Sunday, September 30, 2012

No Other Name (Acts 4:12)

The Word or Name Jesus means Savior.  The Bible says this that His Name is Jesus “because He is the one to save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).  Salvation then depends on our following Jesus who is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

But why would the Bible say there is no other name by which we can be saved?  (cf. Acts 4:12).  The Bible is God’s unmistakable word which has withstood the ravages of time more than two thousand years already.  The prehistoric or stone age period counts 4000 years before the birth of Christ (B.C.), the iron age 1200 (B.C.).  The 1st century is counted from the birth of Jesus (in Latin is rendered A.D. or Anno Domini (year of the Lord), hence we are now in September 2012 (A.D.).  The years count B.C. to A.D., before or after the birth of the Savior.

You can check the very etymology or derivation of the name Jesus, which means, Savior.  As a teacher of Theology once explained: ‘when you see the countless number of people that admire, follow and believe in Jesus Christ because of goodness, love, truth, virtue, and extraordinary signs and miracles connected to His belief, then you are also led to embrace such belief or even at least make an effort to know what Christianity is about’ (cf. Mk. 16:17-20).

After all reality is supposed to be based on facts, not just on gossip or rumor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Secret Societies

There are societies in this world that have evil plans against the Church and society but the only way we can beware of them is by following Jesus’ warning who said in the gospels (Mt. 7:15), “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.  You will be able to tell them by their fruits.”  Yes you know the false prophets or false friends because of their evil deeds, which are already known from past events and happenings in history.  In the gospel of Jn. 8:44 Jesus tells that the devil is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus called hypocrites those who pretended to be good and religious people but were really greedy and ambitious ones.  That’s what the insincere people pretend to be while inside they secretly plan to do harm to the neighbor.  God wants us to have a simple and open life, after all He knows our deepest secrets which we cannot hide from Him.  “Do not be afraid of them therefore, for everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.  What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers proclaim from the housetops” (Mt. 10:26-27).  Yes, open and fearless speech, not hidden agenda. 

God wants us to be simple and sincere unlike the nature of snakes which are deceitful, hidden and cunning.  As Jesus warns in the cited text: “You will know the false prophets by their deeds as you know the tree by its fruit” (Mt. 7:15).  You can know that studying the history, of peoples and events, God wants us to be true to ourselves in all we say or do.  Do not pretend to be what you are not.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  In all things be true to God, yourself and your neighbor.  The proverb is ever true: Truth will out.  (One way or another, in spite of all efforts to conceal it, the truth will come to be known.)  Even the famous poet William Shakespeare talks about this in Hamlet Act I, sc. 3: “This above all—to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

 In particular I am talking about Freemasonry or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority.  The Catholic Church, under penalty of excommunication, forbids Catholics from joining above-mentioned secret societies which normally operate with strict secrecy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Christus Vincit (Christ Conquers)

Looking at present world situations and beliefs, we cannot deny that without being pressured at all there are certainly many believers in Jesus Christ.  About a billion and a half subscribe to belief in Jesus Christ.  This is not by force or pressure but by conviction in the truth.  Jesus already encouraged and assured us in a parting message: “In our world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Certainly in the Bible itself Christ never forced His believers to believe or follow Him, only by the attraction of truth and love.  That’s also the way we should relate with other religious denominations, to have an open attitude of respect, love and justice.  It’s important to follow Jesus’ ways.  Read Mk. 9:38: “John said to him: “Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.  But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us’.”

There is one common saying or popular proverb that says: TRUTH WILL OUT – meaning to say, one way or another, in spite of all efforts to conceal it, the truth will come to be known.  In the Holy Mass after the moment of Consecration we use to say: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.  Certainly in spirit, in prayer, in His power, Jesus is ever truthful in that final promise He confided to us before He left: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt. 28:20).  Echoing the victory of Jesus, in past history, Julian the Apostate was struck down by a lance on the battle field and died crying: “Vincisti Galileo!” (translate the Latin as: “Galilean, Thou has conquered!”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“Blessed are They Who have not Seen yet have Believed” (Jn. 20:29)

Why has the Catholic Church grown among the biggest group of believers?  Maybe because of the signs people can see.  That was the surprise that moved the Apostle Thomas to exclaim “My Lord and my God” upon seeing the Risen Christ 3 days after He died.  The same thing we may say of the people who come to be convinced by the numbers of Catholic believers devotedly attending Masses on feast days.

There are also concrete signs the Lord works to persuade people to believe.  Like, for example, the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, Italy that portrays Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, body and blood.  The miracle has been evaluated by scientists.  For one thing if that was one deceptive occurrence, why do Catholics still believe in the sacrament of the Eucharist?  And present statistics show their number as one billion and one hundred eighty one million (1,181,000,000).

The miracles that accompany those officially certified as Saints (which is a requisite) as well as other doctrinal pronouncements, are all impartially documented and filed, which you can check yourself.  That’s the assurance of Jesus at the end of St. Mark’s gospel: “And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mk. 16:19-20)..

Friday, September 14, 2012

It Made A Difference (the work of missionaries)

When we look at the status of Catholicity or Christianity nowadays we are inclined to look with gratitude at the work of missionaries, both men and women, who brought the faith to us at the expense of many sacrifices or even the loss of their lives in martyrdom for the faith in Jesus Christ.  No doubt we are grateful for their example of sacrifice and generosity, just so as to fulfill that last instruction of Jesus: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).  That instruction of Jesus came also with an assurance of God’s protection.

      “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).  Amid all the different religions in the world let’s have some sense of discernment.  Without pointing any accusing fingers at least let us be searchers of the “truth that sets us free” (Jn. 8:32).  After all, the truth is everybody’s right.  No one has the right to what is false.  Let us live that freedom that is tantamount to saying: “Live and let live,’ with due respect to others’ rights (life, liberty, truth, property). 

      Let us give to everyone that freedom to search for the truth!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Greed for Power

In the Bible Mt. 4:3-11 you can read about the tactics of the devil in tempting man, especially as regards riches, power and money. 

        “Next taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  ‘I will give you all these’ he said’ if you fall at my feet and worship me.’  Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan!  For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him  alone.’  Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.” 

Surely this has been a common strategy of the devil to tempt human weakness by the attraction of the passing goods and beauty of earthly things and creatures.  But Jesus shows us that by prayer and God’s word we may ward off such worldly allurements and delusions.

Surely people get deceived by the illusions of popularity, money, power, and politics.  But in the end what is there but only illusion and semblances of grandeur that are as bubbles that blow up in the air and just as quickly disappear.  Let’s only remember the humble life of Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn. 14:6).  Remember history and do not repeat the past big mistakes of people.

       “Though being divine in nature, Christ did not claim in fact equality with God,  but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man.  He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross.  That is why God exalted him and gave him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:6-11).