Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The absolute priority

The Word of God rings with stories of God’s fidelity to His people, leading them to a land of freedom from slavery in Egypt to Israel, and in the New Testament, salvation in the Cross of our Savior, Jesus the Lamb of Sacrifice. God never abandons us to die to sin or leaves us without hope, especially in our “desert suffering.”  Like the people of Israel we have sinned and need to rise again that death may not stifle eternal life in our souls.  For the consequence of sin is death ( Rom. 6:23). Jesus on the Cross also lifts us away from the deadly poison of sin so we may share in His glory as true disciples living and witnessing to His mission of love, mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus radically transforms our life direction by challenging us to mind rise above our nature and enter into the mind and heart of God our Father with Him as our “big” Brother.  St. Paul admonishes us: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). God created us for eternal glory and nothing else can satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts.  We must not forget that this world with all its pleasures and allurements will pass and as Our Lady said to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I do not promise you happiness in this world, but in the next.”

Our absolute priority must be to follow Jesus’ way of selfless love and refuse to let any person or thing interfere with our love of God and neighbor and self-sacrifice for the Kingdom.  We meet Christ most intimately at the Cross and the self-same act of love at the Eucharist, where we too learn to make an offering of ourselves in love.  “And my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and look at me, and turn from their wicked ways then I myself will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and  restore their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). “ “Set your hearts first on the kingdom and justice of God and all these things will also be given to you” (Mt. 6:33).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Setting the direction

Life follows the direction of the Creator, whose divine law in nature [natural law] governs everything, from the lowest to the highest member of creation, from the smallest dot to man, and the angels.  The intelligent beings—man and the angels—have been endowed with Godly powers to enable them to seek the Good, particularly union with God, the lasting Good, in their inner spirits or conscience.

God speaks to us human beings through our conscience.  The man/woman who listens to his/her conscience is deemed a person of character, whatever be their personality type.  They have integrated values and principles into their character.  Thus, these leaders set the direction for others to follow.  Being responsible, he/she knows what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and why to do it. From within, the leader consults and sees with the Maker’s vision.

The Book of Proverbs, chapter 16 contains many pertinent reminders:  “Man’s heart makes plans but it is Yahweh who answers.  Although people are satisfied with all of their deeds Yahweh considers the motives.  Entrust all you do to Yahweh and your plans will be realized.  Yahweh made everything for a purpose, even the evildoer for the day of punishment…  When Yahweh is pleased with a man’s conduct, he reconciles even his enemies with him.  Better to have little but be just than to have a great income without honesty.  Man’s heart seeks the right way but it is Yahweh who makes his footsteps sure.” (Prov. 16:1-4, 7-9). The Greek dictum states: “Know yourself, control yourself, give yourself.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Be on guard

JESUS constantly warned his followers to be guard, for “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16).  The guidance of the Holy Spirit as the main agent of evangelization assures us to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus and live a life of prayer and contemplation.  The search for truth in the apostolic journey will indeed open our hearts to recognize our sinfulness and to cooperate with the grace of conversion and rekindled evangelization.
It’s good to remember some important sayings of the saints since they could lead us back to the right track, like two Carmelite saints, for example, Sts. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) and Teresa Benedict of the Cross.  St. Teresa is quoted to have said in her writings: “Much wrongdoing would be avoided if we realized our business is to be on guard, not against men but against displeasing the Lord.”  St. Teresa Benedict, the former Jewish agnostic philosopher converted to Christianity by contemplating on the cross in a Carmelite chapel, is quoted also as saying this: “Do not accept anything as love if it lacks truth, and do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love.”

The Bible, God’s unmistakable word, teaches: “Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments” (Rom. 13:10).  God’s word, the standard of justice and right living, asks of us only love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and unity (2 Tim. 3:10-17).  St. John Paul II challenges the modern apostle with these three phrases in the work of evangelization: use “new methods, new expressions, and new fervor.”  In the end, the Church follows the way of the Savior through the Cross of discipleship amidst the lure of secularization. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Conquest in mercy

How is God’s love and mercy and justice being lived in our world today?  Perhaps some false misconceptions regarding human dignity and social analysis have injected deceptive mistaken ideas that suffocate one’s being a true disciple of mercy  that sees with the eyes of Jesus the needs of those crying for dignity and tolerance, while craving for healing and deliverance in their wounded brokenness. 

This is the cry for authentic love and justice.  It would be erroneous for example to incite hatred for one another as well as murder to become the viable solution of injustices.  You cannot right a wrong with another wrong.  As the Bible says: ‘You can only conquer evil with good’ (Romans 12:21).  There  is no other way but the way of Jesus Christ which is: love, forgiveness, action, work, and justice.  Justice means keeping the law.  And Jesus says: “Do unto others what you want others do unto you.  This is the substance and meaning of the entire law and the message of all the prophets” (Mt. 7:12).

May our conscience have clear direction for each person to respond positively with God’s mercy and compassion  to those in need and whose spirits are broken by different forms of suffering,  injustice and a culture of greed and violence.

Muddling ideas

The famous quote of William Shakespeare: ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ – continues  to muddle the modern mind.  So in our muddled situation today what confuses are the wrong, misleading, contradictory ideas.  For as the ancients say: ‘It is ideas that rule the world.’  They say that even reading too many things may leave the searching mind confused.  Right ideas enlighten and guide while wrong ideas dim the sky of truth.

This is what is happening to us now.  We are so confused by the false prophets (teachers) who themselves don’t know what they are talking about.  Just high-sounding words without concrete nor clear reference to what is reality.  Why don’t they rather speak in Visayan or the native tongue or vernacular?  As always the devil uses this kind of muddled unclear ways, being as he is the prince of darkness and father of lies (Jn. 8:44; Lk. 22:53; Rom. 12:12).  A blind man leading another will both fall into the pit. (Mt. 15:14). 

The simple solution is to follow Jesus.  As St. John XXIII answered when confronted by a hundred critics, he said: “My simple principle is to put my life in line with and do what Jesus did, and not to do what He did not.”  Remember Jesus was poor, humble, brave, patient, forgiving, long-suffering.  The modern critics are proud, angry, hateful, condemning, deceitful, ambitious, revengeful; or just an opposite.  ‘To be or not to be’ – for the Christian will be resolved by declaring:  ‘I am a true disciple of Jesus; I am a child of the Most High, All-loving, All-Merciful God.’ The right actions will then follow and bring peace in the quest for true freedom.