God’s Kingdom

During this pandemic, we can see in social media many pictures of plants grown by people engaged in raising these colorful flowers and beautiful plants in their home gardens. You can even see photos of those plants that are yet to bloom with a caption of how the gardener will feel if one plant doesn’t flower well or is late in blooming. Patience, care and hard work are among the traits needed to raise seeds into bountiful plants.

In the Gospel today, the Lord speaks about the kingdom of God,

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mk. 4: 26-34)

The farmer plants the seed and slowly it sprouts, grows and yet “knows not how”. We understand that planting and raising plants and trees is a slow process and there are no shortcuts. Starting from a tiny seed, great potential is realized after much watering, caring and shielding from the threats to its existence. This passage reveals that like plants, God’s Kingdom will slowly and gently come into our lives. 

Each of us can grow into somebody much larger than we can ever imagine. Look at your own self, how you have done a great job so far, considering the difficulties and challenges that you’ve went through. This has nothing to do with the degree you’ve achieved, but it’s more on what you do with what you have or what is given to you. More often than not, people who feel that they are part of the least actually end up with accomplishing some of the greatest achievements. Just like the mustard seed. What we have to realize and accept is that the most important element in what we call “success” is not of our own making, but God’s will in making it happen for us. When we let go of our own selfish desires and leave all to God’s care and protection, we can become the majestic tree that He meant us to be. As the prophet Ezekiel said in the First Reading (Ez. 17: 22-24) 

It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.”

Once in a while the Master Gardner will trim us of our pride and selfishness just as even the biggest trees in the world need to be cut of its leaves from time to time. Trees with the most abundant foliage even have to lose their leaves during winter so that they can bloom brighter in spring. At times we need to go through different challenges and trials in order to gain new mindsets about life. The Lord is telling us that it’s not really about how tall and lush or pretty the tree is that defines whether it is a good one, but it is about its roots and how deep these go down the earth. It is about what they are capable of doing and surviving future storms and weather challenges.

Similarly, it’s not about how important we think we are – it’s about our intentions and reasons behind everything we do. It is about how deeply we are rooted in our faith in Christ so much so we can handle those challenges that come to us. It is also about how we handle success and material wealth. The Lord can endow us with abundant wealth to test how we handle life’s good moments. Sadly, not all of us can handle wealth in the way that God wants us to.

Our own spiritual growth is the ultimate determinant of what defines us, because it brings us closer in intimacy with the Lord.

Moving forward, we can choose the paths to take. With the right spiritual preparation, we can discern what Jesus will do in any situation we are in. At its best, we all have so much God-given potential that we just need to yield to God’s plans in order to let the seeds grow fully. As St. Paul affirmed in the Second Reading,

Therefore, we aspire to please Him, whether we are at home or away.”

Today, reflect on the following:

What is my life purpose? 

Am I obedient to God’s will for my life? 

Am I humble, grateful and thankful in all circumstances? 

Pray that you keep your heart fertile for God to establish His Kingdom and help you become an instrument of His power.  

The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower. All who come to Him will live forever.” 

Our Only Communion

People attend the Eucharistic Celebration for different reasons: one attends the Holy Mass to pray for the granting of his “petitions and requests”, another due to his “devotion for holiness”, while a third attends “to fulfill Sunday requirements”. While these are also valid in one way or the other as we are anyway before the Holy Presence of God, our main reason to attend the Holy Mass should be,    

To celebrate God’s love for us. We are here to praise and to give thanks to God”, said Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB in his homily today. “Maybe we just have to focus our prayers while attending Mass to express thanks and to honor God. We honor Him because we put our hope in Him. We trust everything to Him, we just put our hope in Him. ‘You are all-powerful, that’s why we honor and worship You’. We are here to celebrate the greatness of God. And we celebrate it through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

(Ang Misa ay pagdiriwang ng pagmamahal ng Diyos sa atin. Narito tayo upang purihin, pasalamatan ang DiyosI-focus mo ngayon yung dasal mo pag ikaw ay nagsisimba, na magpasalamat, at magpugay. Tapos magpupugay tayo sapagkat umaasa tayo sa Kanya. Siya ang bahala, asa lang tayo sa Kanya. ‘Makapangyarihan Ka, kaya nagpupugay kami sa Iyo.’ Narito tayo para magdiwang ng kadakilaan ng Diyos. At ipinagdiriwang natin sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Misa.)

In the Gospel (Mk. 14: 12-16, 22-26), Jesus, 

“…took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take itthis is My Body.” Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is My Blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

At Holy Mass, during the consecration of the bread and wine, we know that God the Son is present in veiled form. Our eyes do not see, our senses do not perceive, but we believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is present in the Holy Eucharist. This is not only symbolical but indeed “the real Body and Blood of Christ”. Therefore, every time we receive the Lord in Holy Communion, we should do it in total awe and reverence of God’s presence. We should approach it like we did in our first Communion, as if it’s “our last Communion, our only Communion” (Catholic Mom)

Today, let us reflect on this awesome and wonderful privilege that God gave us in the Holy Eucharist. Let this reflection allow the deepening of our faith to grow in love and respect of the Son of God, who is present in the Tabernacles of countless churches. “I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (Jn.6: 51)

The Significance of the Most Holy Trinity

Today we are being invited to reflect on what we believe about God, who has revealed Himself to us in the Most Holy Trinity, one God in Three Divine Persons. We are taught that each one is distinct from the other. Each Divine Person has a perfect intellect and free will.  Since each one is God, each one is capable of knowing and loving the others to a perfect degree. It is this perfect ability to know and love that makes them One and united perfectly. This unity amongst themselves is so deep that they become One God. This is so profound that if we try to explain this mystery, it may take us more than Eternity to do it. Suffice it to say that it is a mystery that is not for us to define but for us to grow in love and intimacy of each Divine Person. We are called to a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While it may be futile to fathom this mystery even to the slightest degree, God will bring us into a more intimate knowledge of Him, if we open our hearts to Him.

This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinityreminds us how close, how near God is to usThe impact of the truth is thisthat God is very close to us, is near to us.” Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, said in his homily today.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt. 28: 16-20) talks about the Lord’s commissioning of the Eleven. This time it was intended for “all nations”, unlike before when the Twelve were just confined to look for “the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Now, the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be taken to all peoples, and the task is to baptize and to teach. When we baptize, we are to baptize them “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This reference to the Most Holy Trinity is one of the testaments of Baptism,  

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age
.” (Mt. 28: 16-20)

However, prior to these verses, we read that “… they worshiped, but they doubted.” Just like the Apostles, many of us say we are His followers but despite the faith we profess in Christ, we still doubt. We still fear and underestimate God’s promise and unlimited power. We know deep inside us that Jesus walked the earth and that He is God, Who was, Who is and Who will be. Despite knowing all these, we still doubt and we cast anxieties on our own souls.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are reminded that this central mystery of our faith is meant to be lived and given flesh and blood. By the faith we profess in our own Baptism, we share in the life of the blessed Trinity and is commissioned to invite others to share in God’s love as well. 

Let us pray for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God. Let us bow down in humility before Him so that we allow Him to open our minds and hearts. 

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

Come Holy Spirit!

The Season of Easter concludes with the Solemnity of Pentecost when the Church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. As this event marks the beginning of the Church, we can also say, it is the birthday of Holy Mother Church. 

During these times, the challenges and difficulties that people face every day instill fear, apprehension and anxiety. This pandemic is not only about public health, it is also about mental health, its effects on livelihood, jobs, and food security. Many are feeling the crunch after months of limited mobility and work. 

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20: 19-23), the disciples were feeling fearful, very similar to what most are experiencing now. Despite their faith, the disciples were afraid; there was no peace in their hearts.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

In those moments, the disciples “needed the assurance of the Resurrection”, to quote Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB. Before the disciples can become effective messengers of the Good News to the world, they’d need peace to calm down their fears and worries.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 

It is time for the Lord to pass on the mission to His disciples. But He knew that they would need an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. They would need to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to set the world “on fire”.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

In the same way, we need a transformation in our faith, believing that the Holy Spirit is real and wants to enter our lives in the same way the disciples experienced in that First Pentecost. 

What’s happening around us can often lead to spiritual dryness as we are caught in the anxieties, concerns and distractions. Worry and fear overshadow us and our love for Jesus can die down. To revive our faith and our zeal for the Lord, we need to put another log into the fire to spark the dying embers of our spirits. God is reaching out to us with His love, grace and strength so that we can effectively live holy lives pleasing to Him. 

Have you experienced going through this, and suddenly things became better, you feel that the “sun’s finally coming out?” The Lord Jesus has come through the closed doors of the room, stood with us saying,  “Peace be with you.” Behold, despite the limitations in visiting the physical church, the fire of Pentecost is bright again! Rest assured that for as long as we remain steadfast, the Holy Spirit will grant us the wisdom to understand God’s purpose for all that we are experiencing now.

Today, let us be reminded of the Lord’s promise of fullness, the living Spirit of God, where grace is like living water, flowing steadily so we’ll never thirst again. Pentecost transforms us into powerful instruments of God’s grace. Let us then go forth to spread the holiness of God to the world.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” 

The Story Continues

My wife and I were discussing the conclusion of a Netflix series that she’s watched. She said it was ‘sulit” or satisfying to say the least. Getting the desired end-state is something we all aspire for, even in the movies and films we’re watching and following. In fact, in literature and in films there are some examples mentioned including Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, which originally had a “bleaker” conclusion, with Pip meeting Estella, but after she remarried. It was said that Dickens stated that he had been persuaded by Edward Bulwer-Lytton to change it prior to publication. In the film Ella Enchanted, sources say the movie was originally supposed to end differently but the final scene was replaced with a musical ending with the entire cast present, and they exit like they do on stage. Yes, we all want happy endings. 

In today’s Mass, the Holy Mother Church commemorates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Mk. 16: 15-20). 

“It is like a sequel, it is the same story of Jesus, bringing us the Father’s love. It is the story of Jesus bringing us to the Father. It is the story of Jesus, but now it is not Jesus personally anymore, it’s going to be the disciples. That’s why the story today start with the mission given to the disciples,” Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, remarked in his homily today. 

Starting from God the Father talking through the words of the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, we read and listen to the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. Through the history of the Church and the story still unfolding in the present, we see that we are exhorted to continue what the Apostles did to build what the Church is today. We believed and embraced Jesus’ words without hesitation. Our faith brings us unity with His own death, dying to sin, so that we may also share in His Resurrection someday. 

Today, in this Solemnity of the Ascension, we further see the invitation to rise with the Savior to the Father. We must understand that where the Lord has gone, we are invited to follow provided we only have faith, embrace the Christian life, and live wholeheartedly what the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition tell us.

Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

This command rings loud and clear, and while it was Jesus who said it, the Apostles continuing it up to the present, and now, we are exhorted to follow His command. 

Let us reflect on our own calling to go forth to the world, and how we can inspire others to do the same. We don’t need to become big time preachers, we only have to make our friends, family and all we encounter feel by our own love and example, how it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. By doing this, we enable the story of the Lord to continue, in an ending that we desire and long for someday. We fervently pray that our mission will enable us to ascend with Him into Eternity.

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

It’s About God’s Love

Last night, we had prayers for my Mama Andang’s twentieth death anniversary over Zoom. I called her Mama since when I was still a young boy, imitating how my Mom (her eldest child), aunts and uncles addressed her. She became a widow with seven children in all, and Mom still in her teens. She didn’t shy away from the responsibility of raising them up and was an epitome of strength, wisdom, and love. I can’t imagine how I am today without her strong influence in my life, having been under her care when Mom and Dad were off to work. She instilled moral and ethical values to all her children and grandchildren.

As the prayers format for Mama Andang call for the day’s Gospel, we chose today’s reading (Jn. 15: 9-17) which proclaims about what love is all about. Note that this particular chapter of St. John’s Gospel narrates the discourse of the Lord at the Last Supper. In these verses, Jesus proclaims,

This is my commandment: love one another as I love youNo one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends

It’s not a suggestion, but a command. In fact, Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, shared that in Greek, there is a translation that says, “Love one another because I love you.”  Thus, if we claim to be followers of Christ, we have to obey this commandment. In fact, Jesus reiterated it again at the end of the Gospel,

This I command you: love one another.”

It is not for naught as obedience to this command comes the reward of remaining in God’s love,

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”

Fr. Armand further explained that during the Last Supper, the Lord “was trying to make sure that the disciples will carry on His mission.” In a short while, He will be taken away from them and without them showing and imitating His love, their company and the young Church won’t last very long. As the Gospel emphasizes, love isn’t just a feeling, but a choice. If we say we love a person, we need to commit ourselves to him or her, to the point of giving up one’s life. It may not necessarily mean death, as it also means putting the needs of others first before our own. This requires sacrifice and selflessness.

The point of all this is that when we obey God’s commandment of loving one another, we become bearers of God’s love to others. It’s all about bringing God’s love for His people. And the ultimate reward is this,

You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Friendship with Jesus is the most important thing we can ever achieve in this life. When we meet Him someday, He will not be asking us about our careers, the promotions and upgrades that we had, our salaries, our wealth, our positions in society, but He will ask us “Did you truly love others in the same way that I love you”?

During this pandemic, the times are such that many are experiencing depression making it “difficult to love” others. Mahirap magmahal ngayon, as they say. But given the presence of God in our lives, we can do it. Yes, with Jesus, “we can love!”, to quote Fr. Armand in his homily today.

Today, reflect on how well you’ve loved others “even until it hurts”. Did you give up your own, in favor of others’ needs? 

Dear Lord, help me to show love for others, that in doing so I will be able to discover Your great love for usAmen.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Jn. 14:23)

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

Grapes need lots of care in the early years of its life aside from requiring lots of space. It also need lots of water especially early on and needs the sun to grow and bear fruit. Grapevines must be pruned regularly as it is an important step in raising grapes, “because it helps them produce a healthy crop of fruit and survive for many years.” When you see the pruning process, you can get surprised about how much of the vine get removed. From a leafy vineyard, about  85% is pruned off. This is because grapes are produced on new shoots, and not old branches. Caring for the vines spread from planting and throughout the seasons, year after year after year. I am familiar with these because when I was still an altar server in my hometown many years ago, I saw first hand how grapes were raised and cared of by the late Rev. Fr. Epifanio Codilla, our parish priest at that time. He utilized the vacant lot at the side of the Church.

For vineyard growers like Fr. Codilla and those familiar with it, the Lord’s use of this parable in today’s Gospel (Jn. 5: 1-8) is so powerful that it drives home the message of what it means to be an authentic discipleship of Christ. It created a fine example of how special our relationship with Him should be.

This intimacy with God is something much deeper than just complying with His Commandments. St. John exhorted us in the Second Reading (1 Jn. 3: 18-24), 

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”

The fear of the Lord mentioned in verse 31 of the First Reading is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Described in the Novena to the Holy Spirit, it is one that “fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin”. This is borne out of love such that there’s a fear that arises that is “not from the thought of hellbut from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our Heavenly Father.” If you’ve been in love or is in love, you know what I mean. You don’t want to hurt the one that you love, right? This is the same fear of the Lord that we gain when we grow more in intimacy with God.

As we participate in the life of the Church, embrace the Sacraments, and get involved in the activities of our parishes, you realize that you do these not because you are retiring soon or have ample time now, but because of your fondness and love for Jesus. You realize that God deserves the primacy of our lives, not the remnants of our youthfulness. Our actions show our deep gratitude for the graces He has gifted us with, knowing that He is our Lord, Master and Creator. In the First Reading (Acts 9: 26-31), Barnabas reported to the apostles how Saul had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. From a persecutor of the disciples to a staunch defender of the Lord, Saul’s life completely turned around.     

Our joy isn’t dependent on the absence of problems and difficulties. We remain joyful because we believe that whenever we are challenged, it is because we are being pruned, because it will help us produce a healthy crop of fruit and survive for many years. In my own personal experience, dependency on God is total, as in everything. This doesn’t mean though that I don’t do anything but in fact I have to do things as if everything depended on me, and pray as if everything depended on God. What Jesus said is real, 

Without Me you can do nothing.” 

It’ll take humility to accept this fact and the gratitude to realize that we will cease to exist even if for just a brief moment God forgets us. His will for us to live is the same reason that gives us the capacity to breathe and live for today.

It is very comforting though that the Lord expressed one of the more inspiring verses in Sacred Scriptures found in today’s Gospel,

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”

Let us pray that we grow more in humility to appreciate that without God, we can do nothing. For every waking moment, let us always be grateful to God and say “thank you” for the grace overflowing in our lives. 

Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit. (Jn. 15: 4a, 5b)

Giving His All

The readings today is another illustration of the depth of the Father’s love for His people. In the Gospel (Jn. 10:11-18), Jesus described His relationship with us 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, the Lord willingly allowed Himself to suffer a horrible passion, be crucified, and die on the Cross for our sake. 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.” 

It is in fact a lesson for leaders who ought to model their lives after Jesus Christ. Leadership can be in the family or household, in the community, in government, at work or anywhere when others are placed under one’s care. Leaders ought to be brave, courageous and possess the attitude of unselfish service. The Pharisees and the other religious leaders understood that the Lord is referring to them when He described the hired shepherds. They were so angry that they resisted the Lord all the more and in the latter part of the chapter, they “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 developed between the shepherd and the sheep. While the hired shepherd leaves 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 emphasized 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)

He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father. This is seen in the First Reading (Acts 4: 8-12), in the testimony of St. Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of the early Church. Peter quoted the Psalms and told Israel’s leaders of their rejection, eventual crucifixion and death of Jesus. 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. 

Today is also the 2021 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the purpose of which is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). These are the men and women who act as shepherds who lead us to God. Last December 8, 2020, on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, His Holiness Pope Francis wrote his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, whose aim is to increase our love for this great saint”. 

Saint Joseph is an extraordinary figure, yet at the same time one so close to our own human experience. He did not do astonishing things, he had no unique charisms, nor did he appear special in the eyes of those who met him. He was not famous or even noteworthy: the Gospels do not report even a single word of his. Still, through his ordinary life, he accomplished something extraordinary in the eyes of God.

God looks on the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), and in Saint Joseph he recognized the heart of a father, able to give and generate life in the midst of daily routines.”

The consecrated life is primarily faith and grace to start with. We are called to be holy and brave and those who fully dedicate their lives to God are a special lot in His eyes. They help the Church bring people closer to God and God closer to His people. They do the mission not out of an obligation but out of love and dedication to the Lord.

Let us pray that we grow more in faith and offer to others the same love that the Good Shepherd willingly and voluntarily give for His flock.

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

God is Truly in Control

The times have been difficult to say the least. These challenges aren’t confined only to some, these are daunting for all of humanity. The news that we hear isn’t encouraging as new surges are happening not only in our country but also in the US (across 38 states), France, Turkey, Italy, Canada and so many others. Close by, the past so many weeks were overwhelming as loved ones, friends and colleagues haven’t been spared these health-related issues. It is understandable that many are deeply anxious.

Hopelessness abound. Fear surrounds. Worry shrouds. 

Amidst all these, is there hope?

In the Gospel (Lk. 24: 35-48) Jesus tells the disciples,

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?

In context, this was the final appearance of Jesus to the disciples in St. Luke’s Gospel account. The Lord showed them His hands and His feet, explained to them that He had to undergo suffering, dying on the Cross and rise again, as was foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament. He challenged them (and us too) to become “witnesses” of God and explained that very soon the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father. 

The Christian life is one that is prepared to be joyful despite suffering because the faithful follower of Christ knows the need to be saved from sins. Nobody is perfect and certainly we can’t go to Heaven on our own but by the grace of the saving act of the Paschal Mystery. Jesus is the “expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” (Second Reading: 1 Jn. 2:1-5a)

In return, we are called to a life of charitable service to others and to be “witnesses” (First Reading: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19). The Catholic Church teaches that charitable work is “more of an effect of salvation than it is the central purpose of our Faith.”

So, the faithful servant of the Lord declares, “Yes, there is hope! I don’t worry, because despite everything that’s happening around me, God is in control. He is truly in control!”

Inspired by Jesus, let us reflect on how we should change in response to the redeeming act of His Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection.

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

God’s Divine Mercy

During their time, my parents influenced me to take on the devotion to the Divine Mercy. They dazzled me with stories and miracles attributed to the power and healing of this commitment. Reading its history also tells how the Divine Providence of God shapes world events. Starting from being a very quiet cloistered nun in Poland to her canonization, Sister Faustina’s story is one of the manifestations of God’s Providence and real influence in shaping the Universal Church. The private revelations of Jesus Christ to Sister Faustina were just that: private. However, as God wills it, from the quiet confines of the convent, the message of God’s mercy slowly creeped back into the awareness and eventual recognition of the Church. It wasn’t by coincidence that in 1965, the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, opened up the first investigations into Sister Faustina’s life and virtues. He submitted a number of documents on her life to the Vatican and requested the official beatification process to start. St. Faustina Kowalska was beatified on April 18, 1993 and canonized, on April 30, 2000, both by Pope St. John Paul II. During her canonization, the Holy Father also instituted the Feast of Mercy for the Universal Church to be celebrated on the eighth day of the Octave of Easter every year.

We haven’t met Jesus in the same way as Sister Faustina, or the Apostles did on that evening of the first week (Gospel: Jn. 20: 19-31) but most of us have encountered Him one way or the other in life’s quiet moments. He is the ever-present God who is always reaching out to us despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. His message has always been “Peace be with you” and this message of telling us not to fear and panic rings hundreds of times in Sacred Scriptures. In fact, the Risen Jesus said to them again that night, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Every time we attend Mass, we encounter the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, telling us again and again, “Peace be with you”. Let us reflect deeper on this mystery of the Divine Mercy and call to mind His reaching out to us in many ways that we can ever imagine. We aren’t only assured of His deep love and forgiveness but He is also committed to see us through the difficulties and challenges that we have. In the same manner, He is asking us to reach out to others, because our happiness isn’t dependent on our own, but is in how we make others around us happy as well.

During these times, let us spend the effort to re-dedicate our commitment and support to the Church who needs us more than ever. Let us contribute whatever time, talent, and treasure that we have. Let us prove to the Lord our gratitude for His Divine Mercy by bringing His love to the world.

“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” (Ps. 118:1)

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