Saturday, April 20, 2019

EASTER (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9)

The greatest miracle that ever happened in the history is the resurrection of Jesus. It proves that Jesus is God.  It is truly extraordinary that Paul made the claim that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then the faith of believers is useless and that all who have died in Christ have died in their sins. Paul knows that if he is lying, he and the other disciples have jeopardized the salvation of the whole Christian community, and furthermore he emerges as a false witness (a perjurer) before God, and is answerable to Him. The consequences of lying to (or even deceiving) believers about the resurrection cannot be overstated, because the resurrection is the foundation of Jesus’ claim to be the exclusive Son of God – and the unconditional love of God with us. Are there any proof for the resurrection? As a matter of fact, there is.

1.Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead (Mk 8:31Mt 17:22Lk 9:22). (2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Lk 24:3). Although the guards claimed that the disciples had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by armed guards. (3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in His Resurrection, in spite of his repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. (4) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus if the body had been stolen as they claimed. (5) The Apostles and early Christians would not have faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection. (6)  Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous preacher of Jesus supports the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. (Gal 1:11-17Acts 9:1Acts 9:24-25Acts 26:15-18).  (7) The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim.
The seventeenth-century philosopher, John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Savior’s Resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”

A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic. The critical question is, would we make such a sacrifice for something that we knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.

Easter gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.”  This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions.  It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death.  Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives.  

Father Basil Pennington, a Catholic monk, tells of an encounter he once had with a teacher of Zen. Pennington was at a retreat. As part of the retreat, each person met privately with this Zen teacher. Pennington says that at his meeting, the Zen teacher sat there before him smiling from ear to ear and rocking gleefully back and forth. Finally, the teacher said: “I like Christianity. But I would not like Christianity without the Resurrection. I want to see your Resurrection!” Pennington notes that, “With his directness, the teacher was saying what everyone else implicitly says to Christians: ‘You are a Christian. You are risen with Christ. Show me (what this means for you in your life) and I will believe.’ That is how people know if the Resurrection is true or not. We have to show that in this world of pain, sorrows, and tears, that life is worth living by our belief in the resurrection.  It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in Heaven, that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers.  

There is a story of a man whose hobby was growing roses. When he worked in his rose garden, he always whistled. It seemed to everyone that he was whistling much louder than was needed for his own enjoyment. One day a neighbor asked him why it was that he always whistled so loudly. The man then took the neighbor into his home to meet his wife. The woman was not only an invalid but was completely blind as well. The man was whistling, not for his benefit, but rather for the benefit of his wife. He wanted his blind wife to know that he was nearby, and that she was not alone. That story is a wonderful illustration of the significance of Easter Day. The affirmation, “Christ is risen!” reminds us that God is near, and the experiencing of His presence strengthens us in our weakness. If not dead and risen Jesus could only be in Palestine or only in just one place. But risen, he is present everywhere with us.

Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday and that Jesus will let us share the power of His Resurrection.  Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus.  Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the Resurrection.  Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection.  In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection or death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we too can conquer them if we put our Faith in Him. Jesus is risen, we also will rise from the dead, and therefore, let’s rejoice and be glad.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jesus spoke 7 words from the cross. These seven words are taken from different gospels, but assembled into what was probably in their chronological order:
1."Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
2."This day you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)
3."Woman, behold your son." (John 19:26-27)
4."My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46)
5."I thirst." (John 19:28)
6."It is finished." (John 19:30)
7."Into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

Today we focus on the 6th verse of Jesus: It is finished. Note that Jesus didn’t say I am finished, rather It is finished or TETELESTAI in Gk. Of all the seven famous sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more remarkable than TETELESTAI.” In Latin tetelestai is rendered with two words “Consummatum est” (It is consummated!)
Every word indeed that proceeded from our Saviour’s lips deserves the most attentive consideration: but TETELESTAI eclipses all.

It has been said that Christ’s RESURRECTION is the Father’s “AMEN” to His Son's declaration “IT IS FINISHED.” Looking at the Cross we see the work of redemption completed. Looking at the open tomb we see Jesus’ finished work fully accepted by the Father. The payment required for sin is death (Gn 2:17Rom 5:12;Ro 6:23) and when Christ said TETELESTAI, He was saying that the sin debt was “PAID IN FULL!"

In ancient times when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note wrote “TETELESTAI” across it. A deed to property was not in effect until it was dated and signed, and when this was accomplished, the clerk wrote “TETELESTAI” across the deed. When someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write "TETELESTAI" on the certificate of debt signifying that it was "PAID IN FULL".

 When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring that the debt owed by mankind to His Father was wiped away completely and forever.
Just prior to His arrest by the Romans, Jesus prayed His last public prayer, asking the Father to glorify Him, just as Jesus had glorified the Father on earth, having “finished the work you have given me to do” (Jh 17:4). The work Jesus was sent to do was to “seek and save that which is lost” (Lk 19:10), to provide atonement for the sins of all who would ever believe in Him (Rom 3:23-25), and to reconcile sinful men to a holy God. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18-19). None other but God in the flesh could accomplish such a task.

Also completed was the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies, symbols, and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah. From Genesis to Malachi, there are over 300 specific prophecies detailing the coming of the Anointed One, all fulfilled by Jesus. From the “seed” who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15), to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, to the prediction of the “messenger” of the Lord (John the Baptist) who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah, all prophecies of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were fulfilled and finished at the cross.
This saying is found only in John’s gospel and he presents Jesus as the Passover lamp that was slain for taking away the sins of Israel.  John recalls the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12 in this passage. The soldiers offered wine on a sprig of hyssop to the Lord. Hyssop is a small plant that was used to sprinkle the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts of the Hebrews (Ex 12:22). John's Gospel related that it was the Day of Preparation, the day before the actual Sabbath Passover, that Jesus was sentenced to death (19:14) and sacrificed on the Cross (19:31). John continues in 19:33-34: "But when they came to Jesus and saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs," recalling the instruction in Exodus 12:46 (do not break any of its bones) concerning the Passover Lamb. He died at the ninth hour (three o'clock in the afternoon), about the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Temple.

The phrase "It is finished" carries a sense of accomplishment. In John, there is no trial before the Sanhedrin, but rather Jesus is introduced at the Roman trial as "Behold your King!" (John 19:14). Jesus is not stumbling or falling as in the Synoptic Gospels, but the way of the Cross is presented with majesty and dignity, for "Jesus went out bearing his own Cross" (John 19:17).
Jesus remained in control to the end, and it is He who handed over his Spirit.

Jesus mentions living water in John 4:10 and during the Feast of Tabernacles refers to living water as the Holy Spirit in 7:37-39.  "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." The piercing of his side fulfills the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10: "They will look on me whom they have pierced." The piercing of Jesus' side prefigures the Sacraments of Eucharist (blood) and Baptism (water), as well as the beginning of the Church.

What was finished was our salvation, plain and simple. What was finished was the devil, and his power to accuse us before God in Heaven. What was finished was the power of sin to control and rule our lives. Sin was finished. Satan was finished. Death was finished. Today let’s reflect on what Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross and his words TETELESTAI.

Holy Thursday: (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; I Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15)

The Stole and the Towel is the title of a book, which sums up the message of the Italian bishop, Tony Bello, who died of cancer at the age of 58.  On Holy Thursday of 1993, while on his deathbed, he dictated a pastoral letter to the priests of his diocese.  He called upon them to be bound by “the stole and the towel.”  The stole symbolizes union with Christ in the Eucharist, and the towel symbolizes union with humanity by service.  Today we celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood: the feast of “the stole and the towel,” the feast of love and service.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood 3) the anniversary of the promulgation of Jesus’ new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). 
Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration.  First, he washed His Apostles’ feet – a tender reminder of his undying affection for them and the need for the brotherly love expected in his disciples. Then he commanded them to do the same for each other. The incident reminds us that our vocation is to take care of one another as Jesus always takes care of us. Finally, Jesus gave his apostles his own Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine as Food and Drink for their souls, so that, as long as they lived, they’d never be without the comfort and strength of his presence. This Gospel episode challenges us to become for others Christ the healer, Christ the compassionate and selfless brother, Christ the humble “washer of feet.”

John in his account of the Last Supper, makes no mention of the establishment of the Eucharist because his theology of the Eucharist is detailed in the “bread of life” discourse following the multiplication of the loaves and fish around the time of Passover, in chapter 6 of his Gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, began his last Passover celebration by washing the feet of his disciples (a service assigned to household servants), as a lesson in humble service, demonstrating that he “came to the world not to be served but to serve.” (Mk 10:45). He followed the ritual of the Jewish Passover meal up to the second cup of wine. The third cup he changed into his own blood and the fourth he said he will not drink until he is glorified. After serving the roasted lamb as a third step, Jesus offered his own Body and Blood as food and drink under the appearances of bread and wine. Thus, he instituted the Holy Eucharist as the sign and reality of God’s perpetual presence with His people as their living  heavenly food.  This was followed by the institution of the priesthood with the command, “Do this in memory of me.”   Jesus concluded the ceremony with a long speech incorporating his command of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Jesus’ death on the cross was his serving the humanity with all of his life. When we humble ourselves and bent down in the service of others we are following Christ in his teachings and examples.

Peggy Noonan, former White House speechwriter, speaks about Ronald Reagan’s one example of service. She says:  A few days after President Reagan had been shot, when he was able to get out of bed, he wasn’t feeling well, so he went into the bathroom that connected to his room. He slapped some water on his face and some of the water slopped out of the sink. He got some paper towels and got down on the floor to clean it up. An aide went in to check on him and found the president on his hands and knees on the cold tile floor, mopping up water with paper towels. “Mr. President,” the aide said, “what are you doing? Let the nurse clean that up!” President Ronald Reagan said, “Oh, no. I made that mess, and I’d hate for the nurse to have to clean it up.”  This type of attitude to do humble jobs which is others’ share, we end up washing their feet.

President Nelson Mandela of South Africa was one of those rare politicians who had the common touch even when the cameras were not rolling. When he spoke at banquets, he made a point of going into the kitchen and shaking hands with every dishwasher and busboy. When out in public he often worried his bodyguards because he was prone to stop to talk with a little child. Typically, he would ask, “How old are you son?” Then his next question was, “What did you have for breakfast today?” In that strange, wonderful company called the Kingdom of God, even the bosses wash feet. Pope Francis knelt down and kissed the feet of South Sudan’s government and opposition leaders after urging them to restore peace, which has been in civil war since 5 years. This is servant leadership. Have we allowed Jesus to give us a servant’s heart and servant’s hands? Be servant leaders in a serving community. This servant mentality can be shown in our families too.

Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another and revere Christ’s presence in other persons.   To wash the feet of others is to love them, especially when they don’t deserve our love, and to do good to them, even when they can’t, won’t, or don’t return the favor. It is to consider others’ needs to be as important as our own. It is to forgive others from the heart, even though they don’t say, “I’m sorry.” It is to serve them, even when the task is unpleasant. It is to let others know we care when they feel downtrodden or burdened. It is to be generous with what we have. It is to turn the other cheek instead of retaliating when we’re treated unfairly. It is to make adjustments in our plans in order to serve others’ needs without expecting any reward. In doing and suffering all these things in this way, we love and serve Jesus himself, as he has loved us and has taught us to do (Mt 25:31-ff).
 Peter refused to have his feet washed. Jesus told him, ‘If I do not wash your feet, you can have no companionship with Me.’ “Let’s tell Jesus that my/our feet are dirty…. Pour water into your basin and come and wash my feet, because I do want Your companionship.” And help me also have the attitude to wash others’ feet.

Friday, March 29, 2019

LENT IV-C: Jos 5:9, 10-12; II Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

There is a story about a widow who during the First World War lost her only son and her husband. She was especially bitter because her neighbor, who had five sons, lost none of them. One night while this woman’s grief was so terribly severe, she had a dream. An angel stood before her and said, “You might have your son back again for ten minutes. What ten minutes would you choose? Would you have him back as a little baby, a dirty-faced little boy, a schoolboy just starting to school, a student just completing high school, or as the young soldier who marched off so bravely to war?” The mother thought a few minutes and then, in her dream, told the angel she would choose none of those times. “Let me have him back,” she said, “when as a little boy, in a moment of anger, he doubled up his fists and shook them at me and said, ’I hate you! I hate you!” Continuing to address the angel, she said: “In a little while his anger subsided and he came back to me, his dirty little face stained with tears, and put his arms around me. He said, ‘Momma, I’m sorry I was so naughty. I promise never to be bad again and I love you with all my heart.’ Let me have him back then,” the mother sobbed. “I never loved him more than at that moment when he changed his attitude and came back to me. Jesus said that this is how God feels about each of us.

Acknowledging the allegation that Jesus mingled with the sinners, Jesus outlines the three aspects or dimensions of repentance in the parable, by presenting three characters: 1) the repentant younger son, 2) the forgiving father and 3) the self-justifying elder son. This is a double-edged parable. The lesson of Divine mercy to sinners is shown by the Father’s reception of the returned younger son. A stern warning is given to the self-righteous people by presenting the dialogue between the father and his older son.
From this Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday) we are moving swiftly toward the end of our Lenten fast, and the joy of Easter is already on the horizon. This Sunday is set aside for us to recall God’s graciousness and to rejoice because of it. In many ways we have been dead, but through God’s grace we have come to life again; we have been lost but have now been found. We have every reason to rejoice.

According to the law and customs in ancient Palestine, a father could dispose of his property by making a will that would be executed when he died (Numbers 36:7-9) or he could give his possessions to his children while still alive. Usually the eldest son received a double share or twice the amount that each of the other sons would receive. But in the parable, the father promptly gave a share of his property to his younger son, bid him a tearful farewell and waited daily for his return. Finally, after squandering his money, his morals and even his Jewish religious heritage, the boy returned in rags. He confessed his sins, and his father promptly forgave him, kissed him on the cheeks, and healed the broken relationship between them. He ordered a bath for his son, gave him new garments (a sign of honor) and a golden signet ring (sign of authority and trust). By ordering sandals for the feet of his son, the father signaled his reacceptance of the returned penitent as his son. The robe and ring and shoes were a sign that the son would not be received into the house as a servant (slaves did not wear shoes, robes or finger rings) but in his former status as son. The killing of the fatted calf, specially raised for the Passover feast, meant that the entire village was invited for the grand party given in the returned son’s honor.  Mirroring our Heavenly Father, Jesus, too, squanders his love on those who need it most. Although the story of the prodigal son is often given as an example of repentance, it is actually the story of how God forgives and heals the repentant sinner.

There is spiritual famine all over the world, especially in countries with booming economy. Examples of this spiritual famine can be seen in drug and alcohol abuse, fraud and theft in the workplace, murders, abortions and violence, premarital sex, marital infidelity and priestly infidelity, as well as in hostility between people. Sometimes this “spiritual famine” exists in our own families. That is why we condemn some of our family members to “survival-level” existence, and even contribute to the death of some of them, by refusing to associate with them, like the elder brother in the parable. Let us accept the fact that we have been squandering God’s abundant blessings not only in our country and in our families, but also in our personal lives.

Lent is a time to “pass over,” from a world of sin to a world of reconciliation. The message of Lent then, is, as St. Paul tells us,  “We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God.”  The first step, of course, is to do as the younger son did: “When he came to himself, he said: ‘I will break away and return to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against you.” At every Mass, we come to our loving Heavenly Father’s house as prodigal children. And we receive forgiveness from him. But do we feel the joy of coming back? If we don’t, we are like the elder son who thought he didn’t need his Father’s forgiveness. Let’s ask the Lord for the grace of true repentance like that of the younger son so that we may have true joy on the feast of Resurrection.

Friday, March 22, 2019

LENT III : Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; I Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9

Jesus' comment about the people who had died tragically in the incident with Pilate's soldiers and in the collapse of the tower would have surprised his listeners. Popular opinion at that time drew a direct line of causality from people's sufferings back to their personal sins.  We know people asked Jesus once, whose sins it is that this man was born blind. By this logic, the Galileans who were killed by Pilate's soldiers must have deserved it because of some particularly heinous sins.
But Jesus takes a different angle. He emphasizes that everyone who refuses to repent will stay separated from God. And if they die in such a state of alienation they will all perish. Earthly tragedies like the ones mentioned should remind us of the passing nature of earthly life.  Therefore it is the time to repent and be reconciled with God and neighbor.

What does it mean to repent? It means to turn around. Instead of looking in the mirror all the time and thinking about ourselves - how we feel, what we want, how we can get ahead - we turn around and look out the window. There we see the path that God wants us to follow. We see things that we can do for our neighbor. We see ways to put our talents to work for something truly worthwhile, to glorify God and to bring lasting happiness to others. The view out the window is much better than the view in the mirror. 
Alfred Nobel, the man who instituted and endowed the Nobel Peace Prize, was lucky enough to discover the view out the window before he died. He was a Swedish chemist who made his fortune by inventing powerful explosives and licensing the formula to governments to make weapons. One day Nobel's brother died. By accident, a newspaper printed an obituary notice for Alfred instead of the deceased brother. It identified him as the inventor of dynamite who made a fortune by enabling armies to achieve new levels of mass destruction. Nobel had the unique opportunity to read his own obituary in his lifetime and get a glimpse of how he would be remembered: as a merchant of death and destruction. The newspaper's mistake forced him to turn around, to turn away from the mirror and look out the window, to see what impact his life was really having. That's when he decided to change directions. He took his fortune and used it to establish the awards for accomplishments contributing to life rather than death. That's a highly visible case of what it means to repent, to turn around.
Repenting from our sins, trading in our self-centered habits for habits of self-giving, is necessary if we want our friendship with God to grow. But it is necessary for  the rest of our lives to grow.  Every sin, every thorn of selfishness that we leave festering in our hearts, stunts our growth not only as Christians, but also as human beings.
Leonardo Da Vinci learned this lesson while he was painting his famous "Last Supper" in Milan. While he was working on the painting, he had a bitter argument with another painter, an enemy who he had long despised. To vent his anger at this other artist, Da Vinci used the artist's face as a model for the face of Judas Iscariot, the Apostle who betrayed the Lord. Leonardo felt a sense of evil satisfaction in coming up with a humiliation that all his peers would recognize, and that would last though the centuries. As he worked on the faces of the other Apostles, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus, but couldn't make any progress. He advanced steadily in painting all the figures, except that of Jesus, the most important one. He became more and more frustrated and confused. In time he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus; it kept him from being able to see Jesus clearly. Only after making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.

We are not made for sin and selfishness. Repentance frees us to see Christ and to become all that he created us to be. Lent is an ideal time “to dig around and manure” the tree of our life so that it may bring forth fruits.
We need to make the best use of the “second chances” God gives us. Our merciful Father always gives us a second chance. The prodigal son, returning to the father, was welcomed as a son, not treated as a slave. The repentant Peter was made the head of the Church. The persecutor Paul was made the apostle to the Gentiles.  During Lent, we, too, are given another chance to repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s love. We are also expected to give others another chance when they ask our forgiveness.
One of the ways the Church encourages us to give repentance its proper place in our life is by making an examination of conscience every night before we go to sleep. Christians have had this habit for centuries.  It's a way to make sure that we never let a sin or a habit of selfishness take root in our hearts and obstruct God's plan for our life.

As Catholic Christians, we are blessed with a very clear, concrete way to repent, as often as we need to. It's called going to confession. Confession opens our souls wide to Christ's grace. It gives him room to work in our lives. In confession Jesus purifies our hearts, heals our wounds, and enlightens our minds. Confession gives us the assurance of God's forgiveness and grace that we need. If each one of us didn't have a need for repentance, God wouldn't have reminded us today about how important repentance is.
We have regular confession times here every Monday morning 9.00 to 9.30; Thursdays 6.00 to 6.40; Saturdays 4.00 to 4.45. Whenever there are no people in the Church I sit in the pew and pray. If you don’t see me in the confessional and am sitting here in the pews you can tap me on the shoulder and ask me to get inside the confessional.
We often ask God to make us happy.  And that's good. Today, he is asking us to make him happy, by repenting, by turning away from our sin and selfishness and turning back into his arms. Let's not disappoint him.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This Sunday (First Sunday of Lent) I am showing a video on Exorcism as the theme of the gospel is Jesus' spiritual war with Satan.

 The video is available at:

Next week also I won't post a homily. I have a video message from the Bishop for DPAA.

Friday, March 1, 2019

OT VIII [C]: (Sir 27:4-7; Ps 92:2-3; 13-16; I Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45)

There’s the story of the conscientious wife who tried very hard to please her ultra-critical husband but failed regularly. He always seemed the most cantankerous at breakfast. If the eggs were scrambled, he wanted them poached; if the eggs were poached, he wanted them scrambled. One morning, with what she thought was a stroke of genius, the wife poached one egg and scrambled the other and placed the plate before him. Anxiously she awaited what surely this time would be his unqualified approval. He peered down at the plate and snorted, “Can’t you do anything right, woman? You’ve scrambled the wrong one!”

In today’s Gospel taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log stuck in his eye trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.

We have no right to criticize and judge others: The first reason Jesus gives us is we have no right to criticize unless we ourselves are free of faults. That simply means that we have no right to criticize at all, because “there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it is hard for any of us to find fault with the rest of us.” It means that the task of fraternal correction (removing specks, etc.) should not be attempted without prior self-examination, though the disciple need not be completely without imperfections before the process can begin.
A member of a monastic order once committed a fault. A council was called to determine the punishment, but when the monks assembled it was noticed that Father Joseph was not among them. The superior sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you. So, Father Joseph got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water, and carried it with him. When the others saw this they asked, “What is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the error of another?”

People who are willing to complain about others in their absence are reluctant to do so to their faces. A preacher, capitalizing on this fact, devised an effective way of handling such critics. He kept a special book labeled, “Complaints of Members Against One Another.” When one of them would tell him about some fault of a fellow parishioner, he would say, “Well, here’s my complaint book. I’ll write down what you say, and you can sign your name to it. When I see that person, I’ll take up the matter with him.” That open ledger, and the critic’s awareness of his own faults, always had a restraining effect. Immediately the complainer would exclaim, “Oh, no, I couldn’t sign anything like that!” In 40 years, that book was opened a thousand times, but no entry was ever made. 

1)We need to avoid hypocrisy: Let us acknowledge the hypocrisy we all live every day. Ignoring the glaring faults of our own, we point the finger of accusation, and whisper about them, and say, “How could they?” instead of asking “How could we?” We must look to our own sins first. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I must be honest with myself. If I have trouble seeing my sins, and my failures, I have to go to Jesus and ask Him to point them out to me through prayer and through His Word.

2) We should stop judging others harshly and unreasonably because 1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart; hence, only He has the right and authority to judge us. 2) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us. 3) We do not see all the facts, the circumstances or the power of the temptation, which have led a person to do something evil. We need to stop judging a book by its cover. 4) We have no right to judge others because we have the same faults and often to a more serious degree than the person we are judging. St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.”

3) Hence, we should leave all judgment to God and practice mercy and forgiveness, remembering the advice of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.” Let us pay attention to the Jewish rabbi’s advice: “He who judges others favorably will be judged favorably by God.