Saturday, December 31, 2005

Trust the Scriptures

“There is no need for you to be afraid, I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” (Matthew 27: 5 – 7)

The chief priests and the Pharisees secured the tomb, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard. What for? Ostensibly to prevent anybody from stealing the body of Jesus. Or could it be to prevent Jesus from rising from the dead? The Bible says that “Fools say in there heart that there is no God.” When men choose to fight against God or kick against the goad, they behave like fools. “For they do not know the scripture or the power of God.” According to the scriptures, Jesus would rise on the third day. Could this be prevented by man?

Lord, grant us a deepened faith and awe in the Scripture and the power of God.

Friday, December 30, 2005


“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Matthew 6: 33-34)

What are you worried about?
  • Money

  • Health

  • Job

  • The future

  • Family relationships

  • Salvation

  • Food

Listen to Jesus the faithful witness.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 6 -7)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Be Bold!

"The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit, but rather one that makes us strong, loving and wise."
(1 Timothy 1:7)

Goethe, the eminent German philosopher once said, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." Norman Vincent Peale agreed: "Boldness is the activator of power from the mind."

Can we display true boldness without the power of the Holy Spirit?Because we face so many trials when we commit ourselves to the Lord, we sooner or later realize that courage is central to the Christian life. Without courage, how can we stand up for Christ in our homes? Even our spouses and kids may challenge our committment to the Lord. Our workplaces are full of temptations to our Christian values. How do we cope with these traps? How do we react to the many snares of the enemy in the workplace? And the Church?As we grow daily in the knowledge and love of Jesus, our model and example, we learn to apply the truths of the Bible to our daily lives.

We learn that the Holy Spirit within us is our ever-present resource. In crisis, He is there to give us strength. In situation where love is demanded, He makes us loving. When we face challenges to our faith and need to bear witness, He gives us wisdom.Many experienced Christians avow that the greatest trials to our faith and courage come from within the Body of Christ. Can Satan enter the temple of God? Remember these words: "Get behind me Satan." To fight the good fight of faith, we need the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit as St. Paul tells Timothy:
"The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit, but rather one that makes us strong, loving and wise." (1 Timothy 1:7)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Do you feel deserted?

“And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God why have you deserted me?” (Matthew 27: 46)

Delays, disappointments, obstacles, suffering and persecutions can cause extreme discouragement. We take comfort in the cry and prayer of Christ, ‘My God, my God why have you deserted me?” Even Jesus felt deserted under intense suffering. But we also must learn by his grim determination not to be discouraged, to drink the cup of suffering to the last drop. This attitude of firmness and steadfastness in face of overwhelming odds is itself victory. We learn this in the school of prayer, the school of Gethsemane. In Gethsemane, Christ prepared for what was to come in the following 24 hours. The time we spent in prayer in the morning prepares us for what is to come in the next 12 hours.

Crying out to God who is so near to us in prayer helps us to face all the odds that life throws on us during the day. “My God, my God why have you deserted me?” We can hear from God, “I have not deserted you. Look! I am with you always.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Set Us Free

“The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him in the same way. ‘He saved others; they said ‘he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He puts his trust in God, now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am the Son of God.” (Matthew 27: 41 – 44)

Even on the cross, the hatred for Jesus by his enemies was unabated. The enemies of Jesus did not seem to believe that with Christ on the cross, their victory was complete and final. They continued the attack. It is interesting to note that they challenged God to vindicate the trust that Jesus had in him. Scripture is filled with the assertion that those who trust in God can never be put to shame. It is impossible that the chief priests, scribes and elders were unaware of this scripture. For them to say to Jesus, ‘You put your trust in God. God cannot save you in this situation,’ seems to be a contradiction of the truth. The passion of the Christ was the reign of darkness when the father of lies was in control.

The next thing to note in the above incident is that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders did not consider it above their dignity to come to witness the execution of their enemy. It reminds one of the small crowd that witnesses the execution of criminals in death chambers. The crowd is made up of the aggrieved family members, the press, a minister, some family members of the criminal and some representative of the government. Some people in the group may be motivated by revenge. The chief priests, scribes and elders on Calvary were certainly there to gloat over Jesus.

But Christ was not a common criminal. The insults and taunts and the lifting up on the cross had the foreknowledge of God. God permitted this as an essential condition for our salvation. Everything written in the Bible with regard to the suffering Messiah must be fulfilled.

The follower of Christ is called to be a type of Christ. God is training us to be like his Son by presenting us the opportunities to suffer insults, taunts and persecutions for the sake of Christ. The persecutors who provide us the opportunity are unaware of God’s plan. We become empowered to suffer like Christ as we make our home in his word. We perceive this truth and this truth sets us free from the fear of suffering.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Suffering and Humiliation

“The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown, they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail king of the Jews!’ And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27: 27 – 31)

This is an incredible narrative packed in only 110 words. We see Jesus surrounded by the whole cohort, representing the full assembly of evil. How is it that some people will read the story of Christ’s passion and death and it will move them to lasting conversion and others will read the same story and remain unmoved? How I pray that when I read the gruesome narrative of the passion of the Christ, I will realize that it is my sin and that of others that lead him to this situation. I am taught that this suffering and humiliation of the God-man was necessary in order to assuage the justice of God and save me. Why does this knowledge not move from the head to the heart where it can produce a permanent fruit of repentance?

The greatest fruit of the contemplation of the passion of the Christ is a realization that it is also necessary for me to accept suffering in my life in order to share in Christ’s suffering and glorification. “Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick” teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I accept and live this truth everyday, then the word of Christ dwells in me more richly. (Colossians 3:16)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Crucify Him!

“Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered Jesus to be first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27: 26)

The chief priests, leaders of the people and the crowd chose Barabbas to be freed and Christ to be crucified. What was Christ’s offence? To the chief priest and the leaders of the people, he represented too much of the truth. He spoke too much of the truth. He made no distinction between man and man. They could not reconcile themselves to his message or his person. They demanded a capital punishment. They wanted a final solution to the Jesus problem. Only his death could restore the peace he had disturbed.

Now why did the crowd want Jesus to die? The crowd benefited immensely from Christ’s ministry. He fed them, healed them and taught them. At the moment they should stand up and be counted, they abdicated their conscience and judgment to the leaders. They sold their voting rights for a few pennies. In the reign of darkness, anything is possible. The bible warns us not to put our trust in man nor in princes. Only in God lies our peace and security.