Do Not Fear

“No Fear”, is an American lifestyle clothing brand that was created in 1989 and whose popularity rose even without endorsement by popular celebrities. In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus said,

“Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Mt. 10: 26 – 28)

Fear can prevent us or make us think twice about doing what God has called us to do as Christ’s disciples. Anxiety and uncertainty can create fear in our hearts, as we may have been hurt from previous similar experiences. Being afraid shouldn’t translate into fear or being affected by it. Jesus assures that our faith in Him can triumph over fear if we listen to the Holy Spirit. He basically said that nothing happens “without the Father’s knowledge”. Yes, we are being assured that God is in control and that faith will prevail.

“Be not afraid”, “Fear not”, “Do not worry”, or the other versions of the message are said to be mentioned more than 365 times in the Holy Bible. This means that every single day, God is assuring us of His control over the events that are happening. Jesus is telling us to persevere through the sufferings and pains, because He did went through it. He’s telling us to fix our eyes on Him, at the Cross, and reflect on what He has suffered and endured because of His greater love for us. We’re encouraged to use His suffering to assure us we can get through our own trials, with His grace and protection — as long as we have faith in Him. Having faith means not worrying nor denying Him even at the cost of our own lives.

The Gospel’s message this Sunday is perfectly timed especially with the current state of the world we’re living in. If ever it happens, we should be prepared if God calls us to testify for Him.

“The Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify.” (Jn. 15: 26b-27a)

Having Eternal Life with You

It is said that before Jesus died on the Cross, there are two very precious gifts that He left us behind: the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual Food and Drink on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our mother on Good Friday. The importance of the Holy Eucharist is one that can’t be stressed enough. It is what makes the Catholic Church truly unique and authentic: our Lord left us the Sacrament which is a testament to His abiding presence as a loving God (Emmanuel, — God with us!). Through this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, our Holy Mother Church reminds us to learn more about the importance and value of the “Real Presence” of Jesus so that we may appreciate the Sacrament better and receive maximum graces from receiving Him.

Every time I get on a plane, I still marvel at the thought of how man started flying, how man ever became wiser and devoted study in physics and astronomy. While it has become “easier” today, the very idea of how technology developed into what it is now still amaze me. However, while flying into space is easier from the point-of-view of mankind, it is still not for everyone. How much more “living” in space, which is only for a chosen few!

Astronaut Mike Hopkins is one of those selected few and spent six months on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013. Initially though he was thrilled when he was chosen for a space mission, though there was one Person he didn’t want to leave behind: Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. He had been baptized a Catholic less than a year before his launch. He underwent Catechism, received the Sacraments, and thus after a long wait, was finally able to receive Our Lord through the Holy Eucharist. The mission into space gave him the prospect of being off the planet for half a year, he decided he had to find out if Jesus could travel with him. God works in mysterious ways, and He has a way of setting up people in your life who’ll turn out to be who you need to help. In Mike’s case, these people (many of them actually) helped him bring the Holy Eucharist to space! (http://www.ncregister.com)

Today, as we celebrate this important feast, let us celebrate our oneness with God every time we receive Holy Communion. In doing so, we bear Christ as Mary did, with the duty of bringing Him to others at home, in the workplace, and wherever we go through love, mercy, and humble service.

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

God’s Unending Love

If you look at the first letters of the titles of these reflections since Day 1, you’d notice that these spell out the message in today’s Gospel. One of my favorite verses since High School, I’ve always looked on these lines whenever I feel down or discouraged.

The love of God is at the core of His sending His Son Jesus into the world. The nature of this love is so central to God’s work, that He offers us the redeeming message to both believers and to those who feel that sin is a barrier to His’ saving Incarnation. When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, He is also speaking to us, much as our experiences show that at certain times in life we belong to either of these two categories.

While none of our daily experiences with God ever compare to the realization of Eternal Life through Jesus, these many ways of getting a glimpse of His love sustain us through the downs and challenges of life. The coffee in the morning, the sunrise that beckons His love throughout the day, the innocent smile on a baby’s face, or even the beautiful sunset; all these excite our hearts. We are always grateful to God for blessing us with these awesome everyday moments.

My life has long been blessed with remarkable moments that I feel this love transcend. Most would just shrug these off as coincidences, and not necessarily God’s love. For me though, God’s love is ever present and comes even in ordinary ways. These little moments, the little things that come off as surprises when we feel in need of assurance, answer to simple questions, or insights from everyday events.

Ours is not a cold and distant God – He is amazingly loving and is continuously sharing with us visible signs of His great and eternal love.

In the context of the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, the reading calls our attention to God who reveals Himself in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Father, out of love for the world, sent His Only Son into the world to redeem it from sin. Through the Son’s saving death and resurrection, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. As three Divine Persons, God acts always as the God of love; He does not condemn the world but acts to save it.

The Gospel also calls us to respond in faith by professing our belief in God’s Son, Jesus, and the salvation that He has won for us. Our response and profession of faith is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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

Experiencing The Holy Spirit

I just returned from the World Street Food Congress tonight and had difficulties getting the words in composing the first lines of these reflections. In times like this, my first (and only) refuge is the Holy Spirit, asking Him to inspire my heart so I can share this with His people. All the time He’d provide the spark that I need to reveal the insights coming out of simple everyday experiences that get us to notice the working of the Spirit in our lives. Today, our Parish did a unique way of celebrating Pentecost Sunday: each reading was done using a different language. The effect was fascinating enough to elicit wows from the faithful; it gave me a peep of what happened during that Pentecost. It touched me such that I felt no longer are we just Tagalog, Cebuano, Waray, Ilonggo, Bicolano, or Pangasinense, among others. No longer are we Filipino, American, British, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Kenyan. Starting on that First Pentecost and up through today, we are simply Christians. After Jesus’ resurrection, the pouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the start of something new. As the Psalmist tells us, “God sent down His Spirit, and renewed the face of the earth.”

We are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

Yes, today is the birthday of Holy Mother Church, the bride of Christ. Imagine, every Sunday about ~1.2 Billion Catholics hear the same readings and celebrating the same Mass and receiving the same Holy Eucharist that 1.2 Billion other Catholics around the world celebrate. It is truly amazing and an inspiring experience to witness the Holy Spirit at work in all these; at first glance it may seem different, but at the same time it is strikingly similar in that we use the same liturgy. It is and only can be, the work of the Holy Spirit and no other, though which we truly are many parts, One Body.

Let us continue to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to grant us the strength and discernment as we grapple with trials and difficulties in our daily pilgrimage. It is only the Holy Spirit that can provide the energy and enthusiasm that need to be replenished everyday as we share in His work here on earth.

“Come Holy Spirit, come!”