Monthly Archives: March 2011



[1] All our fear of God is inspired by love; perfect love of God makes fear perfect. We show our love of God especially when we follow His advice, conform to His loves; and trust in His promises. We must follow the words of scripture; ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him and to keep His commandments with all your heart and with all your soul, that it may be well with you.’ (St. Hilary [401-449] – Commentary on the Psalms) 

[2] Our Lord spent three hours in redeeming, three years in teaching, and thirty years in obeying, in order that a rebellious, proud and diabolically independent world might learn the value of obedience …… 

He passed practically the whole of His life in a despised village and degraded valley, with no flash of outward pomp, subject to a Virgin and a just man. What was all this but a lesson to the world that misunderstands power, either by glorifying it or by overthrowing it; namely that no one has the right to command until he has learned to serve, and no one has a right to be a master until he has learned to be a servant, and no one has a right to power until he has learned to be obedient. (Writings of Fulton J. Sheen [1895-1979] in Path to Peace) 

Things to ponder: Before we can obey, we must first listen, to God, to the Church, to our families and our civil leaders. How often do we cut them off even before we have heard what they are saying? This Lent, I resolve to become a better listener. 

[3] Man did not have the glory of God. The only way that man could receive this glory was by obeying God. Therefore Moses said, ‘Choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God and obeying His voice and cleaving to Him; for that means life to you and length of days.’ 

To prepare man for this life, God Himself spoke the words of the Decalogue, to all men alike. And so these words remain with us too. By His coming in the flesh God did not abrogate them; He extended and augmented them. As for the precepts which enslaved, however, God imposed these on His people separately through Moses. These precepts were well devised to instruct or punish them, as Moses himself said, ‘The Lord commanded me, at that same time, to teach you statutes and ordinances.’ 

But by the new covenant of liberty God cancelled those provisions which He had given to His people to enslave them and serve the purpose of a sign. At the same time the laws, which are natural and appropriate to free men and are applicable to all without distinction, were amplified and widened. Out of the abundance of His love, without grudging, God adopted men as His sons, and granted that they might know God as Father and love Him with all their heart, and follow His Word without turning aside. (St. Irenaeus [130-202], Against the Heresies) 

[4] The cross points out that we should not be afraid of failures. Sometimes a failure is transformed into success. But even if that does not happen we need not be ashamed of our failures. Every resurrection has a cross behind it, but not every cross has a resurrection ahead of it. But in this particular case, namely the death of Jesus on the cross, God transformed death into a source of life itself. 

Dying in order to live is the lesson of the cross. And yet how easy it is to preach on it, how difficult to follow? In our relationships with others we often refuse to die. Our pride and self-righteousness never leave us. We deny forgiveness to others, so we do not receive forgiveness from others. And we remain defeated, sick guilty, unfulfilled within, instead of being “ransomed, healed, reswtored, forgiven.” So too the institutions of the Church, of society, of politics often refuse to die even after having outlived their usefulness. How persistently we fight to preserve old structures in the name of tradition leaving no room for the young, the new, and the enthusiast to burst forth into new life as the resurrection light burst forth on the Easter morning? Christ is “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor 15:20). “Except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it shall never bear any fruit” (Jn 12:24). That we must die in order to live is the permanent lesson of the cross. (S.J. Samartha, The Pilgrim Christ) 

Jakarta, March 20, 2011 [The 2nd Week of Lent] 

The Christian Pilgrim (compiler)

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 31, 2011 in LENT AND EASTERTIDE





Chs 6,36;7,44;8,45;9,92 

Where a man’s heart is, there will be his treasure also, for God is not wont to refuse a good gift to those who ask. So because God is good and especially good to those who serve Him, we must cling to Him, and be with Him with all our soul and with all our heart and with all our strength. This we must do if we are to be in His light, and see His glory, and enjoy the grace of heavenly joy. To this happiness we must lift our minds, we must be in God, and live in Him and cling to Him, for He is beyond all human thought and understanding and He dwells in endless peace and tranquillity. This peace passes all understanding, passes all perception. 

This is the good which permeates everything. All of us live in it, depend on it. It has nothing above itself, but is divine. No one is good but God alone, because the good is divine and the divine is good. So the psalmist says, ‘When You open Your hand all creatures are filled with goodness.’ Through God’s goodness all the truly good things are given to us, and among them is no mixture of evil. 

These are the good things that scripture promises to the faithful in the words, ‘You shall eat the good of the land.’ We are dead with Christ; in our bodies we carry the death of Christ, so that the life of Christ also may be manifested in us. We do not live any longer our own life, but the life of Christ, the life of innocence, chastity, simplicity, and of every virtue. We have risen with Christ; we must live in Christ; we must ascend in Christ, so that the serpent can no longer find our heel on earth to wound. 

Because God is our refuge and God is in heaven and above the heavens, we must flee from here and come to that place where there is peace and rest from our labours, where we may enjoy the great Sabbath feast, as Moses said, ‘The Sabbath of the land shall provide for you.’ To rest in the Lord and to gaze upon His loveliness is truly a feast and full of delight and peacefulness. 

We must flee like deer running to the fountains of water. The thirst which David felt, let our soul too feel. Who is that fountain? David said, ‘For with You is the fountain of life.’ My soul must say to the fountain, ‘When shall I come and behold Your face?’ For the fountain is God. 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, I do believe that I must fear You as Lord my God, to love You and serve You with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind because this is the greatest and first of your commandments. Through Your Holy Spirit keep me to be always faithful in this belief. Amen. 

Taken from THE DIVINE OFFICE II – LENT AND EASTERTIDE – The Office of Reading – The Second Reading, pages 143-144. 

A Christian Pilgrim




[1] It’s never too late. In Lent, we should look ahead rather than back. Though time is too precious to waste, it must never be thought that what was lost is irretrievable. Once the Divine is introduced, then comes the opportunity to make up for losses. GOD IS THE GOD OF THE SECOND CHANCE.

Peter denied, but he had the second chance in which to become as solid as a rock. There really is such a thing as a “second birth”. Being born again means that all that went before is not held against us. The thief on the right side of the Lord on Calvary wasted a human life, but in accepting pardon won eternal life. 

[2] Season of Love. We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue, a time to pull up weeds or to plant good seeds. Which is better is clear, for the Christian ideal is always positive rather than negative.

A person is great not by the ferocity of his hatred of evil, but by the intensity of his love for God. Asceticism and mortificdation are not the ends of a Christian life; they are only the means. The end is charity. Penance merely makes an opening in our ego in which the Light of God can pour. As we deflate ourselves, God fills us. And it is GOD’s arrival that is the important event. 

[3] Dying daily. If we are to live for Christ, we must “die daily”. Let is an ideal time to think about our own death. A happy death is a masterpiece and no masterpiece is ever perfected in a day. Dubois spent seven years in making the wax model for his celebrated statue of Joan of Arc – and it stands today as a ravishing perfection of the sculptor’s art. In like manner our death must appear as a ravishing perfection of the many years of labor we have given over to its mold by dying daily.

The greatest reason we fear death is because we have never prepared for it. Most of us die only once – WHEN WE SHOULD HAVE DIED A THOUSAND TIMES – yes, even daily. Death is a terrible thing for one who dies only when he dies; but it is a beautiful thing for him who dies before he dies. 

[4] Only God bring happiness. Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure. The purpose of life is to attain to perfect life, all truth and undying ecstatic love – which is the definition of God. In pursuing that goal we find happiness. Pleasure is not the purpose of anything; pleasure is a by-product resulting from doing something that is good.

One of the best ways to get happiness and pleasure out of life is to ask ourselves, “How can I please God?” and, “Why am I not better?” It is the pleasure-seeker who is bored, for all pleasures diminish with repetition. 

[5] The Law of Sacrifices. “Unless the grain of wheat falling to the ground die, itself remaineth alone.” The power to find life through death makes the seed nobler than the diamond. In falling to the ground it loses its outer envelope which is restraining the life within it. But one this outer skin dies in the ground, then life pushes forth into the blade.

So too, unless we die to the world with its vices and its concupiscences, we shall not spring forth into life everlasting. If we are to live a higher life, we must die to the lower life; if we live in the lower life of this world, we die to a higher life, which is Christ. To put the whole law in the beautiful paradox of Our Divine Lord: If we wish to save our life, we must lose it. 

Source: Path to Peace [excerpted from the works of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen by James E. Adams for Creative Communications for the Parish, St. Louis, MO: 1985] 

Jakarta, March 29, 2011 [The 3rd Week of Lent] 

The Christian Pilgrim (compiler)




[1] As disciples of Christ we have to go with Him through the Garden of Gethsemane. But we do not disappear into the clouds with Him; we are left behind, set in the world to continue His mission. The knowledge of the true God is meant not to make us other-worldly, not to make us better human beings, but to liberate us, purify us, and strengthen us for a life of obedience in which we need to grow in maturity. Without being rooted in the life of God we cannot participate in the doings of God. Without being in the truth of Christ we cannot become truly His disciples. (S.J. Samartha, The Pilgrim Christ) 

[2] There is one thing in the world we can call our own. There is only one thing we can give to God that is ours as against His – and that not even He will take away, and that is our own will with its power to choose the object of its love. 

Hence the most perfect give we can give to God is the gift of our will. The giving of that gift to God is the greatest defeat that one can suffer in the eyes of the world, but it is the greatest victory we can win in the eyes of God. (Writings of Fulton J. Sheen [1895-1979] in Path to Peace) 

Questions to ponder: How long has it been since I freely offered myself to God? How long since I genuinely prayed, “Your will be done”? The next time I receive You in Holy Communion, I will pray for the courage to conform my will to Yours. 

[3] By and large, we men and women of this world find it very difficult to believe that God loves us. There are many reasons to explain this. First, it is unthinkable that Almighty Infinite Being be interested in us miserable creatures. What can we offer to our Maker? Second, we see the wealth of this world in the hands of a few who enjoy all sorts of comforts and luxuries; while the great majority of human beings are deprived of the necessities of life. The oppressor and the cunning thrive in this world, but the poor and the innocent suffer injustice and cruelty. It is very hard for us to reconcile God’s goodness and love with our present misfortunes and calamities. Third, we love others when they respond to us and meet our need for affection. If indifference is all that they show to us, we just cannot love them. We know we are sinners and know how poor our response to God is. We think of God as though He were like one of us. Thus, we conclude that God cannot love us. (J.M. Fuster SJ, Love as I love 

[4] To save means to liberate from radical, ultimate evil. Death itself is no longer that kind of evil, if followed by the Resurrection. And the Resurrection comes about through the work of Christ. Through the work of the Redeemer death ceases to be an ultimate evil; it becomes subject the power of life.

The world does not have such power. The world, which is capable of perfecting therapeutic techniques in various fields, does not have the power to liberate man from death. And therefore the world cannot be a source of salvation for man. Only God saves, and He saves the whole humanity in Christ. The very name Jesus, Jeshua (“God who saves”), bespeaks this salvation. In the course of history, many Israelites had this name, but it can said that this name was waiting for this Son of Israel alone, who was meant to confirm its truth: “Was it not I, the Lord, besides whom there is no other God? There is no just and saving God but me” (cf. Is 45:21). [Pope John Paul II [1978-2005], Crossing the Threshold of Hope] 

Jakarta, March 20, 2011 [The 2nd Week of Lent] 

The Christian Pilgrim (compiler)

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2011 in LENT AND EASTERTIDE





On Ps 140, 4-6 

‘I call upon You, O Lord, listen to my prayer.’ All of us can make this prayer. This is not merely my prayer; the entire Christ prays in this way. But it is made rather in the name of the body. We can say more than this. For when Christ was on earth He prayed in His human flesh. He prayed to the Father in the name of the body. While He prayed, drops of blood streamed down from all over His body. We read in the Gospel, ‘In great anguish He prayed more earnestly; His sweat was like drops of blood, falling to the ground.’ Surely this bleeding of all His body is the death agony of all the martyrs of His Church. 

‘I call upon You, O Lord, listen to my prayer. Give ear to the voice of my supplication when I call to You.’ Did you think the work of crying out was finished when you prayed, ‘I call upon You’? You uttered your cry, but do not think you are now secure. If your tribulation is over, your crying ends. If tribulation continues for the Church, the body of Christ, until the end of time, let it not pray only, ‘I call upon You, O Lord, listen to my prayer’, but also, ‘Give ear to the voice of my supplication when I call to You.’ 

‘Let my prayer be counted as incense before You and the lifting up my hands as an evening sacrifice.’ 

Every Christian recognizes that this is usually understood of the Head Himself. As the day was sinking down towards evening, the Lord hanging on the cross laid down His life to take it again. He did not lose His life against His will. We, too, were represented there. What hung upon the cross if not that humanity which He had taken from us? How could God the Father and Son are certainly one God? Christ nailed our weakness on to the cross where, as the Apostle says, ‘Our old self was crucified with Him.’ So it was with the lips of this self of ours that Christ cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’ 

That is the evening sacrifice, the passion of the Lord, the cross of the Lord, the offering of a saving victim, the whole burnt-offering acceptable to God. That evening sacrifice produced, in His resurrection from the dead, a morning offering. When a prayer is sincerely uttered by a faithful heart, it rises as incense rises from a sacred altar. There is no scent more fragrant than that of the Lord. All who believe must possess this perfume. 

‘Our old self’, the Apostle tells us, ‘was crucified with Him that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.’ 

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, I try, I try, and try too much. Now, I realize that through Jesus alone that we go to the You, not through our own effort. Let the grace of Jesus work in me. Amen. 

Taken from THE DIVINE OFFICE II – LENT AND EASTERTIDE – The Office of Reading – The Second Reading, pages 128-130. 

A Christian Pilgrim




(A biblical refection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A], March 27, 2011) 

Gospel Reading: Jn 4:5-42 

First Reading: Ex 17:3-7; Psalms: Ps 95:1-2,6-9; Second Reading: Rom 5:1-2,5-8 

The Scripture Text

So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was with His journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and You say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Just then His disciples came. They marvelled that He was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do You wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to Him.

Meanwhile the disciples besought Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought Him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His words. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (Jn 4:5-42 RSV) 

A man and a woman met at a well beyond the edge of town. They were strangers to each other, not only because they had never met before but because they should never be meeting at all. He was a Jew who was travelling through foreign territory; on the other hand she was a Samaritan who was on home ground. These peoples had been estranged from each other for centuries, and that ancient hostility had been kept alive by each generation. According to their own traditions they should remain strangers to each other. But would this man and this woman allow that estrangement to dictate their attitudes to each other? Would they rise above the mutual hostility of their own traditions and face each other honestly? Of course this was not just any man, and the Samaritan was not just any woman too. 

This story demonstrates what can happen when we open our lives to Jesus. At first, she was cautious and deceptive in her answers – perhaps even flirtatious. After all, she was alone with a Jewish man who was breaking all the rules by talking to her. This mysterious man who spoke so compellingly and who radiated such peace must have been attractive to her. His next move would be critical. Would He try to possess her like other men, or would He be different? There was a long period in the woman’s life before she met Jesus, and during that time, she went through five husbands. It seems she was always searching for someone who could make her feel loved and secured. When Jesus began speaking to her about her sinful life, she was convinced that He was different. She realized she had found the only one who could fill her deepest longings, and indeed she was in the presence of a prophet. She said, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (Jn 4:19). 

Whatever we think of this woman’s promiscuity, she deserves our respect. She did not try to defend her actions; she did not even ask Jesus how to straighten out her love life. Instead, her first question was how to worship God (see Jn 4:20). A sinner though she was, her relationship with the Lord was the most important thing to her. 

Jesus’ openness to the Holy Spirit allowed Him to probe her heart and bring her neediness into the light. And, because of her openness to the same Spirit, this woman accepted Jesus. She did not keep her experience a secret. She turned her experience of Jesus into a message for others. Jesus had freed her to carry His message to others. Because of her the whole town come to meet Jesus. Many believed in Him when they met Him for themselves (Jn 4:39-42). 

The Samaritan woman was (and still is) a summary of how people come to understand Jesus: first a Jew, then as a prophet; then as the Messiah; then as the Saviour of the world. She was one of the first witnesses of John’s Gospel who led others to Jesus. Her past did not hinder her from being a messenger of Good News. 

Now, do you see the way God wants to work in our lives? He wants each and every one of us to speak honestly with Him and allow Him to speak honestly with us. 

Sisters and brothers, we must believe the promise that His love is sufficient to sustain, console, and encourage us, even as we come face-to-face with the Lover and the Knower of our souls. We also must get rid of the feeling that we must preserve our lives as they are (keeping the status quo) than risking what they might become. Jesus does not want any of us to walk away from Him sorrowfully like the rich young man in the Gospel (see Mk 10:22). Let us trust in Him and not shrink back from His loving, probing gaze. 

Short Prayer: Jesus Christ, You are my Lord and Saviour. I want to follow You. Search my heart and show me how. Show me where I fall short and, most importantly, teach me how to love our Father in heaven. Amen. 

Jakarta, March 20, 2011 [The Second Sunday of Lent] 

A Christian Pilgrim




(A biblical refection on The Solemnity of THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD, Friday March 25, 2011) 

Gospel Reading: Lk 1:26-38 

First Reading: Is 7:10-14; Psalms: Ps 40:7-11; Second Reading: Heb 10:4-10 

The Scripture Text

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called  barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Lk 1:26-38 RSV)         

Imagine the scene: The archangel Gabriel came to Mary and announced the news that she had been chosen to conceive and bear the Son of God. Imagine her astonishment at this announcement. And when she asked how this would come about, the answer was just as startling. The angel gave no human or physiological explanation. The child would be conceived in a way that surpassed nature. Instead Gabriel assured Mary that nothing  is impossible for God. The Holy Spirit himself would overshadow and empower her to conceive the Word-made-flesh. Surely Mary could not have comprehended this mystery, yet she gave her wholehearted and unreserved assent: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let is be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). 

Mary’s fiat was not a “one-time-only” consent. It was repeated throughout her life as she learned to listen to the Holy Spirit, to be docile to the Spirit’s movements, and to let Him teach her how to raise her Son and follow Him as perfectly as she did. As the late Pope John Paul II wrote about her: “Mary, who conceived the Incarnate Word by the power of the Holy Spirit and then in the whole of her life allowed herself to be guided by His interior activity, will be contemplated and imitated. …above all as the woman who was docile to the voice of the Spirit, a woman of silence and attentiveness, a woman of hope” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 48). 

Overshadowed by “the power of the Most High” at the Annunciation and again “clothed with power from on high” on Pentecost (Lk 1:35;24:49;Acts 1:14), Mary is the model of a Spirit-filled disciple. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, she was the first to believe in Jesus, the first to follow Him in love and service. 

Around two thousand years after Mary said “yes” to God, she still shows us what God can realize in us: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Through the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to love and follow Jesus as His disciples today and to carry Him love to others. Like Mary, we can bring Christ into the world through our prayer, our love, and our docility to the Holy Spirit. 

Short Prayer: I love You, Jesus, my Lord and my Saviour. Your tenderness in sharing my humanity is beyond my ability to grasp. Thank You for taking part in my human life. Thank You for being with me in every situation. Amen. 

Jakarta, March 25, 2011  

A Christian Pilgrim