Saturday, October 01, 2005

St. John the Evangelist

"I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth." (John 18:37)

The Gospel of St John is the outcome of a theological reflection on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From the beginning of the book to the end, we see the author's faith shining through every verse. We meet Jesus in the Gospel as the Lamb of God. Jesus is also presented as the truth, the way, the life, the bread of life, etc. The reflections provided the blog Seekfirst are not theological. As I read the Gospel of St John, I wrote down random thoughts that occur to me. I share these jottings hoping that somebody may find spiritual nourishment from them.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Holy Spirit draws men to Christ

"And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).

Christ promised to draw all men to Himself when he was lifted up. His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven completed the salvation of all mankind. The way is now open for Christ to lead all men to heaven.

Christ draws us to Himself. The attraction we have for Him and our love for Him are His gifts to us. When Christ was lifted up, He sent the Holy Spirit whose work is to draw all men to Christ. His graces are ever present, ever active in all of us. Our duty is to cooperate with Him. The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ through the Word of God and through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

O Holy Spirit, we have heard your word. We thank you for it. We believe it. You are drawing us closer to Christ everyday. We believe in your loving presence in us. We love you. We surrender ourselves totally to you so that your grace may triumph in us. You can make us holy if you want or indeed whatever you want. We are all yours. Amen.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Grain of Wheat

"Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest" (John 12:24).

Just as a wheat grain must die on the ground before it yields a rich harvest, so must we die to old selves before we can yield a rich harvest of good works. Dying to our old selves means abandoning totally our old world ideas on key areas of life: family, health, money, job, tools and food. When these old ideas are flushed out, we replace them with Christ's ideas. The Christ-centered new ideas will influence a new way of seeing things and a new way of behaving.

But the process of dying, any dying is very painful. Christ compared the dying process to a woman in child-birth. She groans and cries because her time of trial has come. But then, the test is for a short time and she experiences the joy of suckling a new baby. Anyone who loves his life so much to want to keep his old self intact with loose it. Hating one's life means hating one's Christ-less ideas. Christ's ideas renew us and make new persons of us.

Lord Jesus, show us how to die to ourselves everyday.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Precious Ointment

"You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me" (John 12:8.)

Jesus accepted an act of kindness from Mary. She did not count the cost of the ointment. It was very expensive. Mary thought that her Love and Master deserved it. Jesus showed His appreciation by praising her act.

We are called to a life of friendship and companionship with Jesus. How do we show our generosity to Jesus? The first thing in friendship is to provide enough time to nourish the relationship. Mary followed Jesus everywhere. In offering her twenty-four hours to Jesus, she offered her soul, heart, will and everything.

Our love for Jesus must be all-encompassing like Mary's. Often we allow our love for God to remain on the level of intentions. Good intentions on themselves are a good start but for the intentions to become reality, we need the grace of God. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and gives us a generous heart to fulfill our good intentions. Christ is passing by us everyday. What we cannot do for him here and now may be a lost opportunity.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let him go free

"Unbind him, let him go free" (John 11:44)

The raising to life of Lazarus presents us with a number of lessons:
1. "This sickness will not end in death but in God's glory and through it the Son of God will be glorified" (John 11:4). Our adversities are opportunities for the glory of God. If we are patient to the end, our tests will become testimonies.

2. "I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:26). Christ in raising Lazarus from the dead, proves that He has the power over life and death. This miracle also teaches that Jesus can raise any person to spiritual life no matter the degree of our deadness to sin.

3. "Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Believe unleashes miracles. Jesus also promises that if we believe we can do greater things than He did.

"Unbind him, let him go free" (John 11:44). Ignorance, disease and death all represent forms of loss of freedom. The Truth that is Jesus unbinds us from spiritual death.

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Monday, September 26, 2005

Belief in Jesus

"Do you believe in the Son of man?" (John 9:36)

When Jesus asked this question to the man who had been born blind, the blind man responded in the affirmative because he understood the question. If Jesus asks you: What does belief in the Son of man mean to you? Would your answers include: Jesus is my Lord and God, my Savior and Redeemer, my King and Boss, my Friend and Companion?

Jesus' intervention in the life of the blind man gave him back his sight and gave him faith as well. In a literal sense, he experienced Jesus as his savior and redeemer. Has Jesus made any interventions in your life that touched your faith?

Some years ago, while working in Paris, I had a work-related problem that needed a miracle. I prayed and prayed and was given this scripture: "Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and you will see what Yahweh will do to rescue you today: The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. Yahweh will do the fighting for you; all you need to do is to keep calm" (Exodus 14: 13-14). I clung to this scripture as a drowning man clings to any object. God turned around my situation and produced a miracle that made many people praise Him. This event uplifted my faith enormously. Jesus rescued me from a certain career disaster. He was indeed my Savior and Redeemer.

The blind man's adversity has brought him something greater than physical vision. He now had a Lord and God who is his personal Savior and Redeemer. God intervenes in our life to save us from sin and evil in order to strengthen our faith.

"Do you believe in the Son of man?" (John 9:36) Yes, Lord. Strengthen my faith

See: Navarre Bible: St John

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sin and Slavery

"I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave....So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:34, 36)

Sin is slavery to passion: food, drink, sex, money, etc. The law of compulsion is at work whenever sin is committed. Compulsion or impulsiveness is the opposite of freedom. If the sin is alcohol, it acts like this: 'Look, I am here. Come and drink your fill.' Or if it id money,: 'I am here. Use me now to fulfill yourself.’ The person concerned cannot say no because of lack of freedom.

Jesus came to set us free from this compulsion and impulsion to act sinfully. When sin as alcohol says to us: 'Come and drink me.' We can respond: 'Christ said: ‘Man does not live by drink alone. There is life for him in every word that comes from the mouth of God."

For every temptation, Jesus has given us a script for it. As good actors, we should be aware of these scripts and use them appropriately. Jesus gives us genuine freedom through His word. His word exposes the lies and errors of temptations such as alcohol, food, sex or money. When we are tempted to turn "these stones into bread”, we know how to respond.

Lord Jesus, make us truly free.

See: Navarre Bible: St John