Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Word makes Disciples

"If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31)

One of the most popular sayings in the Bible is: "The truth shall make you free." I knew of this quotation before I came to read the Bible. We all love freedom. Today more than ever, there are so many things that enslave us: Money, sex, television, alcohol, drugs, food, tobacco, pornography, cars, gadgets and so on. A number of businesses has grown promising to liberate us from our dependencies and addictions.

Jesus promises that knowing His word will lead to knowledge of the truth. Truth comes as light to chase away the error or darkness that causes sin, ignorance and death. Truth frees us from fear: Fears of ill-health, lack of money, opinion of people; fears of no job and its consequences. These subtle fears drive us to addictions.

How many people are genuinely free today? "Those who rush to other gods bring many troubles on themselves" (Psalm 16:4). These tin gods: money, alcohol, sex, food, etc exploit our weaknesses, enslave us and bring so much unhappiness to our lives. How can we be free? Feeding the mind with the words of Jesus Christ will make us free. "If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31)

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Friday, September 23, 2005

There is time for everything!

"The right time for me has not come yet, but any time is the right time for you." (John 7:6)

When the brothers of Jesus urged Him to manifest Himself openly in Judaea, Jesus told them that the time is not right for such a show. Have you ever been under pressure to act? Subtle pressures to act 'now'; 'to show myself to the world' have troubled me in the past.

When you need to make a critical move in your life, success depends on timing. How do we recognize the right time? The Master is teaching us in John 7:6 that there is time for everything. To succeed, we must align ourselves to God's will and time-table. But how do we find out God's time on any issue?

Christ never took any major step in His life without prayer. He spent the night in prayer before He chose His the twelve apostles. Seeking God's will implies readiness to wait for it. "Faith that is firm is also patient." (Isaiah 28:16). When we wait for God's light and guidance after prayer, He never fails to manifest it. He does this through various means. Once we receive this guidance, then, "Do whatever he tells you." We can then act in confidence, certain that this is God's right time for us.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Spirit gives Life

"It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer" (John 6:63)

To experience joy, peace, happiness and contentment is to be alive in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit who is in us makes this condition possible. After we have received the Holy Spirit through baptism, the Spirit maintains His life in us through His word and through the sacraments especially the Eucharist. These are two most important means for building up the body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit transforms the ordinary bread and wine we bring to the altar during the Eucharist into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the life of the soul. The word of God gives spiritual life to man. So does the Bread of life. To have real life, the life that endures, man must partake of the Word of God and the Bread of life.

"It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer" To connect to the Spirit, make your home in the word of God and eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ often.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bread of Life

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst" (John 6:35).

There are few sources of pleasure in life that could rival food. One saying has it that love enters through the stomach. Food was a major cause of conflict between God and His people during their forty years of journey through the desert to the Promised Land. We are familiar with food riots in homes, schools, prisons and even in societies. Happiness, fulfillment, eternal life have been presented frequently through the images of food, drink and banquet in the Bible.

When Jesus said: "I am the bread of life", He chose a very powerful symbol in which to reach man. Jesus indeed is the bread of life. Under the appearance of bread and wine, He gives us Himself in the Eucharist. How do we know that this is true? This is the very word of Jesus. This is an explicit promise. The original people who heard this knew that Jesus was not being metaphorical. Their reaction showed what their understanding. Secondly, the Church had believed this from the very beginning. The Church believes it today. The Church will believe this till the end of time.

When we come to Jesus in Holy Communion, what do we seek? Christ promises us two things explicitly in the Eucharist. If we come to Him, we will never be hungry and we will never know thirst. "Man does not live by bread alone, there is life for him in every word that comes from the mouth of God." The natural man has great hunger and thirst for material things. The genuine bread, 'the bread of life' will gradually free man from excessive appetite for material food and drink.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Do not be afraid

"They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, 'It is I. Do not be afraid" (John 6: 19-20)

Jesus is in every event in our life. In these verses, He is saying to us: 'Do not be afraid. I am present.' How can we make this truth serve us? In the midst of the stormy events of life, how do we call to mind the sure presence of Jesus? One way is to cultivate the presence of Jesus through the Jesus prayer. Form the habit of using the name of Jesus as affirmation. Whenever you mention that name, sense His presence.

Jesus is present in us through the Holy Spirit. How can we be sure of this? Because of the peace and tranquility we enjoy. When trial comes to us and we forget the presence of Jesus with us, we become afraid. We feel that we are in control of events and we feel so inadequate. Jesus wants us to know: "I am here. Do not be afraid."

How can we be constantly aware of the presence of Jesus? The words of Jesus bring peace and comfort in troubles. When we immerse ourselves in these words during calm weather, we could recall them easily during storms. Using the name of Jesus, which is Jesus prayer is the simplest but the most powerful type of prayer. It brings calm.

Jesus! "Yes, I am here. Do not be afraid."

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Monday, September 19, 2005

"My food is the will of God"

"My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work" (John 4:34).

The Father sent Jesus to redeem the world from sin. Christ understood His mission perfectly. Fulfilling this mission gives His life sustenance as food does to the body. "Man does not live on bread alone. There is life for him in every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Word of God and Will of God are the same thing.

Food apart from sustaining us, gives pleasure. Doing God's will give Christ the maximum pleasure. How about us?

The loving Father is always communicating with His children. He is eager to let us know His will in every situation. Psalm 40:8 tells us: "Your instructions for me are in the book of the Law" (GNB). If we follow these instructions, we find as Christ did that doing God's will can be food and drink to our life. Jesus left us this teaching and example. Our fulfillment, joy, peace and prosperity lie in following this instruction and example.

O Holy Spirit, lead and guide us to discern God's will for us in every situation.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Sunday, September 18, 2005

True Worship of God

"But the hour will come – in fact it is here already - when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: This is the kind of worship the Father wants." (John 4:23)

Genuine worship of the Father will be in spirit and truth. The Holy Spirit in us will lead us to the true worship of God. The Holy Spirit inspires and teaches authentic Christian doctrine and worship.

"God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). To worship God properly, we must recognize our spiritual nature and close the doors to the evidence of our senses. Our senses which represent materiality can be obstacle to genuine worship. For example, closing the eyes facilitates prayers for many.

Father, grant us the Holy Spirit so that we can worship you properly.

See: Navarre Bible: St John