Friday, March 30, 2012

Victory in the Cross

Sometimes we fail to realize that the cross which is the common attribute among Christians is likewise a symbol of victory, if we live its deeper meaning. Because we are made for an eternal destiny, many crosses and humiliations in life are actually blessings in disguise. That’s what the many lives of the Saints attest to.

Basically this would mean going in accord with the pattern exemplified by Jesus. Hence there is the Latin adage that says: Regnat a ligno Deus (translated: God reigns from the wood of the Cross). It’s actually what the saints followed, living their lives according to the pattern set by our Lord Jesus who said: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, it is for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self? For if anyone is ashamed of me and my name, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk. 9:23-26). After all that’s what love really is, as enunciated summarily by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “Love is humble, love is patient, love is forgiving” (see 1 Cor. 13:1-13).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why St. Therese?

She called her Little Way the way of spiritual childhood. Why is this significant for vocation and spiritual growth? There’s a story, I heard, about a man who went to a monk’s monastery to consult about spiritual things. The monk invited him to a cup of coffee and as he poured coffee to the brim it almost spilled over. The visitor reacted. And he was told: “That’s your first lesson. Unless you humbly listen and open yourself, you will not be able to learn new things.”

That’s somehow the gist of St. Therese’s Little Way. We can precisely avoid many mistakes in life and vocation if we try to follow such way of spiritual childhood. And why? Yes, why is it important for life and vocation? So you can learn the path to life. For how can a proud heart learn, thinking it already knows everything? When you lose that childlike awe and inquisitive wonderment, you tend to stagnate in ignorance or false delight. Mind you, Jesus kept on that advice – “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened for you…everyone who seeks always finds” (Mt. 7:7).

God’s infallible word in Scriptures makes it clear in various places. “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mk. 10:15; see also Mt. 18:1-4, Mt. 19:13-15; Lk. 18:15-17). That’s how we learn; with the simplicity and openness of a child. St. Therese has become the most popular saint of modern times: she has shown innumerable people that sainthood is attainable by anybody, however obscure, lowly, untalented, ‘ordinary’, by the doing of small things and the discharge of daily duties in a perfected spirit of love for God.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Basis of Beliefs

(Based on facts)

Perhaps this is one lingering question in the minds of many people. The question for example that needs an answer. Why Christianity has become one major religion in our world. What’s the basis? In philosophy there’s an age-old principle that runs thus: Contra factum non valet argumentum (There are no stronger arguments than facts).

That is how Jesus answered the question of the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees who posed this request to Him: “Master, we should like to see a sign from you” (Mt. 12:28). Jesus answered that factually: “It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Mt. 12:34). That is how Jesus predicted about signs accompanying those who believed in Him. “These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover” (Mk. 16:17).

That is why, for the numberless saints that have been canonized by the Catholic Church, previous to that are required about 2 or 3 first class miracles or signs that prove divine intervention as approved for their saintly lives, even though in most cases these holy people lived their lives in humility and simplicity, without care for any human publicity. In the case of Our Lord Jesus, the happening or event of the Resurrection is clear evidence of His divine nature. That was the clear factual response to the final question of the Sanhedrin: ‘In the name of the living God, I command you to tell us: Are you the Christ, the Son of God?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is just as you say. I tell you more: from now on, you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Most Powerful God and coming on the clouds of heaven’(Mt.26:63-64). The fact of history is that after His crucifixion and death Jesus rose from the dead.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Secrets of Business

Sometime ago I heard it mentioned by a Focolare group member that the Holy Bible is the best business book. I do remember the bestseller book by Robert Townsend where he states in his book (1970) titled – Up the Organization, in page 62 under the sub-title ‘Family Baggage’, ….”The worst wives (from the standpoint of the effect on their husbands) in my experience are the overly ambitious ones. They don’t understand that money, like prestige, if sought directly, is almost never gained. It must come as a byproduct of some worthwhile objective or result which is sought and achieved for its own sake.”

The reason why I cite this here is so that we may learn the correct ways of doing successful business which is even in accord with God’s infallible truth in the Bible. You may find such reference in the gospel of Lk. 6:38 and in 1 Tim. 6:10. The first text in Luke chapter 6 somehow projects the attitude of sincere love and service to the fellowman or woman: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back” (Lk. 6:36-38). I guess this means that we should realize that how we do or treat others will somehow or similarly bounce back to us.

The text from St. Paul to Timothy tells us why it’s wrong business to be enslaved to money or make it a prime concern. “The love of money is the root of all evils and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds” (1 Tim. 6:10). If you care to be in the right path these biblical texts do clearly point out that we must not be enslaved, deceived or illusioned by monetary gain but rather be always motivated by a sincere love and service of God and our neighbor, and then all the rest will follow. As Jesus had said: “Seek ye first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all other things will be given you besides” (Mt. 6:33).