Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week Reflections

Let us reflect on the Paschal Mystery with Filipino Theologian, Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ. Please find three other earlier posts.

We are in grace-filled days. May we receieve the graces of these most holy days.

Living the Paschal Mystery: Reflections from Pope Benedict XVI (Part 1)

Living the Paschal Mystery: And We Have Never Thanked Him

Living the Paschal Mystery: The Cross

Spy Wednesday

Holy Wednesday had also been called “Spy Wednesday”. This is in reference to today's Gospel (Mt. 26:14-25) – of Judas acting as spy of the Temple Elite, and betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. On this day, the last day, technically of Lent, we have an unlikely companion in our prayer and reflection - Judas.

It has been asked many times why Judas betrayed Jesus. After all, Judas followed Jesus for about three years. Judas was willing to dedicate three years of his life to the itinerant preaching of Jesus, and in the building of the community of the disciples. What could have led to Judas’ betrayal?

The narrative of John which we listened to yesterday gives us a window of understanding the complex inner battle that Judas was undergoing. Satan entered Judas. Then Judas left. Then it was night. Benedict XVI in his new book takes note of this. In John, what happened to Judas was beyond psychological explanation. Judas has come under the dominion of another. Anyone who breaks friendship, casting off the yoke of Jesus does not gain liberty, but succumbs to other powers. Judas betrays his friendship with Jesus because he is in the grip of another to which he has opened himself.

In Matthew, the account we listened to this morning, there is a striking detail that we should not miss. When Jesus announced that one of them will betray him, notice that all the other apostles say, "Sure it is not I, LORD?" Judas says, "Surely it is not I, RABBI?" The Gospel of Matthew here hints at something. Judas has never really understood Jesus and in the end sees him as another rabbi/teacher and not as LORD! Even when he regrets his action and tries to return the money, he speaks of "innocent blood" but there does not seem to be any greater faith.

There is a little bit of Judas in each of us. We too are often tempted to betray Christ. We do this when we choose to do wrong and refuse to do good. By sin we betray Christ. Whenever we fail to live the Christian life and we hand over our integrity, self-respect, and peace of mind, we are handing over Jesus.

As we recognize our own acts of betrayal, and as we seek forgiveness and renewal, at the deepest level we have also to ask, where are we in our faith in Jesus? Is Jesus Christ for us just a teacher, a rabbi, or is he for us truly Lord and Savior? If we see him as merely a teacher and rabbi, then we make him just one of the choices. We can choose to follow him or not to follow him. But if we accept him as our Lord and Savior, we are recognizing him as not just one choice among many. Rather, we recognize that he is the only choice – in words of the book of Revelation and in the signs of the Easter Candle, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. When we put ourselves under Jesus Lordship, his dominion, no other power can overcome us. As St. Paul says, “We can overcome all things in Christ who strengthens us.” But from Jesus, we are nothing. Everything we do and are makes sense and has meaning only in faith and fidelity to Jesus.

As we go journey through Holy Wednesday, let us call to mind own acts of betrayal, and as we seek forgiveness and renewal, at the deepest level, let us ask, where are we in our faith in Jesus? Is Jesus Christ for us just a teacher, a rabbi, or is he for us truly Lord and Savior?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Church and the Young

The Church and the Young, The Young and the Church, The Young Church, The Church of the Young.

The Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, in the First Plenary Assembly (1974) wrote this:

"Asia is young. And so the Church in Asia must be young. The apostle in Asia must speak the language, and think the thoughts, and feel in his heart the emotions of those who are under seventee. He must be patient when they are impulsive, and understanding when they are unreasonable. Above all, he must appreciate their real contributions: freshness of outlook, vitality, creativity, courage, compassion, integrity, generosity, the open heart, their willingness to learn."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ever been in love?

Lent 3, Friday
(Hos 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34)

There is a movie, now showing in some select theaters entitled, “Of Gods and Men”. It is about French Cistercian Monks who lived in a small, troubled Algerian Muslim village, living the Christian faith in community as monks, and witnessing in service to the people of the village. In one scene, a young lady asked one of the monks, an old man of maybe about 70.

“How do you know you are in love?”

“There’s something inside you that comes alive. The presence of someone. It’s irrepressible and makes your heart beat faster, usually. It’s an attraction , a desire. It’s very beautiful. No use asking too many questions. It just happens. Things are as usual then suddenly, happiness arrives or the hope of it. It’s lots of things. But you are in turmoil, great turmoil. Especially the first time.”

“Ever been in love?”

“Yes, several times. And I encountered another love, even greater. And I answered that love. It’s been a while now, over 60 years.”

This same compelling love is what the readings remind us today. The first reading from the prophet Hosea tells us of the great love of God. Amidst the infidelity of Israel, God continues to love his people. Like a husband who seeks out his wife, and offers her total forgiveness, God promises to heal his people, to renew them, to give them life – to make them blossom like the lily, grow like the Lebanon cedar, and flourish like the olive tree. They need only to repent.

For our worship, this has been beautifully put into song. “Come back to me, with all your heart. Don’t let fear, keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.”

The season of Lent reminds us of this great love which beckons us home, calling us to live in the life of God, attracting us, compelling us to respond, wanting to come alive in us, wanting to come alive in our lives. “Ever been in love?” “Yes, several times. And I encountered another love, a greater love.”

We all long to be loved, and we look for that love. The wonder of it, the Far Greater Love is looking for us, longing to love us. We only have to open ourselves to God. And then we will find love, or better still, and more appropriately, Love will find us.

This love that found us, the love that fills our heart, as Romans 3:4-5 would tell us, “the love of God that fills our heart through the gift of the Holy Spirit” moves us to give love in return. And love is not lost when we give it. It is rather blossoms, grows, flourishes. Loved by God, we are called to live in love – for God and others, just as God has loved us.

Rephrased, the question of the young woman may also be asked of us – “Have you ever owned in your heart that you are loved, loved by a Far Greater Love? Have you ever loved as you have been loved?”