Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Abortion? . . . I love you mommy !

I cannot say it in words yet,  but if I could it would be: "I love you mommy". Our God has prepared the safest place for me within you. He placed me within the best mom in the world, who would love me more than anything. He chose you to be my guardian, my source of love and life. You are my protection and my love. Your voice gives me peace and joy and your body gives me life, rest and protection. Within you I grow safely and peacefully hidden from any harm.

My dearest mommy, I love you so much. Thank you for how much you sacrifice for me. Thank you for carrying me within you, loving me, and accepting me as I am. You love me just the same whether I am sick or healthy, whether my days will be a few or many. You are my bravest warrior and within your armor I fear nothing. You are the greatest mom ever. 

I do sense you suffering and crying, and I know somehow that it is because of me. I don't understand how the little me is bringing you so much fears, anxieties, and worries. If I can take your sorrow away, I promise I would, but my dearest mommy, I have no where to go, you are my safe haven and without you I am no more. All I can do is to promise you that when I am older I will make it up to you and love you with all my heart.  

I love it when I sense you laughing and it bring me so much joy. I have a secret to tell you … trust in God and He will provide, trust in Him and He will carry you within Him and give you peace and joy that no one can take away from you. 

I am here . . . do you sense me? If I can speak, I would say to you "I love you mommy"! 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Am I my sister's keeper?

When a baby is born, her parents cannot lay her on the ground and walk away, expecting her to live on her own, grow, and become a self sufficient independent person. Unless they give her food, shelter, and most importantly, love, she will die. Let us not fool ourselves; the dependency of human beings on each other is a necessity. Even the richest, strongest, smartest, or holiest person in the world needs others to provide food, clothes, and most importantly, genuine love. More so, a sick, hurt, or dying person needs his fellow human beings the most.  While our most clever artificial robots can manage many of these tasks, they will always remain incapable of loving us.  

We need to accept with humility others' acts of love towards us. At times it may be difficult, hard, and embarrassing, nevertheless we must let others serve us because this is the nature of our humanity. When we let our pride stand in the way of such acts of love, we are placing ourselves above our brothers and sisters and not seeing ourselves as we truly are, persons dependent on others. Plus, when it becomes our turn to serve others, we must not think too highly of ourselves and of our acts, placing those whom we serve beneath us. It is indeed our obligation to give back for what was given to us from the moment we were born until the moment we leave this life. Remember Christ's words to us: "When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'   " [Luke 17:10]

Human being are in the image of God and therefore cannot be happy unless they are loved and they love.  Therefore, let every act of service that we do towards the others be an act of love towards them. With regards to feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoner, Christ tells us: "Truly, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me, .... What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." [Matthew 25:40,45]

To put love in every act that we do and to perform acts of love on those who are daily placed in our path can be challenging, overwhelming, and sometimes impossible. But we are encouraged with Christ's words: "What is impossible for human beings is possible for God." [Luke 18:27] On our own we can accomplish nothing of significance toward anyone; we become like a branch detached from the vine which has no life within it. The wind may move its leaves, giving the impression that it is living on its own, but we know better. We have within us the source of every grace, Christ Jesus, who empowers us to place love in every act that we do and to accept acts of love from others, just as he did as a child from his mom and dad (Luke 2), his disciples who were sent before him (Luke 9:2, 10:2), the women who provided for him (Luke 8:3), and Simon the Cyrenian who helped him with his holy cross (Luke 23:26). 

We cannot even imagine the acts of love showered on us from God that allow our bodies to function and our souls to grow closer to Him. My dear friends let us receive love and give love and give thanks to God who empowers us to do so, through Christ's spirit within us. St. Paul assures us: "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." [Philippians 4:13]

Monday, September 02, 2013

When God looks at us?

When you and I look at someone, we see them as they appear to us in a particular place and time. We see a child as a child and an adult as an adult at a moment in their lives. Speculation or inspiration I cannot really tell, but it seems to me that when God looks at us he sees us at every moment in our lives from conception to eternity. God looks at a person and sees a baby sucking his thumb in his mother's womb, an infant crawling from couch to couch, a boy rejoicing with his mom and dad's excitement about him, a teenager defining himself, a college freshman on his own for the first time, a working man making a living for his family, an older man reflecting on what he could have done had time slowed down for him, and a dead man - to us that is - standing alive before God in awe ...  When God looks at a person, God sees this person at every moment and place in life and God sees it all at once.

Sometimes we cannot love someone because we only see the moment. It is only when we unify ourselves in God's grace that we become capable of seeing others as they truly are and loving them irrelevant of their present stage in life. If we want to live in the truth and see the truth as it really is, we must strive through prayer and meditations to be drawn by grace to see others and ourselves as God sees us. It is only through Christ living in us that we can fully see and fully love God, others and ourselves. How does Christ live in us? Humility is the first step, humility is the last step, the rest and in between will come to our souls like breathing to our bodies. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The blind person in the river

I am a blind person floating swiftly in a fast moving river, toward the big sea. Although I cannot see, I still can hear you O God in the raging sound of water, and feel your presence when my body slams against the rocks, slide down the water falls, and emerges out of their trapping caves.  I have no control of anything around me. I am carried away in darkness and have no say on where and how fast I am moving. I have tried to control, see, and understand, but to no vail. As I move, I carry with me three gifts from you that sustain me: A joyful hope in your ways because of your loving and powerful nature, an unshaken faith that where I am at any given time is pleasing to you and essential for me, and a love for you, who has loved me first and gave your life for me. 

I have placed my trust in you O God and surrendered my will to your will. Who am I to question you O God? Who am I to deserve anything different? Who am I to tell you how my life should be lived? By faith I rather entrust my precious soul to your divine almighty will, rather than to my feeble limited mind. Although I am so blind and no light penetrates my yet un-enlightened mind, I feel the sun on my face and sense the air in my lungs and I rejoice and give you glory. My eyes are shut to your truth yet through faith my soul is living in your light and there is nothing brighter for me to see. For now it pleases you that I don't understand, and what is good enough for you, it is good enough for this blind person in the river, for you are my God, my love, and everything good to me.

No figs on my branches

A fig tree with no figs on it. I stand by the spring of life and water flows beneath my roots. I stand given everything and producing nothing but a little shade. When my master comes by me, he looks for figs but does not curse me upon not finding them. He sits in my shade and rests his back upon my trunk. I enjoy his presence so much and I wish he never leaves.  You are welcome here my sweet Jesus. The figs will come when your father wills it. In the mean time rest upon me so that I will not be cut down. No figs on my branches but Jesus I trust in you.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In my own image (Part 2/2)

My dear brothers and sisters, although we are all created in the image and likeness of God, since the Fall, we have been trying to make God in our own image, and we continue trying so today. We attribute to God our own characteristics and warp his image to fit ours based on our wants and fears. For example, we focus on him being the almighty one, when we measure others by how powerful they are, the just one, when we seek revenge from those who hurt us, or the merciful one, when we want to justify the wrong we do or the good we don't.

We have developed a selective scripture memory, keeping only the verses that suite us and making God in our own image, while rejecting others. We say to each other, "didn't you know that Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery? You see he said to her 'Neither do I condemn you'" [John 8:11];  we don't seem to remember him telling her in that same verse "Go and from now on do not sin anymore." We always remember his words, "ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" [John 15:7], although we can never remember the first part of this verse, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you".  We recreate Jesus in our own image making him a friend who has no demands on us whatsoever. We hold on his love for us and quote him saying "As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love."[John 15:9]. We stop short from quoting the next verse "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my father's commandments and remain in his love" [John 15:10].

We  must be careful. We often try to fit the God of the universe into our own personal world, warping him into our image. In doing so we are loving ourselves first, not God, and therefore we are rejecting the first of God's greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" [Matthew 22:37]. We do not stop here. We often break the second greatest commandment "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" [Matthew 22:40] because we often make effort to make others in our own image. We start first with those who are closest to us, brothers, sisters, and friends, then as we get older we impose our image on our children and attempt it on every person that we encounter. We get hurt when others do not see the world as we do or do not act and respond as we want them to, and we react by throwing them out of our own garden for daring to differ.

A Father once summed up his homily by these words: "There is a God, and you are not it." My dear brothers and sisters, take a step back, let go, and remember his words: "Be still and know that I am God" [Psalm 46:10].  Yet, it is true that we are not called to be passive, we are after all in his own image, and he is not passive. We are called instead to participate in God's creation, but in our participation we must remain in him and acknowledge him as the source of everything, the beginning and end of everything.

How do we do that? How do we become such beings? Our true happiness and joy, our true growth toward God, is in becoming day after day more like his perfect image, his perfect gift, his divine Son and our human brother Jesus. We must cling to Christ, in his sacred Word, in his Church, and in disposing ourselves to his Holy Spirit, letting the grace of God the Father transforms us into beings more and more like Christ, perfect in everything. Rather than creating others in our own image, we must help others become like Christ. It is only in Christ that we become divine and eternal human beings, because he wished to share with us his glory.

My brothers and sisters I leave you with these words from St. John: " In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might have life through him. ... Beloved if God so loved us, we also must love one another ...  If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us" [1 John 4:9-12].

In my own image (Part 1/2)

                     "The Lord God formed man out of the ground and blew into his nostrils 
                      the breath of life, and so man became a living being." [Genesis 2:7] 

In his reflection on this passage Pope Benedict XVI states that we are humbled and consoled by it. We are humbled in knowing that we are earthly made from earth, and that we are not God and did not make ourselves, nor do we rule the universe. We are consoled that we are made from God's good earth and not from evil or fallen spirits like some want to make us believe. Most importantly, he adds that no matter how culture and history differentiate us, placing us in various categorical levels, we are fundamentally the same kind of human being, "one humanity in the many human beings."[1]

                     "Then God said: 'let us make man in our image, after our likeness...' 
                   God created man in his own image; in the divine image he created him; 
                   male and female he created them." [Genesis 1:26-27] 

Pope Benedict XVI states that "in the human being heaven and earth touch one another." The divine enters humanity with God's breath into the nostrils of the earthly being. "Each human being, however wretched or exalted he or she may be, however sick or suffering, however good-for-nothing or important, whether born or unborn, whether incurable ill or radiant with health __ each one bears God's breath in himself or herself, each one is God's image. This is the deepest reason for the inviolability of human dignity..." [1]

Reflecting on being made in the image of God, Pope Benedict XVI adds that an image points to something beyond itself and in the case of humanity it points to God. Like God human beings are relational, made to think and love, oriented toward giving themselves to the other. [1] 

Although early theologians gave different meanings to the words, "image" and "likeness", theologians today do not differentiate between the two. Sometimes the two words are used side by side to define each other (See Genesis 1:26-27), and sometimes one or the other is used such as:  

                          "When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; 
                         he created them male and female. When they were created, 
                           he blessed them and named them 'man'." [Genesis 5:1-2]

                        "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; 
                          For in the image of God has man been made." [Genesis 9:6]

We must always remember that the dignity of a human being was not taken away after the Fall of Adam and Eve. Way later and after the great flood, God addresses Noah in Genesis 9:6, still referring to man as a being in his own image. Therefore even at his worst, man remains in the image and likeness of God, deserving to be treated with dignity.

[1] Pope Benedict XVI, 'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Not easy to be a Christian

There are many religions in the world today. And many of them do a good job of bringing the human person closer to knowing God and living according to God's will. Without an apology, I must confess my faith in the true form of Christianity which allows a person to stare at and absorb the sun directly, while other religions provide the refection of the moon or the dim light of the far away stars, neither of which can bring true warmth and light to the believer. Some spiritual movements are like comets and astroids; they visit us periodically under different names with signs and whistles promising new knowledge from the universe beyond, yet end up being short lived empty threats as they fade. 

Do not be fooled and tempted by those selling easy Christianity. A genuine form of Christianity is never without the cross. While it is absolutely true that Christianity brings the joyful Good News of eternal life through faith in the living, resurrected Son of God, this faith is actualized and made real in a full participation of the believer in the Son's life, death and Resurrection. This means Christ must dwell in the believer and empower the believer to love God and others as Christ loves. This indwelling also empowers the believer to carry one's cross daily [Luke 9:23] and give one's life for the other as Christ did. This I base on the teachings of the Church, on the teachings and lives of the Saints, and on Sacred Scripture.

Jesus tells us through St. John: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends, you are my friends if you do what I command you." [John 15:11-14]. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells us, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." In Luke 14:27 he proclaims: "Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." 

St. Paul tells us of Christ: " ... To know him and the power of his resurrection and sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead." [Philippians 3:10-11] St. Paul also says: "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." [1 Corinthians 1:18].  He also says: "We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." [1 Corinthians 1:23] In 1 Corinthians 2:2 he proclaims: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Again in Colossians St. Paul teaches us: "Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church ... For I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me." [Colossians 1:24,29]

What does all this mean to us as Christians? What we encounter in our daily lives in terms of struggle and cause of pain and anxiety must be embraced as our cross, given to us by God. We must not pretend that we desire this cross, but rather understand that the will of God is adherent to this cross and therefore we embrace it in voluntary surrender to God's will.  Jesus was not thrilled or excited on the Mount of Olives about carrying his cross. He prayed three times for his Father to take His cross away from Him: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." [Mathew 26:39] and again: "My Father, if it is possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!" [Matthew 26:42], He tells His three best friends: "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." [Matthew 26:38]

In our daily lives we are called to carry our God given cross. For some of us it is in physical form such as cancer, hunger, or torture ... for others in mental form such as verbal abuse, persecution, mockery, belittling, fear, or depression ... for some it is a spiritual cross with constant threats of unbelief, the constant temptation to see ourselves as mere beings rather than children of the Most High, a sense of abandonment by God, and so forth. True Christians turn the other cheek,  forgive a million times, give even when in need, love especially their enemies, conquer evil with good, surrender their will to the will of God and not hold back anything, and conquer themselves and the world with the power of the cross.  True Christians are hard to find. 

Our Lord tells us: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." [Matthew 7:13-14]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is God Selfish?

My Dear Maya, you told me tonight that someone jokingly said that God is selfish because he wants people to bow down and kneel before him and give him homage. There are many gods who are self centered and want this homage from us for their own glory. There are people from many religions and many of them Christians who worship these selfish gods, and they think by bowing down to them and confessing their misery while professing these gods greatness, that they will get special favors from these gods. These gods indeed benefit tremendously from such worship because they are in need of it; it makes them feel worth,  and valuable. They are self centered gods and only care about themselves. They are always in need of worshipers to give them glory and pleasure. Jesus met one of these gods who offered him the world if he paid him homage.

When people actually kneel and bow, it is easy to describe what they are doing, because we physically see them. There are on the other hand, so many people who bow and kneel while standing up. Let me explain. If someone is in love with money, and he does everything in his power to get money, then this person is bowing and worshiping this god named money. Sometimes, people bow to power while standing up, sometimes they bow to pleasure, to self, to intellect, to things, to people, and sometimes to the devil. There are plenty of gods thirsty for someone to pay homage to them. 

The true God created us free in His own image. He did not create us to bow down to anything or anyone. He gave us free will to choose or refuse even Himself. He is by His own nature self sufficient and in need of nothing to add glory or pleasure to His being. This true God is love. He made us His children. He came down from His own heaven to be with us, to walk with us, to love us, to serve us, to wash our feet, to be hurt by us, to be rejected, made fun of, scourged and crucified for us. He then turned and asked us to do the same for others and that is to love them even if our love to them send us to our grave. The true God is in love with us and wants us to share His joy as His children. 

Everyhing in life has its nature. A bird cannot tell the air I don't need you, I will fly without you. The bird has wings but flap as he may, he cannot fly without the air that surrounds it. A fish cannot tell the water I don't need you, I can swim without you. A baby cannot tell his mom I don't need you I can live without you, just give me birth and let me be. We are each  dependent on each other and we are by nature dependent on a loving God who gives us the air to fly and the water to swim. What air is to the bird and water is to the fish, is love to us human. We are dependent on each other and this dependency is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of love, since we share it with joy when others depend on us.

We sometimes fall short of our love to each other and to ourselves. We fall short of love to the one who made us. We think of ourselves greater than anything although we cannot breath without the  little air that is given to us. It is then that we bow to our Maker, not so that He will gain anything from us, since we cannot add to who He is, but rather so that by bowing we acknowledge that we freely failed to love and we need His air and His water to lift us up. It is precisely then that He hugs us soul and body and gives us what every good dad and every good mom give their kids, and that is themselves.  By showing humility we die to self and in doing so we truly live.

Remember what he said, when he bowed down to wash our feet and the feet of those who betrayed him: " Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should do."  [John 13:12-15]. 

Dear Maya, to truly understand the nature of our God, we must never forget His words in [Mark 10:45]: " The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many"  Let us then be humble so that we may know God as love.