God's Word and Daily Life

Our own Sabbath

Our own Sabbath

By Mel Jasmin

The issue under conflict on the Sabbath brings out relevant ideas. The question of Pharisees on the act of Jesus’ disciples picking ear of corn justified in the right examples.

“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath” is an idolized and ancient law of Moses. And we would hardly think of disputing it. The religious leaders of the people in the Old Testament had defined the precise limitations which one should not transgress, in order to keep the Sabbath rest. Jesus breaks the law and allows his disciples to do the same. The reason: He had a different, a higher law to follow. Jesus gave the example of David who worked on a Sabbath day and did what was necessary. Jesus gives approval of what David did, even though he had technically broken the law by doing what was prohibited on the Sabbath. Hence it is a conflict between two extreme thoughts whether to follow the law or to show emphasis on human needs.

For Jesus, human need was important than the written law. Since the law came from God originally, Jesus tells the Pharisees they had not interpreted the law properly. They might be literal and superficial. In reference to King David, Jesus shows the older interpretation was right one. That is why Jesus said the Sabbath was made for the good of man; man was not made for the Sabbath. For Jesus, as for us, the real priority is not to be slave to the law but to use the law, in the best way possible, to ease for human needs. In other words, human life has to be the measure of everything but not the law. In the same way religion is for man and not man for religion. If our religion does not enable us to do good to men, it is useless. If the laws and observances do not help a man and meaningless to observe them, better keep them aside. Because they are not justified to the human will.

New Year wishes of Pope Francis: Dialogue and fraternity

New Year wishes of Pope Francis: Dialogue and fraternity

By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

         Last Monday, January 10, during the traditional ceremony of greetings addressed to the ambassadors of 183 states accredited by the Holy See, Pope Francis drew up a vast state of the world. He shared with them his concerns of the world. Among them: vaccines, migrants, and the possession of weapons. He urged them vigorously to act in the critical context of the pandemic and called them to dialogue and fraternity.

             Through these ambassadors who represent us, Pope Francis also extends his personal wishes to us:

“The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God has “plans for [our] welfare and not for evil, to give [us] a future and a hope” (29:11). We should be unafraid, then, to make room for peace in our lives by cultivating dialogue and fraternity among one another. The gift of peace is “contagious”; it radiates from the hearts of those who long for it and aspire to share it, and spreads throughout the whole world. To each of you, your families and the peoples you represent, I renew my blessing and offer my heartfelt good wishes for a year of serenity and peace.”

            In this time of electoral campaign, let us meditate on Pope Francis' address to the nations, which we can find on the website of the Holy See.

             He is giving us some criteria of discernment for good governance and for a wise vote.

           https://www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html

To the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See

Happy and Blessed New Year!

Happy and Blessed New Year!

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, aa

We enter into a new year, a year of challenges, a year of choices, a year of elections.

Did we make some resolutions? Pope Francis is inviting us to build peace in us and around us.

“Peace is a gift from on high, but peace is also our commitment: it asks us to take the first step, it demands concrete actions. It is built by being attentive to the least, by promoting justice, with the courage to forgive thus extinguishing the fire of hatred. And it needs a positive outlook as well, one that always sees, in the Church as well as in society, not the evil that divides us, but the good that unites us! Getting depressed or complaining is useless. We need to roll up our sleeves to build peace. At the beginning of this year, may the Mother of God, the Queen of Peace, obtain harmony in our hearts and in the entire world.” – Angelus, January 1, 2022.

Let us think: peace! Because we need peace. Let's build peace!

Good wishes to you all! Happy New Year! Take care of you, and of others!

New year, new life!

New year, new life!

By Mel Jasmin

The New Year is an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and to approach the year ahead with purpose and intention. A lot of emphasis is placed on this being a time to make big changes in our lives and while this can prove to be a useful motivator for many, it is also important to recognize that meaningful transitions and milestones are happening all year round.

Our efforts in forging forward with life, or as the case may be, with recovery, are meaningful and valuable regardless of when they occur. Taking the pressure off of becoming new and improved versions of ourselves as soon as January 1st rolls around allows us space to grow, learn and move forward at our own pace, in our own way, and on our own time line. For some, the distinct marking of a New Year may be an inspiration for positive change. If the energy of a New Year gives them the inner fire needed to make those changes, then I say all the power to them! However, even if we cannot maintain the full steam ahead attitude we began the year with, or if we find ourselves falling back on old habits, we can still be compassionate and kind to ourselves and give ourselves grace by doing the next right thing. This concept has helped me tremendously in my own recovery journey. By doing the next right thing, we are declaring that we hold the power inside ourselves to make changes when it makes sense for us and in the ways that make sense for us.

 

It’s Christmas time!

It’s Christmas time!

By Mel Jasmin

The shopping is done, all the presents are bought and wrapped, the house is clean and the tree with all its decoration is shining brightly. So, what has all this hectic busyness been about?

When we have a birthday in our own family, what do we do? We gather around the person whose birthday it is and as a family, then we do two things. We remember and we celebrate. We remember the time and date the person was born. We look back and remember the day they came in to our family. We might look at photographs of them and recall how they looked when they were young. We tell stories about them when they were young; we remember their first words, the first days at a school and other significant events in their early life. Then we celebrate with them. We give thanks and celebrate the difference they have made and continue to make to our family.

This is exactly what we on Christmas Day; we remember and we celebrate. We recall and tell the story of how and when Jesus was born. We tell the story of Mary and Joseph being turned away from the inn, we remember that the angels appeared with good news and we remember how shepherds and the kings visited the stable. Then we celebrate the difference Jesus has made not only to the world, but to our personal lives.

May we take time to share what we have with those who became victims of the recent typhoon Odette. Let us pray and share our material gifts with them. Merry Christmas!

Sacrificing for the truth

Sacrificing for the truth

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, aa

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Matthew 3:3) 

During this time of Advent, the voices of the prophet Isaiah and of the prophet John the Baptist resonate in the liturgy. They invite us to conversion, to change our ways of thinking and acting.

On December 10, Maria Ressa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It is another prophetic voice in this Advent Season. She is inviting us to reflect and commit ourselves to a new world. Let us let ourselves be challenged by this voice: it is a meaningful preparation for Christmas.

 « We are standing on the rubble of the world that was, and we must have the foresight and courage to imagine what might happen if we don’t act now, and instead, create the world as it should be - more compassionate, more equal, more sustainable.

To do that, please ask yourself the same question my team and I had to confront 5 years ago: what are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?

 You have to know what values you are fighting for, and you have to draw the lines early—but if you haven’t done so, do it now: where this side you’re good, and this side, you’re evil.

 What are YOU willing to sacrifice for the truth?

 Now it’s time to build—to create the world we want.  

Now, please, with me, close your eyes. And imagine the world as it should be. A world of peace, trust and empathy, bringing out the best that we can be.

Now let’s go and make it happen. Let’s hold the line. Together.”

 

You can read the full transcript of Maria Ressa's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1w3rRRBoq8

How do we experience Advent and prepare for Christmas?

How do we experience Advent and prepare for Christmas?

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, aa

Eight centuries before Christ, God addressed His prophet Isaiah: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."
We too, during this time of Advent, are called to prepare for the coming of the Lord. How? 
In the special context of Hong Kong, the newly installed Catholic Bishop, Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, shows us a path. He would like to work harder to foster the next generation of Catholics, and to build bridges, to be a pacemaker: “It is my desire to be a bridge between the government and the Church in Hong Kong, and between the Catholic Church, fellow Christian denominations and other religions.” It is through understanding, respect and trust that collaboration can become a living culture in the community, he said. “As a local Church, we would very much like to take up a meaningful role to foster healing and connections in our Church and for our hometown,” he said.
In the special time of election in the Philippines, how can I be a peacemaker, sharing my thoughts and my dreams, listening to others, focusing on the common good and working for it? That’s a way to prepare the coming of the Prince of Peace in our midst. With prayers, too.

 

Feast of Saint Andrew, the apostle

Feast of Saint Andrew, the apostle

By Mel Jasmin 

St. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was born in the Galilean village of Bethsaida. Originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, Andrew then became the first of Jesus’ disciples (John 1:35-40). His name regularly appears in the Gospels near the top of the lists of the Twelve. It was he who first introduced his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:41-42). He was, in a real sense, the first home missionary, as well as the first foreign missionary (John 12:20-22). Tradition says Andrew was martyred by crucifixion on a cross in the form of an X. In AD 357, his body is said to have been taken to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and later removed to the cathedral of Amalfi in Italy. Centuries later, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the Western Church Year, since the First Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day.

Though he is only mentioned in the Gospels a few times, St. Andrew has proved himself to be a crucial figure in the New Testament. Each time St. Andrew appears in the Gospels, it is a turning point or famous act in Jesus’ ministry. Although the spotlight does not shine on St. Andrew as brightly as other apostles (compared to his brother St. Peter), St. Andrew has three profound lessons we can learn from his life, especially as we prepare for his feast day on November 30.

How do we speak up about our faith even when it is uncomfortable or seems silly?  How do we teach others about Christ?  Do we share our meager solutions, even when it seems they are impossible to work, just like the loaves and fishes seemed impossible?  Sometimes, by sharing Jesus with others, we can pave the way for something or someone even greater than us, just like St. Andrew bringing Peter, “the rock” of Jesus’ church.

Christ wants mercy, not sacrifice

Christ wants mercy, not sacrifice

By Mel Jasmin

Try reading to Gospel today, Luke 21:5-11 that speaks about temple’s adornments and votive offerings.

After hearing their words, Jesus makes a statement that must have been unsettling to his listeners.  He said: “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left stone upon stone upon another stone.  All of the stones will be thrown down.”

Naturally, his disciples said: “When will this happen?  What signs can we look for so we will be prepared?”  Jesus then tells his disciples to “beware.”  He says: “Many people will come and try to deceive you, saying ‘I am he’ or ‘The time has come.’  However, do not follow them.”  Jesus also predicts “one nation will rise against another nation.  And there will be earthquakes, famines, and plagues.”

Jesus’ description sounds like the state of our world today.  Nations are at war.  Men and women are starving and living in destitution.  Everyday women, men, and children are abused physically, sexually, and emotionally. Numerous people are killed on the streets.  And as we well know, the United States is not an exception.  Yet we claim to be civilized, a “first world country.”

Today Jesus encourages us to “seek what will last,” to seek what is good and loving.  If each one of us did this, we might change our hearts, our country and perhaps our world.  What will we choose today?  Will we simply maintain the status quo?

Sinner yet called

Sinner yet called

By Mel Jasmin

 The gospel about Zacchaeus is a gospel of mercy and forgiveness – traits that each Christian is called to do.

Many Christians have read and sung the story of Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, who encountered Jesus from the branches of a sycamore tree. This short New Testament story speaks volumes to the church about the importance of a just distribution of wealth in our world.

Zacchaeus had grown very wealthy by taking advantage of his position of tax collector. No doubt he had cheated people along the way, after all, that’s just the way business was done. The power of the Roman Empire backed up his enterprise. But for some reason, Zacchaeus was interested in seeing and hearing Jesus. His encounter with Jesus was transformative; it gave him a new commitment to economic justice. Zacchaeus volunteered to give half of his wealth to the poor and to pay back anyone he had defrauded four times the amount he took unfairly.

Jesus response was, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Jesus accepted Zacchaeus’ repentance and his self-imposed penitence as signs of his salvation.

This story challenges us today to consider how just our society’s economic system is and the role we play in any injustices. In recent years, the rich have grown richer and the poor and not-so-poor have grown poorer. In the Philippines, election time is again coming and candidates are again masking themselves as pro-poor.

May we become more discerning who to vote for. May God guide us always in choosing our next leaders.

 

1 2 3 9 Next →