Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Terrorism and the Fear of the Lord

He who destroys both body and soul in Gehenna

The Marawi incident is truly an eye opener. It made us realize that terrorism is real and not only does it happen in distant Europe and in the Middle East. It also happens to us. It also opens our eyes to the depth of our own Christianity. The news of how Christians escaped death by wearing Muslim apparel and by memorizing Arabic verses has gone viral. And their creativeness was justified. They had to do it in order to survive.

However, the Word of God today reminds us: “Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.” The readings today are timely inasmuch as we are living in a time when Christian witnessing will be demanded of us. Contrary to the belief that martyrdom is a thing of the past, we are actually living in a time of martyrs. Not only are we required to live out our faith in Jesus. The possibility of dying for him is very much real. Christians are made hostages and killed. Christian women are sold, indoctrinated, and then sent as suicide bombers. Churches are desecrated and burned. These are repeatedly reported every day. The threat of terrorism is real. The prophet Jeremiah speaks well on our behalf: “Terror on every side! Denounce! Let us denounce him!” Pope John Paul II wrote: “The Church has once again become a Church of martyrs. The persecution of believers – priests, religious, and laity – has caused a great sowing of martyrdom in different parts of the world…In our own century, the martyrs have returned, many of them nameless, ‘unknown soldiers’ as it were of God’s cause.” (Tertio Millenio Adveniente, 37.)

And yet, Jesus strengthens us for times like this. He reminds us of the limitation of what the enemies can do: they can deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Our fear of God must be greater than our fear of men because God can destroy both body and soul in hell. The Word of God assures us that we are not alone: “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting unforgettable confusion.” The true God whom we serve loves us: “Every hair of your head has been counted; so do not be afraid of anything. You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.” His love will sustain us through persecution and suffering.

Therefore, let us not allow terrorism to intimidate us. As we have said in the past, the zealous proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus is our response to terror. “What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.” God is more powerful than terrorists. If we entrust ourselves to him, he will not allow us to fall. Instead, he will send us the Spirit of Truth who will teach us what to say in the face of our persecutors. His Holy Spirit will sustain us and help us give witness to Jesus. Knowing that we are loved, let us not be afraid to give witness to him. Even when faced with the threat of death, let us not hesitate to say, “I am a Christian!” Jesus says: “Whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

The False Prophet

The Good Tree
He is perhaps the most famous prophet today because no one dares malign his revered name. Christians who wished to be saved from execution have to declare him as god's only prophet. And yet, is he a true prophet or a false one?

Jesus said: Any sound tree bears good fruit, while a decayed tree bears bad fruit. Therefore, let us look at the fruit to determine the tree. The obvious fruit is terrorism. His followers kill in the name of the god he preaches. He taught his followers to enslave and sell women. He even allows them to take many wives. Are these fruits good or bad?

Jesus tells us: I am the Vine and you are the branches. As long as the branches are attached to the vine, they bear fruit. Once, a young man approached Jesus and said to him: Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus did not tell him: Kill the infidels. Instead, he said: Do not kill. Jesus did not say: Sell women and take many wives. Instead he said: Do not commit adultery. Obviously, his fruits are good. Therefore Jesus is the Good Tree.

Let us therefore sow the good seeds of the Good Tree. The seed is the Word of God. Let us allow the Light of Christ to spread throughout the world. The Light of Jesus should expose the evil fruits of the false prophet.

Eternal Life is this: To know the One True God and Jesus Christ he sent! Beware of the False Prophet! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pentecost Meditation: The face of the world renewed

Renew the face of the earth!
Jesus, I trust in you!

On the night of Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his disciples. By his crucifixion and death, he entered into the glory of his Father. Returning from the Father, he rose from the dead. Behind the locked doors, Jesus came to meet his disciples. Coming from the other side of the grave, Jesus gave them his precious gift. He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is the Risen Christ’s gift to his disciples. The sending of the Holy Spirit is the very fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection. He died on the cross so that he could give us the Holy Spirit: “If I do not leave you, the Paraclete will never come.” We say that the Lord died on the cross so that our sins may be forgiven. The forgiveness of sins is made possible by the Holy Spirit. That is why when Jesus breathed on his disciples, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” By giving them the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave the apostles the power to forgive sins.

By sending the Holy Spirit to his disciples, Jesus completes the Easter mysteries. The sending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles is the beginning of a new era in the history of the world. At the Responsorial Psalm we said: “Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” Indeed, through Pentecost, Jesus is renewing the face of the earth. And the Church is the renewed face of the earth. We say this because the Church is the new family of God. It is the family of the redeemed. It is made up of people whose sins are forgiven. It is composed of people who have been transformed into children of God. The Church is the new creation.

And this world which is constantly in fear is truly passing away. It is tired and old. It is to this world that we are sent by Jesus: “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” He gives us the Holy Spirit so that we may go forth into the world and preach the Gospel. The Church is founded by Jesus and Christ’s Holy Spirit, given to the Church in a permanent manner, acts in her as a powerful force; the Holy Spirit inspires and directs the Church in the preaching of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit enables the Church to carry out in the world to the end of time the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ. The only way for the world to be renewed is by receiving the Gospel and by receiving the Holy Spirit. It is only the Holy Spirit who can heal the wounds of sin. Only he can renew our strength. Only the Holy Spirit can wash away the stains of sin. Only he can melt the stubborn heart and will. Only he can melt the frozen heart. Only the Holy Spirit can warm our cold and hardened hearts. What the world needs is the Holy Spirit. And we are sent to the world to offer it the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.

Let the world burn…not with the fires of terrorism, but with the fire of love coming from the Holy Spirit. Let us ask the Lord to embolden us with the Holy Spirit so that we may spread the fire of his love to all the earth. The fires of terrorism are spreading rapidly. We have to work more aggressively to fight fire with fire: the fire of terrorism, we must fight with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let us spread the gospel of love and forgiveness. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to transform us and the world. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth! 

Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Real Food, Real Drink

My Flesh is real Food, my Blood is real Drink
JESUS, I trust in you!

The other day, our parish operations manager called my attention to the fact that our fried rice left on the table during the entire day did not spoil. Apparently, it was fake or plastic rice. The issue of fake rice is trending in the social media. Considering the fact that rice is our staple food, anything about it will turn out to be a great concern for all of us. Fake rice does not give nourishment. It does not deliver the nutrients it promises. And because it is plastic, it is even dangerous to our health.

In the Holy Gospel, the Lord Jesus tells us that what he gives us is not fake but true: “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” The Feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. In other words, the entire Person of Jesus is present in a real way in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. We can rely on this because the one who said “This is my Body” and “This is the chalice of my Blood” is the one who said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Being the Truth, Jesus cannot and will not lie. And his resurrection from the dead is the very affirmation of the truth of all that he taught us.

Because Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, we can offer the Father true worship. The Mass is the only genuine sacrifice that is accepted by God. Here, we offer to the Father his only begotten Son, his Beloved in whom he is well pleased. In the Mass, Christ’s humble obedience unto death is made present – the same humble obedience that pleases the Father. We do not offer the Father a symbol or a token of Christ’s obedience. Rather, we offer to him Jesus himself, the obedient One, the humble One, the Father’s Beloved One.

Because Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, our communion with him is genuine. We remain in him and he remains in us. In Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, we are united to the Father and also among ourselves. The Eucharist perfects our communion with God the Father by identification with his only Son through the working of the Holy Spirit. In the Eucharist, “the mystery (of communion) is so perfect that it bring us to the heights of every good thing: here is the ultimate goal of every human desire, because here we attain God and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union.” (Nicolas Cabisilas in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 34.)

Because Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, we are assured of eternal life: “He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day…Just as the Father who has life sent me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on me will have life because of me.” He who has risen as he promised will be true to his promise: “The man who feeds on this bread shall live forever.”

Because the Eucharist is real and not fake, “it is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist.” (EDE, 34.) Let us not be indifferent to this great gift of Christ to us. Let us prepare ourselves for every Mass we assist in and for every Communion we receive. Remember what the Eucharist is: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. The Eucharist is truly Jesus. There is this pop song whose lyrics I remember: "I did not know I was starving till I tasted you." Let us taste and see the goodness of the Lord!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! 

The God of Love and Peace

God is Love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Jesus, I trust in you!

It is disturbing to know that many acts of terrorism today are done in the name of God. Apparently, terrorists think that if they burn churches and kill unbelievers, they are doing the will of God. But this deception comes from a false notion of who God is. On this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, the word of God proclaims to us that the one true God is the God of love. On Mt. Sinai, God revealed himself to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” This revelation runs contrary to our common perception of a God who is always angry and relentless in his cruelty. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that God is the “God of love and peace” who commands us to “encourage one another, agree with one another, and live in peace.” God does not hate the earth. He does not want it condemned nor destroyed. Instead, “God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Take note that he does not threaten: “Believe or be killed.” Rather, the peril of death is already present on account of our sin. “This is indeed a stiff-necked people.” Our stubbornness in sin is the real culprit…it is the reason we die. Violence does not come from God. Hatred does not come from God. Terrorism does not come from God. War does not come from God. It comes from sin. Our Lady said at Fatima: “War is a punishment for sins.” Contrary to what pagans believe, there is no god of war. The only true God is the God of love and peace.

God does not want us to perish. He wants us to have eternal life because he loves us. This is why he sent his Son. He did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. God sent his Son to offer us a way out of the condemnation that the world has brought upon itself. All we have to do is to believe in his Son so that we may not be condemned. He who does not believe in Jesus remains in his sins. He remains condemned.

There will be war as long as people do not know the Blessed Trinity. Violence and hatred will remain so long as the world does not know the God of love and peace. The God of love is the Blessed Trinity. “God is Love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (CCC, 257.) In the inner life of God is a great mystery of communion in love: the Father loves the Son in that Fount of Love who is the Holy Spirit. And this Love is so great and powerful that the Blessed Trinity reveals himself wherever there is love. St. Augustine said: “Where there is love, there is a Trinity: a Lover, a Beloved, and a Fountain of Love.” St. Francis of Assisi used to lament: “Love is not known. Love is not loved.” The world continues to live under the threat of violence because Love is not known and loved. The world will not be at peace until it knows and loves the Blessed Trinity. Therefore, let us make Love known. “Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!