Saturday, March 04, 2006

Are you being pruned?

Are you being pruned?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.  You are pruned already by means of the word that I have spoken to you.”  (John 15: 1-3)

Many Christians who love the Lord have lots of suffering in their life.  They cannot understand what is going on.  I suspect that many are not even aware of John 15: 13, that gives an encouraging answer to their questions.  About ten years ago, the Lord placed me in the desert for more than two years.  His faithful love and mercy revealed the above scripture to me.  When I knew through his word that the Lord is pruning me, I became calmer and less rebellious.

One Sunday during my desert experience, I heard this scripture read at Mass:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.  Endure your trials as ‘discipline’, God treats you as sons.  For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.”  (Hebrews 12: 5-8)

John 15: 1-3 and Hebrews 12: 5-8 transformed my attitude to pruning and discipline.  I welcomed it in 1996 as I welcome it today.  The seed that yielded a harvest is the word that fell on good soil.   Others that fell on the path, rock or among thorns were left to their fate.  

In our afflictions, Jesus gives us the consolation of the truth found in holy scriptures..  Thank you Lord Jesus for your word.  May the Father continue to prune me so that I can bear much fruit.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Peace of Christ

The Peace of Christ

“Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  (John 14: 27)

This is one of the most delightful promises of Jesus.  His gift of peace.  Christ spoke a great deal about peace.  After his resurrection, peace was the special gift he bestowed on his demoralized followers.  Today again, apart from offering me this special peace, not like the world’s, Jesus also exhorts me not to let my heart be troubled nor to be afraid.

What does the peace of Christ, shalom mean to me?   It means interior calm, a restful mind, unruffled by any event; it means confidence that God is directing me step by step in everything and that God is protecting me moment by moment everywhere and at all times.  It means the opposite of what satan induces in people:  anxiety, worries, feverish restlessness.

Do I have the peace of Christ?  I thank Jesus that I do.  I want more of this peace.  I still find my heart troubled or afraid about certain things.  The day I wrote the above in my journal in 1996, my heart was troubled by family relationship, money and food.  My first reaction on that day was not calm.  But my anxiety was healed when Jesus said to me that morning:  “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  (John 14: 27)


Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Holy Spirit My Senior Partner

The Holy Spirit – My Senior Partner

“I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.”  (John 14: 25 – 26)

When Jesus said the above words to his disciples, it was only a promise.  This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost.  Today, everybody has the opportunity to verify whether this promise is true or false.  I became conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit within me on June 1, 1996.  

How did this happen?  First, I had the intimation that the Holy Spirit will change my life.  Next, I searched for information on the Holy Spirit from the Bible and spiritual books.  The information I got from my research confirmed the truth that the Holy Spirit was what I needed most in my life at that time.  My desire for him began to grow.  I searched for how to get the Holy Spirit.  I found a slim pamphlet containing a nine day novena on the Holy Spirit.  I made the nine day prayer.  On the final day, after I said the concluding prayers, I accepted in faith that the Holy Spirit was in me.

I felt two emotions immediately.  One was a deep feeling of peace and joy.  The other was an urge to read the Bible.  The first words I read were:   "Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me." nbsp; (Wisdom 7:7).   I needed no further confirmation.  The Holy Spirit truly was within me.  I am his temple.  He is the Advocate who pleads my cause with the Father.  How great!  How wonderful!  His presence is peace and tranquility.  I knew that whenever I pray in the Holy Spirit my prayer must have a hearing.  

In John 14: 25 – 26, Christ also promised that the Holy Spirit will teach me everything in connection with God’s kingdom.  So the Holy Spirit is indeed more than my Senior Partner.  He is my Teacher, my Guide, my Motivator, the Source of all my achievements.

The Holy Spirit will also remind me of all that Christ has told me at the time I need this information most.  For example:  “My grace is always with you.” “Be still and know that I am God.”  Thank you O Blessed Spirit.  Make me open and docile to you.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Who is St. Augustine?

"Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires"(Romans 13: 13-14).

"Thou has made us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in thee" wrote St Augustine (Confessions, 1,1). As a young man, Augustine's heart was restless and on many occasion rested on illicit sex. Augustine came slowly to realize that sex and other forbidden pleasures could not fill the void in his heart. After a long resistance to the nudgings of grace, he succumbed to the charm of Christ. He described his conversion experience in his own words: "I felt myself still enslaved by my iniquities, and therefore did I groan to myself, 'How long? How long must I continue saying Tomorrow, tomorrow? Why not now? Why not, at one instant, make an end of all uncleanness?' [...]And behold I heard a voice, like that of a child in the house next door, repeating in a sing-song tone, 'Take up and read. Take up and read.' [...]I rose up [...]and returned to where I have left the book of the Apostle; I took it quickly into my hand, opened it and read in silence the first passage on which my eye happened to fall." Augustine wrote down the verses: "Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires"(Romans 13: 13-14). Augustine continues: "I read no further, nor was there any need to; for with the end of this sentence, as by a clear and constant light infused into my heart, the darkness of all former doubts was immediately driven away" (Confessions, VII, 12, 28-28).

Christ said: "I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners"(Matthew 9:13) Once he answered the call of Jesus, Augustine gave it his whole heart. He turned his prodigious intellectual capacity to Christian heology. Augustine became the Qoheleth of the early Church: "Besides being a sage, Qoheleth taught the people what he himself knew, having weighed, studied and emended many proverbs. Qoheleth took pains to write in an attractive style and by it to convey truths..(Ecclesiastes 12: 9-10)NJB He wrote many books, Confessions and City of God being the most popular. His influence on Church doctrine has not diminished with time. He is vastly quoted in the Documents of Second Vatican Council.

St Augustine of Hippo was born in North Africa in 354. He died in 430 as bishop of Hippo. God sustained him in the priesthood till the end in keeping with His promise: "The Lord has sworn an oath and he will not retract; you are a priest forever, in the line of Melchisedech" (Psalm 110:4)

St Augustine is the patron of printers and theologians. His feast day is the 28 of August.
Quotes from St Augustine
"God who created you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation" (Sermon 169, 11).
"Our entire life on earth should take the form of praise of God, for the never-ending joy of our future life consists in praising God, and no one can become fit for that future life unless he trains himself to render that praise now" (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 148).

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Spirit of truth

The Spirit of truth

“If you love me you will keep my commandments.  I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive.  Since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.”  (John 14: 13-17)

I believe the words of Jesus.  Thank you Jesus for the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit.  I know his presence in me through his activities:  peace and tranquility, light and guidance, joy and consolation.  These graces have been the dominant environment of my life since 060195.  

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will be with me forever.  I delight in this promise.  At the same time, I understand that the promise is conditional of my keeping the commandments of Jesus, notably the commandment of love.  I know that the Holy Spirit is with me to help me to keep God’s commandments and to make me holy.  He is the Spirit of truth, the giver and protector of my charism.  I love the Holy Spirit very much.

Lord Jesus, thank you very much for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Help me to always show appreciation for this wonderful gift.  May I grow steadily in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Amen!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Write down the Prayer List

Write down the Prayer list

“And I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.  If you ask me for anything in my name I will do it.”  (John 14: 13)

Christ renews a great promise to me this day.  Yes, I believe that every prayer is answered because God’s word is true.  This presupposes that my prayer is according to the mind of Christ, and that the object of the prayer is good for me and not harmful to my neighbor.

In 1996, after reading and reflecting on John 14:13, I made the following prayer list:
  • Holy Spirit and his gifts

  • Healing

  • Job

  • PUS

  • Daily needs

  • Protection

  • PaulSJ

  • Prosperity

At the end of the list, I appended these words:  “Having prayed for these in the name of Jesus, I now exercise patience and wait for God to act.”

Reflecting on my prayer list 10 years later in 2006, I confirm that all have been answered except one.  I am still working on that one.  I have also grown in the past ten years in spiritual understanding of God’s word.  Because God loves us so much, he rightly answers prayers that are in accordance with his mind and plan for us.  Every good parent does the same.  Nobody gives his five-year old sod a cobra to play with because he asks for it.

God advised the Prophet Habakkuk to “Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.  For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”  (Habakkuk 2: 2-3)  Why make a note of the prayer list?  A written record helps us to know when and how God answers our prayers and our faith in him will grow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Belief in Jesus 2

Belief in Jesus 2

“I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works.”  (John 14: 12)

Today Jesus speaks to me again about faith in him.  Again, a promise is attached to belief in Jesus.  The last time Jesus spoke to me about faith in him, the promise is eternal life. (John 3:15, 36; 5:24)  Today, the promise is not eternal life but greater ability to contribute to the work of building up of the kingdom of God.

What type of belief in Jesus will produce this power?  Belief that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore God.  Belief in all that the Bible says about Jesus.  Belief that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Yahweh revealed in the prophecy of Isaiah.  Belief in the reality of the crucifixion and all its implications.  Belief in the miracles of Jesus, his passion, death and resurrection.  

Belief in Jesus is not static but dynamic.  This belief grows everyday as Jesus reveals more of himself to us.  He invites us to deeper faith in him everyday.  We respond to this invitation when we pray, study his word and receive him in the Eucharist.  Then our faith becomes more focused and more simple.  Then we are not shocked by the scandal of the incarnation, the simplicity of the Man Jesus and in the humiliation of the cross.