Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

REFLECTION: The silence and slowness of God…

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

 

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany; the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  John 11: 1-6

Like many others, I have heard and read this scripture passage many times with very little effect.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, through the process of Lectio Divina, our Father revealed something deeper than I could have imagined.

Did you notice something odd in the scripture passage?  Notice that it was Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, who had beckoned Him to come to their brother’s aid.  The content of their message was, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  Although they knew the depth of the friendship they shared, perhaps by reminding Jesus of his love for their brother, he would come more quickly.  Notice that the author, the Apostle St. John, also very clearly indicates that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  And yet, as if it was the normal thing to do, he writes, “So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

What was wrong with Jesus?!?  Did he forget who his friends were?  Didn’t he remember the people he loved… the people closest to his heart?  Even John knew his affection for these folks!  Didn’t it register in Jesus’ mind that someone he loved was dying?  What were Mary and Martha thinking?  They must have wondered what was taking him so long.  They knew he loved each of them.  Did this delay lead them to doubt  the sincerity of his love?

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  We know God loves us.  He even promises that He is always with us and that He would never leave us.  And yet, there are times when we feel so abandoned, alone, rejected and betrayed.

As my reflection deepened, the memory of two mothers I had specifically been interceding for came to mind.  One has a beautiful 20 year old daughter who is bipolar and who, at times, is taunted with suicidal thoughts.  The other has a daughter who suffers from a rare genetic defect and who is also tormented with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The latter had shared that she and her daughter had just about lost hope.

During my waking hours and during my sleepless nights, my prayers are lifted for them during those moments when God puts them in my heart.  I plead and beg for each mother; I plead and beg for each child… remembering the many years when I had pled for my own.  I remind our Father that I know He loves each of them so much and I plead for Him to give them minute miracles so that they can continue on.  I ask for his compassion and I beg him to give them the extra-ordinary graces that they need so that they don’t give up and they continue to hold on to Him.  And many times I beg him to “please hurry” and to “please let each one sense His presence even at the moment”.

And then I am reminded that I am not their mother.  Knowing that our Father only gives me a taste of their misery so I can intercede for them, my heart breaks when I realize how much anguish these moms go through.  In solidarity with them for the love of our children, God encourages me to pray even more.

There is still another who felt totally abandoned in the midst of his grief and agony.  Jesus, isolated and distanced from those he loved as he hung on the cross, agonized to vocalize his misery as he whispered through His bloodied, bruised and swollen lips… “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Matt 27:46   Although without sin, Jesus willingly took on all the sins of the world, knowing that it (sin)  would completely block him from His Father and He would be left to die on the cross… totally alone.

Did you hear His anguished cry?  He felt abandoned.  He must have called and called out for the Father as He hung on the cross.  He must have yearned even for a whisper, a simple sign to show Him that the Father was still with Him.  And yet, all He heard was silence…

But wait, Jesus was still God, wasn’t He?  He still had the power to come down from that cross!  And yet He remained there, silently submitting His will to the Father.

“Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”…  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of his sleep.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  John 11: 7-8; 11-18

The disciples had warned Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jews had intended to stone Him.  Was that the reason why they didn’t resist when he said they were going to stay on for two more days?  Was Jesus afraid and was that why He didn’t come to the aid of His friend immediately?  Perhaps it was safer to wait for 2 days so the anger and volatility of the Jewish crowds could settle before they returned.  But was that 2 days of waiting what caused Lazarus to die?   Let’s do the math.  Jesus waited for 2 more days and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days.  When Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, each of them had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21/32.  Was there truth in what they said?  It sounds logical to blame Jesus, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, let’s examine the passage again.  When Jesus decided to set off after the second day, didn’t he mention that Lazarus had already died?  Even if he left immediately, foot travel would not have gotten Him there on time.

 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.  John 11:38-45

Mary and Martha and, perhaps, even Lazarus didn’t expect him to die.  It was evident the two women blamed Jesus’ delay for the death.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, however, He knew something greater was ahead which was not yet privy to the human world.

Wasn’t it strange that Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”?  And later He said, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Believe what?

In His sermons, Jesus said , “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  Jesus claimed to be the divine son of God.  Although His friends felt betrayed that He did not prevent Lazarus from dying, the miracle that He would perform in bringing this very man back to life would support His claim that He was the true God who had come down to earth to save mankind.

And “many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him”.  John 11:45

Father God, we thank You for always standing by our side and never leaving us.  At times the turmoil in our lives block you from our senses and we fail to hear you or even sense your presence.  Lord, we ask that You bless us with the same faith Jesus had when he felt so abandoned on the cross.  Although He was in immense pain and he could no longer carry on, he trusted You and knew that You had a plan that was bigger and better than what we in this world could imagine.  Thank you for dying for us Lord Jesus and for being the bridge back to the Father’s heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 5, 2014

REFLECTION: Is someone at the door?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

 doorknocking

Would you readily open the door when someone knocks or rings the bell at your front door?  I wouldn’t.  I’ve had one too many solicitors come by and so, unless I know it’s the mailman or someone I am expecting, I totally ignore the beckoning of the unwelcomed guest.

But what would you do if Someone was knocking at your spiritual door?  Have you heard it said ”Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Rev 3:20  I would assume this scripture would sound terribly odd and disconcerting to one unfamiliar with the passage.  But in truth, no one needs to be concerned.  You see, Jesus doesn’t barge into anyone’s life.  Although He is God, He remains patiently at the door of your heart, waiting for you to open the door and to invite Him into your life.

Take a look at the picture.  Notice something odd about the door?  The exterior door knob is missing.  Each artist depicting this scene intentionally leaves the door knob out to symbolize that each individual has full control of the decision.

But what happens if you hesitantly open the door, will He barge in?  Based on my personal experience and the personal experience of many others, He waits for you to invite Him in.  In truth, even if you’ve opened the door before and left it ajar, each morning He waits for you, once again, to invite Him into your life.  Why?  Because he respects the free will of every individual.  He doesn’t assume that once you’ve invited Him into your life, He has free reign over your life.  He doesn’t take it for granted that just because you’ve invited Him once, that He is forever welcome.

Many of us take Jesus for granted.  Many of us were born and raised in Catholic Christian families and were baptized as infants.   We were taught the narrative of Jesus’ birth as children and we received sufficient Catechism teachings so that we were able to receive our first Holy Communion and our Confirmation.  But unfortunately, that was it.  We continue to show up for Mass because, in the back of our minds, we don’t want to end up in Hell.  We’ve learned enough to know that there are certain things we have to engage in to make ourselves and others think that we are living a good enough life to qualify for Heaven.  We may even say we “know” Jesus and are able to recite who He is and what He had done, but in truth, we merely know of Him.  We don’t know Him the way he yearns to be known and we ignore Him until we are in a crisis and we need a favour from Him.  Then we either ask Him for something or we ask others who know Him more intimately to pray for us so that we can get what we want.  Been there?  Done that?

We can fool ourselves and the rest of the world, but we can’t fool Jesus.  Proverbs 21:2 teaches “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 adds … “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I often wonder what Peter saw when his eyes caught Jesus’ glance after he denied Jesus 3x before His crucifixion.    Undoubtedly, Peter saw sadness and disappointment, but he also saw compassion, understanding and forgiveness.  What Peter saw in Jesus’ eyes was enough to keep him moving in the direction Jesus had wanted him to.  Unfortunately, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, didn’t turn to look back at Jesus.  Without a doubt, I am sure he would have received the same healing glance that Peter received, but sadly he didn’t choose to glance Jesus’ way.

Is Jesus at the door of your heart, gently calling out your name?  You may have heard him whispering your name, but you have chosen, instead, to muffle his voice and distract yourself with the other “voices” of the world.  Would you look through the peep hole and see that He continues to wait patiently for you, ever so gently calling out your name.  Would you look and see that He is not upset nor angry that you have turned your back on Him.  Do you hear Him whispering…”Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matt 11:28

Do consider opening the door and inviting Him in.  Do consider inviting Him into your life day after day and get to know Him.  He has been waiting for so long to know you… intimately.

God bless,

Melissa – January 7, 2014

p.s. –

Dear God, I’ve been living my life my own way.  Now I

want to live it your way.  I need You and I invite You 

to take control of my life.  I receive Your Son, Jesus

Christ, as my personal Saviour and Lord.  I believe He

died for my sins and He has risen from the dead.  Please

wash me from all sin, shame and guilt.  Come into my life

Lord Jesus and sit on the throne of my life.  I want to have

a personal relationship with you.  Make me the

kind of person you want me to be.  In Jesus’ name I pray,

AMEN.


REFLECTION: Surrender

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

“SURRENDER!!!?!!!!!”  Is that a command or a request?  Playing “combat” just as was portrayed on the TV program (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055666/) in our yester-years, my 3 brothers and I would run around the yard with our machine guns and whatever make believe weapons we had, attempting to massacre and force the other to surrender.  No one wanted to be overpowered and give up control to the other team because it signified defeat.

What does surrender mean in our society today?  Without realizing what we have done, many of us have obediently and have readily given in to the ways of the world without even attempting to fight.  Media, be it in paper form or radio waves, has and is moulding the world… silently prompting our ideals and lives to conform to multiple ways that bring pain and agony to the lives of multitudes.  Sadly, many don’t realize that something…  “someone” has taken control and he goes around stealthily and invisibly, planting lies into our minds and whispering thoughts that prompt us to bring more harm to ourselves.  The bait dangles right before us, promising some form of satisfaction, only to leave us trapped in a cage of self-loath, shame, agony and misery when we reach out and take the bait. (1 Peter 5:8)

Did we surrender?  NO, because surrender requires a free-willed choice, but instead, we were tricked and we often find ourselves shackled, again and again…  to the ways of the world.

“Surrender?… to whom, to what?”  To God.  Many would recoil instantly and say “No way, I enjoy my freedom, thank you very much!” Freedom?  Really?  Or are you actually caught up in snares of heart ache, not knowing where to turn?

There is an answer, a way, but many refuse to listen.  Perhaps many have to be brushed by death to realize they need another way.  Will there be time?  Hopefully, but then years of agony and suffering would have had to be endured and the loss of a healthy and joyful life would have been lost.

But there is still hope!  Even a taste of joy in a lifetime would be worth it.  “But surrender?  NO thanks, I’m still not ready.  Let me try it my way one more time.  I know I can do it.  I’ve changed my ways and I’m so much stronger and wiser…”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”  John 14:6

“No thanks, I don’t need religion.” many respond.  But He doesn’t leave.  He continues to call out, gently whispering your name, waiting for you to realize and say “God, help me!”

He waits… patiently.  He doesn’t intrude nor does He force his way, even when he knows that His ways will help you through.  He waits…  waiting for you to surrender and admit, “I need Your help!”

“Surrender?  What will it cost?”  Give up your way and trust that God’s way is better.  “God loves us more than we can ever begin to love ourselves.  Do we believe that?  Do we live that?” (footnote 1)

Surrender is NOT “Okay, do whatever you want with me.”  The surrender He asks is that of Mary… “Let it be done unto me.”  It is an active desire to seek out and live God’s will.  Mary’s “yes” to God brought salvation to the world.  Our “yes” to God allows us to be instruments of salvation for our families, the world and ourselves.

It is not a surrender of fear or self-interest.  It is a response to a loving invitation to a journey towards eternal life.  It is a life-giving surrender.  As you daily surrender to our Father’s will, you will discover the joy of totally giving of yourself to the One who has totally given Himself to you.  It is a surrender into a relationship of trust and love.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6) He will lead you and guide you (Psalm 32:8) and He promises to give you His peace. (John 14:27)

Will you surrender?

God bless,

Melissa – November 27, 2013; 10:31 a.m.

 

p.s.:

1) Reference:  Introduction to “Surrender!  Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will”
by Fr. Larry Richards

2) Praying through Ephesians 1:16:

Father God, we ask for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of You.  We ask You to enlighten our eyes so that we will know what is the hope You have called us to.  Lord, help us to embrace and use the immeasurable greatness of Your power in us who believe in You so as to make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Three days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.  I had begun a dialogue with Andrew, the author, which is available in Part 1.

As I continued to pray and reflect on the dialogue, Luke 12:12-13 came to mind “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  To me, it was clearly evident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words that I had penned.  I sense our Father prompting us to encourage each other to take a stand for our faith and not to be afraid of what we ought to say because it will be the Holy Spirit who will speak through us.

1 Peter 3:15  encourages us…  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, “  What good are our words when the person we are in dialogue with is standing back with his/her arms up.   1 Corinthians 13:1  teaches…” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  May God give each of us the grace to speak in love so that others may experience His love.

Part 2 has come to life because Andrew, the author of the article, has responded.  He wrote…

 “I can’t disagree with anything you said, except that in my view, it leads to nowhere, except on an individual basis. It’s like that aphorism ” Change should come from each one of us” which is arguably correct and well-meaning, but it just leads to more of the status quo.

I am not sarcastic when I say this, but this was the same refrain during Marcos’ time, Erap’s time and Gloria’s time! And up to now it is still the same!

I am in the business of “getting things done”. I would like to see tangible, measurable, discrete activities, not just well-intentioned teachings of the hierarchy. And I think my frustration is shared by many.

For instance, are there parallel investigations within the Church on Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, Fr Peter Lavin et al? What has happened to the case of Monsignor Garcia of Cebu who was involved in ivory smuggling? Where are the reports on them and decisive actions taken? Why is there always a reshuffling and a cover-up?

At least Pope Francis has taken steps to signal that in his term, it would be different. Things would move, and it is reasonable to expect it will happen in this lifetime.

PS I appreciate our conversation very much. I have this inkling that you are not just a lay person. :)”

 

To my surprise, I received an additional response from an individual named Edgar Lores.  He wrote…

“Another of my two cents to M’s post.

Psychology has uncovered patterns of behaviour and thought which men rely on to protect ego. These patterns are called “defence mechanisms”. It is interesting to analyse the above post by the mechanisms used:

1. “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?”

1.1. In the defence mechanism of Intellectualisation a “person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way”.

1.2. The intellectualisation here is by use of an analogy. The analogy compares Andrew’s essay as being equivalent to the observance that “a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair” which purportedly leads to the “rational” inference “that all people with black hair are corrupt.”

1.3. The introduction to this analogy states, “I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy”.

1.4. In the first place, Andrew is not making an analogy. An analogy is a comparison. Andrew is not making a comparison. He is presenting a thesis which uses correlations.

1.5. In the second place, Andrew is making a reasoned thesis. He presents 4 correlations to support his thesis. To compare Andrew’s essay to the analogy of “people with black hair” is illogical because @M does not present any correlational reason, a cause-and-effect, between black hair and corruption.

2. “I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.”

2.1. There are two defence mechanisms here: Rationalisation and Denial.

2.2. Rationalisation involves “explaining an unacceptable behaviour or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behaviour”. The rationalisation here is in the observation that people “who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are.” Specifically, the rationalisation is that the explanation for corrupt behaviour is the very nature of people, in “who they are”. This is not an illumination explanation.

2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. The subtlety of the denial here lies in the use of the word “claim”, and the denial is that “people who ‘claim’ to be something” are NOT that something.

2.4. If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).

2.5. It is interesting to note that this schizoid logic allows the Church to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The sinner is the sin, and if I claim to be a Catholic, I am a Catholic.

2.6. One cannot resist the temptation to ask, “When did greed and self-centeredness become ideals?”

3. “You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.”

3.1. No defence mechanism here. At last — at long last! — we have an attempt to present a counter argument against Andrew’s Purgatory reason. @M contends that so called “Catholics” cannot get away with things because “God sees the motives of man”.

3.2. The counter argument does not stand. Andrew does not contend that God is blind. Andrew’s contention is that wayward Catholics think they can get away with things because they believe they can repent at their final hour — (and perhaps repent periodically thru confession?) — and still be a shoo-in candidate for Purgatory.

4. “It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.”

4.1. This is just a repeat and an extension of the second paragraph’s rationalisation and denial.

5. “I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

5.1. This begs the question: What is the core source of corruption? Is it because men are essentially “who they are”? If that is so, there is no hope for the country unless all men are wiped out and the dinosaurs return.

6. “God bless you Andrew!”

6.1. Ah, the usual patronising “adios”. Or is it? Could it be deflection through humor? Or displacement of hostility with civility?”

 

I was floored for a moment, but God’s grace returned and so I wrote…

“Thank you for your interesting reply Edgar and may God’s peace be with you. I’ve never had another analyze what I have written and I am impressed by the effort taken!

By the way, my offering of God’s peace to you is not intended to patronize, but it is a sincere extension of God’s peace.

Scripture says… “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6

You say I am in denial, I know I’m not, but that’s a choice you make. Each of us chooses the manner in which we see the world. You write… “2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. ” Are you insisting that I fail to see the corruption that is and has been going on in the Philippines? I beg to differ. My choice of words may not be to your liking, but I do see and have experienced the effects of the corruption.

I’d like to address your point 2.4 ” If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).” ALL Catholics, who, by the way, are also Christians, are sinners. Romans 3:23 teaches…”for ALL (Christians or not) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, we have been given the grace … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Do note there is a cause and effect relationship here. Man has to do his part…CONFESS OUR SINS. I believe this involves true repentance. True repentance requires “expressing a sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrong doing or sin”. It also requires one to turn his/her back towards sin. Hence, if man does not do his part, God won’t and can’t do his.  Why?  Although it would benefit man, God will not force himself on anyone.  

It is in every human being’s nature to sin. It is for that reason why Jesus came down from Heaven to be the atonement of our sins. He took upon himself all the sins of the world (past, present and future) so that we could be reunited with God the Father. His death would have been the victory of his enemies and the devil, but the Father had sent the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ dead body and in 3 days, he rose again and destroyed death forever for those who believe in Him. God turned what was intended for evil and destruction, into the saving grace for all!

The following link http://openairoutreach.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/does-man-inherit-a-sinful-nature-jesse-morrell/ gives a decent discussion on man’s inherent nature. I would like to stress the following and hence I quote…” Mankind is described as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Bible says that men are “made after the similitude of God” (Jas. 3:9), even after the fall of Adam. That is why when it comes to sin, the Bible says that sin is actually contrary to human nature (Rom. 1:26-27). God wanted mankind to imitate Him in choosing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). God did not design us to live wickedly. Therefore, sin is an abuse and misuse of our created constitution.

God did not intend or plan for us to use our mental, moral, spiritual, or physical abilities for sin. That is why the Bible says that sin is “against nature.” Sinners choose to do “that which is against nature.” Through the freedom of their will, they choose to do what is contrary to their design. It was never God’s intention for man to sin. It was not His plan for mankind to be sinful (Gen. 6:5-6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3). God actually would have preferred a sinless universe that needed no atonement at all (1 Sam. 15:22). Since sin was contrary to God’s plan or intention for mankind, God has made sin contrary to the design of our constitution.

God never intended for us to use our constitution for sin. On the contrary, He wants us to use our members for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, 19; Rom.12:1; 1 Thes. 4:3-4). Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). Our constitution was not designed for sin, but sin is contrary to the intended use of our nature, because God is our designer.”

I hope this provides you with a satisfactory response. God bless you Edgar! Just as with His peace, you can either accept or reject God’s blessings.

p.s. – Andrew, don’t under estimate what God can do. And yes, I am just a lay person and I AM CATHOLIC! E-mail me if you want to dialogue further.”

In truth, I am praying that the dialogue is over.  I enjoyed sharing and teaching, but I’m tired.

May Father God open our spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so we can recognize Him when He speaks.  And may we spend time reading, reflecting and memorizing his living Word so that He can use them to guide us in our daily walk.

God bless,

Melissa – August 29, 2013

p.s. – My apologies. I believe the Catechism would have given a better explanation of original sin. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm)

 

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Two days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.

My attempts to dismiss my anger was futile and so I penned a comment…

“I question your claim that…
“I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.”

I am a practicing Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/37/Personal_Relationship_to_Jesus_According_to_John_Paul_II.html

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/do-you-know-jesus

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/personal-relationship-with-jesus/

God bless you!”

The author replied, “@M.  Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

I’d appreciate your views on the other points.”

I went to bed reflecting on his response and I asked the Father what he thought.  I also asked him not to let me try to figure this out in my dreams, less I wake up fatigued.

Today I penned…  “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians; however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practice. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others.  These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

To this, the author replied…  ”Thanks for taking time to write a thoughtful reply.  I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.”

Later on, I added…  ”Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent reply, I sense there are a few more things to add.

God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others.  Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere; it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

God bless you Andrew!”

I am currently still waiting to see if the author will reply.  In truth, his reply isn’t necessary.  As I read what I had written, I am awed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to fan my feathers.  I am awed over the fact that God is able to use a ditsy individual (me) to write with his great wisdom.  May God, alone, receive all the glory.

As I close, I sense God asking whether we have the courage to defend our faith?  Do we know enough to stand and defend it?  Or, are we merely name claimers, claiming the title of being a Catholic just so we can belong?

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

REFLECTION: Your love letter…

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Several nights ago, I caught a portion of the movie “17 again”.  The film unravels the story of a husband/father who had been physically transformed back into a 17 year old teenager and while in that state, he attempts to correct the damage his neglect had on his family.  What appealed to me was when the 17 year old spoke from his heart as he “read” a letter to his wife at the divorce court.  Although his estranged wife had heard and received the love he expressed, when she reached out to retrieve the “letter” that was left behind, she realized that none of these loving words were inscribed nor were they forever preserved on it.

As I drove around the next morning, our Father had reminded me that He, too, has a love letter lovingly written to each one of us.  He may not have physically penned the words, but He is the Author.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize that we have a love letter and if we do, we don’t set aside time to read it but instead, we wait for others to read our love letter for us.  At times, we even wait for others to decipher what is written instead of allowing the very words to embrace and nurture our being.

How do we know we are truly loved if we haven’t read the letter ourselves?  Is it possible that the others, who have read the letter for us, added their own words so that we would believe that we are loved?  Wouldn’t we want to read the letter for ourselves to ensure that the content is true?  If the letter is there, wouldn’t we be automatically drawn to it and wouldn’t we want to hold it ever so tenderly close to our hearts?  Wouldn’t we want to read each loving word repeatedly and have them caress our hearts over and over again?  Wouldn’t we want these words preserved on paper so that we could return to them to remind ourselves of how much we are treasured?

What stops us from opening our love letter and reading it for ourselves? Is there a screen or a veil that prevents us from recognizing it as such?

1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP teaches…“But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”

But how would the “non-spiritual” (“the un-redeemed who lacks both the Spirit and Spiritual discernment”) know about this Love unless the Spiritual tell them…  How would the carnal (redeemed, but not led by the Spirit) know about this Love unless they permit the  Holy Spirit to reveal it to them.

Does everyone want to experience God’s love?  Based on the numerous ongoing attacks against Christianity, it is evident the answer is “no”. And yet, there are still many who seek  and when they seek with all their heart, they encounter the living Christ.  I believe it is only those who have a true hunger for love and to belong who find TRUE LOVE.

Father God, thank You for loving us so much that You couldn’t bear to leave us in our self-destructive state.  Thank You for sending Jesus to break the stronghold the devil has over mankind and for using Jesus, your Son, as the ransom to bring us back to Your heart.  Thank You that You know each of us personally and You call each of us by name.  Lord, THANK YOU that we are Yours forever and there is nothing that can separate us from Your love.  Father, we ask that you continue to open our spiritual eyes, ears and heart so we will always see, hear and know without a doubt that You will never stop loving us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 2, 2012

P.S.

Isaiah 43:1-2 Amplified Bible (AMP) “But now [in spite of past judgments for Israel’s sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.”

Romans 8:38-39 Amplified Bible (AMP) For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

REFLECTION: Reap what you sow…

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Have you wondered whether you’ve been given a bad hand in life?  Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind one time or another when multiple events fail to go your way and you seem to be “swimming” upstream on a constant basis.  When our lives begin to fall apart, I wonder how many of us immediately blame others, life in general and/or God rather than engage in reflection, discerning whether we have contributed to our problems.

Have you noticed that the sayings “What goes around, comes around.” and “You reap what you sow” indicate a direct correlation between what we say, do and think with what we receive in life?  Although we may not want to admit it, whatever we engage in and how we treat others will eventually have an effect on us.

How many of us ponder over how we treat others?  Many focus on the alternate, where we examine how others treat us, but much can be gained when we examine how we treat others.

Colossians 3:5-9 teaches…”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…  In these you once walked, when you lived in them…  But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another…”

Why are we encouraged to stay away from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness”?  Why are we taught to put away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying”?  Does St. Paul, the author, have anything to gain by keeping us away from these?  Likewise, did God give us the 10 Commandments so that He could have more for Himself ?  Were the 10 Commandments given to prevent man from having fun?  My answer to all these is “no”.  Does keeping one’s distance from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness” take away from the “enjoyment” in anyone’s life?  Perhaps temporarily, as the momentary blissful high takes place.  But what happens afterwards when the “high” fades and reality sets in?  Are the consequential costs of guilt, self-loath and confusion worth it?  As one awakens to reality and realizes what he/she had engaged in, how does the individual treat those around him/her?  Do “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying” not come into play?  So why did God give man the 10 Commandments?  Is it not to prevent man from harming himself and those he loves?

Colossians 3:12 – 16 continues with…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And over all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in wisdom… And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Isn’t it interesting that St. Paul has chosen to use the verb to “put on” as he encourages us to embrace these positive traits?  I asked the Father “Why?” and I sensed Him answer “Free will.”.  These traits don’t readily fall upon us, but we are given the grace to “pick them up and put them on”.  They are characteristics which we are given the choice to wear and apply EVEN when everything else around us is falling apart.  Just as when we put on fresh, clean clothes when we are cut and bruised, the process may be difficult and can be painful, but the end result does us good.

St. Paul also encourages us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly”.  Why? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul explains that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So…  how has life been treating you?  May we all reap the good which we have sown.

God bless,

Melissa – October 18, 2011

REFLECTION: Back to basics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

Last weekend and several days after, I had the privilege to attend several retreats given by a team from Sri Lanka.  Although I had attended their main retreat a year before, the live refresher course was such a blessing for me.  Perhaps that was the reason why I was surprised when I read a survey comment that the speaker’s content was “too basic”.

“Too basic.”  I wonder why the writer felt that way?  Two days have past since my eyes came across that comment and yet it continues to bother me.  To me, the content of the retreat was just right because we often forget where we’ve come from.  Often times, we learn so much and we cram so much into our minds that we become top heavy.  Unfortunately, our focus on seeking for more head knowledge prevents us from finding the time to exercise our core (our heart); failing to implement what we have learned and failing to choose to live them in our daily lives.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Never flag zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.” This is only a small portion of the scripture from Romans 12:9-13 which identifies the “marks of a TRUE Christian”, and yet I find myself already stumbling with some.  Without the reminder of such attributes, I believe I would be the first to drift off course.  Romans 9:14-21 continues with “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.  Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

As I sit and reflect, I mention to the Father that the attributes above are a TALL order.  It would be difficult for me to live them all out, let alone remember them!  He then gently reminds me, “Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” (Zech 4:6)  He also reminds me that as He and I meet daily, these attributes will come naturally and without effort.  I smile my BIG SMILE and sigh.  “Thank you Lord.”, knowing that He always provides a way.

Our walk as Christians isn’t a piece of cake.  In fact, it is counter cultural since we often are called to do things differently from the world.  It becomes mind boggling and impossible if we try to accomplish it by ourselves, but our Father reminds “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and ALL these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt 6:33)

But how do we seek Him if we don’t know Him?  Lalith Perera teaches 4 basic steps.  The first is to “COME AS YOU ARE, I LOVE YOU.” Many are afraid to come to God because they think they have to clean up their act before He is willing to meet them.  No matter what state we are in, be it in pain or rejection, in fear and in abandonment, God calls us to come.  He calls out “Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)  He doesn’t need anything from us except for our desire to spend a few moments with Him and our desire to converse with Him.  You see, it was God who gave us our free will.  He is continuously seeking us, but He doesn’t force.  He waits, patiently; waiting for us to realize that He IS always here beside us..

The second step is “GIVE THE TRUTH OF YOUR HEART TO JESUS.”.  Why do we need to do this?  I believe that unless we face our reality and acknowledge our shortcomings, God will not change us.  He knows exactly what we need and He, alone, has the power to change us.  However, it is only in recognizing and acknowledging our shortfalls that we express our desire to change and we finally ask for His help.

The third step is “SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO THE LORD.”. Many are afraid to surrender their lives to God because they equate it to losing complete control of their lives.  And yet, for those who have said “Jesus, I offer you my life.  I ask you to take control of everything I do and think.”, they begin to realize that their gains outweigh their losses.  As we surrender our ways and our desires to God, He supernaturally transforms us in HIS time.  Our desires to engage in negative behaviours / addictions which have shackled us for all these years are finally broken; the anger and the unforgiveness that we’ve held on to so “righteously” finally dissipate; the pain and the victim syndrome which we’ve often drowned ourselves in are finally lifted.  Why?  Because we finally realize that we don’t have to carry all these burdens and we can surrender them to God.  Once again, God calls to us and says… 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

The fourth step is “BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.”.  No matter how hard we try, we can never accomplish supernatural feats without receiving the strength of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says “Not by (your own) power, nor by (your own might), but by MY spirit (the Holy Spirit) says the Lord.”. (Zech 4:6) Lalith stresses that all other faith walks teach us to do good, but none other gives us the strength to do good.  As we surrender ourselves to God and as we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, we are supernaturally transformed and we are given the grace, strength and the desire to do good.  How do we know that we are filled with the Holy Spirit?  “Love, joy and peace” and all the other fruit of the Holy Spirit become evident in our lives. (Galatians 5:12)  Lalith mentions that the moment “love, joy and peace” disappears, something is wrong.

Becoming a Christian is not a once in a life time decision.  Because we are human and because we live in a world where “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), waiting to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), we need to recommit ourselves to God on a daily basis.  Lalith Perera teaches, when you wake, turn to Jesus.  Tell Him, “Lord, I come as I am.”  Reconcile with Jesus.  Surrender yourself to Him and give Him permission to fill your life.  Ask Him to fill you with his love, joy and peace.  Read about God’s love in his living Bible.  Lalith refers to these readings as “life tablets”.  He mentions that the “tablet” cannot be swallowed, but it has to be sucked slowly as you meditate on them.

Are you ready to return back to the basics?  May our Father bless you with that desire.

God bless,

Melissa (October 5, 2011)

p.s. – Please click onto the following http://crlmain.org/to
learn more about Lalith Perera and the Community of the Risen Lord.