Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

John 3:14-21 – Nicodemus
Fourth Sunday of Lent

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle, while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety, when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel… “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son…who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence.

Then, a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings…skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted,”Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding..$100, $200?”

Another voice angrily shouted, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts…get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued: “The son! The son…who’ll bid on  the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

“We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”

The crowd was becoming angry and  did not want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice… SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the  auction and the other art in the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel and stated, “I’m sorry, but the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time and the son was sold.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned and whoever bought that painting would inherit the man’s entire estate, including the paintings!

The man who bought the son gets everything!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE…THAT’S LOVE

Picture:  http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/99.html

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Mk 1:21-28 – The Cure of the Demoniac
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 1, 2009

If one admits the existence of the devil, one must also admit the possibility of diabolical activity in our world. Diabolical possession is a tangible proof of the existence of the devil and a visible manifestation of his power.

This is not something in the realm of possibility; it is a fact. There are seven incidents in the Gospel that deal with diabolical possession. Three of them are passing references to exorcisms (Mt 8:32-33, 12:22; Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2). The remaining four are described in greater detail: the demoniac of Capernaum (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37); the demoniacs of Gadara (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-29); the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30); and the epileptic demoniac (Mt 17:14-20; Mk 9:13-28; Lk 9:37-43).

In the time of Christ, there was a great deal of diabolical infestation, perhaps more than at any other time in history; conversely, there were numerous charismatic gifts at the beginning of Christian evangelization.

Diabolical activity can be divided into two types: ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary diabolical activity occurs when the devil incites a person to sin. Extraordinary diabolical activity is divided into three types: local infestation, diabolical obsession, and diabolical possession.

Local infestation occurs when the devil has direct and immediate contact with inanimate objects, plants, or animals in order to exert an evil influence or even physical harm on persons.

Diabolical obsession (also called personal infestation) occurs when the devil focuses his power and activity on an individual human being. He operates from the outside, on the external or internal sense faculties, but he can never gain control of the intellect and will of the individual.

Diabolical possession occurs when the devil invades the body of a person and exercises despotic dominion over the organs and faculties of the individual, manipulating them as one would a puppet. His dominion, however, is restricted to the body; he cannot invade the soul or gain control over the spiritual faculties of intellect and will. Two factors are involved in diabolical possession: the presence of the devil in the body of a human being and the exercise of diabolical power. Possession by the devil is openly manifested during the periods of crisis. There will be seizures and convulsions, blasphemy, obscene words or actions, fits of anger or irreverence. The victims usually are not conscious of what they are doing, and they have no recollection when they come out of the period of crisis.

The Roman Ritual, first published in 1614, stated that if a person exhibited a hatred and aversion to the sacred as well as certain specified symptoms, those phenomena were “indicative” of diabolical possession. The three requisite symptoms were: to speak or understand a previously unknown language (glossolalia), to identify objects at a great distance or hidden from view, and to exhibit strength far beyond the age or condition of the individual (see Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine as reference for above data).

In today’s gospel about the healing of the  demoniac, however, Jesus is presented to have power even to the supernatural world. In a similar story, he could even expel demons from the two  possessed men who had superhuman strength, self-destructive and dangerous that no one could travel by the road where they lived [Mt 8:28] and no one could bind these men possessed by 6000 demons with success.

In contrast to the people of Nazareth who earlier rejects Jesus, the people of Capernaum recognize his power to drive out demons. He has no need to resort to unusual methods in driving out unclean spirits. He has but to speak with authority and they come out. Leaving the victim unharmed. The Jews were spellbound to hear Jesus speaking with authority unlike the Pharisees and the scribes that even the evil spirits at Jesus’ commands obey him.

Indeed Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophesy. Jesus, the  Messiah, who has been sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and  release to the prisoners  [Is 61:1; Lk 4:18] also frees those who are oppressed by the demons. Pray to Jesus that he will set us free us from our slavery to sin and from the dominion and oppression of Satan and the evil ones.

“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:6-10).

Picture: Jupiter Images

Alternative Homily:

Gospel Reflection: Mt: 11:28

A man approaches a priest and asks: “Please bless me, Father, coz I have so many problems.

My son is a drug addict, my daughter an unwed mother, my wife a gambler.

Priest: Wala bang positive sa buhay mo? (Is there nothing positive about your life?)

Man: Me, Father… HIV positive!

* * *

Of course, that’s still negative. The funny story somehow illustrates how we are beset by a lot of problems.

Jesus in this 14th Sunday gospel invites us: “Come to me all who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Christ’s words are very timely and consoling, considering our problems today – the rising cost of living (and even cost of dying!), calamities like the recent typhoon “Frank,” holdups, personal and family problems.

* * *

Jesus comes to us as a friend who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great compassion” – a “bridge over troubled waters,” as the song puts it.

He teaches us to cultivate relinquishment, the ability to “let go” of our anxieties and to put ourselves in God’s hands.

* * *

But some cynic might say, “How can I put myself in God’s hands when my creditors are running after me over my two-million peso debt?” Or, should I not worry if I’m on the verge of losing my job due to retrenchment? Or, this lump on my neck is diagnosed as terminal cancer?

These should be causes for worry indeed. But we must distinguish between worry and concern. Worry is an emotional response that is stressful and draining. It is problem-oriented.

* * *

Concern, on the other hand, is a rational and constructive process – and it is solution-oriented. It’s the difference between fear unaccompanied by useful action and the determination to calmly look for a solution.

As regards unpaid debt, I know of some people who through sheer diligence, determination, and financial restraint were able to gradually pay their obligation.

* * *

As regards losing a job, it’s not the end of the road. You can always start again somewhere. As the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” As long as you’re alive, there’s hope.

When we put ourselves in God’s hands, it does not mean we’re escaping from personal responsibility. It is, as “concern” mean, solution-oriented.

Remember the metaphor Jesus uses in this Sunday gospel about the yoke? In Palestine two oxen are joined together in pulling heavy loads. The two oxen represent God and you sharing the burden.

* * *

It means God helps us but we have also to do our share. Ask yourself: When you have problems, do you present them to the Lord and ask for help? Or do you just keep them to yourself? Do you give in to self-pity and excessive worry, not doing anything to remedy your predicament?

* * *

Once a lady was talking about the secret of her success. She made this striking remark: “I work hard; I do my part then I let God do the rest.” Incidentally, that’s also the principle behind the success of our boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Notice how he prays hard, kneeling at the ring’s corner before and after the fight. However, he also trains on long and dreary hours, always learning the winning techniques.

That should be our Christian attitude, too. As much as we pray so must we work. “Ora et labora.”

Author: Fr. Luis Beltran, SVD

Sunday Gospel Reflection: Mk 1:7-11
Feast of the Lord’s Baptism

One time three pastors were discussing about bat infestation in their churches. “I got so mad,” said one, “I took a shotgun and fired at them. Some got killed but the majority are still up there.” “I tried pesticide spray,” said the second pastor, “but those damn bats gave birth to new ones.” “I haven’t had any more problems,” said the third pastor.”What did you do?” asked the interested two. “I simply baptized them,” he replied. “I haven’t seen them in church since!”

Indeed, like those bats, after baptism many Christians are never seen in church again. This is what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called “unchurched.” “Unchurched” has three categories:

First, the “nominal catholics.” These refer to the catholics in name only or the so-called KBL (Kasal, Binyag, Libing) Christians. Or, as one Bishop described it: Katolikong nakaalala lamang sa Dios tuwing panahon ng Kulog at kidlat, Baha at bagyo, Lahar at lindol. Or, as someone put it, Christians who come to church only three times in their whole lifetime – when they are “hatched, (in Baptsm) matched (in Marriage), dispatched (in Funeral Rite)” … to the cemetery or memorial garden.

Second, the “uninformed and unformed faithful.” These refer to that many baptized Catholic Christians who grow up grossly ignorant of religious instructions and their obligations as Christians and were not formed by Christian values and virtues.

Third, the”uninterested parishioners.” These refer to the majority of Christian parishioners who are indifferent, lukewarm and uninvolved to the mission and goals of the parish. In particular, uninterested to get involved with any program, project and activity of the parish.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus is baptized not because he is a sinner but because he wants to be in solidarity with us especially in our journey towards the Kingdom of God. That he is with us and is one of us. Furthermore, the baptism of Jesus is more of  a revelation of who he is and what his mission should be. As William Barclay writes: “So in the baptism there came to Jesus two certainties–the certainty that he was indeed the chosen One of God, and the certainty that the way in front of him was the way of the Cross.”

As we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we are reminded of the necessity of baptism in relation to our salvation and the mission entrusted to us when we were baptized in the Lord. Is baptism really necessary? Yes, because baptism is or calls us to:

B – bath of rebirth. Original and actual sins are washed away and the baptized becomes a new creation
A – anointing with the Holy Spirit. The baptized, like Jesus, is anointed as priest, prophet and king.
P – erfection of Charity and Fullness of Christian life when it is no longer I who lives in me but Christ.
T – otal dedication and commitment to live the truth of faith in every moment and aspect of life.
I – nterior repentance and conversion toward new life in Christ.
S – eal of salvation. The baptized is sealed with indelible character that he belongs to Christ and marked to be saved.
M – ission to bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us that to glorify God is to be “in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). Hence, faith and baptism are joined as preconditions of salvation (Mark 16:16). It is, therefore, fitting and praiseworthy to renew our baptismal promises to love God above all and to reject Satan and all his wickedness.

Useful Articles:

Source: heartlight.org

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle, while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door  A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety, when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel… “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son…who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence.

Then, a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings…skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted,”Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding..$100, $200?”

Another voice angrily shouted, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts…get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued: “The son! The son…who’ll bid on  the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”  Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

“We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”

The crowd was becoming angry and  did not want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice… SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the  auction and the other art in the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel and stated, “I’m sorry, but the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time and the son was sold.  Only the painting of the son would be auctioned and whoever bought that painting would inherit the man’s entire estate, including the paintings!

The man who bought the son gets everything!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE…THAT’S LOVE!

Source: Irza Puncia

Reflection on Mark 1:44

“It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city-lashed thirty-nine times if he did-he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

“Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper-one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

“Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man-exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

“We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way  each of us is in need of recognition and acceptance and care, each of us is in need of forgiveness and reconciliation each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’

Think of leprosy-the rotting flesh, the stench, the ingrained horror of physical and ritual contamination that Jesus would have learned from babyhood. Those are powerful physical and emotional barriers to overcome. Jesus not only overcame those barriers enough to be ‘moved with compassion,’ the scripture says, but he ‘put forth his hand, and touched him’ (Mark 1:40-42; italics added). This was not long-distance healing. This was close, intimate, a refusal by the Savior to accept that there was anything in human life, no matter how repulsive it may have been to other people, that he could not transform into cleanliness and wholeness by putting his hand on it.” (Disciples [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 93 – 94.)

Pause and reflect: “For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation” (Pope Benedict XVI, Christ is Source of Charity)

Useful Poem and Song:

Be Thou Clean

My sins were as scarlet; they were a burden to me.
My eyes were so blinded that I could not see.
Then I heard of Christ dying on Calvary,
And my soul stirred to life deep inside of me.

Chorus:
I wondered if Jesus would have compassion on me.
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”
“Oh sinner, come unto Me. I am willing; be thou clean.”
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”

My sins, oh how many, pierced my soul like a dart!
Foul leprosy within seemed to stain every part.
I wondered if it was possible to make a new start,
And then God’s gracious love came and filled my heart.

I was like a black sheep that had wandered astray.
I had rebelled against God and gone my own way.
Then I, in repentance, fell on my knees to pray,
And Christ’s precious blood washed my sins all away.

If you are weighed down by your sin’s constant blame,
Overwhelmed and grieved by the burden of shame,
Take a look at the Saviour; there’s a reason He came,
He died for your sins – hear Him calling your name.

Poem written February 4th/2000
Jerry Bouey


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