When you become immersed in reading and reflecting the Gospel, you will note that living in this world is full of contradictions. In other countries, with the cyclic nature of the seasons you don’t always feel sad when winter is coming, because you know that in a while the birds start chirping and it’s the start of spring once again.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (Jn. 12: 24-25).
In these verses, our Lord emphasized the need to look beyond our temporal life here on earth. Here our good deeds done for love gain for us blessings for eternal life. While it is really Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice that saved us from death, we are required to participate in His work of redemption. That’s why life should always be put in perspective. As pilgrims, it is important that we shouldn’t get distracted in the views and sights we see along the way. Lest we fall by the way side.
The message of the Gospel is also about us dying to ourselves in order to gain eternal life. Never counting the costs of loving God and neighbor. Or standing up for our faith when the situation calls for it.
When I was still a little child I remembered that when I went to the school library for the very first time, I got so engrossed by the big collection of books I saw inside the shelves that I lost track of time. I checked on every title and publication that I didn’t notice it was already getting dark. It was past beyond my time to go home, that I had to explain to the folks at home that I was inside the library.
At times our lives can get a turn like that. We become so engrossed with earthly concerns that we forget attending to God’s business, when it should be top priority, or Job No. 1.
During this Lenten Season, let’s do Jesus a favor. Let’s spend time in the Blessed Sacrament and commune with Our Lord and Savior. He deserves our time as we prepare ourselves to commemorate His Passion, Death and Resurrection — the ultimate proof of His love. He deserves no less.
Have you asked yourself if you are constructing a vital and significant legacy upon your last adieu? We have been gifted with life. Be passionate and involve others to create a brighter future for the next generation.
It’s been a blessed fifty-six weeks since ChampWise first came up and throughout these reflections, the theme has always been inspired by what my Religious Education teacher calls the Gospel-in-a-Nutshell:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn. 3: 16)
This verse, if any, is one that should be read and put to heart by all the faithful in the Church.
According to Theodore Mopsuestia, Bishop, “To show the greatness of the passion, Saint Paul says, “If they had known him, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor. 2: 8). In giving Jesus that title, he wanted to reveal the greatness of the Passion. In the same way, in order to show the lavishness of his love through the sufferings he endured, our Lord very rightly declared: “God gave his only Son.”
Because of this, God’s salvation is a gift that we can’t claim to be our own. We must, in all humility, strive to obey what God requires us to do.
Jesus further said,
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (Jn. 3: 17 -21)
This now demands response. The importance of faith and action is brought to the fore. We cannot continue being wanderers, we must resolve to do better. Our faith must be nurtured in order to grow. It must be enriched continuously in order for us to reach the light. The fullness of our sharing in God’s work of salvation requires us to do good and avoid evil as well.
It isn’t enough to avoid evil, but it is equally important to do good. Examples of this are: giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, welcoming the strangers, clothing the naked, caring and visiting the sick and the prisoners. If we look at the list, we are eventually showing love for neighbor, which is putting into concrete reality our own response to God’s redeeming love for us. Did you notice that when we do these, we are already reciprocating God’s love for us? And that we are already in a way, showing love for God?
In this season, let us pray in a special way that the Holy Spirit give us the strength to do good, while avoiding evil, in order to become fine examples of God’s love to others, especially those needing His redemption. May the Holy Spirit give us the special strength to spread and defend the Faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.
This was my first time to attend Fr. Armand’s recollection sessions. I really enjoyed everything about it. It was very enlightening and enriching. I will share my insights to my friends and also thru social media. Thank you Fr. Armand for the inspiration.
Ms. Mian Alentajan, San Miguel Brewing International Ltd. (SMBIL)
Living ends up meaningless unless we see it as part of the great design if the Divine. We need to be in a community to assure us and strengthen our faith. Alone, we can not understand everything. Life is always a “family affair”.
This Sunday’s first reading talks about the Ten Commandments, wherein God commands the Israelites to love God and neighbor. Since time immemorial, man has always fallen out of love again and again and into committing disobedience to his Maker. This passage tells us that God is a “jealous God”, and that He would punish those who “rebel against Me”, but will show “steadfast love to those who love Me and keep my commandments”. (Ex. 20: 1-17).
Last Christmas, my family and I had the great blessing of visiting the largest Marian Shrine in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington D.C. I am so amazed at the size and the grandeur, plus the fact that inside the Basilica are more than 70 chapels and oratories (imagine 70!). When entering the door of the Church, you can see the main altar look really, really far away. Yet, the majestic image of Christ the King in the main altar, gives you a feeling of being in awe and great admiration. This edifice is really huge and grand! Plus the fact that splendid organ music makes you really feel both extremely happy and humbled amidst the majesty of God’s house. A song book is also available in the pews for easy reference to the sacred hymns being played by a professional choir which performs regularly there.
In the Gospel, when Jesus went to the temple, he found people selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers as well at their businesses. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” (Jn. 2: 13 -25).
This reading is one of the most dramatic scenes in that here we see an angry Jesus — angry because God’s dwelling place was made into a den of thieves. During those times, temples and public squares were the usual places where people converge. As such, they use these places to conduct trade and exchange of goods. The people seemed to ignore the fact that they were using the temple as a place of commercial activity. They can’t reconcile that this is not an ordinary place and that this is God’s house. Even today, people aren’t as respecting the presence of God in Church.
We are being reminded to give due respect and honor to God. We are encouraged to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Most of our churches have Adoration Chapels so designed for us to immerse in God’s holy presence. This is the most precious treasure in our churches, as we are in the presence of the One, Living God.
Temples that are being desecrated need to be purified. Like the old temple, as “temples of the Holy Spirit”, we also need to be purified from the darkness of sin, the presence of which prevents us from giving a holy offering to the Lord. Sin prevents us from receiving the fullness of God’s grace. Despite God’s undying and patient love, man’s response has always been cold and indifferent. Or maybe fickle-minded and unfaithful, always failing to see the wisdom of obeying and loving God firmly as His saints did in their lifetimes. We have always failed to see the pearl of great price in our midst!
As time brings us closer to the Holy Week of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, let us purify our hearts and souls so that we can fully tap God’s awesome power in our lives. God isn’t conditional in His love. He values us so much and this hasn’t changed a bit. Sinners as we are,He still continues to shower us with blessings abundantly every minute, every hour, every day. Unfortunately though, we can only savor and realize these blessings when we have removed the shell of sin, which prevents us from receiving God’s grace. We feel powerlessness engulf us, and prayer seems ineffective. Just like the rain that falls to water the earth, may we be ready to accept and receive God’s love flowing continuously into our lives. By going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. By reuniting with our God who has patiently waited for quite a time already.
Let’s therefore heed His call; let’s seek Him while He is near.
In life, things have a way of piling up at the same time. Summon the courage to define what is important and those that can be set aside. Don’t rush! Stay in control.