God's Word and Daily Life

The precursor is born

The precursor is born

By Mel Jasmin

On June 23, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity—total dependence on the Father, in Christ. Except for the Mother of God, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation. Yet the least in the kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than he, for the pure gift that the Father gives. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil—all stem from his fundamental and total placing of his life within the will of God.

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, when he was in prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias. St. John, pray for us!

The Trinity in my life

The Trinity in my life

 By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

The Trinity remains a deep mystery! It brings us back to the mystery of life.  We think we dominate it, understand it. It remains a mystery. It is a gift.

Do I believe in the word of Jesus who reveals God his Father to us and promises us the gift of the Spirit?

This mystery is telling us that God is not a lonely and jealous being, but that he is relationship and love. In God no one speaks for himself, no one proposes or wants to convince the other of his position. In God no one wants to impose himself, everyone shares what he has received.

To experience this mystery, let's take the time to contemplate on the love of a couple who takes care of their child. It introduces us into the mystery of love and communion. Let us take the time to contemplate on the search for unity in a diversified society or community such as the Church. Is this not the profound meaning of the reflection on synodality?

With the Trinity, we are at the heart of the mystery of relationship. Why do two beings love each other and decide to give birth to a child? Why are we in solidarity with the poor? Why are we called to love those who do not love us?

We are children of the Trinity: none of us is an island, and God is not far from us. The mystery of the Trinity is an invitation to rethink about our conception of God and our way of living in society.

How to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit

How to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit

ABy Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

At the end of the Easter Season and the Pentecost, we enter in the Ordinary Time until the Advent Season. But this time is not ordinary: it’s the time of the Holy Spirit! But how do recognize him?

Last Sunday, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis offered advice on how to distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit from “the voice of the spirit of evil.” The Pope provided several examples on how to recognize the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who “at every crossroads in our lives suggests to us the best path to follow.”

  • “The Holy Spirit will never tell you that on your journey everything is going just fine. … No, he corrects you; he makes you weep for your sins; he pushes you to change, to fight against your lies and deceptions, even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice.”
  • “The Holy Spirit, correcting you along the way, never leaves you lying on the ground, never. He takes you by the hand, comforts you and constantly encourages you.”
  • Feelings of “bitterness, pessimism and negativity” never come from the Holy Spirit, but come from evil, which “stokes impatience and self-pity … complaints and criticism, the tendency to blame others for all our problems.”
  • “The Holy Spirit on the other hand urges us never to lose heart and always to start over again. … by spreading hope and joy, not complaints; never envying others, never – envy is the door through which the evil spirit enters — but the Holy Spirit ... leads you to rejoice in the successes of others.”
  • The Holy Spirit is “practical” and “wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled… The Spirit leads us to love, here and now.”

 

As St. Paul tells us, the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.”

Let us be children of the Spirit!

Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday

By Mel Jasmin

Pentecost originally was a Jewish feast that occurred 50 days after the Passover celebration and commemorated the giving of the law to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai.

On the Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and those gathered with them, bringing fulfillment to this feast by bringing the new law in the Spirit, which is written on our hearts. The descent of the Holy Spirit is depicted using Old Testament imagery. The “strong driving wind” and “tongues as of fire” are reminiscent of the encounters with God on Mt. Sinai by Moses (see Exodus 19) and Elijah (see 1 Kings 19). The presence of the Holy Spirit manifested itself miraculously through “different tongues.” As the context reveals, this indicates that the Apostles were supernaturally able to speak in many languages and be understood by the diverse crowd.

This evidences the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing unity to the people of God. Sin separates but the Spirit unites. The fact that the diverse crowd, representing many nations and languages, could understand each other served as a reversal of what happened at the Tower of Babel back in Genesis 11.

At Pentecost, due to grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, people who would have been separated by language and nationality were brought together. This unity is a characteristic of the Church. Pentecost traditionally marks the beginning of the Church and reminds us that the Church is meant for all peoples. In fact, the word “Catholic” means “universal,” indicating that it crosses societal, ethnic, and linguistic barriers. In the Church, we all speak the same “language” because we profess the same faith, despite our many differences.

Ascension Day: a day of commissioning

Ascension Day: a day of commissioning

By Mel Jasmin

On May 29, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Here in the Philippines, we also celebrate Catholic Communication’s Sunday.

Just before His ascension, Jesus commanded His disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” This statement is called the Great Commission, which is also recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. His exhortation applies to us today just as much as it did to the original disciples. Jesus calls us to spread the gospel to everyone. In fact, at the end of every Mass we are sent out to bring Jesus to the world. Recall one version of the dismissal at Mass: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or, another more common version, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Yet, we can’t give away what we don’t have. What then is “the gospel” that we are to proclaim? The word “gospel” means “good news.” What is the good news? Simply put, it is Jesus Himself. Jesus is God in the flesh. God became man in order to bring about salvation from sin. All that Jesus did and taught was good news. But even more so, the death and resurrection of Jesus are the center of the gospel. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection the rest would be meaningless. He died to take all our sins to the grave and He rose to bring us new life and prove victorious over sin and death. As a result, we can have salvation from our sins and communion with God. Now that is good news and it’s worth sharing! Who will you share it with this week? Are we enablers of fake news? Do we communicate in the Catholic way?

Offering one’s life to Christ

Offering one’s life to Christ

By Mel Jasmin

On May 21, the whole Church celebrates the feast of Saint Christopher Magallanes and his companions.

Like the Jesuit Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, Saint Christopher and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools, and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Christopher established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. He and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles.

Every martyr realizes how to avoid execution, but refuses to pay the high price of doing so. A clear conscience was more valuable than a long life. We may be tempted to compromise our faith while telling ourselves that we are simply being realistic, dealing with situations as we find them. Is survival really the ultimate value? Do our concrete, daily choices reflect our deepest values, the ones that allow us to “tick” the way we do? Anyone can imagine situations in which being a follower of Jesus is easier than the present situation. Saints remind us that our daily choices, especially in adverse circumstances, form the pattern of our lives.

We hope there would be as many brave believers who are willing to offer their life of love and faith to Christ. Saint Christopher Magallanes and companions, pray for us!

Election aftermath

Election aftermath

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, aa

The results of the national and local elections are practically known...

Some rejoice, others are desperate. Others wonder, are afraid of violence, many are waiting to know what happens next...

What does Jesus tell us? “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Do not confuse with everything. Take time to reflect, pray, ask for the discernment of the Spirit and above all listen to the poor, the little ones, those who suffer. Put them at the heart of your life and commitment.

Roll up your sleeves, don't wait for six years to act, re-read Pope Francis' encyclicals and try, with others, to implement his teachings. Become Jesus’ disciples and follow him. Become a better person and a better citizen.

Today's Gospel is enlightening once again. Let's take the time to read it and meditate on it.

“I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.

And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.

Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” (John 12:44-50)

 

Election time: let’s us pray and discern

Election time: let’s us pray and discern

By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 “Let us again turn to our Blessed Mother and ask her intercession to help us vote what God desires for us,” is a part of the letter signed by Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of Manila.

With the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila, he urged Catholics to unite spiritually to pray the rosary for next month’s elections.

The bishops also encouraged the electorate to vote for the candidates who will promote the common good, especially the poor and marginalized.

They also called for prayers for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that they may accomplish their mission to conduct an efficient, fair and honest election.

It’s important to pray, but also to take time to read the programs of the candidates, to know the candidates and their supporters and to discern with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Going to vote is to choose life, truth, justice and peace. It’s a way to worship the Lord and to honor Him! Be a disciple of Jesus and of his Beatitudes!

Dominus est!

Dominus est!

By Mel Jasmin

 “It is the Lord!” This is the episcopal motto of former Manila archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle- Dominus est! It is the Lord!

This declaration made by the disciples was an experience of Easter joy. This is their story with the Risen One. God fills us when we are empty, when we are hungry, when we are in need. The empty tomb experience of the disciples points to us that we become witnesses of the Risen One because God filled us with His Spirit of Joy, Peace and Love. Those who recognize the Risen One are the ones who experienced His loving presence (enough food, security, being forgiven and loved, etc.). Jesus Christ taught us to give selflessly (His passion and death) and we learn how to receive graciously (that is, we acknowledge that we can only do so much and the rest, we rely on God). What is your experience of Easter joy?

The disciples, as fishermen, were real professionals. They knew what they were doing when it came to fish. That was why they went out at night: experience has taught them this was the most productive time. But on this occasion, they fished with a singular lack of success. When morning came, their nets were as empty as when they'd begun. We can imagine their feelings: tired, frustrated, tetchy, baffled, hungry.

We, too, think that we are professionals and we know what we are doing. But many times, we encounter things beyond our expectations. And deep inside we know, it is not because of our own doing. It is the Lord’s!

Jesus, I trust in you

Jesus, I trust in you

By Mel Jasmin

On April 24, the church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday.

In Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina a nine-day novena that He desired be prayed in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday.  The novena was to begin on Good Friday and be prayed each day of the Triduum and of Easter Week in preparation for the glorious Feast of Mercy which was to take place on the Eighth Day of Easter (The Sunday after Easter Day) (See Diary #1209-1230).

During this novena that Jesus Himself revealed to Saint Faustina, He asks that each day be dedicated to prayers for a different grouping of people.  The novena below comes from these private revelations of Saint Faustina as recorded in her Diary of Divine Mercy.

I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fount of My mercy, that they may draw there from strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need in the hardships of life and, especially, at the hour of death. On each day, you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father. You will do this in this life and in the next. I will deny nothing to any soul whom you will bring to the fount of My mercy. On each day, you will beg My Father, on the strength of My bitter Passion, for graces for these souls.

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