Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Ways of the Devil

Sometimes people donning a holy garb may be captivated by the tricks of the devil into ways of thinking that are opposite to the gospel of Jesus which asks for universal love for all people without discrimination, inclusive of enemies (cf. Mt. 5). They do get some following just because of the supposed garb of righteousness. If you are not watchful you can, as anybody else, be carried away by such trickery of the devil. As Jesus warned very sternly, "you will know them by their fruits."

Consider history in the past years, the countless lives lost in encounters of judgmental attitudes, hate, anger and fury; the vocations to religion lost because of deceiving thoughts, teachings or ideas. At the time it was not clear, the whole deception. The words of Jesus: "The devil is a murderer and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). Jesus reiterates: "I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:19). The formula of St. Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun, and was martyred by the Nazi, is applicable here to escape the devil's wiles: "Do not readily accept as love if it is not accompanied by truth, and do not readily accept as truth if it is ot accompanied by love." As St. Paul explains in Rom. 13:10: "Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments." It is ever basic in our good relations to keep Christ's behest: "Judge not and you will not be judged" (Mt. 7:1).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Infected Minds

SO it's true, they say in Latin, Ideae regunt mundum, translated: "Ideas rule the world." But they can be wrong too, and they can infect anyone, without exception. I mean the divisive ideologies, the devil's wiles as the Bible says: "Now have salvation and power come, the reign of our God and the authority of his Anointed One. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before our God" (Rev. 12:10). So these divisive ideologies may even infect Church people who neglect prayer and the spirit of obedience to Church authority to engage in divisive and judgmental rallies that may even end in violence and disturbance.

On the contrary, the fruits of the Spirit direct us towards unity, love and reconciliation, not division and enmity. "What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, self-control, and chastity" (Gal. 5:22-23). Not all the ideas in our free society are truly inspired by God's Spirit, especially if they stem from human pride and disregard legitimate authority. Jesus made it very clear and we must discern from His unmistakeable warning. "Beware of false prophets (false teachers) who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits...A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit... I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:15-20). This sort of infection, characterized by disrespect towards legitimate authority and causing disunity and disruption in society is a kind of "lumang tugtugin," as if we did not recall past history when our world, our land was in chaos because of the infection of false ideas, false theories under the guise of reform that only brought the fruit of confusion and violence.

As St. Paul expresses above, the Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of love and peace and unity. In the text we cited above, Rev. 12:10, the devil is said to be the "accuser of our brothers." Even the etymology of the word "devil" means slanderer or accuser. Let's not be judgmental but rather educate people in the right ideas and work rather as Jesus wants us to do, for reconciliation. St. Teresa, following Jesus' way of thinking, expressed it this way: "Much wrongdoing would be avoided if we realized our business is to be on guard, not against men, but against displeasing the Lord."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Ways of the Lord

Jesus preached to the poor. He died poor. He suffered for us the ignominious death on the cross. Yet His was the way that brought salvation.

And we must do no less because He had said: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk. 9:23). This too is the way of all the saints who hold the palm of victory, because humbly they carried their cross every day of their lives. Read the lives of saints and see if you can point to even one who was just sitting pretty doing no sacrifice at all. Even the act of true Christian love is itself sacrifice. St. Paul describes it as: "Love is humble, patient and forgiving" (1 Cor. 13:4). The ideologists say: "Be tough, radical and clench-fisted." The Christian: "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21). Check it up.

Whom has the Lord exalted: the proud or the humble?

Eye of the Storm

Pope John Paul II, the man of the century, emerged from a situation of various conflicts and ideological systems in the world and came out with the agenda of peace: "There can be no peace without justice but there can be no justice without forgiveness." He worked for unity and reconciliation in our world and, certainly was against war. He encouraged Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare, to propagate the work for unity of all peoples and categories.

If there was a storm of wrong ideas or ideologies before, are there still now? Yes! Because the devil is working hard, and he can infect people who are supposed to be God's instruments for peace; yet as happened before (remember history), they may become the "ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing" (Mt. 7:15), because they think they know, so they don't listen to the Church. And a little knowledge is dangerous. How? Because the truth is one whole. A lie is half or part of it. That is where deception lies. Where pride and disobedience reign, there is the liability for the devil's deception to come in. If Jesus made that stern warning about false prophets as being ravenous wolves disguised as sheep (Mt. 7:15), it must be an important index. What index? Jesus said: "I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:20).

What were and are the fruits? The wars, the conflicts, the vocations lost, the lives lost, the anger, hatred and indifference. These are not the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, self-control, chastity (Gal. 5:22). As Jesus explains in chapter 13 of St. Matthew's gospel in the parable of the weeds, God allows the good and the bad to grow together but at the end of the world the evil ones will be cast into eternal fire, the good into God's kingdom and eternal happiness. There is freedom, yes, but in the end reward or punishment, according to your works (Mt. 16:27: Ps. 62:12).

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Interior Life

(claiming your rights)

The unhappy lot of people who keep on shouting for the rights they claim ought rather reflect whether God wishes it that way, as the Israelites did their complaints at the desert on the way to the promised land. St. Faustina, in her book: "Diary--Divine Mercy in My Soul" has some quotations in that regard (paragraph 1701).

"I asked the Lord today that He might deign to teach me about the interior life, because of myself I can neither understand nor conceive anything perfectly. The Lord answered me, "I am your Teacher, I am and will be; strive to make your heart like unto my humble and gentle heart. Never claim your rights. Bear with great calm and patience everything that befalls you. Do not defend yourself when you are put to shame, though innocent. Let others triumph. Do not stop being good when you notice that your goodness is being abused. I Myself will speak up for you when it is necessary. Be grateful for the smallest of My graces, because your gratitude compels Me to grant you new graces..."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Carried Away

(hooked to ideologies)

In the past it happened and still is, I mean the false ideologies (or heresies) that brought chaos or tragedy in its wake. People may get carried away, even supposedly church people. Many too lost their vocation; and many lives got lost. Why? What went wrong? Just as the finality of man is either heaven or hell, so in these questions now simply we must distinguish what is right or wrong. Truth or falsehood. Perhaps what better enlightening than going back to God's word that wants us to love, reconcile and forgive, instead of judging and being angry with one another.

"Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied. Never repay evil with evil but let everyone see that you are interested only in the highest ideals. Do all you can to live at peace with everyone. Never try to get revenge; leave that, my friends, to God's anger. As scripture says: Vengeance is mine -- I will pay back, the Lord promises. But there is more: If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, and if he is thirsty, let him drink. Thus you heap red-hot coals on his head. Resist evil and conquer it with good" (Rom. 12:14-21).

"The devil is a murderer and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). You know the false prophets or the wolves in sheep's clothing by their fruit. "I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:20). Which fruits? >anger, revenge, clenched fists, violence, and murder. False ideologies are false teachings that come from the devil. Check world history, and the victims of needless conflicts. "What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Church's Aspiration

Amid the variety of ideologies in our world, the Church's aspiration is as the legacy Jesus left us that they "love one another as I have loved you" and that they be "one", reconciled to one another. Certainly, it is strange that there are still people, posing as Church, who spread seeds of division, anger, judgmental attitudes and conflict. That is a far cry from the prayers of the Church to Jesus, e.g. "Lord Jesus you came to reconcile us to one another and to the Father," "Lord Jesus, you heal the wounds of sin and division".

If the product of such ideologies is anger, violence, division, and murder, then truly did Jesus say "the false prophets are wolves in sheep's clothing....you know them by their evil and corrupt fruit. An evil tree cannot produce good fruit" (cf. Mt. 7:5). Can you pay even for one life or vocation lost through false teachings of people pretending to be Church but not respecting the instruction of universal love, reconciliation and unity, including of course the love of one's enemies (cf. Mt. 5:38-48).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Word "Obedience"

(and evading false ideologies)

It does help to understand when we get to the etymology or source of a word, then too that might help us avoid further mistakes or misunderstanding. A book of proverbs in the Bible says: Vir oboediens loquetur victoriam (Prov. 21:28) -- literally translated:The obedient man shall speak of victory. Some versions of the Bible translate this verse: "the false witness will meet his doom, but the speech of the obedient will always be heard."

In the dictionary, ideology denotes a manner or content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group or culture. If we are to avoid the false ideologies, or false teachings that brought in its wake so much harm and injury, even violent conflicts, we must listen in faithful obedience to the voice of the Church to whom Jesus promised protection and guidance. Those destructive ideologies came in the past, yet we know as all lies came from the devil (cf. Jn. 8:44), there are still existing ones today waiting to pounce on unsuspecting minds or simpleminded folk who then will think they "know everything" and won't care to listen to the legitimate authorities in the Church. As is said: "a little knowledge is dangerous". We must therefore protect ourselves by remembering Christ's infallible promises: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Chuch. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven" (Mt. 16:18-20). Amid Church discussions and controversies, St. Augustine spoke the famous sentence: "Roma locuta est causa finita est" (Rome has spoken; the issue is ended). That meant, in the unity of the Roman Catholic Church, the supreme and ultimate guiding voice or decision comes from the Holy Father, the Pope, at present Pope Benedict XVI.

One penitential prayer echoes the sentiment of the Church against divisive ideologies that engender disharmony. "Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to one another and to the Father (Lord have merch); Lord Jesus, you heal the wounds of sin and division (Christ have mercy); Lord Jesus you intercede for us with your Father (Lord have mercy).

Yes, God in His Son Jesus Christ wants us to be reconciled and to love one another, including our enemies (cf. Mt. 5:38-48). Yes, to love every person with a universal reconciling love (cf. Mt. 5:23); this love goes against the false divisive ideologies of the false prophets who are like "wolves in sheep's clothing"(Mt.7:15) breeding destructive conflicts that originate from the devil "who is a murderer and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ideological Bias

(Wolves in sheep's clothing)

WHEN the Lord asked to beware of false prophets as avoiding ravening wolves, it is because they truly existed and still exist even today. There are people who even use Church garb to appear in sheep's clothing. The truth is as Jesus clearly proves. You know them from their fruits.

They sow conflict, anger, bloodshed, and disharmony instead of love, unity, reconciliation and harmony which the Church endeavors to propagate. They do not respect the voice of Church authorities. All they care is to have the name of creating disharmony. Beware then of the wolves in sheep's clothing which deceive the people by their false arguments and imposing language. But it's humility that is on the side of truth and love. In the terms of St. Paul: "Love is humble, patient and forgiving" (1 Cor. 13:4). Jesus emphasizes how we recognize them: "I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits" (cf. Mt. 7: 15-20). " A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit" (Mt. 7:18).

The Church always prays for love and reconciliation. Such is the tune she prays in Jesus' name. I even heard it at a pledge of loyalty of one commencement exercise in a Catholic School: "We, the Graduates, pledge fidelity to God, our heavenly Father, to remain His sons and daughters, faithfully upholding the Christian ideals of truth, justice and charity and fostering all that would promote fraternal peace and unity."

"Do all you can to live at peace with everyone" (Rom. 12:18), is a constant advice of St. Paul. One graduation song reminded us: "Only love can make you free; as simple as a child you will never fear coz someone's at your side; the strength is unity, so come and fly with me." Yes, in all humility, promote unity, not disunity. "Live by the truth and in love so as to grow to the full maturity of Christ, the head" (Eph. 4:15). "Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me....With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me" (Jn. 17:21).