myself in the past, want to leave some mark in their lifetime. My grandfather used to say that it's better to be known for being either good or bad than not being known at all. Now I see that whatever mark I leave, if the objective is to call attention to myself and not in any way to bring others closer to God, it'd be all wasted effort, for all things in this world will pass in time. The desire to leave any mark is to be directed by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God alone, with us being merely the instruments.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
After watching the latest Journey Home program on EWTN, this thought hit me. When we seek God, it's really God who's seeking us. If there were no God, we would not be seeking anyone like God. It's by God's very existence and how he had created us that we start to seek him. He's the one who initiates our search for him. This awareness should help anyone looking for him come to early fruition.
I know that God's mercy is infinite. No matter how sinful we are, if we want to reconcile with him, as long as we repent, he is eager and ready to take us back. I really felt this great mercy at Mass this morning during consecration of the bread and wine when I heard the priest repeat these words of Jesus:
"Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you" and "Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me."
Here is the giving of the Lord himself to us and there cannot be any greater proof of his mercy than this.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Today being the first Friday of the month, we had an hour of Eucharistic adoration after Mass. I saw that this exposed Blesses Sacrament I worship and adore was just what had entered me a little earlier during Mass. It is truly an incredible union!
This morning's Gospel was read from Matthew 5. Jesus made it clear that we must be righteous. Even being angry at or saying "You fool" to someone is liable to judgment. Therefore, what we do with our sins must be resolved. We can either repent and be forgiven or keep the sins to be judged later. Quite uncomplicated.
Last night I had trouble falling asleep because I felt the strong presence of Jesus in me. I started thinking what I would do if I actually see him in the distance. I know that Peter jumped into the water from his fishing boat and swam toward Jesus as soon as the disciples on board recognized him standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (this was after his Resurrection ~ see John 21). I probably wouldn't rush toward him until after he gives me a signal for fear that I, being a sinner, might contaminate him. Once I get the OK, I'll probably run as fast as I can toward him, then I don't know whether I should kneel at his feet or dive right into him first.
Here's an interesting mathematical question. Suppose you have the choice of receiving for a month of 30 days:
(a) $10,000 each day.
(b) one penny on the first day, two pennies on the second day, four pennies on the third day... in other words, you get double the amount of the previous day.
Which option would you choose?
Well, if you choose 'a', you would receive a total of $300,000 at the end, not bad; but if you've chosen 'b', you'd have come to $10,737,418.24 ~ that's way over 10 million dollars!
Now, choose your answer for the following question:
Would you rather be (a) the greatest in the eyes of world or (b) the least in the kingdom of heaven?
What's attractive at first sight may not be the best choice.
What's attractive at first sight may not be the best choice.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Last thought of the day (sad). All the political candidates now running for president have declared themselves to be Christians, yet so far they have spend millions and millions dollars on negative ads many of which are deceptive, misleading, and even false, attacking each other. Have they forgotten the Ten Commandments? The holy saints don't even say one bad word about others. To do whatever it takes to get yourself ahead is just the extreme opposite. Again, I am not judging any of them; I am just lamenting the fact. It's time to ask God to forgive us before asking him for blessings.
Somehow the picture of how a large cruise ship is prepared for its cruise came to my mind ~ I must have seen it on a TV travel program once. It's quite impressive to watch that you load tons and tons of food stuff and other items so that there'll be enough to serve thousands of meals for the entire cruise. Man surely can accomplish a lot (I am not even thinking about the great wall, the pyramids, Hoover Dam, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.)! So why not do something as impressive for God? Of course, this would be mostly work you accomplish in your interior, but infinitely more satisfying as what you accomplish is pleasing to God and becomes your treasure in heaven. Yes, why not?
I am having some shoulder and back pains. I realize that sometimes when you are in good physical shape and see someone in not quite good physical shape, it's easy to take pride in your own condition and somewhat "look down" on the other person. Of course, this is being unchristian. I see that everything that happens to us is permitted by God for a reason. What I should do is to figure out what the Lord wants me to learn from my experience. In the present case, I must remember how Jesus suffered and endured his pains and imitate him. Yes, there is a lesson to learn in everything, no matter how small, that happens to us. What wonderful opportunities God provides us to get close to him!
This is March 1, the month in which spring begins. In spring, all things renew. When I think of God, this season springs (pun intended) to my mind, for God is the renewer. Pray that we'll let God make all of us new in the spring, for he is our only hope in this disordered, dark world.