Praying to God is praying for yourself, since it shapes you.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Is God around just to answer your prayers? What does he want from you? Know that God is with us to work on our souls. Everything he does to you, he does it to make your soul pure for your sake, so that you might have everlasting life. It is love working. So, be open and passive to let him prepare your soul for entering heaven. It is a most joyful, exhilarating process.
I hurt my shoulder joint and became instantly "disabled," for now I cannot lift my arm too high without feeling the pain, resulting in not being able to do many of the things I used to do with ease. We are vulnerable to so many things ~ something we don't think about when everything is fine. Of course, in some of the war zones today, you can get blown up by bombs or mines anytime. Natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods are destroying lives right now in some of the states. My greatest concern for all is whether we know where we go after we die. If we know that we are going to be with God in heaven, our present vulnerability will no longer be a matter of great concern.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Almost everyone in today's world feels that he is entitled to receive whatever benefits within his reach. The Christian thinks differently. A Christian realizes that all things beneficial come from God, and if he receives some of them, it's not because he deserves them but because God is generous. When we only accept what comes freely from God, we are free.
On this Memorial Day, we commemorate the dead members of the armed forces of all the wars. I am thinking that when we sing our national anthem and pledge our allegiance to our country, what does that really mean? What if we live under a government that's totally oppressive or in a society whose members are all secular and morally corrupt? Wouldn't pledging allegiance in such circumstances seem rather foolish? How can one express loyalty to anything he is not proud of? Governments come and go, regimes rise and fall, but God alone remains constant and trustworthy. My observation is that pledging allegiance to God is always appropriate and meaningful. Leaving him out of the picture and we miss the true meaning of life.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Jesus said in Matthew 6, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal." Every time we do God's will with love, we build up treasures in heaven, and whatever is there remains with God forever. It's like you are already buying up properties up there, and that's where you'll settle after this life.
I attended Vigil Mass today on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Communion antiphon, John 6.56, reads: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him, says the Lord. This is all about union with God!
Today's headline: 'Mass rape' video on social media shocks Brazil. This involves 36 men suspected of raping a teen age girl of 16. Why should that concern us? The great saints are acutely aware of their sins and are determined not to offend God in the slightest. On the contrary, today most people live only for their own pleasure, following their own desires, and still think that they are OK. People in this category place their soul in great danger and will be in for a rude awakening one day. They who offend God seriously have muddied their conscience, not aware that their souls are in far worse shape than they realize. If bad news shocks you, it's time to go holy before it's too late.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 11, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders asked Jesus by what authority was he doing all the things. Jesus asked them a question and said, "Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things." They did not know the answer. Jesus said to them, "Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things." What I learned here is that we must soften our hearts before approaching the Lord, for by his nature, he can not be open to anyone who approaches him without humility.
Friday, May 27, 2016
People in general wish that they were more like someone else or have what others possess. They may feel inferior (or superior) to others. Knowing Jesus changes all that, for he and you take delight in each other and nothing can affect your contentment anymore. The peace of Christ now reigns in your heart.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 11, Jesus said to his disciples, "When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions." Normally, if I have knowingly committed a sin, I would repent and ask the Lord to forgive me. Now, if someone trespasses against me, I would hold a grievance against the person, believing that he is the sinner. Jesus makes it clear here that if I do not forgive that person, I too sin. This is good to know and remember.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10, Bartimaeus, a blind man, called out to Jesus for help. Jesus heard him and asked to see him. The people called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." Know that when you hear Jesus calling, it is LOVE calling you! Take heart and rejoice, for he wants to heal you to make you whole. There is no voice sweeter and truthful at the same time.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
We all have our heroes and idols, whom we admire, emulate, and/or follow. Rock stars have groupies following them. Famous talents usually get a lot of fans. When I was interested in photography, a group of us met with a guru regularly, eagerly awaiting to hear what she had to say about our works. Then what has made Jesus a leader, someone to follow, respect, and/or love? Today's Gospel reading from Mark 10 reveals the answer. He said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." So it is his great love and willingness to serve that draws us to him. (At least we still know what's truly good for us.)
Basically, each of us stands before God alone. As Mother Teresa said, in the final analysis, it's between you and God. Only you and God know what's in your heart and mind, and there is only one you and that's you. We alone are responsible for what we do in this life and what we'll face in the next.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10, Jesus said before his disciples, "Many that are first will be last, and the last will be first." I am intrigued by this saying. For me personally, Jesus is telling me to trust in him, focus upon following him and not be concerned about how I do relative to others, for all is in his hands.
No nation should start a war unless it is absolutely the last recourse to preserve or restore peace. A modern war not only brings great sufferings to innocent civilians, but also traumatizes many of those who serve in the military. The suicide rate among US veterans has been estimated to be as high as one death every hour. Today's magazine article "The US veterans going back to live in Vietnam" on BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36363537, shed some light on what some of the veterans went through after the war. Jesus blesses anyone who makes peace. We must start making peace in our own family, our work place, community... wherever we are, and with everyone we come in contact with and most importantly, don't forget, with ourselves.
Monday, May 23, 2016
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10, Jesus made it clear that to inherit eternal life, one must go beyond observing the commandments: You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not defraud, honor your father and your mother, and be detached from his material possessions also. For one cannot love God freely if he is not willing to part with his wealth on earth. This is precisely why one becomes free after surrendering himself to God.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Standing next to a taller or shorter person, we get some idea about how tall we are. I recall that when I was a small child, I lived in a very large house with high ceilings. Many years later when I revisited the same house as a grown man, it appeared much smaller than I had remembered. Looking down at the earth from an airplane can definitely change our view of our planet and ourselves. When I look up into a star-filled night sky, I realize how immense the universe is and how minuscule I am, and I am humbled. By the same token, when we go before God, get to know him, and find out how much he loves us, we find our truth worth. (This is definitely worth doing because what you find will amaze you.)
I look first at the black and white, not the many gray shades, in anything. If I see only the grays, then my vision is limited. Seeing the black and white gives me a clear overall picture. Therefore, I notice good and evil, the existence of God and the Devil, and the reality of heaven and hell. This seeing keeps me on my path, heading into eternity.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
(1) Go to Mass on Sunday. Receive Holy Communion to fulfill your obligation. Then back to your old self for another week.
(2) Prepare for attending Mass. Receive Holy Communion and meditate upon it. Realize that God has entered you. Determined to surrender to him even more.
(1) We play God. We determine what we want to do, how to live, and follow our own "dreams." In the end, we don't find happiness and feel the emptiness of life. Then if our demise is not sudden or unexpected, we have time to finally turn to God.
(2) We let God be God. We follow him, seek his will, consult him in all things. We place our trust completely in him. We are free in God, no longer enslaved by the world. Glorifying God brings us joy and peace. We look forward to returning to the bosom of the Father. Earthly life passes and everlasting life with Christ begins.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Communion experience. God is love. Only this love can transform our hearts, heal our spirits, make us pure, brings us peace, and lead us straight to heaven. Without this love, the world is doomed. Therefore, rejecting it amounts to self-condemnation. This love is our only hope and salvation. In John 14.6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." The fate of mankind hangs on whether we hang on these words of the Lord or not.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10, Jesus taught the permanence of marriage. Here are his words: From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate. But as imperfect beings, how are a man and a woman become truly one flesh? The answer is that if both of them attain union with God, they will have all their differences bridged and become one in God, mirroring the most glorious oneness of the triune God.
In today's first reading from James 5, the Apostle essentially repeated what Jesus taught about oaths in Matthew 5 ~ that is, we are not to swear, but let our "Yes" mean "Yes" and our "No" mean "No." In other words, we must be even-tempered, never letting our emotions go out of control. We are to remain cool. This is accomplished by abandoning ourselves in God, a most cool idea.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Today's Gospel reading at Mass came from Mark 9. I urge you to read verses 42-48. Jesus' command for us to be holy is urgent. Know that if your conduct also causes others to sin, your sin is a lot more serious. In the wake of the news of the disappearing EgyptAir plane and other tragedies, the call to be holy is more urgent than ever. Never think that you are already good enough for God, when Jesus told his disciples to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Communion thoughts. Christ is the light that illuminates my spiritual path, making me see clearly what should and should not remain in my heart. (I am not saying this to sound good; I am saying it because the light makes everything crystal clear to me.)
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
With God, it's forever. Jesus came to reveal that God is love, and this love is for ever. Once he has forgiven our sins, those sins are forgiven forever, and it's done. When we receive the Lord in Holy Communion in total surrender, we belong to him forever and it's done. This is why God is to be trusted, for he is completely dependable and forever the truth.
Monday, May 16, 2016
I went through a drawer in my study and found a list of 16 reasons I shared with my two sons in January, 2009, as to why I believe in the God of Christ. I am going to post them here. Of course, those of you who have been chosen by the Lord already will not need any more reasons. But for those who still have some doubts, a list like this can help.
- In Christianity, God entered the world as one of us so that we might relate to him. This unique feature distinguishes Christianity from all other religions.
- Jesus came and sacrificed himself in our place so that the gap between us sinners and the holy God was bridged – amazing!
- Jesus showed that God is pure love, not what we humans would have expected.
- God is omnipotent, yet he is meek and humble – an amazing combination of characteristics.
- It follows that Jesus is not just our Lord and God, but also our brother and servant.
- Jesus came and performed numerous miracles – healing the sick, the crippled, the blind ... even raising the dead. He multiplied loaves and fish, walked on water, calmed the storm ... all incredible feats.
- His transfiguration when his face shined like the sun and his clothes turned dazzlingly white was awesome.
- He forgave sins as only God can.
- He loves us to the extreme, teaching us to love even our enemies and never stop forgiving others who have offended us – so radical that it seemed almost foolish.
- He forgave those who crucified him with absolutely no hatred.
- Of course, there was his Resurrection, which alone is sufficient for me to accept him as God.
- He challenges us to love him above everything else, including even our own families. This makes sense only if he is truly God.
- If Jesus is good enough for all the great saints and martyrs, he should be good enough for me.
- My personal experience as a believer firmly confirms that I am believing in the true God. No one else can possibly grant me the peace, freedom, and joy I experience.
- There have been so many amazing miracles occurring worldwide, witnessing to how God loves us.
- Last but not least, Jesus was the one who fulfilled the hundreds of prophecies found in the Old Testament!
Conclusion: We have an incredible, extraordinary God, deserving all of our love and trust.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
On this Pentecost Sunday. Pope Francis said that the Holy Spirit brings Jesus' timeless teachings to life and helps us to both understand and live it throughout our lives. "The Holy Spirit grafts his teaching into our hearts, helps us to interiorize it, making it become part of us," the Pope said. He concluded that the Spirit is a Consoler, Advocate and Intercessor who assists us, defends us, and is by our side on the path of life and in the fight for good and against evil. To me personally, God the Holy Spirit is the God in action, stirring our hearts to seek union with and to love him. Let the Spirit enkindle our hearts with the fire of his love.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Today is Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle. In the Gospel reading from John 15, we hear Jesus saying to his disciples, "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you" and "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last." Here is our succinct guide to living: know that we have been chosen by God, then go and bear fruit by loving one another.
When we are young and healthy, it's easy to behave high and mighty, believing that we can accomplish all things on our own. In yesterday's Gospel reading from John 21, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Although here Jesus said this signifying by what kind of death Peter would glorify God, it is true that as we age with failing health, we just won't be able to do many of the things we want to do. Realizing this, it's best to remain humble from the very beginning like Jesus, the only high and mighty one.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Here is a Lord I revere and rightfully fear, yet I can't help but fall deeply in love with him. I shed tears when I think of all the transgressions his children commit against him, yet more often than not, I rejoices in the love and the hope he has given me. Though his word pierces my heart and soul, it also oozes unspeakable joy within them. He overwhelms me with his majesty and holiness, yet he beckons me to recline at his side. His love makes me tremble and bold at the same time. This is my beloved Lord.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
In today's Gospel reading of John 17.11B-19, Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the world hates those who do not belong to it. Indeed, you either belong to God or to the world. Those who belong to the world do not long for heaven because they are too immersed in and attached to the world, while those who belong to God long for him as they find the world to be frivolous and boring.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Read today's Gospel reading at Mass, John 17.1-11A, and you'll see how Jesus poured out his heart to the Father, knowing that he would soon be arrested and be put to death. We should pray to the Father like this too, revealing our innermost thoughts from our hearts with total freedom, enjoying great intimacy with him.
Believing that God cannot help or save you is a serious sin. Denying that Christ is not God is perhaps an even more serious transgression. There are many good people who are law-abiding, never try to hurt anyone, and even love to help others in need; but they knowingly do not believe in the God of Christ.
John 14.6: Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." It shows that we have no way of bypassing Jesus and must inevitably go through him. In Matthew 10.33, Jesus said to the apostles, "Whoever denies me before others, I will deny before the heavenly Father." It shows further that you can be a good person and still be denied by Christ in the end. The correct order of business for us is to accept and believe in Christ and then be good for his sake.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the apostles, "You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be my witnesses even to the ends of the earth." Therefore, witnessing for Jesus must be of first priority in what we say and do. It is is our mission.
Only God can fundamentally change us for the following reasons. (1) He made us; therefore, he alone knows how to remake us. (2) Fundamental changes must start with the heart and God alone understands and knows how to enter our hearts. (3) There can be no fundamental change without purification and cleansing of the soul and again, only God can accomplish that. (4) God is love. No threat or force but love can renew a person.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Today's Communion antophon at Mass, John 17.24: 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. Are we already with Jesus, witnessing his glory? I ask because many people, especially the older ones, are mired in their past ~ they love to tell the same old stories, usually the less pleasant ones. I feel sorry that they do not see that the waiting Lord wants to show us his glory and to glorify us too. Otherwise, they would be freed from all shackles, past and present, and look forward ardently to going to him!
Today's Vigil Mass celebrated the Ascension of the Lord. Excerpts from what Jesus said in the Gospel reading from John 16: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you" and "I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." These are serious sayings ~ either he spoke the truth or did not know what he was talking about. Therefore, we must consider them carefully ~ either we should believe in Jesus or disbelieve and dismiss him.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Our physical body has a life of its own. When it is healthy, it's certainly our good friend, but when it deteriorates, it goes its own way and you just have to bid farewell to it one day. Therefore, we are not our body; we are our own spiritual soul. The physical union on earth is only temporary, so don't get attached to your body.
On this first Friday of the month, there was again Eucharistic adoration after Mass at church. Whether I was siting close to or far away from the Blessed Sacrament displayed on the altar, it didn't make any difference because I had already received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist with him dwelling within me.
In today's Gospel reading from John 16, Jesus, with his imminent departure from the world in mind, said to his disciples, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy." All of us will either have grief first, joy later, or have them in reverse order. For me, the no-brainer choice is to accept all unavoidable sufferings and hardships now and enjoy eternal bliss in heaven later.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
As I was conversing with a friend this morning, this old idea I previously blogged popped up. It'd be worth mentioning again in today's version. Absolute zero, -273.15 C (-459.67 F), has been determined by scientists to be the lower limit on the temperature scale, for at that temperature, all atoms are "dead," no longer vibrating. On the other hand, there is no upper limit to how high the temperature can rise. It's estimated that the temperature of the sun at its center reaches 27 million degrees F. I see an analogy between this and loving God. There is no upper limit to how much we can love God. That limit is God's love for us, which is infinite, and we can only approach, but never reach it. On the other hand, to not love God is easy ~ all you need to do is to reject him and you hit the bottom.
We often pray to God for a sign when we seek his will, and often no sign appears. Today the Lord made me see that we must first be completely selfless, that is, absolutely allowing no ego to fool us into believing that what we want to do is God's will. Then whatever we seek to do to glorify God will be his will. In short, be selfless and you will is God's.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
In John 15, Jesus said to his disciples, "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit." You may be chosen as Person of the Year, the recipient of an honorary degree, or the gold medal winner in some competition, but all these notable honors are nothing compared to what you receive when God choses you to follow him now to enjoy eternal life with him later in heaven. Think about it.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Today is the Feast of Saints Phlip and James, Apostles. In the Gospel reading from John 14, when Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus said, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." So, if we know Jesus, we know the Father. If we want to know what the Father is like, we only need to look at Jesus. Therefore, we can know about as well as know the Father. Exciting!
Monday, May 2, 2016
At Mass this morning, I knew that I was not alone nor on my own, since Christ is with me. In fact, I now see that everything is happening for a reason. I am totally at one with God, my creator, and feel that through Christ, he has fulfilled my life and completed my joy ~ sort of a nirvana moment. At one time in my past, I was interested in abstract mathematics. Whenever I studied or worked out the proof of some theorem and saw how beautiful, clear, thorough, and complete it was, I felt great delight. It's the same feeling, but even deeper and more satisfying, when I come to know God.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Communion experience. In receiving the Holy Eucharist, God humbly lowered himself to draw us all the way to his bosom, exalting us to the highest possible status ~ shocking, but most delightful! (Only our God, the God of Christ, can do this.)
It's common to hear successful people telling others to persevere, never give up, believe in what you can go and go after what you want to do, and your dream will come true. This piece of encouraging advice sounds good, but is not sound. First, you are hearing from those people who happen to have succeeded. Secondly, in reality you can waste a lot of time pursuing a goal that's just not right for you; and stories of failure are never broadcast aloud for everyone to hear. Last, Jesus never taught thus. This advice might work in the secular world, but it in reality replaces trust in God with trust in yourself, which can never fill the void of one's life. Better advice is to follow Christ who alone can lead you to living a joyous and fulfilled life.
Sitting in the family room, I looked up and saw the many books on the shelves. They were mostly travel guides, books on gardening and plants, and some collections of short stories. I thought about each author who must have put in a lot of work to get each book published. As Christians, what should we be busy with or work hard for? In Luke 2, when Joseph and Mary finally found the 12-year-old Jesus teaching in the temple after looking for him for three days, he told them that he must be about his Father's work. I thought this should be our mission too ~ to be busy with the Father's work, working in his house. It would be time smartly spent for a glorious future.