Saturday, April 30, 2016
THE PROMISE OF THE INDWELLING TRINITY
(A biblical refection on THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 1 May 2016)
Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29
First Reading: Acts 15:1-2,22-29; Psalms: Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Second Reading: Revelation 21:10-14,22-23
The Scripture Text
Jesus answered him, “If a man loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.” (John 14:23-29 RSV)
Jesus sought to comfort His disciples as He prepared them for the pain of Good Friday. Yes, He would leave them; but they would not alone. Those who loved Him could expect both Him and His Father to dwell in them. The Holy Spirit would help them to remember everything Jesus had taught. Jesus promised that He would leave them with His peace, a peace that St. Paul would later describe as passing “all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Jesus wanted His followers to believe in these promises: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.” (John 14:29). As always. Jesus stressed the necessity of faith. Once the disciples believed in Jesus’ words, they could expect His promises to be fulfilled. The promise of the indwelling Trinity stands at the very heart of the Christian life. It is the fruit of the crucifixion, the very reason why Jesus suffered and died.
How do we build our faith so that we can claim this prize? Jesus ask us to love Him (John 14:23). Love blossoms as we come to know someone intimately. Love follows knowledge, and the knowledge we gain of Jesus is directly proportional to the time we spend with Him. We will fall more in love with Jesus as we meet Him in the Gospel, as we adore Him in the Eucharist, and as we hear Him speak to us in prayer.
How will we know when He is dwelling in us? We will experience peace, even in difficult trials. Like the good Samaritan, we will love and care for our neighbors because they are our sisters and brothers in Jesus. As we go about our day, we will hear the quiet, inner voice of the Holy Spirit, prompting us to do what the Lord wills in each situation we encounter. Jesus did not leave us. He has risen and lives among us, and He wants to make His home in us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the life You give us through Your Son and through Your Holy Spirit. May the fire of Your love warm us as You dwell in us. Amen.
Jakarta, 30 April 2016
A Christian Pilgrim
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
BALANCE IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
(A biblical refection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 24 April 2016)
Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35
First Reading: Acts 14:21-27; Psalms: Psalm 145:8-13; Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-5
The Scripture Text
When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in Him God is glorified; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35 RSV)
Balance is essential for the Christian life. If we do not develop a healthy sense of balance and a realistic understanding of the human condition, it is for us to fall. We become disillusioned and stop growing in the love of Jesus. Our readings for this Sunday call for a sense of balance.
Jesus, in our reading from John’s Gospel, is gathered with His disciples at the Last Supper. He has washed the disciples’ feet and has explained this “parable in action”. Jesus now gives the disciples a new commandment: “Love one another. Such as My love has been for you, so must your love be for each other. This is how all will know you for My disciples; your love for one another.” These words of Jesus are quite profound and moving. However, we must wonder: Who can live up to such words? Can we really love in such a way?
Without a sense of balance we may easily rush in (like the rich young man whom Jesus asked to sell all) where prudence would counsel a more humble approach. For we must admit that our capacity to love often falls short of the example of Jesus. At times our actions give little evidence that we are the disciples of Jesus. We grow weary and greatly limit “the finer angels” which live within each of us. We know well the temptation to give up and simply go along in order to get along. The words of Jesus do nothing but frustrate us and make us aware of how greatly we fall short of God’s glory.
Are we simply better off just forgetting the words of Jesus? Not unless we also want to forget about discipleship and true peace. The command to love is not an all or nothing proposition. To love as Jesus loved is a lifelong process into which we are continually invited to grow and be matured.
Jesus spoke about love, not to cause us to despair but to inspire and empower us. None of this is easy. We must balance the all to love with realization that this involves a cost. To follow in the way of love means, in the words of Paul and Barnabas, the “We must undergo many trials/tribulations if we are to enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The present trials can deepen our love and strengthen our commitment to love because He who first loved us is the One who says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). The promise of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1) is not an idle one. It comes from the One who dwelt among us as enduring love. It comes from the One who invites us to love in the same way.
Note: Adapted from Rev. William F. Maestri, GRACE UPON GRACE, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1990, pages 250-251.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have returned to the Father’s glory. Your divine light, like the sun, is too bright for our eyes to take. But the warmth of Your presence is here for us through the mutual love of Your disciples in the Christian community who follow Your commandment to “love one another just as You have loved us”. Thank You for Your continuing presence, dear Lord Jesus. Amen.
Jakarta, 22 April 2016
A Christian Pilgrim