Friday, February 17, 2012

Take up your cross and follow me

“He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said* to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  (Mark 8: 34)

First note who was summoned to hear this radical teaching.  Not just the disciples but the crowd.  The cross is at the very center of Christianity.  ‘In this sign, you shall conquer’ and the sign of the cross were visible to the future emperor Constantine and his entire army. Jesus asks anybody who wishes to follow Him to “take up his cross, and follow me.”

What is the cross for me?  The cross is not just a piece of wood or metal shaped in the form of a cross.  The cross means for me all the 7-War Zones elements:  Health, Family, Money, Job, Tools, Food, Future.  The soul of man may be severely tested in any or all of these.  Remember Job in the Bible?  We witnessed on television how Blessed John Paul II took up his cross of ill-health and followed Jesus.  Even non Christians were touched. 

What makes the cross bearable is not the size or the form but Jesus Christ whom we follow voluntarily.  Jesus promises:

 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

We labor and are burdened in life over: Health, Family, Money, Job, Tools, Food, Future issues.  As the catechumens are advised in the Rite of Acceptance, the Cross of Christ is the only answer.  

I like very much the prayer for the intercession of St. Josemaria Escriva reproduced below:
“O God, through the mediation of Mary our Mother, you granted your priest Saint Josemaria countless graces, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian’s ordinary duties.  Grant that I too may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving you and serving the Church, the Pope and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the pathways of this earth with faith and love.
Deign to grant me, through the intercession of Saint Josemaria, the favor of ….(make your request).  Amen”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

He delivers me from all my fears

“I sought the Lord and he answers me and delivered me from all my fears.”  (Psalm 34: 4)

When I read the above scripture this morning, I said to myself, “Yap this is exactly what I need today.”  Yes, I need the Lord to deliver me once more from all my fears, worries and doubts.  Just about two weeks ago, I had a great faith moment.  I took my burdens to the Lord in prayer, He delivered me not only from my fears but He supplied my needs which caused the fears in the first place.   The Lord gave me jobs and the jobs gave me money and I was able to pay my bills.  Fears, worries and doubts were gone.  Now a few days without job have brought back the old fears, worries and doubts.  But this time I was prepared:

I will seek the Lord and He will answer me and deliver me from my new fears.  I will look to Him that I may be radiant with joy and my face may not blush with shame.  I know whom I trust.  “When the poor one called out, the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.”  (Psalm 34:6)

Yes indeed, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unless the Lord build the house..

“Unless the LORD build the house,
they labor in vain who build.
Unless the LORD guard the city,
in vain does the guard keep watch.
It is vain for you to rise early
and put off your rest at night,
To eat bread earned by hard toil—
all this God gives to his beloved in sleep. (Psalm 127: 1-2)

This scripture brings me peace, joy and consolation every single time I read it.  I discovered it many years ago when I embarked on a building project.  I did not have sufficient resources to complete the work in a timely manner.  Then enters Psalm 127: 1-2.  It taught me a lesson I will never forget.  I use this lesson everyday even if it is expressed in different words.  Here are some of the variations of the same theme:

  • ·         All inspiration and power come from God.
  • ·         God is the giver of all good gifts.
  • ·         God will complete the good work He started in me.
  • ·         Victory does not come from horses but from the Lord,
  • ·         Promotion does not come from east or west but from the Lord.
  • ·         If the Lord opens a door, nobody can shut it.

How great it is to know that whatever the project, the work, the trial, God is the source of our strength.  If He is with us, it is accomplished.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your on your own perception.”  (Proverbs 3:5)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do you still not understand?

“17 When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember,f19when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.”20“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered [him], “Seven.”21He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Is there a note of impatience in the voice of Jesus as He fires one question after another to His “dull” students?  Nobody with experience of teaching will blame Jesus if He is impatient.  The lesson has been taught several times.  It has been reviewed again and again.  Practical demonstrations have been given more than once.  Then comes the moment of test and the students look blank.  While I understand Jesus seeming impatience, I also sympathize very much with the total lack of understanding of the lesson by the Apostles.  One constant struggle I bring to my prayer is this:

“Lord I believe your word that you are faithful.  I have deep experience of your faithfulness in my life.  I note it constantly in my diary.  I blog on it.  Why is it Lord that when I have a new crisis I always panic and forget the lessons that I have learned?” 
The Lord answers me:  “Do you still not understand?”

I reply:  Lord I understand but I forget when my faith is challenged.   Then I use the words in today’s Opening Prayer in the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius:
“Open my heart to understand your teaching.”