John 4:47 – When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
When the royal official heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him. He traveled from Capernaum to Cana; on bare feet. He arrived back home next day, which means that it took time to walk just to see Jesus and ask Him to heal his son. The official was determined, because he loves his son very much.
I apologized for not writing my daily journal this weekend. I can find hundreds of excuses and most of them are actually valid. But I cannot fool myself. There is only one reason and that is sloth. I’m half way through Lent. I’m starting to miss the things I promised to offer as a sacrifice. I’m starting to doubt and loose focus. I’m starting to get tired….
What would have happened if the official gave up half way through? Or if he didn’t believe in Jesus words that his son would live? He would have probably go home and be met by weeping and news that his son has died. But because he didn’t give up, instead he persisted and persevered; he was met with the wonderful news that his son was healed. All his hard work paid off. He celebrated when he came home.
Lent is a hard journey. But I know, Easter will soon come; a day of God’s redemption and glorious celebration! I have to persevere on this road…. no time for sloth!
Jeremiah 7:23 – But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.”
Someone asked me how long does it take me to put a make up on. I said around 10 minutes if it’s only a day make up, on an ordinary day. Otherwise, it would take longer time if it’s a night make-up for special occasions. I know some women (or teens) take longer time putting on make-up. I’ve learned from my teenage daughter about contouring or highlighting the brows and other stuffs which was not taught during my teenage years. I’m not so much into that because of my hectic schedule, but when I see my beautiful daughter, I could say wow!
Making ourselves look beautiful on the outside takes time, lots of efforts and learning experiences. Just like if we want to have a good and healthy body, it takes discipline, practice, will-power and strong determination. We can’t take a short cut, it takes what it takes. So it is with our soul and our spiritual life. We can’t short-cut it. We need discipline, practice, will-power and strong determination, combined with God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. But unlike in the physical world where most of us have to pay to be beautiful and healthy; pay for our time in gym, to plan and buy the food we need to have a proper diet, maybe buy the right outfit, make ups, machines, and so on. God already created and made us beautiful, free of charge. And He gave us His Word and His Spirit, instilled in our hearts so that our heartbeats become a beautiful symphony of worship to Him.
Sin makes us ugly. Sin makes us “unclean”. Sin kills us. But what can we do? It is our fallen nature. We all commit sins, big or small. We all have the inclination to fall. This Lent season is a very suitable time to make ourselves “clean” again; and to be beautiful again. “Walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.”, says the Lord. Simple, isn’t it? Listen, obey and be beautiful!
Deuteronomy 4:9 – But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
From today’s Mass readings, this is the verse that struck me most, “take care….watch yourselves closely….neither to forget….nor let them slip from your mind…all the days of your life….
Yesterday, I wrote about being forgiving and merciful; but does it mean that I have to turn a blind eye towards the wrongdoing? or the injustice? the oppression? For me, forgiveness and mercy do not mean tolerating or condoning to the destructive or abusive behavior. Yes, I can forgive but I should not be naive to let the other person continue his abuse against me; specially when others are also affected. Yes, I can forgive but it does not mean that I have to let a destructive person back into my life, just so he can take it away from me. I can show mercy by praying for the person who hurt me. I can lend a helping hand when it’s necessary and with the intention of convicting the other person to change his/ her ways. Yes, I can give my “other cheek” or walk “extra miles”, but I only have two cheeks and a pair of feet.
There is a time for everything. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” And as time goes, we need to learn and be wise; in matters of life and love, of good and evil, of when to keep and when to let go. This Lent, I’m thinking: about the people who have hurt me, about the person who have hurt me most, about what have I done towards them and about what will I do about them.What are the lessons that God intended me to learn from or has the situation made me wiser?
Matthew 18:33 – “Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’”
Someone asked me yesterday, “Are you still angry at him?” A simple single question that sent my mind on different associations. I could say, no not anymore, and act as If I have already mastered perfection and holiness. Or I could say, yes I’m still very angry that I don’t want to see nor speak to him anymore or ever again; just to emphasized that he has done a great wrong towards me. Instead of saying yes or no to the inquirer, I said that I am no longer angry all the time, only occasionally. I’m trying to leave everything behind and move on to a better and brighter future ahead.
When Peter asked Jesus about how often must we forgive someone who have sinned against us; Jesus did not only give him a number of times we must forgive but also a parable to help his listeners understand that it’s not a matter of numbers but of our attitude, our willingness and the condition of our heart. It is in the heart where our feelings, emotions and will reside. That’s why Jesus ask us to forgive from our heart. To pardon someone (by word of mouth) is easy enough, but it takes longer time to eradicate the hurt feelings, memories, pain and all other negative feelings that was created by the “sin” that was done against us. That’s where our “will” comes to play a big role. I have to “will” to be forgiving and merciful, regardless of how I feel.
Here are some of the things or what I call “truths” that helped me to be willing to forgive:
- All of us are humans; fallen, broken and victims of the sins of our ancestors.
- I too am a sinner (maybe a much greater sinner)
- I have been forgiven by God; and in doing so, He gave me that gift of forgiveness to share to others as well
- God has shown me mercy by not giving me what I deserve – the punishment of my sins; instead love and acceptance.
- I don’t want to be judged severely, that’s why I have to be merciful. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” – James 2:13
- It’s a call to all of us. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36
Others might have a different or addition to this list of ways of how to be able to forgive. But I am one hundred percent certain that by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, there will come a time when I will be completely healed and made whole again; and be able to be truly forgive from my heart.
Matthew 1:24 – When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife
Last night I had a dream and when I woke up, I could still feel the tension in my body. I dreamed that I was in a small house. I was still young and living with my parents. The place looked like one of those poor areas where houses were so close to each other that you could hear your neighbors and they could look directly inside yours. Somehow I knew that my parents had invited our neighbor, a couple (husband and wife) living two houses away from us. They were coming over a bit later. I was standing inside a room that had a huge window. I could see the pavement outside; and the house across which was around 2 meters away. I could hear some fights from the house where the couple was living; screams, shouts and banging. I knew that it was a normal noise in the neighborhood. It was not something spectacular. The neighborhood was used to those kind of domestic turbulence. Then the husband went out of the house; a big man, wearing only pants without any shirt or anything on the upper part of his torso. The wife went out as well after a minute. I could see that she obviously had been beaten and was crying. But she had to obey and to follow behind her husband. The husband passed my window. Our eyes met. I looked at him angrily. I wanted to do something. Then he asked me, “What are you looking at? do you have any problem with me?” He then took a piece of a cylinder metal and started to walk towards my window. I remember that I was angry and ready to fight; at the same time fearful of what would happen next. I remember that I called my father, so he could come in my room. Then I woke up.
Today, I’m offering my prayers and sacrifices for husbands/couples; that they may be more like Joseph. I pray as well for all battered wives/husbands or any member of a family that are suffering not only from physical abuse but also mental/emotional abuse. And may God forgive us if ever we have taken part to any violent or aggressive behavior at home. May God’s grace continue to renew us everyday, filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.
Third Sunday of Lent Mass readings
John 4:15 – The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
The church teaches us not to fast on Sundays because it’s the Lord’s day; a day of thanksgiving and celebration of Jesus. I spend Sundays together with my kids, attending Mass, have a nice lunch and just rest or relax whole day. It allows the body to calm down and recuperate after a week long at work; and all the household chores on Saturdays; and other social events we have been invited to.
Sundays also gives me time to reflect about the homily given by the priest; and how to apply it on my life. But most of all, it allows me to savor the presence of God in me and my life. We have just receive Jesus and it feels more than wonderful, beyond words. I feel home and replenished! And by God’s grace, ready to face again any challenges that may come during the week.
In Luke 15:11-32, we read about the The Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Merciful Father and the Brother. I heard the story many times and have read countless reflections about the story. But this time, I asked myself, “What pushed the son to ask for his inheritance?” Probably to enjoy life or to find something more than just what he was used to: like many other teenagers or young adults that feel a need to venture out in the big wide world, a curiosity or longing to experience something that was beyond the comfort of their homes. Or maybe just trying to figure out their identity.
I just watched a film titled, “Lion” last evening. It is a film based on a true life story about a five year old boy who was looking for his older brother, innocently boarded a train, fell asleep and traveled so far that he couldn’t find his way back home. The story is different from the story of the prodigal son, but they both have one thing in common – the longing to find their way back home. Because in finding home, you find yourself.
So many times, I felt lost. I didn’t know who I am or where to go anymore. How can I find myself? How can I go from here to there? And where is there? Somehow, in the deepest part of my heart, there is a still small voice saying, “You are your Father’s daughter. That’s who you are and so much more.” And only in accepting that truth, I find my home. Because my home is with God, my Father and with my Beloved Jesus.
The road of Lent in life is long and hard. There are lots of soul searching and heart breaking sacrifices. The cross is waiting at the end of the road. But it’s the journey I have to take. As I go, I learn more not only about myself but about the things that are important in life. And knowing that Easter is right after, gives me much comfort. And I know that God is with me all the time and all the way through.
Genesis 37:4 “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.”
Jealousy and envy – those two feelings that pushed Judah and his brothers to plot against Joseph’s life; the very same things that drove the tenants to kill the owner’s son. (Today’s readings). Jealous of the father’s love; jealous that Joseph receives more favor than them; and the tenants are envious of what the owner has; they thought that they deserve to have what the owner has.
This Lent, God is calling us to go deeper into ourselves, to search inside if there are traces of jealousy and envy hidden within. Jealous of our neighbors wealth, status, accomplishments? Envious of what they have which we do not have ourselves? Jealous that someone else might have caught the attention of our beloved? that someone gets more affection than us? Envious that others are happier? better? The list can go on. It is so easy to fall into the trap of envy and jealousy, on this time and age of social media. We can easily compare ourselves with others, through Facebook or Instagram pictures, thinking that they have more than we have; their relationships are far better than ours. Maybe they are, maybe they have more than us, and that is the truth. And so what? what of it?
Envy is one of the seven capital sins; along with jealousy. It can drive a person into depression and despair; in gossiping and slander or badmouthing; and in worst scenario, leading someone to kill another person.
Kindness and love are the virtues that counter these sins of envy and jealousy. Loving by understanding, accepting and wanting the best for others. Kindness by being compassionate and thinking good about the others.
May this journey I have taken this season of Lent, helps me to be more kind and loving towards others. So, help me, God!
Luke 16:20 – “And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,”
I have known what it was like to be poor; going for days without proper food. We used to call it, “forced fasting.” I remember how I would climb a fruit tree, just to have something that would satisfy my hunger. And I cheated, lied, borrowed money and made promises which I didn’t intend to keep, and the list goes on. I did all sorts of things just to be able to survive. Those days were gone now. It happened decades ago. Looking back, I could see that I was not really that poor compared to the poorest of the poorest. Of course, if I would compare my life with the rich people, then I could say that I am poor. But there are lots of things that I have been blessed with; good things like family, friends, a home, clothes to wear, good health, an education, clean water and so on. There are those who are poorer than me, who lack these common basic needs. I think about the homeless, the refugees, the orphans, etc. Maybe God didn’t make me a millionaire, but the call to help the poor is still valid and applicable for me.
In today’s Gospel reading, it doesn’t say anything about what was the rich man’s sin, not directly actually. The rich man was not harsh nor treated Lazarus with disdain or repulsiveness. His sin was not something he did but something he didn’t do. He was aware about Lazarus. But what did he do to help him? I, too, fall on that sin of omission. When I see a homeless or marginalized, sometimes I intentionally go another way around. I would try to avoid them. I fear them, as if being poor and homeless is contagious. I rationalized by saying to myself that it was their own fault; and that I have enough problems to deal with on my own.
Why am I hearing some roosters crowing?
God made me go through the experience of being poor so that I could be more understanding and compassionate towards the poor people. Without learning the lessons in life, without growing in wisdom, compassion and love….. I become… I am the poorest among the poorest of all.