Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mary brought joy to her cousin's home, because she brought Christ.

The Word was in Mary's womb. He inspired His Mother to visit Elizabeth; Mary carried to John his Master and King. John could not come, for his mother was too old to undertake that journey; Jesus Christ went to him. He did the same for us: we could not go to God; God came to us.” - St. Peter Julian Eymard

Gospel Text: (LK 1:39-56)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

Don’t you find it remarkable that God chose to bring about his work of redemption through two unborn children and their mothers?

While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to the world. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Even nonbelievers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God’s image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so highly honored human beings this way, how could we fail to show them equal honor?

Friday, May 30, 2014

“Nothing afflicts the heart of Jesus so much as to see all His sufferings of no avail to so many.”

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly. - Saint Francis de Sales

Gospel Text: (JN 16:20-23)
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.”

As Thomas a' Kempis reminds us, "The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.

If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one" (The Imitation of Christ, Book II, chapter 12).

What is your cross? Maybe you have many crosses to carry. How do you carry your cross? Do you complain? Are you discouraged? Do you run away from the cross?

There is only one way to carry your cross. Carry your cross with generosity. Carry your cross with patience, love and joy. See in your cross your sanctification, your eternal salvation. Understand that with your cross, united to the cross of Jesus, you have a continual opportunity to save souls and make reparation for so many sins.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.

Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God. -- Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380-1471), priest, monk and writer.

Gospel Text: (MT 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.”

Eyes That See………………………………………

We often harbor the illusion that if only we were able to see the Risen Jesus with our own eyes, we would be firm believers. The brief gospel account of the Lord’s Ascension should cause us to pause. As the Eleven gather on the mountain in Galilee and catch sight of Jesus, the gospel relates: “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” They actually see him, they know he is alive, yet their faith is not as firm as we might have imagined!

How striking, then, are St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Ephesians when he prays: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call. . . .”(Eph 1:18) St. Paul reveals that there is a different kind of seeing, leading to a deeper kind of knowing. The inner heart has “eyes” that see, a gift of the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” These eyes give sure knowledge of the hope that is ours, the hope of sharing in the glory that is our destiny.

We who live in the post-Pentecost times have all been enlightened through that one Holy Spirit. We possess the new eyes and the certain hope that the Eleven had yet to discover when they gathered on the mountain top. Are we aware that all of us already possess these inner eyes? If so, are we exercising those inner eyes or have they become atrophied? Do we claim the hope that is ours? On this Ascension Day, let us make St. Paul’s prayer our own: Lord God, enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know the hope that is ours!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.”

“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." - The Second Vatican Council document (Gaudium et Spes 16)

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.”

We should always follow our conscience, but we must be aware that a person’s conscience can sometimes be wrong. That is why it is necessary to properly inform our consciences. A person is still morally responsible for his bad actions even if he acted with a certain conscience, if he failed to inform his conscience properly.

The current relativistic notion is false that claims, “What's true for you is true for you, but it may not be true for me.” This point became clear in the mind of Pope Benedict XVI when participating in a debate on the justifying power of the subjective conscience. In that debate someone objected to the idea of the subjective conscience by saying that if it were true than we could expect to see the Nazi SS in heaven since they carried out their atrocities with fanatic conviction and complete certainty of conscience. Pope Benedict came to the conclusion that the theory that a person could be justified merely by following his subjective conscience must be false.

A person can't always be sure he's right just because he has a firm subjective conviction, lacks doubt or has no guilt feelings. A person is responsible for the evil he commits with a certain conscience when he "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." (GS 16) People can become blind to what is true and good if they are ignorant about Christ and his Gospel, by giving in to temptation, scandal, the rejection of the teaching authority of the Church and a lack of true repentance and charity.

We have an obligation to form our consciences correctly by meditating on the Word of God and the teaching of the Church. It’s not an easy task since we’re prone to pride, and tempted to prefer our own judgments and reject even legitimate authority.

The task of educating our consciences doesn’t end with religious instruction. It’s a lifelong task, but the education of children in this regard is particularly important. A child who has not received adequate religious training is like a ship set in the ocean without a compass. Christ promised that the truth would set us free. The proper education of the conscience leads to true freedom and peace of mind.

In order for us to hear this voice clearly we need to pray, reflect and examine our conscience. St. Augustine says “Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy.”

If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. – C.S. Lewis

Gospel Text: (JN 16:5-11)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”

The imperfect world we live in, a world where the innocent suffer, can point us to pessimism. But Jesus Christ has transformed us into eternal optimists.

The Living Presence of the Lord within each one of us gives us joy. No matter how great the barrage of negatives that the media delights in presenting, the positives of the world far outweigh the negatives, for Jesus Christ has risen.

He ascended, but He has not left us.

Monday, May 26, 2014

“It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and our job to love.”

“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all men, and all the history of mankind, in the light of God. To pray 'in spirit and in truth' enables us to enter into contact with that infinite love, that inscrutable freedom which is at work behind the complexities and the intricacies of human existence. This does not mean fabricating for ourselves pious rationalizations to explain everything that happens. It involves no surreptitious manipulation of the hard truths of life.”― Fr. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Gospel Text: (JN 15:26-16:4A)              
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”

We are well aware that to be a Christian today is to go upstream. It has always been. Even when “everybody” was a Christian: those who really wanted to be Christians were not too well considered by some. If abiding by Jesus Christ's law, a Christian is a living witness of what God had planned for all men; it is the clear evidence that it is both possible to imitate Jesus Christ and to live with a man's dignity. Many, though, will not be pleased with this example, very much in the same way as Jesus displeased those who killed him. The reasons for this refusal may be several, and we have to bear in mind that, at times, our testimony will be taken as an accusation. 

With The Holy Spirit by our side we should not be afraid of anything.

We must remember that in all the baptized faithful, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we are called to witness.  For a few that call may be in preaching or teaching; for even fewer it may be a call to give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives as did many of the disciples.  For the vast majority of us, that call is to witness in the manner in which we conduct ourselves at work, at home, in service to others and in our recreation.  It is a call to live counter culturally, to always put the other person first in a society that emphasizes personal freedom even to the detriment of others. It is a call to show respect for the dignity and presence of the Holy Spirit in each individual. It is a call to share the joy of God’s love for us - and our love for him - in all that we are and all that we do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

People can talk a lot of talk but the evidence of their life is the fruit that they bear.

In the parable of the vine, Jesus does not say: “You are the vine”, but: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5). In other words: “As the branches are joined to the vine, so you belong to me! But inasmuch as you belong to me, you also belong to one another.” – Pope Benedict XVI

Gospel Text: ( JN 15:1-8)

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,

and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

Remain in me, as I remain in you.

Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own

unless it remains on the vine,

so neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches.

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,

because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me

will be thrown out like a branch and wither;

people will gather them and throw them into a fire

and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,

ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

By this is my Father glorified,

that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

When travelling on a plane, we are completely dependent on the mechanics who service the plane’s engines and on the expertise of the pilot. I have to rely totally on a machine that is way too heavy to be flying through the air and will come down if there is a mechanical or electronic failure.

When we go out to eat we trust that the chef is providing good fresh food.

When we switch on an electrical appliance, we depend on the manufacturer’s skill to make something that won’t blow up in our faces. When you think about it, we are dependent on so many people. We trust them to do their job so that we can live safe and happy lives.

That is what Jesus is telling us in the reading from John’s Gospel today when he says, "I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me" (John 15:5). You don’t have to know too much about gardening and plants to realize that a tree, shrub or any plant as far as that goes depends on the trunk and the root system for it to be happy and healthy. So to with us, if we recall the words of Christ to His disciples:

"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.” (Jn 6:48-68)

Yet many who profess with their mouth to believe in Jesus Christ fail to depend on Him in their day to day lives. Instead of being attached to the true vine, they are tied to a bank account. Others are attached to their education. Some have tried to make vines out of popularity, fame, personal skills, possessions, relationships, or fleshly desires.

But none of those things can sustain or bear fruit. The vine is Christ.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”

A great means to preserve continual peace and tranquility of soul is to receive everything from the hands of God, both great and small, and in whatever way it comes. - St. Dorotheus

Gospel Text: (JN 14:27-31A)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. At his birth the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will.” His constant admonition was, “Fear not…Do not worry…Be not afraid it is I…Go in peace your sins are forgiven…Blessed are the peacemakers.” When he sent his disciples out to preach he told them: “When you enter a house say, ‘Peace be to this house.’” In his last discourse he told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” After he had risen from the dead his constant greeting was, “Peace be with you.”

Peace, peace and there is no peace. Where is this peace? It is not to be found in the world. It is not to be found in the absence of violence, terrorism and war. If you are waiting for peace in the world, don’t hold your breath. Given human nature and man’s proven capacity for evil it is not a bright prospect.

Peace is not to be found in other people. Yet, how often our peace depends on the mind and the lips of other people; on what they think or say about us. How foolish is human respect whether it be the fear of criticism, ridicule or failure or the inordinate desire of human praise, honor and esteem.

Peace is not to be found in myself. “I see a law in my body warring against the law in my mind…the good I will I do not, the evil I will not I do.” (Romans 7: 13-24) When I look at myself I get discouraged. I realize that I do not have it all together. My experience tells me that I am a bundle of contradictions.

The peace of Christ is not to be found in the world, in others or in myself. It is not the result of human effort. It is a gift of Jesus.

Having a close friendship with Jesus that draws you to Mass every Sunday will bring you peace. We are not just bodies; we are body and soul, and we will never be fully happy unless we have God in our life. St Augustine said “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Those who say that Sunday Mass is not important, that what is important is doing good, are missing out on the soul of life. Jesus is not a burden to anyone, he is a blessing, and those who say that what matters is doing good, would do far more good if they had more of Jesus in their lives.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

If you snub Conscience a few times she will cut your acquaintance.

“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune. ” ― C.G. Jung (Swiss Psychiatrist and psychotherapist)

Gospel Text: (JN 14:21-26)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him,
“Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us
and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit
whom the Father will send in my name -
he will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”

Love has a shape and a character. It is like electricity, which has both positive and negative charges. If you love your wife you will never think of turning to another woman, even in your mind, and if you are tempted, the love for her ought to motivate you to discard it quickly and move even closer to her than you were before. If you love God, any temptation against him ought to move you closer to him.

In a time when moral relativism reigns, most Catholics cannot understand the concept of moral absolutes which the Ten Commandments teach us, which Christ himself lived.

No amount of justifying oneself before God will do in wiping away these sins, only repentance and seeking reconciliation with him in the Sacrament of Confession. One of the best places of forming the human heart in following the Ten Commandments is in the confessional. It is here that we encounter Christ's perfection, his justice, his truth, but especially his great mercy in uprooting sin eternally from our hearts.

This is what the Ten Commandments teach us. This is what our age rails against and is not willing to accept. This is what Jesus Christ has to teach the modern world.

May Our Lady, the holy Mother of God and our Mother, help us to live the commandments and turn perpetually away from what is evil.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”

Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer. - Padre Pio

Gospel Text: (JN 14:1-12)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

I really like the glimpses we get of the apostles in the gospel today because it lets us see the human side of Jesus, his patience and his love for them. These men were often confused, puzzled, ready to believe, but they are human. Jesus tells them to not let their hearts be troubled because he has a place for them. They know the way. But Thomas and Philip are not so sure. Their hearts and minds haven’t quite caught up. We, like the apostles, have to believe, and if we believe, that’s just the beginning. We have to believe and live the belief every day. Jesus and his message are the way, the truth and the life. At times, we will be like Philip: If you could just give us a clue, give us a little something.

We have been shown the way. If we believe and follow the way, we have to love our neighbor. We have to walk on the right path. That’s not always easy. We know the right way. The problem is, we are looking for a detour, “that shortcut” because it can be difficult.

There are no shortcuts.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

“There is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”

“Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true. Venerable, because it has perfect knowledge of man; lovable because it promises the true good.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (187)

Gospel Text: (JN 14:7-14)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to Jesus,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Do you remember a few months ago when the flu was going around? This was an epidemic that hit just about everyone. Well, there’s a SPIRITUAL VIRUS that has been going around Christian circles for centuries, and it’s CALLED DOUBT. And if you haven’t caught it yet, you probably will. In fact, we could divide this room into three groups. The first group would be those who have doubted. The second group would be those who haven’t doubted yet, but who will. And the third group would be those who are probably not being sincere about their occasional doubts.

So the question isn’t, "Will you catch the virus of doubt?" You probably will. The big question is, "How can you prevent that virus from turning into a terminal disease that ultimately kills your faith?"

The problem is that some Christians leave their doubt untreated because they don’t want to admit they have it. They erroneously think that to be a real Christian, you must have absolute certainty about everything regarding the faith, and so they’re afraid to admit it when doubt starts eating away at them. Many of us think of faith and doubt as opposites. But that’s not really true. Faith and apathy are more opposite than faith and doubt. But doubt is often a key part of the journey of faith. It’s a stop along the way that most of us make more than once. And when we find ourselves there, it’s not an indication of us being bad Christians or disbelievers. It’s a sign that we are taking our relationship with God seriously enough that we are letting ourselves be honest, and we are letting ourselves start a journey without knowing exactly sure where we are going.

Maybe you doubt that God has really forgiven you. Or you wonder whether the Bible really is the Word of God. Or you question why God lets people suffer. Or you’ve been praying for help with a struggle in your life, but so far there has been silence, and you’re wondering whether anybody’s at home in heaven, or there is, whether He really cares.

It is important to not confuse faith with certitudes. Faith is about trust and commitment, not about certainties. People who have lots of certainties and no doubts tend to huddle up in elitist groups, and judge those who are not like them. That is not what we are called to do.

Our challenge is to step out into the unknown by trusting God with our lives, despite the lack of certainties and guarantees. We are invited to ask difficult questions, to enquire and reflect – this being the only way to seek God and grow in faith. God is not afraid of our questions. He made us this way. He welcomes our questions and focuses his attention on each one of us, according to our own individual needs, in our own time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

"Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy." --Diary of St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (300)

Gospel Text: (JN 14:1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Do you want to know the way to happiness and joy – the way to eternal life – the way to peace in the midst of suffering – the way to triumph over sin and death – the way that will save you from misery, boredom, and an empty way of life? The way is Jesus. To be on the Way is to trust in Jesus. In one of his earliest homilies, the Apostle Peter said, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” There is no other way.

When I commute to work into New York City I see so many young adults who live lives of despair. They are anxious, bored, frustrated, and have no sense of meaning beyond the shallow relationships that only eventually lead to even greater despair. Many of them do not believe that there is a way so they fill up their time with activity after activity designed to help them forget. “Just get me through the night; I will deal the best I can with this crummy world when the morning comes.”

How do we tell our beautiful friends, and show them, that Jesus is the way, the only way, to what they seek?

In the beginning of this gospel reading, when Jesus says “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he is implying that we have control over how we let external things, people, places, situations, etc. affect us. I believe that we will never be truly at peace unless we are able to find happiness from somewhere deeper inside ourselves, instead of looking for that externally.

Let us, therefore, get closer, without any fright and with unlimited trust, to Him who is the only Way, the inalienable Truth and the fullness of Life.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" - Jesus

Gospel Text: (JN 13:16-20)
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.
I am not speaking of all of you.
I know those whom I have chosen.
But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.
From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to give ourselves unconditionally to the service of our brothers and sisters. No matter what our state in life may be, we are called to give of ourselves with detachment from all worldly glory. We experience true evangelical freedom when we serve with a spirit of total detachment.

The egotist is saddened when he does not receive recognition for the good that he has done for others. When applause is not heard, when awards are not given, and when attention is not received, the egotist retreats from his good work and fades away in self-pity. Let us remember the words of Jesus: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'" (Luke 17: 10).

We all know that people can be very ungrateful for the service that is given to them. How many people thank those who give of themselves unconditionally? Parents, teachers, clergy, police, firefighters, doctors and nurses many times live thankless lives. Nevertheless, the Gospel calls us to give of ourselves unconditionally and seek as our only reward eternal life in heaven. This is true Christianity. Any other posture is simply rooted in egotism.

"Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" (Mark 10: 38). Jesus asks James and John if they can live the Cross? Can you be neglected, forgotten, die to yourself, and never seek praise from others? Can you be submerged in hatred, pain, and even death? The standard of greatness for Christianity is not earthly glory, but the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." -- St. Augustine of Hippo

Gospel Text: (JN 15:9-17)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

An American writer once said that history — or at least all human history — is a record of the encounter between character and circumstance. I think that’s true. Life is the crucible where we discover what we really believe . . . as opposed to what we say we believe.

The first Apostles, mere fisherman and laborers, acted on the life of Jesus Christ. They witnessed and taught His Gospel . . . and they traveled all over the Mediterranean world to do it.

The point is, Christian love is an active verb. The believer is attentive to God, receptive to God — but never passive. One of the great sources of confusion in the world today, and even in the Church, is the way we so easily diminish love by mistaking it for a warm set of feelings. Those feelings are wonderful when they occur . . . but they’re also unreliable. They can even be misleading.

Real love is not something we consume like an entertainment or a drug. It’s something we co-create with God. It involves the will. It involves choosing to do a right action — a selfless action — and then actually doing it. That’s what changes human hearts. In the long run, people remember what we do, a lot more clearly than anything we say. The Apostles preached first with their lives, then with their words. People listened because they saw. In exactly the same way, if we live well and love well because of the Gospel...only then will people begin to listen to what we say about the Gospel.

How do we do this because you can bet that it can not be done by reading a self-help book from Barnes & Noble?

I think Mother Teresa put it best in her description of how we transform “Christian love” from a concept into an active verb:

When you look at electrical things you can see that they are made of small and big wires, cheap and expensive all lined up. Until the current runs through them there will be no light. Those wires are you and me and the current is God. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us and produce the light of the world or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread.

So in the final analysis, the first move is ours, we need to “plug in” to the “source” in order to produce “light”. If we refuse “Christian love” will remain a concept and from where I come from, talk is very cheap.