Looking back on all that had happened to me this year, I see God's hand in everything. How he shaped things might be imperceptible at the time, but became clear afterwards. Lesson: Trust in him and he'll always be there for you.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Communion experience. The Gospel Acclamation was based upon John 1: The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him he gave power to become the children of God. I felt completely satisfied in Christ because I was now a child of God who would take care of me for all eternity!
The Gospel John 1:1-18 was read at this morning's Mass. On this last day of the year, it is appropriate and good to hear this greatest revelation. If you believe that John spoke the truth, then this is all you need to know to joyfully accept and love Jesus with your whole heart and soul.
Reading 1 at Mass today came from 1 John 2. The Apostle began, "Children, it is the last hour..." That was written almost 2,000 years ago, but I realized that ever since Jesus ascended into heaven, our last days, the last leg of our journey for mankind as a whole, had begun, before the Lord's Second Coming. When he will come again becomes irrelevant ~ we remain in our last days.
Monday, December 30, 2013
I just watched a 6-minute BBC video online on "Global notable deaths of 2013." The deceased were Hollywood stars, influential writers, world statesmen, and so forth, names most of us would recognize. My thoughts are that when they (and later us) all appear before the holy, mighty, immortal God, all past fame, wealth, and power no longer count except what dwelled in their hearts. All become little, powerless creatures completely at the mercy of our creator, each receiving exactly what he or she deserves.
When Joseph and Mary took the child Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord in the temple, the righteous and devout Simeon saw the child, took him into his arms and blessed God, saying, "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation..." (Luke 2). I also recall St. Augustine's well-known line before his conversion: "Please God, make me chaste, but not yet." The important question is how ready we are when God calls us for whatever purpose.
I see God's mercy as a strong cord securely attached to every single one of us to keep us from falling away from him, with us hanging from the cord in perfect balance. Every time we sin, whether we are believers or not, we cut and weaken that cord. When we repent and ask to be forgiven, the cord is healed again. Anyone who chooses to sin continuously and not repent is to sever that cord. To me, rejecting God's mercy is as serious a sin as limiting it, believing that he cannot save you, if not more so.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
I went to Sunday morning Mass. I noticed that I went through a lot of motions ~ making the sign of the cross, standing, kneeling, reciting various prayers, making other verbal responses, singing hymns, receiving Communion, etc. I asked myself if I did all those things in order to boost my faith or because my faith prompted me to do so. The worst of all is, of course, going through all the motions without faith. Anyway, the Lord made me see that the preferable way is have faith first and let it prompt you to do all the things at Mass. Therefore, give your heart to God first and let the rest follow.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Today is the Feast of St. John, Apostle. John was known to be the disciple whom Jesus loved. Since God is love, we must consider whether to accept this love or not. God did create us out of this love and still keeps us alive with it. This is the love that transforms us into holy beings and ultimately carries us into heaven. It alone can bring inner peace to our hearts, restoring peace in our world. Without the love of God, all is empty. With it we are filled with hope. This love Jesus came among us to proclaim. The immensity, intensity, and beauty of this love is beyond our finite comprehension ~ but our faith leads us into it. There is so much, so much for us to look forward to!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
In Reading 1 from Acts 6 today at Mass, we learned that as Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." The Response in Responsorial Psalm came from Psalms 31: Into your hands, I commend my spirit. If we acknowledge that God is our home, we must be willing to commend our spirit to him, preferably now than at the moment of our death.
Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. I pondered upon the mercy of God at Mass. Should the mercy of God be finite, we who are sinners would or could be struck dead right now. The fact that he makes it so easy for us to be saved, giving us the opportunity that lasts a lifetime to repent and reconcile with him before final judgment arrives, shows that his mercy is boundless. Clearly, our survival in this life and the next depends entirely upon this mercy.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Today's Christmas Vigil Mass was an added one in anticipation of larger-than-normal attendance. Sure enough, the adjacent room had to be opened up to accommodate the overflowing crowd. Those who looked somewhat uneasy and the large number who eagerly left early before Mass ended were probably the ones who only go to Mass at Christmas and Easter time. I feel sorry for them. They tried to ease their conscience by showing up at Mass today, but you could not appease God this way for the focus must be on pleasing the Lord and not on yourself.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Today's Communion antiphon (Revelation 3.20) at Mass: Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. Christmas is less than two days away. How tender and sweet Christ is, enabling the receptive soul to willingly live and die for him ~ O come, Emanuel!
Saturday, December 21, 2013
On December 16, I blogged about Jesus as soulmate. When he becomes our soulmate, all souls in heaven become our soulmates too because of the Communion of Saints. By the same token any two persons on earth in union with God are soulmates, as their love for God supersedes any difference between them.
Friday, December 20, 2013
In Matthew 5, Jesus told all to love their enemies. He pointed out further: If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? Jesus came to die for all, not for only those who loved him. Therefore, we must do the same. In this sense, love is to be blind. As Christmas approaches, this is a good time to start loving without discrimination.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Nothing can prevent us from dying. Living is just the minuscule beginning portion of our continuous journey toward eternity. We tend not to think about this when we are feeling well. Then one day we don't feel too well and death seems possibly imminent ~ this is a blessing because we see the reality of life and our dependence upon God.
I sometimes have certain recurring dreams, indicating that certain people have emotionally affected me in the past. This teaches that we must be responsible for how we treat each other, for what we do can haunt others and ourselves too. May the love of God always reign in us.
Today's Gospel came from Luke 1. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and informed him that his wife Elizabeth would bear him a son, to be named John. Since the couple were already advanced in years, Zechariah did not believe the words of the angel and he was rendered speechless. This got me thinking: we are responsible for my responses to God. In fact, every thought, word, and act coming from us would get an appropriate response from God!
In our disordered, pitiful world, we do hear good news from time to time. During this Advent season, I realize that the most wondrous news of all has to be the Incarnation, the coming of Christ into the world. It not only is an earthshaking groundbreaker, but also forever rejoices the heart.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
To be good or at least survive in any profession, we must learn all aspects of it and perform our assigned tasks. Christians should see that being a Christian is also a profession. To be good at it, they must learn all about Christ and practice being holy. In fact, this should be their first profession before getting into any other profession.
During fracture of the bread before we receive Holy Communion at Mass, all say, "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us." This morning I realized that when we ask the Lord to have mercy on us, we should submit ourselves to him, for how can we beg for mercy and not decide on changing ourselves? How can children ask for their father's blessing when they remain disobedient?
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Communion experience. As I received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist at Mass this morning, I was made sharply aware that I was receiving the flesh and blood of the creator of the whole universe, the one who is pure love and who forgives our sins! I felt crushed, but what a liberating crush! I had not seen God, yet he entered to dwell in me. Such intimacy and union readies the soul for complete transformation.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Ideal soulmates are people who think alike, have the same values and tastes, share the same interests, are compatible with each other in every way; therefore, they greatly enjoy each other's company and are most happy together. We all wish that our spouses and friends are all soulmates, but in our imperfect world, finding a soulmate is rare at best. This morning at Mass, I realized that when we are in union with Jesus, we become like him in every respect ~ in thinking, viewing others, doing all things for God, etc. ~ Jesus then is our soulmate! And he is the only soulmate who can take care of our souls!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Being human, it's natural that we feel some uneasiness when we are ready to surrender ourselves totally to God. There is a little bit of that jumping-off-a-cliff-into-the-unknown feeling. In reality, not only you do not free-fall after jumping, the Lord catches you and lifts you to new heights of freedom! Then you know that God is solidly with you.
In many countries ruled by a dictator or a dictatorial government, there's no freedom of personal expression. People live in constant fear and you could even feel the oppression in the air ~ I know because I visited such a country once. The very opposite of such confinement is the utter freedom we can have in God. Since God is infinite, the space within him is infinite. Since he is also love, we are given complete freedom to live and explore in this immense space. This is why I love and enjoy the Lord so much.
Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14). As a Christian, I directly get to know God in person! As a Catholic, I even receive the Savior into me in the Holy Eucharist and achieve intimate union with him. Where else would you find and get so close to God?
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Today is the Memorial of St. John of the Cross. I have posted in the past that you meet a lot of seemingly nice people, but you don't really know them without seeing how they undergo certain tests in life. Does a person have the courage to risk his own life to save another person whose life is in danger? I had "friends" who became "enemies" the moment they saw a chance of making financial gains. Then there were cases in which the wife suffered cancer or some other illness that required a lot of care, and the husband left or divorced her. Tests do reveal the true person. This morning before Mass began, I saw Jesus as the test for all of us. How we deal with him reveals how self-centered or how humble we are to God.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Obesity has become a major problem in many of the more affluent nations. The obvious causes are eating too rich foods and the lack of exercise. Normally, one is aware of his bad habits, but is too lazy to do anything about it. It's so easy and comfortable to continue eating the same junk food, watching a lot of TV, and skipping exercise or even regular walking. Time flies and soon you are middle-aged. It's now even more difficult to change yourself in any way. The risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke rises.
Spiritual unawareness (death) happens in the same way. Normally, you are aware of your sins, but you are too lazy to do anything about it. It's so easy to rationalize away or ignore it ~ you are fooled into believing that you would feel comfortable by not facing the uncomfortable. Of course, you're wrong, for unforgiven sins stick with you forever. Again, time goes by and you become an older person burdened with even more sins. The risk of losing your soul is ever great.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 1, when Mary entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth, the infant (John the Baptist) in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy. Some people leap for "joy" when they learn that they have won the big lottery, but our hearts can be in constant joy when Jesus dwells in us ~ God is forever our delight.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At the time the Protestant Reformation caused many Catholics to leave the Church, the Lord sent Mary to appear in Mexico and converted the entire nation. I thought of how Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead, how his disciples went from almost giving up to being willing to die for the Lord, and how so many of us were in the pit and are now being lifted into heaven. God is at his best in making things happen ~ he is forever our hope.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Today's Gospel reading from Matthew 11 ~ Jesus said to the crowds: "Come to me, all you who labor and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
I can vouch for the truth of the Lord's saying. "Easy" living is moving forward in life, relying upon and being powered by God alone. Living outside God is like putting on a mask and costume and going through the motion of living, not knowing where you'll end up.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 18, Jesus said to his disciples, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray." Here Jesus was trying to tell us that it's not the will of the heavenly Father that any of us be lost. Then I notice that we behave very much like the Father ~ we too would quit whatever we're doing and go look for something valuable that's lost. After all, we were created in his image! This should inspire us to want to be just like our Father.
Monday, December 9, 2013
To be one with God ~ lofty goal, but simple to reach. Here are the steps to take: (1) Believe in the transforming power of the Holy Eucharist you receive, (2) let God know of your sincere, ardent desire for union, (3) remain passive and submissive to the Lord (no striving on your own), (4) wait with trust.
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Reading 1 from Genesis 3, how Adam and Eve committed the original sin was recounted. Then, of course, God chose his only Son to come to us through Mary with the good news of salvation. Sin alone sometimes makes us search for God for help, but seeing the overall, complete picture makes us realize that we are meant to return to God in our journey.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I see people being drawn by the Lord and starting to change, but they still are not seeing things his way yet. One reason we need to seek union with God is that once we get to know him intimately, we will see how off our ways are. Only then shall we learn to see all things through the eyes of the Lord, bringing about a complete change. I could also describe this process as self-understanding leading to freedom.
Today's Gospel reading came from Matthew 3. As John the Baptist was baptizing people from all regions in the Jordan River, many Pharisees and Sadducees came to his baptism. John chided them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of you repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
Indeed, before God, even if I can trace my lineage to an illustrious king, it would not make any good. It is what we are that's relevant. Where we came from belongs to the past and where we are heading determines our ultimate destination. We only need God to back us!
How do we love others for the sake of Christ? We won't have any problem with those who are already holy, so it comes down to dealing with the unholy in the world. Overcoming evil with love ~ this is the challenge we face. We must accept this approach because it's God's way. Since it may cost us personally, total dependence upon God is called for.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Today's Gospel reading came from Matthew 9 & 10. Jesus went around to the towns and villages, teaching and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. This is still true today when you see people lost and lonely all around. And it is still true that Christ is the perfect antidote for the troubled and abandoned.
Today is the Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, whose sermons were known to have greatly helped the conversion of St. Augustine. When we seek and get to know God, he fills us with wisdom and understanding far superior than anything we could possibly learn from the world, for he reveals the absolute truth to us as he has done to all the great saints.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Today is a first Friday and we had adoration of the Blesses Sacrament after Mass. I saw that if in his holy presence, we are bold enough to ask God to do whatever he wishes with us, then we'll have stepped into the realm of freedom. This is showing our trust in the Father, abandoning ourselves in him, and inviting him to be one with you. The Lord is now surely free to take care of all our things.
Some people see a half-filled glass as half empty. These are the ones who're usually not happy about their own lot and see others as being more fortunate than they are. Then we have others who see the same glass as half full ~ they are happier, appreciative of what they have and optimistic about the future. Finally, the fulfilled Christians know that their cup is always full to overflowing, as they receive grace upon grace from the Lord.
If everyone in this world is as holy as Jesus, we'll have a peaceful world filled with joy ~ no question about it. Even should tragedy befall us, we'd still be strong, filled with faith and hope, and praise the Father. As I have said before, it is our sin that messes up our own lives and the world, causing continuous, great miseries. We are at fault ~ this is important to realize so that we may look to God for mercy and salvation.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Before Mass began in church this morning, I saw my relationship with God to be a jealous and generous one. Jealous, because I enjoy the Lord so much that I want to possess him totally and not let anyone take him away from me. Generous, because I enjoy the Lord so much that I want everyone to possess him and experience the same joy.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 15, we read that great crowds came to Jesus, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet and he cured them all. Today, such miracles are no longer so common, except for the healing of the soul. When we repent of our sin and ask for healing of the soul, the Lord instantly complies. We have his great mercy on our side.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Today's Communion antiphon, Matthew 10.27: What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light, says the Lord, what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. Therefore, we must make Jesus the Truth known, one way of another. We can tell others about him and/or live our lives as faithful disciples. Not to share the truth is like being the servant who dug a hole and buried his master's money in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). Subsequently, all that he had was taken away from him. Good news is to be shared with all and not kept in secrecy.
Today is the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier. In the Gospel from Luke 10, Jesus praises the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for having revealed those things hidden from the wise and the learned to the childlike. It is the childlike to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father. The highest state of our existence is then to be childlike first and seek oneness with the Lord to achieve perfect harmony with his will.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Is life a dream? The answer depends upon whether life is meaningful to you or not. Everything you see, hear, touch, and experience is real enough, but if you do not know where you came from and where you are going, then your life will be like a dream. To those who know Christ to be the eternal truth, life is no longer a puzzle. Everything that happens to them makes sense and they know where they are going more surely than they know that the sun will come up the next morning. The beautiful dream of their life has become a reality. Everything is now real, extended beyond this life.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
The Gospel reading was taken from Matthew 24. Jesus said to his disciples that the coming of the Son of Man would be as it was in the days of Noah. People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. The flood came and carried them all away. He therefore told his disciples to stay awake and be prepared, for he would come at an hour they did not expect.
It's critical that we be ready always, joyfully anticipating the coming of the Lord.
Today is the First Sunday of Advent. At the beginning of Mass, I trembled because I sensed the awesome holiness of God. I am sure that Peter, James, and John felt it on Mt. Tabor when they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. So, how do we dare to do anything without God's approval?