Having Love is Having God

While driving along Sheridan Street in Mandaluyong, I can’t help but feel for the children asking for coins that are literally spares in your pocket. Others do not feel giving is alright as it may be something that will create dependency, while others don’t do it for fear that it may make them exposed to these people on the streets. There is indifference, there is insensitivity.

Sometimes, being so protective can make one unknowingly disobey God’s commandments. When you ignore helping others because you are afraid that that person can turn against you in the future, you are shunning God’s reaching out to others. You aren’t allowing others to experience God’s infinite goodness.

In the readings today, St. John exhorts us to love one another,

“Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”

Regardless of what is happening in our lives, there is really no room for hatred, ingratitude, and selfishness, as God’s grace and blessings are just so overwhelming. Can you cite anything happening in your life that overwhelms the blessings you have received from the Lord? Have you considered your life, your family, your relationships, the gift of work and livelihood, and even your possessions as real and concrete manifestations of God’s goodness?

And God is clear, He isn’t partial. Regardless of who you are, you are loved! Read on the First Reading (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48), as St. Peter said,

“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.”

Clearly, God is telling us to spare no one of our love. If you don’t follow that, you are being a hypocrite. When St. John wrote, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love”, he is arguing that when you don’t love, your faith is shallow. Faith and love goes hand in hand, and you can’t say you are a follower of Christ and yet hate your neighbor. That is why our Lord even said, “Love your enemy” (Mt. 5: 44, Lk. 6: 27). Thus, while it is difficult to determine one’s degree of faith, the only way to measure it is by the way one loves through the loving acts one does for others. When you do this, it is clear that your own interest is not prime but secondary to God’s will. God is so loving, that He calls us “His children”, and He as our “Father”, despite our stubbornness and weaknesses. Even with this, the child of God trusts and clings to Him. In return, God has asked us to remain in Him, by keeping His commandments.

When you keep His commandments and remain in God, it is in fact the gift of wisdom, discernment and knowledge through the power of the Holy Spirit that you know that God dwells in you. This is a gift that you will attain through prayer and reflection. Thus, when you become over-protective, or being insensitive to doing good for others, think through it and ask yourself:

Am I being insensitive? Am I ignoring God’s grace to flow to that person through me? Am I being a hypocrite claiming to love God but disobeying Him?

Let us pray that we become God’s love to others.

Remain in Christ!

Having worries and anxieties are almost normal for the faithful one, these despite trying hard to put up with a prayerful spirit and a heart full of faith. Although we are taught to fully trust the Lord at all times, we also fear that God will subject us to the test. That is why one of the most important part of the Our Father is the line “Do not bring us to the test.” We dread being tested, because we also know how difficult it is to thrive unscathed in this troubled world.

As I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation last week, the Priest Confessor was telling me, “…when one is pressured, one’s strength shines through.” Indeed, it is the Lord’s way of telling me, “Don’t worry, I have your back.”

Today’s Gospel is one of the most re-assuring of the Lord’s messages. To put it in context, this discourse was made just the night before His passion. Jesus knew that the disciples, and as well as we, are filled with worries and anxieties. He uses the imagery of the vineyard as this will enhance their and our understanding of Jesus’ identity and mission as set by God the Father. He encourages them and us to stay with Him and persevere till the end,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.”

In these verses and in the surrounding chapters, the Lord comforts and encourages both the community of disciples and as well as the faithful today with the promise that they and we as well are not abandoned or left alone, but can be confident of the Lord’s continuing presence with us in the world. He is telling us that we can never obtain the power to create unless we remain attached to Him. We can only be effective for as long as we are connected to the Power from on High. It is clear that these words are intended not as a command or judgment, but as invitation and as a promise: apart from Jesus, “you can do nothing.”

This beautiful imagery of the vineyard portrays the intimacy of the Father, Jesus, and the faithful followers of Christ. It is a challenge for the community of believers to change their and our mindset of keeping God at a distance. It is not something that is abstract, rather, it is something that is real and authentic. Jesus wants us to invite Him into our lives, not as a silent witness to what we do, but as someone who influences our thoughts, words and actions. In other words, Jesus opinion should matter to us more than anyone else and who directs and leads our lives. His thoughts and actions should provide us the template of Christian living,

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (v. 7)

The Lord is telling us that reading, memorizing, meditating, or listening to the Scriptures being read and preached, isn’t enough; rather it means that we consider Jesus’ words as those coming from a living Person whom we love more than any other in the world.

Now, isn’t it a very re-assuring promise, coming from Someone infinitely powerful?

Let us pray therefore, that we love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth. (1 Jn. 3: 18)

He Is With Us

The Gospel today again illustrates the depth of the Father’s love for His people. It is in fact, a lesson for leaders who ought to model their lives to Jesus, who describes His relationship with His followers like the relationship between a good shepherd and His sheep. As the Good Shepherd risks and is prepared to give up His life to protect the sheep, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to suffer and be crucified for the sake of His sheep. On the other hand, a hired shepherd abandons the flock in the face of danger.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not His own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because He works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (Jn. 10: 11-13)

Leaders ought to be brave, courageous and possess the attitude of unselfish service. Reading further the verses following Jesus teaching, we learn that the Pharisees and the other religious leaders understand that the Lord is referring to them when He describes the hired shepherds. They were so angry that they resisted the Lord all the more and “again picked up rocks to stone him.” (v. 31) This anger continued until Jesus’ death.

The actions of a good shepherd for the flock is part of the shepherd’s job. However, the actions of the good shepherd are based upon the relationship that develops between the shepherd and the sheep. While the hired shepherd leaves the sheep when confronted with danger, the good shepherd stays with the sheep and is ready to give up His life for them. This is at the core of the difference between the good shepherd and the hired shepherd. The good shepherd knows the sheep and therefore acts out of love. This is not just a job, but His love for them is part of who He is to them. Thus, leaders should emulate such caring attitude to their followers as a good shepherd cares for his sheep.

Jesus also emphasizes that His flock also include other sheep, far more than the dispersed children of Israel,

“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (v. 16)

And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father. This is seen in the First Reading, in the testimony of St. Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of the early Church. Peter quoted the Psalms and tells Israel’s leaders of their rejection and eventual crucifixion and death of Christ. Through the ministry of the Church, this mission continues until all the world is one flock under the One Good Shepherd. As to when that happens, only God knows.

Let us pray that we continue to grow in faith and pledge again to be more faithful and grateful to Him for all the blessings we have and will continue to receive from Him.

“The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” (Ps. 118: 22)

God is in Control

Yesterday we attended lunch hosted by close friends, a couple who came home from the United States for a short visit. The meal was fun and lively, as we get to hear how they’re coping with life in New Jersey, aside from reminiscing the moments our group has experienced since way back. There are relationships that despite the distance, remain as strong as ever. This is one of those.

However, one of these friends (an elderly couple) who came, had a daughter who passed away many years ago. Their daughter was in fact active in God’s service at the time of her passing (at one of the parishes in Mandaluyong). Her demise was sudden such that even up to now, her mother is still grieving over the loss and hasn’t moved on. She is sad especially with the thought that two young children are left behind. Now the children are growing up well, and their grandmother are actively involved in rearing them up. We are praying that she’ll be able to finally accept what happened, knowing that the Lord is in control of what’s happening.

There are times that situations have really sunk deep into us, such that when certain events happen in our life, we are indifferent and continue in a state of unbelief. In the Gospel, the risen Lord has to ask the disciples,

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” (Lk. 24: 38-39)

He felt the grief and told them that “everything written in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” (v. 44b) Jesus conquered death, and the Scriptures has said it all, with more explanations including the readings this Sunday. The story of suffering, which all of us have experienced one way or the other; is always something unpleasant, whether it’s a happy, or a violent death. Yet, there is something beautiful in it. The Lord demonstrated such beauty in His Passion and His death, culminating in His Glorious Resurrection, and it’s the same in people’s lives. While Jesus doesn’t need to suffer, His great love for the Father and for us all drove Him to obey the will of God the Father. When we question why we have challenges to overcome, and why bad things have to happen, we just have to think about the Lord’s own suffering. Given His passion and His death on the Cross, think about it: who has suffered a more violent death? Every time we sin, we contribute to that burden and pain. So, if Jesus had to sacrifice and suffer for us, why shouldn’t we have to? Through His suffering and death, Jesus conquered death and saved us all; such beauty of God’s deep love for us, isn’t it? More importantly, it is through pain and suffering that we sharpen our faith, trust the Lord’s ways more, and essentially become better and wiser in the ways of God.

We have to remember though that redemption isn’t automatic, we have to do our part by repenting our sins and going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God has been so understanding and considerate with us, His goodness overflows. As the First Reading shows how St. Peter exhorted the new believers to “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away”, we all have the obligation to respond to God’s invitation — if we like to go and meet Him in His Eternal Glory. We just have to trust that the Lord is in control — in total control of everything.

Are you ready to respond to the challenge?

“Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us.” (Lk. 24: 32)

Be Witness of God’s Love and Mercy!

A question was asked, “Which child is more privileged, Child A, whose father is working in the same city and is staying with the family, or Child B, whose father is working abroad?”

What would your answer be, A or B?

The answer: It depends. If Child A has a father who is physically present, but is mentally absent in the family, while Child B’s father, though physically absent, but is talking to the Family often and regularly, is caring, is expressive, then Child B is more privileged. It doesn’t need for one to be physically present in order to manifest his presence in the life of others. This is also Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel.

This Sunday, also called the Divine Mercy Sunday, is best remembered for the story of Thomas, who said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (Jn. 20: 25b) A week later, the disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “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.”

Jesus’ rebuke of Thomas was gentle. Would you imagine if Jesus responded angrily or sarcastically? Instead, the Lord’s loving and caring words made Thomas felt the real presence of Jesus in the way the situation was handled: merciful and compassionate. The face of love and mercy that only Jesus’ real presence could reveal. The love that Thomas for all his impulsiveness and seeming doubt doesn’t deserve. The same love that we also don’t deserve. But it is this love that only Jesus — who is loving, merciful and compassionate — can give. The Lord says that we don’t need His physical presence to experience His love and mercy,

“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Thomas response, “My Lord and my God!” was a strong declaration of faith and is not only about doubt but also means that as followers of Jesus, we must not separate the Resurrection from the Cross. His story also teaches that we cannot live the life of grace, the “risen life”, authentically unless we bear in our bodies the wounds of the cross.

Thomas was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. His inquiring attitude led to the many responses of Jesus who show best who the Savior is. Thomas passion to serve was such that he was sent to evangelize to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to a large native population whose pride in proclaiming themselves as having the Faith “with a direct connection to the Savior” is well-known. In my past assignment in Nepal, I’ve met a missionary priest who came from Kerala, along the Malabar Coast in South India, who told me the same thing. I saw in him the pride and gratitude of obtaining the Faith through the missionary efforts of St. Thomas the Apostle.

Earlier in the Gospel, we see Jesus telling them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This is a command, not only for the disciples, but also for us to be witnesses to the Word. We are called to be the love, the mercy and the compassion of God to others.

As a form of gratitude to the Lord for his mercy and compassion, may we take to heart his command to be witnesses to Christ and to the Faith. Like what St. Thomas has taught us, may we realize that we cannot expect to rise with Christ, unless we also share in the wounds of the Cross.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.” (Ps. 118: 1)

Decide To Be Happy!

The Lord is Risen, as He said! Alleluia!

It’s the happiest moment in all of creation. Listening to that is like drinking a glass of ice-cold water after being in the hot summer sun for many days. Jesus’ Passion and Death is over, and it’s the time to celebrate!

Last night, the ceremonies started with the congregation outside the Church where it was dark and the Easter fire is kindled, the Paschal candle blessed and then lit. This Paschal candle will be used throughout the season of Easter, reminding us all that Christ is the “Light of the World.” This means that everyone ought to set aside all the frustrations, sadness and fears, as Easter is the time when we must do just that. We ought to stick close to our resurrected Lord! We must cling to His Resurrection and strive to share in it.

One way of clinging to the Lord is by being grateful. Despite the burdens you carry; whatever makes you depressed, sad or angry, take joy in everything. Have you thought that despite the brutality and inhumanity of Jesus’ Passion and Death on the Cross, it turned out to be necessary as a prelude to the greatest event ever told, the Resurrection. Thus, your pain and suffering can very much become a source of happiness as long as you let God transform it into part of His Resurrection. Be grateful!

Easter means that God wants the best for us, nothing less. Thus, today is the day when you should decide to be happy. No one can keep you from the joy that Jesus wants to give. Sure, there’ll be times that we will struggle just as Jesus did, but those sufferings won’t win against God. The Resurrection won with Christ and it will win with us when we cling to Him. Jesus persevered, and in the end rose in victory. Know that God wants you to be an Easter Person, that means He wants you to experience the joy of Easter in your life. Let Him fill you with hope and with the joy that only Jesus can bring. God wants Easter to begin now in your life! Be happy!

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

How Deep Is Your Love for Jesus?

“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.” (Is. 53: 11)

The streets are deserted, traffic is pleasantly less, and it seems more than half of Manila is gone. People have left either to go to the provinces to spend the Holy Week there, or to enjoy the “vacation” that the Holy Days bring. It’s not entirely wrong to go to the beach, but you miss the point of the break. And instead of getting refreshed come Easter Week, you feel tired from the stress of traveling with the crowd.

Attending the Paschal Triduum (also known as Easter Triduum, in Latin: Triduum Paschale) is a great experience worth attending again and again. This is the period of three days that begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. It recalls the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels. The break is intended for us to go on a deeper reflection of God’s infinite love for Man. In fact, my favorite is the Easter Vigil, when several readings are reflected upon, essentially the salvation history. These days, try singing (really singing) the Psalms with the congregation, not to mention listening to the Litany of the Saints. Remember that along with these holy men and women mentioned in the Litany are thousands upon thousands of others who have chosen to demonstrate their deep love for God by giving their lives to Him. When you renew your vows at Baptism at Easter, take it to heart. I assure you, it is a truly remarkable experience of our faith.

In today’s First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us how the Lord loves us, even as we treat the Lord harshly when we ignore His commands,

“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.” (Is. 53: 7)

The sad reality is that Man has always been generally inconsistent, flip-flopping especially on matters of faith and morals. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people waved palms,

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”

It was a moment of great rejoicing and jubilation for His followers. They thought it was already the arrival of the promised King, unaware of the imminent Passion and Death of the Lord. They haven’t understood what the Messiah must go through before His glory, thus their faith was superficial, so to speak. Fast forward a few days later, the same people were now shouting “Crucify him, crucify him!” Then they mocked him as Roman soldiers tortured him throughout the night.

How much are you willing to give up for Jesus?
How deep is your love for Him?

It takes more than just answering these questions as these speak of the importance of getting to know our faith better, so that we are wise enough to discern the things of the world and of the Spirit. We can’t be swayed easily when others seem to know the Bible more than what we know. So, because our faith hasn’t taken that much depth, we can waver. Are you like the people waving palms, and yet days later, shouting “Crucify him”, because your faith is shallow and shoal?

While we say “He is King and Savior” often, we also deny His Kingship by refusing to obey His only commands that we love Him and one another. Don’t we render Him mock tribute, pay Him lip service with our half-hearted devotions?

In the noon of Calvary, when the Heavens released clouds to darken the sky, the veil in Jerusalem’s temple was torn. It was a sign that by His Death Jesus destroyed forever the barrier separating us from the Holy Presence of God. He was God and yet humbled himself to come to us, we’re reminded by the Prophet Isaiah,

“But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Is. 53: 5)

Have we realized that every time we offend Him, we repeat His passion and suffering? Despite our repeated failures, our constant wavering, Jesus still humbles himself to come to us, offering us His body and blood in the Eucharist.

This Good Friday, let us make a resolve to deepen our love for Jesus. Let us pray that the Spirit give us the wisdom to value every moment with the Lord, for it is only in doing so that we show how deeply we love and honor Him.

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Lk. 23: 46)

The Perfect Model of Humility

Life isn’t perfect, in fact it is very far from being one. In between peaks of victories and triumphs there are valleys of rejection, pain and unmet suffering. In these situations, you are confronted with uncertainty and most likely you’ll respond in doubt and fear. You either fight or you flee. There are even situations that others choose to fight even if one can be destroyed in the process. Just recently I met a friend who’s just short of telling me of frustrations getting on him. There were happenings in his work that he felt is unfair and that he should have been treated with more consideration. I bet the guy is intelligent, with great attitude and work ethic. He even scores an “A” in the soft side of things. He was just feeling bad that others can get away without results that really demonstrate good leadership. A word of encouragement and assurance would have made the situation better but he didn’t get any. He was getting a new assignment which will bring him away for extended periods of time from his family. It even brought him to think about entertaining early retirement.

I broached on him the idea of doing a deep reflection of the many possible reasons of why things happen. From the perspective of his superior, it is the best option for the situation, though for reasons the superior didn’t tell him exactly why. That’s the main reason he felt being disregarded. I even advised that he forgive the shortcomings of his superior — obviously having a blind side and also thinking for his own, without considering what’s really best for the long haul.

There are loose ends in life but for the Champion, he thinks about it from all perspectives. A thousand possibilities actually he thinks of. At the end of the day, the Champion concludes it’ll take humility to accept these things with a prayerful spirit that things will go for the better someday. After all, the Good Lord up there knows everything and the best thing given the circumstances is just to trust and to pray. Besides, life will take a different meaning years from now. Some elements take a forward seat while others retreat. God can simply weave life’s contrasting colors into different experiences that will create or unmake ourselves depending on how we act on the choices presented upon us.

Being humble also means thinking less more of ourselves and sacrificing more for others, trusting that one will gain goodness and refine character during the process. It means that we step back and consider that others are not as blessed as we are, or are in even more difficult situations. We are grateful still, because we have looked at the bigger picture and trust the Lord for His control of the situation. While we may feel defeated at the moment, our overriding concern is that we want to make our families feel secure despite the inconveniences, while making other people happy. Because in doing so the Champion in us feel that it is only in doing so that we also feel happier. While our happiness may take a backseat, our act of sacrificing for others make them happy, thus, eventually we become happier too. We inspire!

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. As we begin the Holy Week of the Lord’s Passion and Death, let us reflect deeply on the perfect humility that Our Savior showed. Despite His Majesty and Power, out of His love for us and humanity, He truly humbled Himself in more ways than we can ever imagine. As St. Paul exhorted in his letter to the Philippians,

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2: 5-11)

God’s Endless Love

As we go deeper into Lent, we see Jesus calmly awaiting His Passion despite being troubled. He emphasizes that we should be willing to lose our life in order to preserve it for all eternity. Jesus was fully human, that is why He understands our fickleness (and even stupidity!) in responding to God’s love and initiative.

When Abraham successfully proved his faith, Yahweh promised abundant blessings aside from promising Abraham’s “descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.” He even further assured that his descendants will “take possession of the gates of their enemies.” Such great love!

As Christians we are required to be faithful, and that we should listen to the Father’s voice telling us “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him. (Mt. 17: 5) In the early days, God revealed His laws which Moses casted in stone. Man’s shortsightedness leads him to the vanities of this world thus blinding him deeper into sin. Man continued to mock God’s messengers and “added infidelity to infidelity, despised His warnings and scoffed at His prophets. Such disrespect for the Creator inflamed the anger of the Lord against His people. He allowed them to be subjected to exile and suffering. Similarly, Jesus zeal for the Father’s House led Him to be angry at the way the House of God was corrupted by traders and the public doing business in the Temple Area. Despite the general hopelessness of His people, even “dead in our transgressions”, He still brought us to life with Christ – “by grace you were saved — raises us up with Him.”

God’s love prevails over anger such that “He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might have Eternal Life.” God love us despite the fact that we don’t deserve such patience and understanding, plainly because of His awesomeness; He who is rich in mercy, compassion and is slow to anger.

In today’s readings, the Prophet Jeremiah told that the Lord will place His “law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be My people”. God created the Perfect Savior in Jesus so that by His faithfulness and obedience demonstrated by His patient suffering, showed His perfection which “became the source of salvation for all who obey Him.”

The Old Covenant was a failure, but God created a new covenant in Jesus, which we recognize and accept as the Perfect Savior every time we partake of Holy Communion at Mass.

As Holy Week draws near, may we all realize how sin leads us farther and away from God, our source of life and salvation. Despite the struggles and challenges we face every single day, may we see the purpose for it all, and inspire us to obedience and intimacy with Him. Admittedly, life is often a struggle, because there is a dream to be pursued, a vision to be attained. It is a journey of countless steps, countless meaningful steps, but each one leading to another.

“Whoever serves me follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be.” (Jn. 12: 26)

Becoming Truly Ready for Him!

One of the most defining aspects of our homecoming journey as emphasized in the Code of Champions Seminar is our accountability towards the Creator. As Fr. Armand said, “Logically God does not deserve a corner of our lives or just a piece of our hearts. For us to enter the depths of His heart, we must give Him topmost priority over and above everything else in life.” This is the appropriate response to Yahweh who beckons and who desires that we seek and desire His love. While we are given the freedom to choose, God’s passionate love for us also ensures that we grow in obedience and intimacy with Him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus found the temple area, the core symbol of God’s presence becoming a market place where people sold animals and birds, as well as the money changers doing business there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” At that time what really angered the Lord was the perversion of the Temple by making what was intended to be a place of communion into a business enterprise. Such was its effect that His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
“Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Ps. 69: 9)

Jesus’ purification of the Temple is a herald of another kind of purification, the sanctification of our hearts. It was actually His first proclamation about who He really is and what His mission would embrace. Such mood of Jesus is not commonly read in the Gospel, but is a clear reminder of the need to purify ourselves not only at this season, but at all times. And if we do not experience this purification, then everything that we do is a total waste of time. Until our hearts are rid of that which produces our death and destruction, we will never be truly ready for Him and becoming fully happy. He sees our dark side, the pain we are capable of inflicting. Despite that, He sees the beauty and what is beyond: our possibilities, what we are truly capable of, the goodness that we are capable of radiating. His passionate love for us sometimes makes Him turn the tables upside down and cracks the whip to get our attention. He wants to unravel the beauty that is within us, but which is being covered by what is dark and ugly. Case of loving the sinner, but hating the sin!

What makes it deeply comforting is that the Lord understands our human nature because He is fully human. He understands our fickleness and our weaknesses. He also knows we can get distracted from what is pure and authentic into something that’s bright and dazzling. But as long as we truly desire to get better and do better, He is there patiently waiting for us to get up and seek forgiveness from the Father.

This Lenten Season, let us prepare ourselves to be truly ready for Him. As we continue to reflect on this Gospel and the readings that follow, we are asked to choose where we stand in the course of our day-to-day lives. Do we take the side of what is good, true, and faithful to God? Or continue our pursuit of worldly goods that defile our hearts from what is true, pure and lasting?

“Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” (Jn. 6:68c)

Six Secrets To Living A Life With No Regrets