People see sufferings all around and ask "Where is God?" Suppose that there are no sufferings at all, would they then ask the same question? I doubt it. God came two thousand years ago in person and not all believed in him. If he comes again today in person, would all then believe in him? I doubt it. So, don't ask "Where is God?" again.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Today's Gospel reading at Mass came from Luke 16. It's the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This is a terrifying story because when poor Lazarus died, he was carried away by angles to the bosom of Abraham, but the rich man died and descended to the netherworld where he suffered torment in flames. When the rich man cried out to Abraham for help, Abraham was powerless to help him, for a great chasm separated them. I can imagine that in such torment, the rich man wished that he had never been born. Eternal separation from God is so horrible that you wouldn't want anyone to experience that! On the other hand, dwelling in heaven with God for all eternity can be ours too. These are the only two choices we have. Believing in Jesus or not believing in Jesus absolutely can make the greatest possible difference to us.
Morning thought. We should relate to God exclusively and in private, and let all our actions flow from this relationship. When we are in union with God, all that flows out of us comes directly from him. We love others because we love him. So love comes from the Lord and returns to him, completing its purpose.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
This morning I joined some church groups in praying outside an abortion clinic, part of the 40 Days for Life vigil. I was honored to have a woman driving by, yelling something obscene at me. Jesus wanted his disciples to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the ill, visit prisoners. I am sure that if the Lord were here today, he would have included "save the unborn." Praying together with other dedicated brothers and sisters in Christ out of pure love for the Lord to save lives and souls, risking possibly persecutions, discomfort, and humiliations is truly a rewarding experience, humbling and uplifting at the same time.
I am thinking that God's mercy has to be infinite. If it is finite, then who can get to heaven? Where do you draw the line? It just does not work out. The God of Christ will forgive us an unlimited number of times as long as we repent. You may picture that the door of mercy is always open. When we sin, we disable ourselves and can't get to the door anymore. Then we repent and we are healed and can get going again. Basically, God wants to get all of us into heaven. With such mercy, you'll have to turn away from him and choose not to repent to get yourself condemned. Sadly, there are too many doing just that.
People do not think about God because the world has gotten to them first. Deeply immersed in the world, God is easily forgotten. One day their world is gone ~ for example, they suffer a heart attack or lose all their possessions ~ then they turn to God. To avoid wasting so much of your valuable lifetime, let God get to you first, then you'll be holding onto something permanent, stable, and dependable that will never go away.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
On the way back from morning Mass, I saw the modern world as a place full of traps. There is a trap in everything we hear, see, read, and encounter. I say "trap" because it aims to keep us away from God. This is reality as you can see trapped victims everywhere. But the situation is not hopeless, as the Lord is almighty. Once you have grounded yourself firmly in him. you will notice all the traps and be alert enough to bypass them. (Actually, this can be fun!)
After discovering the marvels of science, some scientists choose to believe in the existence of God, while others choose not to. Similarly, after learning about the holy God, some sinners are attracted to him, while others choose to hide from him. For me, what attracts me to God is his perfection in his love and every other way, beautiful beyond words.
I used to live near a burger joint advertising that their burgers are so good that they are to die for. Since God has actually died for us out of love, certainly he is good enough for us to die for, be it the dying of the old self or our physical death. Two persons willing to die for each other shows the greatest love between them. When one of the two happens to be God, there'll be no sad ending ~ only glorious, eternal joy!
This morning at church before Mass began, I saw every one of us as an empty vessel. It remains useless as long as it is empty. But after God has filled it with himself (the Holy Spirit), it becomes his glorious vessel fit for heaven. With the Lord as the source, all good things (thoughts, words, deeds) flow outwardly from it. This is the ultimate transformation.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Our pastor in his homily at Mass warned us to be aware of spiritual pride. It became clear to me that to be holy, we must seek humility first. Humility makes the strongest foundation for spiritual growth. And the Lord loves to exalt the humble.
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 6 at morning Mass, Jesus said to his disciples, "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." So if I do my best to help others enter heaven, the Lord will surely do his best to help me enter heaven.
Today's Gospel Acclamation is based upon parts of John 6:63c, 68c. I am of one mind with what Peter said to Jesus in 68c: "You have the words of everlasting life." This is another earth-shaking statement on which you must either agree or disagree with Peter. Jesus just cannot be ignored!
Today's distressing world news includes a celebrity trying to explain away a crime he has obviously committed and another celebrity openly performing irreverent, offensive acts. I know that we are all sinners, but there is a difference. Most people end up sinning not because they want to sin, but because they are not strong enough to resist the temptation (they fail the test, so to speak). This is not the same as someone with a huge ego who deliberately ignores God, premeditates his sinful act, and never plans to repent. Ignoring the Lord makes him the ultimate ignoramus.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
It is common knowledge that if we are not happy in our personal life, we can't be happy at work either. If we are not getting along with others, it's just not possible to feel at peace with God either. In fact, Jesus wants us to reconcile with our brother who has anything against us before offering our gift at the altar (Matthew 5:24). Conversely, it follows that if we are at peace with God, then automatically we'll be at peace with all others. This was how I felt this morning before Mass began ~ there was zero rebelliousness in me against God and I felt absolutely nothing against anyone. It must be that when we get along with God, we receive the grace from him for us to get along with everybody else.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I hand-weeded in my front yard a little bit this afternoon. A week ago, I pulled up pretty much every single weed, but today there were quite a bit of new weeds that had since germinated. I realized that it was a never-ending job and that I must be patient and keep doing what I can if I want to make the yard look neat. I see the similarity in living a spiritual life, as growing holier is also a never ending "job" and I must remain patient by trusting in God and doing my best always. The journey is not a short sprint but an endurance race. If we aim to win, we shall win our imperishable crown at the end (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
In this life, we have the free will to choose good or evil. The crossing over to the other side can be instant. In the next life, we either end up with or without God and the chasm between two worlds is unbridgeable for all eternity ~ think about it! By not choosing God in this life, you might say that we burn our bridges forever. Seen this way, it's clear that how we live this life is critically important to how we shall live our next life.
Communion experience. After receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, I wished to be totally slain in the Lord. I realized that all I needed to do is to surrender to him by remaining passive. It struck me that the motto "No pain, no gain" does not work here ~ with God, it's "No pain, big gain." Another way of saying it: "The more we let go in God, the more we receive from him."
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 5 at morning Mass, Jesus commanded his disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. Sometimes I pray for my enemies with the hope that they will not give me trouble anymore, but I hear the Lord say that I must pray exclusively for their well-being.
You cannot win souls for Christ by pressuring or arguing with those you wish to convert. The only effective way is to live your own life by example. Then each word you say and each deed you perform will have the effect of sowing a little seed in those you come into contact. And the Lord will make those seeds grow in time. It is great teamwork as you sow and God reaps.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Today being Friday, the Way of the Cross was prayed after Mass in church. Many parts of the reading were truly beautiful that I wished I could stop and meditate on them, but with a large group we just went through all fourteen stations nonstop. I researched and found that the book Benedict XVI: Way of Cross had been considered by many to be the finest and most beautiful book on the subject. I am looking forward to embarking on this new exciting trip by praying the Way on my own so that I can take as much time as needed. I say "exciting" because the Holy Spirit is going to lead me and I'll be walking with Christ the whole time.
This morning before Mass, I saw God as the most refreshing, sweetest nectar for the soul to drink. Well, the secular world surely provides copious attractions, yet why am I drawn more to the invisible God? What special power does the Lord possess? I venture to say that the following contrasts may provide the answer.
(1) God is eternal, while the world passes.
(2) God is love, while the world is emptiness.
(3) God is true, while the world lies.
(4) God challenges us, while the world tolerates us.
Here's an imperfect analogy using musical examples to show how God and the world attract in their different ways. God is to the world as Brahms's symphonies or Beethoven's last piano sonatas are to heavy metal.
Today I see Jesus as the Savior who can get us out of any trouble ~ he is our gateway to freedom. The biggest trouble we can be in has to be our soul remaining in a state of serious sin. The only good thing I can say about sin is that it gets the Lord's attention and can get ours too. In Matthew 9, to show that he has authority to forgive the sins of the paralytic lying on a stretcher, Jesus ordered him to rise, pick up the stretcher, and go home. And rise and go home he did. So, first, get our sins forgiven by the Lord; then let him help us carry the rest of our burdens; and finally, freedom!
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I am thinking that in heaven, we have the fallen angels rebelling against God. On earth, we are doing the same thing, except that we are given a chance to be reconciled to God. See this clearly so that you can take advantage of this opportunity to get out of your precarious position as your eternal destiny hinges on your decision.
Today's great Gospel reading came from Matthew 7. In it Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." This means that God is wide open to us. We should ask to know him, to experience him, to be filled with his love, to be healed, to be saved, and for joy, peace, freedom, union with him in this life and heavenly dwelling with him for all eternity in the next. Actually, all these things are already ours. Claim them while there is still time.
God is love, but it's easy to deny that when you are not happy. Find out first why you are not happy as it is impossible to know God and not be happy. Read the Gospels and you'll see love written all over Jesus ~ so many invitations, so many promises, so much mercy shown in the kind deeds he performed and so much suffering on his part for our sake. For me, a believer, I get to touch him and be united with him everyday in receiving the Holy Eucharist. That love is ours for the asking.
If we are unhappy in life, we normally don't feel good about getting out of bed to face another day each morning. I once was like that when I didn't like my job and nothing else "exciting" was happening in my life. But now, because I do have interior peace and the external world no longer has anything exciting for me, I actually look forward to waking up early to start the day with Mass. Today the thought came to me that if we are ready to die for Christ, then certainly we would welcome each new day and be ready for anything coming our way.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima is traveling through our area this month. At Fatima, the Blessed Mother warned that if people did not stop offending God, there would be wars, famines, persecution of the Church and annihilation of nations. All had come true. The big war was World War II. It seems that historically, God's warnings usually went unheeded. Why? It must be that people are too steeped in sin and/or they don't know the true God yet. What the world most urgently needs to do is to repent if it wishes to be saved. And it's just as urgent for those who know God to spread the good news. All of us are involved in a life-and-death struggle.
Some people are very fussy and particular ~ they want everything they do come out right or perfect, or they would feel terrible. Others keep their material possessions in top shape, such as making sure that their cars are scratch-free and spotless. I had a friend once who kept all the original boxes the things he bought came in and placed all things exactly where he thought they should be ~ I was afraid to touch or move anything in his house. I really think all these people so afflicted are in fact imperfect. The perfect perfectionist is one who wants to be as perfect as possible before God and is not discouraged or disturbed if he turns to be not quite perfect ~ he or she simply accepts the fact and tries to do better.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 6 at Mass, Jesus, before teaching his disciples how they were to pray, said, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." I am so happy that God reads our mind and our heart that I don't need to hide anything from him anymore, that he knows my needs, and that he will let me know what he wishes me to do, now that I have signed up as one of his followers.
Monday, February 18, 2013
I feel that when we read or pray the psalm or other prayers devoutly, God listens to us and at the same time shapes and forms us. When we petition God for various needs sincerely, again he hears us and at the same time checks out what's in our hearts. Turning to the God is to let him work on us.
Today's Communion antiphon at Mass, Matthew 25.40, 34: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me, says the Lord. Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
We first see that Jesus identified himself with every one of us. Serving others is serving him. The way to endear ourselves to the Lord is made clear here ~ it is a great revelation. Then I heard the second part read and I was virtually shaken ~ it was definitely an incredible, wow moment. To me, in extending such an invitation, the Lord truly showed his infinite mercy.
It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ rose from the dead, that his Apostles and disciples were emboldened to spread the good news to the four corners of the world, and that sinners are transformed into saints. So surrender to this most gentle, loving spirit and he will lead you, inspire you, protect you, mold you, and draw you into full union with the glorious Holy Trinity. He is the guide we all need.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
At Mass today, I was drawn to the Holy Spirit. When I was involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the 70s, I simply asked the Holy Spirit to baptize me, and zap me he did. He made everything easy for me so that I progressed rapidly in a relatively short time. You could say that he carried me all the way. Eventually, the "honeymoon" ended. Today I have already surrendered to God the Holy Spirit, so I expect even greater things to happen. After receiving Communion, I submitted myself once again to the Holy Spirit and experienced his sweetness. Man and God are just meant for perfect union!
Saturday, February 16, 2013
The morning's Gospel message at Mass came from Luke 5. Levi, the tax collector, gave a great banquet for Jesus in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained that Jesus eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus replied, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners." As I received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, I knew that he came to me, a sinner, to restore the health of my soul. In fact, he is the only one who can get this done! For this, I am most grateful.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Today's Communion experience. I am receiving true food from God. This is no ordinary food which feeds the stomach for a few hours ~ this is the body and blood of my Lord that spiritually nourishes my soul resulting in union with him, my eternal God ~ the food to live by forever!
It is in today's news that a meteor has crashed in Russia, injuring at least 950 people. A much bigger asteroid is now passing the earth in its own orbit around the sun, but there is no risk of impact or collision with our earth. Since God is in control of everything, nothing can be accidental. The meteor could be a warning to us this time. Even Russian President Putin said he thanked God that no big fragments had fallen in populated areas. God is always calling us, teaching us, and warning us if we are in danger of losing our souls, but we don't listen. Here is why.
God has given us the free will. We start to rebel against him, thinking that we have the power to do whatever we wish. As a result, we are deluded into believing that God is no longer in control, thereby dismissing all messages coming from him. Therefore, we basically live in delusion.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Luke 9, Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" These three verses provide our complete guide to living. To summarize: Forget about saving your own life ~ follow him and you will not lose it. This is the whole truth in a nutshell.
Jesus' teaching has been consistent throughout. He came and showed us how much God loves us. He opened the door to light, hope, and all we need to know for our salvation. If all this is not good enough for you, then... (I'll let you draw your own conclusion).
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Communion experience. Our God knows every single one of us. He loves every single one of us by dying for every single one of us. After consecration of the bread and wine, he is ready to enter each one of us, you, me, and everyone else at Mass. When I receive him, he enters my soul ~ it's even more intimate than touching him, holding his hands, embracing him (although I'd like to do all that too). Yes, God focuses upon each one of us with his full attention! Unbelievably personal! This is our God, the God through Christ.
As the priest marked the forehead of each of us at Mass with black ashes in the sign of the cross, he said, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." This is true of my physical body. But now I am already God's child and to the heavenly Father I shall return. I am most grateful for this good news Jesus had brought me.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. At morning Mass, I saw the simple role of Jesus and that of us this way. He is here to teach us how to love and we are here to learn how to love from him. If we do well, then we'll have answered his call, fulfilled our duty, and accomplished the mission given us.
I see people who get impatient or angry, using swear words to express their feelings. Impatience and anger may be difficult to manage, but surely swearing can be controlled if one is serious enough about it. Basically, they hurt themselves. Not only does their blood pressure rise, they also sentence themselves to undergoing more severe purification in purgatory should they be bound for heaven. We must realize that every time we sin, we actually hurt the Lord! Then there are some who in following their own will would use the excuse that they cannot help it because God made them that way. If they truly believe in that, then it's blaming God for keeping them the way they are and worse yet, believing that he cannot help them. At any rate, the cause in both above cases is lack of humility. Be filled with pride and you easily keep the Lord away.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Here are some reasons:
(1) It is a God-given gift.
(2) While you have life, you get the opportunity to love God so that you may have eternal life.
(3) Everything that happens to you, including suffering and any unpleasant experience, provides you with the opportunity to become humble and love the Lord even more.
(4) Life is so brief, making the time we have for loving and serving God most precious.
Monday, February 11, 2013
The caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis to become a butterfly. A human must die physically before entering heaven. The old self must die in Christ if it is to be renewed and live. And surrendering to the Lord is required if we ever want to experience his sweet love.
The Gospel Acclamation at Mass this morning was Matthew 4.23: "I preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people." When I heard that read, my heart leapt for joy. Then later after I received Holy Communion, I felt complete peace.
I have learned to play the piano. Even though I don't play very well, I know quite a bit about playing the piano properly. Some players show a lot of facial expressions, sway their upper body, raising the shoulders, and/or exaggerate their hand gestures when they play. While the recognized, accepted way is to remain relaxed and not indulge in any extra, wasted motions so that you may concentrate fully on expressing yourself through the music. I bring this up because I often have urgent things to pray for and I so want the Lord to answer my prayers that I no longer feel relaxed. I see that the proper way here is to channel all that energy into trusting in the Lord and let go at that. To sum up, burdening ourselves is futile, while trusting in the Lord is fruitful. This is also putting God first.
In the same book by Fr. Groeschel, he quotes the French writer Leon Bloy: "Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately not to have been a saint." To make the meaning equally clear, I could state: "Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately not to have loved God enough."
To achieve the greatest happiness, we must put God first in our lives. Take a married couple. If the husband and wife love each other, but put each other ahead of God, they cannot always be happy. They may get along most of the time, but there will be conflicts. If they both can put God first, then they will experience the closest possible union between a man and a woman on earth. As Fr. Groeschel says in his book Healing the Original Wound, the biggest and most persistent enemy is always self ~ you can never escape yourself; you can only change yourself. By letting God be first in your life, the problem no longer exists.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 5, Jesus taught the crowds on shore from a boat that belonged to Simon. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. [The willingness to follow Jesus' command paid off. To me, to do exactly what Jesus tells us to do is always the right thing to do. Following his will is walking the most beautiful path of our life.]
They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." For astonishment at the catch of fish seized him and all those with him. [When we see how perfect, awesome, great, and marvelous God truly is, we see how imperfect, puny, small, and sinful, we are. This is the moment we realize that we need God and we need salvation. This is a joyful moment!]
It is so easy for us to get annoyed or irritated by the many things happening around us. Usually they are minor, such as the driver in front of you being too slow in taking off when the traffic signal turns green or someone long-winded talking to you incessantly. I see that if I get bothered by such things, it's because of my lack of humility. I've already found out that if I focus upon the Lord alone, I just don't think about sinning anymore. By the same token, I can forget all about getting annoyed too. So here is my new rule: I shall let the Holy Spirit guide me alone and let nothing else disturb me. St. Teresa's prayer comes to mind: "Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices."
I am reading Fr. Groeschel's book, Healing the Original Wound. In Chapter 5, Fr. Groeschel tells us that Thomas Babington McCauley, the great British historian who was Protestant, pointed out that the Catholic Church was there when all the governments of the world began and when all the kings were crowned, and has continued to stand while they have all fallen. The church existed long before northern Europe was civilized. When I think about this, it is quite amazing. In the last two thousand years, dynasties, governments, powerful conquerors and rulers have come and gone. Today, the biggest industries, banks and corporations can fall or crumble before your eyes. Yet the church with her billion members of all races and nationalities from all cultures and walks of life ~ still all sinners ~ manages to hold together, despite the constant attacks and persecutions it faces throughout the ages. It is quite remarkable. Fr. Groeschel concludes that the church stays together because Jesus Christ as founder and head of the church himself holds it together. As Jesus said to Peter, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16).
Saturday, February 9, 2013
The day is nice ~ sunny and cool. This is the perfect time to do some weeding because the ground is moist and soft and the weeds still young, most of which have not flowered or produced seed yet. With a hula hoe, you can go pretty fast. As I weeded away, I thought that for me to look clean and neat before the Lord is so much more important than for the garden to look clean and neat before me. I see God as the master gardener watering, fertilizing, and now "weeding" me.
When God draws one close to him, the person becomes more and more detached to the world and things that are considered fun in the world are no longer of interest to him. Now he doesn't seem to fit in with the world anymore ~ he is seen as an oddball. Let's realize that the fun of our world is the product of a world that's materialistic, self-centered, and secular. So oddball living is actually a lot closer to living in heaven. I don't think up there there will be TV shows to watch, ball games to follow, pubs to visit, nor cruises to take. The many near-death experiences that have been reported and studied show that those who came back all experienced so much peace and freedom on the other side that they became different persons no longer attached to the world. So living as an "oddball" is only odd in the eyes of the world, but wise in the eyes of the Lord.
Friday, February 8, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6 at Mass, we heard the story of how King Herod came to order the beheading of John the Baptist. Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod that it's not lawful for him to have his brother's wife, so Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody, yet he liked hearing him speak. [Here we see that Herod knew righteousness and holiness, and was even attracted to John. He feared him perhaps because he realized that he was guilty.]
On Herod's birthday, he gave a banquet and his own daughter came in and performed a dance. The king was so delighted that he promised to grant her whatever she asks of him. She went out to her mother and asked what she should ask for and her mother said "the head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king and made her request. Herod was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests present, he did not wish to break his word to her. This was how John got beheaded. [We see that Herod had his conscience, but he overrode the good voice he heard and followed the evil one in him.]
We all have a conscience. The good voice comes from God and the evil one from the Evil One. It's easy to ignore or smother the gentle good voice and pay attention only to the disruptive evil voice ~ just like the news: the bad news is pretty much all we get to hear. There is one antidote though ~ the Holy Spirit. As we are drawn closer to the Lord, the Holy Spirit purifies (sharpens) our conscience to the point that it works like a message filter, allowing only the good voice through and blocking the evil one.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Today's Communion Experience. The Lord is all holy and he can make anyone holy. He has saved me, entered my soul, and drawn me to union with him through the Holy Eucharist. Like St. Simeon after seeing the Infant Jesus at the Presentation, I am ready to go in peace.
Mark 6 provides the Gospel reading for today's Mass. We heard that Jesus sent the Twelve two by two out to preach repentance. At the beginning the Twelve were called by the Lord to be fishers of men. Even after the Resurrection, he appeared to them telling them to go into the whole world to proclaim the good news to all creation and making disciples of all the nations. This is still our calling today! If you love the Lord, let nothing get in the way of following this call. Salvation of souls must be the sole purpose of our life because that was the reason Jesus came into the world.
In church this morning while waiting for Mass to begin, I became acutely aware of the brevity of life. We all know that we are going to die sooner or later, then why so many of us do not take the time to look into life-after-death? Of course, the very young are too busy making discoveries in and learning about the new world. The next older generation may be busy attending college, concerned about how to make a living on their own, etc., and death still seems far-off. Then there are the less fortunate folks whose main concern is how to make ends meet ~ life after death is just not a pressing concern yet. We now come to those who have succeeded in business or gotten rich or famous some other way ~ they are so absorbed in their worldly successes, enjoying their wealth and/or fame, that they no longer feel the need for God. This is the period in which they become fools in God's eyes. Success in the world is now a curse, not a blessing. Finally, in old age, almost everyone starts to look into life-after-death.
I have brought up the many paradoxical truths in past postings. For example, the more we surrender ourselves to God, the freer we become. Another one: The more we acknowledge our weakness before the Lord, the stronger he makes us. In general, we decrease to let God increase. So the "secret" is, you might say, "Don't even try hard." When we remain passive (open), we show trust in the Lord and he fulfills our desire by doing the work. To be passive is to get out of the way of the Lord who eagerly wants to bring us into union with him. "Passive" then is password for logging in to God.
If you are married and your spouse does not share your Catholic faith or may even hate the Church, reading this blog story should encourage you to persevere in praying for him (or her). Here it is: http://www.elizabethesther.com/2013/01/preach-always-use-words.html
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Today's Gospel at Mass was read from Mark 6. Jesus came to his native place and began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were astonished, but they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." I think many of you readers probably would agree with me that it's not easy to tell our own family members and friends about Jesus because they know us and have seen all our faults and imperfections. (In Jesus' case, his kin probably had not seen anything extraordinary about him yet.) Anyway, I turn and see the Lord, who always appreciates us and will listen to us at any time. He is truly our greatest consolation!
Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God at the beginning. Then they committed the original sin and we now all carry it. God, out of love, has sent Jesus to us to clear the way for us to get back to him. Stained with original sin, we can still attain the highest spiritual state by letting the Lord draw us into full union with him through the Holy Eucharist. Then we are just one short step away from having our perfect relationship with God restored fully in heaven.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
There is a mega nondenominational church nearby and a great many of its members are former Catholics. While I don't have the figures, I know that the number of former Catholics nationwide is huge. Is there something wrong with the Catholic Church? I think that the reason so many dropped out is because to be a true Catholic, you have to truly give yourself to the Lord. Truth is never easy to accept, otherwise Jesus wouldn't have been crucified. There are so many other Christian churches around that are easy to join or leave. The stringent requirements of being a Catholic are just not there. As a Protestant, you can shop around for a church you like. Normally, the pastor is the big attraction. So it's natural that those who want to keep more of their own freedom leave the Catholic faith and those who prefer freedom in the Lord remain behind. On the other hand, many Protestant ministers seriously seeking the whole truth have been steadily coming home to the Catholic Church.
John 1.3: "All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be." So I came into being through Jesus ~ I owe him my existence. I now belong to him; so it follows that my heart, my mind, and my soul all belong to him ~ I can't be more carefree!
Today is the Memorial of St. Agatha. Gospel reading at Mass comes from Mark 5. A woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind Jesus in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." And she was immediately healed.
I start to think about faith and prayer again. I see faith as a gift from God because I cannot in any way make my faith stronger by will, but I could trust in him more. It's clear that if I don't trust in God, I have no faith. Therefore, by trusting in God, I should receive faith from him.
I also believe that if I trust in God, he will show me how to pray in each situation. If I pray for a miracle and no miracle happens, it doesn't necessarily mean that my faith is weak ~ it could be that I am praying against God's wish.
Examples and lessons. (1) This woman in the Gospel really wanted to be healed and believed that Jesus could heal her, so she was healed. Her trust generated the strong faith the Lord placed in her. (2) When I catch an ordinary cold, I pray that I get well. I trust in the Lord, but he normally does not place a desire in me to want to be healed immediately and no miracle happens. (3) I've already shared the time my son was almost dying from a virus attack ~ I prayed for his recovery by his bedside without hesitation as if I was giving a command and he got well in a matter of days. Again, God spontaneously directed me ~ it's not that all of a sudden my faith increased. (4) Most of us probably are praying for some loved ones who no longer practice their faith. I believe that if we truly care and persist in praying for them, the Lord will have no choice but to answer our prayers. Again, let him direct us in how we pray.
In conclusion, I'll trust in God and he'll take care of my faith, and I'll pray as he directs.
I have posted about living in the present, since the past is gone and the future is still unknown. If we live every present moment joyfully for love of God, then naturally we'll be joyful our entire life. I bring this up now because I see that if we do God's will also for every present moment and follow him moment by moment as he leads us, we'll have no anxiety but peace.
If you believe that life is basically fighting a spiritual battle, then you should try to envision what Jesus would see if he comes into our world today. Would he be interested in seeing New York's skyscrapers, Florida's luxurious beach resorts, Las Vegas casinos and shows...I really don't think so. What I am sure is that he would notice the poverty, suffering, inequality, corruption, hypocrisy, oppression, materialism, the evil of drugs, robbery, prostitution, murder, abortion, etc., in our society. We need to develop such a spiritual vision so that we may also see what the Lord sees.
Without God, we can not be free. On our own, we naturally seek our own security and happiness; that is, we become our own god. Since the world we live in is full of such little gods, conflicts and war are inevitable and our goal of finding happiness is doomed from the very beginning.
Now, if we live for God and not ourselves, we are no longer involved in seeking our own happiness ~ it is what pleases God that matters. When we and God are one, whatever pleases him pleases us, hence we are free! There will be no more fighting other little gods. This is absolutely true.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Sin is the cause of man's fall, but this morning at Mass, I became acutely aware of the destructiveness of sin. If sin is not taken seriously, checked, examined, reined in, stopped, or purged, it could lead the soul straight to hell (this is the first time I use this word on this blog; I normally say eternal separation from God which means the same thing). When I was a Protestant way back, I was lead to believe that once saved, you are saved forever. This gave me tremendous relief, but I now know that the belief is incorrect ~ too casual and simplistic. There have been too many who start out as Christians and turn into horrible sinners. St. Paul in Hebrews 12 urges us to rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us ~ there is great urgency here. Also, the Lord said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Matthew 7.21 ~ look up and read the next two verses as well). The bottom line is that we need God and need to do his will always to ensure salvation.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Doing God's will is easily said than done. If you see clearly that there is a chance to help someone or bring the person closer to the Lord, then it's no problem. But if there is an opportunity, say, for you to make some money, it might be difficult to discern whether you should take advantage of it or not because the attachment to money and material things can easily surface and cloud your mind. My guideline runs like this. If what you are thinking of doing is going to affect your prayer life, your present work in serving God such as what you do through your church ministries, and/or any evangelization your engage in on your own, you should not do it no matter how strong the temptation. Our union or personal relationship with God must be preserved. It should only grow stronger, not weaker.
We say these words every time we say the Lord's Prayer. Since I have control only over my own free will, the most I could do is "I do God's will." In other words, doing God's will must start with each individual. Naturally, if everyone does it, we will have heaven on earth.
Two pieces of interesting news I read on BBC this morning. Sergei Filin, the artistic director of Russian's Bolshoi Ballet suffered an acid attack last month and is undergoing operations in Germany for his badly damaged eyes. In his interview with BBC, he says he is certain he knows who is behind the attack. And his response to the last question asked him: "You know, I invited a priest to the hospital to talk about this very subject. He took my confession. I told him that I forgive everyone connected to this terrifying crime. And I sincerely want them to understand that I have forgiven them. Because the Lord will judge them." I think he is going to be all right.
The others news is so much sadder. Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in US history, has been shot dead on a Texas shooting range. He was only 38. He wrote last year's bestseller "American Sniper" in which he said that he had killed more than 250 people. In an interview with BBC last year, he said, "Every person I killed I strongly believe that they were bad. When I go face God there is going to be lots of things I will have to account for, but killing any of those people is not one of them." I shuddered as I read this.
Nations in conflict today all think that God is on their side. In this country, hate groups quote Scriptures to bolster their position. It's as if the Lord has never said "You shall not kill," "Do not judge others," "Love your enemies," "Forgive your brother seventy-seven times,"... Where is humility? A conscience full of pride is a warped conscience indeed.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Today is a sad day. Just four days ago, I posted Cause of All Evil about the large demonstration held in France against legalization of same-sex marriage. Today I read that the French parliament has approved the article of a bill to legalize it. The vote was 249-97 in favor of redefining marriage as being an agreement between any two people. Decades ago, when I traveled in France, I noticed that Sunday Mass attendance at all the churches I went to was sparse and absent of young people, so it's not surprising that this day has come. Most politicians nowadays want to be politically correct ~ they fear man, not God! Ignoring God is utter foolishness. Will the days of France get better?
I recall what Jesus said in the following scene from Luke 23. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him as he carried the cross on his way to the place to be crucified. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!'..."
I exercised on a treadmill early this morning at the gym. Since it's Saturday, only two other members were present, but all ten TV's had already been turned on. By the way, four treadmills even have a small TV screen on them. This made me think that this generation is so overwhelmed with worldly things to satiate the eye and the ear that it has become completely blind and deaf to God's existence. When Jesus was on earth, he healed the blind and the deaf. How we need him now to heal the spiritually blind and the spiritually deaf!
Friday, February 1, 2013
When we live in a solidly-built house, we normally feel pretty safe. Then every time I look down on the earth from an airplane, I see how vulnerable everyone down below is with no overhead protection whatsoever should, for example, a meteor hit the earth. Of course, we've seen how earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters easily destroy human lives. Today's satellite shots taken from space show even more clearly our bare earth floating in space alone. This leads me to thinking what God sees when he looks down upon us. He would see billions of sinful souls all around the globe in danger of being lost forever, showing how vulnerable we are to evil influences. I hope that this picturization shows how important for us it is to believe in the Lord so that he may keep our souls safe.
Today is Friday and I prayed the sorrowful mysteries of the Holy Rosary. The Passion of Christ is well-known, but if you do not stop to think about it, it's just one sad story. Imagine the agony Christ felt in the garden when he knew what he would have to go through. There was no fear, just pure agony. Then he was whipped, beaten, mocked, insulted, with thorns pushed into his head, yet he did not complain because he was carrying out the Father's will. What's even worse followed. First, carrying the very cross he was going to be nailed to! Next, the final crucifixion on the cross ~ it would be difficult to imagine the prolonged pains he suffered. He came to show his love and those whom he loved turned against him. Even from the cross, he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," showing his infinite mercy. Even then, the rulers sneered at him, the soldiers jeered at him, and those passing reviled him. What a contrast between the loving Christ and the heartless sinners! Before Jesus breathed his last, he cried out aloud, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", fully revealing his human side. The fact that the loving Lord so willingly suffered to such an extreme so that we whom he loves may be saved is just incredible ~ I tend to ask if this can possibly be true. I believe it is true because only an infinite, loving God can think up such a plan to carry out. Christianity is just too amazing to be untrue.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 4 during Mass, Jesus used parables to talk about the kingdom of God. In one he likened it to a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. So I picture myself as that mustard seed embedded in the soil that is God. With him nurturing me, I can only grow spiritually and bear fruit. I remain totally content in my embedment and am not concerned about the fruit produced, whether visible or invisible. This is an ideal setup. Later, when I received the Holy Eucharist, I embedded myself in Christ.
God did not just pop into our world to force us to believe in him. In Luke 5.32, Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners." If you know that you are a sinner, it should be obvious that you would not be able to save your own soul on your own. This is where Jesus comes in. This is why we must listen to him. He came just for us, for you.