Thursday, June 7, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter: Life with the Vine

APRIL 29, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Easter Season celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Here, we honor Christ, the Lamb who was slain but now, who lives forever. The risen Jesus is the Lord of life. He is not just living. He is Life itself.

This is what he means when he says: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.” He is the source of the life of all those who are in communion with him. A branch, as long as it is attached to the vine, is alive. It grows and bears fruit. But a branch that is severed from the vine is dead. It withers and is thrown into the fire. The Lord said: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

And so, each of us must ask himself: Am I alive or dead? The sign of the death of the body is the cessation of the lung and heart function (that is, breathing and beating of the heart). On the other hand, the death of the soul is the cessation of communion with God. That is why we should ask: Am I attached to the vine or am I severed from it? St. John Climacus said: “A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.” It may seem to be too simple for a complicated matter but it is really true. Father, hindi lang nagsisimba, patay na agad ang kaluluwa? Hindi ba pwedeng tinatamad lang o busy lang? How is the avoidance of church services related to the dying of the soul?
The Lord Jesus said: “Remain in me as I remain in you.” How do we remain in the Lord? We remain in him by communion in mind, will, and body. Communion of mind means that I believe in Christ and in his teachings. Faith is the assent of the mind to the revelation of God. Communion of the will means that I obey the teachings and commandments of Christ. St. John said in the 2nd reading: “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandment remain in him, and he in them,” Communion of the body means that I receive regularly the sacraments of Christ which are visible signs of his invisible grace. Sacraments are related to the body because we cannot perceive what does not pass through the senses. The Holy Spirit is invisible. Grace is invisible. Therefore, the coming of grace has to be done through the perceptible or sensible signs of the sacraments. Through the sacraments, Christ continues to bestow on us the Holy Spirit. The sacraments help us remain in Christ and in his grace. We receive these sacraments when we attend church services. This is why by attending Church services, we continue to receive life from the Lord. Can the mind say something and the body do the opposite? Can the heart say something and the body do differently? How can you say, “I believe in Christ and I obey his will” if my body avoids going to Mass? Surely, the body will do what the mind and the heart dictate.

The life of Christ in us will definitely show in the fruits that we bear. Charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, and chastity are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are the signs that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. They are signs of life of the soul. We will bear such fruits only if we remain in communion with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in Christ. It is only in Christ that we can do all things. Only in Christ are we alive!

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

4th Sunday of Easter: Christ lays down his life

APRIL 22, 2017

Jesus, I trust in you!

I saw this very disturbing picture on the internet last night. It was a picture that won the award of photo of the decade. It was a photograph of a doe (a female deer) that was surrounded by 3 Cheetas. The cheetas were chasing this doe and her 2 fawns (baby deers). The mother deer could easily outrun the cheetas but she offered herself as their prey so that her fawns could run to safety. In the picture, the mother deer is shown looking at her babies running to safety as she is about to be torn to pieces.
I was so disturbed by that photograph that until now I cannot take it off my mind. I could just imagine how the doe was cruelly torn to pieces by the savage beasts. What savagery! What noble sacrifice! The doe stood looking at her babies running to safety. It was probably the last thing she saw before she died. She must have thought that the safety of her fawns was worth dying for.

Looking at this picture, I remembered our Lord who said today, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” The Lord spoke of the hired man who sees danger and abandons the flock. And then he spoke of the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. What spells the difference between a hired man and a shepherd? The word is “concern” (malasakit). This concern comes from the fact that the sheep the shepherd dies for are his own, just as the doe was willing to die because the fawns she protected were her own: “I know my sheep and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” The Lord Jesus died for me because he knows me and considers me his own. Because of this, Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” Thus, St. John said in the 2nd reading: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.” To belong to Jesus means that we are children of God. We became God’s children at the cost of such great sacrifice. He knows us but do we know him? We should know him because he reveals himself to us. The world does not know Jesus but we know him. This much we know: Christ loved us and gave up his life for us! As the doe could easily outrun the cheetas but refused to do so in order to save her fawns, so also is this true with Jesus. As he hung on the Cross, the high priests were taunting him: Come down from that Cross and save yourself! Jesus could have easily done this because he is God. Nothing is impossible for him. But he remained on the Cross until he died. He remained there to save us. He remained on the Cross because he knows that nobody can save us but him. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved.”

Knowing what he did for us increases our love for him. Loving him more increases our desire to serve him. This is the only motive for genuine priestly and religious vocations. Every priest, every consecrated person wishes to serve the Lord because he knows the Lord and loves him. At least this is the way I see it. The moment I realized how much I am loved by Jesus and how he suffered and died for me, I felt compelled to love him and serve him in return. The only reason why I decided to follow Jesus is his love for me. He loves me and died for me. And this is my prayer: that we may know him more so that we may love him and serve him more. I will never forget that doe who died for her fawns. I will never forget the Lord who willingly died for me and now is risen from the dead.

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

The devotion to the Sacred Heart

If we have devotion to the Sacred Heart, we will wish to find It, to adore It, to love It, and where shall we look for It but in the Blessed Eucharist where It is found, eternally living?...The devotion to the Divine Heart infallibly brings souls to the Blessed Eucharist; and faith in and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist necessarily lead souls to discover the mysteries of Infinite love of which the Divine Heart is the organ and the symbol.

extract from the Book of Inifinite Love
by Mother Louise Margaret

The Sacred Heart and the Blessed Sacrament

The devotion to the Blessed Eucharist and the devotion to the Sacred Heart are not only two sister devotions. In reality, they are only one and the same devotion. They complete each other and develop each other; they blend so perfectly together that one cannot go on without the other and their union is absolute. Not only can one of these devotions not be prejudicial to the other, but because they complete each other and perfect each other, they also reciprocally increase each other.

Fr. John Croiset, SJ
Spiritual Director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

"By the devotion to the Sacred Heart, we mean the ardent love which we conceive for Jesus Christ at the remembrance of all the marvels which he has wrought to show His tender love for us, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the miracle of His love; we mean the keen regret which we feel at the sight of the numerous outrages which men commit against Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery; we mean the ardent desire which presses us to leave nothing undone to make reparation for these outrages by every possible means. That is what we mean by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that is what it consists in. It cannot be reduced to merely loving and honoring by special worship this Heart of flesh like ours, which forms part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ."

Fr. John Croiset, SJ
Spiritual Director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque