Thursday, March 29, 2018

The true gift

Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-15

We formally enter into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord, or the mystery of his passion, death, and resurrection.  We need to enter fully into this mystery and know what it means for us.   And if there's a word that would encapsulate its meaning, the word would be "gift".

As we are fond of receiving gifts, we also realize that gifts have qualities needed for them to become real gifts.  For instance, a gift has to be freely given with a joyful heart.  If it is forced because we expect to receive something, then it is not truly a gift.  The Holy Eucharist and Jesus' command of love, on the other hand, are authentic gifts from Jesus.  What constitutes a true gift?

First, a gift needs to be given in the spirit of pure, immaculate intentions, as pure as a young lamb prepared for the family during the time of Moses.  In the gospel, Jesus is Begotten Son anointed by the Father with the purest heart filled with love for all of us.

As we also celebrate the Year of the priests and consecrated persons, know that God who is holy expects that his ministers too are holy, and so are the ones who would receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Second, a gift is given in the spirit of great humility.  The washing of the feet is the most obvious manifestation of that state of humility.  Jesus who is God, humbled himself to wash the dirtiest, most used or overworked parts of the human body - the feet.  In order to clean and wash it, there's no other recourse except to bend back and head. 

In order to give the gift of ourselves generously to others, we need a huge amount of bending.  This is the mark of a true Christian, not in the times we received God's bountiful graces, but in the times we've given ourselves to others in humble service.

And third, a gift becomes redemptive to the recipient.  In the Old Testament reading, the blood of the Lamb became the sign of salvation for the people of Israel.  Meanwhile, the Angel of Death killed the first-born of those without this sign.  The sign of our salvation is and will always be Jesus.

May our every action as Christians always account for the salvation of others.  It's time that our every gift, the gift of ourselves becomes redemptive for others.  As Jesus has ordained priests and religious in every time and place, all of us are called to make a mark in the history of salvation by becoming Jesus' gifts for the salvation of the world. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How to live humbly

Palm Sunday

Mark 14:1-15:47 

As we enter into the holiest of all weeks, we focus all our attention to Jesus as he formally enters into Jerusalem, eventually entering into the very mystery of our salvation.

Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, enters Jerusalem riding a colt or ass, a sign of of humility.  People also respond in humility by throwing their garments on the ground and others waving palm branches that exude fragrance.

The Beloved Son of God teaches us a valuable lesson in humility.  As he humbles himself to save us, so too we respond in total humility and love to Jesus and others.

As Jesus enters the temple, he brings all of us with him.  We are built as a Church with Jesus our cornerstone.  Life is now changed in Jesus.

In the Gospel which narrates the passion and death of Jesus, humility is very much at work here.  Jesus becomes bread and wine for us to eat and drink, always keeping in mind that he, our Lord, gives himself unconditionally, body and blood, by embracing our humanity.  We are challenged to use our humanity to save others.

In conclusion, let us travel through the path of humility:

First, by ridding ourselves of any notion of self-exultation or self-preservation.  The Lord will utilize humble people for his work, not the proud and self-filled.

Second, by relying totally on his grace and goodness.  Peter was confronted with his own weakness when he denied our Lord. Yet, Jesus made him the prince of the Church.  We realize that life would have order if we rely totally on the goodness and grace of God.

Finally, by serving one another in love.  The Church which is Christ's body on earth, could be the source of hope to a world dying of sin.  Let's dedicate time, talent and treasure to be Christ's body here on earth by our love for one another. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

How to make our love perfect

5th Sunday of Lent

John 12:20-33

In the 4th Sunday of Lent, on its 33rd day, the readings point out to love - aligning our love with the love of God.

This love is the cause of the new Law that would be planted in our hearts.  We would detect it's love coming from God.  There's no need to educate us to that love.  It's Jesus' love.

We are to love as Jesus loves.  How did Jesus show his love?

He showed love through his passion, death, and resurrection.  He also invites us to enter into our deaths so we may rise again to new life in Jesus.

Second, discipleship is a natural consequence of this love.  There would be no need to explain.  The disciple in love would follow Jesus immediately.

Third, this love would lead to total emptying of self for the sake of others.  It is totally other-centered.

Never grow weary of knowing Jesus' love.  Feel it and live it.

As we celebrate St. Joseph's feast tomorrow, let's also remember how St. Joseph died to self to marry Mary as a sign of following God.  Second, he fulfilled his being disciple taking care of the Mary and Jesus, and he did it all for the sake of others.

Jesus commands us to perfect that love in our hearts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reasons to rejoice


4th Sunday of Lent


John 3: 14 - 21

Laetare Sunday means "Rejoice!"

According to the www.fathersforgood.org, the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 18th) is called Laetare Sunday, when the Church takes a bit of breather from Lenten practice and opens Mass with the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice, Jerusalem … Be joyful, all who were in mourning!” – taken from Isaiah chapter 66 (www.fathersforgood.org/ffg/en/big_four/laetare_sunday.html).

Though Jerusalem was captured by the Persians, still Cyrus made a public declaration to build the temple and allow the people to come back and worship in the temple of the Lord.  That's a reason to rejoice.

In the Gospel, no matter how deep the wounds of sin inflict our relationship with God, he wouldn't condemn the world:  "Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.  For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved."

God's love is enough reason for the whole mankind to rejoice.

First, God loves us with an everlasting love.  Let our love for God be permanent and eternal.  Let's acknowledge the permanence of love, a love that reaches eternal life in heaven.

Second, God loves us with a salvific love.  It is supplied for us by Jesus who aimed to save us from sin.  Let's not choosy in the way we love.  Rather, let our relationship be opportunities to save the other and lead him / her to heaven.

Third, God loves us with a sacrificial love.  As Jesus chose to sacrifice his life for love, may we imitate him by suffering on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are poor.  Remember, no one attained salvation by sitting comfortably in a chair.