There are many seminars, workshops, conferences, etc., featuring upbeat, dynamic speakers who can encourage and inspire you or even set your heart on fire for God temporarily. This is all good, but nothing coming from outside of you can compare with what comes from within yourself. The superior journey is to seek union with God, then God will change you from the inside permanently with no more need for any outside boost.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
We pray for loved ones who have died. If they are in purgatory, prayer and Mass offered can surely help. But the best time to pray for others is when they are still alive ~ taking preventive measure is always better than having to do the rescue later, if it's not already too late. Therefore, pray for your loved ones and all God's loved ones daily without ceasing for the greatest good.
This morning's Gospel reading at Mass came from John 3. He wrote: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." I was struck by the last verse which I have italicized. It seems that not believing in Jesus as the Son of God is a serious sin, serious enough to be condemned. I can think of many who believe that they are basically good people, but do not take Jesus seriously and think nothing of it. They'd better read this verse and reconsider their position.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
In John 9, we read that Jesus opened the eyes of the man born blind. The Pharisees, disbelieving that he was blind, told him that Jesus was a sinner and kept questioning him. He then relied, "If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see." I like his response. Like the Pharisees the majority of the world do not believe in Christ and many even attack him and question his existence, but they do not affect me. All I know is that Jesus has set me free, filled my life with meaning, quenched my thirst, given me hope, joy, and peace, and shown me his love, beauty, and majesty! This is more than enough. To all those who disbelieve or discredit him: let Jesus open your eyes too.
Today's the Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena. After receiving the Holy Eucharist, I saw positively that the Lord could cleanse and purify us, transforming us into temples of the Holy Spirit. It was a glorious feeling. St. Catherine, pray for us.
A lot of bad news made headlines today. For example, "Syria blasts kill dozens in Homs," "Seized Nigerian girls 'taken abroad,'" "Severe weather threatens eastern US." But to me one sad piece of news came from Palermo, Italy. A two-meter tall statue of Christ of the Abyss will be placed underwater off the coast of Sicily to attract divers. The mayor of Palermo hopes that the attraction will stimulate tourism and signal a "new step forward" for the city's growth. Using Christ as a bait to attract tourists so that the city can earn more money? If that's the sole motive, then the idea borders on being sacrilegious!
Monday, April 28, 2014
At Lourdes, the Blesses Mother promised Bernadette happiness not in this world, but in the other. It is true that Jesus never promised that if we followed him, we would become rich, famous, and have an easy life. On the contrary, we're to deny ourselves and take up the cross. But while still in the world we can always find freedom, peace, and joy in God by seeking union with him.
Here's another mental picture that came to my mind. The soul wants to rise to God, but it's weighed down by so many things like tethered weights, with serious addictions more like anchors. All such burdens are attachments. Anytime you cut one attachment, you feel a bit more freedom. If you surrender your all to God, you break through to the other side by cutting all your attachments to the world and the soul soars to God in complete freedom. Once you experience that, you'll never want to go back again.
Jesus had said more than once, "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." This is what it's all about.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
When I received the Holy Eucharist at Mass this morning, it's again the perfect time to renew my surrender to the Lord. I asked him what he's going to do with me now. His answer was that he's going to lead me straight to heaven. It's obvious that this is his intention for all his children, but surrendering just make his job so much easier and you would be rewarded for that.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Thursday, April 24, 2014
What are these three in the world? Joy ~ we do feel happy temporarily when things go our way. Peace ~ we can find some relief from stress by breaking away from our regular routine. Naturally, peace is impossible to experience in the many countries that are in turmoil. Freedom ~ even in a most democratic country, freedom can still be limited. Anyhow, true joy, peace, and freedom must be deep-rooted and permanent and can come only from God, for whatever God gives always touches the soul, a foretaste of heaven.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
We separate the temporary from the permanent. Our body is temporary, for it gets older and weaker every moment and we can't do anything about it. Our soul is permanent, for it lives on forever. When it becomes unclean, we turn to God for help and purity is restored. Bottomline advice: take good care of the soul and don't get too attached to the body.
In today's Gospel reading taken from John 20, Jesus, who had not yet ascended to the Father, appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb. His final words to her were to tell his brothers, the disciples, "I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." How good it is to hear that Jesus and we share the same Father, the same God! Believe and our future in heaven is assured.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I came home during rush hour and was trailing a vast number of cars moving at a slower than normal pace. I visioned that over thousands of years millions and millions of people have continually traveled through this world trailing others who had gone before them ~ it's a mass, ongoing process. We all make a brief appearance on earth, not even stopping for a instant. It becomes all the more imperative to check out Jesus to see if he can truly save us. As far as I am concerned, there is no God other than the Christian God, who has completely settled my future, removing all fears of the unknown.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Jesus said, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." I believe that many do not wish to hear it because they do not wish to take up any cross. What they fail to see is that whether you follow Jesus or not, you will have your cross to bear. Jesus only showed us the way to lighten our load. You can deal with your cross on your own as most of the world is doing and fare worse, even ending up losing your soul. Perhaps denying yourself is the hard part to accept. Nevertheless, Christ himself is the supreme example of denying himself and taking up his Cross, following the will of the Father. To not follow this example is to distance ourselves far from him.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Sometimes we pray unceasingly for a favor we need. Then we also learn that we only need to ask, confidently believing that God will answer us, and relax. Should we strike a balance between these two approaches? I think of St. Monica petitioning persistently for the conversion of her son Augustine, the prayer of total abandonment to God of St. Therese, and the Lord's own earnest request during his agony in the garden. So I believe that how we ask depends upon what we ask for and our own spiritual state. Let the Holy Spirit be our sole guide. What's essential is that the petition come from the heart with the greatest possible faith.
It is Holy Saturday. After Jesus had been crucified, his disheartened disciples and followers scattered despite having seen all the wonders he had performed when he was alive. What hope was there now? Then Resurrection took place and everything changed. This is the greatest example showing that God never lets us down in the end, for he is our hope. Let us trust in him always in all things.
Friday, April 18, 2014
In Luke 23, we read that as Jesus was carrying his cross on the way to be crucified, many women among the large crowd of people following Jesus mourned and lamented him. 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!'" This was indeed a wake-up call given by Jesus out of love even as he is about to be killed. We must be aware foremost if we are offending the Lord.
If someone you love not only does not appreciate you, but turns around to inflict injury on you, you would feel hurt more by his ungratefulness than by the injury suffered. Today is Good Friday. As a man, there's no doubt that Christ experienced great agony for the suffering he went through, but his greater sorrow had to be over those he loved who rejected him and put him to death. May he be glorified for ever!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
I see myself stripped down to the bare soul, with no physical body and not one thing around me, so it's just my soul and the Lord God. This is essentially how we should see ourselves, for the material world and everything else are not part of us. Now you can see clearly how good or bad you look to God. Yes, in the final analysis, it's just you and God.
As I reread the messages of Fatima warning us what would happen to the world if we are not penitent, seeing even so few Catholics pay attention to the requests and promises of Our Lady of Fatima, I see the world heading rapidly in the wrong direction. By ignoring God and thinking that we can manage all things by ourselves, we are well on the road to perishment.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
At Mass this morning, in an instant it was clear to me that what drags us down are ourselves ~ it's our ego that keeps us from soaring to God. If we are no longer self-concerned, we'll be carefree and free in the Lord. [Union with God makes you forget yourself and focus upon God only.]
God is love and his act of dying for our sins to redeem us is just incredible. It seems rather mysterious that I should feel it this way. Then intuitively I know that had there been no God and I somehow came into existence, I never would've been able to relate to such love. I know now that God exists and has made me this way so that I may love him.
Monday, April 14, 2014
What is the greatest achievement of mankind? The fact is that everything we think we have achieved is done by God through us, for without him we wouldn't even exist. Then the greatest achievement that involves us has to be our salvation through the sacrifice of God's own Son ~ made possible by the greatest love there is.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
On this Palm Sunday, the Gospel was read from Matthew 26 and 27. The long reading recounted the experience of Jesus from his betrayal by Judas through his burial. As Jesus carried out the Father's plan of salvation, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament, it was as if he was following a script, faithfully acting out his part. An ordinary human not knowing what's happening and the future would have reacted entirely differently. This is worth noticing.
Friday, April 11, 2014
I enjoy weeding outdoors by hand around and among the plants. This morning after Mass, while the air was still cool, I started to weed some. When I saw some beautiful red flowers in bloom, I thought of the creative genius of God and appreciated the sense of beauty he had given me. Then I was surprised that a plant which seemed to have been killed by the frost last winter was still alive, for I saw new growths underneath all the dead leaves that formed the dense top. This was like the birth of the new person after the old self has died in Christ. Next I noticed that some weeds looked very much like the good plants among which they grew. I had to look carefully to pick them out. It reminded me of the Second Coming when Jesus would separate the goats from the sheep. Now I could feel the temperature rising and moved into a shaded area north of the house ~ I felt immediate relief and was refreshed. That's how I felt about God at times. After I finished weeding that area, it's time to go inside the house.
Only God sees and understands everything clearly, for infinite mercy and perfect justice demand that. Muddy thinking is the cause of rebellion against God and all other chaos, tragedies, and miseries of the world. Union with God will enable us to see and understand all things clearly, thus bringing peace to both our heart and the world.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
In today's Gospel from John 8 at Mass, the Jews did not like what Jesus had said to them and picked up stones to throw at him, but he hid and left them. How would we have reacted in his place? What impresses me is that throughout Jesus' life on earth, love alone motivated and guided him in all that he did at all times. He is our ideal model.
This morning's Communion antiphon (Romans 8.32): God did not spare his own son, but handed him over for us all; with him, he has given us all things. In other words, if God is willing to give his own son for us, how will he not also give us all things with him? Such love deserves our absolute trust in God.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
In today's Gospel reading from John 8 at morning Mass, Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him that the truth would set them free. They thought they were free because they had never been enslaved to anyone, but Jesus meant "free from becoming a slave of sin." In today's world, "free" also means having no financial burdens, no one giving you a hard time, and free to do whatever you wish and not worry about the consequence. To the world, to love is to desire or enjoy something that attracts, lures, or satisfies you sensually or intellectually, whereas to love for God is to lay down your life for your friends. Again, the world seeks external pleasures that satisfy mostly the senses, while God wants to give us internal joy that intoxicates the soul.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Communion time thoughts. Jesus in his time multiplied loaves and fish to feed the multitude, satisfying their physical hunger. Now he multiplies himself in the Holy Eucharist to feed all of us who love him, satisfying our spiritual hunger.
Today's Gospel acclamation at Mass: The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live for ever. This makes us the soil. If we keep the word of God, the soil will be good and rich and we shall bear fruit and live. Otherwise, the soil will be poor and barren and we shall die.
Monday, April 7, 2014
I see God's mercy as a thread with each of us suspended by such a thread. Since God's mercy is infinite, this thread is so strong that it will want to hold us safe all our life. But sin weaken this thread. Therefore, if we keep sinning and do not repent, the thread will in time break and drop us into the abyss where we don't want to go.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
First thoughts this morning while shaving. God is the big star of the universe since he created all of it. He deserves all the recognition and credit. Who are we, such finite creatures, to get in his way? Besides, he loves us to death. Therefore, we should not only let him have his way, but also embrace him with joy and gratitude!
Saturday, April 5, 2014
In today's Gospel reading from John 7 at Mass, the Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Christ simply because they were not open-minded and had already formed negative opinions about him. The nonbelievers today are the same. When they believe that they already know the truth as they see it, they shut the door on God.
Speaking of leaving the world, when we die, we leave everything behind, including our own body. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to start severing our attachments to the things of the world before the inevitable time arrives so as to make our final departure as easy and carefree as possible.
Suppose that I do not know Jesus at all and must leave the world now. I know I would feel unhappy, not because I haven't found God, but because I haven't achieved all my personal goals yet. Since I know the Lord, I can leave this world with peace and joy, not matter what I have done or failed to do, for God can make us anew at any time.
"To everyone who has more, more will be given" (from Matthew 25.29). The process of being drawn into Christ is like that. As one grows closer to Christ, he experiences the same joys and sorrows as the Lord more. The joys naturally draw him even closer to Christ and the sorrows impel him to seek refuge and consolation in him ~ both leading the one to deeper union with God.
To be an effective Christian, one must have zeal for God. This zeal is the fire lit by the love of God in our heart. Two days ago, the entrance antiphon at Mass from Psalm 105 read: Let the heart that seek the Lord rejoice; turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face. This is also the zeal that impels us to constantly seek the Lord.
The last two days I couldn't blog because I lost my internet connection. At the same time, the house phone went dead and the TV reception was gone. We cannot always be certain about what can happen in this life, but we can be certain about our life eternal with God.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Another reason people don't feel free is that they are too self-conscious, too aware of what others think of them. Whereas if we are concerned only about pleasing God and not anyone else, we lose our self-consciousness and become free. Remember that God's whole aim is to free us from all bondage so that we may be saved.