Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Liturgical readings this Sunday focus on the Lazarus Principle.

"Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall." (Amos 6: 1, 4).

Sunday of the 26th week in Ordinary Time. All four readings in today's Liturgy address social conditions and justice. The poverty, ignorance and disease all around us cry for remedy.

In all the hopelessness in the current condition of the world, we are comforted by the truth of Scripture which reminds us of these perennial truths:

#1 God keeps faith forever.
#2 He gives food to the hungry.
#3 The Lord sets captives free.
#4 The Lord protects strangers.
#5 He sustains the widows and the orphans.

God our Father can do all the above directly by Himself. Why does He need our collaboration? God wants us to share in His work and glory. He wants us to build up credits for ourselves in heaven. The poor that we help here will speak up for us on the last day. Lazarus could not offer one good word in defense of the selfish rich man.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Grant me the serenity to accept the cross I cannot change.

“Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men..... and they were afraid to ask him about this saying." (Luke 9: 44 - 45).

Saturday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time. Who will blame the disciples for not wanting to hear more of the cross, suffering and death. Let's face it: the Cross is an unpleasant subject. Imagine your friend throwing a party to discuss cancer, war and famine. How many will be his guests and how enthusiastic would they be? Friends prefer to come together on a Saturday evening to celebrate wedding, promotion, house warming, baby shower, etc.

Our fear of the Cross is totally irrational, especially in the light of the Resurrection and 2000 years of Christian witness. It is very encouraging to note that the Holy Spirit is teaching us that the disciples of Jesus were terrified of the Cross at first. The important lesson is to know that they overcame the fear of the Cross and came to witness to the power of the Cross. Jesus Christ overcame Satan and death through the Cross. Since He is the Way. The Cross is also our Way.

Whether you are open to the Cross or dread it profoundly, know that no human being can escape the Cross. It is comforting to know that your Cross is tailor-made to fit you alone. As you say the prayer below every morning, your heart and mind will be conditioned to embrace your Cross.

"Grant me O Father the serenity to accept the cross I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can. Grant me the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."

"Our Saviour Jesus Christ abolished death and he has proclaimed life through the Good News." (Cf 2 Timothy 1: 10).

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Is head knowledge of Jesus enough?

“Who do the crowds say that I am?”  They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”  Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9: 18 - 20).

Friday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Vincent de Paul, Priest (1581 - 1660). For many people around the world, St Vincent de Paul needs no introduction. His name and prestige blesses the world-wide charitable organization that ministers spiritually and materially to the needs of the poor, the homeless and the very needy.

Toward the end of His public ministry, Jesus asked His disciples who He is. Through an inspiration from above, Peter got the answer correctly: “The Messiah of God.”
Today, Jesus has billions of followers. How many of Jesus followers know their Leader? Knowing Jesus involves two interconnected areas of knowledge:

#1 Facts about Jesus: Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and buried. He rose from the dead on the third day. He ascended into heaven. These facts are in the Creed of the Christian Churches.

#2 The second type of knowledge is spiritual knowledge of Jesus. This knowledge is experiencial. It comes through personal encounter with Jesus in Prayer, the word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation and Ministry. The Holy Spirit whom we receive in the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation reveals to us who Jesus truly is.

Peter and the other disciples of Jesus could not truly know who Jesus is until they had experienced the shock of the Crucifixion and the Restoration of the Resurrection. With the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they received the gifts and the tools to live their new life and embark on their mission.

Our Journey of Faith may follow this trajectory:
Head knowledge of Jesus >> Spiritual knowledge of Jesus >> The Holy Spirit power.
Where are you on this Journey?

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me and sent me to preach the good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted." (Cf Luke 4: 18).

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Some hear the Good News and are perplexed. Others hear and believe.

"Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed." (Luke 9: 7).

Thursday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the twins, Saints Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (+303). Both were known for their medical skills and offered their services free of charge. Both were martyred under the Emperor Diocletian.

Faith comes from hearing. Hearing and believing the testimony of a credible witness is God's plan for transmission of faith. Those who have desperate needs come to faith much easier than people with no problems. King Herod heard about the miracles of Jesus and was greatly perplexed. He did not believe that something supernatural was happening in his backyard. Why? He felt he had no need that Jesus could relieve. See below people who heard about Jesus and believed:

"The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant." (Luke 7: 3 NIV).

#1. Syrophoenician woman: (Mark 7: 26, Matthew 15: 22).
#2. Zacchaeus: (Luke 19: 1 - 2 10)
#3. Timaeus: (Mark 10: 46 - 52).
#4. Father of the Demoniac: (Matthew 17: 14 - 20, Mark 9: 14 - 29, Luke 9: 37 - 43).
#5. Jairius: (Mark 5: 21 - 43, Matthew 9: 18 - 26, Luke 8: 40 - 56).

Principle: These people had needs. They heard about the miracles of Jesus. They believed. They sought out Jesus. They obtained their miracle. Jesus is still in the business of miracles.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Jesus sent His disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God.

"Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,  and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick]." (Luke 9: 1 - 2).

Wednesday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time. The disciples have been with Jesus now for some time. How much have they learned? How ready are they to exercise the powers that come as ministers of the kingdom of God?

Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, cast out demons. He taught the people about the kingdom of God. Teaching about the kingdom of God is the most important ministry of Jesus. Jesus is popularly known as Rabbi and not as healer or exorcist. Teaching about the kingdom of God continues to be the most important ministry of the Church.

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19 - 20).

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, you feed him for life.
The Church is in dire needs of catechists. Will you respond?

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Discovering the great pearl of hearing the word of God and keeping it.

"Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11: 28)

Tuesday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time. If you know with absolute certitude that hearing the word of God and keeping it will bring you the happiness and peace you yearn for, what will you do?

I will invest my last penny to find out how to do this. Jesus told a parable of a man who searched for a pearl of great value. He found it but discovered that to possess it, he must sell all that he has. He weighed the benefits and the cost and decided to go for the Great Pearl.

The word of God is the Pearl of Great Price. Since the time of Jesus, men and women have recognized the matchless value of the word of God and gave all they had to possess this treasure. They were not disappointed. This is why the Church points to this cloud of witnesses as its treasure and evidence that Christianity works. The enemies of Christianity will be hard pressed to find a reason why so many of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth have given up everything even life to follow Him.

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8: 21).

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Five Signs of dying Faith.

"To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” (Luke 8: 18).

Monday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Pio of Pieltrecina, popularly known as Padre Pio (1887 - 1968). A Capuchin Friar who lived in the same monastery for 50 years. He is famous as a spiritual director, confessor and intercessor. By an act of Divine Providence, I was blessed with his relic in 2015.

Padre Pio entered the Capuchin Monastery at the age of 15. A mere boy, he had little in the way of this world's goods or in spiritual riches. He soon showed immense appetite for genuine riches or spiritual treasures. And in accordance with the spiritual law laid down by Jesus, Padre Pio grew into a giant.
"To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” (Luke 8: 18).

In our Baptism, we receive the light of Christ and a variety of supernatural graces. If we show ourselves good managers of this treasure, they grow like a mustard seed. If we neglect these gifts, they shrivel until one day, they die. Look! People do not suddenly stop believing or stop coming to Church. Their faith has been dying slowly long before that mortuary day. What are the signs of dying faith?

#1 Doubts of the truths of faith.
#2 Critical attitude of things of God.
#3 Severe and critical attitude of the Church.
#4 Hostility against sacred Ministers.
#5 Witholding contributions to the Church.

These are just a few. When you notice these signs in family members or friends, you are obligated under the Spiritual Works of Mercy to:
#1 Instruct the ignorant.
#2 Counsel the doubtful.

Do not forget the universal remedy of prayer. St Monica prayed for St Augustine for many years. See what St Augustine turned out to be.

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