Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Good Shepherd is always there for me.

"I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep."  (John 10: 14 - 15).

The Good Shepherd image is my favorite image of Jesus.  I invoke in my prayers always.  Jesus is my Good Shepherd.  He guides me step-by-step. He provides everything I need.  My Good Shepherd protects me moment by moment.  When I walk through a neighborhood with unleashed dogs, I do not fear. (Cf Psalm 23).

I enjoy a stable relationship with my Good Shepherd. Jesus is not a fair weather friend.  He is not like some automobile insurance companies who are your friend on the condition that you remain accident free.  Jesus my Good Shepherd is always there, come what may.

One day, I was very anxious and my Good Shepherd said to me:
"Let Me have all your worries and cares, for I am always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you."  (1 Peter 5: 7). I made a list of 4 worries, noted the date and inserted the paper in my Missal.  One day, I found the list and scratched all the 4 items.

Like many people, I worry about money from time to time.  My Good Shepherd gently reproached me:
"Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For I say to you: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.”  That is why you can say without any doubt or fear, “The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.”  (Cf Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

One day, I complained to my Good Shepherd:  “You have deserted me; the Lord has forgotten me.”
My Good Shepherd answered me:
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!"  (Cf Isaiah 49: 14 - 15).  I was reassured.

Friday, April 20, 2018

There are some of you who do not believe.

"Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  (John 6: 60).

Today is Saturday, April 21 in the 3rd Week of Easter.  The Church concludes the Bread of life Discourse from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John started on Monday.  The end of the teaching is anticlimactic.  Jesus lost most of of His followers at the end of His teaching.

“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  (John 6: 60). No doubt, the Eucharist is a hard doctrine to accept.  No religion on earth since the beginning of the world had made such an extravagant claim of eating human flesh and drinking human blood as conditio sine qua non for eternal life. But instead of backing down, Jesus pressed His point as He stared at the few who did not leave:  "But there are some of you who do not believe.”  (John 6: 64).  They looked back at Him in silence.

"It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."  (John 6:  63).

The Holy Spirit is indispensable in understanding and accepting the Doctrine of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The key to accepting the Eucharist is Faith.  Faith in the truth that Jesus is God and that you can trust His word. The disciples believed in Jesus Christ. "We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6: 69).  God neither lies nor deceives. (Cf 1 Peter 2: 22).  The followers of the Apostles after Pentecost believed that the Apostles had divine mandate from Jesus to teach the Faith, administer the Sacraments and appoint successors.  So it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Paul is My chosen instrument to carry My Name to the world.

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."  (Acts 9: 4-5).

Today is Friday, April 20 in the 3rd Week of Easter.  We interrupt the Bread of Life  Discourse to savor the Conversion of St Paul. The gentle breath of the LORD Jesus knocked Saul off his horse.  Blinded by the dazzling light coming from the Redeemer, Paul was led by hand into the city of Damascus where Saul met Ananias.

“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites,  and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”   (Acts 9: 15 - 16).

Here we witness Divine Intervention creating a unique Divine Mission.  Welcome Rabbi Saul to the Church.
A good part of Sacred Scripture is actual human experience that becomes a template for the life of faith.  Every day, God is creating your own scripture through your daily experiences.  Be proactive in this process through the Sacrament of the Present Moment.

“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.”   (Acts 9: 17).

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Saul did not waste a moment before he started proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues as the Son of God. (Acts 9: 20).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Eucharist is the Church. The Church is the Eucharist.

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51).

Have you noticed that since Monday, April 16, 3rd Week of Easter, the Gospel has been from John 6.  The Gospel message this week is called the Bread of life discourse.  Jesus' promise to offer us His Body and Blood as food and drink is so important that in a curriculum of 52 weeks, the Church assigned one full week to this unique subject.

How does the Church understand The Eucharist?
The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life.".. ."For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."  (CCC 1324).
This is pretty a weighty statement.
To summarize this in words of Pope St John Paul II:
The Eucharist is the Church. The Church is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the raison d'etre for the existence of the priesthood. The Eucharist is intimately intertwined in the mystery of the Church and the priesthood. No priest, no Eucharist, no Church.  This is a well known axiom.

Thank You Jesus for the gift of Your Body and Blood.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Come and eat fresh whole wheat bread without cost.

"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."   (John 6: 35).

The Bread we receive in Holy Communion is exactly what is promised:  Jesus Christ. Jesus is the genuine Bread of life.  Under the appearance of bread and wine, He  gives us Himself in the Eucharist. That this is the constant teaching of the Church from the days of Acts 2: 42 to this day is a miracle. "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."  (Acts 2: 42). Unless this sublime truth of our faith was guaranteed by God Himself, It would have been lost.  Thank You Abba Father.

Jesus fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. They all ate and were satisfied with plenty leftover.  "They ate and were satisfied."  (Mark 8:  8). 

Only Christ the Bread of life who knows exactly what we need and when we need it can perform such a miracle.  Remember the Wedding Feast at Canna? (John 2: 2 - 5). The people drank the best wine until they could drink no more.

Jesus fulfilled admirably the prophecy in Isaiah 55: 1 - 3).
"All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!"  (Isaiah 55: 1).

The Miracle of the feeding of 4000 people prefigures the Eucharist. 
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51)

Every single day, Jesus continues to feed millions of people with the finest wheat, the Bread of life.   (John 6 : 35;  Matthew 26: 26; 1 Corinthians 11: 24)

"He fed them with the finest wheat
and satisfied them with honey from the rock."  (Cf.  Psalm 81: 17 RM)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

"As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep."  (Acts 7: 59 - 60).

This is how St Stephen, the first Christian martyr died.  Was Stephen ready to die as he died and when he died?  The answer is in this statement: "Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Suffering and dying comes with the territory of the Prophet.  Consider Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul, etc.

When you say in the Lord's Prayer (Our Father): "Your Kingdom Come."  How much do you mean it? Are your permanent interests and permanent residence solidly here on earth?  Clearly not Stephen's!

St Augustine says:
"If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, then all is well."

"Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth. You hate those who serve worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy, once you have seen my misery, [and] gotten to know the distress of my soul."  (Psalm 31:  6 - 8).

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Man needs the food for the Journey.

"Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  (John 6:  27).

What is Jesus saying here?  Abandon your job and go searching for some mystical food? To understand what Jesus means, we need to bring other scriptures.
"One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4: 4).  One does not live by money alone... One does not live by job alone... One does not live by home or cars alone..
Man is created to live for ever. So he needs spiritual food as well.

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and at the end of the game to lose his soul? (Mark 6: 36).
To win in the game of life, you must keep the big picture in mind.  Jesus could not have come from heaven and lived among us and suffered the cruel agony we all witnessed on Good Friday just to procure for us the food that is eaten and quickly passes through to the latrine. (Cf Mark 7: 19).

Jesus is offering us Himself as food.  TAKE AND EAT. TAKE AND DRINK. IT IS ME.
The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  It is the medicine of immortality and the Food for the Journey. (St Ignatius of Antioch).  It is the food that is guaranteed to kill the appetite for lust, greed for filthy lucre and all other debased desires that poison and imprison the hearts and minds of women and men of this age.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  (John 6: 35).