Listen to His Voice

Reading today’s Gospel may give the impression that what Jesus says contradicts His other pronouncements. In the Gospel of St. John, the Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn. 14: 27), yet this is the opposite of what He proclaims today.

In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 12: 49-53), which is a continuation of last Sunday’s; the Lord said,


Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

The Lord is actually saying that not everyone will accept or practice what He preached. In fact, just after Jesus’ time, the Jewish religion was divided and separated. The Jews have always referred to themselves as the “chosen people” and have expected the Messiah to be a future leader or king from the line of King David.

So it was then, so it is now. There will be misunderstandings amidst false prophets continuing to have their own ways of interpreting the Gospel that they borrowed from the Church, causing further division. Religions and sects are sprouting here and there falsely claiming divine origin as a way to attract followers. Yet God’s message isn’t something one picks in the Scriptures to suit his particular agenda but is Divine Revelation chosen by Him at an appropriate time and place. It isn’t based on human understanding but an inspiration given by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel will be preached until the end, and so it’s up to those who refused to acknowledge “The Way” how the Lord wants it to be. The prophet Isaiah said,

“…for my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh.” (Is. 55: 8)

The Lord speaks to us in many ways and we just have to prepare ourselves to discern correctly. It is a gift of grace to understand the leading of the Holy Spirit and it depends on our openness and humility to listen and as well as the readiness of our souls to receive Him. In His unlimited love for us, Yahweh has always wanted to be intimate and bring us closer to Him. In his latest book “Intimacy Brews”, prolific writer and spiritual adviser Fr. Armand Robleza shares that,

We did not ask for Jesus; the Father gave Him to us. Intimacy is and will always be His initiative. Discipleship then is welcoming and surrendering to His love.”

Knowing that, then it goes without saying that we must respond to this intimacy request just like we respond to some long-lost friend asking for a friend request in Facebook. It will not be smooth though, for God will comfort the lonely, the broken-hearted, the poor and the oppressed, but He will also disrupt those in their comfort zones in order for them to listen and change their attitude of passive indifference.

Last night while I was eating my routine dinner, a young girl in High School approached me saying that she is selling a set of colored pens in her spare time in order to support her studies. While I haven’t verified if she’s really a student or not (she actually looks like one), I parted some of the money I have at that time to help her. I thought she was delighted and I prayed she will be blessed with her struggles to go to school. We cannot be single-minded about helping others knowing that God will use these moments to bless others just as He blesses us as we willingly become His instruments of goodness and cheer. You just have to take the view of God to act like His messenger.

Looking at the more challenging situations, there will be times you will be oppressed for voicing out your objections to injustice and suffering. In the First Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah was sentenced to suffering and possible death and was thrown into the cistern of Prince Malchiah. The prophet was later rescued by the king upon the intercession of Ebed-melech, a court official. When encountering the same trials and challenges, let us be comforted by the thought that the Lord will hear our cry, as He did to the Prophet Jeremiah,

The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; he set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps.” (Ps. 40: 2-3)

Today, let us pray for the strength and courage to stand our ground against injustice and suffering. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us through in these confusing and difficult times. We pray that we be wise and discerning to listen to His voice in the scheme of everyday life.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10: 27)

What Is Your Life’s Greatest Treasure?

Knowing what is essential and important in life isn’t easy. Sometimes in the midst of difficulties, you wonder why others seem to get it so easily. Then you begin to realize that they are not doing their stuff fairly. They illegally and immorally accumulate and gain wealth. They resort to all sorts of unlawful activities just to get what they want and without thinking of the consequences of their actions. They employ criminal and illicit activities just so they achieve their earthly desires. These activities are done beyond the public eye to protect themselves and deceive others by appearing proper and good. Their outside appearance is completely the opposite of what they really are and thus their deception is something people have to be wary about. Unfortunately, this hypocrisy can mislead and even influence others badly. These contradictions can make people confused and wanting. Thus, we need a reminder, an alternative, sort of a checklist of what to be cautious about and how to know we are on the right path.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 12: 32-48), Jesus said to his disciples:


Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom. 
Sell your belongings and give alms. 
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be
.”

The Lord is reminding us of our life objective. Of our life’s “real” purpose, the raison d’ etre. There are so many distractions that this world brings us such that the road to Heaven can get blurry and hazy. Being our Creator, God is reminding us to persevere the challenges and trials, to share to the needy and the poor, thereby “investing” spiritually for Eternity.

Also, He reminds us of the need to be ready at all times. Doing other things that do not conform to God’s will can be fatal as our time is one thing we don’t have control of. We don’t know the time or the hour death will strike, it can come in an unexpected day and at an unknown hour.

Finally, Jesus is asking us to become stewards and evangelizers of the Kingdom. We are called to serve Him well, as doing the opposite will spell disaster. The Lord’s reminders include a stern warning that He “will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful”. Therefore, you need to be alert since your time is limited and anything you do, you have to be accountable for it in the end. Considering you have received the Word of God and yet you choose to disobey Him, you will be doomed:

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely.”

For some who are more gifted and more provided, more will be required by God:

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

To overcome these challenges, we are reminded to obey God and to exercise our faith. In the Second Reading (Heb. 11: 1-2, 8-19) the writer tells us of Abraham, one of the perfect examples of obedience. His obedience was total as he went out to a place directed by Yahweh, without even knowing where his destination is,

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” 

This Sunday, ask yourself, “What is my life’s greatest treasure?”

Let us pray for the gift of wisdom so that we will be able to see life’s challenges from the eyes of faith, as Abraham did. Let us pray to be constantly ready and not waver. Let us pray to remain faithful to God, no matter the cost.

Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Mt. 24: 42a, 44)

Seek What Is Above

Without ever realizing it, handling material wealth is one of the most difficult challenges one can ever have. It can be a temptation and a distraction to the more important aspirations of life. Indulging and mishandling it can bring us farther from God and can destroy our relationships with family and friends. It can result to greed, avarice and envy.

Just recently there’s this news of corporate squabble among members of a wealthy family who owns a prominent bus company in the Philippines. It is sad because it splits the family and opens their what used to be private life into the public eye. Truly it is difficult as each family member would demand what is legally and rightfully theirs. Communication may not be quite good while growing up hence there may be some deeply-rooted division early on. It is then a warning for other parents to ensure that these matters are prepared properly and effort must be exerted for better understanding early on. Also, bringing up the children well with regards the values of respect, fairness, justice and love among family members is crucial. It involves role modeling, leadership-by-example and regular discussions when similar situations arise at home. Parents and elders should be quick to take the moment to educate when opportunities to do present itself.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 12: 13-21), someone was asking Jesus to help by telling his “brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied rather sarcastically telling him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then the Lord warned the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

When you’ve been through difficulties and challenges, you may without realizing it be truly blessed. You are more prayerful, more conscious of helping others, and more grateful of the blessings you receive. Compare this with somebody who is rich but isn’t gifted with wisdom and discernment and so is prone to greed and arrogance. He is more conscious of gaining more wealth and possessions as he isn’t contented with what he has. So it becomes a vicious cycle of gaining more and keeping it by himself rather than sharing with others.

Our society today admires the rich and disregards the poor. The drive to be richer becomes a sickness rather than an instrument for goodness and sharing. Until you realize at the sunset of your life that you can’t bring the wealth with you to the grave. You realize your foolishness when it’s almost late. It’s good if circumstances allow you to make corrections, but when life takes a sudden cut, there goes the opportunity to reform and make amends with God. There will be (late) regrets over lost and wasted opportunities to help others in need. It’ll be the classic line in the Gospel,

“God said to him,


You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

 
The temptation for temporal things is big. It’s difficult to resist comfort, enjoyment, power, prestige and possessions. These are desirable but the conscience to help the poor and the suffering in our midst must not be ignored. In the First Reading (Ecc. 1:2; 2:21-23), the author gives us the hint on how to know when you’ve been “eaten” by your possessions. It’s when,

All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest.” 

Thus, we must be mindful and sensitive of who we’ve become. We need to be prayerful and allow the Spirit to move us to help and share. As St. Paul said in the Second Reading (Col. 3: 1-5, 9-11),

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.”

This Sunday, let us pray that God will grant us the grace to be loving and caring for others. May we “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 5: 3)

Pray, Pray and Pray

When I first started talking as a little boy, I remember my Mom taught me how to pray. My aunts followed this through, and one of the earliest prayers I learned is the Lord’s Prayer, together with the Hail Mary, the Glory be, and the Prayer to our Guardian Angel. Dosing off to sleep wasn’t possible unless I have said my prayers. My parents, aunts and Lola (when my parents were away) made sure that this “protocol” is done. So these prayers have roots and have become habits until now.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 11: 1-13), one His disciples was asking Jesus,


Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test
.”

This prayer is passed on to us and we’ve seen its simplicity and effectiveness so to speak. It tells us how to pray and what we should say when we pray. For others, praying is just like asking God as if “ordering” something out of a menu. Just like a little kid praying for food and toys. Yet it shouldn’t be that way. God’s omnipotence already tells Him what we like and what we need. He’s our Creator and it’s His call to grant our prayer, give a “No”, or “Wait”. He’ll always be looking at what things are good for us, not only at the moment, but for developing our characters and souls. It’s always about Heaven and Eternity, and there’s no other way. Our Eternal Happiness matters the most so that He’ll be reunited with us someday. Purifying ourselves here so that we’ll have the “license” to face Him when it’s time. For how can we have the courage to meet Him considering our own sinfulness and blemishes?

In the First Reading (Gn. 18: 20-32), the Lord was telling Abraham that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grave,

 “… that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.”

Then Abraham drew nearer to the Lord, asking Him,


Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty
Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;
would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it
for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it

Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to make the innocent die with the guilty
so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike

Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?” 


The Lord replied,


If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again, in all humility asking God,
 
What if there are five less than fifty innocent people
Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” 

He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.”

But Abraham persisted, continued asking, and the Lord relenting until it was,

 
What if there are at least ten there?” He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

God’s love for us is so deep and unfathomable. For Him, the one last “innocent” soul is important. In the Second Reading (Col. 2: 12-14), St. Paul tells us that,


And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He brought you to life along with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, He also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.”

God cares for you deeply that He will do whatever it takes to get you out of the enemy’s grasp. He will allow sickness to engulf you, bankruptcy to level you and loneliness to bring you back to His side. For Him a decade or even a lifetime is but a zeptosecond compared to Eternity. (While we know of a millisecond as a thousandth of a second, and a nanosecond as a billionth of a second, there’s another measurement of time that makes both of them “look slow”. For the first time, Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics at the Technical University of Munich have been able to measure something in a zeptosecond, or a trillionth of a billionth of a second.) (www.huffpost.com)

As we pray, let us persevere, as the Lord has taught us that the more we pray and pray, provided we have sought forgiveness from our transgressions through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the more He yields and weakens to answer our prayers. As Jesus said to conclude the Gospel,

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

This Sunday, let us pray that God grant us the wisdom to accept His will for our lives, trusting that it will bring us closer to Him. May we realize that God loves us so deeply that He only wants us to be happy and joyful. May we share His message of love to others as His children and creation.

You have received a Spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8: 15bc)

Maintain Balance

Most of us are always in a rush day in and day out, week in and week out. We rush to work, we rush to get home, we rush to finish chores, we rush everything. We are just relentless in pursuing the tasks we face each day. While it is a good one to achieve our jobs and careers, one should find a way to pause for the “more” important elements in life.   

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 10: 38-42),

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at His feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the servingTell her to help me.” 

The Lord said to her in reply,

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Martha was so driven by the tasks that she was really into completing it efficiently (sounds familiar?). In doing this, she became so burdened and anxious that she demanded to the Lord to tell her sister “to help” her. It was good that Jesus reacted as patient and as caring as He is and didn’t react like the way we do when we are confronted with the same situation. Instead, the Lord focused on the reason why Martha was upset. The Lord pointed out that “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

In the same degree even in our own service community, we are often guilty of the same thing. We become too worried about a lot of things, such that we also forget that what we’re doing is the Lord’s work. He knows when to bring in the harvest and when to stretch us in order to develop our patience. We must have to find a way to understand what is going on at the moment. We just have to learn how to trust Him more.

We hear of many people sacrificing time with loved ones and family for the purpose of earning more for them. It is a noble intention yes, but if in the process you miss providing the presence of a parent, a spouse, a sibling, etc., you miss the chance of being mindful of what is needed at the moment.

In the First Reading (Gn. 18: 1-10a), Abraham was quick to recognize the Lord appeared to him as he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. He even ran to greet them and bowed to the ground to invite them to experience his hospitality. He offered the three men water to bathe their feet, rest, food consisting of bread rolls, choice steer, curds and milk. He waited on them while they ate. Genuine service and humility in action.

When one is in prayer and in tune with God, he sees events and happenings better than others, and is usually given premonitions and warnings. He is more “in the zone” of God.

More often when I invite people to join a prayer afternoon, or a Holy Week recollection, I often hear the excuse, “I’m so busy I still have something to do”, or “I have to check something”. You see them spend so much time at work, 365 days a year. And yet there’s not really much on their plate, they’re just not maintaining a good balance in life. If you notice, we can get trapped working on things that are superficial — things that money can’t buy — and yet spend less time on the things that can’t be bought by money. We all need to work to provide for our families, but there should also be time spent for them, friends, exercise, health, relaxation, study, prayer and attending Church activities. We need to show others how we care, how we share, how we love, and more importantly, how we prioritize the Lord above all else.

This Sunday, let us pray that we may be able to discern well the decisions that we have to face. We pray that the Holy Spirit grant us the wisdom to choose the more important aspects. We pray that we maintain balance in our life.

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” (Lk. 8: 15)

Loving God, Loving Others

Yesterday’s session of “The Well” which is held regularly at the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians was as usual an enlightening one. Fr. Rene Lagaya, SDB, did a very good job of sharing his learnings and insights on Hebrew culture, the significance of one’s name, the Law, and many more in a short but meaningful afternoon.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 10: 25-37), a scholar of the law asked several questions to Jesus. One of which is, “And who is my neighbor?” The Lord answered by way of a parable, telling a story about how a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan traveler responded to the situation upon seeing a man who was stripped, beaten and left half-dead in the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Reflecting on the story can make you think that even in those times people must be as busy as we are in the present day, such that we ignore helping others because “we have other things to do”. The priest must be “in a hurry to lead worship”, or the Levite “must be busy in keeping the Temple in order”, such that they evade helping a man who was almost dead. Not the Samaritan traveler though, who was caring and compassionate, even paying the inn to take care of him. The Samaritan must be as busy as the others and yet he took time to save the man from dying on the road. He was compassionate, caring and loving.

Many times we can be like the priest or the Levite in the parable. More often when we are being besieged by work and career, we ignore giving time and help to others. We focus on what we want to achieve.

Are you doing right when you ignore help when necessary? In the Gospel, when a scholar of the law stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with a question “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

The answer most of us already know. For those who studied early education in Catholic schools you must have memorized this already since grade school:

You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.

How do we become consistent then?

In the recollection yesterday, Fr. Rene clearly responded that it is not much on “what we want to do, but on what the Lord want us to do”. Despite our careers, our lives should be Christ-centered rather than ego-centered. God wants us to submit to Him and He’ll take care of the rest. The Samaritan traveler showed us that despite his busyness, he took the time to care for the wounded and dying Jew. Take note that Jesus was talking about a Samaritan, people who were discriminated and despised by the Jews at that time. The Lord was talking on a very important message that kindness is to be for everyone, even our enemies. Fr. Rene observed that “loving” God is easy for the rich and the mighty in society. They shower the Church with donations, give so much their time, and yet the difficulty is in “loving the neighbor”.

It is more convenient for you to be friendly with people outside your home and yet do not reflect this kindness with people and neighbors surrounding you. Yet people who are genuinely happy and successful at life are also authentically caring and compassionate. They reflect Christ’s love to others.

When you don’t follow God’s commandment to love others, how then can you claim to love Him with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind?

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Jn. 6: 63c, 68c)

Live to Proclaim Jesus!

When I was still new in my other community, I would delight in participating in the various missions entrusted to us. My wife and I have both experienced running the Kids and the Youth ministries that is why it is still one of our advocacies. Whether in Metro Manila or in Pampanga we would be actively involved and love the idea of working to bring young people closer to the Lord. Then came the Code of Champions, the Baristas which is now being integrated into Peaceworks103.

Most of us always have the notion that mission work is only for priests, bishops and other missionaries. This is wrong. What most people do is just try fulfilling Mass obligation, and then afterwards are off to their respective plans for the rest of Sunday. The same routine is done week in and week out. We don’t fill in work for God, contented that the Church will do it on its own.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 10: 1-12, 17-20), the Lord sent out seventy-two ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit. Note that in the previous chapter of this Gospel of St. Luke, the Lord already sent out the Twelve for mission. Needless to say, Jesus is telling us to do our share in the Gospel ministry. It is also our work to make Christ known to the world. In the last verse of today’s Gospel, Jesus said,

Behold, I have given you the power totread upon serpentsand scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.”

The Lord is talking about the end result of it all, which means that it is for our own good if we participate in the missionary work of the Lord. If the disciples are sort of “guaranteed” Heaven, then it means we can also gain God’s approval if we do it. It’s worth doing then for the love of God, right?

But do you need to go literally on preaching to participate in this endeavor? Actually there are many ways of sharing in God’s work. You can join your Parish’s organizations and serve in its various ministries like the Couples for Christ (CFC), the Adoracion Nocturna, the Knights of Columbus (K of C), the Catholic Women’s League (CWL), the Mother Butler Guild or the visible ministries at Mass like the Lectors and Commentators, Eucharistic Ministers of the Holy Eucharist, the Music Ministry, the Knights of the Altar and others. More importantly, once you assimilate into the service life of the Church, you will notice a change in your attitude. You will discover that your lifestyle and actions are more effective than the service or preaching that you do. People won’t listen much unless you live what you preach. This change of heart and mindset is the more important benefit of serving God. There’ll be less of the arrogance and more of the humility. As St. Paul said in the Second Reading (Gal. 6: 14-18),

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” 

Your life then becomes a more effective way of sharing the Gospel to others.

This Sunday, let us pray that we be inspired to serve the Church in a more dynamic way. May we remain grounded in the work that we do. May the Lord guide us all the days of our service.

Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col. 3: 15a, 16a)

Do Not Fear, God is in Control!

Many times in our ministries we feel our efforts being unrewarded. We feel the strain on our shoulders, the time we’ve spent in the preparation seems long and so we reach the point of almost giving up. However, what we always forget is that the work we’re doing is not solely ours. We forget to pray for His guidance and the leading of the Spirit. Coming from our corporate experiences and training we always try to create a “perfect” plan the way we always do at work. We measure success by the metrics we are used to having. What we often neglect to consider is that the Lord may have a different purpose in the particular mission in time. He may have other things in mind that we can’t still appreciate at the moment. Thus, it is important to pray and discern what He wants. It is difficult but at the end of the day, just look at it from the point of faith and a complete and total trust in the Lord.

In the Gospel (Lk. 9: 51-62), the disciples James and John were furious when the reception of the people were less than hospitable. They asked,

Lord, do you want us to call down fire from Heaven to consume them? Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.”

We can see our frustrations in James and John such that there are times we want to send “lightning and thunder” to others. Yet Jesus showed and reacted differently; this is not the way to do it. After all, this is God’s work and He is still in control.

The Lord also reminded us on what commitment to Him is all about. He asks us to focus on our specific “operation” of the moment and not be distracted by the concerns of the world. He reminds us,

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Being a follower of Christ demands commitment and God requires no less. When we’ve committed ourselves to Him, there are just so many things to do that we can’t anymore look to what’s left behind every now and then. But we love Him this much, right? Our love for Him would be enough to bring us through in our own missionary journey. To encourage us that we can “survive”, He gives us a “tip”:

I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”

The Holy Spirit is with us to guide us all the way. The Lord has gifted us with this powerful ally in our earthly battles spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Armed with this knowledge, today, reset your focus on what the mission is all about. Remind yourself that Jesus is in control, and this is His work. He knows what’s important in the works of the Kingdom. He knows the way to succeed. Additionally, He knows what we’re experiencing having experienced everything while He was on earth.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to persevere in our work for God. Let us pray for the gift of humility to acknowledge our own limitations.

Let us pray for the gift of wisdom for us to know and understand the Lord’s will for our missions.

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.” (1 Sm. 3: 9, Jn. 6: 68c)

His Presence is Real!

At the start of Chapter 9 of St. Luke’s Gospel, the Lord summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and then sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He gave them explicit instructions on the apostolic journey and they set forth from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. When the apostles returned, they explained to Him what they had done. Then Jesus took them and withdrew in private to a town called Bethsaida. The crowds though knew about this and followed Him.

Thus,

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and He healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached Him and said, Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”(Gospel Today: Lk. 9: 11b-17)

Obviously, the apostles weren’t prepared for this situation. They thought that since food is barely available than what is needed for everyone, they have to dismiss the crowd considering that the number was big, about five thousand men. The apostles thought that there isn’t enough food for themselves. Yet Jesus said,

Give them some food yourselves.

It’s human nature to think first about one’s self for fear that there isn’t enough. In times like this especially for those in mission, it’s easy to limit your thinking to what is in front of you. We hardly take the time to reflect and pray for a resolution to happen or the better thing to do is to discern God’s hand on what action should be taken further. That’s what Jesus did and He has always shown and proven to us that there’s enough for everyone. When we place ourselves under the Lord’s care, there’s no need to worry. Since the time of the Israelites the message of Yahweh has always been “Do not be afraid!” Instead of worrying, when we begin to shred off our selfishness and start thinking of others first, the graces and blessings will overflow. Fr. Armand has said time and again that the path to real happiness is not the one that involves making plans how to become happy, but rather, about how to make others happy. It is only when you make others happy will you start to realize that their happiness become your own source of happiness. The journey to a happy life stems from the attitude of giving ourselves to others.

Our Savior showed it best when He offered Himself as a ransom for many. He suffered and died on the Cross to save us from eternal damnation. Or, have you thought about the food that you ate today? Did you realize that in order for you to enjoy it, the fish, or the farm animal has to die first?

Before Jesus did the ultimate sacrifice He told His disciples,

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has Eternal Life, and I will raise him on the last day. For My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me.This is the bread that came down from Heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this Bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6: 53-58)

What a beautiful promise for those who partake of His Most Holy Body and Blood!  He left us these instructions which we’re honoring today, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. More importantly, He didn’t want to be just a memory, but to remain with us, physically. This is essentially the Catholic teaching of the “Real Presence” of the Lord in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, or “Transubstantiation”.

Today I remember fondly my First Communion after I had my First Confession, many, many years ago when I was still a young boy. For me, that’s one of the most important milestones in my life. It not only allowed me to partake of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist each time during Holy Mass, it also gave me access to God’s overflowing grace. Many miracles have been given to me and my family after spending time with the Lord in the Tabernacle. While I still sin like any ordinary person, I am confident that I am strengthened more and more as I continue to build on my faith. Many years after that First Holy Communion I went on to marry Alma, and I became witness to a woman who slowly became an ardent devotee of the Blessed Sacrament even more than I do. She visits the Tabernacle more often than I am and for that I’m eternally grateful to the Lord for this gift in my family.

How about you? Have you embraced the Holy Eucharist as a means of getting more intimate with Jesus? If Yes, keep it up and I’m sure you will become more rich in your faith. If No, it’s not yet too late, there is still time to nurture the love of Christ. You will never regret it, I guarantee you.

May this Solemnity strengthen our love for Jesus who is waiting for us in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. May we not lose sight of its Eternal Beauty and become more aware of this Treasure who is in our midst.

I am the living bread that came down from Heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6: 51)

The Most Holy Trinity

Ever since the Creation, as revealed in the New Testament, Man encountered God as Creator, Father, Lord, and Judge. Then, God “lived” on earth among men as God the Son. When the Lord was taken into Heaven at Ascension, the Holy Spirit filled the disciples with power and new life to take on the mission that Jesus Christ tasked them to complete. As you see, this doctrine is deeply complicated and remains a mystery not to be solved but to embrace by our faith in Him. Instead we should be consoled by the fact that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit will give us the grace of faith and inspire our lives to be guided towards our Father in Heaven. The readings today show us how the presence of God covers beyond time and imagination.

Indeed, one of the most challenging reflections to make is about the Most Holy Trinity, the Solemnity of which we celebrate today. It falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, and is one of the few feasts in the Christian calendar that celebrate a doctrine rather than an event. This perhaps is adopted by the early Christian Church because this is the only way to make sense of something so deep, so complex and so incomprehensible, and as a way of understanding the events that are revealed in the Holy Bible.

When I reflect on the Most Holy Trinity, I can’t help but be reminded of the vision shared by St. Augustine of Hippo,

St. Augustine was walking by the seashore one day contemplating the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he saw a little child running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a shell to carry water from the large ocean and pour it into a small pit that he had made in the sand. Augustine came up to him and asked him what he was doing. I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole,” the boy replied.“What?” said Augustine.That is impossible, my dear child, the sea is so great and the shell and the hole are so little.”

That is true,” the boy said. “It would be easier and quicker to draw all the water out of the sea and fit it into this hole than for you to fit the mystery of the Trinity and His Divinity into your little intellect; for the Mystery of the Trinity is greater and larger in comparison with your intelligence than this vast ocean in comparison with this little hole.” And then the child vanished.” (http://olmlaycarmelites.org/reflections/mystery-trinity)

For the faithful follower of God there’s no need to explain the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

In the Gospel (Jn. 16: 12-15), Jesus was telling His disciples that there’s much more to be told, but that the disciples cannot bear it now. He assures them that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide them to all truth. He then spoke about the unity of the Most Holy Trinity,

He will not speak on His own,
but He will speak what He hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine
;
for this reason I told you that He will take from what is mine
and declare it to you
.”

Jesus was simply giving an outline of how the Most Holy Trinity is across time. Something deep that the Lord simplified for us. Yet, it goes without saying that it is not for us to fathom this mystery. The mystery of how God can be Three Divine Persons. The perfect unity of the Triune God. Because it is impossible to explain it, we can be consoled by the fact that He is Supreme God and He can be Who He is. We can only reflect, pray and believe in Him.

May God guide us to all truth, bring us peace and union in Him, and share the life of the Trinity with us. May we pray unceasingly,

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come.” (Rv. 1: 8)

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