March for Life begins this weekend nationwide. After morning Mass today, a bunch of us started pounding dozens of white crosses into the ground in front of the church to commemorate the aborted unborn. After all the crosses were up, while driving home I felt the great sorrow that the Lord feels for this horrendous sin our nation commits against him. In that moment, the Lord made me see that we are basically creatures with a good heart, but because of the original sin we inherited, we become sinners when we are subject to temptation. All we need to do is to have God shield us from all temptations for us to remain sinless. Of course, given our free will, we must want to ask the Lord to protect us, which means that we must yield ourselves to him first. This is at the crux of the whole matter.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
It is not a good feeling to know that you are not ready to die yet. It shows that you are still tied to the world and yourself and that you are not spiritually free. The Lord is not going to drag you into heaven if you are reluctant to go there. Therefore, voluntarily detach yourself from the world and yourself so that you may freely soar to God when he calls you. It might turn out to be quite a battle, but it's a battle you must win and you can absolutely win with God's help. Think of it as preparing for taking the happiest trip you'll ever have, which, of course, is true.
Communion experience. Each time I attend Mass to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist, I am dining at his table with him serving, giving me himself to consume as nourishment and the promise of eternal life. It's unbelievable and unbeatable intimacy and union!
Jesus makes it amply clear in the Gospels that if we see him, we have seen the Father, that if we know him, then we know the Father, and that he and the Father are one. Therefore, know Christ and you don't need to ask where God is or who he is anymore. We now learn from the Lord directly!
You believe in God and want to do your very best, that is, to give 100% of your effort, to serve him; but you will not get far if you do not surrender yourself to God completely first. This is something people do not realize (or do not want to face). I am repeating the same message I have said before in various ways because it is important. If you want to go extreme with the Lord, then set aside your concern, you own effort, yourself, and go directly to him to receive power directly from him. I am making it as directly as possible to you again.
Today's Gospel at Mass consisted of just two verses from Mark: Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." I can understand that because one time when I showed my great enthusiasm in Christ, one of my relatives also thought that I was out of my mind (although he didn't seize me). I suppose that if you seem to have gone overboard for something others do not understand, you look abnormal or odd to them. At one time I did visit a nearby prison regularly to assist a deacon in his prison ministry and a nonChristian friend of mine just couldn't understand why I should spend my time doing that. Decades back, when I first read about Mother Teresa who had gone to India to devote her life to serving the dying and the poor, I almost thought that she was out of her mind. Well, know Jesus and you'll understand everything.
I mentioned yesterday in a post that sometimes the Lord has his plan and what we pray for may not happen if it does not accord with his plan. But praying for the salvation of those you love is totally in accord with his will, as our salvation is his foremost desire. Therefore, do not be discouraged. Persist in praying for them and believe that the Lord will answer your prayer as you wish.
Friday, January 19, 2018
This morning I got the news that a dear friend, a fellow parishioner, passed away at a hospital. She had heart surgery and was placed under intensive care. For the last two weeks or so, she remained practically unconscious and had to be sustained by machine. Many of us had been praying so hard for her recovery and healing, until this morning. The news hit us hard. What can I make of it? There is no doubt that God hears us, but he has his plan and knows what's best for us. We sometimes can sway him, but not this time. Did our praying efforts prolong our friend's agony? I doubt it. We can pray for what we desire, but ultimately, it comes down to accepting God's will. What we need to do before our time is up is to ask for what we wish, but always seek his will. We are not free until we abandon ourselves totally to God. Another reminder for us.
Again, on this Friday I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Jesus was hurt so much by those who falsely accused, scourged, ridiculed, insulted, and crucified him. Do you know that every time we sin, even though we do not hurt him physically, we likewise cause pain and agony to his heart? What basically hurt the Lord the most are ingratitude, not taking him seriously, hardened hearts, and disobedience.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
I see God as a wonderland for us to lose ourselves in, as it's an infinite space to explore, discover, and enjoy. Ideally, we should be aware of the Lord's dwelling in us and our dwelling in him and let the Holy Spirit initiate all our actions. Then everything will come forth from us naturally, following God's will. Of course, as humans, we always fall short. We fall asleep even as we pray or our thoughts wander even during Mass. Again, intention counts. I don't like to say that we should "strive" to be perfect, because the effective and right approach is to rest in the Lord even more, giving him the freedom to mold and shape us. This is taking advantage of the fact that nothing is impossible with him. Following Christ is truly exciting and relaxing at the same time. It's a unique journey.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Today's alternate Communion antiphon, Matthew 19.21: If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and follow me, says the Lord to the young man who wished to gain eternal life. If we do not actually do as advised by the Lord, we should at least be detached from all material goods to the point that we would be willing to give them up if need be. Again, intention comes into play.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 3, the Pharisees watched closely to see if Jesus would cure a man with a withered hand on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He asked them, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus restored the hand of the man. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. The generation today is like the Pharisees. Their hearts are hardened to the point that they no longer listen to reason. They act as if they are the righteous ones knowing more than God. How foolish can you be?
Jesus healed so many who were sick and disabled. None of them who asked to be healed used too many words; they just said, "Have pity on me," "I want to see," or something like that. It shows me that intention and faith count, not how many words we use. It's so good that the Lords knows our intention right away (all along).
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Our church is running the Alpha program. It consists of 11 sessions. Each session starts with a video presentation, followed by discussion in small groups. Today's second video presentation "Who Is Jesus?" is quite powerful. In fact, one participant commented afterwards that it hit him like a ton of bricks! If you are still not convinced about Jesus, watch this video to be challenged intellectually.
In today's reading 1 from 1 Samuel 16, God sent Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem to find the future king among his sons. The Lord told Samuel that while man judges from the appearance or lofty stature, he looks into the heart. While Samuel was impressed by the appearance of some of the seven sons present, the Lord did not chose any of them. Then Samuel had Jesse send for the youngest son, David, who was tending sheep. When he was brought to them, the Lord said to Samuel, "There – anoint him, for this is he!" Observations. First, God already knew whom to pick for what role. Secondly, God looked into the heart. Therefore, we must (1) trust in God's role for us and (2) make sure that our heart is presentable to him.
Monday, January 15, 2018
The love of God is crushing yet most sweet. And when you yield yourself totally to him, you experience the greatest possible freedom! This amazing God, the God of Christ, you must seek out, get to know, fall in love with, and hold onto forever!
Here is another mental picture I see. God full of love has his arms tirelessly outstretched, waiting patiently for us to go to him to be embraced by him. Many of us couldn't care less and don't even glance his way. Again, it is us who resist or ignore God, the God of Christ. Do not blame Satan. For Satan is an opportunist and sees you as a target only when you make yourself noticeable to him. Let God embrace you and you become invisible to Satan. My advice: Run to God while you still can!
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 2, people came to Jesus and asked, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day." We now know that Christ is with us always until the end of the age (read the last verse of Matthew), and we realize this especially when we receive him in the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, as disciples of the Lord, we experience constant joy. Anyone who is melancholy cannot be possibly be a genuine disciple.
Each one of us comes from a different background, receives an individual upbringing, and lives in a unique set of circumstances. When God, the only one who knows our soul, judges us, he takes all that into consideration and whatever we receive is exactly what we deserve. Therefore, his justice is perfect.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Someone I know suffers greatly in an unhappy marriage. The thing is you cannot make anyone live up to your expectations, as only God can fundamentally change a person. To make it happen, you must petition God, and before that, you must ask him to change yourself first if you wish to be taken seriously. The reason the world, the nations, the cities, the communities, and the families are in such chaos and disorder is because the interior of so many individuals is in chaos and disorder. Almost everyone nowadays is so busy judging and blaming others that hardly anyone bothers to examine his own conscience anymore. Here is another awakening we need to bring peace to the world.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 2, some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." I believe that all of us know that we are not perfect and holy, which means that we are sinners and need God's mercy to be saved by him. This becomes increasingly clear to me as I age. Unfortunately, most people live so much for this life that the need for salvation just doesn't occur to them until things go really badly or their life is under threat. Some awaken early and some later; still, others never do. I hope this message will help awakening those who are still asleep.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 1, Jesus healed a leper and said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleaning what Moses prescribed." The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report so much that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. Here is a case of emotion overriding obedience to the Lord. The other instance I recall appears in Matthew 16. After Jesus first revealed to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer greatly, and be killed and then be raised, Peter rebuked him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." Jesus turned to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." We human beings are so used to following our emotion and forgetting what God wants us to do. Self-directed emotion must be set aside to clear the way for total obedience to the Lord.
It is only fair that you do not reject Christ before you even had a chance to taste him. If you see a dish of possibly delicious food served, you'll never know if it truly tastes good or not until you have tried tasting it. But I do suspect that people reject Christ mostly because they are not ready to deal with their sinful state yet.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
When Jesus saw Peter and his brother Andrew fishing at the Sea of Galilee, he said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Likewise he called the two brothers James and John in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. Peter, Andrew, James, and John are models for us to follow. Responding to God's call immediately without hesitation is the most beautiful act we can perform this side of heaven. There is nothing more rewarding than pleasing our Father.
We are simple human, limited in what we can do, while the Lord God is boundless in what he can do and is so high above us that his infinity and greatness are beyond our comprehension. To think that we know so much that we don't need him anymore is sheer folly! Do you keep your own heart beating and your own lungs pumping? If you think so, then how come you have absolutely no control over them?
If a human friend donates an organ to save your life, you would feel grateful and treat the donor as one of your best friends. Now God has donated his own life so that you may live for all eternity! Shouldn't you at the very least treat him as a friend too?
Our God is completely approachable. Whatever barrier there is between him and you is set up by you, not him. He has so made us that we can never be truly happy until we find and rest in him. He has really given us all he can possibly give us, and is ready to enter union with us. This is our most lovable Lord.
Monday, January 8, 2018
I've been advocating focusing upon God alone under all circumstances. Even in petitioning for a favor from God, concentrate upon him and not think about our problem or wonder if, when, or how he is going to grant our request. Do not let anything detract your attention from the Lord one iota.
I am most impressed by Christ the Lord who came into the world, but did not treat us as if we were lowly creatures and he was the high and mighty God. On the contrary, he lived among us and suffered for us as the meekest and humblest servant of us all. This is why to me he is awe-inspiring!
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and became one of us. If you are not sure that this is true, that's because you do not have faith in him yet. What's amazing is that when you believe in him first, he will let your know in your heart without a doubt that this is true.
Today is The Baptism of the Lord/Feast. Reading 1 was chosen from Isaiah 55, containing these two verses, 8 & 9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. With this understanding, we should never question the Lord why this or why that, for his understanding and comprehension of all things is infinitely superior to ours. While he knows the past and sees the future, we only think that we know what we can sense at any moment. Our duty is to believe, trust, and follow the Lord, the God of Christ.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
When you let God into your life, wonderful things happen. He becomes an integral part of you. What a wonderful feeling when he cleanses or transforms you! How sweet it is to hear his voice in your own heart! How soothing it is to be humbled by him and exhilarating to be exalted by him! Let him immerse you completely in his love so that you may enjoy him to the fullest!
Today is the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles when the Magi paid homage to the infant Jesus. Epiphany means "a showing forth." My personal epiphany today is realizing that in Christ we have our perfect rest. When we rest in him, our sins are removed, our heart purified, our soul healed, our spirit freed, our eternity settled, all our burden lifted, and our peace restored. We fulfill both God's desire and our own secret wish. We are now completed by him.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Just got back from attending a funeral Mass for a close friend of my wife's. Her death came unexpectedly. This teaches us never to think that we'll have enough time on earth to do all the things we want to do. With limited time, we must consider what we should take care of first. We spend time either serving God or money, building up treasures in heaven or not, getting our eternal destination settled or not. It's never too early to deal with what's critical to our eternal wellbeing. This is being both truly farsighted and realistic.
Friday, January 5, 2018
Today's Communion antiphon, Matthew 19.29: Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life, says the Lord. Here is Jesus' promise. If you realize that sometimes your own family is even more important than yourself, why not give up yourself first? Then everything else will follow. The Lord has placed eternal life completely within our reach!
In today's Gospel reading from John 1, Jesus called Nathanael. Philip first found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Nevertheless, he went with Philip to see Jesus. Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael was bowled over and answered, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this."
We can all see great things if we follow the Lord faithfully. This is precisely what makes seeking union with God so exciting. The great thing here is seeing that God can actually transform us, and experiencing it is what makes our discipleship exciting. Never a dull moment, that's for sure!
Last night I did not fall asleep right away. As I stayed awake in darkness, I suddenly saw that human souls are continuously departing from this world. With the world population over 7 billion, I have no idea how many souls are leaving every minute or second, but the number should be high enough that the movement would appear to be continuous. Of course, in no time we'll be joining that line ourselves. My thought is that we should definitely plan well now so that when we cross over to the other side and face the Lord, we will be directed to proceed toward heaven.
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Today's Communion antiphon, John 6.51: I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world. Again, at the Last Supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." I underlined "is" for emphasis, for nowhere in scriptures did Jesus ever use the word "symbolizes" in place of "is." Those who do not believe that the consecrated bread and wine are truly the body and blood of the Lord miss something really big. To me, just as I am assured that my sins are forgiven after receiving the sacrament of confession, I am assured that my union with the Lord is complete after I receive him in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Communion thoughts. Before Jesus breathed his last on the cross, he cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit!" This makes a perfect prayer for us to say during reception of the Holy Communion, for it expresses our willingness to entrust ourselves to the Lord.
I've advocated living for God alone and not caring about what people think of you. This is abandoning yourself in God. In that case, you ask the Lord for favors and are no longer concerned about when and how he is going to answer you. Thus, you banish all anxieties.
Have you ever thought about what your last words will be before you die? Some like to reveal their personal wishes and others, to confess their personal secrets, to others. It dawned on me today that I really should reserve my last words for Christ, whom I was soon to meet. I know what I shall say already, but that's going to remain personal.
In today's Gospel reading from John 1, John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. He has personally come and revealed to us all we need to know to be saved. He also foretold that false prophets would arise after him. Therefore, if any self-proclaimed prophet today add or subtract something to, or change what the Holy Church holds Jesus to be, dismiss him or her instantly. First of all, you can be sure that anyone who claims that Jesus is not divine serves the evil one.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
We all have a soul. When I look at the portrait of someone or the person directly for the first time, I can to a small extent sense what kind of person I am looking at. Of course, the more I get to know the person, the more I become sure about him or her. Nevertheless, I shall never know what's truly in his or her heart. But, the Lord, being our creator, knows everything about us – he sees the heart inside and out and even our soul, which is dearer to us than the heart. Even though I cannot read anyone as the Lord, I can picture a person with a pure heart and a spotless soul, constituting a most beautiful sight for the Lord to behold. And we know that any of us can be that soul, if only we'd let God do whatever he pleases with us.
Today's first reading at Mass came from 1 John 2. The apostle writes: "Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist." Many of us still have not fully accepted the Father and the Son. According to St. John, they are still not out of the antichrist camp yet. Let's realize that with God, it must be all or nothing. We either belong or not belong to him. On the day of judgment, we'll be either chosen as sheep or rejected as goats.
It is through the senses that we experience pleasure, revulsion, or other feelings; but when the Lord bypasses our senses and reaches directly for or touches our heart and soul, it is the greatest consolation and most satisfying feeling this side of heaven.
Monday, January 1, 2018
Happy 2018 to all! If you have not made any resolutions yet, how about resolving to go all out to love the Lord our God? Give him what he deserves, for he has already given us his only Son to us! Give God all you've got and all of yourself, and you'll live the most satisfying and rewarding life. I tell you, this is how God has made us. Give in, listen to him and follow him, and he is all yours. Make union with God your goal this year.
In today's second reading from Galatians, Paul writes, "As proof that you are sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father!" Therefore, if you can cry from your heart, not just saying, "Father!" it is proof that the Spirit of Christ dwells within your heart and that you are a child of God.
Today is Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is fitting to start the new year with this celebration to commemorate the Mother of Christ and our Mother. At Mass, we always pray to God to have mercy on us. It struck me today that this is such a simple, beautiful and powerful prayer if we say it with all our heart. It means we acknowledge that we are sinners and need God's help, that we trust in him, and that we are totally dependent upon him. It is truly an all-encompassing prayer.