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Monthly Archives: October 2010

THE PARABLE OF THE WIDOW AND THE JUDGE

THE PARABLE OF THE WIDOW AND THE JUDGE

(A biblical reflection on the 29th Ordinary Sunday, 17 October, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 18:1-8

First Reading: Ex 17:8-13; Psalms: Ps 121:1-8; Second Reading: 2Tim 3:14-4-2 

The Scripture Texts

Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ For a long time the judge refused to act, but at least he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don’t, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’ ”

And the Lord continues, “Listen to what that corrupt judge said. Now, will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He  be slow to help them? I tell you, He will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He comes?”  (Lk 18:1-8 TEV). 

The widow in this parable did not have any male protector, she did not have other resources either. So, she sought out ‘someone’ who could help her.

The fact that the ‘someone’ was an unscrupulous judge did not deter her one bit. After all, she was only asking for her rights! The widow’s apparently strong sense of right and and wrong gave her the courage of her convictions. She was never side-tracked by worry and fear, but kept going until justice was done.

The lesson for us is clear enough: If a helpless (but persistent) individual can compel an unworthy judge to make a just decision, how confident we must be that a just God will intervene for “his own people who cry to Him day and night for help”! (Lk 18:7). Jesus assures us, “I tell you, He will judge in their favor and do it quickly” (Lk 18:8). Together with the psalmist we can also chant, “My help will come from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your Protector is always awake. The Protector …never dozes or sleeps. The LORD will guard you; He is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The LORD will protect you from all danger; He will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and for ever” (Ps 121:2-8).

Quickly? This is not the word many of us would have chosen to describe how God answers our prayers. A thousand years may be like one day for God (see Ps 90:4). For us, though, one day can feel like a thousand years, especially when we do not have anything else, except waiting and waiting! But this “delay” works to our benefit, giving us respeated opportunities to lift our minds to the heavenly things. God certainly knows what we need , even before we ever ask. It is through our persevering prayer, however, that He prepares our hearts to receive more that we ever hoped or dreamed. Prayer enlarges our expexctations.

This particular parable calls us “to pray and never become discrouraged” (Luk 18:1). It urges us not to focus on our own limitations, but to come boldly into our heavenly Father’s presence to intercede for ourselves and our families, for local and global events, and even for our enemies. Our Father in heaven is pleased when we join His Son and all the angels and saints who cry to Him day and night, knowing He will bring justice. As we pray like this, He will answer us in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. And in the process, He will form us into just the kind of faith-filled people the Son of Man will be looking for when He comes again (see Lk 18:8).

Short prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to my cries. You are the LORD of all creation and the Guardian of my soul. You neither slumber nor sleep. Father, I place my trust in You. Amen.

Jakarta, 16 October 2010  [Memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)] 

A Christian Pilgrim

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YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL

YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL

(A biblical reflection on the 28th Ordinary Sunday, 10 October, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 17:11-19

First Reading: 2Kings 5:14-17; Psalms: Ps 98:1-4; Second Reading: 2Tim 2:8-13 

The Scripture Texts

On the way to Jerusalem He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices anda said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well (Lk 17:11-19 RSV). 

What a disappointment even for us who read today’s Gospel. The nine of the lepers whom Jesus healed from their leprosy did not return to thank Him. By not returning to Jesus they missed the opportunity to receive something far greater than physical healing. Certainly what they received was amazing: Even in our advanced medical age, leprosy can be halted, but not reversed. But the man who returned received something more than physical health. Jesus told him: “Your faith has made you well” (Lk 17:19). Not only had the man been “cleansed” of leprosy; he had been “saved.” 

Jesus heals people because He wants to set their hearts on fire with love for Him. This story of the ten lepers is a prime example of this truth. Jesus healed these men not only because He loved them, but because He wanted to invite them into a relationship with Him. The nine other lepers had no personal encounter with Jesus. From afar they were told to show themselves to the priests. They never established a relationship with Him, as the tenth man did. This relationship with Jesus is the crucial point, because it is only as we grow in a personal relationship with Him that we become children of God with new hearts and minds. To be with Jesus in a relationship of love and self-giving – that is truly what it means to be saved. 

In the ancient world, leprosy was an image of the state of humankind as a result of sin. Just as this disease makes a person an outcast from society, sin cuts us off from God, who is the source of our life and peace. In our distress, we can call out to Jesus from afar, and He will always help us. But His purpose is frustrated if we merely accept His help and go on our way. Jesus wants a relationship with us, in which we give Him our thanks and praise and He gives us His peace, comfort, and guidance. 

At Mass this Sunday, let us return to Jesus and thank Him for what He has done for us. Let us lay our lives down before Him in love, freely inviting Him to rule in our minds and hearts. 

Short prayer: Lord Jesus, we praise You today, as the Samaritan did. Thank You for cleansing us and saving us. Keep us close to You today and always. Amen. 

Jakarta, 7 October 2010  

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

JOHN 13:6

JOHN 13:6 

Note: About one hour ago I received an e-mail containing this beautiful story from a former superior officer of mine in one industrial company, Indonesia. He has received this e-mail message from another person I happen to know also. The story is so beautiful that it ‘forces’ me to make a decision to post it in this blog, because it is about God’s love to all of us. Something we must know and live with. 

One night, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 RSV) [F.X. Indrapradja, SFO]

THE STORY:

A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner, the people were in and out of the cold.  

The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell many papers.  

He walked up to a policeman and said, “Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? 

You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there for tonight.  

Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”  

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in.”  

So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said, “John 3:16 .” The lady said, “Come on in, Son.”  

She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a great big old fireplace, and she went off. The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself:

John 3:16 …I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.   

Later she came back and asked him “Are you hungry?” He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days, and I guess I could stand a little bit of food,”  

The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16 …Boy, I sure don’t understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.   

She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water, and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16 … I sure don’t understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy clean. You know, I’ve not had a bath, a real bath, in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.

The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: John 3:16 …I don’t understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.   

The next morning the lady came back up and took him down again to that same big table full of food. After he ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible.  

She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face. “Do you understand John 3:16 ? ” she asked gently. He replied, “No, Ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it,” She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus . Right there, in front of that big old fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there and thought: John 3:16 — don’t understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.  

You know, I have to confess I don’t understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for me that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.  

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  

If you aren’t ashamed to do this, please follow the directions.  

Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.” Pass this on only if you mean it.  

I do Love God . He is my source of existence.. He keeps me functioning each and every day. Phil 4:13 If you love God and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things he has done for you, send this on.  

Take 60 seconds & give this a shot!

Let’s just see if Satan stops this one.  

All you do is:  

1) Simply say a small prayer for the person who sent you this, “Father, God bless this person in whatever it is that You know he or she may be needing this day!”   

2) Then send it on to ten other people. Within hours ten people have prayed for you, and you caused a multitude of people to pray to ! God for other people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life for doing the thing that you know He loves.  

God Bless you and your families today and everyday.

 Jakarta, 8 October 2010

 

MARY’S PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH: LETTER FROM A CHRISTIAN PILGRIM (4)

Jakarta, 7 October 2010 [Our Lady of the Rosary]

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Re: MARY’S PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH 

This is the month of October, another Marian month and a special month for reciting the rosary in each of our communities as sisters and brothers in Christ. Let me now share with you a short story about Mary’s Pilgrimage of Faith. 

Mary grew up in Palestine in the first century B.C. She would have joined her people in praying for the coming Messiah and the fulfillment of God’s promises. There is no doubt that she heard some of her fellow Jews crying out for deliverance, not only from Roman domination, but from the divisions among their own people as well. She would have prayed for the restoration of Zion, the holy city of YHWH, as the gathering place of the chosen people. Listening to the Hebrew scripture must have filled her heart with a deep longing and with the faith that God would not abandon His people. In so many ways, Mary’s heart seemed ripe to receive the good news. 

Yet the Gospel of Luke tells us that when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, Mary was “greatly troubled” (Lk 1:29 RSV) by his greeting. The angel went on to tell her that she was to conceive miraculously and bear a child who would be called “holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). This child should be called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). Despite all the preparation in Mary’s heart – even despite her sinless purity – angel Gabriel’s appearance disturbed Mary and confronted her with an unexpected challenge. She was being invited by the Almighty God to participate in His plan of salvation, and in a way marvelous beyond any human imagination. 

Mary could not grasp why God would choose a lowly, uneducated girl like herself to fulfill such a mission. And even though she was probably familiar with prophet Isaiah’s prophecy that a virgin would conceive and bear a child called Immanuel – “God with us” (Is 7:14; Mt 1:23) – the notion that she would conceive by the power of the Spirit was still too incredible to grasp. 

While Mary’s mind could not fully grasp this revelation, her faith and love for God enabled her to say yes. Despite the fear, the uncertainty about the future, and the many questions that must have entered her mind, Mary knew in her heart that God was trustworthy. This humble “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) chose to remain faithful to God. From the moment of the angel Gabriel’s visit, Mary began a pilgrimage of faith that brought her to an ever deeper experience of God’s love. From then on, every challenge, every obstacle, every threat to her peace, gave her the opportunity to trust God more completely and to allow the Holy Spirit to pour more love into her heart. Mary never drew back from these challenges, but allowed them to form her more and more into the vessel of grace that she was destined to become. 

We can trace Mary’s pilgrimage of faith by looking at different ‘journeys’ she made during her life until the day of Pentecost. We may begin with her visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth who lived up in the hill country in the land of Judah (Lk 1:39-56). In each of the episode of her journey, during our examination let us look at the way she responded to the challenges placed before her. The more we come to understand how the Holy Spirit moved her and formed her, the more we can understand the Holy Spirit’s actions in our own lives. Just as Mary grew through obedience and love for God, the Spirit wants to form these same dispositions in our hearts. Noteworthy is the way Luke portrays Mary as a woman who quietly pondered the things that she witnessed and treasuring them in her heart (see Lk 1:29; 2:19.51). This was not an anxiety-laden attempt to make sense out of confusing circumstances. Rather, faced the events too wondrous for her mind to grasp, Mary turned to God for understanding. Even as she gave serious thought to what had happened, she opened her heart to the Lord and asked Him to teach her more about this Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who was to be her Son. As a result, even as Jesus was physically growing in Mary’s womb, He was also growing in her heart. So let us learn much from Mary during our own pilgrimage of faith. 

May the Holy Trinity bless you all.

Your brother and co-pilgrim, 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

MIRACLES AT THE FRIARY OF SAN VERECONDO: STORIES ABOUT FRANCIS (2)

MIRACLES AT THE FRIARY OF SAN VERECONDO: STORIES ABOUT FRANCIS (2) 

Note: Anonymous, Passion of San Verecondo, soldier and martyr. Lemmens, Testimonia minora, pp. 10-11.  

In the months preceding his death, the blessed little poor Francis was offered hospitality more than once in the monastery of San Verecondo; there he received a gracious welcome from the abbot and his monks who venerated him. It was here that he worked the miracle of the sow which had devoured a lamb. 

It was also near this monastery that blessed Francis assembled his first three hundred Friars Minor in a chapter; the abbot and his monks amiably procured food and lodging for them according to their means. Sir Andrew, now a very elderly man, who happened to be there at the time, has testified that the brothers received barley bread, fine wheaten bread, winter barley, millet; drinking water, quince wine mixed with water for the sick, and a quantity of two varieties of beans. 

At that time blessed Francis traveled about on a donkey weak and exhausted from his unbelievable penances, vigils, prayers, and fasting, he no longer was strong enough to walk; from the time he has received the stigmata of the Savior, it became impossible for him to walk. Late one night he was traveling on his donkey, accompanied by one of his brothers; he had thrown a coarse sack over his shoulders as a mantle. He was on the road leading to San Verecondo when peasants called out to him: “Brother Francis, stay here with us; don’t go any further: ferocious wolves  prowl about in this countryside; you are running the risk of seeing your donkey devoured and your yourself attacked and wounded!” “I have done no evil to Brother Wolf,” blessed Francis replied; “he will not dare devour our brother donkey. Good night, my children, and fear God!” 

Jakarta, 3 October 2010 [The 27th Ordinary Sunday (Year C)] 

[Taken from OMNIBUS (pp. 1602-1603) by A Christian Pilgrim]

 

ST. FRANCIS AND THE SULTAN OF EGYPT: STORIES ABOUT FRANCIS (1)

ST. FRANCIS AND THE SULTAN OF EGYPT: STORIES ABOUT FRANCIS (1) 

Note: Anonymous, Verba fr. Illuminati (Ms Vat. Ottob. Lat. 522) Golubovich, Biblioteca, vol. I, pp. 36-37. 

The minister general [St. Bonaventure] said to us: Here are some anecdotes that Brother Illuminato who accompanied St. Francis on his visit to the sultan of Egypt to us: 

One day the sultan wanted to test the faith and fervor that Blessed Francis manifested toward our crucified Lord. He had a beautiful multicolored carpet spread out on the ground; it was almost entirely decorated with motifs in the form of crosses. He said to the spectators: “Fetch that man who seems to be a true Christian; if in coming toward me he walks on the crosses of the carpet, we will say to him that he insults his Lord. If he refuses to walk on the carpet, I shall ask him why he disdains to approach me.” The man full of God was called. Now, this man received his instructions for his actions as well as for his words from the very plentitude of God: he walked across the carpet from one end to the other and came near the sultan. Then the sultan thinking that he had found a good opportunity to charge the man of God with having insulted Christ, said to him: “You Christians adore the cross as a special sign of your God: why then did you not fear to trample underfoot those crosses woven into the rug?” Blessed Francis answered him: “Thieves were also crucified along with our Lord. We have the true Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; we adore it and show it great devotion; if the holy Cross of the Lord has been given to us, the cross of  the thieves has been left to you as your share. That is why I had no scruple in walking over the symbols of brigands. ……” 

The same sultan submitted this problem to him: “Your Lord taught in His gospels that evil must not be repaid with evil, that you should not refuse your cloak to anyone who wants to take your tunic, etc.  (Mt 5:40): in that case, Christians should not invade our land?” – “It seems,” Blessed Francis answered, “that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ completely. In another place we read: if your eye causes you to sin, tear it away (Mt 5:29). Here he wanted to teach us that every man, however dear and close he is to us, and even if he is as precious to us as the apple of our eye, must be repulsed, pulled out, expelled if he seeks to turn us aside from the faith and love of our God. That is why it is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from his worship. But if you were  to recognize, confess, and adore the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves. ……” 

“All the spectators were in admiration at his answers.” 

Jakarta, 3 October 2010 [The 27th Ordinary Sunday (Year C)] 

[Taken from Marion A. Habig OFM (Editor), OMNIBUS (pp. 1614-1615)]

A Christian Pilgrim

 

MAKE OUR FAITH GREATER

MAKE OUR FAITH GREATER

(A biblical reflection on the 27th Ordinary Sunday, 3 October, 2010) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 17:5-10

First Reading: Hab 1:2-3,2:2-4; Psalms: Ps 95:1-2,7-9; Second Reading: 2Tim 1:6-8,13-14 

The Scripture Texts

O LORD, how long must I call for help before You listen, before You save us from violence? Why do You make me see such trouble? How can You endure to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all round me, and there is fighting and quarelling everywhere,

The LORD gave me this answer; “Write down clearly on clay tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. And this is the message: ‘Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are f aithful to God’” (Hab 1:2-3,2:2-4 TEV). 

The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith greater.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!’ Suppose one of you has a servant who is ploughing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry and eat his meal? Of course not! Instead, you say to him, ‘Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.’ The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying order, does he? It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty’” (Lk 17:5-10 TEV). 

One of the obscure prophet of the Old Testament is Habakkuk. From his prayer above, we can say that Habakkuk represents all of us during those times when everything seems to be going wrong, when perhaps we feel that God is indeed in heaven but far distant from our very real, very troubled world (Hab 1:2-3). Not everyone, of course,  has the courage to speak to God as the prophet did. We are fortunate that Habakkuk spoke to God as he did, reflecting a concern that is or can be ours, because through him we have a response from God (Hab 2:2-4). 

God was not displeased with his prophet, since He answered him in gentle, understanding tones, as if God said: “Be patient with me. I have a plan. What I ask you is faith, and because of your faith you will live.” The faith God asked from us is not the kind we ordinarily think of, a mere belief that there is God. No doubt at all that Habakkuk believed in God, otherwise he would not have called upon Him. What God meant by faith is a loyalty and trust, a steadfastness especially in the face of difficulties. Such faith is a combination of love and confidence. Most probably the best single word in English for this quality is “faithfulness.” 

It is indeed not difficult at all for us to be faithful to God when everything is going well for us, just as it is easy to be loving and kind, to be pleasant, to be cooperative people. In our difficult times God is asking that we be faithful to Him, especially during our most turbulent and frustrating moments. Like the apostles, we should turn to Jesus and pray: “Lord, make our faith greater” (Lk 17:5). The apostles, whom Jesus had sent forth to preach the Good News, were apparently overwhelmed by the demands of their apostolate and dismayed by the peoples lack of response. At that time the apostles did not know that Jesus Himself, during the hours of His passion, would be in a situation which would tax the limits of even His endurance. They could not foresee that on the cross, Jesus the man would feel abandoned by His Father and would nonetheless remain faithful as He cried out in a dying gasp: “Father! In Your hands I place My spirit!” (Lk 23:46). And though He died, Jesus was raised to the fullness of life because of His faithfulness. 

Each time we come the Holy Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are invited to thank God not only for the salvation which has come to us through His Son’s death and resurrection, but also for the example He has given us. As we pray, “Lord, make our faith greater,” we should do so with the realization that our difficulties in life can never match the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus will never ask more of us that He actually gave Himself. His faithfullness should stand as a motive for our own confidence and trust. Like our brother Jesus, we have taken the Father as our God for  better or for worse, in sickness as well as in health, but faithfulness means our belief that all will yet be well. With Jesus, we will pass through the passion and death of this world to the fullness of life in the resurrection. 

Short prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that no matter how heavy and burdensome my difficulties in life are right now, all these can never match the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior. Lord, make my faith greater! Amen.

Jakarta, 1 October 2010 [Feast of St. Térèse of Lisieux, Virgin and Doctor of the Church]

A Christian Pilgrim