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)

Lord, My God, You Are Great Indeed!

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
” (First Reading Acts 2: 1-11)

It’s my first visit to Tokyo and thus goes with it the unfamiliarity and challenge of going around the train and subway system. At the start of the second day, one of my worries is on how I can find the route to a Church considering it’s the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday. I had to struggle with the idea considering there were places already set on the itinerary with limited time to find the way to Church, plus the fact that there were few that have English services. Naturally, these worries filled up my morning as my family were visiting tourist spots in Tokyo. After a visit to a shrine where we witnessed two weddings, I asked my daughter how’s our schedule looking like in the afternoon, to which she replied we don’t have that much anymore. That was the answer I prayed hard for so that it’ll be my turn to direct the remaining itinerary for the day. Surfing around the net to find a Church, what struck me was that there’s this St. Ignatius Church that we can devote locating the rest of the day. While we agreed we can still go there early evening, I took the chance of going earlier as there’s a 1:30 Mass. When we arrived there though, the Mass was already halfway through as the schedule on the website wasn’t followed as the Church is also celebrating today its 20th Anniversary.

Anyway, it still gave me that sense of fulfillment and affirmation from the Lord because while we weren’t conversant in Japanese, our familiarity with the Scriptures and the Holy Mass enabled us to understand what the Priest was saying during the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. And the Priest is not Japanese, but he’s speaking Nihongo so fluently that you won’t recognize he’s a Spaniard if you didn’t see him talk. What amazed me was that the Sacred Hymns played during the Mass were all familiar songs we learned during CFC days!

Later in the afternoon, with the active workings of the Holy Spirit, my family was able to meet a classmate from High School, after 39 years!!! Surprisingly, her daughter is scheduled to fly to Manila to attend school at Ateneo. Do you think these were all by coincidence?

Here’s more: In one of the recollections I attended facilitated by then Bishop Chito Tagle (now Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila), I remember him tell a story about how Filipinos’ close fellowship while working in a hospital abroad inspired a young woman to study Theology at Ateneo to understand more about the Philippines and its culture. She had learned from this group of Filipinos that what made them closer to each other is their love for Jesus Christ. And so because she wants to feel that love for God and the search for understanding what this “love of Christ” means, she went to study at Ateneo and curiously had a classmate by the name of Luis Antonio Tagle. Many years later when they met again, Bishop Tagle was so pleased to know she has risen in her Church to become like the Secretary of the Archbishop in her Church’s capital city. However, she was more surprised when she learned during the introduction of the Keynote Speaker, that classmate Chito is already a Bishop! (The good cardinal is one known for his humility and meekness, and stories abound about how he substitutes for priests in his Diocese riding a tricycle and without offering the information to the Church’s lay people who he is not until they ask his name for introduction at the start of Mass).

Anyway, it’s awesome for a woman who wasn’t a good communicator in English when she studied in the Philippines but became a willing servant of God years after she left the country. She came simply to study and understand a culture, not knowing that God had plans for her someday. She has unknowingly helped spread the Gospel in a big way.

Indeed, with the active workings of the Holy Spirit, the Church has continued to spread since that First Pentecost. Only by hearing the proclamation of the Sacred Scriptures did we know about what happened at that time. However, with the witnessing of the Apostles and the rest of the disciples who spread the Gospel to our land did we also arrive at a point when we were invited to the Church and transform our lives in a deep and personal way. By this changing of heart (“Metanoia”) and mindset did we allow the Holy Spirit to touch and enter our lives more intimately. With our opening to the Spirit of God, we allow Him to set our hearts on fire. By this we cooperate in the redeeming work of Jesus to change our life and others by the way we live.

On this Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, let us ponder and reflect on how the Holy Spirit has led us closer to the Holy Trinity.

May we pray unceasingly,

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD
the earth is full of your creatures.” (Ps. 104: 1, 24)

His Continuing Presence!

He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.” So goes the line in the Apostles Creed. Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel: Lk. 24: 46-53), wherein Holy Mother Church commemorates the Ascension of Jesus Christ. Before going up into Heaven, Jesus told the disciples,

“…repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

At this time, the disciples have already experienced so much confusion in their lives. They followed the Lord upon His calling, experiencing joys and happiness and were witnesses to the countless miracles in their missionary journeys. They were devastated when He was separated from them through His Passion and Death; felt triumphant in His Resurrection, and then He again leaves them? Remember in last Sunday’s Gospel (Jn. 14: 23-29), He was telling them that,

I am going away and I will come back to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.”

It is necessary for Jesus to go to the Father so He can send them the Holy Spirit. Thus, even if Jesus is physically away, through the Holy Spirit, He is continually present. The Ascension is a transition phase in the perfect plan of salvation. With His continuing presence, and with the ups and downs of life, He is always an inspiring presence through the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples will now have to pursue preaching the Good News of salvation (which they did). As faithful disciples, they gave up their futures and their lives for the Lord. They’ve travelled into a lot of places and preached the Gospel becoming witnesses to the Savior.

How about you, are you experiencing ups and downs in your life now? The message this Sunday is for you to completely trust in the Lord, no matter the situation you’re in. These phases of twists and happenings show something new, something different that you just have to reflect and marvel in awe of how God is taking you through these challenging events in your life.

A friend is having difficulties in choosing which job offer to accept, especially that there are contrasts and differences in the compensation and benefits. I advised her that the more pleasant job environment may not always offer the most attractive compensation package. Thus, her choice should be guided by wisdom and discernment. In the same token, when you are confronted with choices whether these be related to work, business or career, you just have to seek wisdom and discernment from the Lord through His Holy Spirit. 

Today, as we work in our missions, we are being assured of the Holy Spirit’s continuing presence. It means that even if we can’t see Him physically, His Spirit lives on and on to guide us through. Amidst the challenges and difficulties, we can only trust in His plans and marvel at the unfolding events that show His dominion over our lives and the rest of Creation.

Let us pray then for the strength to overcome difficulties and weariness. May He continue to refresh and inspire us. May we recognize His presence in the lives of people we meet. And may other people recognize Christ in us.

Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Mt. 28: 19a, 20b)

Do Not be Afraid!

Life in this world is troubling, challenging and at times frustrating. We are constantly beset by broken promises, betrayals, and unfortunate turn of events. A business deal turned sour, a dream job not forthcoming, or someone betraying you. Due to our weaknesses and frailties as part of our nature arising from original sin, we commit errors and wrongdoing and fail in our promises to the Faith. As a result, you can be anxious and afraid of what might be. It’s a cycle that repeats day in and day out.

This is why we need the Lord more and more in our beings.

Throughout my life I have the privilege of guiding friends and people I met. They’ve shared with me their hardships, insecurities and fears. One of the things that come out is the fact that there are many young people today who are restless and insecure. For most of them, the Lord is someone that seems distant and remote. There is a difficulty in getting intimate with Him. This is also true even with most parents and adults. This loneliness is compounded by the stresses of life e.g. coping with the demands of family, peers and work. It has become a depressing battle for most of them.

However, there is hope! There is a brighter future ahead if you choose Jesus over the rest of the world.

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 14: 23-29), the Lord addresses us through the continuation of the farewell discourse. He assures the disciples while He is still physically with them that He will send the Holy Spirit,

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

What the Lord promises is that the Christian life is not shaped by Christ’s absence but by God’s abiding presence, He is Emmanuel, God with us! This pledge should bring about a change of attitude: His continuing presence overcomes the fears and the anxieties about the absence of Jesus when He finally leaves them physically. He is forever alive. He is everywhere. That is why we are encouraged to visit Him in the Tabernacle, veiled as He eagerly waits for our visits. Our present and future should be shaped by this assurance and confidence that through His love we are guided, and there should not be a trace of fear in our hearts,

Peace be with you! My peace I give to you; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled! Do not be afraid!”

Let us pray then that by the grace of God we’ll be given the strength, fortitude and wisdom to overcome difficulties and challenges. That by Jesus’ assurance we may become more confident and hopeful viewing these trials as necessary to fortify and deepen our faith in the Risen Lord.

O God, let all the nations praise you!” (Ps. 67: 4)

Joy in Suffering

We have been taught about Eternal Life since our Cathecism prior to First Communion. Not only that, we have been reminded in an application in corporate trainings to “Begin with the End in Mind”. In this Sunday’s Gospel (Jn. 13: 31-33a, 34-35) St. John brought us back to that point during the Last Supper where Judas just left them. The Lord was giving like a farewell address, preaching to them the coming time when He will leave them. The Lord is painting a beautiful picture of what He will be after His Passion and Suffering,

Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.
If God is glorified in Him,
God will also glorify Him in Himself,
and God will glorify Him at once.

Jesus reminded them of their identity as Christ’s followers,

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.

Just a few days ago, my favorite team achieved a milestone in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association, its fifth straight championship in the Philippine Cup. No other team has achieved that in the conference previously called the All-Filipino Conference. It wasn’t easy as the team has to overcome severe trials and obstacles, going as far back to the second year, when they have to face a 0-3 deficit and convert it into a 4-3 series win. What they cited as one of the reasons for getting the trophy is because they “care and support each other” and that they “don’t blame each other for the mistakes that their teammates commit in the course of the game.” This team mentioned that the most recent championship series is by far the hardest among the five finals series they’ve played. When the boat is rocked your capability as a team is tested; teams that fold up are just ordinary ones, while those that survive become great teams. In the course of the game, even if the score you have to overcome is so huge, if you’re a great team, you’ll still find ways to win. You can do that because everyone sticks together as a team, no matter what.

Similarly, as Christians, we are to demonstrate that love, care and support amongst each other. It is to be our identity as followers of Christ. Take a look at what happened before these verses: “…Judas had left them.” He wasn’t simply leaving; he was going to fulfill his plan to betray his Master. For Jesus, it must have been so devastating and unfortunate that one of your followers gave you up for thirty pieces of silver. But Jesus responded differently, because He knew the result of that betrayal. Because of that treachery, Jesus will suffer, die on the cross, but will rise triumphantly. He didn’t just look at the pain that He will be going through, but looked up to Heaven and all that could be achieved through His saving passion and death. Jesus knew the end of the story!

For us then, it is a good reminder that if done with prayerful intention, there is joy in suffering. It is a means to purify and to prepare us for the rewards waiting in Heaven when we meet the Savior someday.

In the First Reading (Acts 14: 21-27), Paul and Barnabas strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

As we go on our loving and caring pilgrimage, there will be so many hardships and obstacles that it’ll be easier to give up rather than move onwards. But for as long as we see “the end of our story” we will endure to make that story happen. It’ll be worth going and continuing on. Loving one another will make life better; when we have the love of God in our hearts certainly suffering would make life a more joyful experience. For St. John has assured Christ’s followers,

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” (Second Reading Rev. 21: 1-5a)

Let us pray then for humility to see through the difficulties we encounter as an opportunity to experience God’s love and mercy.

I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn. 13: 34)

Jesus is the Good Shepherd: We Are the Sheep of His Flock

This Sunday as we pay tribute to the loving, the caring, the enduring mothers that God has gifted us with, we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Easter which is also called the Good Shepherd Sunday. In the three lectionary cycles, the Gospel is always taken from the tenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. If we recall, this chapter follows Jesus’ healing of the man born blind and the Jewish leaders questioning the authority of Jesus to heal. So Jesus responds to this challenge to His authority by calling Himself the Good Shepherd:

Jesus said:


My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (Jn. 10: 27-30)

The imagery of a shepherd is a clear representation of Jesus’ desire to impress on us how He takes care of His flock. The sheep is one of the most fragile of animals and needs gentle caring. While at it, the shepherd looks at the safety and welfare of the flock. He will check on the grassland to ensure there are no poisonous plants and allow the sheep to graze while also on the lookout for other animals that may threaten the flock. Thus, Jesus emphasizes that the Good Shepherd’s intent is driven by love, care and authenticity. There’s no selfish motive, no hidden agenda, just the pure desire to ensure that the sheep is safe and secure. This is the same love that a mother, sibling, or friend offers us. This love is deep and when we have this support in our lives, we are really assured and comforted.     

In times of difficulties and struggle, let us remember Jesus commitment as the Good Shepherd. He will

“…shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7: 9, 14b-17)

What comforting words indeed!

Similarly, it is also our commitment to inspire people entrusted to us by God. As leaders in our families, communities and organizations, we have that duty to reflect the love of the Good Shepherd to others in our care.

He also tells us that He and the Father are one, thus, to know Jesus is to know the Father. By this, what He meant is that when we are intimate with Jesus, we are actually directly in contact with the Father.  

Let us pray then that we remain faithful shepherds just like Jesus, our model, our Good Shepherd. May we realize how beautiful it is to share intimacy with God. May we remain faithful to Jesus all the days of our lives, just as He is faithful to the Father.

I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.” (Jn. 10: 14)

Looking After the Sheep

After all the happenings and events in Jerusalem, I can imagine the Lord’s followers going back to their former lives. The Lord is risen, but is gone again and so, what else are they going to do except to go back to where they came from. Seven of them, including Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples went to accompany Peter fishing (Gospel, Jn.21: 1-19). They must have tried and tried but caught nothing that night. Were they rusty having been away from this work? Or were there just no fish there in the Sea of Tiberias?

It was a long, tiring night and by dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore but they didn’t recognize Him. Jesus asked them if they have caught anything and they answered “No.” So Jesus said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and true enough, there was quite a number of fish. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved was the first who recognized that “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he jumped into the sea. All the other disciples climbed out of the boat on shore, and they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.

All of you are tired and then surprise, the Lord came by the beach who you don’t recognize at first. He pointed where to dip the net and harvest, grilled fish over charcoal and prepared bread too. Must be a quite a whiff of fresh air for the exhausted and weary disciples seeing the Lord with a bountiful meal at the seashore. It is in awesome moments like this that you feel like there’s a superhero coming to save your sagging fortunes and turn the tide over. Yes, aside from restoring their confidence and faith in the Lord through the several appearances before and then this moment, they now realize that the Lord is slowly but surely getting them back to their missions.

After breakfast, the Lord said, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Then Jesus asked the same question again and again, and Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Three times the Lord asked Simon Peter, and Simon Peter answered Jesus three times, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” The slate is clean. After denying Jesus three times, Simon Peter was able to tell the Lord of his love three times. These commands indicate that Peter is to be the leader just doing the things that Jesus did, even to the extent of sacrificing for the flock. In the same manner as Jesus has fed Peter and the disciples in this breakfast meal and as Jesus feeds us in the Holy Eucharist, so He also asks us to respond to His calling so that He can send us to the world, that in our own way we offer our lives in service and sacrifice for His mission.

It’ll be challenging and at times will entail sacrifice and suffering, but like the disciples brought to the Sanhedrin (First Reading Acts 5: 27-32, 40b-41), may we rejoice to find ourselves worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. May we be inspired by the Easter experience of the disciples, that their experience may also be ours. May we be confident of Jesus’ living presence in our ministries, for what we are doing is His, not ours. May we truly be living witnesses of Christ as we follow His calling to “tend” and “feed His sheep.”

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.!” (Ps. 30: 2a)

Strengthening Our Faith

When I was in Nepal, I met a missionary priest who is from Kerala in South India. After Sunday Masses, we would have conversations over a cup of milk tea (yes, the first milk tea I tasted was in 1998 in Nepal). We would talk about a variety of topics including our respective countries, current events, beer, and eventually would end up about how our faith has influenced the way we look at life. And jokingly he told me one time, “Alan, our Catholicism is a direct connection with Jesus, unlike yours (the Philippines) which was influenced by Spanish missionaries, St. Thomas one of the Twelve, preached in South India.”

Yes, Thomas, the one we fondly call the “doubting” apostle. He was one of the more outspoken and courageous among the disciples. There’s this account in the Gospel of John, when Lazarus had recently died “the apostles do not wish to go back to Judea, where some Jews had attempted to stone Jesus” (en.wikipedia.org). Thomas says: “Let us also go to die with him.” (Jn. 11: 16). Also, some of the most famous words that the Lord uttered were answers to Thomas questions.

In the Gospel (Jn. 20: 19-31), St. John tells how doubting Thomas was skeptical at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the other apostles, saying, “Except I shall see on his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas saw Jesus a week later when he joined the disciples assembled together and then the Lord told him,

Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Thomas responded radically after that. When he saw the Lord up front, his conversion was total and complete. Tradition states that he travelled outside of the Roman Empire to as far as South India to preach the Gospel. What appears to be the challenge for most of us regarding our faith in the Risen Lord is being affirmed by St. Thomas. He provides us with the evidence that the Lord is truly risen! The Lord has assured us further that “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

In this Divine Mercy Sunday, we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit that our faith be strengthened and fortified despite “not seeing” Jesus physically. Our life, the peace of mind and the graces that we receive in abundance are more than proof of His presence in our lives. His guidance and discernment direct our paths as we seek to follow His will. Despite our weaknesses and sins, His mercy continuously overflows and is in fact more important than all the material wealth that He has bestowed on us. With fervent prayer and abundant hope, we are confident that His Divine Mercy grant us the gift of Eternal Life with Him someday.

May this assurance strengthen us more and more that despite our weaknesses, His Grace and Divine Mercy are enough to nourish and sustain us till the end of time.

You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!” (Jn. 20: 29)

He is Risen! Alleluia!

A friend informed me that she was supposed to attend a Golden Wedding Anniversary only to cut it short as the mother of the male celebrant died on Black Saturday. Her anticipation of a celebration was turned into grief as a wedding anniversary celebration turned into a wake for the dead. Such a wave of emotions happening just before Easter!

That is also how our life and our faith appears to be like. There are times we are in jubilee and there are times we are also in sadness. In this Easter moment, we see the rise, fall and rise of emotions over the past week from a triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the deep sorrow over the Passion and Death of Jesus to the victorious Resurrection over death and sin.

The Gospel (Jn. 20: 1-9) tells us the devoted women came to visit the tomb of Jesus early at dawn on the first day of the week. Mary of Magdala saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary is telling them that she “doesn’t know where they put him”, not because the tomb of Jesus is unknown, but because the Lord is risen and is present amongst us.

The two disciples ran to the tomb, saw the burial cloths there, “but the other disciple didn’t go in first; it was Simon Peter who arrived after him, went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

Look closely: what is important here is that the burial cloths are left neatly in the tomb. This suggests that the body hadn’t been stolen because if it were, the cloths would have been taken with the body as well. Their arrangement suggests something else has happened. It is clear that John the Beloved Disciple is the first to understand what has happened and that at that moment, he believed, and that he understood the Lord’s teachings that Jesus would rise from the dead.

The message this Easter is simple, as we take it from the prophet Isaiah (Is. 55: 1-11) read during the Easter vigil:

Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy
?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare
.”

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts
;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
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
.”

We’ve read these verses over and over again as we attend to the Easter vigil ceremonies. Yet, it is time to renew our commitment to the Lord. May we be like the Beloved Disciple, who, upon seeing the burial cloths neatly placed, believed. We will say, yes we believe, but our faith hasn’t really taken the depth just like how the Beloved Disciple did. This is the beauty of the Liturgical Year, as we are led into the different seasons we get refreshed, renewed, revitalized. And hopefully, a deeper, more vibrant and stronger faith.

The most important moments in our life are those moments that we realize the significant aspects of living. This is when we begin to realize the identity of Jesus: The Bread of Life, and when we see what the saints have seen: The Pearl of Great Price.

Listen to this Easter moment: Jesus wants us to be happy. Even our own burdens, our own challenges can potentially be our source of joy and happiness. And most importantly a source of grace from God. The Savior suffered and died a gruesome death and yet these happenings turned out to be the greatest events of our faith. Thus, if we let God transform us into becoming His own, then we can surely be part of His Resurrection!

This is what Easter should mean for you. Nothing should keep you from experiencing the deepest joys and happiness that God wants to give you. Don’t allow anyone to steal that happiness away from you. There will be difficulties but for as long as you cling to the Lord, He can show you how to persevere amidst suffering, and win despite the challenges. This is the promise that the Easter journey can bring.

Have faith!

Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 5: 7B-8A)

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