Communion experience. I wanted Jesus to take complete hold of me because I knew that's how I could become free.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
We should never let any experience we encounter within or without the church, good or bad, pleasant or otherwise, make us ever forget that our primary goal is to get to know God, to know Christ, and to know the Holy Spirit. That's why seeking union with God must be our primary goal.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 4 at Mass, we heard the calming of a storm at sea. Jesus was asleep in the stern of a boat with his disciples. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Can Jesus also calm the storm in our heart? Of course, he can ~ but with one catch: possessing the free will, we must give him the OK first.
Today's sad news is that more people starved to death in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya. The UN says some 400,000 people are trapped and in need of emergency assistance in 15 locations in Syria due to sieges imposed by the Syrian government-led coalition as well as by opposition groups. I recall when Jesus in his days saw some crowds, troubled and abandoned, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Today he must feel the same about these besieged children of his. The least we could do is to pray hard for them and live as holy a life as possible.
Scientists try to figure out how our universe came about. If we exclude God, we do not even know how we first came about. So we have a bunch of unknowns trying to figure out other unknowns ~ it can't be any easy task. If we include God, then we realize that at best we are merely observers discovering how existing things work and that there is but one all-knowing creator, our God.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Even after we've found God or attained union with him, the yearning for him continues. I believe it's because we are still material, living in a physical world, while God is Spirit (John 4.24). And I believe that after we shed our body, we'll be able to fully enjoy God without an aching heart.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 4, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Once this smallest of all the seeds on the earth is sown in the ground, 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. How we respond to the word God sows in us determines whether we fulfill his kingdom or not. We all have the intellect or common sense needed for receiving his word, so it boils down to whether our heart is willing or not.
In Christianity, we believe that God came down to earth, sacrificed himself on the cross so that we may have everlasting life with him in heaven. This is either the most incredible truth or just a fairy tale. Since all fairy tales are imagined and Christ is historically real, we are left with the most amazing truth!
Thursday, January 28, 2016
My sons have grown up, but I still remember that when they still lived with me, I instinctively protected them from all harm and always wanted them to receive the best in life. If this is true with a finite, sinful mortal like me, imagine how much more our heavenly Father would protect us and give us the very best!
It's easy to get upset when things don't work out right for us, and life is full of such instances. Sometimes we tend to assume that someone intends to screw us up when it's not the case. The point is that we experience a lot of negative emotions in life. When I feel something disturbing my inner peace coming on, I just turn to Christ and immerse myself in his love ~ and I find this love so beautiful and powerful that nothing else matters and all my negative emotions just dissolve into nothingness.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 3, Jesus said, "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." Jesus wants to bring us back to God our Father. All we need to do is the will of God. The Holy Eucharist is the perfect sacramental vehicle for accomplishing this goal. So it's a very simple progression: Holy Eucharist < Obedience to God < Back to God.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle. Before his conversion, Paul zealously persecuted followers of Jesus. Here in Reading 1 from Acts 22, Paul tells how Jesus first called him: "On that journey [to Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment followers of Jesus] as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' I replied, 'Who are you, sir?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.'" It strikes me that Jesus was gentle and polite in speaking to one of his then worst enemies and humbly referred to himself as "Jesus the Nazorean" rather than "your Lord and God." This should put all of us at ease in approaching the Lord who spoke the truth when he said "I am meek and humble of heart" (Matthew 11).
Sunday, January 24, 2016
How are we doing? Good? Bad? It all depends upon what reference we use. Everything is relative. We may think that we are making good spiritual progress, but before the holy Lord, we are all wretched sinners. That's one big reason we should remain humble and not judge anyone. Let God be our reference and we won't go astray.
Communion experience. The holiness of God is awesome and most powerful. No sin can exist where his holiness reigns. Therefore, go humbly before the Lord to let his holiness obliterate all your sins so that you may be clean again. How beautiful it is to bask in God's holiness to remain pure!
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 4 at Mass, we heard that Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
This event had to be as astounding as any of the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. In fact, Jesus' whole life is astounding act after astounding act until even after his death, revealing fully to us the love of God for us. His life on earth had to be the most beautiful, amazing, and awe-inspiring life of all.
In John 20, we read that after Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus, he believed and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." If I do not believe, then I do not believe that Thomas actually saw Jesus. If I do believe, then, of course, there is no need for me to see Jesus. What happened to Thomas and what Jesus said to him help me believe in the unseen Lord with my whole heart.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
When you follow Christ, you will never feel inferior nor superior to anyone, as you know that God loves everyone. In other words, you feel just right. And you are free to do whatever you want to do, which is pleasing God (and yourself). Then you receive the peace in your heart from the Lord and can't help but love him even more. It's a virtuous cycle.
Both we and God suffer because of sin. We suffer because sin robs us of peace, while God suffers because he loves us and wants us to be happy. It is through suffering that we seek and find God, and through suffering that God has redeemed us. In suffering, we and God become one. Therefore, do not despise suffering.
Mother Teresa had said, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." Indeed, if we do not respect life of the unborn, all the talks about protecting our citizens and stopping violence sound hollow and accusing other nations of violating human rights only bares our own hypocrisy. In Matthew 7, Jesus said, "For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you." It's high time that we weep for ourselves.
Today January 22 is Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The U.S. Supreme Court played God 43 years ago on this day by legalizing abortion. The lives of nearly 60 million unborn children have been terminated since that infamous decision. If this is not a holocaust, what is? It seems that we have severed our Christian roots and betrayed the Lord. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ". . . woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born" (Matthew 26). The Communion verse at Mass, Psalm 36.10, reads: With you, O Lord, is the fountain of life, and in your light, we see light. I am most grateful that God has given me life, salvation, and the judgment that's going to come.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
God is not just present during the Eucharistic consecration of the bread and wine, he is present at all times everywhere, even if we are not aware. Whether you are resting at home, out driving, doing whatever else, or even going through the dark night, God is there with you. His presence is absolute, regardless of how we feel or believe. He is always "on duty," ready to listen to us for whatever reason.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 3, Jesus warned those whose diseases he had cured and others whom he had delivered from unclean spirits sternly not to make him known. In the Gospels we read that in other cases, those who were healed spread their happy news quickly despite warming from Jesus. I do believe that we should always obey unquestionably the Lord's every command, even if we do not understand it. Obedience to God must be absolute, then we'll have inner peace, for inner turmoil is the result of rebellion against God.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 3, it's the sabbath and the Pharisees saw Jesus cure a man with a withered hand. Instead of being amazed at the miraculous restoration, they took offense at his healing the man on the sabbath, went out and took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. The Pharisees were so focused upon their own power and position and became close-minded to the truth. Today's nonbelievers are no different. They are so focused upon living the material life and turn blind and deaf to the extraordinary good news of Jesus.
The sad news on BBC today: Satellite images confirm that the 1,400-year-old Christian monastery near Mosul in Iraq, the oldest, has been destroyed by the jihadist group Islamic State. Then in sharp contrast, this touching story also on BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35201822, shows that there is still goodness in man. Jesus prayed for those who crucified him: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Clearly, Jesus sees the goodness in us and that we turn bad when we are misguided. Stick with Jesus to avoid ever being led astray.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
When Satan is allowed to attack you, God is putting you through the test. The Evil One always tempts you into believing what you are doing is justifiable, even though you know deep down in your heart that it's wrong. Loss of peace is a strong sign that you've been trapped. Praying hard for deliverance and talking to someone spiritually wise can be most helpful. Know that once you pull through, you'd be brought closer to God, just as after a storm dies down, the sky turns blue again.
Monday, January 18, 2016
The best known Psalm has to be Psalm 23. It portraits a scene of extraordinary repose. The other day I saw most vividly myself and Jesus together in a green pasture. On the grass, I was lying facedown with the Lord sitting next to my front right, his right hand supporting his leaning position. I felt great peace, knowing that he is always with me, taking care of all things for me.
Today's Communion verse, Psalm 23.5, at Mass: You have prepared a table before me, and how precious is the chalice that quenches my thirst. Jesus not only quenches my thirst, he also fills the heart with joy that bubbles forth like water from a spring.
I love Jesus because he renews us, giving us hope, new life; and we are reborn in the Holy Spirit. This is for everyone ~ never late as long as you are still alive in this world. He is forever refreshing as the spring water. He is pure joy and, don't forget, also our door to heaven.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Really, God loves us, delights in us, and yearns to be one with us. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and the subsequent great saints throughout the generations have made this amply clear. So we ought to reciprocate his love, delight in him, and seek union with him. As I have said, God is to be enjoyed, not feared, unless, of course, you choose to hide from him to remain in darkness for whatever reason.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
The annual March for Life is coming up, to be held in various cities across the nation. I saw one priest who is involved with the March being interviewed on TV. He was asked if he was concerned about bad winter weather possibly dampening the march. He said in fact that he was hoping there would be snow or rain because the greater the sacrifice, the greater the grace. I did not catch his name but will always remember what he'd said.
Jesus wants us to always forgive others ~ to forgive is to love. If you don't get along with someone, possibly a member of your own family, don't expect the person to change to meet exactly your expectations. Instead, accept and keep loving him or her as is. This is the way of Jesus, the right and best approach. Let your example convert others. Remember that Jesus wants us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 2 at Mass, Jesus passed by and saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And Levi got up and followed Jesus. I consider "Follow me" to be one most beautiful and honorable call from the Lord. If you hear that, you know you've been chosen and your name is written in heaven. Time to rejoice!
In Matthew 7, we have Jesus saying to his disciples: "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. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'" It is obvious that we should not ever try to justify ourselves before God, for doing so amounts to letting him know that he doesn't know everything about us! Begging for mercy is OK, but not telling him how to judge. The time to prepare for entering the kingdom of heaven is now so that we may anticipate the arrival of that day with joy.
Friday, January 15, 2016
We heard the healing of a paralytic read in today's Gospel reading from Mark 2. Jesus returned to Capernaum and it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, to hear him preach the word to them. Then there came a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he forgave the sins of the paralytic and also healed him. I see that seeking out Jesus, going after him, yearning for him . . . they are all signs of faith. And the Lord does not mind at all that we "pester" him if we genuinely believe in him. As you know, we are never polite to those we deem close to us.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I caught a little bit on NPR that once a deadly virus wiped out some 20,000 people in some country. I thought of the recent tsunamis and other devastating natural disasters that took so many lives. Now the wars and terrorist attacks again cause unexpected deaths everywhere. The insecurity of life is obvious. All the more we need to go to and follow Christ the Savior to get our eternal life secured.
Here are striking views of our solar system as seen from space. What amazes me is that the sun, the moon, and all the planets are all so round. The link: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35292518.
There is only one true creator, and that's God, for all things are created by him. A creator is one who can cause things to come into being, while as creatures we can only make new things out of existing things. Naturally, God is the creator of all life and can even make our lives eternally blissful. In John 10.10, Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly."
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
It must be 60 years ago when I first read about the Albanian nun who went to India to devote herself to serving the sick and poor, the dying and the destitute. And that was, of course, Mother Teresa. I was impressed but wondered why anyone would want to do something like that ~ I really did not know God then yet. Later, even after I became a Catholic, I picked up Thomas Kempis' book The Imitation of Christ and found the writing beautiful but way beyond me, too extreme. I was still too much of the world. Of course, I am happy now that I understand how God can call someone and make him or her do the seemingly impossible or inspire someone to the extreme. In those early days, it was I who was not completely with God and got left behind. We are really supposed to be with God at all times for him to make all things possible.
Criticizing others is easy and there are plenty of Christians and non-Christians who criticize Jesus or God. These people are not obviously with God yet; for God, being wise and omnipotent, is perfect. The only alternative for us is to submit ourselves to him ~ only being in harmony with our creator can we attain inner peace and spiritual freedom.
We feel bad if no one appreciates us or we lose the winning lottery ticket or a loved one dies or we fail to pass a test ... ~ there are a millions things that can sadden us. But there is no feeling worse than knowing that you are a lost soul, for the consequences can be grave. It follows that there is no better feeling than knowing that you have been saved through the mercy of God and are heaven bound.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 1, Jesus commanded an unclean spirit to come out of a man, and the spirit convulsed the man and with a loud cry came out of him. I am thinking that the Lord does not command us in such a way, for he wants us to exercise our free will to listen to him so that we may have faith. In other words, faith is necessary for us to know God, and it is brought forth by an act of our free will.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Eternity is real, for if not, then God cannot exist since there has to be a beginning and an end, we die and it's over since we do not possess a soul, and naturally, there will be no salvation to speak of. That eternity is reality makes life meaningful. Being aware that our soul is eternal prompts us to seek God who is eternal.
Simple ~ just pour your heart out to him, crying out to tell him everything that's in your heart. This in effect breaks down any barrier between you and God, because it shows that you trust in him enough to share all your "secrets" with him. In fact, constant pouring your heart out to God is a sign that you are in union with him.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
The U.S. Powerball lottery jackpot has grown to an estimated $1.3 billion. The next drawing is just three days away. Despite the fact that the odds of winning this largest lottery prize in U.S. history have already reached 1 in 292.2 million, people continue to buy tickets, dreaming about how they would spend the money should they win. Well, good luck to all. Records show that almost 1/3 of past lottery winners went bankrupt. Suicide, murder, robbery, drug abuse, and legal battles have all happened to the various winners. Personally, I'd rather quietly store up treasures in heaven, not even dreaming about how happy I'll be up there.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from John 3, John the Baptist told his disciples that the Christ had come after him and added, "He must increase; I must decrease." Indeed, we must let Christ increase to 100% and ourselves decrease to zero. This is abandoning ourselves to God, letting God have his way. To be able to let God do whatever he wants with us is to be free indeed.
Since God reads our hearts, we'd better be completely honest with him, for he hates hypocrisy. It follows that we should always be genuine to others as well. [This posting is prompted by the false joy and front displayed on many TV shows and in numerous TV commercials.]
Friday, January 8, 2016
Today's Communion antiphon, 1 John 4.9: By this the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his Only Begotten Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. So either the Son of God came into the world or didn't ~ we can not afford not to look into this. The Apostles of Jesus were ordinarily folks like many of us. They saw and believed. If I were with them and witnessed all the miracles Jesus performed, heard him teach with great authority, and saw how much compassion he had for all, I would have wanted to follow him. His transfiguration on Mt. Tabor alone would have convinced me of his divinity. Do not let the fact that Jesus came 2000 years ago make you think that he belongs to the past. If he is God, he will certainly be relevant to us for all eternity.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
You can tell if a conduct is proper or not by seeing what would happen if everybody behaves like that. Jesus gave us the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, more specifically to love our enemies, not judge but always forgive others. If everyone follows this teaching, the world would have instant peace and utopia. To me, this "proves" that Jesus taught the truth. Since he also practiced what he preached by dying on the cross, demonstrating the greatest possible love for us, he is clearly God.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
God is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. We are the unsteady ones who at times believe, disbelieve, sin, repent, accept God, reject God, look for him, hide from him ~ exercising our free will at will. How can we possibly trust ourselves? Let God be our anchor so that we may become steady and reliable.
I finally got back home yesterday and plan to resume attending daily Mass tomorrow. As I mentioned earlier, I suffered a cold the last 8 or so of the 11 days I was away. As a result, I pretty much spent all my sick days in my room in order not to give the cold to anyone else in the apartment. My laptop kept me company and made it possible for me to continue blogging. I did plan on meeting an old friend whose health was failing and we both believed that it might be our last chance to see each other. Since I got sick, we ended up just talking over the phone. This trip took me from the West Coast to the East. Long flights are always tiring with waitings at the airports and being cooped up in a tight seat for long hours, especially if you also have to catch a flight or arrive at some ungodly hour (coming home, I had to leave for the airport at 4:30 am.) Winter traveling also increases the chances of catching the flu, cold, or a virus. My wife and I went on the trip for family reasons. I wasn't sure I should go and prayed about it. Then some friend called us out of the blue and advised that we go. So we did. Looking back, it doesn't seem that I had accomplished much, but this really shouldn't be my concern. God always lead us on and good will come out of it somehow. What we go through is all part of the journey. "Live to trust and trust to live" makes a good motto.
Monday, January 4, 2016
Sunday, January 3, 2016
I still have many questions for God. What is this gift of faith? Were we who follow the Son of God specifically chosen and given to him by the Father (read John 6.37, 39)? How does God influence the free will of an individual? Why do some seem to be born with faith and others have a hard time believing in the same God? You pray hard and long for someone and nothing happens ~ how come? Indeed, how faith comes about is a great mystery! I choose not to question but to trust in God fully, for it is not for a finite, wretched creature like me to doubt the loving Father who has already revealed his great love for us with amazing clarity.
Friday, January 1, 2016
On this New Year's Day, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, I attended the noon Mass at a local church just a block away. Since I still had not completely gotten over my cold yet, after I got back, I continued to rest in bed. In checking out BBC News on my laptop, I came across this travel article "India's Chaotic Lesson in Letting Go" by Eric Weiner. The author learned to live with no expectations in India to avoid being disappointed or feeling frustrated, as he realized that India was not going to bend to him. From Bagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, he quotes what Lord Krishna says to Arjun, in effect: Give 100% effort to the task at hand but have precisely 0% invested in the outcome. The Christian who wants to trust in God fully can surely adopt this advice in abandoning himself to God. [You can read Weiner's interesting story here: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150901-indias-chaotic-lesson-in-letting-go.]