"El día de Pentecostés (al término de las siete semanas pascuales), la Pascua de Cristo se consuma con la efusión del Espíritu Santo que se manifiesta, da y comunica como Persona divina: desde su plenitud, Cristo, el Señor (cf. Hch 2, 36), derrama profusamente el Espíritu.... La vida moral de los cristianos está sostenida por los dones del Espíritu Santo. Estos son disposiciones permanentes que hacen al hombre dócil para seguir los impulsos del Espíritu Santo... Los siete dones del Espíritu Santo concedidos a los cristianos son: sabiduría, entendimiento, consejo, fortaleza, ciencia, piedad y temor de Dios.”
May 23, 2021
May 22, 2021
The Tower of Babel
Tonight sees us making the necessary preparations in anticipation of the great day of Pentecost. Taken from the selection of readings, Genesis provides us with great insight into what happens when we try to design and build, shape and form our own lives (cf. CCC 57).
We commonly call this story the one about the Tower of Babel. In fact, the tower is only one component of a much bigger picture. It has to do with the building of a city, within which a tower would be designed. Its height would attempt to scrape the sky - a "skyscraper". What can we learn from this?
When we take into our own hands the power to build ourselves up - to in a way steal the power of the heavens, we will never be able to complete the project, no matter how hard we try. What Adam and Eve attempted to do for themselves, the citizens of Babel, their future offspring attempted to do for the sake of the whole of humanity - that's what we are tempted to go - to capture God, put Him in a bottle and manipulate His will, for the sake of our own glory, not His.
When we try to build ourselves up, God ultimately intervenes and topples our fortress. That's what happens to our little sand castle when the unstoppable tide comes in. God does so for our own protection as the consequences of leaving us to our own designs ultimately leads to greed and an obsession with power and control. Without the Breath of God directing our lives like wind our sails, we would become like animals, pirates, mercenaries, fighting over not just the territories of this world, but even the territory of heaven itself.
The event of Babel reminds us that even with the progress of science and technology rolling back the frontiers of what we thought in the past was impossible to do, there are boundaries. Often our soul's thirst to touch the heavens is confused with our own sense of inadequacy before the universe. Hence, out of fear, the temptation to grab and make ourselves bigger, stronger, faster. But so that we might not die from this virus of sin that we have all inherited from Adam and Eve’s DNA, God comes to our rescue in Christ,
He calls out and says, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink”, John 7:37-39. We are all thirsty. Too often we fix our own drinks, measure out what we think is good for us. Instead, allow Christ to pour His Spirit into you and have faith that He knows what measure we need at any given time. And at times, our glass like our souls has to be first emptied, cleaned and dried, so that the fullness of God’s Spirit can be poured into a worthy vessel that can unlock all the graces needed to live authentic and credible Christian lives.
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful.”
May 8, 2021
6th Sunday of Easter:
What if you went up to a mother holding with her adorable baby in her arms and told her, “Ma’am, you’re loving your baby the wrong way!” Imagine telling a father that the way he loves his daughter, his little princess, isn’t right. Or, what would happen if you told a married couple, celebrating their 25th anniversary, “Excuse me, but your love for each other seems inadequate.” What would be the reaction if I told two close friends that their relationship was not based on love? Or telling a priest, it doesn’t seem that he really loves his flock!
The Christian always goes back to Christ himself, not just His words, but His actions. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love”. We can not remain in our own love. Why? We are lousy lovers. We mess things up. We exaggerate love, we ignore it, we go from one extreme to another.
Christ is here to show us a love that will set us free - that brings joy and a peace that no other can. I may not think myself worthy of His loving me, and no doubt, I am not. But we have to be reminded, again and again, of His words, “ It was not you who choose me,” He says “but I who choose you.” He loves me to death. He loves you to death. You are worthy of Christ dying for you, regardless if you wish Him to or not. The fact is He did, not only does it show us how much He thinks of us in His heart, God respects us, give us our dignity, even if all we can see and experience are our wounds.
Maybe, this is why Christ, to save us from our oftentimes crude and confusing experiences of love, does not call us His lovers - He calls us His friends. Friendship, we understand a bit better than love. Friendship goes beyond feelings, emotions - it is natural as well as born from a duty of the heart - it comes to the rescue and yet it is respectful. It can be as tender as it can be forthright. Because it concerns itself with our human dignity, it is willing to tell us our faults and suffer loss to help make us what God intends us to be - to be truly and fully human - life to the full, fruit in abundance.
“What a friend we have in Jesus”.
May 1, 2021
5th Sunday of Easter 2021
As I come to the end of my tenure of twenty years here at St. Margaret’s, the Lord has given me, over time, different models of how to be a pastor.
Christ the priest has allowed me to bring all your prayers and offer them through sacrifice of His Body and Blood at the Altar during Mass. Christ the Good Shepherd has allowed me to tend and protect the flock leading it safely through dangers and by restful waters. Christ the Prophet has allowed me to choose my words wisely and prudently to offer encouragement, give direction and provide hope of the future.
Over the years, I have also found myself inspired by another model - that of the example of Christ the Gardener! After all, it was in a garden it all began. And on Easter Sunday, the place where Christ rose from the dead, was also in a garden - a reminder that all things are made new and begin afresh.
How has this image of the garden inspired me, and will continue to do so as I will begin my ministry, come July, at the parish of St. Therese, who is providentially called “The Little Flower”?
Listen again to the perennial words of Christ.
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”
A better word used by other English versions of this passage in Scripture (Father John Knox's translation), instead of using the word "prune", they render it "to trim clean". Now let us apply Christ's analogy to ourselves, allowing him to discern the state of the garden of your soul.
The spiritual life, as our physical bodies, likewise need discipline, nurturing, training. If we are to be rooted in Christ, not just planted in a flower pot, but deeply rooted in Him as the roots of a vine which go deep into the rich soil, we must allow ourselves to be, periodically, trimmed clean.
Nobody likes going under the knife. But the secret of trimming clean a part of a vine or a rose bush that is either growing out of control or getting itself tied up in a knot, the secret is the type of blade that is used.
It's not a kitchen knife or a pair of scissors from the drawer. The blade has to be carefully crafted, particularly sharp and immaculately clean, and not everyone is gifted as to how to use it with precision and to full effect.
And so for the disciple - we have to trust this particular blade in Our Lord’s hands. We even have to be willing to suffer a bit for the sake of heavenward growth and not be afraid of the gardener of our souls. Being trimmed clean by our Lord allows us to become stronger in our attachment to Him and more appreciative of His mercy in our lives.
And even though at times we might feel spiritually dead or dormant, and at times have to weather sickness or disease or find ourselves all tied up or totally confused at times, always remain planted in His own vineyard. Allow our souls to be trimmed clean by the Sacrament of His mercy through confession and be nourished by his Eucharistic Body and Blood. Then we can be assured that as we travel through the seasons of life, at the proper time, we will rejoice in producing a rich harvest and bear much fruit.
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