30 may. 2010
28 may. 2010
One of the best explanations I have ever heard of the nature of the Trinity was not in the great theological lecture halls of the universities in Rome but from an 11 year old girl giving her testimony here in the Philippines. She shared how every day she spoke to God the Father and thanked him for the gift of life, how she tried to live her school days in the presence of her good friend Jesus, and how she always felt accompanied by the Holy Spirit as her helper and companion. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God, they shall see the Trinity. The Trinity are not far from us. In fact if you did a survey and asked where do we find the Trinity most people would point vaguely to the sky and say ‘in heaven’. But as St Alphonsus Liguori was fond to remark “Heaven for God is the human heart”. From baptism we receive the in-dwelling of the three divine persons. When asked where is God it is more correct to point to our heart. In his exhortation to the faithful St Alphonsus encouraged to foster their relationship with God in prayer – to talk to him as a close and dear friend and to love him as spouse which is in effect to grow in a loving relationship with the Trinity. They live in us so how crazy we would be if we did not enjoy their delightful company.
Having the Trinity dwell in us means we also must care for and take care of our bodies. That is why it is wrong to get drunk because our body is a temple of the Spirit. And excess alcohol leads to all sorts of shenanigans. We need to take care what we put in our hearts and minds. If you opened a tabernacle and found it full of rubbish you would be shocked and scandalized. And if they open the tabernacle of our mind and heart? What would people find?
Each one of us is called to be a manifestation of the Trinity. To be a reflection of their love, to be a visible sign of their communion. When others meet us they have the right to encounter God in our lives. This is not only for those who are ‘holy holy’ but every Christian is called to reveal the face of the Trinity within them. When Nelson Mandela gave his 1994 South African Presidential Inaugural Speech he reminded us all that we are children of God. He said “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others." It is a call to manifest the greatness of the Trinity within us. Imagine all that power and love in us! Next time we gaze at an awesome scene, a towering mountain, the raging ocean, the stars twinkling just remember that the Trinity who made it all is within us – God the Father speaking through his Son, the Word, in the Spirit and all things came to be.
The Trinity can be seen in so many ways if we have eyes to see. When we come to pray and meditate upon Sacred Scripture, the Trinity is present. In what way? Well the whole of scripture, as St Gregory the Great reminds us, is a love letter from the Father. Jesus himself tells us that the Word of God refers to him and to understand what we listen to we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit. So looking at the Scriptures we can in some way discover the face of the Trinity - “Truly dedicated servants always pay attention to the facial expressions of their masters so as to hear and follow out commands with promptness. So too the righteous focus their minds on the presence of Almighty God and gaze upon his Scriptures as upon his face” (St Gregory the Great).
Let us enjoy this feast day today. It is an opportunity for us to grow in our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a good question to ask ourselves “Who are they each for me?” They live in us. May they not remain as unwanted guests but let us welcome them in our hearts and grow in this loving relationship with them. Amen.
22 may. 2010
21 may. 2010
Homily for Feast of Pentecost
(23 May 2010)
Fr. James McTavish, FMVD
Helper available. Just call
The Spirit did not just come at random but Jesus himself had told the apostles to wait in prayer for the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit. He called the Spirit ‘another Helper’ because the first helper is Christ himself. In what way is the Spirit a Helper? In the Philippines a helper is someone who is employed to help out in the house, cooking and cleaning and generally keeping the house in order. We need a Helper too! A Helper to keep our lives in order, to keep us on the straight and narrow, to stop us going astray. How lucky we are to have the help of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost as he is sometimes known. It reminds me of a popular film in the 1980’s called Ghostbusters. The theme song was “if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya’ gonna call? Ghostbusters!”. If there something strange in your neighborhood or in your interior life who can we always call on for help? The Holy Ghost! That is why we pray ‘Come Holy Spirit!’ who is also called our Advocate. He will defend us in the battle. Sometimes it seems we are attacked by many ghosts, many voices who accuse such that the bad spirit is even termed the Accuser. But let us always remember the counsel of St Irenaeus “When we hear the Accuser may we never forget we have an Advocate”.
When the apostles received the Spirit what was the effect? Well the immediate effect was that the apostles began to speak in different tongues. Many bystanders from various lands could hear them speaking in their own language about the things of God. The Spirit helps us understand the things of God and also to understand ourselves. It is very fascinating the insights that St Paul had regarding the Holy Spirit. He said that the Spirit lives in us and we are temples of the Holy Spirit. We even get an inkling of this in various colloquial expressions such as saying that someone is ‘high spirited’ or that they are in ‘good spirits’. St Paul taught that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that only the Spirit knows who we really are. This is great news as we would like to know ourselves and the Spirit is someone who knows us very well and can help us understand ourselves more. When St Paul was writing to the Christians of the Church of Rome he encouraged them all to walk in the Spirit. The opposite is to walk according to the flesh. You don’t want to do that! To walk according to the flesh is to be ruled by bad feelings, envy, laziness, impurity, anger and the like. The flesh is at war with the Spirit. Jesus even said “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. A life in the Spirit however is to enjoy the fruits of the Spirit namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Living with these fruits in our lives then everyone will understand this language of love. These fruits are universally understood in all cultures, in all peoples and across all times.
It is interesting to see the work of the Spirit in the society of today. The Spirit is always working to create unity and harmony amidst the differences. In situations of brokenness and chaos the Spirit is working to make all things new. In the psalm today we ask “Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”. And I always take advantage of this prayer so that when I say ‘renew the face of the earth’ I add in under my breath ‘and this face of mine too’!
The Spirit is sometimes understood as the breath of God and we can see how he is working in a person who is ‘inspired’ to do good. Look at the amount of young people who are inspired to do voluntary work often in challenging situations. The Spirit is working here. Soon a group of university students will come from England on a mission trip to the Philippines. They are in high spirits and are looking forward to visiting the so-called ‘Pearl of the Orient’. In other ways we see the Spirit blowing, moving minds and hearts to work for change such as the movement to ban the death penalty which has thankfully gained momentum in recent years. We cannot teach people that killing is wrong by killing. Even we can see the Spirit cajoling hearts and pockets to be generous when a calamity or disaster such as Haiti strikes. Sometimes the Spirit is called the disturber because he can disturb our complacency!
The world of today needs the Holy Spirit. That is why we never cease to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit!’ How different our lives would be if each day we remember to ask his help and intercession. Imagine before each decision consulting the Spirit, our Helper. He is so humble that he will even wait to be asked his advice. Every Christian is reminded of the importance to live a life in the Spirit, to be spiritually strong, to learn how to listen to the Spirit and his insinuations. That is why we pray and the regular meditation of Scripture will help us tune in our spiritual ears to the voice of the Spirit. Let us celebrate this day of Pentecost with joy knowing that in the challenges of modern life Jesus has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth!
15 may. 2010
¡Sacúdete y sube!
(P. Luis J. Tamayo)
Después de aparecerse a los discípulos durante 50 días, el tiempo de Pascua culmina con la fiesta de la Ascensión y el domingo siguiente con la celebración de Pentecostés.
El evangelio de Lucas 24, 46-53 nos explica lo que aconteció en la Ascensión de Jesús al cielo: “Mientras los bendecía se separó de ellos, subiendo hacia el cielo. Ellos se postraron ante él y se volvieron a Jerusalén con gran alegría; y estaban siempre en el templo bendiciendo a Dios.”
Uno puede entender la Ascensión como esa huída del mundo, de los problemas… ahora el Señor se fue al cielo y aquí nos dejó con los problemas. Esta tipo de ascensión la desearíamos muchos de nosotros… Cuantas veces uno sueña despierto, como fantaseando y soñando un mundo ideal. ¿Quién no ha escuchado: “Estas en las nubes” o “estas en babia”? Es decir, entrar en ese estado de trance de querer huir de la realidad y soñar con un mundo mejor… el otro lado de la moneda es vivir en el mundo de la queja y estar anhelando lo del vecino. En el fondo es esa mentalidad que piensa que todo lo que le toca vivir aquí es un obstáculo para la felicidad, y al final siempre está anhelando vivir otra cosa. Quien es rubio quiere ser moreno, quien es bajo quiere ser alto, quien es relleno quiere ser flaco, quien es flaco quiere ser más grande… al final uno nunca está contento con lo que tiene y siempre es una huída de sí, soñando que otra cosa distinta será siempre mejor. ¿Alguien se identifica con esto? Pues lo que dicen en el cine: cualquier parecido con la realidad es pura coincidencia.
La fiesta de la Ascensión tiene otro significado… y nos puede iluminar mucho a nuestro día a día. Jesús asciende al cielo en cuerpo y alma gloriosos, y Él nos abre el camino al cielo… y nos invita a no quedarse atrapado en los pesimismos del día a día, ni en la pesadez de los problemas. Lo que uno vive, por miserable que sea, sólo por gracia de Dios – y si uno lo pide – puede transformar aquello que es obstáculo en bendición, aquello que es trampa en trampolín, y no dejarse aplastar sino que elevarse por encima de los problemas… No huir de ellos, no negarlos, no reprimirlos, sino que quedando afectado… pues nos afectan las cosas, tener la capacidad de sobreponerse y desde la fuerza interior poder ponerse por encima. Os cuento un cuento que nos ayudará a entenderlo:
Un campesino tenia una mula. En un lamentable descuido, la mula cayó en un pozo que había en la finca. El campesino oyó los bramidos del animal, y corrió para ver lo que ocurría. Le dio pena ver a su fiel servidora en esa condición, pero después de analizar cuidadosamente la situación, creyó que no había modo de salvar al pobre animal, y que más valía sepultarla en el mismo pozo. El campesino llamó a sus vecinos y les contó lo que estaba ocurriendo y les pidió para que le ayudaran a enterrar la mula en el pozo y así no continuara sufriendo.
Cogieron las palas y cubos y empezaron a arrojar tierra encima de la mula. Al principio, la mula se puso histérica. Pero a medida que el campesino y sus vecinos continuaban tirando tierra sobre sus lomos, una idea vino a su mente. A la mula se le ocurrió que cada vez que una pala de tierra cayera sobre sus lomos. ¡ELLA DEBIA SACUDIRSE Y SUBIR SOBRE LA TIERRA! SACUDETE Y SUBE. sacúdete y sube. sacúdete y sube!! Repetía la mula para alentarse a sí misma.
No importaba cuan dolorosos fueran los golpes de la tierra y las piedras sobre su lomo, o lo tormentoso de la situación, la mula luchó contra el pánico, y continuó SACUDIÉNDOSE Y SUBIENDO. A sus pies se fue elevando el nivel de onde se apoyaba. Llegó el momento en que la mula cansada y abatida pudo salir de un brinco de las paredes de aquel pozo. La tierra que parecía que la enterraría, se convirtió en su bendición, todo por la manera en la que ella enfrentó la adversidad…
La Ascensión es el camino al que nos invita el Señor a ponerse por encima de los problemas que nos abaten, sostenidos por su gracia, y en vez de dejar que nos hundan, los podamos transformar en bendición. Así es como acaba el Evangelio: estaban siempre en el templo bendiciendo a Dios.
14 may. 2010
Friends in high places
Luke the evangelist describes how the ascension of Jesus took place in today’s gospel (Luke 24, 46-53) – “Then Jesus led them as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” The Acts of the Apostles, also written by Luke, begins by recounting the Ascension – “ As they were looking on, Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” (See Acts 1, 1-11).
What is the meaning of the Ascension? At first glance the thought of Jesus rising up in the air reminds us of the illusions of the magician David Copperfield. A kind of now you see me, now you don’t. But all the moments of the life of Christ are for us and for our salvation. The disciples did not see him any longer with their physical eyes but as St Leo the Great reminds us they could see him now always – with eyes of faith. “Christ now began to be indescribably more present in his divinity to those from whom he was further removed in his humanity.” In his humanity Christ could not always be physically present to all his disciples, in all situations and at all times. His physical body was bounded by limits of space and time. But not so after the ascension! After the ascension, united to his Father, he could fulfill his promise to be with them always until the end of time.
Sometimes we need to ascend. To join Christ. To fix our eyes on things above and not on the things here below. It is always interesting to fly in an aeroplane. When you take off and gain height the world seems to get smaller and smaller – the cars, the houses, the roads. Looking from above things don’t seem so big after all. Sometimes when we get too stressed with life we need to change perspective - to get a heavenly perspective. Fr Aruppe, the former head of the Jesuits had a photo of the earth taken from space given to him by an astronaut. Whenever he got bogged down in problems he would gaze at the photo of the earth and realize that he could not even see the house he where he was living in the photo and concluding that maybe his problem was not so big after all! Sometimes it is good to rise above it all, to ascend, to pray, to escape into heaven and be with the Lord.
It is great to unload. The legend is told that the founder of Judo was inspired by snow falling on tree branches. He noticed that the big trees collected so much snow that there branches would snap under the weight of fallen snow whereas little blades of grass off loaded their tiny loads of snow regularly and were able to remain upright. Hence in Judo one principle is to off load your opponent as fast as possible. In our daily lives we need to learn how to off load all the opponents! Sometimes we forget to pray and think we are like the trees. I can manage, I can manage. More stress, more problems until finally we crack! But as St Peter reminds us “Cast all you worries on the Lord for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5,7).
All of us are called to this prayerful union with our Lord and to share everything with him. In the document Gaudium et spes we are reminded “The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator.” (GS 19)
Prayer is not escapism. On the contrary, people who do not pray are the very ones escaping into excess work, alcohol and many other diversions and escapes offered by the world. True prayer makes us more capable to face our responsibilities, to confront problems and trials. A truly prayerful person becomes more committed to their family, their work and in fulfilling all their earthly responsibilities.
And the good news about the ascension is that it is a joyful goodbye because Jesus promises the Holy Spirit! If he doesn’t leave, the Spirit will not come. This is why he can tell his disciples and us “‘But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (See Acts 1, 1-11). So the ascension marks the end of the resurrection appearances of our Lord, and now they must await the coming of the Spirit. We will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday! The Spirit who is our friend, who was in a high place but comes down to unite himself to us, to be our advocate, divine helper and spiritual guide. How thoughtful is Jesus! Let us enjoy this feast today and wait with joyful hope for the coming of the Spirit. Amen.
7 may. 2010
Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter (9 May 2010)
Fr. James McTavish, FMVD
“We will make our dwelling in you”
Have you ever been to a big church or cathedral? Maybe you have visited St Peter’s basilica in Rome – it is huge. So many tourists are there taking so many photos and many sense that indeed God is present here. Imagine if you did a survey and asked what was the favorite dwelling place of God in the whole world? The truth is that God does not only live in tabernacles in big basilicas but his favorite dwelling place is…the human heart! This is what Jesus affirms in the gospel of John "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (See John 14, 23-29). We will make our dwelling with him, we will come and live with this person. God wants to put a sign on your heart - “Home sweet home”!
This reminds us of the prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who wrote “Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave you there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to your creative action” (November 21, 1904). We need to be present to God’s presence in us. When the Trinity calls our name are we present or absent? Many times we are not at home, we are not comfortable with ourselves and like St Augustine we are searching outside of ourselves yet God is within us. If only we could discover this ineffable light in us! That is why it says in the second reading “The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.” (See Revelations 21, 10-14. 22-23). If we discover the light inside why look outside for it? If we discover the love of God our Father in us, in our hearts already, we would not always be begging for love from others, desperate for their approval. If we find Jesus our friend so close to us, how different we would live that moment of loneliness when we could instead recognize the one who promises us “I am with you always” with us, in us. And how little we would need to ask advice from everyone else if we believed that the Helper, the Holy spirit dwells in us, the one who will “teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you” (John 14, 26). One lady came to the missionary house to ask for advice. As the missionary had to go out for a while he directed the lady to the chapel. When he came back the lady didn’t need to chat after all. God had given her the solution in a moment of prayer. No need to look for water outside if we discover the fountain of living water in us as the book of Proverbs reminds us “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.” (Proverbs 5,15).
Don’t be afraid to look inside, to find the Trinity present in the events, in the struggles, speaking to us, loving us. Why can’t we find them immediately? Often we just look on the surface or superficially. We need to go deeper. Here in Philippines when a property is being built one consideration is to have a source of water nearby. Often a ‘diviner’ or person who can find water will be employed. During construction of a retreat house the man indicated that water was present. They had to dig 5 metres, 10 metres, 50 metres. Eventually a huge reservoir of water was encountered. We dig for the presence of God in us in the silence. Go deeper, seek and you will find. How beautiful to discover God speaking to us in his Word. How long will you dig for? Five minutes? 10 minutes? Stop being so superficial. Go deeper! The psalmist announces “deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents. All your waves and breakers sweep over me.” (Psalm 42,8)
If God is within us why does he sometimes seem so far away? Well one reality is that he is not the one who is far away, we are. As St Augustine exclaimed “Lord, you are more intimate to me than I am to myself”. Also sometimes our heart has no space for the things of the Lord. We would be shocked to open a tabernacle and find it stuffed full of garbage. What about our hearts? What is inside them? Once Jesus got angry on visiting the sacred temple. He shouted “This is my Father’s house and you are making it a den of thieves”. Surely he would react the same way in front of a Christian heart and mind that is full of thoughts of making more money or living a life of leisure only with little time for the Lord’s business. Sometimes we know the way around Tesco’s or SM better than we do around our interior life. We know how to find cornflakes and washing powder but cannot find hope and encouragement from the living God within us.
Don’t treat God as a stranger in his own home. Talk to the Trinity. Our God is a God who listens as Jesus reassures us “I thank you Father because you always listen to me” (John 11,42). Dialogue with God, tell him how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Cast all your worries on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5,7). Before making that decision share it with the Lord, ask him what he thinks, ask him to enlighten you and the peace Jesus promises will fill our hearts and minds. How many decisions we make and options we take without even asking or consulting God! And how much we suffer from uncertainty and anxiety as a result because we are not sure if it is the correct decision! What is the fruit of getting into the habit of asking the Lord his opinion? Peace! As the song goes, “Peace perfect peace is the gift of Christ our Lord”. How sweet and beautiful when our life becomes a dwelling place for God. Let us enjoy this tender God who is so humble that he knocks on the door of the heart he has built. He waits for our response. Let us welcome him into our hearts. With God in our lives then we start to experience being loved. Lord, make your dwelling in me. May my heart be home, sweet home for you Lord. Amen.
1 may. 2010
Templanza: Dominio de la voluntad
Luis J. Tamayo
Llegamos al 5º domingo de Pascua. Como venimos diciendo la Iglesia nos regala 50 días de Pascua para asimilar la grandeza de la resurrección de Cristo. Todas estas semanas de Pascua son tiempo de asimilación. Recordamos que a los discípulos les costó entender que significó que Cristo había resucitado, por eso Cristo se apareció sucesivamente durante 50 días para confirmarles que estaba vivo y que a partir de este momento habían de acostumbrarse a relacionarse con él desde la fe.
La pregunta es la misma: ¿Qué implica la resurrección en mi? y para responder seguimos profundizando en las virtudes como el camino de asimilar la resurrección de Cristo en mi propia vida, es decir, las virtudes como ese regalo de Cristo resucitado que nos capacita desde dentro a vivir de una forma nueva.
El cristianismo no es una carga, no es una moral pesada, no son puños para alcanzar algo inalcanzable. El cristianismo es un camino nuevo de vida que promete una alegría distinta en la medida que uno se deje llevar por la fuerza interior de Cristo resucitado en tu corazón. Es la alegría de un amor nuevo que desde dentro impulsa e irrumpe con fuerza, es el espíritu del resucitado en el interior de cada hombre, es Jesús queriendo irrumpir desde el corazón de cada hombre y plasmar caminos nuevos. Lo que Él así vivió, Él así lo quiere repetir hoy en tu vida.
La pregunta es: ¿Qué espacio le dejas a Jesús para que irrumpa desde tu interior?
Las virtudes – como un camino de vida nuevo – implican esa colaboración del hombre con el resucitado. Recordemos lo que dice el Catecismo: las virtudes son adquiridas mediante el esfuerzo y la perseverancia, pero sostenidas y elevadas por la gracia divina. Si yo pongo de mi parte, Dios hace el resto.
Hoy hablamos de la Templanza, como aquella virtud que modera la atracción de los placeres y procura el equilibrio de los bienes. La templanza asegura el dominio de la voluntad sobre los instintos y apetitos sensibles y mantiene los deseos sin dejarse arrastrar por las pasiones (Catecismo nº 1809).
El Evangelio de hoy es impresionante para entender la templanza, mira a Jesús: Juan (13,31-33a.34-35): Cuando salió Judas del cenáculo, dijo Jesús: "Ahora es glorificado el Hijo del hombre, y Dios es glorificado en él. (…) Hijos míos, me queda poco de estar con vosotros. Os doy un mandamiento nuevo: que os améis unos a otros; como yo os he amado, amaos también entre vosotros. La señal por la que conocerán todos que sois discípulos míos será que os amáis unos a otros."
Judas lleva en su corazón la traición. Jesús lo sabe, se huele lo que ha de venir… desde la templanza no se deja llevar por sus instintos ¿cuáles? miedo a huir y salir corriendo, pavor por lo que le espera, deseo de una vida más cómoda, no complicarse la vida, no llegar hasta el final con el Proyecto del Padre y tirar la toalla, ¿por qué no un camino más fácil?
¿Acaso no experimentamos que en medio de la dificultad una busca caminos más fáciles? ¿No es verdad que en medio del conflicto, problema o peligro uno desarrolla la creatividad al máximo para encontrar el atajo a algo más cómodo?
Pero Jesús no sale corriendo sino que se opta por el amor, y amar es el compromiso. Uno puede preguntarse: ¿acaso Jesús no sufrió la traición de Judas? ¿acaso no pudo pensar en levantarse y salir detrás de Judas, cogerle del cuello y gritarle “traidor?... la templanza asegura el dominio de la ira. ¿cuántas veces nos escudamos con la escusa: es que soy así y así me tenéis que aguantar… pero es porque uno no se esfuerza en el dominio de sí sostenido por la gracia divina de la templanza. Son las dos cosas, hay que poner de mi parte y hay que pedir la gracia.
Cuantas veces delante de la debilidad humana uno se justifica diciendo que no puede, que las tentaciones son superiores a uno mismo. Primero, la Palabra de Dios dice: Dios no tienta más allá de las fuerzas de uno… es decir que si viene la prueba, con ella viene la fuerza para vencerla. Segundo, es muy fácil decir que el león me ha dado un zarpazo cuando uno se ha metido en la jaula… pues no te metas! Padre, la carne me tira, me gustan mucho las mujeres… y no me puedo controlar… Y ¿qué te crees… que a mi no me gustan?... la falta no está en la caída… sino en la falta de previsión. La falta de sano juicio está en meterse a jugar con la tentación. Sal corriendo!!
La templanza asegura el dominio de la voluntad sobre los instintos… y si la voluntad es floja en la tentación, asegura el dominio para salir corriendo… padre, es que cada vez que paso por delante de la pastelería no me puedo frenar y siempre acabo devorando pasteles… ¿cuál sería el sano juicio? Cruzar a la acera de enfrente, y no pasar por delante. Si se que no tengo fuerza y siempre caigo en lo mismo, no te acerques. Hay un dicho que dice: “Quien juega con fuego se quema”.
Por eso Jesús dice: amaos unos a otros; como yo os he amado, amaos también entre vosotros. Mira a Jesús como opta por el amor limpio, honesto, sincero, sin rencor, sin preferencias, sin doblez. Ama a amigos y enemigos, ama aún en la traición, ama con verdadero amor. Esto sólo sale cuando uno se lo propone y de rodillas pide la gracia a Dios. Cuando uno reconoce delante de Dios que arrastrado por las pasiones no se acercaría a esa persona – por que provoca rechazo o repele – pero pide a Dios en la oración vencer su instinto de venganza, odio. O también reconocer que si hay una atracción desordenada e interesada, pedirle a Dios un amor ordenado, honesto y limpio.
La virtud es contraria al egocentrismo. La virtud eleva a la persona, la vivencia de las virtudes nos libera de tanto egoísmo y nos da un equilibro y paz interior que sólo tiene su fuente en Dios.
“Where love is, God is”
The disciples Paul and Barnabas are on fire to announce the Good news of the love of God. In the first reading of today (Acts 14, 21-27) they visit no less than 7 cities – Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia. The number 7, the so-called perfect number, signifies fullness and completeness. What was moving these two? What were they announcing? They were strengthening the faith of the people and encouraging them to remain firm in faith. The name Barnabas actually means “son of encouragement” so he was living out his identity. Each one is us too is called to live out our identity. Once when I was in Rome our teacher of Scripture asked us what our surnames meant. Never had I thought of that before. What amazed me was the response of the African students. Each of their names had a deeper meaning –Chibuzo meant “God lead the way” and Ochieng “born when the sun shines”. Another one meant “He whose only medicine will be the leaves from the tree”!
It makes us reflect on the name of every baptized “Christian”. What does it mean to be Christian? How to live out that identity? Some computers have a sticker that says ‘Intel inside’ but as Christian we have a greater power – “Jesus inside”. In the second reading of today, John gives us his revelation “A loud voice came from the throne – Here is the dwelling of God among mortals, he will pitch his tent among them and they will be his people; he will be their God-with-them”. Where is the dwelling of God among mortals? In the tabernacle yes, in the sacraments yes and also in the heart of every Christian. God is love and his love as St Paul reminds us “has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5). It reminds us of the title of a book written by the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy “Where love is, God is”.
This is why Jesus gives us a new commandment. Most people are more familiar with the “ten commandments” than the new commandment of our Lord. When many people today think of the Christianity today they just associate it with binding rules and regulations, commandments that inhibit freedom and even true personal and human growth and development. But the new commandment of Jesus is what will liberate us and make us fully human. Our Lord said “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” (see John 13, 31-33a. 34-35)
When we love then God’s face is made present in the world of today, in our families and in our homes. Love makes the world go round and how many times in our relationships we make the same appeal as the singer Elvis “Love me tender, love me dear”! Of course we are already loving but not any type of love will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21, 5). A new world needs a new quality of love, the love of Christ. A love that is patient and kind, that is capable to forgive and not keep a record of wrongs. A love that believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Jesus believes and knows we are capable of such a love.
Sometimes we make an excuse “Well I am only human” but if only we were truly human! Let us not water down the quality of love in our hearts. That is why Jesus adds “Love one another AS I have loved you” (Jn 13, 34). The scripture scholars remind us that this ‘AS’ or kathos in the original Greek text is very significant because it means with the exact same quality of love. Wow, were have a great power and potential to love. Let us start to exercise it this very day. And as Jesus reminds us “If you have love for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13,35). When people witnessed the goodness and kindness of St Charles de Focauld they would say “If this is the servant imagine how good the Master must be”. Our Christian lives and witness, if we are truly living with Christ in us, should lead others towards him. Perhaps we can ask ourselves if our life, word and even silence lead others to Christ? In the way we love in the different realities are we making God present? Because where love is, God is.