Communion experience. We must let the Holy Eucharist change us each time. The more we abandon ourselves, the deeper our union with God, and the more thorough our spiritual transformation. Rejoice when such opportunities still exist.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Saturday, April 30, 2016
In today's reading from John15 at Mass, Jesus mentioned the world's hatred of him and his disciples. For me, the very existence of this hatred from the evil world only proves that the Lord is truly the Holy One. Hatred and love are like Yin and yang. Both exist with one always pointing to the other.
People don't look too far ahead ~ they only look forward to attending events scheduled for the coming days one by one. For example, I have noted on my calendar such events as our church's pancake breakfast, funeral service of a friend, dental checkup, grandson's graduation from junior hi next month, etc. We are truly here today and gone tomorrow. No one knows when that tomorrow (or last moment) will be. The most important thing is to look far ahead to see where we are going. If we know our destination, then we do longer live from event to event, for the events are like receding telephone poles we see from a moving train as we travel toward our final destination. There is no comparison between knowing that you'll arrive safely at the end and not knowing when train might crash along the way.
Imagine that you live in the country in a nice house among beautiful, peaceful surroundings. There are birds singing and a nearby brook running. Moreover, you have no financial worries and no one to bother you. Mostly likely, you would be too happy and content to think any evil thoughts. Now, let's thrust you into the working environment of a big city. You have a stressful job and you work hard, but no one appreciates you. You even have to fight for finding a parking space wherever you go. Besides, the cost of living is high and people do take advantage of you. Very likely, you would hate living there and might even devise ways of hurting your enemies. The point I wish to make is that our environment can greatly affect our behavior. My recommendation is to let God shield us from all evil. To be in union with God is to be immersed in him and have himself surround us completely. Making God your refuge is the way to go.
Friday, April 29, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from John 15, Jesus said to his disciples, "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." Therefore, we should let love motive us in doing everything! Obviously, if that were the case, we would enjoy peace and joy in this life and this world. The big question: "Why don't we do it?"
I posted (on 3/31/2015) that premeditated sins are much more serious than spontaneous ones. By contrast, premeditated good deeds are much greater than spontaneous good deeds. The greatest premeditated (planned, if you will) deed has to be Christ's dying on the cross for our salvation. He knew in advance and all along the plan and carried it out in perfect obedience to the Father. The greatest and most amazing deed of all human history!
Sometimes we don't even like ourselves (which shows the existence of ego), but God always loves us. He wants us to be happy not only in him in this life, but also for all eternity with him in heaven! His laying down his own life for us on the cross makes it amply clear.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Suppose you are already living in heaven for all eternity with God, who has no beginning nor end, would you ruminate on your former life on earth or look into what's going to happen next or a million years from now? Of course not, because you'd enjoy God every single moment! Hence, while still living on earth, we should also not dwell on the past which is no more, nor ponder upon the future that's not here yet. Start living with God who is present with us every present moment.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
In John 8, we read that the scribes and the Pharisees brought a women caught in adultery to Jesus. To test him, they asked him if they should stone her as Moses commanded to them in the law. Jesus said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." What a memorable response! It teaches us not to blame others at fault when we are imperfect ourselves. Only God can judge us, for he alone is holy and perfect.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
God is not some abstract concept, nor someone impersonal. Today's Communion verse, Romans 6.8: If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Christ. To die with him, to praise him, to pray to him, to ask for favors from him, even to argue with or complain to him, and then to live with him is to form the strongest possible bond with him. It's this most intimate, personal relationship that make our life so fulfilling and rewarding.
There are many burdens in life. I am specifically thinking about some people who do not turn to God when the time for them to do so is urgent and now. I care about them, yet I shouldn't. This is what I mean. We care about others who affect the Lord and us. Yet there is only so much we can do. In fact, if we "care too much," we forget our goal of serving God and risk turning others off. Therefore, always remember that God is in control. Do the best you can and not be concerned about how things turn out as if you don't really care. This is trusting in God at its best.
This morning's Gospel reading at Mass from John 14 echoed my feeling when I heard Jesus say to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."
Monday, April 25, 2016
In art, technology, and other fields, you must continue coming up with new creative ideas, innovations, and/or inventions, to stay ahead of the competitors. By contrast, in living a holy life, you surrender to the same God over and over again to foster spiritual growth.
In some religion, believers put to death anyone who does not accept their faith. In others, believers just do not much care one way or the other. In Christianity, believers feel great sorrow for those who reject Christ, for they love the Lord and know that he loves them. This is a sorrow only Christians experience.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from John 13, when Judas left the Last Supper, Jesus fully knew that he was going to betray him by handing him over. The Lord said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him." We see that every time we follow God's plan, we glorify him. Rejoice that we have the time of a whole lifetime to follow God! The tragic side is that there are those who rebel against the Lord their whole life ~ utter foolishness!
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Jesus wants us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Since the Father loves all sinners who are imperfect, to be perfect we must at least completely tolerate all those who are imperfect. This is totally in line with the Lord's asking us to not judge and love our enemies.
If you do not believe in God (the God of Christ), you will never know the answers to many of the important questions of life. If you do believe in God, you have no more questions to ask, for Christ is the key to all the answers you need to know.
Friday, April 22, 2016
In education, the more you advance, the more you become aware of your intellectual growth. In the early years when I photographed a lot, I thought I was pretty good. Later, after I had refined my vision, the early works appeared rather mediocre. It's the same in spiritual growth. Attaining union with God is like climbing a high mountain to get to the top where God dwells. As you ascend higher and higher, the view becomes more and more beautiful. Of course, the most magnificent view you'll see only after you get to the top. Therefore, aim high and never cease advancing. (Better advice. Take the fast track by surrendering to God and letting him take you to the top, eliminating all climbing.)
The second half of the Our Father: "Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." I see that Jesus taught us to pray thus because he wants us to know (1) that we are to depend upon the Father for all things, (2) how the Father can forgive our trespasses and (3) that our Father is also the one to safeguard us spiritually.
In today's Gospel reading, John 14:1-6, Jesus must know exactly what he's talking about or he had to be delusional. In the last verse, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." If he was not delusional, then he must have spoken the truth. It follows that no one can possibly bypass him ~ something we must reckon with, the sooner the better.
The people of the world seek fun, excepting perhaps the refugees on the run and those living in poverty. In the USA, it's estimated that 80% of young Christian college adults lose their faith in the four years of attending college, as seeking fun becomes their priority. The entertainment industry invests in providing fun for the general public and profits richly. With so much fun to pursue, who can possibly feel his or her spiritual needs? On the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." I hear him praying the same now.
Communicating with God whether it's reciting a formal prayer, praising him in public or talking to him in private, or just thinking about or longing for him is prayer. Every time you pray (from the heart), you strengthen your relationship with God. Therefore, pray unceasingly, and you'll be richly rewarded.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Realize that every creature, animate or inanimate, belongs to God and you'll be able to let go of all your material possessions and forgive even your enemies. Then do you very best to glorify God in every possible way ~ you are now ready for returning to your Father in heaven.
Today's Entrance verse at Mass from Psalm 68: O God, when you went forth before your people, marching with them and living among them, the earth trembled, heavens poured down rain, alleluia. Indeed, God is awesome. He is to be worshipped, praised, and adored, yet he is also completely approachable. There is an amazing duality here. He is our God, but also our loving Father. He is our judge to be feared, yet also our most endearing, intimate friend. He is all holy, yet he yearns to unite with us sinners. John the Baptist said that he was not even worthy to untie the sandals of Jesus, yet this Lord gladly enters me daily in the Holy Eucharist. Our God is not only unique, but truly amazing.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from John 12, Jesus cried out and said, "If anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day." We see that even though we commit many sins, the Lord does not judge us until after we die. So, it's either observing the words of Jesus now while we are still living or waiting to be condemned.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Back on June 18, 2015, I posted about the genius of Oscar Peterson which made me think of the infinite genius of our Lord. Today I thought of the great jazz pianist again, whose playing was so free and natural that he and the music became essentially one. It strikes me that expressing our love for God should also be completely free and natural. And we can achieve that when we become one with the Lord, making our life most beautiful. In case you missed Peterson's video the first time, I am posting it again.
It is either we let God be God or we play God. This is the fundamental struggle that goes on within us. If the former, then we abandon ourselves to God, the struggle ceases, and we have peace. If the latter, the struggle simply continues on. I choose to have peace, therefore I choose to submit myself to God (the God of Christ).
Monday, April 18, 2016
It's not difficult to refrain from speaking ill of anyone whom I do not know well, but it's another thing not to criticize someone in my own family whom I know well. In the family setting, when there is a disagreement, it's just so easy to assert that I am right and my "opponent" wrong, hoping that all others within earshot will support me. This again shows the presence of ego and that more dying with Christ is needed.
I had a vivid dream last night. I was in a town amidst all the traffic and pedestrians heading every which way. There was a small stadium filled with naked people occupying all the tiers of seats. I looked around and saw some of them clearly, others more difficult to make out, and still others rather hazy and looking tired and sad. Then I understood it was about how God sees us. Since we can hide nothing from God, we are naked to him. We appear clearly to him if we have nothing to hide from him. But if we are sinful, the haziness indicates that we are trying to hide ourselves from him.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
In today's Reading 1 at Mass from Acts 9, God gave Peter the power to instantly heal Aeneas, a paralytic who had been confined to bed for eight years. God can do anything, but our free will almost always gets in the way. We must will to remain open to God in order to receive whatever gift he wants to give us in serving him. That is, as channels of God's love, we must clear ourselves of all obstructions.
Friday, April 15, 2016
In today's Reading 1 from Acts 9 at Mass, Jesus made it clear that he had chosen Saul to be his instrument to carry his name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel. God's plan for us may not be that specific, but it is equally clear that he wants each of us to serve him as holy disciples wherever we are now and always.
I had a bad dream early this morning, in which I had to escape from someone coming after me; I realized that I needed God's help. After I woke up, I saw that the dream confirmed that we absolutely need God. I know that nonbelievers would love to tell me that I invented God to have a crutch to lean on. Well, I wouldn't call God a crutch, but if you must, then he is the best possible crutch you can ever have, exactly the right kind of support we need, for without it we would certainly perish one day.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
In all my years of attending Mass, I have heard innumerable homilies preached from the pulpit. They range from the instantly forgettable to those that set your heart afire for God. In between, you have memorable ones, but the focus upon God is often diluted by the speaker's desire to be entertaining. Obviously, to impress God, all focus should be on him alone. To achieve this, we need to let God impress us first. It again comes down to letting God do all the work for us.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Two people could do exactly the same thing, yet because their motives are different, one is storing up treasures in heaven while the other one, not. Life invisible to us is all visible to God. Therefore, live for God alone, not for any other fellow humans to see.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
We who profess to follow Christ must make every effort to be fishers of men, as this is his command and wish. It is not how many people you can catch, but how diligently you attempt the task that counts. Let this lovingly motivate every thought, word, and deed of yours.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Today's Communion verse, John 12.24: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit, alleluia. Fact #1: Life is endless, since the soul lives on. Fact #2: We must die in Christ while we are alive in order to live on in happiness. So it's live to die to live forever.
I have believed in Christ for decades, who has never forced me to believe in him. Even now, I am completely free to leave him if I choose to do so. Any god who binds us to him by force can not be the true God. God makes faith meaningful by letting us decide to accept him or not. With such a sensible, understanding Lord, why should I ever consider leaving him? So we are now stuck with each other and more joyful than ever!
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Today's Communion verse John 17.24 reads: Father, I wish that, where I am, those you gave me may also be with me, that they may see the glory that you gave me, alleluia. We who love Jesus also wish that everyone else would love him. Unlike anything else, Jesus' love affects us uniquely ~ it makes us selfless. Even though we know that he loves everyone, our enemies included, we are not jealous. Even though we have received so many good things from him, we are eager to share them with others. The urge to spread the good news truly comes from the heart, for the ego is absent. Only God's love has the power to make us genuine.
Jesus has died for us for love of us. We would have difficulty even in dying for someone who loves us very much. We may run away, hesitate, or bravely volunteer with trepidation. By contrast, Jesus volunteered without hesitation in fulfilling the Father's plan. You could say he welcomed the opportunity, for his love for us overcame all fear. As you know, God loves us so much that there is great rejoicing even over one sinner who repents. This is the difference between God and us.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
In this morning's Gospel reading from John 3 at Mass, John stated that Jesus came into the world as the light, and people who does wicked things are afraid of the light because it would expose their works, but whoever lives the truth welcomes the light. Observation: if we are not afraid to let God expose us and see our works, then we will not be afraid of anything.
Attention to God needs to come from our innermost self, yet we easily immerse ourselves fully in distractions of the world. And it usually takes some crisis to jolt us into turning to God. If you still consider yourself loving God, then it's certainly "loving him with not a lot of your heart, not a lot of your soul, not a lot of your strength, and not a lot of your mind."
The Lord has helped me form the best attitude towards death. As physical problems for older folks begin to show, he is preparing me for meeting him. Death no longer offers any fear, since I know exactly where I'll be going. It's facing the unknown that causes uneasiness, if not fear, in us. God removes all uncertainties.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Monday, April 4, 2016
Today is Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. God sent the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary to announce of her conception of Christ. The angel last added that nothing would be impossible for God. The fact that God can accomplish anything combined with the fact that he loves us is most comforting, since we now know that he would always take good care of us!
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Do you turn to God only when you are in trouble? Some do not even do that unless they are in a desperate situation. God is not just an emergency doctor. In fact, we need him every moment for our survival! Therefore, make him your most trusted friend. Tell him and consult him about everything and always ask for his opinion or help. You will never tire him, for he loves you. Let him complete your life.
Today's Gospel reading on this Divine Mercy Sunday from John 20 is about Thomas who told the other disciples who had seen the Lord that he would not believe unless he sees the mark of the nails in his hands and put his finger into the nailmarks and put his hand into his side. A week later when Thomas was present with the others, Jesus came and stood in their midst. He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Here is the Lord's invitation for all of us to believe. How can we possibly resist?
How do you know that your are the temple of the Holy Spirit? Do not expect to feel anything physically, for the Holy Spirit, being Spirit, works on the heart. Feeling great love for God and your brothers and sisters is evidence that he dwells within you.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Many people do not like Christians, so are they our enemies? No, since Jesus commands us to love everyone. So our only possible enemy is ourselves. It is the self that keeps us from loving others. It is our ego that keeps us from surrendering ourselves to God. Once we become one with God, we have no more enemy, since we have conquered ourselves.
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus' final words to the Eleven were "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." It occurred to me that I don't even see Catholics on their own do the sign of the cross and say grace before eating meals in any public place. Prayer is strictly between God and us, no one else's business. Therefore, we should do the cross and say grace, whether others are present or not. If we cannot do that, how are we expected to proclaim the Gospel to any creature?
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 16, the risen Lord appeared to the Eleven and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him. What if we were in their place, would we have believed? Perhaps our hearts are not even as hard as theirs. The fact that they finally believed after seeing Jesus themselves is reason enough for us to believe likewise.
After I woke up this morning all refreshed from a good night's rest, I was ready to engage in another day's activities and chores. And there will be another night and another day. This is similar to how after we confess and repent our sins to God, we are ready to serve him again all refreshed. This process also repeats itself. Then I thought of the superior way of attaining union with God and having he Lord take away all our tendencies to sin, thus breaking the cycle.
Friday, April 1, 2016
On this First Friday of the month, as usual there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass. Here's the Lord exposed before us on the altar for us to adore and worship. I felt it's also judgment time with him looking at me, seeing everything in my heart. What a perfect time to seek his pardon, mercy, and cleansing! A time to abandon myself to him for union! Indeed, a perfect time to perfect our relationship with the Lord!
The Christian sees all things as real. For him, God is real, evil is real, the Passion Jesus underwent for our salvation is real, that we'll be in paradise if we remain faithful followers is real .... The Christian lives by his faith, never seeking escape from reality.
Today's Communion verse, John 21.22-23: Jesus said to his disciples: Come and eat. And he took bread and gave it to them, alleluia. Receiving the Holy Eucharist is the Lord's amazing, wonderful, beautiful, and loving way of making us one with him.
Without God, you are definitely alone. The only time you'll be with him is when you face him at judgment time, and that will not be pleasant. On the contrary, with God you are never alone! As described in my last post, you life will be filled with beautiful moments.
In today's Gospel reading from John 21 at Mass, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias after being raised from the dead. In their fishing boat, John finally recognized that it was Jesus standing on the shore talking to them and said to Peter, "It is the Lord." Immediately, Peter tucked in his garment, jumped into the sea, and swam toward Jesus. Recognizing that it's the Lord is one of the most beautiful moments of life. Seeing that Jesus has a hand in everything you do, knowing that he is healing you, hearing him speak to you, feeling his presence ... all these are most beautiful moments. Seek union with him and you will receive the grace of knowing that he is always with you.
In today's first reading from Acts 4, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted Peter and John, disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They laid hands on Peter and John and put them in custody. God vs. the evil one ~ the battle continues on to this day. We face the same enemy and have the same task to perform. Otherwise, there would be no need for the Lord to come again to separate the goats from the sheep. Recognize the reality of the situation so that we may fight on the side of God for his glory and ultimate triumph.