Saturday, April 30, 2011

New birth

2nd Sunday of Easter, cycle A

For the second week of Easter, the focus of attention shifts to the Christian community as a manifestation of the Risen Lord.   This is further strengthened by Peter in his letter that says, "Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. (1 Peter 1, 3)

What is this new birth that causes the Christian community to be united in love?  What is this new birth that gives us sure hope in the promise of inheritance?

In this new birth, we are not subjected to death, for Jesus Christ rises us from the graves of our sins. In this new birth, we are tested in fire, and yet we see this as our purification toward perfection.  In this new birth, though we have not seen Christ, we are already filled with the joy of His presence in our lives.  In this new birth we always experience the joy of Easter because of the Holy Spirit guiding us each day.

Pray to experience the joys of being reborn in Christ!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The resurrection and our baptism into Christ

Easter vigil, cycle A

The message of Easter always points to us being resurrected together with Jesus Christ right this very moment!

In the Pope Benedict's Easter message last year, he mentioned the Jewish Apocryphal literature of Adam sending Seth his son back to paradise to ask for the oil of mercy from the tree of life.  But the angel did not allow Seth to enter, saying, "Adam is subject to death."

Of course in this world we want to live, but do we want to live forever?  We might think that this is impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.  We can live forever!  The one thing that made this when we were baptized into Christ.

Resurrection is intimately linked with our baptism.  But we have to place our total faith on the baptism we have received so that we can receive constantly the oil of mercy and live forever in Christ.   We just need to do two things: to renounce the old ways and to put on the new garment of Christ through renewing our baptismal promises.  The symbols of Easter - the light, water, and Holy Communion all point towards us receiving fully and totally Jesus Christ, making the medicine of life possible.

Embrace fully this gift of Easter - Jesus Christ himself and always sing, "Hallelujah!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Humility and servanthood

Holy Thursday, cycle A

Allow me to reflect on Pope Benedict's homily for Holy Thursday last year.  He gave reference to the prayer of Jesus in John's gospel after he washed the apostles' feet, a sign of total humility and servanthood.

 3"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent".  Desiring life and escaping death seemed to be inherent in our humanity.  Jesus shared with us the secret of real life - only in God and in knowing him.  "Knowledge of God is eternal life!" says Pope Benedict.  Pray to seek the face of God above all else if we want to live.

6"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word."  The next key to life is in Jesus and our intimate relationship with Him as the way to the Father.  But where is Jesus?  He is in the Eucharist that we partake.  Pope Benedict gives the analogy of the temple that though God is everywhere, He still resides fully in His temple.  Embrace fully the Eucharist as the sign of the incarnate presence of Jesus Christ.

 20"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me."  Servanthood entails that we serve one another as a condition of "being Church" or "Ekklesia", a people called by God.

May we fully learn from these words of Jesus as our way to life!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ascent to Jerusalem

Palm Sunday, cycle A

In his homily for Palm Sunday last year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI invites us to go on a pilgrimage on the ascent to Jerusalem.  But this is not simply a pilgrimage; rather, it symbolizes our ascent in Christian life and our ascent before God.

Jesus shows the way toward that ascent.  But what does it take for us to go on that ascent?

Let me quote directly from the Holy Father: 

"Let us sum up: the following of Christ requires, as a first step, a reawakening of the desire to be authentic human beings and thus the reawakening of oneself for God. It then requires us to join the climbing party, in the communion of the Church. In the "we" of the Church we enter into communion with the "you" of Jesus Christ and thus reach the path to God. We are also asked to listen to the Word of Jesus Christ and to live it: in faith, hope and love. Thus we are on the way toward the definitive Jerusalem and, from this moment, in a certain way, we already find ourselves there, in the communion of all God's Saints."

First, let us reawaken in ourselves that intense desire for God as a condition of becoming fully human and fully alive.

Second, be assured of the support of companions.  Believe in the people of God which is the Church.

Thirdly, live out the Word of Jesus until "we find ourselves in the communion of all God's Saints."

A final note in this journey: let us be reminded that  "the Cross is also part of the ascent towards the heights of Jesus Christ."  The Cross which bears the saving heart of Jesus is the key to our ascent from our low stature in life towards the fullness of life in God.   May this inspire us to carry our crosses this Holy Week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To give witness to Jesus

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

This last Sunday of Lent, we are led to answer that ultimate question: who is God to us and who are we to Him?  Just as Jesus is capable raising the dead to life, our ultimate identity is not in death, but in resurrection of Jesus.

First, let us review our lives to the smallest detail whether every moment with a person or event is an opportunity for salvation or sin.  May we have the strength to throw away those that are not helping us attain salvation.

Second, as Jesus confronted Martha about him being the resurrection and the life, "Do you believe in me?" let us finally place ourselves unreservedly to serve Him who is the source of all our lives.  Be fully convinced that He alone can grant us life that will last forever.

Finally, let us aim to be instruments of life for others.  Looking back when my mother who lived a simple but devoted life when she was alive, I realized that she gave us her children values that we  hold on right this very day till forever; these were the treasures of her life that are the sources of treasures also for our children and the next generation.  She was the true instrument of Christ to us; she brought us real life.

Aim for the things that will bring us to life forever.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

In search of the face of Jesus

4th Sunday of Lent, cycle C

Pope Benedict XVI puts most aptly the theme for today's reflection:  "The healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision, so that our faith my become ever deeper and may recognize him as our only Savior."  The journey of looking within ourselves starts now.
 Looking back at the time I responded to this call to be a priest, I wonder how I could have answered this call while others would not?  It started out with questioning whether my initial career path would really be worth it.  It was back in college that I started questioning the sense of it all.  Could it be that I was searching for the face of Jesus?  Could I really be searching for the truth that God intended me to be?

The second is the appreciation of "invisible" things money cannot buy.  Money can buy a bed, but not a restful sleep.  It can buy a house, not a home.  This realization enables us to see the beauty of life that money cannot satisfy.  God allowed me to enjoy the invisible things while I was reflecting to respond fully to His call; for these are the real treasures of life.

The third is to respond that whatever goodness exists in this world belongs to God.  I finally responded to take this way of life as a supreme sacrifice for following the Lord's will.  The fruits of goodness are endless; especially in the lives of people forever touched by the goodness of the Lord.

Aim for the interior, invisible things; Jesus is totally present.