Gilger, S.J. remarks, “ People won’t be persuaded to cross the
great chasm between the rich and the poor (a chasm that, let’s not kid
ourselves, exists just a much in this world as Abraham says it does in the
next) even if one were rise from the dead?
Then what hope is there to change
What could convince us to, as Pope Francis keeps saying, come out of
ourselves and go to the peripheries?
More tortuous than all else is the
human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?
The only thing that
spans the chasms within our tortured human hearts is love.
A generous and
A love we have not deserved. A love that teaches us to trust it
not because we are faithful, but because it is.
Abraham is right, it is not the
miraculous that spans such chasms, and it’s not guilt, or obligation, or fear.
Certainly there are miracles, but we do not cross chasms because we’ve been
Certainly we are guilty of not living up to the love we’ve been given,
but chasms are not crossed by those seeking to distract themselves from guilt.
Certainly we are obliged, but we do not cross chasms out of obligation.
And certainly we are afraid, but
chasms are not crossed by those in flight.
It’s only love that sets a heart
nearly beyond remedy alight.
A cocooning love that gives us space to change.
A cooling love that teaches us not to
fear the heat, to reach out despite rejections.
To reach out because that is
what lovers do, reach out to each other.… that one is like a tree planted
beside the watersthat stretches out its roots to the stream:
fears not the heat when it comes,its leaves stay green; In the year
of drought it shows no distress,but still bears fruit.” How is my
attitude towards the poor in my midst?
“It seems that human beings who try to avoid changing
themselves always set out on a destructive course of trying to change the
world, others, or even God”, says Richard Rohr.
How else can you explain the
attitude of the people of Judah towards prophet Jeremiah who fearlessly exposed
their corruption and for that they wanted to put him to death.
than changing themselves! Carl Jung would say that to avoid the legitimate
suffering of being human, we inflict untold suffering on others, and finally
actually bring more suffering on ourselves anyway.
It takes a great deal of
courage to change oneself in addition to true humility. The easy way out will
be blame others and avoid to total question of why should I change.
Gospel Jesus seems to be inviting his inner circle to follow him on the path of
redemptive suffering instead of redemptive violence.
Jesus insists that we make
of the preemptive and positive and positive move into “drinking of the cup”
ourselves instead of always asking others to drink it.
The two apostles wanted
to be ‘enthroned’ instead of suffering. Typical of human nature we don’t want
to change ourselves; we want to change others instead.
aspect of my life, attitude, vision, way of life should I change during this
What are your Lenten practices and
are you faithfully carrying them out?
May be suddenly you realize that I have
to do something for lent?
You are never too late.
Through Prophet Isaiah the
Lord reminds us “ come wash yourselves clean, and let us set things right”.
Lord is taking the first step reassess our lives and do the right thing.
Approach the sacrament of penance, then embark on doing good:
works of mercy.
Maybe you can visit a sick person today that always wanted to
visit and offer your words of encouragement or presence to let them know how
much God cares about them.
It could be your son, daughter, spouse who is really
struggling with some issues and you would want to give your listening ear.
matter what you do, doing it with utmost love for the Lord is essential. Jesus
condemns the Pharisees for their lack of depth, honesty and integrity in their
conduct of themselves for they were doing everything for a show.
were far from God.
So Jesus tells them to ‘practice what they preach’.
reward that awaits us is: “if you are willing and obey, you will eat good
things of the land” which is peace and joy that knows no bounds.
So let us get
on with our Lenten practices for the glory of God.
lady once approached me and said that in her parish the priest remarked that
there is really no sin but only weaknesses.
We don’t really commit mortal sins
at all but venial sins.
It was a scandalous remark for her.
Is there really
The reality of evil and sin can never be downplayed nor mitigated.
loss of a consciousness of sin is sign of the times. No one wants to claim
responsibility for any wrong-doing. How often we don’t realize that our sins
affect the community for sin is a communal reality.
Prophet Daniel offers us a
proper approach to sin. He acknowledges the individual and communal sins of his
people without offering any excuses.
Admission of ones’ guilt without offering
any justification is the beginning of repentance process. It can only come a
Secondly, Daniel acknowledges and submits himself to the mercy
and justice of God.
Our wickedness and sin can only be wiped out by the
generous and merciful God.
Daniel is confident of God’s mercy and his
We can never outdo the generosity of God as acknowledged by Jesus
in the Gospel.
The call of the Lenten season is to offer a complete
accountability of our state of soul and surrender ourselves to the mercy of
Pope Francis urges us to make our parishes and communities as ‘islands of
mercy’ during this season of grace.
That journey begins with our own repentance
and submission to God’s mercy.
When was the last time you made a confession of
Yousef was a poor Egyptian Coptic Christian
worker who went to Libya to find work to support his family.
He knew it was
dangerous to go there but he said that his faith gave him courage.
"I have one God, he's the same here and there." Emad mourns the loss
of his brother Maged: "We are proud that he went to the father in the sky."
we reflect on the tragic loss of the 21 Coptic Christians we realize that they
faced an agonizing test of their faith and triumphed over it.
They faced indeed
a period of terrible darkness and found courage to embrace the death uttering
the name of Jesus.
Abraham finds himself in a terrible test of his faith when
he had to let go of the most precious possession of his life: his son Isaac. He
remains faithful and obedient to God.
Ignatian spirituality speaks of
dispossession or detachment from all that remains a stumbling block to
receiving more blessing and drawing oneself attached to God.
It is intriguing
to note that Abraham tells the servants, “stay here… while the boy and I go
over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Do we something
Abraham is supposed to be sacrificing his son. Then again, he
tells us son that “ God himself will provide.”
As the story unfolds there was
no sacrifice of his son and we see that Abraham is blessed for generations to
come for his fidelity and trust in the promises of God.
The story ends up being
what God does for Abraham rather than what Abraham has done for God.
In the transfiguration of
Jesus to the disciples in the mount Tabor we encounter the moment of agony,
suffering, darkness and pain that gives way to a tremendous, mysterious and
abundant giving of God to his own Son Jesus with the glory.
Just as the Coptic
brother said of Maged ‘we are proud that he went to the father in the sky’, we
are indeed blessed with the gift of salvation after the agonizing suffering and
death of Jesus on the cross.
The glory of Jesus comes after his death,
darkness, dispossession, detachment, giving of his very life for others.
journey with God in faith has always a happy ending especially when we are
ready to ‘dispossess’ or detach ourselves and surrender in total obedience to
How do we face the tests of faith in our life and what is it that God asks
of us to detach ourselves from?
Lent is letting go of ‘meism’ and let God into
A homeless man slept under an American flag blanket on a park bench in September in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
By Inés San Martín
Vatican correspondent January 28, 2015
ROME — In his annual message for Lent, Pope Francis once again blasted what he called a “globalization of indifference,” saying that when people grow materially comfortable they tend to forget about others, becoming unconcerned with their problems, suffering, and injuries.
He called on Christian communities to become “islands of mercy,” transforming parishes, communities, and groups into places where God’s mercy becomes visible.
“How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!” said Francis.
“Our heart grows cold,” the pope said. “As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference.”
Facing this scenario, said the pope, “someone might be discouraged because it may seem that he [or she] cannot change anything,” since we are in a social and economic crisis that’s beyond us.
In his Lenten message, presented Tuesday in Rome, Francis said the answer to this indifference is to pray, to help others, and to recognize the need for God. These three things can be done at different levels, he said: in the Church as a whole, in parishes and communities, and individually.
With regard to the Church as a whole, the pope referred to a sense of communion that Catholics should have, calling them to share their possessions with others.
“In this sharing of holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others,” he said.
“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians,” Francis said, adding that in the Church, there’s no room for the indifference that so often “seems to possess our heart.”
On a parish level, Francis said that every community is called to go outside of itself and engage in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, paying special attention of the poor and those who are far away.
“The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed, but sent out to every nation and people,” he said.
On a personal level, the pope called on Catholics to avoid being caught up in a spiral of distress and powerlessness created by endless news reports and troubling images of human suffering.
Francis also called for all dioceses around the world to join his initiative of “24 Hours for the Lord,” a penitential celebration to be observed March 13-14 that aims to place the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) at the center of the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel.
Pope Francis first talked about the “globalization of indifference” in 2013, when he went to Lampedusa, an Italian island where thousands of African migrants arrive yearly in the hopes of a better life in Europe.
“We have become used to the suffering of others,” Francis said at the time. “It doesn't affect us. It doesn’t interest us. It’s not our business.”
‘It’s impossible’ we can say to live up to higher standard
that God sets for those who follow him. The bar is very high and yet we must
realize that what is at stake here is a higher reality too.
To gain eternal
life or to ‘enter into the Kingdom of God’ is no simple gift. “Your
righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees” otherwise you will be left
out of the gate of eternal life.
It’s not enough to pray from the heart,
aligning ourselves with the desires of God, but also live from the heart, love
from the heart, act from the heart.
Jesus demands greater accountability for
all that we are, for all that we do, respecting our own free will. How often we
come to Mass and realize that we need to reconcile with our neighbor whom we
harbor grudge and or ill will?
Peace with God can’t be achieved without
reconciliation with our brother or sister. The harsh words of Jesus in the
Gospel must be looked at not as a threat but as an invitation to greater depth,
fidelity, charity and discipleship.
To love tenderly, to act justly and to live
honestly that God may be pleased with our life. Our choices, our decisions and
our following truly matters to God and so we must pay attention to every aspect
of our life and make sure all is in response to voice of the Divine.
accountable are you to the Lord who has called you and sent you to minister to
the people of God?