Thursday, June 30, 2011

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear”

"I do not fear at all what men can do to me for speaking the truth. I only fear what God would do if I were to lie."- St John Bosco

Gospel text (Mt 9,1-8):
After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

Today's Gospel is another instance of the Saviour's mercy, in two different aspects at the same time: the illness of the body and the sickness of the soul. And, the soul being more important Jesus starts with it. He knows the sick man has repented of his faults, He sees his faith and that of those bringing him, and says: «Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven» (Mt 9:2).

Sin cripples us in a way that a physical ailment would. It breaks us down and holds us back; it hurts us and it prevents us from walking with Christ. We can be blind by avoiding seeing those who are suffering around us. We can be deaf by not hearing other people’s cries for help or for not hearing God when he speaks to us. We can have a spinal disability when we are too scared to stand up for what is right. We can be paralyzed when our sins overtake our lives and make us incapable of acting justly. These physical ailments limit us and weaken us. But Christ shows that with him he can heal our ailments. When Jesus came to the paralytic lying on the stretcher he said to him, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven,” and then later, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” And the paralytic man rose and went home. We too can be healed of our ‘physical ailments’ by confessing our sins to the Lord. Christ’s infinite and loving mercy will heal us from the sins that trap us like a physical ailment.

Today we are called to reflect on our sins and how they have affected our lives, and we are called to trust in Christ to forgive us and heal us. We are called to question, 'how have my sins limited and weakened me? How can I turn to the Lord to ask for healing? And how do I rid my future of such crippling sins?'

Although the Lord is all-knowing, He is all-merciful and all-loving. Accept His unconditional acceptance of you. Let Jesus wash away by His blood the sins of your past through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Live in the freedom and purity of His unconditional love (see Jn 15:9).

We must reaffirm our confidence in him. But, we should remember we are also sinners, so let us not close ourselves to his Grace.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One man, Peter, was chosen out from the whole world

"It is better and more profitable to be simple and less well educated but close to God through charity than to appear wise and gifted but to blaspheme the Master." - St. Irenaeus

Gospel text (Mt 16,13-19):
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

What is meant by this Gospel? Does it echo the three denials right before Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection? Maybe. But I like to interpret this Gospel from an applied personal perspective.

Let us place ourselves in the shoes of Simon Peter. Our Savior, our Messiah, approaches us and asks us, ‘Do you love me?’ Knowing myself—right here, right now—I would immediately answer, ‘yes’. And quite frankly, I think we all would. Even Simon Peter. But does that “yes” come from the deep sincerity of our hearts, or is it just “the right answer”? To solve this dilemma, Jesus tells us, ‘if you truly mean what you say, then feed my sheep’.

Taking this situation and applying it to my daily life, I—like many—say that I am a Christian: I wear a cross necklace, I say grace in public, I wear shirts blazoned with J-E-S-U-I-T on the front and back, and so on and so forth. So I talk the talk, but do I walk the walk; do I live by what those icons represent? In the scheme of things, a cross around my neck is nice, but it only scrapes the surface of spirituality. If I truly live by that cross, that means I must be open to how God calls me, no matter how bizarre I may find it.

Daily, Jesus calls us to feed his sheep; God calls us to prove our devotion to him by living out his everlasting love. More times than not, I think that the feeding of the sheep are small acts of simple kindness that we often overlook. We think that to impress God, we have to complete some crazy, mystical act of complexity with smoke, lights, and the whole nine yards. But the opposite is true. God would rather we live in such a way that our everyday actions revolve around lending a hand and spreading the love he gave us. He is asking for us to contribute what little we have into making a significant difference.

We have no idea as to when and how God calls us. Sometimes we may even laugh at the notion, for we feel that the door opened for us is too ‘out there’ to safely enter. But faith, like many aspects of life, requires taking risks. We need to simply 'let go and let God.'

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“What is it that renders death terrible? Sin. We must therefore fear sin, not death.”

Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego

Gospel text (Mt 8,23-27):
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

Try to imagine this scene from the Gospel playing out in contemporary times. With recent natural disasters in the world, I try to visualize Jesus standing in a shaking building during an earthquake, maybe even napping as the tremors start. As things fall around him and people become overwhelmed with hysteria, Jesus is calm and even exudes calm. People would think he is crazy for not reacting in the expected way. Instead he understands that the physical existence of the world is not where the most essential part of our existence lies.

I’m sure the disciples felt similarly, fearing that their life's journey would come to an end in the middle of the cold, lonely sea. The sea can be seen as our inner self, restless and unpredictable, even dangerous at times. While we inwardly are frightened of the terrible things, real and imagined, occurring in our lives, Jesus lets us know that our fear is not necessary.

And from embarrassment and fear the disciples shifted to admiration and astonishment, for they had witnessed this prodigy, unheard of until then. The surprise, the admiration, the wonder of such a drastic change in a situation they were living arose in them a central question: «What kind of man is he? Even the winds and the sea obey him» (Mt 8:27). Who can assuage storms on earth and skies and, at the same time, those in men's hearts?

St. Augustine said it well when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” When we place our trust in things that are not truly permanent (our boats, our buildings, our successes, our failures) we find that we stand on a platform that topples with the storm. But if we can find the calm Jesus talks of that comes from our love for one another, our spirits can experience smooth sailing.

Whenever we may be afraid the earth is collapsing under our feet, let us not forget that our Savior is God himself made man, and that He is always close to us.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our problems are opportunities to discover God’s solutions

'When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly.'
--St. Sebastian Valfre

Gospel text (Mt 8,18-22):
When Jesus saw a crowd around him,
he gave orders to cross to the other shore.
A scribe approached and said to him,
“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Another of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead.”

This reading speaks to the reality of following Jesus. The charism in the life and words of Jesus was very attractive to those in the crowd who listened carefully to his words and teaching. However, Jesus knows that those who follow him will not lead an idyllic life. And so he warns the scribe and the disciple of the realities of a life of following him. First of all Jesus warns them that those who follow him will lead a life of hardship. Like Jesus, they will travel about hither and yon as itinerant preachers. They will not lead a settled life, but rather a difficult and unsettled one. Their days will not follow a fixed schedule but rather will be determined by the needs of the people among whom they find themselves. They will go wherever they can attract a crowd. Their goal will be to preach and to teach. Secondly, Jesus wants these men to know that there is danger as well as hardship in a life of following him. In the land of Israel there was the danger of the opposition to Jesus and his followers of the chief priests and the leaders of the people. Elsewhere there was the danger of persecution throughout the Roman Empire. The deaths by martyrdom of the apostles and many other disciples of Jesus testify to the reality of this danger. The life of a disciple was a dangerous and difficult one.

So we may well ask: "What made the disciples choose a life like this?" The answer, of course, is that the disciples chose this difficult life because of their devotion to Jesus. The scribe and the disciple that we hear about today were like all the other followers of Jesus throughout the last 2000 years. They had learned well his teachings and willingly chose to follow him. They chose a life of hardship and danger here on earth in the firm belief that such a life would merit them an eternal reward in heaven. Their desire to follow Jesus everywhere provides us a wonderful example. Like them, we can become followers of Jesus too.

It simply is a choice!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Solemnity of Corpus Christi - Jesus, what made You so small? LOVE!

"If I can give you any advice, I beg you to get closer to the Eucharist and to Jesus... We must pray to Jesus to give us that tenderness of the Eucharist."-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Today the one and only message we have to listen to and to live with is contained in “the bread”. Chapter 6th of St. John's Gospel refers to the miracle of the multiplication of the breads, which is followed by a great talk of Jesus, a fragment of which we are today listening to. We are keenly interested in understanding it, not only to properly live the festivity of the “Corpus Christi” and the sacrament of the Eucharist, but also to fully grasp one of the central messages of John's Gospel.

There are crowds craving for bread. There is an entire mankind, without any hope whatsoever, facing death and a bottomless void, in desperate need for Jesus Christ. And God's People, believer and devotee, that needs to find His real presence to go on living in Him to attain life. There are three kinds of hunger and three experiences of fullness, for three kinds of bread: the material bread, the bread represented by the person of Jesus Christ and the Eucharistic bread.

We know Jesus Christ is the bread of life. Without Him we cannot possibly live: «Apart from me you can do nothing» (Jn 15:5). But, Jesus Christ also wanted to appease the crowd's hunger and, furthermore, He made of it a fundamental evangelic must. Most surely He thought it was a good way to reveal and verify God's salvific love. But He likewise wanted to become accessible to us, in the form of bread, so that, those of us that are still marching on in history, may remain in that love and, thus, attain life.

But, over everything else, He wanted to show us that we have to seek Him and to live in Him; He wanted to prove his love by sating the hungry, by assiduously offering himself in the Eucharist: «Whoever eats of this bread will live forever» (Jn 6:58). St. Augustine commented on this Gospel with daring words: «When you eat Christ, you eat life (…). If, then, you separate to the point of eating the Body and Blood of Christ no more, it is to be feared you die».

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York Legislature Undermines True Marriage, Family, Society and the Common Good

Statement by the Bishops of New York
"The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves.

"This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

"We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

"Our society must regain what it appears to have lost - a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America's foundational principles."

Next, the personal response from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn:

"Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society.

"With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures.

"What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship.

"In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.

"The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex "marriage." It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness.

"This issue has been framed as upholding marriage equality. This is not the case since one of the principal purposes of marriage is to bring new life into the world. This cannot happen in same-sex marriage. It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage. Our political leaders do not believe their own rhetoric. If they did, how in good conscience could they carve out any exemption for institutions that would be proponents of bigotry and prejudice?

"Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions."

Friday, June 24, 2011

"What have you done with your baptism and confirmation?

"He must increase; I must decrease." - Saint John the Baptist.

Gospel text (Lc 1,57-66.80):
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Today, we solemnly celebrate the Nativity of the Baptist. St. John is a man of contrasts: he lives in the silence of the desert, but right from there he appeals to the crowds with convincing voice inviting them to convert; he is humble enough to say he is only the voice, not the Word, but he does not mince his words and dares to accuse and denounce all injustices even to the very king; he urges his disciples to meet with Jesus, but he does not mind rebuking king Herod while he is in prison. Silent and humble, he is also strong and courageous enough to shed his blood. John the Baptist is a great man!, the greatest of them all, as Jesus himself will say in praise, but he is only Christ's precursor.

Perhaps, the secret of his greatness is the realization of knowing he has been chosen by God; this is how the evangelist explains it: «And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel» (Lk 1:80). All his childhood and youth was marked by the understanding of his mission: to provide testimony; which he does by baptizing Christ in the river Jordan, by favorably disposing the crowds for the Lord and, at the end of his life, by shedding his blood in favor of the truth. With our knowledge about John, we could answer the question his contemporary was wondering about: «What will this child be?» (Lk 1:66).

Through our baptism, we have been all chosen and sent to bear witness of the Lord. In an environment of indifference, St. John is a encouraging example to imitate. On this special birthday celebration, the Lord wants to loose your tongue to prophesy. Will you accept His gift, no matter what?

In John, his attitude as a Messenger, clearly explicit in attentive prayer to the Spirit, in his fortitude and humility, helps us to establish new horizons of sanctity for us and for our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing.”

"Living to glorify God means doing everything for Him, His way, to point to His greatness and to reflect His goodness."

Gospel text (Mt 7,21-29):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

Why does the Lord "pick on" Spirit-filled people? Billions of people are not doing God's will, but the Lord focuses on those with spiritual gifts of prophecy, deliverance, and miracles (Mt 7:22). He even threatens to declare solemnly to charismatics: "I never knew you. Out of My sight, you evildoers!" (Mt 7:23)

The Lord also picks on Spirit-filled people in the famous passage about love. Many people in this world lack love. In some way, everyone is unloving, but the Lord once again focuses on those with spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, ministry to the poor, and martyrdom (1 Cor 13:1-3). People with these gifts are extremely blessed, but the Lord calls them "noisy gongs," "clanging cymbals," and even "nothing" unless they have love (see 1 Cor 13:1-3).

Today’s Gospel reading, while it could appear to be chastisement for not following God’s will or merely hearing words but not putting what Jesus taught into action, his words ooze love. These sayings are meant to point people toward the ability to live fulfilling lives on this earth with as much joy, happiness, and love for others as possible. Jesus is telling us to not live for ourselves, continuing to do good things without the foundation of God’s love guiding our actions or to hear what he preaches and then disregard the teachings as not being applicable to us. He desires with his whole heart that we let his language burn into our hearts, minds, and lips to feel his love, realize his life story, and share with others his message.

The Lord picks on Spirit-filled people because He has given them so much. He expects much from those who have been given much (Lk 12:48). The power of those who have accepted their spiritual gifts is so great that the Lord especially challenges them to repentance, obedience, and love.

Today's contemplation and our prayer, must be followed by a serious consideration: how do I speak and behave like a Christian in my life?; how do I define my testimony?; how do I undertake the commandment of love in my life, whether personal, family, professional, etc.? Our prayer should always be an expression of our craving for doing good deeds along with a request for help, because we recognize our own failings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Can you recognize a good tree? Are you a good tree?

“The fruit of silence is prayer - the fruit of prayer is faith - the fruit of faith is love - the fruit of love is service - the fruit of service is peace.” (Mother Teresa)

Gospel text (Mt 7,15-20): Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them.”

Today, a new evangelic contrast opens up before our eyes, the one between the good tree and the bad one. The avowals of Jesus are so simple they look almost simplistic. But we can affirm that they are certainly not! They are not simplistic, as real life is not simplistic either.

In the Gospel today, Jesus warns us that appearances can be deceiving. We can’t just judge a book by its cover, we have to find out what’s inside. A wolf can wear a sheepskin, but that doesn’t make him a sheep. It’s a trick. He’s trying to look innocent, but he wants to eat the sheep – something a real sheep could never do. Real sheep will eat grass. A wolf in sheep clothing will eat sheep. Changing his outward appearance does not change his inner nature. He is still a wolf regardless of his appearance, and his behavior will show his true nature. Grapes come from grapevines and nowhere else. Thorn bushes cannot produce grapes. It’s not in their nature. Apples can never grow from an ivy tree. Everything has an innate nature that will show through.

Jesus also teaches us good trees can degenerate and end up by bearing bad fruits while, on the other hand, there may be rotten trees ending up by bearing good fruits. So what does that actually mean? Perhaps, that «every good tree bears good fruit» (Mt 7:17)? No, it means that the good one is good as long as he does not stop doing good. That he does good and he does not get tired of it. He does good and he does not give up before the temptation to do evil. He does good and perseveres in heroism. He does good, and if by any chance, he yields to the weariness of doing it, falls before the temptation of doing evil, or gets scared before the non-negotiable postulate, he sincerely and truly admits it, heartily repents and... restarts all over again.

What is the moral of our little story today? Look at actions, not appearances. Don’t trust the wolf who looks innocent in the sheepskin, but see what fruit he bears. He will prove himself to be the ravenous monster he is underneath, not the innocent sheep he appears on the surface. Only a fig tree can bear figs, you’ll only get stung by a thistle. The good people will show their goodness, and the bad cannot hide their true nature for long.

It is not enough to say: «Lord, Lord!». As St. James reminds us, faith is shown through our works!: «Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works» (Jm 2:18).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Practicing the Golden Rule is not a sacrifice; it is an investment

“One day, I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end of the road without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And there numbers were so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness, and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings."--Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, #153

Gospel text (Mt 7,6.12-14):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

The Gospel reading for today is a mix of popular aphorisms and clichés. Most recognizable is the “Golden Rule,” an important lesson which many of us learned during our childhood. However, have you ever considered what it means to “treat your neighbor as yourself?” What are the concrete actions that one must take to fulfill this commandment? Perhaps this is what Jesus means when he speaks of the narrow gate that leads to life and fulfillment. It’s easy for us to simply “be nice” or “get along” with others, and even easier to keep the status quo and succumb to making degrading and disparaging remarks.

Doing unto our neighbor what we would have done to us implies transparency of actions towards the other, the acknowledgement of their similitude to God, of their dignity. Why do we want the Good for ourselves? Because we recognize it as a means of identity and union with the Creator. Since the Good is, for us, the only means to achieve life in its fullest, its absence is unconceivable in our relationship with our neighbors. There is no place for the good when falseness prevails and evil dominates.

Here is a question to consider. When was the last time we made a concerted effort to treat someone with love and respect, even when we don’t think they deserve it? As Jesus suggests, this lifestyle is not popular, nor does it come without challenge. However, our ultimate reward is everlasting life. Moreover, our temporal reward is the strengthening of our relationships and the fostering of community. This, ultimately, is the goal and meaning of life—that we live for and with others, and in doing so, journey with each other down the narrow road to eternity.

Lastly, the “narrow gate”… Pope Benedict asks us: «What does this "narrow door" mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a chosen few? » No! The message of Christ is that «everyone may enter life, but the door is "narrow" for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is "narrow" because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one's selfishness».

Let us pray to the Lord, who won universal salvation with His own life and resurrection, to gather us all in the eternal life Banquet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

"This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people." – (C. S. Lewis The Case for Christianity)

Gospel text (Mt 7,1-5):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

Do not judge. This is such a simple command given to us by God, but so difficult for us to follow. As I reflect on my days I like to think that I don’t judge others and that I am always doing the best I can to truly love my neighbor. Many times I would probably even say that I make it through a day without judging anyone else. But then I stop and think, realizing that speaking words to a person isn’t the only way to judge someone. I can easily get caught up in thinking the wrong things about my neighbors, whether it is judging them for the way they dress, dwelling on a past incident, or maybe just stereotyping someone. There are so many ways that I find myself falling short of loving others.

I find it very important to take time to find what is wrong in my own life that I need to take care of. It can be so easy to see what another person might be doing wrong, but if I continually point out the faults of others, I have no time to realize that I need to fix things about myself as well.

Jesus said: «Do not judge and you will not be judged» (Mt 7:1). But Jesus had also said that we are to correct our sinful brother, and to do that we have got to previously make some kind of judgment. In his writings, St. Paul does judge the Corinthian community and St. Peter condemns Ananias and his wife Sapphira for falsehood. Because of that, St. John Crisostom explains: «Jesus is not saying we cannot prevent a sinner from sinning; we have to correct him, indeed, though not as the enemy seeking revenge but, rather, as a doctor applying the cure». It seems, therefore, our judgment should be mostly made with an aim to mend, not to take revenge.

Mother Teresa certainly said it best when she said we can’t love others if we are judging them, and God has called us to love everyone. Knowing this, the decision to not judge should be easy. We either choose to obey or disobey God and by loving others, we love him. I know I certainly don’t want to not love God and disobey. I know many times I think that if I don’t put thoughts into words it isn’t as bad, but God knows our thoughts. I certainly want to do my best to think about my thoughts and make sure that what I think about others is loving.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name

“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice”

(Ephesians 3:14 - 19)"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

On this weekend when we stop the frenetic pace of life to honor and remember fathers, we have an opportunity to reflect on what really matters most in our lives. The ones who have "named" us, our fathers, have helped to give us our identity. They are a gift to be received and we should thank them. They are also a sign of the very Fatherhood of God.

"Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundation for freedom, security and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society" (2207). Thus, there is a direct relationship between the well being of the family and true freedom.

What are fathers being called upon to do today?

Fathering is a great gift and a great responsibility. It cannot be lived in its fullness without grace, the Divine Life of God which is given to us through Jesus Christ and mediated through our life in His church, in Word and Sacrament. In the Holy Eucharist we receive the One who is the Source and means of all grace.

Fathers need to speak the truth about our relationships and defend that truth against those who are perverting it. It seems to me that this is what fathers are being called to do today, that this is how we share in God's fatherhood.

Fathers also need to sustain what is right and good in their families. Perhaps the best thing fathers can do for their families and society is to nurture their relationship with God and develop a devout prayer life. They can also defend motherhood by sustaining the dignity of motherhood and motivating others to do so. And they can love their children's mother like Christ loves his Church.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I kept on digging the hole deeper looking for the treasure chest until I looked up and realized that I had dug my own grave.

"If souls but understood the Treasure they possess in the Divine Eucharist, it would be necessary to encircle the tabernacles with the strongest ramparts for, in the delirium of a devouring and holy hunger, they would press forward themselves to feed on the Bread of Angels. The Churches would overflow with adorers consumed with love for the Divine prisoner no less by night than by day." - Blessed Dina Belanger

Gospel text (Mt 6,19-23): Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Today, the Lord tells us that «the lamp of the body is the eye» (Mt 6:22). St. Thomas claims that when speaking of the eye Jesus refers to man's intentions. When our intention is right, luminous, pointing to God, all our actions are bright, resplendent; but when your intention becomes darkness. how dark will be the darkest part of us (cf. Mt 6:23).

If we are malicious or wicked, our intention may not be straight, but more often than not this is just because we are lacking some good sense. We live as if we would have been born to pile up riches and we could think of nothing else. To make money, to buy, to possess, to have. We want others to admire us, or perhaps to envy us. We deceive one another, we suffer, we worry, we cause pain and cannot find the desired happiness we at looking for. But Jesus makes us another proposal: «Store up treasure for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy nor thief come and steal it» (Mt 6:20). Heaven is the barn where good actions are stored, and this sure is a forever lasting treasure.

Let us be sincere and honest with ourselves: where are our efforts directed to, which are our endeavors? True, good Christians must honestly study and labour to make a living, to raise a family, to insure their future and a peaceful life when we are old, and they must also work with an aim to help others … All this is, indeed, is a characteristic of a good Christian. But, if what you are looking for, is to have more and more all the time, placing your heart in those riches, forgetting any good action, drawing a blank upon the fact we are here just provisionally, that our life is just a passing shadow, is it not true —then— that our eye is in darkness, and then question truly is «how dark will be the darkest part of you?» (Mt 6:23).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive"

"Put up willingly with the faults of others if you wish others to put up with yours." - Don Bosco

Gospel text (Mt 6,7-15):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Today, Jesus proposes us a great and difficult target: to forgive those who offend us. And He establishes a very reasonable measure: ours: «If you forgive others their wrongs, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you either» (Mt 6:14-15). In another place, He had already given us the Golden Rule of human coexistence: «In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets» (Mt 7:12).

We want God to forgive us and would like others to forgive us too; but, on the other hand, we seem quite reluctant to do it ourselves. To apologize is kind of difficult; but to forgive is even more so. Should we be humbler, it should not be so difficult; but our pride makes it much harder. This is why we could establish the following equation: the humbler, the easier; the prouder, the more difficult. This will give us a clue to find out our degree of humility.

When the Spanish Civil War was over (year 1939), some ex-captive priests were celebrating a thanksgiving mass in a small town, somewhere in Spain. The officiating priest, after saying the words of the Lord's Prayer «and forgive us our debts», he remained speechless and was unable to go on. He could not drive himself to forgive those who had made them suffer so much in a hard labor camp, in that very same town. After a few moments of a most impressive silence, he went on with the prayer: «as we forgive our debtors». Afterwards, they asked themselves which homily had been the best one. And they all agreed: the silence of the officiating priest when he was saying the Lord’s Prayer. It is difficult, but with the Lord’s help it is possible.

Furthermore, God's forgiveness is total; it gets as far as oblivion. We tend to forget pretty soon the favors we receive, but not so much so with offenses... If married couples knew how to forget them, they would avoid, and probably overcome, many family dramas.

Let us hope the Mother of mercy helps us understanding our fellow men and forgiving them totally.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.”

"What I can do, you cannot. What you can do, I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God." -Mother Teresa.

Gospel text (Mt 6,1-6.16-18):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Today, Jesus invites us to act always for the glory of God, to please the Father, as this is what we have been created for. This is how the Catechism of the Church confirms it: «God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to serve and love and to offer all creation back to him». This is the meaning of our life and our honour: to be loved by the Father, to please God. This is the example Christ left with us. If only the Father could give for each one of us the same testimony as He gave for his Son in the moment of his baptism: «This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased» (Mt 3:17).

Dishonesty of intention would be especially grave and ridiculous if happening in actions such as prayer, fasting or alms, as these are pious and charitable deeds, that is, deeds that —per se— are due to the virtue of religion or deeds we carry out for the love of God.

Therefore, «be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven» (Mt 6:1). How could we please God if, to start with, we are trying to be seen in order to be praised —first of all— by others? It is not that we have to hide from our fellow men so that they will not see us, but it is rather a question, in the first place, of directly addressing our good deeds to God. It does not matter, nor is it bad others may see us: on the contrary, we may give them example with the coherent testimony of our deeds.

But when it does matter —and a lot!— is that we can see God behind our deeds. We must, therefore, carefully examine our true intentions in whatever we are doing, and see that we are not seeking our own interest, if we are really trying to serve the Lord» (St. Gregory the Great).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.” - Mohandas K. Gandhi

Gospel text (Mt 5,43-48):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . .” These instructions from Jesus are familiar to us as Christians. They are so familiar, in fact, that we probably either believe we follow them well-enough and don’t pay much attention to them or we place them into our personal “not to be taken literally” category. After all, Jesus could not have meant that we should love and pray for Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, or Osama bin Laden. Could he? Really?

Today’s Gospel is probably one of the toughest to live out. When I was younger, I understood Jesus’ command to love my enemies as a strange one, but I went along with it because it didn’t seem that hard. Although I knew people that I didn’t particularly like, I was pretty generous in wishing everyone well, being kind, etc. As I’ve gotten older, however, I have found this Gospel harder to live by. With age has come experience and perspective, much of which is good but much of which is also bad. When another has offended me or a loved one, or even when I reflect on the evil that some people do to others whom I might not know, I find that it is increasingly difficult to love that person because of what they have done.

And yet, love is not something given to someone because of anything they have done or not done but because of who s/he is: a child of God. Jesus tells us that God loves all his children, the good and the bad, by giving them both the rain and the sunshine, and, as St. Paul says in today’s first reading (2 Cor 8:1-9), Jesus showed us this love by becoming poor for us so that we could become rich. His message shows us that love for all is essential to being God’s children and that he does not expect any less from us than to show that love to others.

Of course, this is challenging because it seems to go against our natural desire. This is the genius of Jesus’ call, though: we are called to move beyond ourselves to become like him. I don’t wish here to offer recommendations on how to implement this practically: our different experiences, dispositions, and outlooks are so varied that we probably already know areas in our life that we need to work on in order to be more loving, and each of us probably knows best the people and counsel that can help us achieve this goal. In any case, the theme among them is the call to be children of our Heavenly Father through loving all, even our enemies, just as he did. Let’s pray today that the Lord may help us identify who or what in our lives are our enemies so that we may be more demonstrative in our love toward them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The time is always right to do the right thing

“The message of Good Friday is that the dictum of "an eye for an eye" cannot work. The way to conquer evil is through good. Similarly, violence can be overcome only by non-violence and hatred by love.”

Gospel text (Mt 5,38-42):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

Today, Jesus teaches us that forgiveness can overcome hate. Truth should always accompany forgiveness. We do not just forgive because we feel helpless or gravely embarrassed. Quite often, the expression “to turn the other cheek” is misinterpreted as waiving our legitimate rights. Certainly, nothing of the sort. To turn the other cheek means to denounce and interpellate, with a peaceful but categorical gesture, whoever has done the injustice committed; it is like saying: «You slapped me on the cheek, ¿now what, you want to slap me on the other too? do you really think you are behaving rightly?». Jesus replied serenely to the high priest's rude servant: «If I said something wrong testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?» (Jn 18:23).

We can, therefore, see what our Christian behaviour must be: not to retaliate, but to stay firm; to be open to forgiveness but clearly say things. It is certainly not an easy task to accomplish, but it is the only way to put a stop to violence and show the world the Divine Grace it is lacking of, so often. St. Basil advises us: «Believe me and you will forget the offences and insults you get from your fellow man. You will see how differently you will be named; he will be called angry and violent while you will be cited as meek and peaceful. One day, he will repent of his violence, but you will never regret your meekness».

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost Sunday - “A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit's aid than he can create a world.”

O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. - Saint Augustine

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them" (Acts 2: 2-3).

Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and special gifts, our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Too much emphasis on special and private experiences can cloud, confuse and distort our understanding of the way the Holy Spirit lives in us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Through these sacraments, the Holy Spirit enlightens us with ten special gifts. The three gifts that we receive at our Baptism are faith, hope, and charity. The seven gifts we receive at our Confirmation are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

We need to remember that through these sacraments we have received an amazing treasure of gifts. It is through our daily spiritual life that these gifts allow us to persevere on our journey to eternity and allow us to be effective and courageous witnesses of the Gospel.

On this Pentecost Sunday we need to open our hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many times the gifts that we have already received through Baptism and Confirmation can not become fully effective in our lives because our sins, inclinations and attachments are blocking the action of grace in our souls. Sin, inclinations and attachments are like bad cholesterol.

Whatever may be holding us back from an intimate relationship with God must be uprooted from our lives so that we can fully live the new life that Jesus has gained for us through the Paschal Mystery. We need to leave behind our attachments to worldly desires. We need to avoid all those sinful attitudes and actions that give Satan a grip on our lives. On this Pentecost Sunday we need to renew our decision to always walk with the Lord. This continual struggle to love the Lord and do his will is not an easy task. However, the Holy Spirit not only assists us in this struggle, he is always there to renew our daily efforts.

In order that the gifts that we have received through Baptism and Confirmation can be effective and transforming, it is necessary that we be living deeply spiritual lives. First of all, we need to cultivate daily moments of silence. Secondly, we need to set aside time for contemplative prayer. Thirdly, in order to ensure our success in doing this, we need to regulate our daily lives with discipline so that we may carry out the duties and routines of our daily existence in an orderly manner, always allowing sufficient time for prayer. Daily prayer, sacramental life, and the meditation of the Scriptures need to be a part of our normal existence.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We cannot underestimate the power of prayer and the difference it will make in our world

You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy - the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud. -- St. Vincent de Paul

Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6)
R. (see 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

This line is constantly reiterated throughout the readings, and it was written for a purpose. We can see that the author wants to give us, the readers, reminders that God is not invisible. He is the all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present being, but he cares for each and every one of us like we are the only individuals in this world. He cares for us and has a careful plan for each of us, even when our lives seem chaotic and distorted. More importantly, God is always reaching out to us, reminding us that we have a plan built by the One who desperately loves us.

We saw the effects of God’s love and how people can fully understand his grace during the earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan in March of 2011, where even after a disaster of such magnitude, the country experienced no looting or violence during its recovery. This instance is a great reminder that God is able to reveal his power and love, not by direct divine intervention like a saving hand reaching down from the sky, but that his love exists in every one of us, whether we know it or not.

Today, let us give up our own separate plans of what our lives should become, and instead be simple lights of the world. Let us be encouraged to continuously remind ourselves that God is in control, even when our lives are in shambles or our enemies reach out to hurt us. God loves us ever so much, and it is our responsibility as disciples of Christ to love our neighbors and enemies in the same way. May peace be with you today

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Do not try to excuse your faults; try to correct them."

“Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.”--St. John Chrysostom an Easter sermon

Gospel text (Jn 21,15-19):
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
“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.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

There are just two charcoal fires in the whole Bible, and they are both in the Gospel of John. The first is mentioned at John 18:18, the charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard around which the slaves and guards warmed themselves when the gatekeeper says to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples are you?” and Peter says, “I am not.” Questioned like that two more times, Peter, now warming himself at the same fire, denies being a disciple of Jesus two more times.

The second charcoal fire is the one on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius (the Sea of Galilee, renamed for the current emperor), apparently prepared by the risen Lord Jesus (21:9), which sets the scene for today’s Gospel reading, where the same Peter is questioned three times by Jesus, “Do you love me?” and the disciple now affirms his allegiance three times. So in one place a charcoal fire is the setting for a threefold denial of discipleship, and in the other place a charcoal fire is the setting for a threefold affirmation of discipleship. A coincidence? I think not.

Today’s Gospel reading is a reminder for me that my life is not my own. I have always found this to be a very profound passage. When Jesus tells Peter that he will be carried away in old age, to death, it always makes me stop. This is really big. Jesus asked Peter three times to say that he loved him, and then, he tells him this. Peter must be wondering exactly what that means.

To me, this is very impressive. Peter now knows that if he sticks with Jesus, his life will not end well. And yet, Peter does preach the message of salvation through Jesus even though he knows the cost with absolute certainty. This passage reminds me to be listening for what God wants from me in my life, because my life ultimately is not mine, but his. I must learn to love him so deeply that even death cannot scare me away from sharing what I know with the world. Peter, because he had this kind of love for Jesus, did feed the lambs, tend the sheep, and feed the sheep, because Jesus asked him to. It was as simple as that.

Now, we all know that Peter wasn’t perfect—he denied Jesus three times before his death, and after the resurrection he bickered with Paul about how to preach the good news, but that isn’t what is important here. What is important in this passage is that he followed the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

“Remember - Upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all”

“Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church” - Saint Thomas Aquinas

Gospel text (Jn 17,20-26):
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”

Many worldly people, especially young people, are extremely naive about unity. They even think they can "make love" and make unity by their own power. They think they can make a marriage work without a commitment to the Lord, without the Church, and often without prayer. Most of these naive, worldy people are soon crushed in their broken relationships.

As brokenness and unfaithfulness become a pattern in their lives, they despair of love and unity and become cynical about even their possibility. Thus, when a crushed and broken person meets true love and unity, they can't believe it. They deny it and wait for it to unmask. However, if this marriage, family, church, or community is truly in love and in unity, the worldly person is strongly challenged to repent, forgive, and believe in Jesus who will baptize them in the Spirit of unity (see Mk 1:8). If they accept the Lord's salvation, these souls who are deeply loved by God then have a new Pentecost where barriers against communication are broken down (see Acts 2:6ff). They are baptized in one Spirit into one body (1 Cor 12:13). They are of one mind and heart with their brothers and sisters in Christ (Acts 4:32). They begin to be one as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 17:21).

We have Pentecost when our love for the Lord and for people is stronger than our selfishness and fear (see Sg 8:6). Love is the catalyst leading us to die to self, build unity, and receive a new Pentecost. This, in turn, will greatly deepen our own love, leading to an authentic encounter with Christ, and unity with the Trinity.

Will you love enough to pray: "Come, Holy Spirit"?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

“There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness, revelry, and the high life”.

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." — C.S Lewis

Gospel text (Jn 17,11b-19):
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Do you ever feel like you are at the wrong place, at the wrong time? Of course you have; we all feel that way sometimes, but I’m asking about the big picture: has the question ever arisen, “Why am I on this earth?”

A sad but true fact is that this world we live in is not as constantly beautiful as we wish it were. It is filled with lust, hatred, violence, greed, and any other act associated with the devaluing of God’s creation; I cannot turn on the evening news without seeing some mention of murder, acts of terrorism, etc. But as sad as the world is, it is just as promising and glorious. And the glory lies within you and me.

Perhaps the hardest of challenges that are placed on our shoulders the instant we call ourselves Christians is the challenge of choosing God in public. For example, I always say a prayer of blessing prior to eating a meal in the comfort of my own home. But at the very same time, when out with a group of friends at a restaurant, my prayer life becomes rusty at best. It’s as if I am afraid to ‘show myself’ in its deepest sense to the rest of the world. Yet, I am wearing a cross necklace around my neck! Cowardly? You got it.

This world we live in is one that places high emphasis on interaction: our connections with others and the world itself. While this can be seen as a nice utopia, the phrase “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” could not be more appropriate. We, in my opinion, over evaluate our connections to the extent that our basis of being human is dependent solely on our standings in society, compared to those of our fellow brothers and sisters. We have ventured away from demonstrating a level of love…we have instead become every man and woman for themselves.

The solution? If we truly carry the cross as we claim we do, then it is inevitable for us to show the world our faith. Our purpose on this earth is simply not our purpose, but rather God’s. It is highly difficult to live a life of faith, but that is what faith is.

Today then let us live with the joy of Jesus. How can we acquire more and more of this joy of Jesus? Obviously from Jesus himself. Jesus is the only one who gives us the true joy that the world is lacking as we see in the soaps on TV. Jesus said, «If you remain in me and my words in you, you may ask whatever you want and it will be given to you» (Jn 15,7). Then let us spend time each day in prayer with the words of Jesus in the Scriptures, let us eat and consume the words of Jesus in the Scriptures, let them be our food, so that we may be satiated with the joy of Jesus: «Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon» (Benedict XVI).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”

"Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones." Ask and you shall receive," Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord." --Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Gospel text (Jn 17,1-11a):
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you,
with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

“I pray for them.” - John 17:9

One sentence. So simple. So powerful. Jesus, two millennia ago, prayed for me. Prayed for you. Prayed for us, on our journeys. Together.

Whenever I read this passage, I envision a Jesus passionately in prayer. I can’t help but see a man with his heart on fire with love, truly communicating, truly one with his Father in heaven from whom he came and to whom he will return. He understood he was physically leaving his friends, both the Apostles and us, soon. He knew how difficult this world was to live in; he knew the challenges, frustrations, and persecutions firsthand, and he didn’t want to leave us hanging. So he prayed.

He prayed that we could transcend the world. He offered our difficulties to the Father. He brought our crosses to the Father before he brought his own on Calvary. He prayed that we might have the strength, through our faith, to continue in the world, living apart from it. How often I have prayed this very prayer myself…forgetting that our Lord first offered this on my behalf during the Last Supper.

Certainly Paul too took heart in Jesus’ prayer when he explained that “the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me.” But instead of waiting for that worldly imprisonment and hardship fearfully, Paul jumped right into his mission in order to “finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” Paul so deeply believed that Jesus would not abandon him as he strove to live as a witness of the Truth that his faith did not waver.

Jesus knows the mission he has given each of us is not an easy one. To live for him in a world that constantly pulls us in the opposite direction, away from the one we love most, is quite taxing, actually. What’s reassuring, though, is that Jesus knows our hearts too. He knows when we strive for faithfulness and he understands our hardships. That’s why his prayer is such a relief. It’s not a free pass to heaven nor a coupon for an easy life, but it’s a promise to remain with us through it all.

“I pray for them.”

Try replacing “them” with your name. He gets it. And he’s never stopped praying to the Father on our behalf.

Monday, June 6, 2011

We overcome the world through the cross

"Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face."- Helen Keller

Gospel text (Jn 16,29-33): The disciples said to Jesus,
“Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.
Now we realize that you know everything
and that you do not need to have anyone question you.
Because of this we believe that you came from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Christ gives us a HUGE gift with today’s Gospel. He pretty clearly outlines the plan we should be following.

Christ begins with a comforting note: “the Father is with me.” We are never ever left alone to confront our troubles by ourselves because the Father is with us. The Father does not abandon us to find his plan for us alone. The question then follows, however, 'do we trust him enough to get us to where we need to go?

Christ follows this up with an explanation: “I have told you this so that you may have peace in me.” Christ wants us to be peaceful and to have peace. He actually offers it to us today in this Gospel. Do we have peace? Are we offering the very best peaceful and joyful life lived to God? Are we enjoying the enormous gift of life that we’ve been given? Are we allowing God to comfort us and bring us peace?

Christ’s final statement is perhaps the most jarring: “In the world you will have trouble.” He begins with comforting talk about the Father and peacefulness—almost as if to prepare us for this final statement and soften the blow. Have we accepted God’s plan for us or are we just waiting for our own plans to begin? Whose schedule are we following?

As today’s Gospel reminds us, we are made for peace and love. Until we embrace God’s love, (and his plan for us) we will only find trouble in the world.

Know that you are loved!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Defend the Family! Pope Benedict XVI's Homily to Croatian Catholic Families

“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.” - Pope John Paul II

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In this Mass at which it is my joy to preside, concelebrating with numerous brothers in the Episcopate and with a great number of priests, I give thanks to the Lord for all the beloved families gathered here, and for all the others who are linked with us through radio and television. I offer particular thanks to Cardinal Josip Bozaniæ, Archbishop of Zagreb, for his kind words at the beginning of this Mass. I address my greetings to all and express my great affection with an embrace of peace!

We have recently celebrated the Ascension of the Lord and we prepare ourselves to receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit. In the first reading, we saw how the apostolic community was united in prayer in the Upper Room with Mary, the mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:12-14). This is a picture of the Church with deep roots in the paschal event: indeed, the Upper Room is the place where Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood during the Last Supper, and where, having risen from the dead, he poured out the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the evening of Easter Sunday (cf. Jn 20:19-23). The Lord directed his disciples "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4); he asked that they might remain together to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, waiting for the promised event (cf. Acts 1:14).

Remaining together was the condition given by Jesus for them to experience the coming of the Paraclete, and prolonged prayer served to maintain them in harmony with one another. We find here a formidable lesson for every Christian community. Sometimes it is thought that missionary efficacy depends primarily upon careful planning and its intelligent implementation by means of specific action. Certainly, the Lord asks for our cooperation, but his initiative has to come first, before any response from us: his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church, to be invoked and welcomed.

In the Gospel, we heard the first part of the so-called "high-priestly prayer" of Jesus (cf. Jn 17:1-11a) - at the conclusion of his farewell discourses - full of trust, sweetness and love. It is called "the high-priestly prayer" because in it Jesus is presented as a priest interceding for his people as he prepares to leave this world. The passage is dominated by the double theme of the hour and the glory. It deals with the hour of death (cf. Jn 2:4; 7:30; 8:20), the hour in which the Christ must pass from this world to the Father (13:1).
But at the same time it is also the hour of his glorification which is accomplished by means of the Cross, called by John the Evangelist "exaltation", namely the raising up, the elevation to glory: the hour of the death of Jesus, the hour of supreme love, is the hour of his highest glory. For the Church too, for every Christian, the highest glory is the Cross, which means living in charity, in total gift to God and to others.

Dear brothers and sisters! I very willingly accepted the invitation given to me by the Bishops of Croatia to visit this country on the occasion of the first National Gathering of Croatian Catholic Families. I express my sincere appreciation for this attention and commitment to the family, not only because today this basic human reality, in your nation as elsewhere, has to face difficulties and threats, and thus has special need of evangelization and support, but also because Christian families are a decisive resource for education in the faith, for the up-building of the Church as a communion and for her missionary presence in the most diverse situations in life.

I know the generosity and the dedication with which you, dear Pastors, serve the Lord and the Church. Your daily labour for the faith formation of future generations, as well as for marriage preparation and for the accompaniment of families, is the fundamental path for regenerating the Church anew and for giving life to the social fabric of the nation. May you remain dedicated to this important pastoral commitment!

Everyone knows that the Christian family is a special sign of the presence and love of Christ and that it is called to give a specific and irreplaceable contribution to evangelization. Blessed John Paul II, who visited this noble country three times, said that "the Christian family is called upon to take part actively and responsibly in the mission of the Church in a way that is original and specific, by placing itself, in what it is and what it does as an 'intimate community of life and love', at the service of the Church and of society" (Familiaris consortio, 50). The Christian family has always been the first way of transmitting the faith and still today retains great possibilities for evangelization in many areas.

Dear parents, commit yourselves always to teach your children to pray, and pray with them; draw them close to the Sacraments, especially to the Eucharist, as we celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Eucharistic miracle of Ludbreg; and introduce them to the life of the Church; in the intimacy of the home do not be afraid to read the sacred Scriptures, illuminating family life with the light of faith and praising God as Father. Be like a little Upper Room, like that of Mary and the disciples, in which to live unity, communion and prayer!

By the grace of God, many Christian families today are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of their missionary vocation, and are devoting themselves seriously to bearing witness to Christ the Lord. Blessed John Paul II once said: "An authentic family, founded on marriage, is in itself 'good news' for the world." And he added: "In our time the families that collaborate actively in evangelization are ever more numerous [...] the hour of the family has arrived in the Church, which is also the hour of the missionary family" (Angelus, 21 October 2001).

In today's society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality!

Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family - your concrete testimony - is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them. Dear families, be courageous! Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person!

Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: "the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her ... And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a 'small domestic church'" (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005). Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!

Dear Croatian families, living the communion of faith and charity, be ever more transparent witnesses to the promise that the Lord, ascending into heaven, makes to each one of us: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20). Dear Croatian Christians, hear yourselves called to evangelize with the whole of your life; hear the powerful word of the Lord: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19). May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Croatia, accompany you always on your way. Amen! Praised be Jesus and Mary!

Friday, June 3, 2011

“He sends a cross, but He also sends the strength to bear it.”

Everyone has his cross. But we must act in such ways that we be not the bad, but the good thief. - St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Gospel text (Jn 16,20-23a): Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

The comforting words of Jesus in this gospel are so helpful to us these days. When he said those words to his disciples he must have known the anguish and struggle they would have to go through in order to be his disciples. He must have known that the cost of challenging the values of the world, as he did, would be severe. I like to think Jesus imagined the martyrs who would come after him, who would need genuine encouragment that their suffering, even their deaths, were not in vain.

Most us live our everyday lives - facing struggles and conflicts - some of which are of our own choosing, but most of which are things out of our control. We live faithful lives, comforted by our Lord, when he reminds us that one day we will enjoy eternal life with him forever.

Two things can help us today. One is to take the time to ask ourselves to what degree we believe the promise Jesus makes us. Too often we walk around as people who don't look like we believe the "Good News" that we will live forever, if only we accept his love and share it with others. Secondly, we need to ask for the grace to believe the comforting words of Jesus more deeply each and every day. If our belief in and longing for eternal life with him and with one another grows in our hearts, then we will be transformed. Imagine how ordinary anxieties, worries and fears would simply melt away. And the big things we face - the loss of a loved one, financial challenges, and a chronic or critical illness would not propose the same sense of loss for us. So much of what troubles us would become a mere scarecrow.

And, if our sense of joy and courage lead to a deep inner peace - knowing and expecting eternal life - then we'd be a lot freer to love the Gospel in our every day life and to proclaim it to the world. We'd be less worried about our own "pocketbook issues" and be more on fire with being advocates for the poor and marginal.

«And no one will take your joy from you» (Jn 16:22) and «your joy will be complete» (Jn 16:24). And in Psalm 126:6: «Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves».

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Feast of the Ascension: "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry"

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be." --- St Augustine.

(Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20): The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“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.”

We, Christians of the 21st century, feel the same urge of those of the 1st century. We also want to see Jesus, to feel his presence amidst us, to reinforce the virtues of faith, hope and charity. This is why we feel sad if we think He is not among us, or if we may not feel and detect his presence, or hear and listen to his words. But this sadness becomes deep joy when we encounter his definite presence among us.

As His Holiness John Paul II reminded us in his last encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, this presence is concrete —specifically— in the Eucharist: «The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20) (...). The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a “mystery of light”. Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: ‘Their eyes were opened and they recognized him’ (Lk 24:31)».

Let us turn to God and beg for a deep faith, a constant uneasiness to quench our thirst in the Eucharist Source, while listening to and understanding God's Word; by eating and satiating our spiritual hunger with the Body of Christ.

Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Feast of the Ascension thus invites us to devote ourselves to consolidating Our Lord’s Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom of goodness, justice, solidarity and mercy. It challenges us to give courageous witness to the Gospel before today’s world, bringing hope to the poor, the suffering, the lost and abandoned, the desperate and those yearning for freedom, truth and peace. It inspires us to be good to those we live and work with, to love them, and by doing so to show our love for God, who in all things loves us.

This is what the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord means. It does not mean the Lord has left us behind, nor that He has departed to some far away place, far from people and far from our world. It means He no longer belongs to the world. He belongs to God. In His Ascension, the Lord takes our human existence into the presence of God. He takes with Him our flesh and our blood, so that you and I and every human being desiring to do so now abide in God, and God abides in us. The mystery of the Ascension thus introduces us into the very life of God. The Ascension means that Christ had not indeed departed from us. It only seemed so. In fact, He is close to each one of us forever. On intimate terms with Him now, each of us and all of us together can work with Our Lord as He shares His strength with us to bring His own mission to conclusion. “Behold, I am with you always. . . .”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

“Truth suffers, but never dies."

Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.” - St. Toribio.

Gospel text (Jn 16,12-15): Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
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.”

Today, once again, our Lord, wants to open our eyes for us to realize that more often than not we miss the mark. «The Spirit of truth comes, will guide you into the whole truth» (Jn 16:13), what the Father made known to the Son.

How odd!, rather than letting the Spirit (a great unknown of our lives!) guide us, what we do is, either ignore him or “impose upon him” what we have already decided. But what we are told today, instead, is rather the contrary: to let him guide us.

What is truth? Is it simply a construct of the human mind, a concept that we use to try and make sense of each other and the happenings of the world around us? Is it something that is relative to each individual, dependent upon his or her situation, personality, frame of mind, and upbringing? Is there an absolute truth, either accessible or inaccessible to a questing human heart?

Christ provides us with the answer, offering us freedom from the weight of the questions. He does not ask us to stop considering them, to stop seeking wisdom, he is simply offering us respite from the impossible task of trying to reconcile the world with how we want it to be.

The answer is love.

We are loved and we are called to love. If we accept the security that comes with such a profound revelation we can rise up as free men and women, open to face the challenges of the world, seeking wisdom with open minds and yearning hearts.

«I still have many things to tell you» (Jn 16:12). —Do not refrain, Lord, from speaking to us and revealing to us our own identities! Let your Spirit of Truth help us recognize what is false in our lives while giving us the necessary courage to get rid of it. Let him light up our hearts so that we can also recognize, whatever authentic is there inside us, which already shares your Truth. And that, by recognizing it, we know how to thank you for it and live up to it with joy.

Spirit of Truth, open up our hearts and our lives to Christ's Gospel: that this light be the light to lighten our daily existence. Holy Spirit, our Helper, make us strong to live Christ's truth, thereby giving testimony to everyone by our very lives.