Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks Always, Everywhere in Everything.

"Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18).

Third Sunday in Advent.  Gaudate Sunday.  The Scriptures urge us to overflow with joy because Christ Jesus our Lord is almost here.

Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 gives us three things to do Always:
#1.  Rejoice.
#2.  Pray.
#3.  Thank.

These three things are Key to the mystery of the Christian life.  Why rejoice, pray and be thankful always, everywhere and in everything?

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  (Romans 8: 28 NLT).

What do you say to that? "God is in control" is not just a mere platitude but a profound theology.

Now let us listen to the Elder who lived and walked with Jesus for three years and paid the full cost of Discipleship:

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."  (James 1: 2 - 4).

"Say to the fearful of heart:
Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God, he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense he comes to save you."  (Isaiah 35: 4).

Friday, December 15, 2017

Behold the Lord is coming in splendor to visit His people with peace.

 “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;  but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased."  (Matthew 17: 11 - 12).

Elijah the great prophet came back in the persona of John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths and people did not recognize the hour or the opportunity.  Although he appeared like a fire whose words were as a flaming furnace, yet people took little notice. The noise in the world was too loud and impenetrable for the message of salvation.

This is Advent, less than ten days to Christmas. Arise from your sleep.  Do not allow Christmas shopping and any other frenzied activities to obscure the true meaning of the Season.

The Lord is surely coming in splendor to visit His people. Prepare to welcome Him.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who can please the world?

“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,  ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn."  (Matthew 11:  16 - 17).

Who can please the world? Nobody.  Stop trying.  It is far easier to please God than to please the world.  God looks at your heart and your goodwill and makes excuses for your weakness.  The world is capricious and erratic and expects you to be a winner 100% of the time for 100% of the people.  Impossible you would say.  So, what do you do?  Aim at pleasing God.  It is easier and less complicated.  At least you have a Manual (Bible) to check what God wants of you.

"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,
my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be disgraced;
do not let my enemies gloat over me. No one is disgraced who waits for you, but only those who are treacherous without cause."  (Psalm 25: 1 - 3)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fear, worry and doubts are not from God.

I will help you, says the Lord your God.

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."   (Isaiah 41:13-14 NIV)

Fear, worry and doubts are not from God.  God Never Fails!
"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Luke  8: 50).

"Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, "God has lost track of me.  He doesn't care what happens to me"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?"

"God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired,  gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." 
(Isaiah 40:27 -  31  MSG)

Wait on God’s answer;  wait for His help.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Come to Me all you who need rest and peace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11 - 28 - 30).

Gracious invitation from Christ.  But how do we come to Christ?  We come to Christ in prayer, in His word, and when we encounter the poor.  We come to Jesus especially in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. 

What are the labors and burdens that we bring to Christ the Doctor to heal?  First, we bring our burdens of sin.  We are overwhelmed with fears, worries and doubts about our health, family, finances, job, tools, food and the future.  We bring all these to Jesus.

How does Christ give us the promised rest?  He cancels our debts of sins and relieves us once and for all from guilt.  Sometimes He heals our bodies and finances.  At other times, He gives us a supernatural perspective from which to view our woes.  You may call this indepth perspective therapy.  People go to the Shrines of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and Guadalupe in Mexico for physical healing.  Many such people receive the indepth perspective therapy and decide to stay behind to minister to pilgrims sicker than themselves..

What yoke does Christ invite us to take upon ourselves?  The yoke of Christ is the Gospel of Christ.  The yoke of Christ is the Sermon on the Mount.  Christ Himself says that this yoke is both easy and light. John the Apostle says that to keep the commandments is not burdensome. (1 John 5:3). Paul writes of the weight of glory that awaits us after some light suffering.  (Romans 8: 18;  2 Corinthians 4: 17).

"Learn from me," pleads Christ.  Christ is the Teacher and the Lesson.  Learn to be with me.  Learn to be like me.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Feast Day O Virgin of Guadalupe!

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."  (Luke 1: 30 - 31).

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. Some might even object:  You honor Mary too much!  How will Mary's children respond? Not enough! I am with this group.

To honor Mary is to honor Jesus, the Son of Mary.

“Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who recall the might of God."  (Judith 13: 18 - 19 NABRE)

"Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst — oracle of the Lord.  Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day.   They  will be my people,  and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you."  (Zechariah 2: 14 - 15 NABRE).

God spoke.  Mary believed.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, she predicted "All generations shall call me blessed." (Cf Luke 1: 48). True or false?

Happy Feast Day, Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is your faith strong enough to be seen?

"When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” ( Luke 5: 20).

What did Jesus see as their faith? Although Jesus could see the heart and mind of every person and know what is in it, here let us say that Jesus saw the physical effort the paralyzed man and his friends made to get to Jesus.  That is faith in action.

Jesus is our full security for health, family peace, money, job and all our needs.

What is paralyzing you today?  Health, family problems, money, job, tools, food or your future?  The paralyzed man had faith partners to lift him to the presence of Jesus.

We all need prayer and faith partners to lift us up at the moment of our greatest need. One of the great teachings of the Church is of immense consolation to many Christians:  the Communion of the Saints.  Our prayer partners include the saints here on earth and those already in Heaven.  I have probably over 30 such saints in Heaven whom I invoke every day to lift me up to God in my needs. Some people ask:  why don't you ask God directly instead of going through a saint? The answer is simple. Of course you can ask God directly.  But when you are in a desperate situation, you ask your pastor, prayer warriors, family and friends to help you urgently.  Some of these people you ask will not remember to pray for you.  But the saints in Heaven will never forget.  The greatest reason for invoking the saints in Heaven is because the practice is in the Bible and it is sealed by the official Teaching of the Church.

All you holy men and women in Heaven, pray for us in our struggles to get to where you are. Amen.