31 oct. 2009
Solemnity of all the Saints
(1 Nov 2009)
Fr. James McTavish FMVD
A young boy was on a tour of a cathedral and the guide pointed out the beautiful stained glass windows with the images of Saints represented. It was a sunny day and they were brightly illuminated by the sun’s rays. “Who are the saints?” asked the guide. “The ones who let the light pass through them” replied the young boy. A very good theological response! Yes, it is those who have let God’s life, light and love shine through them, through their humanity, even through their weaknesses. Notice that we are asking who are the Saints not simply who were the saints. We ask for their help because they are alive, alive and kicking in Christ and interceding for us.
In the first reading today John sees a vision. A huge crowd ‘from every nation, race, people, and tongue’ (see Rev 7, 2-4, 9-14). Who are these people? He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” In the great heavenly crowd will be St Theresa of Lisieux, the great preacher St John Chrysostom, the courageous St Francis Xavier. A huge crowd can inspire us. You see the Saints are not simply for admiring but for imitating! Every Christian is called to holiness. Do you believe that? Or more importantly do we try to live it? In case of doubt that all are called to holiness one need only look at the title of the 5th chapter of the Church’s document Lumen gentium. The chapter is entitled “The universal call to holiness”.
A great obstacle to discovering the joy of pursuing holiness is a misunderstanding of what it means to be holy. Holy is not ‘goody goody’ or to have a halo. What is holiness? To look like an angel? Actually we are all Saints in the making. To become holy is a process. That it is a process is confirmed in the second reading –‘Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ (1 Jn 3,1-3). If we are alive today it means we can still take little steps, we still have time. Cardinal Newman wrote that the man who becomes perfect is the man who has changed often! This gives us hope. Our sanctification is a process, a slow one - well sometimes we make it a bit slower than what it should be! St Theresa of Lisieux said at 15 years old she wanted to be a Saint and at 24 she was! When she was canonized she was called ‘the greatest Saint of modern times’.
Human limitations and imperfections are not necessarily a barrier to holiness. Many Saints such as St Alphonsus Liguori (the founder of the Redemptorists) would conclude his letters writing ‘from a great sinner’. How can we then as sinners with weaknesses still aspire to the perfection of charity, to grow in holiness each day? Is it right for us to conclude that we cannot respond to the challenge to be holy because ‘we are weak and only human’? Imagine you are playing soccer and losing the game. On the touchline ready to come on are Pele, Ronaldo and Kaka. They are just waiting that you ask them for help. You are struggling with the free kicks and Ronaldo is jumping up and down on the touch line! You don’t ask them for help and you lose the game. When they ask you why you didn’t invite the lads on to the pitch to help you and you respond because you are not a very good soccer player! How crazy! All the more reason to bring on the boys. But in our Christian life we have so many Saints just itching to intercede for us. If we feel weak and incapable all the more reason to call in the Saints! To be more simple in our every day life we can call on St Theresa of Lisieux. To strengthen us in struggles we can ask St Paul for advice and read his letters to get some good tips on how to grow in love and holiness. As Pope John Paul II often said “Don’t be afraid to be holy!”
Jesus gives us the blueprint for holiness in the sermon on the Mount. The first beatitude he gives is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ (See Matt 5, 1-12a). It is OK to feel that you do not know everything, that the path ahead is not entirely clear, that you don’t feel totally capable in that situation – blessed are the poor in Spirit. The poverty of Spirit keeps us striving ever onward – we need to remember that we are unfinished masterpieces, work in progress. That poverty of Spirit will keep us moving. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus on whom our faith depends from beginning to end so that we too can reach our heavenly goal. Amen
25 oct. 2009
Fr James McTavish FMVD
In the famous song 'Amazing grace' one line goes 'I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see´. It was written by a former slave trader John Newton after his conversion and subsequent opposition to the inhuman trafficking of slaves. The blindness he refers to is not physical but spiritual.
In the gospel of today Jesus heals a blind man. Bartimaus the blind man is sat by the side begging. His life is static –he is sat down and going nowhere until he is touched by divine grace. His life changes, is transformed and he begins to follow Jesus along the Way. Jesus is the healer and brings sight to the blind. The contact with Jesus changes Bartimaus, it changed John Newton and can change each one of us. Many times we hardly believe in change. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. And of course if we don’t experience change personally we can hardly believe it is possible for this world to change. But as the Spanish song goes, “Don’t give me a new world, but rather give me new eyes to see you working”. It is beautiful to open your eyes and see God working all around us.
I took part in a silent retreat this weekend called “Be a man”. It was attended by 25 males. It is easy to be a male in the world of today but not so easy to be a man. Looking at Jesus, seeing how he lived helped us all to open our eyes. To see the life we are called to live. It was a great privilege to listen to the fruits of the retreat today in our final sharing. Wow! God is powerful. His grace is amazing and superabundant. The Word of God listened to, assimilated and prayed is really a seed of change for our world of today. The Word is living and effective, sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4,12). Being touched in prayer many of us opened our eyes to see God working in our lives and to hear his call to dedicate more to the mission entrusted to us.
In the episode of Bartimaus, when he hears that Jesus is calling him and asking him to respond he threw aside his beggar’s cloak, jumped up and ran to Christ. That cloak encumbered him, stopped him responding with dynamism to the call of the Lord. What cloak stops you responding more faithfully to the call of the Lord? Sometimes we are too wrapped up in comfort, too engulfed in what others might think or too immersed in indifference, blinded to the needs of others. Lord open my eyes to see the needs of others! This is a great blindness in our world of today. When we become wrapped up in ourselves then we can become blind in our selfishness. Why not throw away our cloak, our false securities and stand up. As the crowd shout “Courage! Get up, Jesus is calling you”.
After experiencing the grace of Christ we will want others to experience it too. This is the challenge of the mission. As the psalmist recounts “those who sow in tears will reap with joy” (Ps 126). Sowing in sweat will yield fruit if we persevere. Many people will be able to experience the grace of Christ through our very own lives. Yes! Jesus asks us and needs our help to bring sight to the blind, to take up the wonderful challenge to be agents of change in our society of today, agents of transformation. Are you ready to participate in this amazing work? “Yes of course Lord, I am ready, count me in. I want many more people to experience your amazing grace.”
El que busca está vivo
(P. Luis J. Tamayo)
El Evangelio de hoy (Mc 10,46-52) nos habla del ciego Bartimeo como esa persona que no estando satisfecho con su vida, el relato le describe con unas ansias grandes de búsqueda, que más tarde colmará en Jesús.
Todos nosotros estamos de alguna u otra forma ciegos. Me ayudaba escuchar hace poco a una persona que me decía que a veces se experimentaba por dentro como en un ‘impas’, como cierta desorientación que no la permitía ver las cosas con toda la claridad. Me decía que en cuanto a las cosas ordinarias de la vida lo tenía todo claro: levantarse, ir al trabajo, horarios, llegar a casa, cenar con a familia leer un poco e irse a dormir para al día siguiente volver a lo mismo. Me decía: “externamente lo tengo todo claro… pero internamente ‘no veo’ donde estoy, donde profundamente está mi corazón, a donde voy con mi vida”. Es verdad, todos de una u otra forma hemos experimentado que puedo tener externamente un gran orden, un horario perfecto y estructurado, pero internamente no ver claramente donde estoy, que sentido tiene mi vida, hacia donde va todo lo que hago y vivo, etc.
La ceguera de la que nos habla hoy el Evangelio no es la ceguera física, sino es la ceguera espiritual, es la ceguera interior del hombre. Es esa ceguera por la que el hombre por el ritmo de vida que tiene, muchas veces, no se para a pensar, reflexionar, o buscar entender sus grandes preocupaciones, y acaba por conformarse con respuestas mediocres a las grandes cuestiones de la vida. Como el otro día una mujer me decía: No piense tanto, que de poco sirve. Hay gente que no alcanza a ver más allá de su aquí y ahora, y no alcanza a abrirse a algo más grande, la trascendencia de un Dios que estando más allá, sin embargo está en lo más intimo de mi mismo (San Agustín).
En mi vida personal el asistir solo a misa los domingos ha sido solo un preámbulo, pero lo que me ha dado densidad a mi fe y a mi vida ha sido mi búsqueda personal, ha sido mi deseo de salir de mi ceguera y querer descubrir el sentido profundo de la vida, de mi existir. Poder dar respuesta a mis preocupaciones, buscar sentido a por que hago las cosas, las razones de mi opción de vida, entender que me aporta la fe, etc.
Ayer tuvimos un encuentro de catequistas y tuvimos una mañana de oración, reflexión y compartir. En una conversación con uno de ellos me decía: vivimos en una sociedad que nos pone tantas luces de neón que todo nos parece atractivo y nos distrae, pero no nos damos cuenta que es luz artificial que nos deja medio ciegos.
Bartimeo estaba sentado al borde del camino, estaba paralizado, simplemente estaba dejando pasar la vida, sin inquietud alguna. Esta es una imagen real de la vida de mucha gente. Es como la imagen de las escaleras mecánicas en las que te montas y te dejas llevar.
Pero su actitud profunda era la de búsqueda. Profundamente buscaba la luz, buscaba ver, comprender, entender. Al escuchar que Jesús pasaba empezó a gritar. Pero, dice la Palabra, que muchos le increpaban diciéndole que se callara. Esta es la imagen de hoy día, por la que muchos medios de comunicación, o plataformas de intereses quieren apagar la búsqueda de Dios, quitar de en medio la verdadera ‘Luz’. Acordaos de la publicidad en los autobuses: “Dios probablemente no existe. Deja de preocuparte y disfruta la vida”. Este anuncio es como esa luz de neón, que te deslumbra y te distrae de buscar la verdadera ‘Luz’. El efecto de este anuncio es lo mismo que leemos en el Evangelio de hoy, es el de apagar la sed de búsqueda del hombre. El efecto es desanimar al hombre a querer ver más allá de si mismo.
Pero cuando la búsqueda es sincera los obstáculos no son impedimento sino trampolín para sacar más fuerzas para buscar. Leemos en la Palabra que a pesar de los impedimentos de los otros, Bartimeo gritaba más, buscaba más, deseaba más… Hay un santo de la Iglesia que decía el encuentro con Jesucristo depende de la medida de mi búsqueda y de mi sed. La Escritura lo describe que tal era el deseo de encontrarse con Jesús que soltó el manto, dio un salto y se acercó a Jesús. Jesús al verle con esa fe le dice: ¿qué quieres que haga por ti? El ciego le contestó: Maestro que pueda ver. Jesús le dijo: Anda tu fe te ha curado. Y al momento recobró la vista.
Me encantó la reflexión que una vez hacía una mujer sobre este Evangelio. Decía: la ceguera, el no entenderlo todo provoca en mí mayor deseo de búsqueda y querer entender mi fe y un montón de cuestiones sobre la vida. Y buscando encuentro, y cuando encuentro me vuelvo a dar cuenta que hay aún cosas sin resolver, y deseo buscar más.
Y es verdad, lo que da sentido a la vida no es un llegar definitivo a entenderlo todo, sino es mantener vivo el deseo de búsqueda, la curiosidad por las cosas, la inquietud por querer entender las grandes cuestiones de la vida y de la fe. Me decía un gran hombre: “el que busca está vivo, pero el que dejó de buscar, no solo se queda ciego, sin aclarar nada, sino que interiormente está muerto”.
19 oct. 2009
Homily for World Mission Sunday (18 Oct, 2009)
Fr James McTavish FMVD
"Shine! And nations will come to his Light"
Today the whole Church celebrates Mission Sunday. What is this? I remember a strong experience I had on mission Sunday when I first went to Sydney in 1998. I went to my local parish and had been out running in a 10kilometre the morning. I was feeling so healthy and strong. When I sat down in the mass, a little old lady came and sat beside me. “Poor old dear,” I thought, “I am glad I am still young and strong.” The priest began the mass and told us that this day was mission Sunday. I did not know what it was. He said “Today we will listen to a missionary from Africa, who has been through a war, then put in prison.” “Wow awesome! “ I thought and imagined the Arnold Schwarzenegger type of missionary who would be going to speak in the homily.
When the homily arrived the little old lady tapped me on the shoulder. I assumed she wanted to go to the bathroom. What a surprise I got when instead of heading towards the bathroom she started walking towards the altar. So this was the missionary who had been in Africa. She started to speak and her face was lit up by the love of Christ. She was sharing about the children in Africa and I must say I never saw a human being so in love with humanity. Her whole face shone and lit up the darkness of my heart - “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out”(John 1,5). She then told us how she was put in prison and given death threats. She had so much power. My muscles meant nothing compared to the power of love! She was so courageous. She said that she had a rifle placed at her head and was threatened with death. She replied “The only way you will get me to leave this country is in a body bag”
I wanted to love like that. I wanted to know the Christ she knew. The Christ I knew was not the same one. I came to church I would sit at the back and would leave as soon as the mass finished. She was in a different league…I was playing footie in the back garden and she was in the premier league! Who is this Christ that drives her in the mission? It is the Christian one, the one we receive in every Eucharist! How come I am not so fired up as her, how come I often feel lethargic and lacking in love when there is a whole world to love! I WANT TO KNOW YOU JESUS AND YOUR LOVE! What is the secret of mission? What drives one in the mission? LOVE! ‘Do you love me?’ asked Jesus, ‘then feed my sheep.’
The theme that Pope Benedict has chosen for the world mission Sunday is “The Nations will come to its light” (Rev 21,24). When we look at the Mass so many are drawn to the light of Christ. So many faces, so many colours, not the united colors of Benetton, but the united colours of Benedict! All drawn by the light of Christ.
This light needs to shine in the heart of each Christian, in each one of our lives. People will be drawn to Christ by the fire in us for him. If you are in love with him you will draw others. It is not simply doing many things, it is to be in love with Jesus. Look at the patrons of the mission. Who are they? St Theresa of Lisieux. She did not go to all nations, like the other patron St Francis Xavier. He went to so many lands, but St Theresa never left her convent! How come she is patron of mission? What did she do? She had a great love for Christ. One day she was praying with Songs 1,4 “draw me and we will run”. How come? Draw me. Who is the we? All the other souls…in Taiwan our Verbum Dei sisters told us about the faith there. It is country with very few Christians. But who do many of them love? St Theresa of Lisieux! She never went there but the love she has is global and universal!
Of course it does not remain that we all stay at home. She was faithful to her call and so must we be. To bring the light of Christ as a community to the world. “You are the light of the world!”. What sometimes lacks in our Christian following? Why is it not exciting? Mission! We are all missionaries! The whole Church is missionary, by her very nature! We are all missionaries and we share in the mission of Christ. The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning! What makes fire, fire, is in the burning. What makes Church the church is mission.
Jesus said “I have come to set the earth on fire and how wish it was already blazing!” (Luke 12,49). How important that we attract the people to the light of Christ otherwise they will be attracted to many other lights. Like the baby turtles being born on the beach. Instead of going towards the safety of the sea they were going to the highway and being crushed. Why? Because they were attracted by the headlights of the cars. Like many people today distracted by many lights.
We need the light of Christ to open our eyes. When I started to pray with the Word of God I started to become enlightened. Opening my eyes gradually to the needs of others. I was working in Sydney then, I came for 18 months job in Plastics and reconstructive surgery and then planned to go back home to England. One day in the hospital I was asked to see a young man of 26 who had cut his wrists and wanted to end his life. I was wondering how come with everything in life a young person did not want to live. After his operation I told him that the reconstruction went well and that we had fixed his hand. He started to cry and said ”You fixed my hand but who will fix my life?” From then on I desired to dedicate my life in the mission to announcing the Gospel, to announcing to many sad lives and shouting out “Young man, I tell you, get up!” Get up and live.
This is the mission of the Church to shout out to the world the life and love of Christ. What a wonderful mission! Let us give thanks for the gift and task of mission. Each of us Christians share in this mission of the Church. Let us be faithful to what God asks us…Amen.
18 oct. 2009
DOMUND y La Fuerza de la Palabra
(P. Luis J. Tamayo)
Hoy estamos celebrando el DOMUND, el domingo mundial de las misiones.
La Iglesia busca con la celebración de este día que nos hagamos conscientes de la importancia vital de la Misión de toda la Iglesia, y por ende, de cada uno de nosotros: La misión al servicio de la proclamación del Evangelio.
Los documentos de la Iglesia ya lo dicen: La única razón de ser de la Iglesia es la misión de evangelizar a todas las gentes, de propagar el Evangelio. Si no hay transmisión de la fe, esta misma se seca y muere. Esto es como la imagen de un río; cuando el agua fluye el agua esta limpia y llena de vida; pero cuando el agua se estanca y no corre, el agua se llega a corromper y deja de dar vida.
Con la fe nos pasa igual, una Iglesia que transmite la fe, es una Iglesia viva. Una familia que transmite la fe a sus hijos es una familia viva a los valores de la vida, de la generosidad, del esfuerzo, del amor limpio, de la alegría de compartir, del perdón. Una familia que no se preocupa por transmitir estos valores tan evangélicos queda encerrada en su propio egoísmo y en los valores del mundo, del solo la imagen, como pasarlo bien, horas delante de la televisión, falta de comunicación, etc.
El mensaje de presentación de la Campaña de este DOMUND tiene una expresión que me llamó la atención, y dice: hay que reconocer todo lo que los misioneros, impulsados por la Palabra, han hecho para buscar condiciones de vida mas humanas para las personas y pueblos. Y lo que me llamaba la atención es esto de "impulsados por la Palabra".
Todos sabemos que la Iglesia, con ella los misioneros, los sacerdotes, los religiosos, los laicos comprometidos, los catequistas, etc. y yo incluiría aquí a tantas familias anónimas, papás y mamás que buscan inculcar en sus hijos el amor a Jesús desde el silencio de sus casas, y tantos otros que quieren hacer algo por la Iglesia y la fe en sus familias y no saben como… todos somos responsables de buscar transmitir la fe y de buscar condiciones de vida mas humanas para las personas. Pero ¿qué es aquello que necesitamos para restaurar las fuerzas cuando nos olvidamos de transmitir la fe en casa, o cuando nos cansamos, o cuando nos dejamos llevar por la comodidad y nos apegamos a otros valores contrarios a la fe? El texto de la Campaña nos lo dice: El impulso de la Palabra.
Escuchar la Palabra de Dios, leer la Palabra de Dios, meditar, rumiar, entender, alimentarse de la Palabra de Dios de forma personal o en la Comunidad parroquial es lo único que da fuerzas, vitalidad e impulsa a las personas a perseverar en vivir y transmitir el Evangelio.
Como bien sabéis yo he estado muchos años viviendo en Asia como misionero, y cuando pasan los años es verdad que uno se va adaptando e inculturizando, pero también es verdad que uno se da cuenta de la distancia cultural y el choque de mentalidad, la diferencia de pensar, etc. Recuerdo que hubo un momento que fue duro, a mi hermana en España le habían declarado un tumor, aun no se sabía que iba a ser benigno, yo estaba muy preocupado, luego coincidió que nos cerraron las puertas para un proyecto que teníamos, cogí una infección de esas que solo las cogen los extranjeros, de repente todo se hacía muy pesado… Yo creo que todos hemos pasado alguna vez por algo de esto… no hace falta irse de misiones lejos, pero aquí mismo… llegar a un punto que uno no se entiende con su cónyuge, tener un conflicto en el trabajo, ver frustrado los planes de futuro, etc.
¿Qué es lo único que nos puede dar fuerza y vitalidad para seguir hacia delante? Lo que leíamos antes: recibir el impulso de la Palabra, recibir la fuerza de la fe, entrar en silencio con esa lectura del evangelio, hacer oración con ese mensaje que has escuchado en misa y te tocó el corazón, etc.
Jesús lo dice en el Evangelio de hoy (san Marcos 10, 35-45) estamos aquí para servir, la vida solo tiene sentido al servicio de los demás… pero es verdad que no es fácil, que muchas veces nos toca beber del cáliz del que Jesús bebió. Pero tenemos en nuestras manos el instrumento de La Palabra que es lo que nos da la fuerza y el impulso para seguir perseverando en el servicio a los demás.
12 oct. 2009
11 oct. 2009
Homily for the 28th Sunday (11 Oct 2009)
Fr James McTavish FMVD
“Jesus looked at him and loved him”
Here in Manila the city has survived the severe flooding and most people’s lives are back to normal. Our community was helping in the distribution of relief goods. Hearing stories from those who had lost everything somehow puts many issues in perspective. One question I was asked was “If the flood waters were rising, you had to go to the roof and could take only one or two items, what would you take?” In reality many Filipinos were faced with this dilemma. There are many photos of elderly grandmothers on rooftops with only a statue of Mother Mary in their hand. In those moments you realize they are very few things that are essential. In some ways these situations foreshadow our death as what can we bring with us beyond? It is a reminder not to be too attached to material things.
What happens when we become too attached to money, comfort, eating so well, enjoying ourselves, good holidays, what is wrong with that? Well when a life is full of leisure and easy living then the terrible flood of indifference soon floods our heart. Indifference kills and that is why we need the Gospel. Many think wrongly that they don’t need to pray. We need the Gospel to wake us up from our torpor. In the letter of Hebrews we hear “Brothers and sisters: Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Here the damage was caused by many preventable factors such as too many houses built in low areas and no money for proper irrigation because it is misused for other reasons. Even the Holy Father commented recently on these issues in his recent address to the new Philippines ambassador to the Vatican. The flood of corruption is a real problem in our world today.
Our life and our society would be different if we were to put Jesus in the centre. Pope John Paul II opened his first encyclical on Christ, the Redeemer of man with the words “Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history” (Redemptor hominis #1). Let us consider what it might mean to put Jesus at the centre. Is Jesus at the centre of my life, of my decision making, of my thoughts? How would life be with him at the centre? For many who consider the Church what seems to be at the centre are a set of tiring rules and regulations. Putting Jesus at the centre guarantees us of constancy and perseverance in our following. What can be tiring is not the following of the Lord but myself! In one moment I am full of firey enthusiasm then later it seems that it has evaporated. One day I have an icy determination then later I find it has melted. We can seem to be more changeable than the weather. Putting Jesus at the centre is like having an anchor in life. In the catacombs Jesus is often presented as an anchor because an anchor gives stability to a ship in choppy seas and stops it being blown off course or onto dangerous rocks.
Recently I was involved in giving an 8 day retreat to a group of contemplative sisters who live in Lipa, outside of Manila. They are called Minim sisters, founded by St Francis of Paola. We enjoyed very much praying together about the life of St Paul and the need for conversion, a conversion to Christ. What helped me in the retreat is to constantly direct my gaze towards Jesus, in moments of joy and in moments of thinking my talks could have been much more insightful or inspiring! Come rain or shine, to share everything with my friend Jesus. This helps us to not just begin an initiative but to carry it through to the end and gives a certain stability in all weathers.
In the gospel today we see a rich young man in one moment running up to the Lord, full of enthusiasm, fire and energy with an important question for Jesus asking him what he must do to be truly fulfilled. A few moments later the rich young man goes away sad. Why? Because Jesus said to him ” Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”. At this the young man went away sad or as Mark the evangelist tells us “his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” And this is the sign of his richness – the fact that he goes away. What would be the secret? Stay in union with the Lord, don’t just throw in the towel when he asks us to take a step of maturity. Tell Jesus that I cannot do it without him. Often many people make a big song and dance about leaving everything for the Lord but everyone will have to do this one day! (I am referring to our funeral! Unless you want to be buried to what you are attached to like your pink Cadillac as one American lady did).
Jesus asks the young man to grow up. To take a step of maturity. The rich young man ran up to the Lord and Jesus wants that he keep running! As many of the Saints attest the way of holiness is forwards. St Bernard wrote “On the way of life, not to progress is to regress” and Thomas Aquinas noted “To stand on the way of the Lord is to move backwards”. The Holy Spirit will guide us in the step we need to take. It is true man times we need to renounce and give things up like our useless anxiety or unnecessary worrying over material things, our indifference. I see many things in me I would like to leave behind – my tendency to worry and my fears to name only a few! Of course the sacrament of reconciliation is a beautiful moment to leave behind what is useless and harmful to us – our sins.
What did the rich young man miss? What could he have done? He could have caught the loving gaze of Jesus. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, You are lacking in one thing.” What is that ONE thing? To catch Jesus looking at him, loving him. Then he would not have needed all his possessions to try to win the love of others. He would have realized the true richness – the love of Jesus. Have you caught that loving gaze of Christ? Often we catch the challenge to leave our attachment to material goods but did you first catch that gaze? When you catch that gaze all else is put into perspective. Pope John Paul II said that the root cause of materialism is the absence of God’s love in the heart of man. We need that gaze to fill our hearts, a gaze that tells us who we are, and how much we are loved. It is a gaze that is unchanging, eternal, unconditional.
I remember coming back home after failing some of my first year medical school exams. I arrived at the cold, foggy station after a long train journey. I didn’t think anyone would meet me. At the station I was looking for a familiar face, to welcome me , to accept me but to no avail. And then I catch that gaze, a look of unconditional love, welcoming me even though I had been a lazy student. It was my dad standing at the end of the platform, looking at me, confirming my identity as a son and welcoming me unconditionally. We need to experience that gaze from God our Father. That he is looking at us, loving us, welcoming us. For this we need to pray, to listen to the Word of God to experience his love, to catch that gaze. From here we can respond. Our moral life, our option, our use of wealth can then be a response to this love. As Fr Arrupe S.J. wrote “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”
Perhaps the question from our Gospel this day is have you caught that gaze? Perhaps this day in different moments, take a time out and catch that gaze, experience Jesus looking at you and loving you for who you are and not what you possess. Often this is what we lack to be happy and fulfilled – his loving gaze!
4 oct. 2009
Today’s Gospel (Mk 10, 2-12) is not so easy to understand in our days where more often relationships don’t last, and with a lot of pain families fall apart and marriages are broken. The question about divorce is at hand and everyone blames the Church saying we are far away from reality.
Before this reading I will invite you not to remain in the surface but to go into a deeper level of understanding the Scripture. When Jesus is asked “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?; Other synonyms: Is it proper, licit, rightful or legal for a husband to divorce his wife?” Jesus answers with something that called me the attention. Jesus said: From the beginning of creation God made them male and female… Jesus goes back to the beginning of creation to give an answer to such complicated question.
What is the meaning of going back to the beginning of creation to give an answer to this question? It seems like Jesus is going around to give me an answer… what time is it? The weather is sunny… it doesn’t make sense…
But doing so, Jesus is trying to pull us out of the surface of the problem to bring us to the root of the question, to the very beginning. Before answering to the question let me bring you to the beginning of everything, the beginning where God created man and woman.
According to the Scripture, at the very beginning God didn’t talk about the contract of marriage, but He spoke about love, the Scripture says: They will be united, they will become one, He will join his wife…
Going back to the beginning is to go back to the depths of the heart, is to go to the roots of our life, to the origin of our feelings… and there we shall find the authentic question: Do you believe in LOVE? Do you believe in the existence of LOVE in capital words? Do you believe in true LOVE?
I do believe in true LOVE, because I have experienced it myself.
Love is life, without love there is no life. Without love something is lacking, it is like a garden with no flowers. Love gives the meaning to live, gives the strength to get up, gives the energy to work everyday.
Love is able to turn someone’s life up side down. Love is capable to change the life of anyone. Love can lead you to live far away from home… Isn’t it true?
When Love is authentic is true Love. When Love is sincere is unconditional. When Love is clean it doesn’t fail, it doesn’t put an end, it doesn’t doubt, it doesn’t fall short.
Human love can be so sincere and beautiful, that is what I have experienced from a close friend of mine, or even above all, our parent’s love… Is there anything else more beautiful than the love of a mother? But sincerely, even this kind of human love, beautiful and clean as it is, it also is meant to fail.
The only true Love comes from God; the rest is a mere reflection of God’s love. God is Love, says the Sacred Scripture. God is the Source, and from the source comes down the authentic love, patience, compassion, kindness, gentleness, benevolence, etc. It is from God alone that I receive His pure Love, no polluted, no impure. His divine Love that we all can receive form the Eucharist, from the silence of prayer, from the sacrament of reconciliation…
Now, the most important question is not the first one: Is it proper for a husband to divorce his wife?, but the most important question to ask is Do you know this kind of Love? Is it lawful to live and ignore this kind of Love? You are invited to know, to experience this authentic Love of God.
The ignorance of this unconditional Love will threat you always with divorce, separation, or division. That is the reason why Jesus will answer going to the beginning… going to the first question… to the most basic question. Do you believe in God’s love? Then, you got the answer…
3 oct. 2009
El Evangelio de hoy (Mc 10, 2-16) es complicado de entender en medio de la sociedad en la que hoy vivimos, donde muchas veces las relaciones no duran, y con dolor los matrimonios se rompen. Hoy día, esta pregunta del divorcio es demasiado actual. Se acusa a la Iglesia de estar en la inopia y muy lejos de la realidad, y de la dolorosa realidad de muchas parejas.
Yo, hoy, os invitaría a no quedarnos en la parte más externa de si la Iglesia hace bien o hace mal. Yo os invitaría a entrar a un nivel más profundo. Cuando a Jesús le hacen esta pregunta: ¿le es lícito a un hombre divorciarse de su mujer?... Jesús apunta algo que nos debiera llamar la atención. Dice la Palabra que Jesús les dijo: Al principio de la creación Dios los creó hombre y mujer… Jesús se va a la raíz, se va al principio de la creación para dar explicación a una pregunta tan complicada.
Uno le podría decir a Jesús, “venga! no te andes con rodeos”… Pero descubramos el sentido. Es como si Jesús dijera, antes de darte una respuesta: déjame sacarte de la periferia del asunto y vayamos al principio de todo, al origen de todo, al principio de la creación cuando Dios creó y pensó en el hombre y la mujer.
En el origen de todo Dios no habla de contrato de matrimonio, Dios habla del amor... se unirán, serán los dos una sola carne, etc.
Cuando Jesús habla del principio de todo, yo lo entiendo como ir a lo profundo del corazón, a la raíz primera, al origen de mis sentimientos… y está la pregunta, una pregunta muy seria: ¿Crees en el AMOR? ¿Crees en la existencia de un AMOR con mayúsculas, cuya fuente es Dios mismo? ¿Crees que el AMOR verdadero?
Yo si creo en la existencia del AMOR, y el AMOR verdadero, pues lo he experimentado.
El Amor es la vida, sin amor no hay vida. Sin amor es como que falta algo, es como un jardín sin flores. El amor da sentido a vivir, da la fuerza para levantarse, da la energía para trabajar de sol a sol.
El amor es capaz de dar un vuelco a una vida, te cambia. Yo he conocido a quien era un desastre, y por el amor acabó vistiéndose como un príncipe. El Amor te lleva a recorrer kilómetros y dar un vuelco a tu vida… madrileños por el mundo.
El Amor cuando es autentico, es veraz. El Amor cuando es sincero, es incondicional. El Amor cuando es limpio no falla, no se agota, no titubea, no duda, no se marchita, no se cansa ni cansa.
Fijaos que sincero puede llegar a ser el amor humano… yo así lo he experimentado, de una novia que tuve, o de algunos muy buenos amigos, o incluso por encima de estos amores, el amor más noble, el amor de unos padres… pero sinceramente hasta este amor llega un momento en que te decepciona… ¿o no?
El único amor de verdad, a lo que se le puede llamar amor autentico, pues lo demás es reflejo de este… es el Amor de Dios. Dios es Amor, dice la Sagrada Escritura. Dios es la fuente, de Él mana todo el amor, la paciencia, la bondad, la ternura, la misericordia, etc. de Él puedo recibirlo impoluto y sin contaminación, amor divino autentico en la Eucaristía, en el silencio de mi oración, en la recepción de la absolución, en un gesto de humildad; sin embargo de los seres humanos siempre recibiré un reflejo, un atisbo, un indicio, un sucedáneo... de este Amor, pero no el AMOR mismo.
La pregunta no está tanto si es lícito que un hombre se divorcie de su mujer o no, sino si es lícito vivir y no conocer esta clase de Amor… o si es lícito conocer este Amor y no ponerlo como centro de la vida familiar. Lo que no es lícito es que si has conocido esta calidad de Amor no lo compartas con el otro.
Ahora si uno no conoce esta clase de Amor divino, sobre-humano… el divorcio o la ruptura o la separación la tendrá siempre acechando a la vuelta de la esquina…
Por eso Jesús insiste, vamos al principio, vamos un poco más al principio. Conoce el amor de Dios y lo demás no hace falta casi ni preguntarlo.