Saturday, November 24, 2018

Celebrate the Solemnity of Christ Our King.

 “My kingdom does not belong to this world."  (John 18: 36).

This Sunday is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  It is logical that our key Scripture for today asks the question to Jesus:  If Your Kingdom does not belong to this world, where does it belong?

The answer to the question takes us to the magnificent obsession of Jesus throughout His public ministry:  the King and the Kingdom.  What are the characteristics of the King and His Kingdom?

According to Daniel, the King who receives dominion, splendor and power will be an everlasting King.  "All nations, peoples and tongues will serve him." His reign and His Kingdom will enjoy everlasting security. (Cf Daniel 7: 13 - 14).

But the King who stood before Pontius Pilate as a prisoner is the Son of the lowly Virgin of Nazareth, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor,
sent to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free."  (Cf Luke 4: 18).
Jesus Christ our King reigns from the Cross. This is the mysterious truth Pilate could not understand. (Cf John 18: 37).
The Ruler of the kings of the earth will inaugurate His Kingdom from the Cross. (Revelation 1: 5).

Our King is the Prince of Peace!

"The Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will bless his people with peace."  (Psalm 29: 10-11).

Friday, November 23, 2018

Where are all the martyrs that died for Christ?

"They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."  (Luke 20: 36).

Today's Scripture Readings by a peculiar arrangement of Divine Providence correspond to the feast of today.  Today is the feast of St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions.  St Andrew, a Vietnamese priest was martyred in 1839 along with 117 others, 96 of whom were Vietnamese. Has any other religion the same experience of martyrdom as the Christian faith?  In other words, why is it easier for Christians to accept martyrdom?  Because of the hope of Resurrection!  Christians know that death is not the end of their life.

"Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death, and brought life to light through the Gospel." 
(2 Timothy 1: 10).

Just as death of Jesus Christ happened according to the plan and foreknowledge of God so was it for the Vietnamese martyrs and every martyr throughout history.  In his vision, John testified that the 2 martyrs were allowed to complete their appointed work before God allowed them to be killed.

"When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them." 
(Revelation 11: 7).

Brothers and sisters, millions of Christians have laid down their lives for Christ.  Do not be unbelieving and think it was in vain.  "May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved." 
(Cf. Galatians 6: 14; cf. 1 Corinthians 1: 18).

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5: 10).
This is true and faithful word.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Promises of God and the Joy of Answered Prayer.

"How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119: 103).

Many years ago, after I moved to a new parish, I found myself one Saturday morning in a Bible Study group. The pastor was the teacher.  "What is the most important concept in Sacred Scripture?" He asked. Many answers were proffered.  When it came to my turn, I said: "Promises."  For better or worse, Promise has been my key to understanding and applying the Sacred Text to my life. As years go by, God's promises become sweeter and sweeter to me.  Often in my prayers, I play a little chess game with God.  I raise my hands up and say:  "What I am asking for is what You promised. What I am waiting for is what You promised."  Then I make a sweet surrender of the request as to how and when of it to God.

I believe firmly that:
"The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold."  (Psalm 119: 72).
All the heroes of the Bible fed exclusively on the word of God.

Here are a few Scriptures that have sustained my life in mortal spiritual warfare:

"God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble."  (Psalm 46: 1 AMP).

"Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!" (Psalm 119: 49 - 50 TLB).

“If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5: 38 - 39).
Are you discerning the viability of a project? This may be your Scripture.

"Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!"  (Psalm 27: 14).

The summary of what Sacred Scripture does for me in times of spiritual desolation and warfare is below:

1.  If God is with you, it is accomplished.  No matter the obstacles, delays,
disappointments or personal weaknesses.
2.  No fear. No worry. No doubt as long as the Lord is with you. 
3.  God will finish what He started. (Exodus 14: 13-14; Isaiah 13: 15; 2 Chronicles 20: 15;  Philippians 1: 6)
4. "The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need." (Psalm 23:1).
 5. "I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me." (Philippians 4: 13).

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Do you know what makes for peace?

“If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."  (Luke 19: 42).

Jesus wept before He said the above words.  At this point in His public ministry, He had labored for three years teaching by words and examples the truth and the ways of God.  He taught them the 8 Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3 - 12).  The Beatitudes is the Magna Carta for the New World Order that Jesus Christ calls the Kingdom of God.  Unfortunately, Jerusalem over which Christ shed tears ignored His teachings and warnings thereby making the prophecy below inevitable in 70 AD.

"They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  (Luke 19:  44).

How can we repay the Lord for all His goodness to us, especially for His crucifixion, Resurrection and the Church? Let us aspire to join the Choirs of Heaven and sing Him a new song:

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.” 
(Revelation 5: 9 - 10).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we thank You Lord Jesus for the prosperity and peace You have given us.  Help us by Your grace to be mindful of the poor, the homeless and the immigrants in our midst.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What have you done with the talent entrusted to you?

“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return."  (Luke 19: 12).

This is how Jesus started the a parable that is called the Parable of the 10 Gold Coins. 
His fellow citizens rejected the nobleman and his kingship. When he had obtained his crown and returned home, there was reckoning for everyone.  Each person has to answer a simple question:  how did you use the Time, Talent and Treasure that was entrusted to you? Some showed profit on their investment while others failed completely and blamed their Master for their failure.  Those who showed profit were rewarded while those who failed were punished and lost everything.  Jesus then concluded by saying:
"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  (Luke 19: 26).

"I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord."  (Cf John 15: 16).

Jesus was rejected as our King during His earthly life, a rejection that has continued till today in many quarters.  But soon we shall see Jesus glorified and see the Court of Heaven honor Him.

“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.”  (Revelation 4: 11).

Monday, November 19, 2018

Is God training you as a daughter or a son?

"Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise."  (Revelation 3: 19).

Years ago at the beginning of my conversion, everything I held dear came crashing down at once.  I was bewildered because I thought I heard Jesus say to me:  “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” I came down quickly and received him with joy."  (Luke 19: 5 - 6).

I remained in a state of material and spiritual desolation for months until one Sunday in August, the Lord took pity on me and spoke to me directly from the Sanctuary during the Liturgy of the Word. This is what I heard: "Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" 
(Hebrews 12: 7).   This gift of Understanding of this particular word of God to me transformed my Desert Experience, which by the way lasted for more than five years. I knew my trials and tribulations had a purpose: God was training me as a son.  Are you in the Desert? Is God training you as a daughter or a son?  Do not quit. The reward will be unbelievable.

“The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels."  (Revelation 3: 5).

Do not be Lukewarm but be very enthusiastic like Zacchaeus so that you may not hear this reproach:
"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
(Revelation 3: 16).

Be ready at all times to open the door for Jesus at the first knock:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3: 20).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jesus is passing by.

"They told [Bartimaeus], “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  (Luke 18:  37 - 38).

A year ago, I attended the Pre-Advent Mission at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Mission Preacher used the Gospel of today (Mark 13: 24 - 32).  It is without doubt one of the most impactful Advent Mission I have ever experienced. What did I learn?

#1. Jesus may be passing by you every day. Could be at Mass, work, grocery store, hospital, gas station, etc. Are you alert? Are you prepared to engage him like Bartimaeus?

#2.  "Jesus asked Bartimaeus,  “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”  (Luke 18: 41).

Have you prayed and discerned your greatest need?  It will be unforgivable to miss such lifetime opportunity.

#3. "Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”  He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. (Luke 18: 42 - 43).

I like this fellow Bartimaeus a lot.  He seems to know what to do in every moment.  I depend constantly on inspiration and power to know how to react in sudden and surprising situations.  If you are like me, befriend the Holy Spirit and ask Him always to give you the inspiration and power you need.

#4.  "To be near God is my happiness, to place my hope in God the Lord." (Psalm 73 : 28).

Bartimaeus had desired and prayed to be near God, he got his chance today.

#5. "Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it shall be given to you, says the Lord."  (Mark 11: 23 - 24).

Bartimaeus is a man of deep faith and prayer.  You can be the same. ASK: Ask. Seek. Knock. And Receive!

#6.  "Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near."  (Revelation 1: 3).