There is hope even in darkest moments in life
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)
We can only imagine the mocking, scourging and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ that happened a long time ago. But if we remain blind of the cruelty of people against their fellow human beings and indifferent to the sufferings of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed, then we only see the sufferings and death of our Lord as a meaningless and powerless gospel.
The repentant thief on the cross gives us a glimpse of what he saw during his darkest moments. The one crucified with him, Christ Jesus, is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The penitent thief had many regrets in the past but he made the right and most important decision that changed his fate. He received mercy and salvation upon recognizing not only his own sins but also the injustices committed to Jesus. He even tried to save his fellow criminal by persuading him to accept the justice they deserved and to stop deriding Jesus, an innocent victim of lies, hate, corruption, and power struggle.
Acts of repentance, compassion and justice will open our eyes and change our hearts to witness the power of Christ’s death and resurrection that will change our lives and the world we live in. God will not change the past but God can give us new beginnings and lead us to a better future until we join our Savior and all the saints in Paradise.
Having a habit of gratitude bring healing and transformation in one’s life
The story of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) gives us some thoughts to ponder:
Develop a habit of gratitude. It can change our attitude and priorities in life. It can help us grow in faith. While being accepted into society after being healed is important, the Samaritan returned first to the Lord to give praise and thanksgiving to God.
Saying “Thank you.” is free and easy but it means a lot to the person whom we express our gratitude.
Following Jesus’ simple instructions without hesitancy, the ten lepers were miraculously healed. Face with many trials in life, don’t lose hope. Trust the Lord. God is merciful and full of compassion. Things will happen in God’s way at the right time and according to God’s will.
We need spiritual healing not just physical healing.
Avoid the herd mentality. Don’t just follow others. Think and make your own decisions.
Like the Samaritan that was healed and the only foreigner in the group, coming from a different background gives you different perspectives in life.
Look for the bigger issues behind the problems. Healing the society’s illnesses, like poverty, discrimination, corruption, oppression and marginalization, requires true repentance, justice and compassion.
Seize every opportunity to love and serve the Lord.
The story of a rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) tells us that we have many opportunities to do the right thing and to live a meaningful life. The rich man, however, had chosen to ignore those chances he had by not helping Lazarus—a poor, sick and homeless person who was desperately begging daily in front of his house. Upon his death, he lost not only his earthly possessions but also his salvation.
There are so many things happening in this world, like the pandemic, calamities, natural disasters, economic crisis, social conflicts and various struggles of the people, that give us the opportunities to do what is good, right, honorable and just. We don’t want to live with regrets because of those things we failed to do. The cost of missed opportunities may be higher than we have realized. We should seize those opportunities that come to us as we are called to be witnesses of God’s love and bearers of Christ’s light in this troubled world. The course of our life depends on the decisions we make and the actions we take day by day.
“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11b)
Seek the truth through the lens of love.
In search of truth with our limited minds, we can only discover partial truths that may lead to conflicts and disagreements among us when dealing with many issues. Sometimes our intention in the search of truth is to convince ourselves that we are right and others are wrong. We already made up our minds even before we listen to others’ views, opinions, and stories. Moreover, fear can prevent us from accepting the reality. It might require us to change and to make amends. While wrestling with the inconvenient truth, it’s painful to admit that we might be wrong. Maybe it feels like we are a failure, or a loser. We should not feel this way for God loves us, and God is changing and transforming us into a new creation, and through Christ, God leads us to life everlasting.
When we seek the truth through the lens of love, we will develop different perspectives in life, and we will treat each other differently and become more Christlike. We can accomplish many things and make a difference in the lives of others if we do it with love and because of love. Remember that God is love and God’s love is all-encompassing. In following Christ’s commandment, which is “love one another just as he has loved us” (John 13:34), he doesn’t expect us to agree with everything, or even like each other. Love has the power to break down the barriers that separate us. To maintain the unity in the Church, we should treat our sisters and brothers with love and respect.
In Baptism, we promise to strive for justice and peace among all people and to uphold human dignity. We cannot do it alone with our own understanding and strength. We need God’s help and guidance. We also need companions in our faith journey through the wilderness. This is one of the reasons why God put different people into our lives. When we walk together in spite of our differences and disagreements, we will grow in wisdom and grace and our witness to the gospel can reach farther and wider.
Pray for the unity in the Church. Pray for all the people who need love and compassion.
“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
In spite of our differences and disagreements, there is room for everyone at the Lord’s Table.
Sometimes we convince ourselves and others that we are doing the right thing but fail to recognize our true intentions and the bigger issues that lie ahead. Sometimes we make a lot of efforts to prove who is right and who is wrong without realizing the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of us. Jesus, our Good Teacher, has taught us to wash our feet, to forgive one another, and to break bread together in spite of our differences and disagreements.
Sometimes we cannot fully understand the gospel we proclaim because we heard it in parts and believe it in parts because it is filtered through our own understanding, experiences, beliefs and traditions. It is impossible to grasp the immeasurable love of God which is revealed in Christ, the Incarnate Word, through his life, teachings and examples. We wrestle with the unknown and the unconventional because it might change what we strongly believe and shake our faith. Our search for truth and salvation may lead us to broken relationships. But as long as we abide in Christ and carry our cross, our Good Shepherd will keep us together and heal our wounded relationships.
Our faith will not grow if we only love our neighbors who are similar to us and those who agree with us, or share the same beliefs we have. If we cannot eat at the same table with the Lord because of the presence of those people we don’t like, then we are the ones who are moving away from God’s grace. In Holy Communion, we are using an altar table that has four sides. The Lord is completely aware of which sides we take our seats. In celebrating the Holy Eucharist, Christ is not only inviting us to receive bread and wine, but he also offers us his love and peace. Christ Jesus is the Host of the great banquet and he sits with all the invitees at his holy Table where there is room for everyone.
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:8-10).
God is very present with us in times of trouble.
When people ask, “Why God allows bad things to happen?”, they are partly blaming God, without knowing it, for their sufferings. There are reasons for everything that is happening in this world. But God is love and never wishes to harm anyone. We have known God as our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Because God is love, humanity is created in the image of God and that every person has the capacity to love and the desire to be loved. Because of God’s love, sinners are healed and saved by the Blood of Christ, and they are transformed, sustained and guided by the Holy Spirit to live an abundant and blissful life.
When terrible things happened to us, in our community, and in this world, God feels our pain, sorrows, fear, guilt, anger and frustrations. When people are suffering due to sickness, broken relationships, job loss, poverty, discriminations, gun violence, armed conflicts and natural calamities, God hears our cries and lamentations.
However, when God seems so far away, maybe we are the ones who drifted away from God like a lost sheep. When we ask God for something we need, we fail to consider the things we should do in our part to make things happen. When people experience hunger, homelessness, financial crisis, injustices and persecutions, it is because of those people corrupted by greed, selfishness and pride; and many of them behave and act like gods in their earthly kingdoms.
We may not be able to see God in times of trouble, but it doesn’t mean that God is not there. God is very present to comfort us, heal us, strengthen us, and help us get through difficult times. The Lord will bring out the best in us in tough situations. God put different people into our lives so that, with their presence, prayers and assistance, we may experience the richness of God’s love. We may not fully understand why bad things are happening in this world. Nonetheless, we believe in God of wisdom and compassion; and that God is always with us and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Don’t give up. God is not giving up on you.
When you entered a dead-end street, you’ll find a “cul-de-sac” where you can turn around and look for another way towards your destination. Don’t give up when you feel stuck in life. Don’t allow fear, failures and frustrations make you quit. God is not giving up on you. God has proven that already through Christ’s death and resurrection. The name “Jesus” means “the Lord is salvation.” Therefore, stand firm in the faith and do not lose hope.
God will not take away all our problems but God will make a way for us to get through life challenges. The Lord will not leave us or forsake us in the midst of storms. God will be with us throughout our journey.
Sometimes what we seek is not what we really need. Sometimes we are searching something at the wrong place. In some situations, we may need to change our plans and goals in life in pursuit of true happiness. Ask God for wisdom to make the right choices in life and for the courage and patience to do what is right, good and necessary.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Liberated and Empowered: Moving Beyond the Walls of Jerusalem
On Good Friday, Jesus descended to the dead. During his absence, his followers scattered and hid. Fear, grief, guilt and despair tormented them.
On Easter Day, Jesus ascended to the living. The good news of his resurrection brought his disciples together. His return to the living with his bodily presence brought peace, joy and hope to them.
On Ascension Day, our risen Lord joined his Father in heaven. With his physical absence, his disciples kept the faith and stayed together, but they remained powerless, voiceless and aimless.
On Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit descended to the living to heal, transform and empower the believers to fulfill the Lord’s Great Commission that they received before his Ascension, that is, to go to all nations as his living witnesses, preach the gospel and make disciples until his coming again.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Jesus commanded us to love one another.
As members of His Church, Jesus commanded us to act as family members. It is not enough that we say we are Christians and that we go to church every Sunday. We have to act as Christians and live our faith outside the church so that the world will know that we belong to Christ, the head of the human family. By loving one another, we give glory to God, and we reflect the love that God has for us. God loves us so much that He created everything for us and gave everything we need. And when we had fallen into sin, God sent his only-begotten Son to redeem us. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are given hope of a new life.
God loves us and continues to love us despite our mistakes, failures, and shortcomings. God loves us whether we make the right or wrong choices in issues affecting our lives, However, the Lord grieves when we separate ourselves to God, misuse and abuse His creation, and hurt our brothers and sisters.
It is not enough that we say we love our neighbors. Love is not just a beautiful word that we tell to someone. It should be accompanied by a compassionate action, with sincere intention. Whenever Jesus preached to the crowd, the main theme of his sermons is LOVE. He suffered and died on the cross because of God’s unconditional love for us. In Christ and through Christ, we are forgiven, became a new creation and given a new life. As blessed members of the household of God, we are called and sent to the world to follow Jesus’ commandments: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)