It's a joy to know that when you are on the verge of sinning, you are able to stop or turn away quickly. This is like you recognize quicksand in front of you and you immediately walk away from it. If you stick out your foot to test the sand, you've started sinning. A clear conscience assures inner peace ~ this is how God has made us.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Monday, February 29, 2016
Today's entrance verse from Psalm 84: My soul is longing and yearning for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out to the living God. The Communion response from Psalm 42: Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God! It amazes me that the Psalmists before the time of Christ were already in such a state of great intimacy with God.
Communion experience today. The thirst of my soul for the Lord was there, but I was assured that it would be completely quenched one day.
Liberal and conservative politicians are making strong statements about what they are in this year of election. A Christian need not bother with being a liberal or a conservative, for he simply follows Christ. That is, a Christian focuses upon solely being Christlike and is not concerned about what anyone, himself included, thinks of him.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
At Mass we again heard the Parable of the Lost Son from Luke 15. The father was so happy to see his repentant, lost younger son coming home that he prepared a big celebration to welcome him back. But the older son got angry because he thought the father was being unfair, since he had been with the father all along and never been treated like this. What we need to know is that God loves us all and we must never question what he does, for knowing that he loves us no less is more than sufficient for us. In fact, we must rejoice for this very reason.
I had an interesting dream last night. I dreamed that I had committed a number of sins (not clear what they were). I was worried and somewhat horrified. Then still dreaming, I realized that I was only dreaming so that I really had not committed those sins and was greatly relieved. Another similar dream I might have blogged happened decades ago before the fall of Communism. I dreamed that I was trapped in a Communist country and was horrified. Again, in my dream I realized that I was only dreaming and that in reality I was sleeping in a bed at home in a non-Communist country. Great relief again.
On the other hand, the pleasant dreams I enjoyed the most were those in which I experienced the presence of Jesus.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Read about Jesus in the Gospels. He is all good. He is holy and full of love and compassion for the people. With great authority, he brings the good news. Great miracles support that he is the Savior of all. If you cannot say that he is all phony-baloney but still do not accept him, it's because you are still a slave to your self-importance.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 16 at Mass, we heard The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. When Lazarus the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. And he cried out to Abraham for help. But now there's a great chasm between them to prevent anyone from crossing. The rich man then begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house to warn this five brothers, lest they should come to the same place of torment. But Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them. If they will not, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." A good point. Now, in addition to Moses and the prophets, we have Jesus, the Son of God, to listen to. He is truly our last chance.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
No human being can or would want to understand me fully, but God already knows all about me. Imperfections in other humans I see all the time, but God is always perfect. I am annoyed by my own imperfections, and God removes them. No one except him alone can unburden my heart, heal my soul, and uplift my spirit. When you are in union with him, he becomes your soul mate, bosom buddy, and the love of your life. The Lord is the ideal companion each one of us needs, and I greatly rejoice in that.
Monday, February 22, 2016
When Christians meet each other informally nowadays, they comment on the latest political events, talk about their favorite sports or hobbies, exchange family information, etc., but rarely mention Jesus. If Jesus is truly the most important person in our lives, shouldn't we talk about him the most? You may have to go back to the days of the Apostles and very early Christians to find groups so intensely Christ-centered. It really should be the same today, since the same Lord is as close to us as he was to his early witnesses and followers. We need to go beyond being lukewarm and get hot, for the Lord will spit out the lukewarm out of his mouth (Revelation 3.16).
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Here is the best way. Read the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, turn to the Lord, and open yourself up completely to let him teach you. Learning this way from God is vastly superior to learning about what God teaches via any other human, past or present, for the delivery of the message is direct and each message is specifically given for your sake. Besides, when your heart hears the voice of the Lord, it experiences great intimacy and joy.
In Mark 16, we read that when the resurrected Lord first appeared to his disciples, he said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned." I italicized the last verse for emphasis. It seems that we must believe to be saved, even if we cannot love Jesus perfectly, for his mercy is great. Then if we do not believe and think it won't matter, it matters most seriously!
Saturday, February 20, 2016
The funeral for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took place today at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. He was an outstanding man of faith and law. As I flipped on the TV this morning, I caught a glimpse of the casket being carried out of the basilica to a waiting hearse. The thought that popped into in my mind was that the most critical matter concerning each one of us is whether our soul ends up in heaven with God or elsewhere separated from him for all eternity after we leave this world.
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus wants his disciples to love their enemies and be perfect, just as the heavenly Father is perfect. He points out that the Father makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Obviously, the Lord loves everyone and we are to pray for the conversion of everyone, enemies or not, whom he loves. God is love and he wants us to be like him to break down all barriers with love.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Communion thoughts. Who could have foreseen that God would give us his only Son so that we might have eternal life? Who could have foreknown that the Son would give himself to us in the Holy Eucharist so that we might become one with him beginning in this life? Our extraordinary God has truly given us an extraordinary life to live!
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 7 at Mass, we heard this familiar saying of Jesus to his disciples: "Everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." We don't quite get excited because we just haven't see anything dramatically happen after we pray to God each time. I believe that Jesus' promises are true; what is wrong is that we expect God to be like a magician. To receive, find, and see may take time and what we get may not be what we had expected; but respond, he will.
We pick up knowledge the moment we were born. Do you realize that for most people almost all the things they learn daily serve only to help them survive or live a better life in this world and just a small portion of it might have something to do with the afterlife? Whereas the right way is to learn all you need to know about attaining eternal life, and God will rightly take care of your present life.
Steve Ray came into the Catholic Church as a Baptist. You can find his website Why I'm Catholic listed under Good Sites, Blogs, Webpages . . . on this blog. He's been interviewed by Marcus Grodi on the EWTN Journey Home program before. I am posting this latest interview, for it's worth listening to him talking about how he came to accept and appreciate Mary (14:37-28:58).
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
We all need someone to show us the way and I see Jesus to be our perfect guide. He's the perfect Lord, one we can fully trust, follow, hide in, lean upon, and love. If you do not accept him, the reason can only be you. I even see that God created me so that I might be fulfilled by his Son.
When Jesus starts out with "Amen, I say to you," we'd better pay attention. One of the Communion verses for today was based upon Matthew 19.28-29. To his disciples, Jesus says, "Amen, I say to you that you who have left all and followed me will receive a hundred fold and possess eternal life." Here's a crystal clear promise we should keep in mind, for believing in it can surely change our lives.
I believe I have lived beyond the male life expectancy in this country. How long we live is completely in God's hands. Here are some obvious advantages of living longer: we get more time to learn from God, more time to serve him, more time to pray for the world, more time for accomplishing the work he has assigned us, more time to grow holier and closer to him, and more time to get ready for meeting him after this life. All for our good and the glory of God.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Communion experience. In Luke 2, we read that it had been revealed to Simeon, a righteous and devout man, that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus to present him to the Lord, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation . . . ." After receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist, I felt as St. Simeon did after seeing Jesus.
Here is what I see life is really like, as I get closer to returning to my loving creator and Father. No matter how you look at it, life is a relatively short time for us. It is not incorrect to say that we were all born just to die a little later. Whether you feel lonely or not, you basically do exist alone in this life ~ only you are you. There is not another fellow human who knows all about you, can help you in all things, or speak for you at judgment time. In summary, without God life is transitory and desolate existence. With God, the transitoriness of life becomes irrelevant and its desolation changes into endless joy after it is over.
Monday, February 15, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 25, Jesus made clear to his disciples the following. He will come again in glory as the king to judge all nations and separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep, blessed by the Father, will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world and the goats, accursed, will depart into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. The sheep and the goats are differentiated by whether they gave the king food when he was hungry, gave him drink when he was thirsty, welcomed him when a stranger, clothes him when naked, cared for him when ill, visited him when in prison; and whatever they did (did not do) for one of the least brothers of the king's, they did (did not do) for him.
These most important, astounding messages of Jesus are consistent with all his sayings and revelations. His whole life, his work, completely back him up as a no-nonsense teacher. Again, Jesus becomes an all-or-nothing choice for us. There is no one else who can put us in such a situation without interfering with our free will.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Without God, there is absolutely nothing worth living for and life becomes empty. So many people just drift along aimlessly. For example, they have no second thoughts about trying out drugs or engaging in illicit sexual activities, ignorant that everything we do will have consequences. If you ignore the presence of God, our creator, you burn the bridges that could take you back to him. There are just two endings: back with the Father or being lost forever. Since the waking-up process can take long, I am here to tell you as one who has stopped drifting a long time ago and now see everything so clearly as I look back (and ahead).
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
While driving home from morning Mass, I realized that we can think and somehow know that all thoughts originate from the brain, that we feel emotions and somehow know that feelings come from the heart, not some other organ, that we are both aesthetic and intellectual, that we understand good and evil, that we have a conscience with a free will, and that we can long for a God and actually fall in love with him. What amazing creatures we are!
Today's entrance verse from Psalm 30: The Lord heard and had mercy on me; the Lord became my helper. Response from Psalm 51: A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. Communion verse from Psalm 25: O Lord, make me know you ways, teach me your paths. Now picture one of us, prostrating before God, submitting himself completely to God with a contrite and humbled heart, asking for his mercy, and eagerly desire the Lord to teach him. We see a creature in complete harmony with his creator and receiving love pouring in upon him unhindered.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
In today's Gospel from Luke 9 at Mass, Jesus said to his disciples, "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 lost it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." It's clear that to gain eternal life, we only need to abandon ourselves fully to Jesus.
God is so close to us for the following: (1) He created us in his own image. (2) He came down from heaven to become one of us. (3) He was born through the womb of Virgin Mary, a human being. (4) He died for us so that we might have life. (5) He feeds us with his own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. (6) He desires to be in full union with us. (7) God the Holy Spirit dwells within each of us who are open to him. Why not gravitate toward the one who are closest to us and loves us the most?
After staying home for the last 3+ days because of my bad cough, I felt good enough to resume attending morning Mass again. "Close to God" could mean different things. Here it means that we can die anytime and God is there to meet us ~ I acutely sensed this when I was sick and felt miserable. The fact is that God is never away; he simply waits for us. When we are healthy and well, it's so easy to live in a "fantasy world" without thinking about him. Meeting him when you are still alive is infinitely better than doing it after you die. Do not make the Father who is so close to you wait.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Today is Ash Wednesday. In the Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus gave the teaching about almsgiving, the teaching about prayer, and the teaching about fasting. The lesson: we are to give alms, to pray, and to fast for God alone, not for others, for performing righteous deeds for others to see is the same as doing them for oneself. This is a clear guide to living a selfless life, a secret one, you might say, in God. How well we succeed directly affects how much the Father will repay us.
When Christ died for our sins, he completely gave himself to us as the Father had willed. Now as Christians, we are able to completely forget about ourselves to attain union with God through the Holy Eucharist as he wills. This unique, extraordinary "disappearing act" enabling God to occupy all of us testifies to the truth of Christianity.
When I see someone who is highly opinionated, always has his defense up, and sounds most aggressive, I think of Jesus who is meek and humble and feels absolutely secure in his Father. If we want others to know that we are Christians, we must follow Jesus' example.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
I never quite shook off the cold I caught after last Christmas and now I seem to have caught another one. As I looked out the window from my house and saw that the recent rains had transformed the outdoors landscape into a beautiful green, I couldn't care less as my physical discomfort now takes center stage. I see in the same way once we realize that we would face judgment and be assigned our final destination, we would care little about what grabs or attracts us now.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
The world is in a horrible mess. There are only two ways to resolve the problem. (1) We all turn to God, the God of Christ who is love, repent and ask for forgiveness and salvation. (2) We simply wait until the same Lord comes and judges all of us.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6 at Mass, when Jesus saw the vast crowd waiting for him, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. I then realized how absolutely necessary it was for God to teach us, for it is by his word that we learn to live right and by keeping his word that we shall never see death (John 8.51).
People of the world live on as if God does not exist, as if there will be no judgment, as if they will never die, as if they will always be able to do what they do now. What fools, not expecting that they will get the greatest shock of their life at the end of their sojourn on earth! Hopefully, as they age, they will wake up to face reality.
There are people who do not believe in or think much about God, but nevertheless appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy the good things of life. This could be dangerous living if they live with no regard to moral principles. After all, God did give us the ten commandments to guide us in how we should live. I believe that we will be judged by them.
Friday, February 5, 2016
On this first Friday of the month, we had Eucharistic Adoration after morning Mass. Philippians 2.10: At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth. How many of us would do this or at least feel this way?
Today's Gospel reading from Mark 6 was on the beheading of John the Baptist by King Herod. Jesus, during his trial before Pilate, answered him,"My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handled over to the Jews" (John 18.36). Earlier, when Jesus had been betrayed and was being arrested, one of those who accompanied him drew his sword to defend him. Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its sheath.... Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?" (Matthew 26.52-53).
The main things to notice are: (1) God's kingdom does not belong this world. (2) What God has ordained must come to pass. These explain why John the Baptist died and Jesus got arrested, suffered, and was crucified without direct intervention from God. When we pray for God's help, we must realize that God's ways are not our ways. The Lord could do exactly what we ask for, but his foremost wish is to convert our hearts so that we may convert the world. Yes, our hearts are the "weapons" of his choice.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Communion experience. I was being invited to this most special banquet. The Lord himself came to me to be my food ~ an invitation to be in union with him. I heard him say "I have chosen you" in my heart, the endearing words the soul needs to hear the most.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus sent the Twelve out to preach repentance. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." It is clear to me that the Lord knows if we welcome his gospel or not, and if not, there will be others testifying against us one day.
God's voice is gentle and sweet and his words, tonic to the soul. If you are afraid of God, it's because you are hiding or running away from him, not because he is scary. We are good at instilling fear in ourselves. There is no one more approachable or delightful than the Lord God, our creator and Father.
The title describes my feeling about getting old. As we age, our bones and joints let us know. Physically, we'll just have to gradually give up doing a lot of things. When you are young, you are used to picking up the best pieces you can find, but when you are old, you just have to settle for whatever is left out there. After we pick up the last leftover piece, we are ready to meet the Lord. I am not being pessimistic, only realistic. In fact, I see the mercy of God working here ~ he is easing us out of this life. To those who know Christ well, the good life is just on the other side. Picking the pieces, good or leftover, is not anything worth setting our hearts on.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus in his native place was not able to perform any might deed because of the lack of faith among his own kin. So we can say that
The more we have faith, the more we shall see God performing mighty deeds.
It's also true that
The more we rely upon God, the more we become strong.
The more we surrender to God, the more we become free.
The more we rejoice in God, the more we receive joy from him.
The more we rest in God, the more we experience peace.
The more we praise God, the more he blesses us.
The more we praise God, the more he blesses us.
The more we hate sin, the more God purifies us.
The more we suffer for God, the more he comforts us.
The more we forgive others, the more God forgives us.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. God being the creator can only give, for all things come from him. He has given his only begotten Son for the sake of our salvation. And God the Son has given us his own mother to be our mother. The Son is also preparing a place in his Father's house so that we may be where he is. Such giving, such generosity, and such love! This is the big difference between God and us, for we are good takers. We love to receive anything that gratifies us. Until we are ready to give as God, we are not free. The truth is that there is nothing we can consider to be ours, for all things, ourselves included, belong to God. One greatest joy is actually the giving of ourselves back to God.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Here is a good talk by Fr. Adam Skwarczynski, a Polish priest. I recommend that you listen to his wise words on making a good confession (38:50 – 45:24). Going through the motion and hearing the priest absolve you at the end does not necessarily mean that God has forgiven you.
By the way, Fr. Adam says in this video that the Blessed Mother told him not only to ask God for much, but to ask God for everything. If you are praying for a few loved ones you know, God also wants you to pray for the billions whom you do not know. That is, never limit what you ask for!
Communion experience. Jesus made me sense the seriousness of receiving his body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, we must be serious about everything the Lord has said, about doing his will, about how we should serve him . . . about every aspect of our relationship with him. Of course, being serious is not to be without joy. In fact, taking the Lord seriously itself is a source of joy.
We are supposed to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, yet we talk about ourselves most of the time. Shouldn't we at least think about him from time to time? No, we should instead think and talk about God at all times. How would that be possible? Answer: Offer your heart to God and it will happen.