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LOVING

Posted by Jay Autor on December 27, 2009 at 12:02 AM Comments comments (157)

LOVING

By Father Michael Sehler, S.J.


 

When I was a freshman at Gonzaga Jesuit High School in Washington D.C., we students were encouraged to read the works of Jesuit Father John Powell. In one of his books, Father Powell wrote: “We should never leave this world without having the people we love know that we love them.”


 

Now I don’t come from a particularly demonstrative family. We don’t make regular declarations of our love, accompanied by long hugs. In fact, we don’t do hugs, and we do very few kisses.


 

So I took Father Powell’s advice as a personal challenge. At the time I was a freshman, an aunt of mine was working in Switzerland, and I had an uncle who was teaching in Los Angeles. So, I wrote them both letters, and told them that I love them.


 

Neither responded.


 

Next was my mother. I stayed home one Saturday night and, with my heart pumping and my stomach churning, I approached my mother after dinner while she was watching the news on television.


 

“Mom, I have something very important to tell you.” My mother, not taking her eyes from the screen, said casually: “Oh yes…?”


 

“Mom,” I said, “I’ve never told you this before, and I need to say it tonight.”


 

As she slowly turned off the TV and faced me, I noticed a slight trace of alarm in her expression: “Yes,…what is it?”


 

I summoned up all my courage, and came straight out with it. “Mom, I just want to tell you that I love you.”

 

And such was her relief that my wonderful Irish-American mother replied: “Well, I should hope that you do!” And quickly turned the TV back on.


 

There were no hugs and kisses, no violins playing, no statements about how long Mom had been waiting to hear one of us children talk of our love for her. As I trudged back to my room, I thought that I would never take John Powell’s advice again!


 

My aunt and uncle each wrote to my mother, asking if something was wrong with Mike. Everyone concluded that it was just a phase I was going through. I hope it’s a phase that I never get over…

 

The word “Love” has become over-used and trivialized in our secular culture. “I love New York…I love my dog…I love pizza…I love my ipod.” There is a real difference between genuine love and romantic being-in-love.


 

When we are romantically in-love, we can’t think of anything else but the beloved. When all is well, we can’t get enough of romantic love; its almost like a chemical addiction. We take temporary leave of our senses. We’re flying!


 

Genuine love however, isn’t what we hear about in the love songs: “I can’t live without you…First time ever I saw your face…” Those are being in-love songs. They’re about romance, the thump-thump of the heart, I can’t-get-you-out-of-my-head-kind-of-love. Those songs are very dramatic, and in many cases, they are often pretty self-dramatizing. It’s Romeo and Juliet time, West side story time, soap-operatic, love-drunk time.


 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being in-love. It’s a totally splendiferous feeling, and anyone who gets through life, without having been swamped by it, enthralled by it, steamrolled by it, is surely impoverished. In fact the heady wine of being in-love is absolutely essential. Who would dare get up in front of hundreds of people and vow personal responsibility for another person, in sickness and in health, till death do them part, unless he and she were a bit intoxicated with the heavy wine called being in-love?


 

Being in-love can burn very hot. But it doesn’t burn very long. Being in-love then is a marvelous place to VISIT, but we can’t LIVE there very long. Reality creeps in. There’s nothing wrong with being in-love, just in confusing it with genuine love.


 

Genuine love isn’t a matter of strong feelings; it’s a matter of strong, steady, fidelity. In fact, genuine love is not a feeling at all; it’s an act of the will that takes over when the feelings fail, when the beloved may be, for the moment, not even likeable.


 

Real love, genuine love, is most often very un-dramatic, unlike the ferocity of being in-love. Real love often goes unnoticed. Think of a parent or a relative whom you admire.


 

Real love is cleaning up my room love, taking out the garbage love, giving my parents an honest day’s academic work in return for their sacrifice love. Real love is respecting myself and others; real love is extending my comfort zone in the service of another, when I may not feel like it, when it may be inconvenient, when it may be annoying, when it’s risky, and may involve disappointment and rejection.

 

I could sometimes offer my father pretty stiff resistance when, on a Saturday night, he would deny me the use of the family car or impose a curfew that I thought unreasonable. I would have some harsh things to say about his paternal competence.


 

But now, I can imagine him having said to himself, at least in his mind: “Yeah, well, I don’t like you very much right now either, but I do love you, and I’m willing to put up with your anger for the moment, if this will keep you from getting hurt.” That’s real love, the real deal.


 

We can be grateful too, that Jesus did not say: “You shall like your neighbor as yourself.” He would have been asking the impossible. Even the people we spontaneously and easily like and love have nasty moods – or we run into them, when we’re in a nasty mood.


 

But we all know people who do love spontaneously and freely, and they seem to be people who have schooled themselves – or been schooled – to forget their momentary priorities, and to think of others. The absolutely essential first step is to be sensitive and to notice others. If we don’t do that, there’s little chance we’re going to care about them, or to reach out to them.


 

The satisfaction and the joy that come from loving are well worth any risk.

 


Plane Talk

Posted by Jay Autor on December 23, 2009 at 11:28 PM Comments comments (143)

Plane Talk

By Father Michael Sehler, S.J.


 

In June of 2007, I boarded a flight to Chicago from JFK in New York. Luckily, I was bumped up to first class. Usually sandwiched in coach, I was glad for a seat that was shaped more like my body, with leg room and with space enough for my own thoughts, that, I hoped would drift into dreams.


 

My seatmate however, would have none of it. An effervescent young professional named Natalie. She was well groomed, well dressed, and well educated. She was a thirty-something woman on the move and she bubbled over, eager to tell me about it. She wanted to let me in on how well positioned she was for the future; and, begrudgingly, I found myself engaged by her enthusiasm.


 

In the course of our two-hour conversation, I discovered that Natalie had been an undergraduate at Yale, and then tucked away an MBA and law degree from the University of Chicago. She had worked in Europe and in Hong Kong, and now lived in New York. Her boyfriend of seven years, whom she had met in Singapore, now lived in Seattle, which accounted for the trip we were sharing; I was getting off in Chicago, where she had a business layover. She had not seen her boyfriend for over a month; this was the only opportunity that she would have to spend a couple of days with him for another two months. He was involved in a hot tech company and, as she put it was about to make a “mega-killing.” It was too bad that they didn’t have more time for each other,” she told me, “but their careers simply wouldn’t allow for it.”

 

Natalie was currently a partner in a small, but highly successful investment company, which meant long hours and a lot of travel. The hours didn’t bother her, she said, because she knew that ultimately there would be a big payoff. Besides, she told me, she was really committed to doing her very best. She was just as competitive as the most aggressive guys in her firm. She looked me squarely in the face when she said: “I am eager to win.”


 

Not able to leave well-enough alone, I asked her why? Natalie answered by saying that she had always been a good student, always at the top of her class, and had always wanted to succeed. I asked her what she meant by success and she responded in this way: “I want to have big interesting work that pays exceptionally well and puts me among the ‘players’.” I said something about that sounding pretty stimulating.


 

During a pause to catch her breath in preparation for the next chapter of her story, I intervened by asking what she thought she wanted to have by the end of her life. If she could imagine herself, say at 80 or so, what did she see? With a laugh and a toss of her hair, she answered that she imagined that she would probably still be working, maybe writing and speaking, and would be highly regarded as a leader of some merit.


 

In my telling here, Natalie may sound rather arrogant, but that wasn’t my overall experience. I saw her as more supremely self-confident in an almost off-hand way, open and engaging. I liked her. I imagined, however, that I was getting a more honest picture of Natalie than what her co-workers got.

 

I had mentioned that I am a priest, and this eventually prompted her to say something about her spiritual life. That happens a lot in these sorts of conversations without my ever prompting the subject. Some blend of guilt, confession, and genuine interest evokes the topic. So she said that while she believed in God, she didn’t have time for Church or for anything like that. “No offense,” she added. “No offense taken,” I said.


 

I asked her then, what she thought church was really about. She said that it probably varied a lot from person to person, but for her, it just didn’t seem very relevant. And truthfully, she really had little time for much of anything beyond her very demanding schedule. For instance, she didn’t know if she and her boyfriend would ever get married. Non-commitment kept them freer, she declared, and freedom was very important. “Free to do what?” I asked. “Free to succeed,” she quickly replied.


 

At the most fundamental level in this Church, in the Roman Catholic Church, we say that the one essential ingredient to a life well-lived is a conscious, deliberate relationship with God. This is the bedrock foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and was framed by the first of the Ten Commandments. And as you know the first of the ten is: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

 

From this first principle flows a river of spiritual wisdom that pertains to how we will live our lives in relation to one another. But the foundation upon which everything else stands is the simple affirmation that God is. And if God is, then logic dictates that nothing else can authentically substitute for God. We say that anything that takes the place of this first affirmation is idolatry.


 

The colorful story of the Israelites making the golden calf in the wilderness, following Moses’ presentation of the commandments, is the prototype of idolatry. The very first thing the people do, when Moses is out of their sight and mind, is to give themselves over to something of their own making.

 

And to believe in God, or not to believe in God, is a poignant issue today isn’t it?


 

This is as true for people within these walls as it is for those outside. At any moment in anyone’s life, Christian and non-Christian alike, the pre-eminent issue is whether or not to affirm that God is. When we are at work or school, cooking a meal, writing a check, any matter large or small, any moment of any day, the question of my first allegiance pops up.


 

At some point in our conversation, I had the opportunity to tell Natalie one of my favorite bits of pastoral priestly experience: Whenever I have been at the bedside of persons near death, I have never heard any of them lament that they wished that they could have spent more time on the job, or made more money, or be freer from commitments. Instead, persons near death invariably speak about relationships: with God, with significant others, Sometimes this talk is laced with regret, sometimes with longing, sometimes with very great gratitude.


 

Although we do not know the details of the Apostle Paul’s death, scholars believe that the imprisonment that he mentions in his letter to the Philippians is the imprisonment that precedes his death. It is no coincidence then, that this letter is filled with commentary on the essential matters of life. His advice is framed in Joy: Joy for them, joy for the life and the work that they have shared; joy for their abiding trust in God’s continuing care and love for them. “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord,” Paul wrote. “I say it again: Rejoice!”


 

How can he say this from a place of imminent death? He sees beyond his present condition, affirming his fundamental allegiance, and he calls his friends in faith to the same truthful way of living in the world: union with God; union with one another.


 

With that as their chosen way in the world, Paul’s conclusion reads as an inevitable outcome: “Finally beloved, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”


 

So Paul sets before his friends a way of life suitable for the most daring of over-achievers, but his way has to do with the essential purpose of life, not with the secondary conditions, which so often masquerade as fundamental – flashy, expensive and beautiful, as some modern version of a golden idol.


 

After I shared with Natalie my mini-sermon about facing death, tears unexpectedly welled up in her eyes. The tears came on suddenly, and surprise her, and I certainly had not expected them, given her aggressive self-assurance and obvious delight in reporting how competently she had organized her life.

 

We sat quietly for a few minutes. Then she offered that both her parents were seriously ill; she hadn’t visited them for a long time, and she didn’t see how she could squeeze in a trip to Minnesota any time soon…Then she just flat-out sobbed.


 

Not much more was said before we landed. Still tearing as we packed up our belongings, and hauled bags down from the bins above, she handed me her business card, and asked if it would be OK if she emailed me sometime. I said sure and gave her my card.


 

As we stood waiting for the door to open, she pulled out her blackberry, and entered my information. Then she said, quietly, that technology is what made her relationship with her boyfriend work. This was the one essential of their relationship, she said. In fact, without it, she doubted that they would have stayed together.


 

I left her at Starbucks, as her phone rang. I noticed that she didn’t answer it. I figured that for the moment she had other things on her mind. Probably the demands of her schedule would overwhelm her again, the way the tide can overwhelm the shore. But then again maybe not. Sometimes the tide can change forever.


 

P.S. We had one email exchange, in which she thanked me for our conversation, and to which I replied…That was a long while ago.

 

 


Every Storm Will End

Posted by Lorelie Autor on October 12, 2009 at 12:14 AM Comments comments (142)

Hi Bros and Sis,

 

I wanted to share this article from Bro. Bo. It is a very helpful insight especially for those who have lost a lot during the recent typhoons in the Phils. (Ondoy and Pepeng). Everytime I looked at pictures of what happened , can't help but feel so helpless and sad for all our kababayans. Let us continue to pray for everyone who've lost their loved ones, lost their  properties and  those who've lost their own dignity and freedom to live a decent life. 

"Every Storm Will End

 

Did you suffer a loss recently?

A job? A relationship? Material things stolen from you?

Many of my friends lost many things in the recent flood.

My friends lost homes. My friends lost businesses. With tears, my auntie said, “Bo, I lost all the material things I’ve collected over the past 50 years of my life!” Some friends told me that what was most painful was loosing all their photographs—the memories of a lifetime.

Friend, I’ve got a message for you today: Believe that every storm will end. And after the storm, a new morning begins.

Remember that every loss is temporary.

If you lost a loved one, that loss is temporary. In heaven, you’ll see your beloved again and your reunion will last forever.

If you lost photographs, believe that in heaven, God will give back to you DVD copies of all the sweetest memories you’ve had in your life. (I’m not sure what video version they use up there, but I’m sure it’ll be the most modern. Perhaps it’ll be a virtual reality video!)

If you lost material things or opportunities or relationships, believe that God is creating room for something better to come your way.

How will this “better” happen?

Start being grateful.

That’s not a typo.

In the midst of your loss, be thankful.

I know you’ll complain, “Bo, there’s nothing to be thankful for! I lost half my life!”

Well, be thankful for the other half that you still have.

Don’t focus on what you lost, focus on what you still have.

You’ve got too many good things happening to you to be down!

Say this with me, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” (Not original from me. Got it from a bumper sticker.)

Why be grateful?

Because you attract what you focus on. I’ve said that before so many times, but I’ll keep saying it until God calls me home. Because it’s so powerful.

When you become grateful, you attract more of what you’re grateful for.

Gratitude is a blessings magnet.

 

My Business Loss

 

Many years ago, I lost a lot of money in a businesses venture.

It was a big loss for me. At that time, I lost almost my entire net worth.

I was tempted to mope, to sulk, to carry a heavy burden for a long time.

Actually, I allowed myself to grieve for awhile—which was very healthy.

But I decided not to grieve for too long, or I would be stuck forever.

After some time, I declared, “God has something better for me.”

I chose to smile. I chose to look at the brighter side. I chose to believe that better businesses would come my way. In fact, I began declaring the unbelievable. I said, “I’ll earn ten times what I lost!”

Later that week, a friend asked me, “Is it true that you lost a lot of money in that business?”

I said, “Yes, I did.”

“It happens to you too, huh? And I thought people like you are exempt from these things. So why are you smiling?”

“Because I believe God is redirecting me to a better business. And I know that I’ll earn ten times what I lost.”

It was a big claim and some friends couldn’t understand why I was so relaxed.

But a few years later, what I declared happened.

I started new businesses and I began to earn ten times what I lost. What I lost—my savings for years—I earned in a few months. Today, my new businesses are multiplying. I ask myself sometimes, “What if I didn’t fail in that business? I would still be stuck in that business! I wouldn’t have the new business that I have now.”

And imagine if kept moping and sulking—would I have seen the new opportunities around me? Imagine if I kept mourning my loss—would I have had the energy to venture into something new?

Friend, don’t focus at the problems in your life.

Don’t focus on what you loss.

Instead, focus on two things: look at what you still have and look at the new things that God will give you.

And be grateful.

 

 

Where Is The Real Storm?

 

Typhoon Ondoy came and went.

But the real storm is not out there.

The real storm is in your mind.

Do you believe that great things will happen to you?

Imagine a party balloon.

At first, it’s bright and fat and goes up to the ceiling.

But after a few days, it becomes deflated.

It stays on the floor.

We’re like balloons.

What keeps us up is hope.

But life happens, and everyday, we leak hope.

Especially when big trials come, we surely leak out a lot of hope.

And we’re deflated.

Here’s what you need to do: You need to refill your heart with hope.

So that you can rise up again.

Dispel the storms in your mind.

It may be stormy on the outside but it shouldn’t be stormy on the inside.

The only way to dispel the storms is to be grateful for what you have today and what will happen tomorrow.

God is redirecting you to something better.

Sit up straight. Out loud, say this declaration with me…

I’m strong in the Lord. I’m blessed. I’m forgiven. I’m protected. I’m redeemed. I’m equipped. I’m anointed. Healing flows in my body. New doors will open before me. I’ll meet the right people, the right opportunities, at the right time, at the right place. I’ll regain ten times what I lost…

In Jesus name!

 

 

May your dreams come true,

 

Bo Sanchez"

God's Victory: The Lord Reigns In Us

Posted by Jay Autor on September 6, 2009 at 11:41 PM Comments comments (292)

God’s Victory: The Lord Reigns In Us


There was a story about a teacher who wanted to proclaim atheism in her class. It was a class full of innocent Grade One pupils. She asked, “Who among you are atheists?” The poor little students, not knowing the meaning of the word just went ahead and raised their hands in the hope of gaining the approval of their teacher. Except for one little girl. The atheist teacher was surprised and asked, “Why are you not raising your hands?” “Because I am not an atheist, I am a Christian,” said the angelic little girl. The teacher was worried and asked, “Why are you a Christian?” The little girl replied, “Because I was raised to know and love Jesus, and because my mom is a Christian and my dad is a Christian too.” The teacher protested, “Oh no, but what if your mother was a moron and your father was a moron, what would you be then?” The little girl smiled and said, “I would be an atheist.”


Just like the little girl in this story, I am hoping that we Christians can proclaim our faith and God’s victory in our lives. God’s victory is fulfilled by the salvation he gave us through the cross. We allow Him to reign in our lives when we follow His commandment in loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Allow me to share three concrete ways of expressing this Love and allowing God to reign in our lives.


1. Serve Unconditionally


First, we must serve Him without conditions. When we are able to serve Him in the midst of our worries, we allow Him to reign in us. When we are able to attend mass or Prayer Assemblies in the midst of our tired bodies, we proclaim His victory in our lives. When we are able to attend in our Household or Prayer Groups and find ways to serve instead of merely looking for what we are getting out of the activity, we let Him reign. Remember if everyone is simply waiting for something, chances are no one gets anything. If everyone looks forward in giving, everyone receives something. When we are able to see beyond the pain that sometimes goes with our service to God, Our God reigns in us.


At the time of writing this, I had my own struggles. I get tired at work, at home, and with many other responsibilities that I have. In a nutshell, I was in no mood to serve. Instead of giving in to that temptation, I prepared a short article that I would share to our community website, and in the Prayer Assembly. When we are pushed to the limits, we are supposed to push back, and allow the Lord to reign more in our lives.


Do I Feel Like…


When there are opportunities to serve the poorest of the poor, whether in giving alms, donating to charities, or joining a walk (e.g. Gawad Kalinga Walk) that will benefit the poor, do we ask if we feel like doing it or not before we actually do it? The Gospel of Matthew says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Do we really need to check our feelings first before we serve the Lord through the poor?


Serve Unconditionally. It is not “Lord will you give me this favor if I serve you?” Instead it should be, “As for me and my house, we will serve you Lord. You know my needs and requests, let Your Will be done.”

Common Obstacles of Service


There are many hindrances in our effort to serve the Lord. Let me share two glaring ones, and probably the most common:

·    Self-pity. “Oh I am a sinner; I feel embarrassed to attend the Prayer Group Household.” Who among us have not sinned? Let him cast the first stone. A Christian Community is a gathering of sinners who would like to repent to the Lord. It is by that fact that we are supposed to gather and support each other in the walk of faith.

·   Self-righteousness. “Oh I’m better than my household leader,” Or “I’m too prayerful than anyone of you, I am better than you,” Or “I don’t need the community anymore, I have my own faith.” Let me quote the prayers of two people in Luke Chapter 18. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” And the tax collector prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We all know which one Jesus favored from the two of them.


2. Accept the Victory In His time


One of my favorite songs when I was a child goes like this “In His Time, In His Time, He makes all things beautiful, In His Time…” The problem in this modern world is that we have become an instant provider. We have instant noodles, instant coffee, instant meal, instant relief, etc. Our favorite word is “NOW.”


The Lords way’s are not like that however. When my wife gave birth, she had to go through surgery. It took sometime to heal because she had an infection. We grew weary and tired. I was already out of the office for a month, and my company doesn’t provide paternity leave. She was staying in the hospital for several days away from our new born baby. We thought for a while, we want healing “NOW”. But God’s message for us then was clear - In His time, everything will be alright. True enough, she’s already playing badminton, riding with me in my bike, and doing things she thought she might not be able to do again.


If we are having problems right now, we are still able to allow God to reign in our lives by being patient for the victory that He is preparing for us. Let’s recall Joseph’s story in the bible. He was Jacob’s favorite son. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave. With his visions, the leaders in Egypt promoted him from being a slave to someone entrusted with the leadership to manage the nation’s food supply at a time of famine. Because of hunger his brothers went to Egypt to beg for food. His betrayers, his own brothers, were now at his mercy. But instead of revenge from the traumatic experience he had because of them. He had the wisdom to understand why it had to happen and gave back nothing but love to them as he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." If we only have such wisdom, there is no reason for us to complain.


If you have problems today, and it feels like we are being betrayed and sold as a slave, worry not, for someday you know you will be liberated. If we are patient enough, we will be like Joseph who went through the pains and uncertainties in life until he was finally able to fulfill God’s Victorious Will.


3. Proclaim the Victory


How can anyone shy away from proclaiming how great the Lord is? In John’s vision in the book of revelation, the letter to Laodicea says, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” This is so true in our faith. We must have the zeal in proclaiming God’s greatness. It’s funny to know that at the time of Jesus. We read in the Gospel that when Jesus heals the sick, He usually asks them not to tell anyone about the miracle. Instead, those who were healed went up and down in proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth even in front of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Far from being shy.


Today, when we receive a blessing, or a miracle, there is a tendency sometimes to keep it. We are given the avenue to share it in Prayer Assemblies, Household Prayer Groups, Church gatherings, etc. Brothers and Sisters I encourage you to be bold, and emphasize God’s victory in your life. Let us not shy away from giving Him back all the glory.


Indeed, God’s Victory is fulfilled by allowing Him to reign in our lives. Let us serve God unconditionally, accept the victory In His time, and always Proclaim God’s Victory in every opportunity we have.

 



 

 


God's Victory

Posted by Jay Autor on September 6, 2009 at 11:27 PM Comments comments (242)

God’s Victory: The Lord Reigns In Us


There was a story about a teacher who wanted to proclaim atheism in her class. It was a class full of innocent Grade One pupils. She asked, “Who among you are atheists?” The poor little students, not knowing the meaning of the word just went ahead and raised their hands in the hope of gaining the approval of their teacher. Except for one little girl. The atheist teacher was surprised and asked, “Why are you not raising your hands?” “Because I am not an atheist, I am a Christian,” said the angelic little girl. The teacher was worried and asked, “Why are you a Christian?” The little girl replied, “Because I was raised to know and love Jesus, and because my mom is a Christian and my dad is a Christian too.” The teacher protested, “Oh no, but what if your mother was a moron and your father was a moron, what would you be then?” The little girl smiled and said, “I would be an atheist.”


Just like the little girl in this story, I am hoping that we Christians can proclaim our faith and God’s victory in our lives. God’s victory is fulfilled by the salvation he gave us through the cross. We allow Him to reign in our lives when we follow His commandment in loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Allow me to share three concrete ways of expressing this Love and allowing God to reign in our lives.


1. Serve Unconditionally


First, we must serve Him without conditions. When we are able to serve Him in the midst of our worries, we allow Him to reign in us. When we are able to attend mass or Prayer Assemblies in the midst of our tired bodies, we proclaim His victory in our lives. When we are able to attend in our Household or Prayer Groups and find ways to serve instead of merely looking for what we are getting out of the activity, we let Him reign. Remember if everyone is simply waiting for something, chances are no one gets anything. If everyone looks forward in giving, everyone receives something. When we are able to see beyond the pain that sometimes goes with our service to God, Our God reigns in us.

At the time of writing this, I had my own struggles. I get tired at work, at home, and with many other responsibilities that I have. In a nutshell, I was in no mood to serve. Instead of giving in to that temptation, I prepared a short article that I would share to our community website, and in the Prayer Assembly. When we are pushed to the limits, we are supposed to push back, and allow the Lord to reign more in our lives.


Do I Feel Like…


When there are opportunities to serve the poorest of the poor, whether in giving alms, donating to charities, or joining a walk (e.g. Gawad Kalinga Walk) that will benefit the poor, do we ask if we feel like doing it or not before we actually do it? The Gospel of Matthew says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Do we really need to check our feelings first before we serve the Lord through the poor?


Serve Unconditionally. It is not “Lord will you give me this favor if I serve you?” Instead it should be, “As for me and my house, we will serve you Lord. You know my needs and requests, let Your Will be done.”

Common Obstacles of Service


There are many hindrances in our effort to serve the Lord. Let me share two glaring ones, and probably the most common:

•    Self-pity. “Oh I am a sinner; I feel embarrassed to attend the Prayer Group Household.” Who among us have not sinned? Let him cast the first stone. A Christian Community is a gathering of sinners who would like to repent to the Lord. It is by that fact that we are supposed to gather and support each other in the walk of faith.

•    Self-righteousness. “Oh I’m better than my household leader,” Or “I’m too prayerful than anyone of you, I am better than you,” Or “I don’t need the community anymore, I have my own faith.” Let me quote the prayers of two people in Luke Chapter 18. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” And the tax collector prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We all know which one Jesus favored from the two of them.


2. Accept the Victory In His time


One of my favorite songs when I was a child goes like this “In His Time, In His Time, He makes all things beautiful, In His Time…” The problem in this modern world is that we have become an instant provider. We have instant noodles, instant coffee, instant meal, instant relief, etc. Our favorite word is “NOW.”

The Lords way’s are not like that however. When my wife gave birth, she had to go through surgery. It took sometime to heal because she had an infection. We grew weary and tired. I was already out of the office for a month, and my company doesn’t provide paternity leave. She was staying in the hospital for several days away from our new born baby. We thought for a while, we want healing “NOW”. But God’s message for us then was clear - In His time, everything will be alright. True enough, she’s already playing badminton, riding with me in my bike, and doing things she thought she might not be able to do again.

If we are having problems right now, we are still able to allow God to reign in our lives by being patient for the victory that He is preparing for us. Let’s recall Joseph’s story in the bible. He was Jacob’s favorite son. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave. With his visions, the leaders in Egypt promoted him from being a slave to someone entrusted with the leadership to manage the nation’s food supply at a time of famine. Because of hunger his brothers went to Egypt to beg for food. His betrayers, his own brothers, were now at his mercy. But instead of revenge from the traumatic experience he had because of them. He had the wisdom to understand why it had to happen and gave back nothing but love to them as he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." If we only have such wisdom, there is no reason for us to complain. If you have problems today, and it feels like we are being betrayed and sold as a slave, worry not, for someday you know you will be liberated. If we are patient enough, we will be like Joseph who went through the pains and uncertainties in life until he was finally able to fulfill God’s Victorious Will.


3. Proclaim the Victory


How can anyone shy away from proclaiming how great the Lord is? In John’s vision in the book of revelation, the letter to Laodicea says, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” This is so true in our faith. We must have the zeal in proclaiming God’s greatness. It’s funny to know that at the time of Jesus. We read in the Gospel that when Jesus heals the sick, He usually asks them not to tell anyone about the miracle. Instead, those who were healed went up and down in proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth even in front of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Far from being shy.

Today, when we receive a blessing, or a miracle, there is a tendency sometimes to keep it. We are given the avenue to share it in Prayer Assemblies, Household Prayer Groups, Church gatherings, etc. Brothers and Sisters I encourage you to be bold, and emphasize God’s victory in your life. Let us not shy away from giving Him back all the glory.


Indeed, God’s Victory is fulfilled by allowing Him to reign in our lives. Let us serve God unconditionally, accept the victory In His time, and always Proclaim God’s Victory in every opportunity we have.

 

 


Holy Eucharist is Real!

Posted by cfcbermuda on August 18, 2009 at 6:08 PM Comments comments (184)

Twentieth Sunday – B (Prov 9:1-6; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; Eph 5:15-20;

Jn 6:51-58)


 

In October 1972, a charter flight from Uruguay was crossing the Andes

Mountains to Chile. It never reached its destination. All forty

passengers on board were presumed dead. But 72 days later, 16 emerged

alive to tell how they had survived on the snowcapped slope where their

plane had crashed. For food, they had eaten the flesh of the passengers

who had died in the crash. And especially for this fact, the world was

stunned to learn their story.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ listeners are likewise stunned to learn the

incredible promise that He makes: One day He will give a special bread

for them to eat, a bread that in reality will be His own flesh. Is it

any wonder that they object, “How can this man give us his flesh to

eat?” Certainly, Jesus’ assertion demands some kind of explanation.

Jesus’ discourse in today’s Gospel passage is enlightened by its

proper context of John, chapter six. As we can still remember from a

couple of Sundays ago, the chapter begins with Jesus feeding the crowd

of 5,000 by multiplying five small loaves of bread. Normally, bread

results from a long and tedious process—beginning with spring planting

and ending in an oven. But Jesus’ simple blessing dispenses with both

time and effort. His action is a resounding declaration: “I can suspend

the laws of nature for BREAD!”


Later that night, while the disciples are struggling to steer their

boat on the storm-swept sea, Jesus comes walking towards them on the

surface of the water. This is the strangest of all the Gospel miracles.

To walk on water seems to smack of what occurs in pagan myths. What’s

the point? A most important one, actually: The law of gravity mandates

that weighty objects seek their rest at the lowest possible level. By

preventing His body from sinking, Jesus was implicitly declaring: “I

can suspend the laws of nature for my BODY.”


The next day, some of the crowd that had been fed came to Jesus on

the other side of the lake in order to make him their “bread king.”

Jesus used the occasion to promise that someday He would give a special

BREAD that would be His own BODY (Jn. 6:51).


In short, when Jesus fed those hungry thousands with only five small

loaves, He proved, “I can do what I want with bread.” By walking on the

water, He confirmed, “I can do what I want with my body.” That

afternoon, He drew the logical conclusion: “Someday, I will give a

special bread that in reality is my body.”


When did Jesus fulfill the awesome promise He made that afternoon? At

the Last Supper, when He blessed the bread and wine saying: “Take, eat.

This is my body. . . .Take, drink. This is the cup of my blood.”


For almost 2,000 years the Church has firmly taught that whenever the

priest at Mass does what Jesus did at the Last Supper, the bread and

wine are changed in substance to the Lord’s true flesh and blood, even

though the accidentals (that is, appearance or properties) of the bread

and wine remain. Does this seem incredible? Perhaps an illustration

might shed some light on this marvel.


You grasp an iron bar. How do you know that it’s iron? From its

weight, its color, and its hardness. But in outer space, the bar

becomes weightless, and in a blast furnace it becomes a red-hot liquid.

Is it still iron? Yes, of course, for its substance remains the same.

Only the accidentals (weight, color, hardness) have changed.

In the blast furnace of God’s love at Mass, the reverse of this takes

place. The accidentals of the bread and wine stay the same; the

substance changes into the Lord’s own body and blood. This marvelous

change the Church calls transubstantiation.


Ever since that afternoon of the promise at Capernaum, many have

refused to take Jesus at His word. Some have said that the Eucharist

only represents Him. However, if Jesus had meant a mere symbolic eating

of His flesh, why did He allow His listeners to take Him so literally?

Indeed, elsewhere in John’s Gospel, whenever Jesus’ listeners had

understood Him incorrectly, the misunderstanding was corrected at

once.


For example, in John chapter 2, Jesus told the chief priests—who were

standing in the Temple courtyard—“Destroy this temple and in three days

I will raise it up.” The chief priests thought He meant the temple of

stone. So the Evangelist added the clarification that Jesus was

referring to the temple of His risen body. In the next chapter, when

Nicodemus concluded that Jesus had in mind a physical rebirth (“Surely,

a grown man cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born”),

Jesus pointed out that He had meant a spiritual rebirth. And in the

eleventh chapter, when the disciples thought that Jesus wanted to

awaken Lazarus from natural slumber, He had to specify that He had

meant the sleep of death.


However, when His listeners at Capernaum objected, “How can this man

give us his flesh to eat?” far from correcting any misunderstanding,

Jesus went on to reinforce His statement by adding that they had to

drink His blood as well—something utterly abhorrent to a devout Jew!

When they refused to accept this “intolerable teaching,” Jesus

allowed them to walk off and leave Him. He did not call them back so

that He might restate His message to make it more palatable, by

rationalizing. No, He turned to the Twelve and asked, “Do you want to

leave me, too?” Why was Jesus prepared to risk so much—even the loss of

His chosen twelve? The only possible answer is that the presence He

spoke of was not symbolic but real.


Recent surveys indicate that many Catholics are entertaining serious

doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However, a

serious examination of the sixth chapter of John leaves no room for

doubt that Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present in the

Eucharist—the Sacrament of His Love and Life.


So much does Jesus love us that He conceals himself under what looks

like bread in order to ravish us in the love embrace of Holy Communion!

To receive Jesus’ Body and Blood is to receive his very life. Indeed,

to the quarrels of Jews Jesus replies reiterating and insistently

repeating in today’s Gospel: “I am the living bread… whoever eats this

bread will live forever… my flesh is for the life of the world… unless

you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink from his blood, you do

not have life within you… whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Lots of repetition to help us to understand something very basic: to

share this Eucharistic meal is to share in the life of Jesus.


Therefore, in comparison to what was stated in the Gospel reading of

last Sunday, in today’s Gospel Jesus goes one step further in teaching

on eternal life. He implies that besides the necessity of believing in

him, Eternal life comes actually from feeding on Him. Those who share

in the Eucharist are not believers who merely hope to enjoy eternal

life in the future, but instead, they already posses it.


My brothers and sisters, for us, the current hearers of Jesus and his

companions at the Eucharistic table, should be no doubt that being fed

by his real body and blood we will live forever. Amen!

 


Fr. Evandro

Whoever Loves His Life Loses It

Posted by Jay Autor on August 10, 2009 at 11:07 PM Comments comments (168)

I just got home from our household meetingtonight. And the bible passage chosen for discussion and sharing wastaken from today's Gospel (Jn 12:24-26). I can't help but share thepower of today's Gospel for everyone currently serving the Lord. Allowme to copy in here the actual passage:

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it,

and whoever hates his life in this world

will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me,

and where I am, there also will my servant be.

The Father will honor whoever serves me."

 

 

 

 

I'dlike to focus in on the bold phrase above. Unless a grain of wheatfalls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. I wouldlike to address specifically the leaders in CFC Bermuda. There are manytimes in our service where we struggle, we feel that it is getting toodifficult, maybe too painful to go on. We are tempted to think thatmaybe our efforts are useless and for naught. God reminds us today,that true service is to strain forward, dying for the Lord. We have tofall to the ground and die (not literally), then will the fruits beproduced in completion. Jesus himself had to physically die on thecross for oursake. So whenever we feel alone in service, whenever wefeel sad or defeated in service, let us be comforted by the fact thatJesus is watching us, smiling at us, telling us, "Thank you my childfor dying for me in service." Then will our burden be lifted up for weknow that the Father Himself will honor us. Then by the Power of theHoly Spirit, we will learn to serve cheerfully, happily, andgenerously. Whoever loves his earthly life too much, to the extent thatthey dont want toserve the Lord because they are already happy withtheir free time serving themselves, they will lose it in the next life.Whoever hates (not literally) his life, to the extent that his comfortzones are being disturbed, sacrifices have to be made, patience have tobe exercised for challenging moments, then in the end you preserve theeternal reward. Not because of our own merit but because this is thetrue expression of saying YES to the Lord and accepting hisunconditional offer of salvation.


 

 

May we all be fruitful in serving the Lord wherever we may be. May we always persever in our service to the Lord.


 

 

 

In Christ,

Jay

 


Whoever Loves His Life Loses It

Posted by cfcbermuda on August 10, 2009 at 10:59 PM Comments comments (207)

I just got home from our household meeting tonight. And the bible passage chosen for discussion and sharing was taken from today's Gospel (Jn 12:24-26). I can't help but share the power of today's Gospel to everyone currently serving the Lord. Allow me to copy in here the actual passage:

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

"Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it,

and whoever hates his life in this world

will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me,

and where I am, there also will my servant be.

The Father will honor whoever serves me."

 

I'd like to focus in on the bold phrase above. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. I would like to address specifically the leaders in CFC Bermuda. There are many times in our service when we struggle, we feel that it is getting too difficult, maybe too painful to go on. We are tempted to think that maybe our efforts are useless and for naught. God reminds us today, that true service is to strain forward, dying for the Lord. We have to fall to the ground and die (not literally), then will the fruits be produced in completion. Jesus himself had to physically die on the cross for our sake. So whenever we feel alone in service, whenever we feel sad or defeated in service, let us be comforted by the fact that Jesus is watching us, smiling at us, telling us, "Thank you my child for dying for me in service." Our burden be lifted up for we know that the Father Himself will honor us. By the Power of the Holy Spirit, we learn to serve cheerfully, happily, and generously. Whoever loves his earthly life too much, to the extent that we don't want to serve the Lord because we are already happy with our free time serving ourselves, we will lose it in the next life. Whoever hates (not literally) his life, to the extent that our comfort zones are being disturbed, sacrifices have to be made, patience have to be exercised for challenging moments, then in the end we preserve the eternal reward. Not because of our own merit but because this is the true expression of saying YES to the Lord and accepting His unconditional offer of salvation.


May we all be fruitful in serving the Lord wherever we may be. May we always persevere in our service to the Lord.


In Christ,

Jay


Whoever Loves His Life Loses It

Posted by Jay Autor on August 10, 2009 at 10:33 PM Comments comments (107)

I just got home from our household meeting tonight. And the bible passage chosen for discussion and sharing was taken from today's Gospel (Jn 12:24-26). I can't help but share the power of today's Gospel to everyone currently serving the Lord. Allow me to copy in here the actual passage:


 

 

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it,

and whoever hates his life in this world

will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me,

and where I am, there also will my servant be.

The Father will honor whoever serves me.”


 

 

I'd like to focus in on the bold phrase above. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. I would like to address specifically the leaders in CFC Bermuda. There are many times in our service where we struggle, we feel that it is getting too difficult, maybe too painful to go on. We are tempted to think that maybe our efforts are useless and for naught. God reminds us today, that true service is to strain forward, dying for the Lord. We have to fall to the ground and die (not literally), then will the fruits be produced. Jesus himself had to physically die on the cross for oursake. So whenever we feel alone in service, whenever we feel sad or defeated in service, let us be comforted by the fact that Jesus is watching us, smiling at us, telling us, "Thank you my child for dying for me in service." Then will our burden be lifted up for we know that the Father Himself will honor us. Then by the Power of the Holy Spirit, we learn to serve cheerfully, happily, and generously. Whoever loves his earthly life too much, to the extent that they dont want to serve the Lord because they are already happy with their free time serving themselves, they will lose it in the next life. Whoever hates (not literally) his life, to the extent that his comfort zones are being disturbed, sacrifices are made, patience are exercised for challenging moments, then in the end you preserve the eternal reward. Not because of our own merit but because this is the true expression of saying YES to the Lord and accepting His unconditional offer of salvation.


 

 

May we all be fruitful in serving the Lord wherever we may be.


Whoever Loves His Life Loses It

Posted by Jay Autor on August 10, 2009 at 9:51 PM Comments comments (229)

I just got home from our household meeting tonight. And the bible passage chosen for discussion and sharing was taken from today's Gospel (Jn 12:24-26). I can't help but share the power of today's Gospel for everyone currently serving the Lord. Allow me to copy in here the actual passage:


Jesus said to his disciples:

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it,

and whoever hates his life in this world

will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me,

and where I am, there also will my servant be.

The Father will honor whoever serves me.”


I'd like to focus in on the bold phrase above. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. I would like to address specifically the leaders in CFC Bermuda. There are many times in our service where we struggle, we feel that it is getting too difficult, maybe too painful to go on. We are tempted to think that maybe our efforts are useless and for naught. God reminds us today, that true service is to strain forward, dying for the Lord. We have to fall to the ground and die (not literally), then will the fruits be produced. Jesus himself had to physically die on the cross for our sake. So whenever we feel alone in service, whenever we feel sad or defeated in service, let us be comforted by the fact that Jesus is watching us, smiling at us, telling us, "Thank you my child for dying for me in service." Then will the burden be lifted up for we know that the Father Himself will honor us. Then by the Power of the Holy Spirit, we will learn to serve cheerfully, happily, and generously. Whoever loves his earthly life too much, to the extent that they dont want to serve the Lord because they are already happy with their free time serving themselves, they will lose it in the next life. Whoever hates (not literally) his life, to the extent that his comfort zones are being disturbed, sacrifices have to be made, patience have to be exercised for challenging moments, then in the end you preserve the eternal reward. Not because of our own merit but because this is the true expression of saying YES to the Lord and accepting his unconditional offer of salvation.


May we all be fruitful in serving the Lord wherever we may be.


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