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16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: YEAR A

16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: YEAR A

Matthew 13:24-43

 

According to Jesus’ parable, a sower sowed good seed in a field, but an enemy came and sowed weeds. The text tells us that the enemy, Satan, came and sowed the weeds while everyone was sound asleep. It was a common practice in ancient warfare to destroy your enemy’s crops. If you could destroy his agricultural base, then his military power would soon follow suit. Soldiers who can’t eat can’t fight. So step number one is to be perceptive. We must be aware of what Satan is up to. We can ill afford to fall asleep on the job. That is why the scriptures are filled with admonitions to be alert. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” And 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Later Jesus explained that the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom, and the weeds stand for all who do evil. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age,” he said. “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Then he added, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

 

Gardener’s Duty

 

Every gardener knows the importance of getting rid of the weeds. If you don’t, the weeds will choke out the good plants you want to grow. God also knows the importance of getting rid of the weeds. Many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of a God of Judgment, but sooner or later we have to answer the question: What about the weeds?

 

Human evil continues

 

We see it on every continent. We recoil at the idea of the judgment of God, but what about the weeds? What about the evil within the hearts of men and women--the hatred, bigotry, envy, bitterness, lust, anger, greed, etc.

 

A young woman in one of our public schools was asked to write an essay on Evolution. She wrote, “According to this theory man descended from the apes and has been descending ever since.” There is some truth in that little piece of humor. In our appetite for evil, human beings are still descending. Apes are not capable of the extraordinary evil to which humans will resort. What about the weeds? We see war, violence, displacement, extortion etc.

 

Our concern today is not about the final judgment that Jesus describes--when the wheat and the weeds will be separated. For most of us that matter has already been settled. By faith we have been saved. We will leave to God the determination of what happens to the truly depraved.

 

We aren’t responsible for what others do with their lives. But we are responsible for our own lives. What about the weeds in our lives? How do we deal with those weeds--those pesky personality defects, those murky moral letdowns, those tawdry times of ethical failure that keep us from being all that God intends us to be? For, you see, God has created us to be like a beautiful garden--bearing fruit whose taste is sweet and pleasing to the taste buds and bursting forth in blossoms whose beauty is pleasing to the eye. How do we get rid of the weeds from our own hearts and become the beautiful garden Christ intends us to be?

 

Recognize how weeds grow

 

 They grow without any effort on our part. No one goes out and plants a weed. No one cultivates it, waters it, sees that it gets enough sunshine. Weeds require no labor.

 

Weeds remind me of that mindless bit of philosophy still so popular in our society today: “If it feels good, do it.” That is a certain recipe for failure. If we did only what felt good to us we would be physical, mental, moral and spiritual wrecks. The things worth having in life require effort, and sometimes, pain.

 

One of the most dangerous heresies of this sort is the idea that love is something that comes naturally. In this view of life, love is a mushy feeling. Mature people, however, understand that love is not simply a feeling; it is a commitment. Real love takes work. It involves the willingness to be there in good times or bad, for better or for worse.

 

Example of Weeds

 

That’s especially true of parenting. There was once a certain man who wouldn’t let his children attend church. His rationale? He wanted them to wait until they were old enough to decide for themselves. His pastor came by one day and said he wanted to take the man to his own home to see his garden. When they walked into the garden, it was full of weeds, which were choking out his squash, beans and okra. The man said: “This is a pitiful excuse for a garden!” To which the pastor replied: “I just wanted to wait until the vegetables had a chance to decide for themselves what they wanted to do!” Looking after a garden takes work. So does looking after a marriage or being a responsible parent.

 

Beware of anything in life that requires no commitment on your part, no effort, no inconvenience. You are probably dealing with a weed. That is the sinister danger, for example, behind gambling--the illusion that great riches can be yours with little effort. It is also part of the psychology of drugs. Why face your problems? You can escape from them with an artificial euphoria by simply taking a tiny pill. How do you get rid of the weeds? You begin by recognizing how weeds grow. They grow without effort.

 

You get rid of weeds, in the second place, by recognizing what it takes to grow a beautiful garden-you begin with a mental idea of what you hope to achieve. You map it out in your mind’s eye. You visualize the finished product--the roses and the begonias, the dogwoods and the maples, the hedges and the walkways.

 

Do you have that same clear-cut vision concerning your life? There are some people who take better care of their lawns than they do their lives. Successful people almost always have a vision of what they hope to achieve in life.

 

The story’s told of a skinny, scrawny African-American youngster who one day heard a coach say, “You can be what you make up your mind to be. God will help you.” Later this youngster told the coach, “I’ve decided what I want to be--the fastest man in the world.” The coach said, “Son, that’s a great dream but there is one problem. Dreams have a way of floating high in the sky and drifting around like clouds. A dream never becomes a reality unless you have the courage to build a ladder to your dream.” He explained that his dream would take determination, dedication and discipline.

Young Jesse Owens listened to the words of that coach and at the 1936 Olympics in Germany he established himself as the fastest man in the world. A beautiful garden begins with a vision, a dream, an inner picture of what you can accomplish with God’s help.

 

A beautiful garden also requires a plan

 

You have heard it before because it is true: Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Jesus talked about the foolishness of those who build towers without first sitting down and figuring the cost. Successful living requires that we give some thought to the future. We have a vision of the beautiful garden we hope to be. Now we sit down and make a plan. What would I have to do to make my dream a reality?

 

Of course, a meaningful plan for our lives will include all of eternity.

 

A beautiful garden requires a vision, a plan and a commitment to cultivate it as long as necessary

 

Isn’t that a great statement? Cultivating a garden requires those daily little tasks that are a pain, perhaps. But you do them because you can envision the beauty and the bounty that awaits you. That, of course, is what disciplined living is all about. We talked about discipline a couple of weeks ago. Some people do not understand the nature of discipline. They think of it as mindless devotion to meaningless activity.

 

Disciplined living is not following a mindless routine. To the man or the woman who has caught a vision of life’s boundless possibilities, it is the application of a plan.

 

Isn’t it time you got rid of the weeds in your life? Weeds are the enemy of a beautiful garden--whether that garden is a good marriage, or the sanctity of your body, or your relationship with your children, or your progress in your profession, or your relationship with God. Weeds require no effort, but they can choke out the work of a lifetime. A beautiful garden, on the other hand, requires vision, planning and discipline. But the prize is worth the price!

So heed Jesus’ warnings about weeds. Keep the weeds out of your life.

 

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Vancouver - Canada

www.LivingFlame.ca

ARTICLE: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 55:10-11; Rm 8:8-23; Matthew 13:1-23

Jesus tells us that the seed in this parable is the Word of God and you and our hearts are the soil. In this parable, Jesus identifies 4 types of hearts. That's what I want to look at today in this passage. The Shallow Heart, The Stony Heart, The Strangled Heart and The Surrendered Heart.

  1. The Shallow Heart

The seed that fell on the path, and the birds of the air scooped them up. Birds of the air, well there are different meanings attributed to this expression. There is The Shallow Heart. This is the heart which is constantly distracted. It has too many interests. There is no focus and a lack of vision. This is the heart that has enthusiasm without commitment. This is the heart that is pleasantly pleased with the prospect which the seed brings but makes no promise.

That's what Jesus meant by The Shallow Heart. It's the soil of the soul and of the heart that is so shallow the seed really doesn't take root but is immediately eaten by the birds of the air in the light of every day living and the regular trials and tribulations of being faith. It's hijacked and gone so quickly.

  1. The Stony Heart

Secondly there is The Stony Heart. This is the hardened heart. It can be packed and hardened by any number of things. Broken relationship, old wounds, dried out spirit or flagrant rebellion, one that has said no to God. No one or nothing is getting in. This is the wounded, bitter heart, totally surrendered to the world and anything NOT of God. In the Stony Heart, the seed of God's Word gets gobbled up by the desires of world before it even has a chance to even settle.

III. The Strangled Heart

And that brings us to The Strangled Heart. This is the heart that is filled with faith. It springs up and grows and even has deep roots. Unfortunately it is trying to grow where it always grew and it's distracted and subdued and defeated by the stuff and worries of the world. And there is a lot to be distracted by.

We have more choices in our lives than at any other time in history. And instead of down sizing, the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. A trip to the grocery store and there's about 100 breakfast cereals to choose from, 200 kinds of soup, 50 to 100 blends of coffee, you get the idea.

Here, where we are blessed with so much, those choices often become a major distraction. There are so many things we want to do or see or try or experience. We want to enjoy life a little more before we make a serious commitment. And the minute that thought pops into our head, the thorns and weeds start to choke and take over.

That's The Strangled Heart.

  1. The Surrendered Heart

But then there's The Surrendered Heart. This is the Hopeful and Joyful heart. This is the heart that is most like the heart of God. You see, the sower in this passage is rather scandalous. When I was farming, you were careful with your seed. It was expensive. You only used the best and you only planted it in the best soil. You didn't just go throwing seed everywhere like this guy did. How wasteful. And maybe that's part of the point.

Sure this passage is about the soil of our hearts and the timber of our souls. But it's also about an extravagant God who blesses us beyond measure. An extravagant God who continues to scatter the best seed, His Word, to a world where there are still Stony Hearts, Shallow Hearts and Strangled Hearts. It was a shock and a scandal and still is, to those who think they have the inside track to heaven. Our God is truly and extravagant God who blesses us beyond all measure despite the fact that we don't deserve any of those blessings.

But we rejoice in the fact that we have and extravagant God who sows the seed of his love in places that may not, and probably won't ever take root and produce fruit. But remember, we believe in a God of miracles and sometimes that's exactly what happens. The seed does take root. It isn't gobbled up, dried out or strangled.

Instead, it takes root, blooms and prospers. And when that happens, God rejoices and uses that seed as an example of just how extravagant God's grace truly is. God's grace, can change the stony, shallow, strangled heart into the Surrendered Heart. This is the heart that makes a difference.

  1. Dr. Keith Wagner, of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Sidney, Ohio tells the story of a small boy in Florida some years ago. It seems he heard that the Russians were our enemies. He began to wonder about the Russian children, finding it hard to believe that they were his enemies. He wrote a short note: "Dear comrade in Russia. I am seven years old and I believe that we can live in peace. I want to be your friend, not your enemy. Will you become my friend and write to me?"

He closed the letter, "Love and Peace" and signed his name. He then neatly folded the note, put it into an empty bottle, and threw it into an inland lake near his home. Several days later, the bottle and note were retrieved on a nearby beach. A story about the note appeared in a local newspaper and the media picked it up nationwide. A group of people from New Hampshire who were taking children to the Soviet Union as ambassadors of peace, read the article, contacted the boy and his family. They invited them to accompany the group to Russia. So, the little boy and his father traveled to Russia as peacemakers.

One little boy made a difference. He planted his seed and it bore much fruit.

And it doesn't take much if the soil is the soil of The Surrendered Heart.

Conclusion

We serve an extravagant God. The Son of God is the, the seed is not only the Word of God, but His grace and the offer of forgiveness which is given to each of us. The Sower continues to sow. The question for us is: How does your garden grow? Which heart do you possess. The Stony Heart, The Shallow Heart, The Strangled Heart or the Surrendered Heart?

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza

Guardian Angels Church

www.LivingFlame.ca

 

ARTICLE: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year. A

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year. A


Zech 9.9-10; Rm 8.9,11-13 Mt 11.25-30
  

Our lesson for today contains a verse that many of us need to take to heart. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus is describing many of us. He knows our situation. Tired. Stressed out. Battling fatigue. Our nerves on edge.

A young mother was describing a terrible day she had experienced. The washing machine broke down, the telephone kept ringing, her head ached, and the mail carrier brought a bill she had no money to pay. Almost to the breaking point, she lifted her one-year-old into his highchair, leaned her head against the tray, and began to cry.

Without a word, her son took his pacifier out of his mouth and stuck it in hers. It goes with the pressures of modern life. Some of us are stressed out and we are tired. Some of this is due to work. Studies show we’re working harder than ever. As a result many of us are not getting enough sleep. This is true for young people as well as adults.

Jesus says to us and to them, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” That’s encouraging, isn’t it? But what does it mean?

Most of you can visualize the kind of yoke Jesus had in mind. It was a kind of crossbar with two U‑shaped pieces that encircled the necks of a pair of oxen. The easiest interpretation of this text is that when we are yoked to Jesus, he walks beside us and helps us bear our burdens. We don’t have to bear the weight of our world by ourselves. That is the obvious teaching, and it is a beautiful teaching. But there are many ways in which being yoked to Christ gives us rest.

Note, first of all, that there are other forms of fatigue more draining than physical fatigue. Mental fatigue and emotional fatigue can wear on us far more than physical fatigue.

In 1863, the Civil War was raging and the end was far from sight. Abraham Lincoln was out for a ride with his friend and aide Noah Brooks. Brooks, noticing the president’s obvious fatigue, suggested that he take a brief rest when they got back to the White House.

“A rest,” Lincoln replied, “I don’t know about a rest. I suppose it’s good for the body, but the tired part of me is inside and out of reach.”

Lincoln was acknowledging a very important truth. There are many sources of fatigue. Physical fatigue may be the most benign. There is the fatigue that comes from stress. Fatigue that comes from worry. Fatigue that comes not only from worrying about the future, but also worrying about the past. Fatigue that comes from trying to be something we are not.

Physical fatigue, unless overdone, helps us sleep peacefully at night. Emotional and mental fatigue actually keep us awake. That’s when we get really, really tired.

For example, when we are yoked to Jesus we no longer have to prove to the world that we belong. Many of us have a vast insecurity in our hearts about our own self worth. This insecurity makes every task we handle more difficult. Often we expend an enormous amount of energy trying to be something we are not.

Some of you may have seen the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line. When Cash was 12-years-old his older brother died in a tragic accident. Cash’s father took his grief out on Johnny. “Death took the wrong boy” his father told him time and time again. His brother was the good boy. He should have lived. Johnny was the bad boy. If anyone should have died, it should have been Johnny. No wonder Johnny Cash spent so many years acting out his rage and his feelings of being “no good.” Can you imagine a father doing that to his son? No wonder that, for many years of his life, Johnny Cash engaged in self-destructive behaviour. It’s a wonder he survived at all. But isn’t it great that, by the end of his life, Johnny Cash discovered a Heavenly Father who accepted him just as he was.

Cash’s situation may have been extreme, but there are many people who feel for one reason or another that they do not belong, that their life has little value. That they are failures who can never measure up. Many of these rebel in anti-social behaviour. But there are many others who, while they do not rebel, put themselves under an intolerable burden of expectations that they cannot possibly live up to. These expectations produce both stress and fatigue. To be able to relax and be ourselves is one of the greatest benefits our faith gives us.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who suffered bouts of extreme melancholy, undoubtedly due to a difficult upbringing. One day he wrote in his Journal, “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”

What a liberating thought: “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” Not what others expect me to be. Not some unrealistic image I have of myself. No, with God’s help I shall become who I really am. No more stressful pretending. No more misguided strivings. I will relax and be me. When we feel accepted by Christ, then for the first time in our life we become free. When we are yoked to Jesus we no longer have to prove to the world that we belong.

This is to say that when we are yoked to Jesus, we know that we are loved, accepted, forgiven. It is amazing how much inner turmoil can be eliminated from our lives when we know we are loved, accepted, forgiven.

There is an ancient legend that says that, in the region of Galilee two thousand years ago, all the farmers knew where to get the finest yokes for their oxen. There was a certain carpenter in Nazareth famed for shaping and smoothing the wood so that the burden on their oxen would be as light as possible.

Christ is still in the business of fashioning yokes to ease the burdens of his weary children. He still says to people today, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

Our Lord Jesus thanks the Father for giving a greater enlightened wisdom to the simple than the worldly wise people. That is why simple people are able to dig deep into God’s kingdom. Most of the complex type of people does not really enjoy life, and that is a fact. They are too much worried about their wealth, beauty, power and all kind anxieties to keep themselves fit and never really reach to enjoy the simple joys of life.

God has given each one of us the wisdom and strength to be what we are and to make the most of now than later. That is why we read the First Reading from the Book of Zechariah that promised the coming of our King who would arrive in Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. In fulfillment of what had been spoken through the prophet Zechariah, this event took place when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion. (Mt 21.5; Jn 12.15) This event identified Jesus as the One who was to rule as the King of kings in the spiritual Jerusalem (Gal 4.25-6). His simplicity and humility should inspire us. He was not at all concerned what people would think and tell.

We hear Jesus say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When we live our Christian life as a new creation, enjoying the gifts that we have received we are overwhelmed with gratitude.

To explain this, while those of a worldly heart seek to accumulate their treasures, those of a spiritual heart give freely what they own. While the worldly minded hold grudges, those of a spiritual mind forgive. While those of the worldly way avoid Church attendance, the spiritual minded person cherishes the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and continue to enjoy a richer presence of the divine in their daily activities.

So, let us, in all our daily thoughts, words and actions, let us remember to value our ongoing presence before the indwelling Spirit of God. Through Jesus, let us strive to worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him. (Jn 4.23) May we always remember to place God first in our lives. May we always remember to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. To succeed in this goal, we must seek to walk hand-in-hand with the indwelling Holy Spirit who is our Guide in all things. By doing these things, Jesus will find rest in our hearts and our souls will find the true and perfect rest in the Heart of Jesus.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'"(Mt. 11.25-30)

"Little children live intensely in the present moment, neither in the past nor in the future. As the French writer La Bruyre once put it, ‘Children have neither past nor future, but they have something we seldom have—they rejoice in the present.’

This is the child-like trait which the New Testament would have us imitate. Age quod agis—literally, ‘do what you are doing’…The future does not yet exist and the past is gone forever. What we have is the present moment. By it we are fashioning our eternity.…"

We are God’s Children

One winter day, a little boy was standing on a grate next to a bakery trying to keep his shoeless feet warm. A woman passing by saw the frosty-toed child and her heart ached. He had on only a light-weight jacket and no shoes, and the air was chilly, the wind sharp.

"Where are your shoes, young man?" she asked. The boy reluctantly admitted he didn’t have any. "Why don’t you come with me and we’ll see what we can do about that?" the woman said. Taking his hand, she led him into a nearby department store and bought him a new pair of shoes and a warm jacket.

When they came back out onto the street, the little boy was so excited that he immediately started to run off to show his family his gifts. Suddenly he halted, turned around and ran back to the woman. He thanked her and then hesitated, "Ma’am, could I ask you a question? Ma’am, are you God’s wife?"

The woman smiled and said, "Oh, no, I’m not God’s wife, just one of God’s children."   

The little boy grinned and nodded enthusiastically, "I knew it! I just knew you were related!"

'I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.'

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Vancouver - Canada

www.LivingFlame.ca

ARTICLE: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time . Year A

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time . Year A

II Kings 4:8-11.14-16; Romans 6:3-4; 8-11; Matthew 10.37-42

When I was a kid, my Mom used to remind me that the first thing that I have to do as soon I rise in the morning is to “Pray” and thank “God” for all things he provides. This has been deeply rooted in my mind and heart that I never ever skip this short exercise I learnt from my Mom. Now I continue to do this exercise, but not as exercise but with a deep sense of gratitude to God I realize that everything that I have and I am is because of the Mighty work of God in my life.

 

The readings in today’s Mass are about what’s first in our lives, or what should be first, namely our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in our lives. Our relationship with God is the most important thing we can lose in our lives. God offers Himself to us, we respond. If we don’t respond, we’re telling God that His offer has no value for us and that His offer doesn’t mean anything to us. Whether or not our immortal souls live in eternal life in heaven depends on our relationship with God here on earth.

Our lives are filled with “busy-ness”; there are so many things we need to do and so many things we consider to be important; but what about God? Where is He in our lives? What sort of attention do we give to God? We need to ask that question from time to time and today’s readings challenge us to do just that not only today, or on Sundays, but each and every day of our lives.

There are two big points to draw from today’s readings; the first being the question of how important God is to us in our lives. The second has to do with God’s messengers.

God uses messengers, intermediaries, to relate to us. How important are they to us?

We live in a sort of “do it yourself” world. We like to take care of things all by ourselves. But we really can’t live that way, can we? We all need to depend on others in one way or another.

That’s true when it comes to the way God reaches us. The woman in the first reading paid a lot of attention to God’s messenger Elisha. As a result, God reached her and changed her life. Are we open to God’s messengers in our lives? God cares for you, He loves you, and He wants your attention and love. We all need to make more room for Him in our lives, our hearts, and our thoughts. If we don’t, our souls are in peril.

Summertime is upon us, a time when our busy-ness is not so demanding. It’s a time of recreation and a time during which we can be reflective. What about reading some good books, especially books and things to read that turn our thoughts toward God. What about some quiet time spent in reflection about God’s presence in our lives?

Pick up some spiritual reading now so you can have it over your summertime. Spend some thoughtful, quiet, and reflective time during which you can pay attention to God and what He has to say to you. Spend some time asking yourself what’s important in your life and how important God is to you in your life. After all, He made you to know Him, love Him and serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

What, after all, is your life really all about?

 

Jesus’ precious words must resound in our ears today as he says, if you love your father, mother more than me, you are not worthy of me; if you love son or daughter more than me you are not worthy of me, if you do not carry your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of me; if you save your life you will lose it; and if you lose your life for my sake you will find it.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Vancouver - Canada

www.LivingFlame.ca

ARTICLE: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year. A

Jer 20.7, 10-13; Rm 5.12-15; Mt 10.26-33

The Conversation

There was this museum laid with beautiful marble tiles, with a huge marble statue displayed in the middle of the lobby. Many people came from all over the world just to admire this beautiful marble statue.

One night, the marble tiles started talking to the marble statue.

Marble tile. "Marble statue, it's just not fair, it's just not fair! Why does everybody from all over the world come all the way here just to step on me while admiring you? Not fair!"

Marble statue. "My dear friend, marble tile. Do you still remember that we were actually from the same cave?"

Marble tile. "Yeah! That's why I feel it is even more unfair. We were born from the same cave and yet we receive different treatment now. Not fair!" he cried again.

Marble statue. "Then, do you still remember the day when the designer tried to work on you, but you resisted the tools?"

Marble tile. "Yes, of course I remember. I hate that guy! How could he use those tools on me, it hurt so badly."

Marble statue. "That's right! He couldn't work on you at all as you resisted being worked on."

Marble tile. "So???"

Marble statue. "When he decided to give up on you and start working on me instead, I knew at once that I would be something different after his efforts. I did not resist his tools, instead I bore all the painful tools he used on me.."

Marble tile. "Mmmmmm......."

Marble statue. "My friend, there is a price to everything in life. Since you decided to give up half way, you can't blame anybody who steps on you now."

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets, and don't forget the power in the struggle.

Suffering and pain is a part of life. No one can evade or escape such things in life. Jesus instructs his disciples that they should be ready for any eventuality.


Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt. 10.28) This is a very powerful passage of the Holy Bible. In simple English, it means, "Bear your crosses and at the end, you shall be rewarded." Those who deny their crosses, they shall be disowned by the Lord.


While reading Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” I was impressed by his insight into the mental suffering of human beings.
After having himself suffered through some of the most torturous conditions known to mankind, he not only survived, but shared his newfound knowledge with the rest of the world. His greatest legacy is his impressive understanding of human nature and the valuable lessons he passed on.

While people often recommend this book, they rarely put into words what it is that so impressed them. I’d like to share some of what gave me those “Aha!” moments, where the light bulb went off in my head and I recognized the value of the lesson. One particular passage was related to the transitory nature of life and how his therapy “logotherapy,” is an active technique, rather than reactive. What struck me however, was how he points out a fundamentally sound view of old age that I believe is one we would all wish to emulate.

What a joyous and wonderful way to live! To live fully each day, so that you can end your days without regret, envy or loss. In his book, he repeatedly speaks of finding the meaning of life and meaning in suffering. The two are irrevocably intertwined. Suffering occurs in every human life. The ability to transform tragedy into a personal triumph is as unique to each person as it is necessary. Here is a great example from his book.

“Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how could I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?”

“Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering - to be sure, at the price that now you have to mourn her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice.”

Of course, Frankl himself found such meaning with memories of his wife’s love while enduring the torments of the Nazi camps in hopes of eventually reuniting with her. Since we cannot always avoid suffering in life, the idea of finding a meaning in it is immensely sound. Although I thoroughly support and believe in happiness and an optimistic view, I find great healing in the idea that if we suffer, we suffer for a reason.

I’ve known friends and family members who suffer in harsh, chaotic home situations, or work jobs they dislike. Far from wanting unhappiness, many of them simply suffer these problems for a greater good, or a greater meaning. They may be trying to pay for their children’s college funds, or they are working to heal an addicted person in their family.

Finding the meaning in our suffering helps us endure our pain with dignity and grace. It is the gives us endurance far beyond our usual capacity and fills us with hope and love. It is an inner freedom that not even the worst circumstances can remove from us. May we all be blessed to know the meaning that gives purpose to our lives. Therefore Jesus says, Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

 

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Vancouver - Canada

www.LivingFlame.ca

ARTICLE: ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER

(Continued…CLICK HERE TO GO TO BEGINNING OF ARTICLE)

V. ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER

Jesus warned his disciples through a parable to put their spiritual foundation on rock and not on sand. The house built on rock can resist any storm and flood. Referring to prayer Jesus says: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and yet don’t do what I tell you? Any one who comes to me and listens to my words and obeys them – I will show you what he is like. He is like a man who, in building his house, dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. The river overflowed and hit that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But anyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a man who built his house without laying a foundation; when the flood hit that house it fell at once – and what a terrible crash that was!” (Lk 6.46-49).

A healthy tree requires deep roots. If not it will uproot itself even while bearing large quantities of fruits. Jesus says: “ I am the vine and you are the branches,. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me” (Jn 15.5). We can apply this comparison to the way we pray. When we speak of Christian prayer, we cannot but pinpoint its fundamental roots in the life and teaching of Christ our Saviour, on which it stands. Christian prayer ought to be Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial and Soteriological in nature. Any other form of prayer, i.e., Hindu or Buddhist, cannot be identified with Christian prayer because of the lack of these four most important ingredients. Christian prayer is rooted in the life and teaching of Christ, who revealed to us the Trinitarian dimension of God and through his own life and example and taught us how to pray; and redeemed us through his passion, death and resurrection (the Paschal Mysteries) to make us one body – the Church (Ecclesial) and through it to preach the kingdom to other nations (Soteriological). That is why St. Paul says “For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express” (Rom 8.26).

 

Trinitarian Dimension

This dimension is fundamental to Christian prayer, as it spells out the most important ingredient of prayer. After His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding his disciples to "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mat. 28:18).  

 

St. John in his Gospel establishes the Divinity of Jesus Christ (John 20:31). In the prologue he identifies Him with the Word, the only begotten of the Father, Who from all eternity exists with God, Who is God (John 1:1-18). The immanence of the Son in the Father and of the Father in the Son is declared in Christ’s words to St. Philip: "Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" (14:10), and in other passages he makes it explicit saying “All that my Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit will take what I give him and tell it to you” (Jn 16.15); “I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17.21). The oneness of their power and their action is affirmed: "Whatever he [the Father] does, the Son also does in like manner" (5:19, cf. 10:38); and to the Son no less than to the Father belongs the Divine attribute of conferring life on whom He will (5:21). “If you love me keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God” (John 14.15-16). In John 10:29 we are privileged to call God our Father. None other religions have this privilege. This is the uniqueness of Christian prayer. Various texts of the Gospels also will certify this dimension:

 

Christological Dimension

Prayer unites us to the Spirit of Christ in our attempts at communication with God. This is mainly because, Jesus has taught us the right method of prayer. When you pray, pray as follows: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” (Lk 11.2ff). The Our Father is not only a prayer, but a way of life indicative of Jesus’ life. He continues, “when you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that God will hear them because of their prayers are long… do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6.7-8). He emphasises the importance of having faith in our prayers, and he says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will fine and knock and the door will be opened to you…” (Lk 11.9ff).

 

He Prayed Regularly

He prayed in the evening after the multiplication of bread (Mk 14.23). He prayed in the morning at a lonely place (Mt. 1:35). He prayed at night before choosing the disciples (Lk 6.12). He prayed in lonely places without ceasing (Lk 5.16).

 

He Prayed to the Father

When the disciples asked Jesus “Lord teach us to pray”, he was at prayer (Lk 11.1). He prayed at his baptism (Lk 3.21); he prayed before his transfiguration (Lk 9.28). He prayed for Peter’s faith (Lk 22.31-32); He prayed for the Holy Spirit (Jn 14.15-17); He prayed before raising Lazarus (Jn 11.41); He prayed at the triumphant entry to Jerusalem (Jn 12.27); He prayed at the last supper (Jn 17.1-7); He prayed for his disciples (Jn 17.6-19); He prayed for all believers (Jn 17.20-21); He prayed before his passion (Lk 22.39); He prayed for his executioners (Lk 23.34); He prayed when he died on the cross (Lk 23.46). In all these circumstances Jesus was in constant contact with the Father. The fullest and most important characteristic of the prayer of Jesus is contained in Mt 6.5-16: “When you pray” says Jesus “do not be like hypocrites”; “do not use a lot of meaningless words”…“go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen, because your Father already knows what you need”.

 

He Prayed with People

The life of Jesus was for others. He lived and moved with people. Perhaps, but for prayer Jesus could not think of a life without people. His contact with children, disciples, women, poor, lame, blind, deaf, lepers, Samaritans, Jews, scribes, Pharisees, young, old, Centurion, tax collectors, sick, Greeks, tradesmen made his prayer more efficacious and effective. Jesus wanted to establish a kingdom of universal brotherhood. In view of this, he ignored all restrictions. He went to meet sinners and downtrodden; he looked for the very least and the abandoned; he let himself be monopolized by the sick and by the afflicted; he accepted pagans in his company. Acceptance, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness were habitual attitudes of Jesus toward that throng of needy people who approached him every day: publicans, sinners, prostitutes, criminals, foreigners, lepers, widows, children, the sick, the suffering, the possessed, renegades, enemies, the poor, and even those who crucified him later. Jesus had a particular regard for the poor and the despised (Mt 5.3). Even in relation to the rich, Jesus adopts an understanding attitude (cf. Mt 10.21). He puts forward poverty of spirit as the ideal of the true Christian: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me” (Mt 19.21).

 

He walked among the outcasts and marginalized people and accepted doubtful characters in his company. He stated that the last will be first, the humble shall be masters (cf. Mk 10.31; Mt 5.5) and the tax collectors and prostitutes will find it easier to enter the kingdom of God than the Pharisees (cf. Mt 21.23). He did not discriminate against anyone: he went to everyone, rich and poor, Jew and Samaritan, pious and sinner, etc. He is the master and teacher who knows how to act and in what circumstances to act. All of this was stemming out from his contact with the Father through his daily prayer.

 

He Prayed With Nature

Jesus always with drew to deserted places to pray (Lk 5.16); “rising very early before dawn, left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed” (Mk 1.35). Jesus was in constant contact with nature. The richness of all his parables show that he knew the secrets of nature through his own personal contact. He freely used the objects in nature and taught his disciples with vivid comparisons. That is why his teaching was effective and impressive. In his simple and down-to-earth teaching we find the use of salt and light (Mt 5.13-16); wild flowers (Mt 6.28); wild grass (Mt 6.30); door (Mt 7.7); grapes and briars (Mt 7.16); coat and cloth (Mt 9.16); sand (Mt 7.26); moth and rust (Mt 6.19); fish and snake (Mt 7.10); dove and snake (Mt 10.16); swine (Lk 15.16); wine and wineskins (Mt 9.17); tree and fruits (Mt 12.33); sowing, field, seed, birds, rocky ground, soil, thorn bushes (Mt 13.1-7); mustard seed (Mt 13.31); yeast (Mt 13.33); pearl (Mt 13.45); wind, rock, rain, river, flood (Mt 7.25); foxes and nest (Mt 8.20); drink of cold water (Mt 10.42); fire (Mt 7.19); house building (Mt 7.24); road (Mt 7.13); eyes and lamp (Mt 6.22); robbers (Mt 6.20); heaven, God’s throne, earth (Mt 5.33ff);  boats and sea storm (Mt 8.23-24); sons, daughters, mother-in-law, son-in-law (Mt 10.34-35); fishermen, net, fish (Mt 13.47); weeds (Mt 13.36); dogs (Mt 15.26); mountain (Mt 17.1); millstone (Mt 18.6); sheep (Mt 18.12); vineyard (Mt 20.1-7); coin, salary, fig tree (Mt 21.19); wedding (Mt 22.1ff); egg and scorpion (Lk 11.12); yeast (Lk 13.21); king, war (Lk 14.31-32); ring (Lk 15.22) white washed tombs, bones, decaying corpses (Mt 23.27ff);  tides on the sea, earth quakes, strange objects from the sky, sun, moon, stars. (Luke 21.7-38). Jesus’ prayer was a constant contact with nature as the O.T people prayed, “all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord; sun and moon, stars of heaven bless the Lord” (Dn 3.57-88). Contact with nature helped him to come in contact with reality and find therein traces of the glory of God.

 

Ecclesial Dimension

The Trinitarian dimension of God boldly supports the communitarian nature of our life. God is not alone; rather, he is a community of three persons. The Ecclesial dimension springs from the Trinitarian Dimension because of its communitarian spirit and communion among the three persons of the Trinity. This dimension underlines the importance of our prayer in the Church, for the Church and through the Church. It was at prayer in the upper room that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles (Acts 2.1-4). These disciples then went far and wide to proclaim God’s kingdom. Christian prayer cannot be individualistic, it should be ecclesial and communitarian; even though we pray individually, it is always in the Church, through the church and for the Church, the body of Christ. Jesus established the Church and we are all members. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians summarises the ecclesial spirit as follows: “Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink” (I Cor 12.12-13). He further urges Ephesians “Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people” (Eph 6.18). The ecclesial spirit of prayer is also strongly present in one of the texts of St. Paul to Colossians “Teach and instruct each other with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your heart. Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father” (Col 3.16-17).

 

Hence, the prayer life of the Church should be Trinitarian and Ecclesial in nature. The Ecclesial dimension of prayer must exist in each parish community and spread its fragrance everywhere in the society. At the end of the day all the members must feel united in the bond of the Trinity. Whenever we begin a day with “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” there is a desire or there should be a desire to begin the day with the spirit of unity and end the day with the same prayer, means that we let ourselves enter into the unity of the Trinity so that our life is always united with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

Soteriological Dimension

The prayer, which originates in the mystery of the redemptive incarnation, is the prayer of sharing in God's very life. St. Paul speaks of this in the passage: "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!"' (Gal 4:6). Man cries out like Christ himself, who turned to God "with loud cries and tears" (Heb. 5:7), especially in Gethsemane and on the cross: Man cries out to God just as Christ cried out to him, and thus he bears witness that he shares in Christ's Sonship through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, whom the Father has sent in the name of the Son, enables man to share in the inmost life of God. He also enables man to be a son, in the likeness of Christ, and an heir of all that belongs to the Son (cf. Gal. 4:7). In this consists the prayer of "dwelling in the inmost life of God," which begins with the incarnation of the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10), leads us, all mankind, into these depths by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. The soteriological dimension of prayer consists in making the redemptive fruits of Christ available to others with our union with Christ. As Christ shared his life with the Father and with people around him, so a Christian is called to live in union with the Father and Christ in prayer; and through the Spirit share that life with others who are ignorant of Christ’s redemptive mission. It can be done only through communion with God in the Church, through the Church and for the Church.

 

When we speak of prayer in other religions, we need to take whatever is helpful, without diluting the uniqueness of Christian prayer, which is very specifically clear in the above dimensions. Methods are good, but they are not foolproof. They help us relax, regain health, peace, but if they do not contribute to these four dimensions, they cannot be called Christian. We need to by all means incorporate in our attempts at contemplation these Christian dimensions to make prayer complete in the Christian sense. Otherwise it will be syncretism in our approach to prayer.

Hence, in conclusion we can boldly say that Christian Prayer is and should be Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial and Soteriological in nature.

(To be continued…)

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

www.LivingFlame.ca

Vancouver - Canada

ARTICLE: Body and Blood of Christ Year. A

Body and Blood of Christ

Year. A

Deut 8.2-3, 14-16; 1 Cor 10.16-17; Jn 6.51-52
 

First Reading...
"Moses spoke to the people. 'Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.'" (Deut. 8.2-3, 14-16) 

Second Reading...
"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor. 10.16-7) 

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus said to the crowds, 'I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.'

The people then disputed among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'

So Jesus said to them, 'Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Just as the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.'

Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum." (Jn. 6.51-9)

In the year 1263 a priest from Prague was on route to Rome making a pilgrimage asking God for help to strengthen his faith since he was having doubts about his vocation. Along the way he stopped in Bolsena 70 miles north of Rome. While celebrating Mass there, as he raised the host during the consecration, the bread turned into flesh and began to bleed. The drops of blood fell onto the small white cloth on the altar, called the corporal. The following year, 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, today’s feast Corpus Christi. The Pope asked St Thomas Aquinas, living at that time, to write hymns for the feast and he wrote two, better known to the older members of our congregation, the Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris. That blood-stained corporal may still be seen in the Basilica of Orvieto north of Rome, and I had the privilege of seeing it during the time I lived in Italy. 

Jesus offers his own body and blood for our nourishment. No human person could tell what Jesus told his disciples. For an ordinary person who is not enlightened by faith, this sounds unusual and practically abnormal. How can a person give his flesh to eat and his blood to drink?

During the Easter season, we have probably heard or said these words attributed to St. Augustine. "We are an Easter people…." As we gather on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, often called Corpus Christi, could we not, should we not, also proclaim. "We are a Eucharistic people!" As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us. "The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch’ (no. 1324). In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our Faith. ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking’" (no. 1327).

Do we really understand how central to our lives as Catholics is this core reality of our Christian Faith. the Eucharist, both sacrifice and sacrament? As we gather on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, let us ask ourselves some basic questions, the answers to which can serve as a barometer of our true understanding of the Eucharist.

How we prepare for the celebration of the Eucharist reveals what we understand about this central mystery of our Faith. So, how do we prepare? Are we aware that we will be reliving in this sacred ritual the Dying and Rising of Jesus? Are we eager to receive the spiritual food which will nourish us at the two-fold table of the Lord. His Living Word in the Liturgy of the Word and His very own Body and Blood in the Liturgy of the Eucharist? Admittedly, there are situations that ruin even our best plans, but do we try to arrive on time or, even better, try to arrive early in order to quiet our minds and hearts as we prepare to hear God’s Word and to receive Jesus in Communion? In our prayer during the week, do we reflect on the Scripture readings for the next Sunday, so as to allow the Holy Spirit to make us more receptive to its proclamation in the liturgy and to the lessons which God wishes to teach us? Yes, how we prepare reveals what we truly understand.

How we dress for Mass also reveals what we truly understand. Let me be as clear as I can. I am not referring to clothing that is fancy or expensive, but rather, I am stating that what we wear should be neat and clean and reflect our understanding that we are taking part in a sacred religious action. Therefore, our clothing should be appropriate to the celebration of the Eucharist as both sacrifice and sacrament. A note of caution was written by Cardinal Ivan Dias for all the parishioners about the dress code for the Holy Eucharist in the Archdiocese. What we might appropriately wear at the beach or at a picnic, for example, is not the appropriate style of dress in church. Let me repeat, our clothing need not be expensive or fancy, but it should reflect what we are doing in this sacred place as we celebrate the Eucharist.

How we participate likewise reveals what we understand about the Eucharist. Are we spiritually ready to receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion? Jesus Christ is "truly, really and substantially" (Council of Trent) present in the Eucharist. This is why St. Paul writes in our second reading to the people in Corinth. "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" And, later on in that same letter he reminds the people. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (I Cor. 11.26-27).

We must constantly ask if we ourselves are guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord when we come to receive Communion at Mass. What are some practical ways by which we can ensure we are receiving the Lord in a worthy manner? We must examine our conscience and determine if we are in mortal sin. Have we sinned gravely against God in some area of our lives? If so, we must first be reconciled with God and the Church through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. By virtue of His divinity, He knows all things. By virtue of His humanity and His earthly life, He can relate to our human experiences. Jesus knows that we are not perfect. He knows that we were born with a fallen human nature, and that we struggle against that nature everyday. He simply asks that we confess our sins when we fall so that He can forgive us, heal us with His grace and, thereby, begin to transform us into His image and likeness. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives, and Jesus asks us to recognize that and begin to live it.

Do we participate fully, consciously and actively in the celebration of the Eucharist, observing the gestures given to us by the Church for this reverent yet active participation, at times responding in spoken word or in song, at other times silently praying in union with the priest? Do we approach Holy Communion without fear, but with reverence? If we choose to receive Jesus on the tongue, do we do so reverently? If we choose to receive Jesus in the hand, do we make a throne of our hands and thereby receive Him reverently? Remember, the priest is to place the sacred host into your hands; the communicant is not to reach out for the host. Yes, how we participate reveals what we truly understand.

Finally, how we live reveals what we truly understand about this core reality of our faith. What we celebrate in sacred ritual here, we must live out in daily life out there. Here we are transformed by the sacred Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist to become the Body of Christ alive in the world, witnessing to His Gospel of life, of love, of forgiveness, of truth and of unity.

Yes, today we celebrate the source and summit of our Faith, Jesus Christ, truly, really and substantially present in what looks like a wafer of bread and ordinary wine. Jesus is absolutely clear in His statement. "My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. … Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

May the same love which poured itself out from His Sacred Heart, pour itself into our hearts so that we may be fervent apostles of the Eucharist and, in turn, set the world ablaze with the love of Christ. Yes, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. We are a Eucharistic people.

When we take Jesus in our hands to eat the Bread of Life, we become one with our Creator. It is a tremendous abuse of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to attempt to receive Jesus in communion while our souls are covered with sin. This is like crucifying Jesus again. If our souls are in a state of sin, the intended union between Jesus and us will not happen. This is why many of the saints went to Confession on a weekly basis and even daily to ensure that they were in the purest state possible before receiving Jesus in their hearts.

 

 

ARTICLE: Trinity Sunday YEAR A

Trinity Sunday


Year. A
Ex 34.4-6, 8-9; 2 Cor 13.11-13; Jn 3.16-18

A NEW WORLD

Imagine a world where all your best friends live in the same neighborhood, where everything they ever wanted to do or be is right there, waiting for them. You could all stay in the same location.

You could all travel together, to places you'd all enjoy. You might split off for a while here or there, but you'd always come back to each other. If you wanted to visit each other, imagine there being special meeting places for each of you, all in your neighborhood, and no more than a mile or so away. Not 5000 miles.

Imagine no wars. Imagine peace. No electronics. Always acoustic guitars, always singing, always gathering together each day.

Imagine everyone learning from everyone, teaching. Good things, always good things. Imagine if kindness, love, caring, honesty, gentleness, laughter, hugging, smiling, friendship, were the only things all people ever knew.

Teamwork. No government. When making a decision, people thrived on the virtue of fairness, and everyone, of one accord, chose what was really best for all.

Imagine immortality. No pain, grief, or suffering.

Imagine no racism, hate or greed.

Imagine saying, "What a wonderful world!" and truly meaning it.
Remember the warmest hug you've ever gotten, and you will have love.
The most genuine good thing someone has ever said to you, and you will have kindness.

Imagine sharing the spotlight with your friends, being in it together, and you will have fairness.

Remember that we are all human, and you will have equality.
Sing together, you'll have unity.

Keep doing good little things for someone, and you'll build trust.

"The secret to a genuinely peaceful world is within us.

We can make it so, if we all start now.
Right now, pledge to do acts of kindness each and every day
Be gentle, kind, caring, and loving
Always smile. Laugh!
Learn. Teach. Above all, be patient.
Share, be part of a team, and be fair.
Listen. Sing. Play. Be the music.
Hug someone.
Remember the ultimate goal of true unity...
And the world will live as one."

Trinity signifies unity in eternity. This is what we all long. But our life, that is practical life does not seem to help this unity. The root of the word "Trinity" originates from the Latin word "trini" which means "three each," or "threefold." "The term has been used as early as the days of Tertullian (200 A.D.) to denote the central doctrine of the Christian religion. God, who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, or Godhead, is three really distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Each of these Persons is truly the same God, and has all His infinite perfections, yet He is really distinct from each of the other Persons. The one and only God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet God the Father is not God the Son, but begets the Son eternally, as the Son is eternally begotten. The Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son, but a distinct Person having His Divine nature from the Father and the Son by eternal procession."

In other words, in Jesus dwells the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the same can be said about the Father and the Holy Spirit. In each one dwells the other two Persons of God. This truth is supported by a verse in The Letter of Paul to the Colossians. "In Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." (Col. 1.19; 2.9) "All the fullness of God means the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Biblical Proof

The next question that some may ask is, "Are there any biblical passages to support that in the fullness of God, there are Three distinct Persons?" The answer to this is "Yes!" We can quote the closing of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus told His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Mt. 28.18) And we can quote the closing words of St. Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians where He states, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." (2 Cor. 13.13) These biblical passages affirm that while there is One God, there are Three distinct Persons in the Godhead.

God’s Love

God created us and loved us enough to give himself to us.  He rejoices in seeing the world filled with his love working through us. The Father is the Creator.  The Gift of Himself is the Son.  The love that fills the world is the Spirit.

The theologian who best presented God as love was St. Augustine.  St. Augustine put it this way.  the Father is the One who Loves.  The Son is the One who is Loved.  The Spirit is the very act of Loving. The Fr. Joe simplification of this for the young people and for himself is that God is love in every possible use of the word.  He is the Subject Love, he is the Object love, and he is the verb Love.

Let me read for you the most beautiful passages from St. Augustine's Confessions. 

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new. late have I loved you.  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my un-loveliness (I guess he means selfishness), I plunged into the things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called.  you shouted.  You broke my deafness.  You flashed. You shone. You dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me and I burned for your peace.”

And the most famous passage from St. Augustine.

It is you who move us to delight in your praise.  For you have made us for yourself. and our heart is restless until it rest in you.

The essence of God is Love.  And we human beings are made in his image.  We are integral, whole, when we give ourselves over to God's love.  We reflect our very nature and are at peace with the world when we take a step away from our own selfish drives and trust ourselves into the hands of sacrificial love.

Can we describe God?  Down through the ages preachers have asked this question; and never more than on this Trinity Sunday, when we preachers have the task of explaining what it means to say that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A story beloved of preachers tells of how the great fifth-century North African bishop St. Augustine strolled along the shore of the Mediterranean wondering how to explain the Trinity.  As he did so, he saw a little girl going back and forth into the sea, filling a small bucket with water which she poured into a hole she had dug in the sand.  “What are you doing, dear?” St. Augustine asked.  “I’m trying to empty the sea into this hole,” the child replied.  “How do you think that with your little bucket you can possibly empty this immense ocean into this tiny hole?” Augustine countered.  To which the girl replied. “And how do you, with your small head, think you can comprehend the immensity of God?”  No sooner had the girl spoken these words than she disappeared. 

The story contains an important truth.  God is a mystery. not in the sense that we can understand nothing about God; but that what we can understand is always less than what we cannot.   Pope Benedict, who has a special love for St. Augustine, has put the little girl’s shell into his coat of arms as a reminder that God is always shrouded in mystery.  One thing we can understand is how people have experienced God.

Our first reading shows us Moses experiencing God in a cloud — a symbol of mystery, for in a cloud we cannot see clearly.  The same divine cloud appears at Jesus’ Transfiguration, when his clothes and face shone with heavenly light.  A cloud enveloped Jesus at his Ascension.  At the Transfiguration Peter, James, and John experienced fear, and bowed down in worship.  Moses does the same in our first reading.  The witnesses to Jesus’ Ascension also bowed down in worship.  This is the first way people experience God in the Bible. as the utterly Other, whose presence inspires awe and worship.

At the very moment, however, in which Moses was worshiping the true God atop Mount Sinai, his people below were bowing down in worship to a golden calf. a deity of their own devising, who made no demands upon them; who symbolized a superhuman virility and power which, the people vainly imagined, they could harness to their own ends.  This is idolatry — for the Bible one of the worst sins there is.  We become guilty of idolatry whenever we suppose that prayer and other religious practices give us access to some supernatural power which we can turn on or off like the light switch; which we can use to get whatever we want.  God always hears and answers prayer.  But he does so in sovereign freedom. not at the time, or in the way that we want — or think we can dictate.  God is never at our disposal. We are at his disposal.

God’s appearance to Moses at the very moment when Moses’ people were committing the ultimate sin of idolatry shows that God is not only mysterious and fearful.  He is also tender and compassionate.  He is a God of love.  This is how Jesus experienced God.  Our gospel reading reflects this experience. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”

Jesus devoted the whole of his early life to helping people experience God’s love.  He demonstrated this love through deeds of compassion.  He illustrated God’s love through stories still told and pondered twenty centuries later.  And on Calvary he gave us the supreme example of love.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, his friends came to realize that he had not left them.  He was still with them, though the manner of his presence was different.  They recalled that Jesus had foretold this.

 “I will not leave you orphans. I will come back to you” (Jn. 14.18).

 “I will ask the Father and he will give you another to be your Advocate, who will be with you forever — the Spirit of truth” (Jn. 14.15).

“I shall see you again; then your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you” (Jn. 16.22).  This joy at Jesus’ continuing presence is the third way people experience God.

          Pondering these three ways in which people experienced God, the Church developed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  The God who is one is also three. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This is the description, in formal religious language, of how we experience God.   He is the utterly Other, who inspires awe and worship. But he is also a God of love, a love so amazing, so divine, so undeserved by sinners like ourselves that he kindles within us an answering love. love for God, love for our fellow humans.  And whenever we experience God in either of these ways — as the almighty creator and Father of the universe whose presence inspires awe, or in his Son Jesus in whom we see unconditional love in human form — we are experiencing God in and through the power of his Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is God at work in our world, and in our hearts and minds, here and now.  The Spirit is God’s love. the love exchanged between Father and Son, the love poured into our hearts — not just to give us a warm feeling inside, but to share with others. 

 Our second reading, finally, speaks about this sharing. “Encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

The little girl’s words to St. Augustine are true.  God is too immense to get into our small heads.  But the threefold experience of God is within the reach of all, even of children.  God discloses himself to us in these three ways to lift our eyes from earth to heaven; to make us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, what Jesus was and is. channels and instruments through whom heaven comes down to earth.

The Trinity Sunday must evoke in us the sense of unity in our families and institutions. If there is no unity all that happens in and around us will not have any meaning for us. Hence, we must try our best to dialogue, set goals to promote love peace and joy and harmony.

 

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

www.LivingFlame.ca

Vancouver - Canada

ARTICLE: WHAT IS PRAYER? (continued)

iv WHAT IS PRAYER?

(Continued…CLICK HERE TO GO TO BEGINNING OF ARTICLE)

I always cherish speaking to people. Well, it’s a fact that there are a few people friendlier than others. The intensity of talking to such people is quite different from other larger folk. With some people I feel comfortable to joke, speak and be at ease. This cannot happen with all kinds of people. The more intense is my love better is my relationship. Another fact that I noted is, when there is genuine love, I simply like to listen to them, rather speaking to them. This experience could be applied to experience of prayer too.

 

Prayer is Dialogue

Prayer is a spiritual activity intensely involving both God and human person in an intimate dialogue. To speak about prayer is to become aware of God to the fullest extent in a dialogue with Him. He is present perennially in our life. We can know nothing about Him except that He is kind enough to reveal Himself to us in various ways and in tiny little things in life. “These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God” (I Cor 2:10). This Spirit responds to us in and through prayer. The Vatican II affirms, “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being”[1]. We can commune with God in prayer. We call prayer, that speech to God, which in spite of all else ultimately asks for the manifestation of the divine presence, for this presence becoming dialogically perceivable.

Prayer is a process by which we come to know God and ourselves through a personal relationship established through dialogue. Without God-knowledge and self-knowledge we cannot pray in an effective manner. Moreover, there is a definite correlation between knowing God and knowing ourselves. God cannot be known unless we know ourselves as we really are. The less we know ourselves the weaker will be our relationship with God. The less we think of ourselves the greater will be our trust in Him. When we make ourselves ‘gods’ we perceive God less and less. This is precisely what we call ‘journey to God’, a journey that leads us to become smaller and God to become ‘bigger’ in us. The friendly dialogue in prayer bridges gaps between God and us.

Prayer and Progress

Prayer is an inward journey. A journey from exterior to interior, from body to spirit, from vice to virtue, from world to God. It is not a journey that takes place in space and time but it is an inward journey that leads us to the centre of our being which is beyond space and time. If accepted through faith, that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have no other way than to journey in faith to the depth of our being in order to encounter our God who is secretly dwelling there. Dag Hammarskjold (the late secretary to the U.N.O.) says, “the longest journey is journey inwards” and a religious leader David O. McKay says “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul”. That is why Jesus told his disciples “when you pray go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who sees you in secret” (Mt 6.6). Progress in prayer cannot be measured through the hours, days, months and years we have spent praying. It depends on how far we have been able to penetrate our spirit to discover God’s dwelling within us and to cope up with our daily battles.

 

Prayer is Communication

It would be fair to say that prayer concerns communication with God, and this should be the starting point for any teaching about prayer. In speaking of human communication, some skills can be taught but essentially the experience is far larger than the skills learnt and used. Should communication with God be any different? Just as it would be wrong to say that nothing about prayer could be taught, so it would be equally wrong to say that everything about prayer can be taught. Those who want to learn to pray, in fact desire to know about the ways to communicate with the Divine.

When we speak of communication, it concerns first of all with ourselves. We speak about ourselves and about our ideas. This is done through words, actions, thoughts, and subconscious activity such as dreams. All of these are various aspects of ourselves. When we speak we focus our attention on ourselves. Hence to pray is to focus our attention on God because these voices make us listen to God. There are many models for explaining communication. In choosing one that expresses the kind of communication that goes on in prayer, it is important to remember that the concerns about prayer are expressed in experiential rather than academic terms and therefore the basic model should reflect a common human experience. The ‘experience of friendship’ and the ‘communication dynamic’ involved in it seem to offer a lot for understanding prayer.

 

Prayer is Friendship

Speaking of friendship there is a basic principle that holds good for a lasting relationship. This requirement is ‘presence’ which is more important than watching, talking and listening. It is a need that strengthens friendship. If we were to single out the most intimate and touching part of a relationship, it would be the precious moments of passive silence that really matter. When the friendship is shallow in the midst of a conversation, silent moments could be really uncomfortable and degenerating. For intimate friends the moments of passive silence are the most precious ones because it is through these moments of silence that a deeper relationship takes place without any words and gestures. In the midst of talking, listening and spending time together each person tends to become more authentically in touch with what they really are in those precious moments. In the process of communicating with each other, there results a communication with oneself. The same is true of prayer. Understood in this manner, prayer is both interpersonal and intra-personal; the praying and the individuating process are concurrent realities. People have many conscious reasons for praying but if praying is to be understood as concurrent with the individuating process, then it would have to be said that the motive for praying is more than the conscious reason; it is rooted in the unconscious. From the point of depth psychology we know that this attempt to communicate and become authentically oneself is a gradual process of moving beyond conscious limits and becoming more and more vulnerable. Ultimately, then, to pray is to acknowledge limits and though this acknowledgement is at first implicit, it eventually becomes explicit through moments of deep silence. To teach a person to pray is to facilitate a person’s desire to become conscious of limits and comfortable with vulnerability. Whatever the method chosen, it must respond to this desire in order to be effective. Growth in friendship is growth in knowledge and acceptance of our own limitations.

 

Prayer, a Habitual Attitude

All prayer is inspired in the depth of our own nothingness. It is the movement of trust, of gratitude, of adoration, or of sorrow that places us before God, seeing both Him and ourselves in the light of His infinite truth, and moves us to ask Him for the mercy, the spiritual strength, the material help that we all need. All true prayer somehow confesses our absolute dependence on God.

Here are a series of expressions by known theologians regarding prayer. They cannot be considered definitions because a true and exhaustive definition of prayer cannot be given. These expressions will help us clarify many wrong notions of prayer. Prayer is “an existence which is directed towards God, it is the contemplative approach, a general attitude of reverence which permeates the day’s activity” (Guardini, pp. 123-124). “Prayer is simply an inward grace of knowledge and love turned towards God… It is possible to remain in this attitude of loving attention to God even in the midst of the most absorbing occupations… Application to the task is perfectly compatible with a permanent inward attitude of love for the beloved” (Dujat pp.116-117). “Times of prayer set up a frame of mind which remains through all our activities, so that, all our work and play is coloured by a prayer-like attitude” (Macquarrie, p. 38). “The presence of God simply describes the principle of the praying attitude, the inner attitude of the praying person” (Bernard C.A., p. 362). “Underlying each diverse manifestation of prayer is a radical attitude” (Hassel, p. 1). “Prayer without ceasing, as a continuous state of soul, is primarily an attitude of the heart and will… Love without ceasing is not a series of acts, but a continuous attitude and state… Prayer without ceasing is first of all an attitude of the will” (Wright, pp. 167).

Prayer therefore is an inward, inner, general, essential, radical, permanent, constant, continuous, habitual and prolonged attitude. Thus, prayer eventually becomes identical with the essential attitude of our being in front of God and neighbour, a habitual attitude of reverent worship of the divine truth, a continuous state of being, a constant attitude by which we walk with God and live in Him and with others.

Very often in prayer we are distracted by our practical difficulties, such as the problems of our state of life, the duties we have to face etc. It is not possible to avoid such distractions all the time, but if we know what prayer means, and know Who God is, we will be able to turn these very thoughts into motives for prayer. It is good to turn distractions into material for petition, but it is better not to be distracted, or at least not to be drawn away from God by our distractions.

 

Summing up all that we have said above about prayer, we must admit that we cannot offer an exhaustive definition to prayer. Each one of us has a personalized definition of ones own prayer through our intimate contact with the Lord. Giving a definition in academic terms is not our concern here. When prayer becomes life and the life we live expresses our prayer, we can hope to say that we are ‘praying’. That in fact is prayer.

(to be continued…)

 

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

www.LivingFlame.ca

Vancouer - Canada

 

[1]  Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, No. 119.

ARTICLE: Pentecost Year. A

Pentecost Year. A

Acts 21-11; 1 Cor 12.3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20.19-23

Generous Father

I observed the father of a lad giving him a Dollar just before entering the Church. I asked him why he gave money to the lad before entering the Church? He told me that the child is trained to be generous towards God and people. I was impressed and was really appreciative of the attitude of the father.

Anecdote

There is a story of identical twins. One was a hope-filled optimist. "Everything is coming up roses!" he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy's Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist.

He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins' personalities. "On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford and give the optimist a box of manure."

The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results. When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, "I don't like the color of this computer... I'll bet this calculator will break... I don't like the game... I know someone who's got a bigger toy car than this..."

Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the garden. He was giggling. "You can't fool me! Where there's this much manure, there's got to be a Rose!"

The event of Pentecost was to fill the pessimist disciples with the Spirit of courage and joy. In our life there are so many things that happen. We tend to take them simply without analyzing their importance to us. At times we are so accustomed that we do not even think that they are from God. Are we filled with the hope of the Resurrected Lord? Or do we worry about things that matter only concerning our material life? Are joyful? Or do we make things sadder as we pass through them?

There are events so wonderful, and so full of mystery, that ordinary language cannot describe them.  Such was the Pentecost event which we celebrate today.  In our first reading Luke, the writer, uses symbols to describe something beyond the power of words to portray.   The coming of God’s Spirit, he writes, was “like a strong driving wind.”  “Tongues as of fire” rested on these first Christians, who suddenly received power “to speak in different tongues.”  These three symbols – wind, fire, tongues – are not arbitrary.  Each tells us something about God and his mysterious work in the world.

  1. Wind.The word used by Luke is used elsewhere in Scripture to designate a person’s “breath” or “spirit.”  (Cf. Gen 2.7; Acts 17.25)  At birth breathing begins.  At death it ceases.  The coming of God’s Spirit is said to have been “like wind” because the Spirit is the Church’s breath.  Before the coming of this Spirit-breath, the Church’s life was something like that of an unborn child in the womb. Only with the coming of this “strong driving wind” did the Church receive the fullness of divine life.

This divine breath gives the Church an astonishing power of self-renewal.  Again and again in history the Church has become so corrupt through the sins of its members that people have predicted its imminent demise.  Yet time and again the Church has risen, through the power of this divine Spirit-breath, renewed and purified.  For this recurring phenomenon there is but one possible explanation the fact that the Church lives not from its own strength, and certainly not from the strength of its members, but from the continual in-breathing of God’s Spirit, who is the Church’s life-breath.

  1. Fire warms.When breathing stops, so does body heat.  Deep within the collective soul of this great family of God which we call the Catholic Church is the fire of the world’s greatest love. the unbounded love of God for all he has made.  That is the secret of the Church’s magnetism. People in the Church who are cold, hard-hearted, always ready to criticize, to complain, to complain, block the warmth of that love. They act not as heat conveyers, but as heat shields.  Which are you with regard to the Spirit’s fire?  Are you a heat conveyer, or a heat shield?

Fire warms because it burns.  If combustible material is nearby, fire spreads rapidly.  Christianity, it has been said, cannot be taught.  It must be caught.  Are you burning with that fire?  Are you handing it on to others?

Fire also gives light.  God sent his Son into a dark world to be the world’s light.  This light shines today through God’s continual gift of his Spirit to his Church and to each of its members. He wants us to serve as lenses or prisms of that light.  “Your light must shine before others,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt. 5.16).  And in John’s gospel Jesus warns. “Bad people all hate the light and avoid it, for fear that their practices should be shown up.  The honest person comes to the light, so that it may be clearly see that God is in all he does” (John 3.20f).

When we fear God’s light, we need to ask God burn away whatever causes us to shun the light, whatever stands in the way of our spreading the light, fire, and warmth of his Holy Spirit.

  1. The Foreign Tongues. in which these first Christians spoke symbolize the Church’s work through history. proclaiming to all peoples, in all languages, the wonderful truth of God.
  • That God is, that he is real;
  • That he is a God of love, who looks for a response of love – for himself, and for our sisters and brothers;
  • That God has made us for himself. to serve, love, and praise him here on earth, to be happy with him forever in heaven;
  • That he is the God of the impossible, who can do for us what we can never do for ourselves. fit us for life with him, here and in eternity.

That is the message which we have to proclaim.  Does any of that message come through in your life?  If you were arrested tonight for being a Catholic, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  And if mere presence at Sunday Mass were not enough for conviction, would there be enough evidence then?

That we are Christians in a land undreamed of by anyone on that first day of Pentecost is proof that the Spirit’s “strong driving wind” did not blow in vain.  Those first touched by that wind were blown into places, and situations, they never dreamed of.  Even those who never left Jerusalem found their lives utterly changed.

This same wind of the Spirit is blowing in the Church today.  Is it blowing in your life?  Or are you afraid of that wind – of what it might do to you, and where it might blow you?  Cast aside fear.  The wind of God’s Spirit, like the winds of the sky, blows from different directions.  But in the end this wind blows all who are driven by it to the same place.  The wind of God Spirit blows us home – home to God.

The Spirit of the Lord has given us the spirit of love, truth, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, goodness, self control and humility. We need to bear witness to them. Then perhaps we could say boldly that we are the children of God and children of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

“(The laity) work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven … (making) Christ known to others especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope, and charity. (Lumen gentium, 31)

“The laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth.”

There are people here who are doing those things every day. Are you? One day the Lord will examine us about how we have responded to the call to be his messengers to others. Here, ahead of time, are some of the questions in that examination.

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove; he’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.

God won’t ask the area and beauty of your house; he’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your cupboard; he’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won’t ask what your highest salary was; he’ll ask if you cut corners to obtain it.

God won’t ask what your job title was; he’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

God won’t ask how many friends you had; he’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; he’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin; he’ll ask about the content of your character.

The testimony of deeds before words is powerful. You probably know the saying. “What you are speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you say.” Words are cheap and our world is inundated by words. People today are more impressed by deeds than by words.

Bearing witness to Jesus Christ in daily life is difficult. If you doubt that, it probably means that you have never seriously tried it for any extended period of time. With our own resources alone, the task is impossible. But we are not alone. We have an unseen companion in the missionary task. the same divine master and Lord who is saying to us right now, as he said to that little band of weak sinners and doubters on a Galilean hilltop two thousand years ago. “Behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCG

www.LivingFlame.ca

Vancouver - Canada