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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Causing Others to Sin

        Today is the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Gospel reading during Mass came from Matthew 13. Jesus in explaining the parable of the weeds of the field to his disciples mentioned himself (the Son of Man), the Evil One (the Devil), the angles, and the Father. At harvest time (the end of the age), Jesus will send his angels to collect all who cause others to sin and all evildoers to be punished. 
        I am struck by the separate category in which those who cause others to sin are placed. Normally, we are aware of our own sins, but we don't often think about whether they might cause others to sin. For example, if a father uses bad language, he doesn't think about how his son might pick it up from him. Obviously, the more people we cause to sin, the more severe our punishment will be. The best policy, of course, is to be aware that any sin displeases God and to stop sinning. 

Trusting in God to Keep Going

        Blogging has been great for me to learn to trust in the Lord. Earlier for quite some time, I couldn't help wondering what I was to blog next because I didn't have a clue. Then eventually, I let the Lord do whatever he wants ~ I'd be happy with a million ideas or zero. So far, he has been putting thought buds in my head at various times of the day. To be honest, I don't even recall exactly what I posted in the last couple of days; but each posting has been an enjoyable learning experience for me. Let's trust in God and keep going. 

Real Spiritual Success

        To become holy is the best way to love God because when you are holy, you automatically (this seems to be my favorite word) start to love others as Jesus does and serve God with joy. Spiritual success is not measured by how many external, visible deeds you do, but by how much internal love you have for God and how much humility you have in serving others.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Going Extreme in Jesus

        If you feel like going all out to do something, how about doing it in Jesus? When you go to the extreme in him, there is absolutely no downside risk, only great rewards. Here's what you could do. Love him to the extreme; trust him to the point of looking foolish; abandon yourself, all your possessions, and your concerns to him recklessly; forget totally about yourself and see only Jesus; and seek union with him at all costs.

Suicide Is a No-No

        Read in a local newspaper online about someone who just committed suicide. I know that this is also the tragedy that happens to many war veterans who suffered wartime traumas. My heart goes all out to them. If you ever contemplate ending your life on your own, please hold off a moment and give the Lord Jesus, the true God who loves and died for you another chance. I want to shout as aloud as possible to you that once you know him, you will want to live, live, and live; to live in him, with him, and for him. To die in him, yes; but never, never to die on your own without hope. To die in Jesus is to live, but to die without hope is to die forever. Please do not make your God weep for you! Make him love you instead. He has a special love for the weak, the poor, the destitute, the disadvantaged. That was exactly why he stooped low to become one of us. [Feel free to ask me questions by using the Post-a-Comment box. If you wish me to respond in private, include your email contact. You comment will not be shown on the blog.]

God Satisfies Us Fully

        At Communion time during Mass, I felt that God had satisfied all my inner needs and granted all my life wishes, fulfilling "The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack" (Psalm 23). I remained at great peace. 

God Does Speak to Us

        In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Matthew 13, Jesus used parables to explain the kingdom of heaven to the crowds. God has also uses various signs, including dreams, visions, etc., to convey messages to his people. Basically, what I want to say is that God always speaks to his people through different means, both extraordinary and ordinary. What we must do is to remain alert, hear, discern, and interpret what comes our way. All what God wants us to know or understand is important and most beneficial to us.

What Jesus Did Promise

        Hearing some Harry Potter film music played brought magic to my mind, which in turn reminded me of the preaching of some non-Catholic Christians ~ they essentially preach that if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, he will bless you with money, good jobs, and all the other good things in life. (Like magic, this just sounds too good to be true.) When things don't go well, such believers then blame it on their own weak (not erroneous to them) faith. Anyway, Jesus never promised such things as such preachers claim. What he did promise were inner peace, freedom, and eternal life. If that last item is not good enough for you, then Jesus is not good enough for you either. 

The Coming of Jesus

        Christmas is celebrated in the secular world, including even many basically non-Christian countries, but is this true celebration? Even for a Christian, if Jesus has not come into his or her heart yet, what is the point of celebrating his coming into the world? It is true that he came once almost 2,000 ago, but he is also ready to come into our hearts any time we open up to him. This coming or entering calls for true celebration because when it happens, you spread joy around the entire heaven! Revelation 3.20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me." I will never forget the Lord's loving invitation for me to dine with him ~ naturally, it is still open for everyone.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jesus Is My Proof

        I was reminded that evil is real when I saw the signs posted along a road that leads to a prison, warning all drivers not to stop or turn around. Actually, it should be obvious to anyone whenever you listen to or watch the daily news. If there is evil, then there is also God because his love and beauty are manifested in so many ways among and around us. I might have relied upon my common sense or intuition, but Jesus had made it an absolute certainty for me. Against him, all the true and all the false are exposed. Against him, all good and all bad are to be measured.

God Makes All Things Easy

        We are advised to do good deeds, be kind and forgiving, and love others by our pastors, well-meaning friends, self-help books, etc., but we don't always find it easy. Doing it is often like going through a mechanical motion with not much heart put into it. To be successful in what we are advised to do, forget all about it and concentrate instead upon knowing Jesus. Once you get to know him well or better yet, have fallen in love with him or best yet, achieved union with him, all these things come automatically ~ very much like the shedding of all your sins. God now takes over and all things mechanical become natural. Here's another wonder of God.   

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Overwhelming Feeling

        I went to Mass this morning and it turned out that I was the only person attending. It's like I was invited alone to be at the banquet from heaven given by Fr. M for the Lord. I also attended the vigil Mass at 5:30 p.m. in lieu of tomorrow's Sunday Mass and received the Lord again in the Holy Eucharist. The feeling was so overwhelming that I thought that God had "annihilated" me or swallowed me up; but there was no fear, only the feeling of great intimacy and security. To disappear in God, to be in him, to be absorbed by him...it seemed such a natural thing for us. It's going home all the way! He made me want to love him even more. 

Being What God Has Made Me

        Thoughts at mass this morning ~ "I am no longer my old self with all the weaknesses and blemishes; I am what God has remade me into, a new creature."  

To Be in Top Spiritual Form

        Summer Olympics is underway in London, England. It's a known fact that athletes train day and night for years just trying to make the Olympic team. It's definitely hard work that calls for much sacrifice to put yourself in top form. Is it equally hard to put yourself in top form spiritually? Well, that depends upon your tactics. If you struggle on your own, no matter how good your intentions are, you'll not find it easy. In fact, making decent progress may seem impossible. If you change tactics and acknowledge before God that you need him and desire his help, placing your entire trust in him and yourself at his disposal, then all becomes easy, for he now does the work in you for you.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bearing Fruit for God

        In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 13 at morning Mass, Jesus explained the parable of the sower. Basically, the seed sown on the path, on rocky ground, or among thorns bears no fruit. Only the seed sown on rich soil, the one who hears the word of the kingdom and understands it, bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. It's indeed amazing to see how vegetables in the right soil in my planters grow so fast from tiny seeds into mature plants, bearing fruit along the way. Zucchini and cucumber practically double in size in a few days. When we hear the word of kingdom and understand it, we can be rich soil too. Then we can amaze God by bearing fruit manyfold. Let us be used by God to do great works.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Checking Jesus Out

        Assume that Jesus is not God. You'll find what you read from the four Gospels contradicting your assumption. If you still don't believe in him, then assume that he is God, and you'll find that everything you read in the Gospels makes sense and supports your assumption. Perhaps now you'll believe!   

God and Life

        Today's Response to Psalm at Mass: "With you is the the fountain of life, O Lord." Life cannot be separated from God, for God is the life. There can be no life without God. I have life because of him, and I shall have eternal life because of him too. Life is consciousness, life is vitality, for God is the originator. Our duty is to be thankful for the gift of life by keeping it sacred and unblemished. 

Minding God's Business

        Don't mind someone else's business is good advice only if that someone is not God. To follow God, we must be totally involved with him; yes, even to the point of "butting in" or badgering him. We want to know what the Lord's will and plan for us are. We should find out as much as possible by communicating constantly with him. He must have our full attentiveness. Yes, we must be about God's business at all times.

Mary's Obedience to Jesus

        This morning as I was praying the second Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Wedding of Cana, I thought of what Mary said to the servers when Jesus was told that the wine ran out: "Do whatever he tells you." Of course, Mary could be spoiling her son or was afraid of him to say something like this, but I don't think so. I believe that she already knew that Jesus was divine, the Son of God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prerequisite for God to Respond

        Before we ask God to take away our sins, we must repent first, this being a prerequisite. In the same way, before we ask God to give us something, we must admit our need for it. For example, if you need more courage and strength, you must admit to him that you are timid and weak, thereby needing his help. Then he will answer you. Again, if you want to find God and just ask him to reveal himself to you, it won't work. You must first admit that you are lost and need him to guide you, then he will do just that. Similarly, if you want to belong to him, you must surrender first. I think I have made the point clear. Remember that for God to come, we must be completely "out of the way."

All About Love

        Following Jesus is following love; is letting God love you; letting yourself fall in love with him; is to live, rest, and rejoice in his love; to let love transform you; to spread his love among all to glorify God... ~ it is all about love.

To Serve or Not to Serve

        The Gospel Acclamation at Mass read was John 15.16: "I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord." In the Gospel reading from Matthew 20, Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be you slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." The message is very clear ~ we must go and bear fruit that will last, that is, to serve.
        The people of the world just do the opposite...they bear fruit that does not last and lord it over others. They strive for top honors, prestige, position, power, wealth, and control. And the world admires, honors, or even worships them for it. All you do is look at the statues erected in the public squares, parks, and even on university campuses such as Penn State (in the news lately). At any rate, to enter the kingdom of God, humankind must pay close attention to what Jesus has said above.

When God Calls You...

        Today is the Feast of St. James, Apostle. The Entrance Song was taken from Matthew 4, combining verses 18 & 21. "As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother mending their nets and he called them." It's all about calling. I could not suppress my joy when I realize that I have been called too. What a great honor and grace! Being called; Jesus wants you; God has chosen you; God entering your life, wanting you to experience his love; your name is indeed written in the book of heaven; your future is all set; you are bound for heaven to live in eternal happiness with the Father ~ how can one not feel happy?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ego to Be Annihilated

        I do a certain ministry at a place where one must pass a guard at the gate. Many guards know me and they simply wave me in, but this last one who was new to me was very strict with procedure ~ I had to show my ID, sign in, etc. I felt somewhat offended, but I also realized that he's merely performing his duty, so I tried to dismiss my negative reaction. There were also times when someone unintentionally said something that seemed to put me down, again I must not let that bother me. Overall, we should remain undisturbed whether our ego gets kicked or stroked, for it should not have been present in us in the first place.   

One Family in God

        The Gospel reading at morning Mass was from Matthew 12. While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, the mother and brothers of Jesus appeared outside. Jesus, stretching out his hand toward his disciples, said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." This confirms the fact that our present families are only families on earth. In spirit and in heaven, all believers are absorbed into the one large family of God's people. This also adds meaning to the Catholic belief in the communion of saints. "Praying" to the saints is nothing more than talking to family members.

Sensing God's Love

        During morning Mass, I again felt the infinite love of God for us and thought that you have to have a heart made of stone not to be moved by it. Perhaps the mind  gets in the way? At any rate, if you don't sense God's love, pray for the necessary grace so that he may open up a whole new beautiful world for you to enter. 

Never Mind that You Are Ahead

        These thoughts follow my last posting. Since we live and die at God's mercy, we should always remain humble. It would be plain foolish to think that I have better health, more wealth...better this or more that than others. I may feel that I am ahead; but Matthew 20.16, "The last will be first, and the first will be last" may apply here too. 

Ready for Death?

        Two friends just passed away. One I only heard about yesterday. The first one was known to be a Catholic, who went through a long bout with cancer. The death of the second was totally unexpected, sending shock waves through many of his friends. I don't believe that he had any firm belief in God. The news got me thinking again that we are totally at God's mercy. I see each of us linked to God by a cord. As long as we are connected to him, we have life. When he disconnects us, we die. While living, we alone are able to choose to believe in God fully, somewhat, or not at all. The wise, ready for death, live each day as if it is their last. Live in peace now and you don't need to worry about RIP for later.    

Following God Closely

        As various problems in life constantly pop up, I feel the need to pray to God even more and harder to ensure that things are working out according to his plan. This really strengthens me. You can count on the fact that courage and peace always come to those who follow the Lord closely.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jesus the Greatest Sign!

        Today's Gospel reading at Mass came from Matthew 12. The scribes and Pharisees wished to see a sign from Jesus. It's the same today when people want to see a sign before they would believe. I know people who prayed to God, did not hear anything, and stopped searching or believing. Don't they see that the greatest sign is Jesus himself? Don't they read about how he healed the sick, the lame, the blind, the possessed, and even raised the dead? He changed water into wine, multiplied fish and bread, walked on water, and performed numerous other miracles. He even rose from the dead himself? What greater signs do they possibly need? What blind eyes and hardened hearts!

Say the Right Word to God

        It is the love of Jesus for us that makes him so attractive. It is because of this love that he wants to remove our sins. All we need to let it happen is to say yes to him. Why making life so complicated? 

The Soul Exists!

        During meditation before Mass started this morning, I had an awareness of Jesus within me so strong that it's impossible to think that I have just the body and no soul. The existence of the soul eternal had never been made this clear to me. Being aware of Jesus is being aware of life eternal. 

Failure in Relating to Jesus

        One contributing reason I believe why people do not come to believe in Jesus when they read the Gospels is because they feel as if they're reading a 2000-year-old story in an unfamiliar setting ~ there is a fictitious quality to it. They fail to see that the Gospels recorded the actual events reflecting the culture and customs of those days. If Jesus were to come today, the people 2000 years in the future may have the same trouble relating to him since they will see us as living in a society or world unfamiliar to them.      

Sunday, July 22, 2012

God's Beautiful Silences

        Many music compositions have rests written into the score. They mark the intervals of silence. It's been said these silences between notes are just as musical as the notes. God is silent too at times and his silences are just as beautiful as when he is speaking to you. So remain patient and treasure these moments of silence, for the voice of God will be even sweeter and lovelier when you hear him next.  

Why Not Accepting Jesus?

       If you have not accepted Jesus into your life yet, why not? As I said before more than once, with Jesus you just have to decide if he is true God or false man ~ there is no third choice. If you don't believe, then it boils down to either he is right and you are wrong or he is wrong and you are right. A better question: What is your true reason for not accepting him? Be honest and your answer may change your mind.

Boring Happiness

        The Pursuit of happiness in our secular world, especially the entertainment sector, is downright much ado about nothing. Once you know Christ, anything that does not uplift the soul and spirit becomes utterly boring. This is a good test of how much you belong or not belong to the world.

Doing God's Will Right

        Doing God's will is a serious undertaking and there is to be no cutting corners about it. Whatever we do, we should see as carrying out an assignment from God, our duty and an honor. Half-heartedness has no place in serving God.

A Great Analogy

        I love Jesus calling us his sheep and himself our shepherd. Indeed, although we can still manage to survive without him, we'd be in constant danger and not knowing where we are going. With him we are safe and know exactly where we are heading. It's such a great analogy! To be his sheep or not to be his sheep, that shouldn't even become a question.

God for Our Relaxation

        Matthew 11:28-30 was read at the July 19 Mass. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. ...my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Since we are weak and God is strong, it's logical that we should rely upon him in all things and at all times. To word things a little differently, God is for our relaxation.

Why We Sin Easily

        I've been thinking that we try not to catch the flu, a cold, or any virus. If someone is down with a contagious disease, we stay as far away as possible. Yet when it comes to sin, not only often we don't run away from it, we even embrace it despite knowing that sin is harmful and its consequence can even be deadly. Why so? Perhaps it's because we see how sickness or a disease directly affects us and we don't quite see how sin stains the soul. It should help to realize that sin directly grieves God!

Let God Do the Rest

        I am still lagging behind in posting. The Gospel reading on July 18 was Matthew 11:25-27. Jesus praised the Father for having hidden these things to the wise and the learned but revealed them to the childlike. He also said that no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. So, it is God who does the revealing. Our priest at Mass told the story how another priest worked hard on a homily, but it still came out rather flat and he felt dejected. Then a woman told him after Mass how the sermon had deeply moved her. It seems that all we need to do is to do our best and let God do the rest.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Taking Criticism the Right Way

        How do we take criticisms from others? It's easy to feel offended if we don't control our ego ("Who are you to tell me what to do?") Recently, an older lady gave me some constructive suggestions as to how I could have performed a certain task better. I realized that she meant to be helpful and what she said was to the point and exactly I needed to know. I felt that God used her to communicate to me. When the Lord wants to speak to you, he doesn't care whether he offends your ego or not. I am grateful that he continues to groom me for what he wants me to do.          

No Escape from Reality

        In John 8, the Jews said to Jesus, "You are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." What an awesome answer! To me, Jesus is the eternal reality. Reality, being real, exists and there is no escape from that. Those who do not believe in the Lord live in a virtual world that has no being and will have to face him inescapably in the end. 

Getting the Right Help

        I started my last post four days ago, then my computer malfunctioned. A couple of months ago, the computer was cleaned by Microsoft for virus and malware infections. Then I had the so called "stop error" or "blue screen." Since it's a Sony computer, I contacted Sony for support. Both Microsoft and Sony do all the work by taking remote control of my computer at their end. Sony used the Iolo System Mechanic tool to check and repair the problems uncovered, inexcusably ignorant of the known fact that this tool messes up Window Vista in various ways ~ in my case, the Windows Installer. As a result, I could no longer install any new software ~ it was definitely a serious blunder! Online I couldn't find an easy solution to this particular problem. Finally, I got a local 30-year experienced person to come to my home and he amazingly fixed the problem in a simple way. Moreover, he removed even more viruses and malwares. The lessons I learned: (1) Online fixing is not good enough and even risky, (2) There are many softwares such as Iolo System Mechanic, which you can download free or are low-cost, but you can't be sure that they are both safe and effective, and (3) You can't beat having someone who's experienced and can personally come out to you check out the problem. (I would avoid using any big chain that employs many repairmen available for different locations because you don't know whom you are going to get.)
        These lessons point to the truth that for spiritual healing, we should choose God and appeal to him for help. 

Fortified by God

        During the Communion Rite at Mass on July 17 (4 days ago), when we prayed "Lamb of God...have mercy on us" and "Lamb of God...grant us peace," I felt that mercy and peace were perfectly for us to ask from God for. Then just before Communion, we asked the Lord to heal our souls. I saw that shielded from evil by the mercy of God, with our soul healed and in peace, we should be ready to face anything coming my way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Judgment Day Warning

        In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 11, Jesus made it clear that there is a judgment day for all. This gave me comfort because the fact that there would be closure just made life meaningful. Of course, judgment day, also known as doomsday, does not spell doom for those who follow and love the Lord, but for those who don't, this is a warning to be heeded.

Monday, July 16, 2012

God Must Come First

        This is a sequel to the excerpts quoted from Matthew in my last post. Jesus makes it clear that God must come first and be the only one to attach ourselves to. The time to follow him should be the moment we hear his call. And if we respond with "not yet" after we hear his voice, we only prolong the time we won't have inner peace. We all (should) know that God commands and pursues us because he loves us, so any problem has to come from our hardened hearts.  

Only God Can Speak Thus

        In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 10, Jesus gives many commands to his Twelve disciples with great authority. Some excerpts: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." This is clearly God speaking, all right!

We Too Levitate

        Levitation is defined as the rising of a body in air by supernatural means. Historically, there have been many levitating saints. In a way, we also "levitate" as we get to know the Lord. At the beginning, we are deeply immersed in the world and attached to the many things of the world. The result is that we feel heavily weighed down and tired. As we know God through Christ more and more, the burden gets lighter and lighter until finally, we are in union with him and feel like being lifted up into air in total freedom. So it is like levitation, but the rising just took a lot longer.

Being One in God's Love

        Today is optionally the Memorial of Our Lady of Carmel, so I thought of Mary Our Mother. As Mass was starting, I felt that I really knew and was most close to her, St. Therese, as well as all the other saints. This is made possible through the love of God, for in his love there is no separation, only oneness. It's all understood and felt in the hearts of both the saints and mine ~ one of the numerous delights of knowing God.  

Cana Miracle Amazing Wonder

        I mentioned "wedding ceremony" in my last post. Now I am bringing up the wedding at Cana which Jesus attended. I often thought about the first miracle Jesus performed there ~ changing water into wine. Someday our scientists probably can figure out a way to achieve this, but they'll have to add or do something to the water to change the chemistry, while Jesus just had the empty jars filled with water and out comes the wine. This instant powerful transformation is evidence enough for me to believe that Jesus is God. 

How Union Attracts Us

        During a wedding ceremony, a couple promises to be true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor each other all the days of their lives. I brought this up because once we are in union with Christ, whether we are in good times or in bad, in sickness or in health ~ it doesn't matter anymore! All external circumstances and conditions will no longer affect the union. Such is the attraction of God.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

God Grooms Us

        When God wishes to use us in some way, he prepares us for that specific task. This may take some time, especially if we are not quite up to it yet. Therefore, patience is needed. Actually, we are not even sure what he really has in mind for us, but we sense that he is grooming us, building us up slowly, and we just trust along. Knowing that we are following his will whatever it might be is of great comfort. 

Happy to Awake

        I now get up in the morning around 5:30. I remember that years back for a time, I always slept late in the morning because I didn't feel like getting up to face the day ~ there wasn't much to look forward to. Today I am happy to get out of bed early, because in my waking hours I am aware of Christ's presence. I can contemplate him, talk to him, tell others about him...in general, enjoying our oneness.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

From Heart to Mind

       When the heart is at peace, the mind is uncluttered and any thought that comes to it will be orderly. But when the heart is in turmoil, the mind will be restless and the thoughts, disorderly. As Jesus said, it's what comes out of the heart that defiles a person; that's why the first thing God looks at is our heart. It makes all the sense to let God enter our hearts so that we may have peace. 

Jesus for One

        I attended morning Mass in the small chapel at the local seminary and found myself to be the only lay person there (besides one regular religious Brother). I felt that the Mass was said just for me, then I thought of Jesus who would have died just for me too. I just want to live in his love, the most beautiful place to be.  

Eternal Life at Stake

        In the Gospel reading at Mass continuing in Matthew 10, Jesus said to his Apostles, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." Here Jesus made it clear that there is life after death and hell exists. I used to teach mathematics at a community college and many students were afraid of the subject because they thought that it's just too hard. I firmly believed that they didn't do well because they were too lazy to think hard, so I bet them that if they should think so hard as if their life was at stake, they would solve all the problems quickly. Now, if we live as if my eternal life is at stake, we would succeed too. In fact, there's no "as if" about it ~ our eternal life is definitely at stake!

Only One Important Goal

        Our one big goal in life should be to love God. From a practical speaking point of view, I could just say that the big goal is to make heaven. Then in life, there are numerous other small goals, out of necessity or not, for us to accomplish. Here, whether we succeed or fail doesn't matter that much ~ only reaching that big goal is absolutely important, for it matters for all eternity! So be wise ~ focus on the big goal and set the small ones to help you achieve it.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where God Comes In

        On the physical level, we can pretty much take care of our problems. If we are sick, we go see a doctor. On the intellectual level, there's plenty of knowledge out there for us to absorb and learn. It's on the spiritual level that only God can help us. Here's where he comes in to remove our spiritual deficiencies and bring us into wholeness. Once we are healed spiritually, the problems on the two lower level will become insignificant or disappear. That's why we need to seek God first and foremost.  

"Bickering" over Bickering

        I feel sorry for the those who love to bicker over small matters to the last penny. They just want to take all the advantages they can get. They miss the overall picture of what living is all about. Bickering is a total waste of time while you can aim high, hold lofty visions, and reach for the stars. If you decide to quit bickering, may I suggest that you go as far away from it as possible, that is, get to know God, who can definitely help you quit.

What Unbelievers Miss

        At least two things an unbeliever will never experience. They are the peace that surpasses all understanding which St. Paul mentioned and the sweet joy that intoxicates the soul which the Holy Spirit generates deep within you at various moments.

Most Satisfying Vocation

        It struck me during Mass that Discipleship is a most beautiful word! (I made the "d" capital because I am referring to following Jesus, the true God.) Being a disciple of Jesus has to be be the most satisfying vocation in the world. And whoever wishes to enter it will be welcomed by God in person! 

The World in Balance

        Today's Gospel Reading comes from Matthew 10. Jesus to his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves...beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts... Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents... You will be hated by all because of my name..." You could say that all this is even "truer" today than in Jesus' time. The news all over the world is shocking to the point that we are becoming numb. Respect (I am not even talking about belief) of all religions in this country is at an all-time low. I see the world caught in a vortex sending all those in it to a bottomless pit and the saddest thing is that they are not even aware of it, still deeply immersed in the things of the world and in themselves. The true God, our only hope, couldn't be farther from their minds. Yet I can't feel too sad because the whole dire situation is balanced by the infinite mercy of God and I trust in his mercy.  

We Are All Prophets!

        Reading 1 at Mass all this week has come from Hosea, the prophet. We who follow Jesus and listen for his voice do hear him speak to our hearts from time to time, since the Lord wants to teach and shape us. For example, all my posts initiate from the thought buds the Holy Spirit placed in my mind and felt by my heart. I see that when we share the good things we hear from Jesus with others, we are in a way speaking as prophets. Check out the first definition of "prophet": A person who speaks for God or by divine inspiration. 

Be Surprised or Be Disappointed

        I mentioned that I was into photography in the past. Recently, I got invited to participate in a coming group show. Although I am not active nowadays anymore, I did conceived of a couple of images ~ an abstract piece which I may entitle "Heaven" and a moonlight scene still to be worked on. So I saw the invitation as an invitation for me to bring these two images into reality. Then the mind quickly projected ahead and started thinking about sending out invitations, friends showing up at the opening...I cut it off right there. I know that if we expect too much, we're likely to be disappointed ~ the fact here is that some of my friends don't even understand art much and some may even dislike what they see. (A slight digression. One famous pianist gave a recital and really didn't play that well. After the recital is over, his friend, another pianist, went backstage to "congratulate" him and said, "You did it again!") So it's better to not expect anything and be surprised later. What Jesus says in Luke 14.10 comes to mind: "When you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table." The lesson again to me is: Do not project ahead but live in the present moment, then you will not be disappointed and can only be surprised. 

Completely at God's Mercy

        This morning I realized that in praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we beg God's mercy by offering him the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of of his Dearly Beloved Son in atonement for our sins... Then in St. Gertrude's Prayer for the souls in purgatory, again we start out by offering the Eternal Father the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. Both these prayers were dictated by Jesus, to St. Faustina in the first example. It just clearly shows that we have no merit at all. Mercy comes only through God's mercy. Our only suitable role is to surrender to his Divine Mercy. We must realize that this is a terrific blessing that God cares for us. 

Jesus Did It Just Right

        Today Friday I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. I thought about how Jesus suffered without complaining whatsoever. He did not try to explain to those who wanted to kill him that he was innocent and had absolutely good intentions, etc. He just went ahead and did what he knew he must do to accomplish the mission his Father assigned him. Of course, to win us over, he could have used his power to amaze us, dazzle us, and bowl us over, then faith wouldn't be needed anymore. Overall, he did it just right so that those who choose to believe in him will have true faith in God.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be Free to Serve God

        In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Matthew 10, Jesus sent his Apostles away to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven at hand. They were going to take neither gold or silver or copper for their belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. That was indeed traveling light, and traveling light is always a good feeling. Even though we are not doing God's work going from house to house, we can also "travel" light by letting go of all our attachments to people and things. Not being encumbered thus, we become free to serve God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Latching onto God

        All things in the world are finite, temporary, and passing. God alone is infinite, permanent, and forever ~ so let's latch onto him. 

Jesus Forever Constant

        Today is the Memorial of St. Benedict. The Gospel Acclamation, Mark 1.15, reads: "The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." When I think about all the other similar sayings of Jesus in the Gospels, I realize that like the statement quoted above, they are just as relevant today as at his time. This is because he always spoke the truth, and truth does not go out of fashion. You may have come across the clever quote attributed to Louis Jouvet, the French actor-director: "The thing constant in a changing world is the avant-garde." The same can be said about the counsels given by Jesus.  

How to Think About Others

        Many of us are interested in other people, especially those we know, in how they live, what's happening to them, etc. The question is whether we think about God with just as much interest. The ideal way is to think about God at all times and be aware of others as God sees them, never apart from his love.

Some Thoughts on Living

         (1) Today I feel acutely that I am to live by every word spoken by God because I am totally dependent upon him. 
       (2) Half of 2012 has gone by ~ this prompts me even more to live in the present moment. There will always be unfinished business in life, so I am not going to let that bother me. Besides, this could be my last day on earth.
        (3) It's essential not to live in sin, for sin destroys life. How good it is to live in union with God instead! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nothing Has Changed

        Today's Gospel reading at Mass was taken from Matthew 9. When Jesus drove the demon out of a mute demoniac, the Pharisees said, "He drives out demons by the prince of demons." Later, at the sight of the crowds, Jesus was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Today, like the Pharisees, disbelievers make movies, write books, and post online to discredit, ridicule, and defame the Lord. The crowds are just like the ones in the past ~ lost sheep without a shepherd. What's true then is still true today. The same can be said for Jesus ~ he is the same loving Lord always.

God Is Always Present

        If you don't think about God, don't believe in him, or just ignore him, then of course, you don't feel his presence and can easily say that there is no God. Then to those who turn to him, believe in him, and come to love him, his presence is made clearly known. This just shows that God (Christ) out of love has always been there, standing next to you and waiting patiently for you open your heart to invite him in. If we don't see God, it's because we are blind, not because he is not present. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Closely Following the Holy Spirit

        A certain prayer group requires that every participant to speak always from his or her personal "I" ~ this is to avoid speaking for others. I think a superior way is to focus on the Lord always and speak whatever he prompts you to say, with the self totally out of the way, in a prayer group or not. This is not saying that you don't use the word "I" anymore ~ it's letting all thoughts be prompted by the Lord. In sum, follow the Holy Spirit in all things you say.         

Dining with the Lord

        The Communion Song at Mass, Luke 22.28-30: "It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, says the Lord, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom." It is a great honor/joy to stand by Jesus in his trials ~ and this is merely a prelude to receiving even greater honor/joy later in his kingdom. God loves us so much that he does his utmost to make sure that we receive the greatest joy in his kingdom. (I am trying hard to stay calm.)

To Remain Free in God

        Today is optionally the Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions. The Psalm Response is Psalm 31.6: "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." This is exactly what Jesus cried out before he breathed his last on the cross. It was so appropriate for me to say it as I received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist ~ I just wanted to be his and remain free. God is my true refuge!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Power Perfected in Weakness

        In today's Second Reading from 2 Corinthians 12 at Mass, Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh the Lord gave him to keep him from being too elated. We're not sure exactly what it was. Paul begged the Lord that it might leave him, but he said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." Paul continued, "I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
     I see that Paul put weaknesses in the same category as insults, hardships, persecutions, etc. We all have our own weaknesses and Paul showed that we ought to be content with (not to be ashamed of) them. For when we wish to serve God, our weaknesses are invitations to God for him to send his power into us. Accepting our weaknesses is actually a strength.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Essentials for Living a Christian Life

        They are (1) Prayer and (2) Labor ~ I am referring to all work done in serving God. If these two are performed to perfection, then you are perfect.

The Newness of Jesus

        In today's Gospel reading at morning Mass from Matthew 9, Jesus likened himself to a bridegroom and said that his disciples had no reason to fast when the bridegroom was still with them. "Bridegroom" brings to my mind celebration, joy, newness... and it's the newness of Jesus that struck me in particular today. He came to bring us the good news of salvation; he transforms us into new creatures; he's the first one to show us how great God's love for us is; he was always meek and humble (unlike any of us); he is most holy... he is so refreshing that he is forever new.   

Be Forgiving Always

        To forgive others who have offended you is very difficult for many. I've heard people say outright that they cannot possibly forgive one particular person. But we know that Jesus wants us to forgive, forgive, forgive... ~ so why not do it for his and not our sake? Let him deal with that person ~ it's not our business anyway! Don't forget that a forgiving person is a happy person.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting God Involved

        Get God involved 100% in your life. Get him involved in everything you do. Before you make a phone call to deal with some unpleasant matter, ask him to take charge and guide you in what you say. I have a computer problem right now ~ it's unlikely that God would fix it directly himself, but I could ask him to guide me in finding the right solution. He does not mind that we ask for his help in every little thing we do if we are sincere ~ he is bothered only by the sins we commit, including the lack of trust in him.

Conscience Is God-Given

        As I was driving to Mass this morning, my thoughts wandered at random. If you assume that God does not exist, and yet when you do something bad, deep down you still sense that somehow it's wrong, then I say that the assumption must be incorrect. The reality of conscience is proof that God exists. Otherwise, we just do whatever we like to keep ourselves happy and nothing should bother us. Without conscience, we would have destroyed each other long ago. The existence of conscience points to the existence of salvation. Today's Response to the Psalm, Matthew 4.4, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" is appropriate. To live by bread alone is to be self-centered, while to live by the word of God is to be saved.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Enjoy God Too

        It is a beautiful day and we should enjoy it while we can! We have a most loving God and we should enjoy him as much as we could too!

Jesus' Extraordinary Coming

        Thoughts at Mass. When I was young and heard that my older cousins were coming, I looked forward so much to their arrival because I looked up to them and knew that I was going to have a great time playing with and learning from them. It's the anticipation of the coming that excited me. Now that I am a lot older, more mature and wiser, it's the coming of Jesus, God, that's most exciting to me. I am not referring to the Second Coming on Judgment day ~ I am thinking about the more immediate coming of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist I was about to receive, at which he's ready to enter deep into my being to heal my soul. This is no ordinary coming.    

Jesus Inspires

        In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Matthew 9, Jesus first forgave the sins of a paralytic. Then when some of the scribes started thinking that Jesus had blasphemed, Jesus, to show that he does have the authority to forgive sins, followed with healing the paralytic as well. The crowds saw this and were struck with awe.
     How good it is to hear Jesus say "Your sins are forgiven"! These healing words instantly free the soul. In the sacrament of reconciliation, we hear these same words from Jesus through the priest.
      The awe with which Jesus strikes us does not produce fear; instead it makes us exclaim wow and humbles us.
        In conclusion, all attributes of Jesus inspire us to become holy.

Be an Empty Vessel

        The picture of being an empty vessel for God appeared as a most beautiful one to me this morning. When we are empty, we are ready for God to fill us with whatever he wants to give us. And it is a given that God can only give what is good for us and for his glory. Being receptive is such a beautiful attitude that's most pleasing to God! When he sees a receptive, empty vessel, he will start purifying it without your asking. Once it's clean, he will fill it with treasures to overflowing so that you may glorify him with joy and ease.    

Powered by God

        When one trusts in God, he lets God power him in all that he does. Thus he does things only in accordance with God's will, believing that God will accomplish what he wills through him. In a way, it's God leading the way with him keeping in step as his assistant. Following God this way totally eliminates anxiety.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Taming of the Soul

        Rebellion and Obedience are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Persistent rebellion against God leads to permanent separation from him and total obedience to God, to union with him ~ they are poles apart! All souls start out with rebellion, but they are absolutely tamable by God, as nothing is impossible with him. Know that when you rebel against God, you're fighting a fore-known losing battle. Wouldn't you rather let him tame you to bring you to perfect harmony with him? The answer should be a nobrainer. 

Step by Step to Union

        If you are not quite ready to fully surrender to the Lord yet, then each time when you receive the Holy Eucharist, just ask him to bend you a little bit more to draw you closer to him. In time, you'll be in full union with him before you know it. Remember that we cannot do anything on our own, but God can accomplish anything through us. 

Going Up to God

        Yesterday was a day of full moon and the moonlit landscape outside my window appeared especially beautiful after dark. I saw that it's all a part of the planet earth. Then I thought of Jesus who lived here and finally ascended into heaven as his disciples watched him being lifted up and taken from their sight by a cloud. Our Blessed Mother was also bodily assumed into heaven. And there's Elijah being taken up in a whirlwind. I know that I won't be leaving the world in such a dramatic fashion, but I also know that my soul will rise to the Lord one day, perhaps very quietly. That'll be a day of great, great joy for me. My only sadness would come from realizing that many who have not believed in Jesus yet may not experience any joy when they leave this world and afterward.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Suffering for the Sake of Love

        Nobody feels good when someone suffers, yet as I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary today, thinking about the Lord's agony, the extreme physical pains he bore, the unjust insults he received, the shedding of his most precious blood..., I experienced the greatest sweet joy because this is how much he loves us! I'll never be able to thank him enough and shall rejoice in him forever. 

We Are like Thomas

        Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle. He is known as the doubting Thomas because he was not with the other disciples when Jesus came (after the Resurrection) and when they told him that they had seen the Lord, he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." This was not really as bad as Peter denying the Lord thrice. Anyway, this honest account of Thomas makes me believe in Jesus even more ~ he's just like many of us today! We don't believe in Jesus because we are human like Thomas.  Later Thomas finally saw Jesus and believed ~ this should be sufficient for us to cast away all our doubts and believe in the Lord.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Proper Response to God's Love

        God loves us with an infinite love, so how should we respond to him? Of course, we should love him back; but since we'll never be able to love him as much as he loves us, why don't we just remain completely open to let him love us as much as he wants? Be "spoiled" by God!

Enjoyment, Not Attachment

        There are many beautiful things for us to enjoy, but it would be wrong for us to become attached to them. Since I knew and was interested in music, I can cite some examples. I am sure that many of you are probably familiar with the Styne/Cahn song The Things We Did Last Summer. Both the music and lyrics are so beautiful that it can bring back old memories and make you cry. You can hear the many versions on YouTube, including Frank Sinatra's. If you feel good listening to it, just thank God for it, for all things beautiful come from him. 
    Two other piano solos you most likely will find enjoyable are these videos on YouTube, 
The first piece is based upon Gershwin's song Embraceable You. The great American pianist Earl Wild just made a virtuoso etude out of it and in this video the Korean pianist Yeol-Eum Son interprets it possibly even better than Wild himself. The second video is based upon the song En Avril made popular by the French singer Charles Trenet. Then Alexis Weissenberg, the Bulgarian-French pianist arranged it for piano solo and in this video the Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamilin plays it. (To hear Trenet sing the original song, go on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2Piuuuzhho.) Again, enjoy the music, thank God, and move on. God gives us beauty for us to enjoy and not to become enslaved by it. We should let all enjoyable experiences draw us even closer to God, for his beauty is beyond comprehension until we are with him in person.          

Fit to Follow Jesus?

        In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 8 at morning Mass, we heard the following. A scribe approached and said to Jesus, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead."
        The point is that if we want to follow the Lord, we must not be concerned about or attached to anything else. The priest in his homily told about a young man interested in becoming a religious came to the seminary to learn about the religious life and he showed up with two pets, a dog and a parrot. The seminary gave him a chance for trial, but he lasted just a few months and left. His attachment to his pets was a clear sign that he's not fit to follow Jesus yet. Of course, people have all kinds of attachments to different things, but only the one who's attached to Jesus alone is free to follow him ~ he or she has wisely chosen the best.

Certainty in Jesus

        Even though Jesus suffered most excruciatingly in his life on earth, he's always optimistic, knowing that he would be victorious in the end. This Jesus has given us hope in him. No, more than hope...we can be certain in him, for his victory is now our victory!        

Jesus Our Revelation

        If we don't have God, we easily become self-centered creatures ~ this is for sure. Jesus came and revealed clearly that for those who believe in him, they will live forever (eternal life with him in heaven). His love for us is what attracts and draws us to him. Then we fully accept and believe in him and we are transformed into new loving creatures. This is a simple summary of the true Christian experience.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Selfless Serving

        This is serving God when you no longer notice that you are doing it and only God notices you.

Three Beautiful Acts

        At Mass I came to see three beautiful acts. They are:
        (1) Giving yourself to God.
        (2) Bringing souls to God.
        (3) Serving God.

On Priesthood

        This weekend our parish is celebrating our priest's 40th anniversary of his ordination to priesthood. I started thinking about the sacrament of holy orders. It's truly a high calling because an ordained priest will be given the power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and it is through him that we the faithful get to receive this Most Holy Sacrament. Priesthood is truly an awesome vocation. Thank God for our priests.