Wed, 07/28/2010 - 01:18

Scripture: Genesis 18:20-32
              Psalm 138
              Luke 11:1-13
  Is our prayer to God too polite?! Are we bold enough? Do we dare enough?
  The disciples asked Jesus:"Lord! teach us to pray." In the prayer Jesus taught, the first word is the key word. It expresses a relationship which is the very foundation and beginning of all prayer. Rather than words, prayer is communication between a gentle, loving Father (Abba) and a child who trusts that God.
  If we concentrate on the words alone our prayer will be tasteless.
  If we concentrate the loving Abba-child relationship words will come. Let's try it! Just sit down quietly, ask Jesus to teach you to pray and then just taste how much Abba loves us. ("Abba" is the actual word Jesus used, a child's word for "Father"). Abba cares for each of us as his special, beloved child. He accepts us as we are. He knows only too well our human frailty and still loves us with unconditional love. Have we the courage to accept acceptance?!
  The Genesis scene with Abraham praying to God is full of Biblical humour! In 3 places in Scripture Abraham is called "God's friend". He says in prayer "I am but dust..., but I dare to ask you this favour, O Lord!" Again, do we dare in prayer? Are we bold enough? Or in other words do we really feel that we are a child of God who loves us?
  When we approach God, of course we need balance.
God is God! We honour Him. But Jesus has taught us that our almighty God is a gentle loving Father (Abba). What a beautiful harmony.
Abraham asked, sought and knocked with persistence. He dared to speak to God as a friend. Let us try praying that way!

Tue, 07/20/2010 - 15:08

Scripture: Genesis 18:1-10
              Revelation 3:20
              Luke 10:38-42
  Last Sunday we read the Good Samaritan parable. The message was: prayer is not enough, we also need love of neighbor in action. Today we have an "action" parable and its message is : love of neighbour is not enough, we also need prayer. Note the balance of action and prayer.
  In the Genesis reading Abraham gives generous hospitality and through it meets his God and is rewarded. In the Gospel reading Martha and Mary give Jesus hospitality and are rewarded by his presence and words.
  Jesus calls Martha gently (repeating her name twice): "Martha, you worry too much!" But so many of us are like Martha. We are burdened with worries. And like her we say in stress: "I'm so busy!"
  What can we do in this so frequent feeling? The Scriptures answer the question: "Unload all your worries on the Lord, since He is looking after you" (1 Peter 5:7). In other words, use your worries as the raw material of your prayer and trust God because He really does love and care for us. That was Martha's prayer.
  Mary on the other hand was praying a different way.
  She just sat quietly and listened to Jesus speaking. We too should try this kind of prayer. Let us open the Bible and in reading it prayfully and slowly let us hear what Jesus is saying to us. He speaks to us especially through the Scriptures.
  Jesus wants to be a friend to us as He was to the family of Lazarus, Martha and Mary at Bethany (read John chapter 11).
  Prayer is an intimate conversation between friends. We can say ANYTHING AT ALL to him. He says:"I call you my friend." And in the living voice of the Scriptures Jesus says: "Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together."(Revelation 3:20CEV)
  Let us open the door of our hearts and give Jesus hospitality.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 16:07

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
  We have heard the story of the Good Samaritan so often that maybe the ears of our heart have become dulled or even deaf to its important message.

  The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a lonely mountain road. The robbers left this Jew half dead, taking everything he possessed. Imagine him bruised and bleeding on the side of the road. First a priest, then a temple minister saw their compatriate, but deliberately went to the other side of the road, doing nothing. Then came a Samaritan whom the Jews despised. But he saw the wounded man and his heart was filled with compassion. He got off his donkey and washed the wounds and put healing oil on them. The first two men did nothing positively wrong, but they sinned by omission, i.e. by not doing something good.

  In today's society "Who is my neighbour?" is a vital question if we want to be true followers of Jesus. He tells us that my neighbour is someone from a different religion, a different race, or different social background. Even someone in far distant Africa or Palestine is my neighbour. If someone, anyone, is suffering, lonely or despised, that person is my neighbour. - i.e. someone to be cared for and loved. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a tremendous challenge to us.

  This practice of concrete love of neighbour has 3 steps.
  (1) We need to erect antenna over our hearts to be sensitive to people who are in need (so many hide the wounds of the heart).
  (2) Next we need to feel with them. "Compassion" is a word that literally means "to suffer with or feel with a person" Priest and levite lacked it. The Samaritan had it.
  (3) Compassion must lead to actually doing something for the person. The Good Samaritan's act of kindness and love was a big one. We are asked to follow his example in little, daily acts of kindness. A smile, a word of encouragement or commendation (e.g.. "That was a tasty meal") or sympathy can be "healing wine and oil" to wounded hearts. Try it!

Wed, 07/07/2010 - 01:47

Scripture:Isaiah 66:10-14
             Luke 10:1-9

 On the night of Jesus' birth the message was; "Peace".
 Jesus gave peace to Zachaeus, to Peter, to many. He said: "Your sins are forgiven, go in peace." At the Last Supper Jesus said; "My peace I give you... not as the world gives peace." Jesus said; "Blessed are they who work for peace, they will be children of God." After His Resurrection the constant prayer-greeting was "Peace be with you".
 In today's Gospel he sends out 72 disciples with his gift of peace. "Let your first words be; "Peace to this house."
 Do you personally deep in your heart taste this peace which Jesus offers? Do you have a deep yearning for that peace?
 How can we taste this wonderful peace - even when we are worried or suffer? Make a silent time for yourself to meet God who loves you as His child. In prayer just repeat the words:
"God loves me and looks after me." Gradually, as a gift from God this feeling that you are loved by God will sink in to our heart Then, you will experience peace. Realizing you are loved by God brings peace.
 However, while we are requesting this peace in prayer we must also be instruments of peace to others. We can give a warm smile, be thoughtful, do a kindness, sow a seed of peace in someone's heart. The amazing effect is that you yourself will experience peace. This is a present from God.
 A great Christian, Catherine de Hueek Doherty (died 1985) was travelling in the subway in Montreal, Canada. The old lady sitting next to her said: "Can I talk to you please. I am so lonely."
 They talked to the terminus, stayed on the train talking until the return terminus. That is an example of being an instrument of peace.
 Let us each in our own capacity sow a seed of peace this week. Let us request Christ's peace in prayer. Peace will come - not just a little bit of peace but it will flow like a river in flood (Isaiah).

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 17:31

Scripture:Luke 9:51-62
             Psalm 25

 In the first line of today's Gospel Jesus starts a journey from Galilee up to Jerusalem. This is called "The Journey Theme". It symbolizes our journey of life. But it is more than just a "symbol"! Jesus, because he is alive and with us now, is our companion on our life's journey.
 Our God is truly full of compassion. Our God in Jesus became human like us. Our God has actually experienced our human fraility.
 In today's Gospel passage Jesus is rejected and insulted by the village people of Samaria. Two of Jesus' disciples wanted the villagers to be wiped out by a thunderbolt. But our God is not a punishing God - then or now.
 We too in life's journey get left out, suffer rejection and insults. We get snubbed. We get deeply wounded in our heart. Revenge in the form of returning the insult, or showing coldness to that person, or holding a grudge only makes our heart wound worse! We can go to Jesus in prayer asking for help, consolation and courage to forgive. Jesus has experienced what we are going through so he understands us so well.
 Loneliness is another experience on our life's journey, especially in our busy competitive society. Jesus experienced deep loneliness. He was driven out of his home village Nazareth. "The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." That is a cry from a lonely heart. So when we experience loneliness let us go to Jesus in prayer and ask his help, consolation and courage.
 When Jesus says:"Fear not I am with you," he means that with hands joined with Him we travel life's journey TOGETHER. We are never alone. He says:"Come to me, all you who are tired and heavily burdened, I will refresh you." Let us answer that invitation in prayer, even though we are all churned up inside our heart - he understands, he has experienced the same.

Wed, 06/09/2010 - 16:23

Feast of the Body of Christ

Food is vital for life, strength and health. Without food we get sick and finally die of starvation. Jesus has given us Holy Communion. He used the symbol of bread or food. The meaning is we get our spiritual strength, health and life from this holy meal.

At the Last Supper, and at each Mass, Jesus says over the bread:'This is my Body'. Here in Hebrew, the language Jesus used, 'body' means the person himself. In holy Communion under the appearance of bread Jesus himself is present and comes into our hearts when we receive Communion. Jesus becomes our strength and support for life's journey. For me personally receiving Jesus in Holy Communion has been the main strength that has kept me going through both tough and also joyous times in my life.

Jesus says:'Come to me, you are my friend. You labor and burdened, I will refresh you'. I see this as an invitation to talk to Jesus any time, but especially after receiving Holy Communion. Jesus wants us to talk to Him as a friend. That means, as we are, without embarrassment, without being so polite that He becomes distant. Opening our hearts before Jesus without decoration is an important aspect of prayer to Him.

We say 'Holy Communion'. Communion means union with Jesus Himself but also union with our fellow Christians. St.Paul says; we all receive the same bread, Jesus Christ, therefore we are united to each other through Him. But of course we are weak humans and have our prejudices. That is why at the first Holy Communion at the Last Supper Jesus washed his quarreling disciples' feet We too need foot-washing heart for Holy Communion.

 

Mon, 05/31/2010 - 13:11

Let us look at the Mass. Let us come to Mass with joy,rather than obligation.
The atmosphere of the society in which we live has as its priority material goods and success which involves competition which is so stressful. The Way of Jesus has an opposite priority -the heart- God. It is difficult and sometimes lonely to be a Christian in such a society, but it is so worthwhile. As encouragement our Sunday community Mass means a lot I feel. The first Mass was the Last Supper on the night before Jesus died for us. That first Mass was the family festival of the Passover, in which there were Scripture readings and hymns song. So today in our Mass we have ① the Liturgy of the Word, i.e.readings and psalms song from Scripture. The Vatican Council says:"We hear Christ's living voice, especially when the Scriptures are read in church." Jesus himself is speaking to us. Ponder what that means sometime it is consolation, sometimes challenge. Let us listen carefully and become sensitive to anything that makes an echo in our hearts. that is God talking!
Today in our Mass we have ② offering. At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of his offering of his life on the cross on the next day. On the Cross He said: 'Father into your hands I give my life.' Let us too have this same sense of offering. Give God your joys and your pains, your daily round of chores,your work, your study -in other words, your whole self. So with a sense of ① listening, and ② offering, our Mass can mean a lot to us and become a joy.
We listen and offer ourselves as a community, as the same children of the same Father. This sense of praying together as a family can give us courage, hope and joy in today's world with its emphasis on the material goods which can never really satisfy the heart.

 

Sun, 05/16/2010 - 23:53

'Abba' is the actual word that Jesus used for God. In some places in the New Testament it is left as is, not translated, in other places translated as 'Father'. 'Abba' is a small child's word for Father, something like 'Papa'. Behind the word is a very deep truth, the very essence of all Jesus' teaching. That is, God is a loving, caring Father, we are his special children. This is a message from God for everyday life.

The strict Pharisees objected strongly to this intimate way of addressing God. They said "It is impolite, it is close to blasphemy." Jesus insisted; "God is Abbba. God is gentle, loving, caring, understanding of human weakness. He is not strict God, not a punishing God. He is the very opposite. You are his very much loved children."

Jesus spoke for 3 years so often about God as a loving Father that one day Phillip, disciple, said; "Jesus! Show us that Father. That will be enough!" (I use this request of Phillip's as a prayer.)

If we have a narrow, strict, fearful image of God, we are just not yet real followers of Jesus. Such as a fearful image will make prayer only formally polite words, with no joy or taste. Our everyday lives will be the same. Religion becomes mere obligation. God is my loving Father who accepts me as I am. This is the truth that can set me free, that puts joy and taste into our daily lives.

Open your Bibles and prayerfully read these suggestions.

Luke 15:11-24 emphasizes loving acceptance of Father, not the waywardness of the son.

Mark 14:36 'Abba...'

Romans 8:15 To really grasp this deep truth, human effort is not enough, we need light from the holy spirit.

N.B. When Jesus speaks of God as Father it is to emphasize God's gentleness, not that God is male. For God as gentle Mother, Isaiah 66:13.

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:23

"Jesus! You are my Lord" Those few words were an expression of faith in the early Church. For us today they also have a deep meaning. They mean that we take Jesus into our daily lives and hand everything over to him as our Lord. But this very important act of giving our very selves into Jesus' hands means that we must get to know him and be able to trust him with something so important. To get to know Jesus in a deeper way, in order to meet him as a friend, we need to open the Scriptures and pray them. Here are some Scripture passages that I recommend in order to meet Jesus.

  1. (1)Zachaeus was rich, but despite that he had a great emptiness in his heart. He forgot his dignity, climbed a tree, and he met Jesus who fulfilled all his yearnings. Jesus acts this way today for us (read Luke19:1-10).
  2. (2)The widow of Naim lost her only son. Imagine her sorrow. Jesus saw her sorrow and felt with her. Jesus is the same today (Luke 7:11-17).
  3. (3)Peter's faith got weak and he sunk in the waves. He cried out to Jesus, who accepted. Peter's frailty saved him. Likewise Jesus forgave Peter for the 3 denials. (read Matthew 14:22-33 + John 21).
  4. (4) Jesus' Agony in Gethsemane Garden: Jesus was 100% God while being 100% human. As a human like us he suffered in heart and body. Shusaku Endo writes of Jesus as being one who walks life's path with us (Mark:14).
  5. (5) Jesus calls each of us by name. He knows each of us well and accepts us as we are (John 20:11-18)
  6. (6) Through the Scriptures Jesus says in a living voice: "Come to me all you are tired and carry heavy burdens. I will refresh you." (Matt.11:28) What a wonderful invitation! Let's respond.

A scripture passage that appeals to you is special, because the Holy Spirit is telling you something. Let us get to know Jesus through the Scriptures and pour out our hearts to him. Such out-pouring is Prayer.

 

Wed, 05/05/2010 - 07:47

Scripture: Acts 14:21-27
              Psalm145
              Rev.21:1-5
              John 13:34

  Jesus says to us today:"Love one another as I have loved you".  But sometimes we find it difficult (or at times impossible) to love another! There is the person who has hurt us and left a deep wound in the heart; there're people who have very different opinions; some personalities seem to be opposite to mine; there are some people I would not like to meet; there are self-centered people, dull people, noisy people; there are people who look down on me or use me etc.etc.etc! How can I possibly love these kind of people as Jesus says? Yes, it is impossible! Acknowledge that on your own human strength the impossibility is there! What can we do?

  First of all the word "love". This love that Jesus commands does not mean having a nice warm feeling toward a person! It means humbly accepting a person as he/she is - faults and all.

  These following steps are important to accept (love) a person in Jesus' way:
(1) Before a gentle, understanding God acknowledge one's own faults, bad points, weakness and failings. (cf Psalm 145:"The Lord is kind, full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love")
(2) Consider prayfully just how much God loves you and accepts you as you are - faults and all. Jesus offered his life for us. He makes his home among us,...he wipes away our tears (2nd reading). This second point is important because Jesus says "Love one another as I have loved you." This love we are to practise is: "AS I LOVE"
(3) Pray like this:"Jesus, my God! you love and accept me as I am, Please help me to accept ○○○○san as he/she is. I need your help. It is impossible to put your command to love ○○○○san without your strength. I want to love that person."
  Wanting to love a person (in the meaning of Jesus' use of the word love) is important. "Love one another as I have loved you. By this love everyone will know that you are my followers."

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 17:03

Scripture: Psalm 100 and Psalm 23
              John 10:27-30

 In the Catholic Church, today is called Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the special day we answer Jesus call to pray that God will send labourers into his harvest. (Matt.9:37) I would like to share with you an aspect of my own life as a priest.

  Jesus said:"I am the way, truth and the life." (John 14:6)   For me as a priest that saying of Jesus "I am the life" is a keyword. 35 years ago I received a mini-revelation that put new meaning into my life as a priest. I was reading a bed-time story to my friends' twin 3 year old children. It came to me that if I had married these could be my own children. Then I asked myself: "What am I doing to give life?" Since that time I have aimed as a priest to be an instrument of the life that is Jesus.

  By "Life that is Jesus", I mean that I work and pray that people may receive peace of heart, joy in the faith, meaning in life, light in darkness, and hope. The Nobel prize writer Oe Kenzaburo's words spur me on:"Japanese society faces a major crisis: we are a society without hope". I pray that I may be an instrument of hope, a one candle power light in darkness, an instrument of the life that Jesus gives us.

 How can we experience this "life". Another way of putting the same question is: How can we meet this Jesus? There are five ways which come together as one:

(1) By reading the Bible, especially the Gospels - reading slowly and thoughtfully. (2)By praying - that is, just talking to Jesus as a friend who is alive and with us now, (3) Through the Eucharist and (4) through the Community and (5) by being kind and thoughtful to people especially those who are suffering (cf.Matt 25). These ways are of course open to all. I as a priest try to promote them so people may have life. I am but an instrument of that life - an earthen vessel.

Wed, 04/21/2010 - 06:22

Scripture: Psalm 30
               John 21:1-19

  Are you a Christian or thinking of becoming one? Do you think you can stay a faithful follower of Jesus for the rest of your life? For me it is impossible. That is, impossible if I rely only on my human strength and will power! But if I rely on the strength and guidance that the Risen Jesus gives me I will remain faithful. Jesus guarantees it!

  Let us look at the example of one of the first Christians, the apostle Peter. 3 years before today's Gospel scene Jesus called Peter:"Come, follow me!" And Peter did follow Jesus, but Peter did not acknowledge his own fraility and relied only on his own human strength. At the Last Supper Jesus said to Peter: "Simon Peter, Satan will test you...but I have prayed for you...when you come back to me, strengthen your brothers." Peter said:"Lord I am ready to go to prison or even die with you" Jesus replied:"Peter! Before the rooster crows today you will say three times that you do not know me" (Luke 22:31-34)

 And that is what happened to weak, human Peter, using his own strength alone. Peter sinned. Peter denied Jesus. Peter left Jesus' church!

 After the Resurrection Jesus did not scold Peter, or demote him from being the leader of his Church. Jesus, our God, understands and accepts our human fraility. Three denials are balanced with three "Peter, do you love me?" Peter replies:"Yes Lord, I love you." Then Jesus calls Peter again: "Come follow me." The story of Peter is our story today. Our steps are:

(1) Jesus calls each of us by name and says:"OOO! Do you love me?"
(2) Before replying ponder just how much Jesus loves you. He offered his life for you.
(3) Acknowledge your own fraility, sinfulness and lack of power to be faithful and ask for help and strength. If we have a warm relationship with Jesus in prayer. (Prayer is absolutely essential-heart to heart prayer).
(4) Only then can we answer and mean it:"Lord Jesus I love you" the warmth of Jesus love will put new life into our hearts.

Tue, 04/20/2010 - 12:21

Scripture; Psalm 118
               John 20:19-31
  Today is called "Divine Mercy Sunday". The dictionary tells us that mercy is the compassion of God. But especially in our times when we have a raging tidal wave of words this word definition does not reach our hearts. To understand the mercy of God we need to open our Bibles and ponder the concrete examples of mercy in Jesus' life.

  Let us take just 2 examples. (1) Mary of Magdala was so lonely, disappointed and sad that she was crying in front of Jesus empty tomb. The Risen Lord Jesus appeared to her and so gently called her name: "Mary!" Jesus understood her tears and showed such gentle compassion. The Risen Jesus calls each of us today by our own name and pours on us the same mercy or compassion.

  (2) In today's Gospel we meet Thomas. He was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. He expected Jesus, as the promised Messiah, to free his country from the army of the Roman Empire. But Jesus died as a criminal on a cross. The high hopes of Thomas were dashed. He was devastated. In this state he escaped to be alone (such a human reaction!). While away Jesus appeared to the other disciples. On being told about this on his return he said:"I refuse to believe in this resurrection story". Thomas was stubborn and full of doubts. The Risen Jesus appeared again but did not scold Thomas. Jesus accepted Thomas as he was. This is an example of divine mercy. I would like to make 3 points;

(1) Let us open the Bible and prayerfully, slowly read examples of Jesus' mercy, kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion. In the miracle stories let us look behind the miraculous to the reason for the miracle, i.e. compassion.
(2) That same Jesus is Risen and lives amongst us today.
(3) We can meet that same Jesus and taste the same compassion when we meet Him through prayer, the Eucharist, the community and in our kindness to others. "Come to me, you who labor and are burdened...."

Tue, 04/20/2010 - 13:48

Scripture: Psalm 30
               John 21:1-19

  Are you a Christian or thinking of becoming one? Do you think you can stay a faithful follower of Jesus for the rest of your life? For me it is impossible. That is, impossible if I rely only on my human strength and will power! But if I rely on the strength and guidance that the Risen Jesus gives me I will remain faithful. Jesus guarantees it!

  Let us look at the example of one of the first Christians, the apostle Peter. 3 years before today's Gospel scene Jesus called Peter:"Come, follow me!" And Peter did follow Jesus, but Peter did not acknowledge his own fraility and relied only on his own human strength. At the Last Supper Jesus said to Peter: "Simon Peter, Satan will test you...but I have prayed for you...when you come back to me, strengthen your brothers." Peter said:"Lord I am ready to go to prison or even die with you" Jesus replied:"Peter! Before the rooster crows today you will say three times that you do not know me" (Luke 22:31-34)

 And that is what happened to weak, human Peter, using his own strength alone. Peter sinned. Peter denied Jesus. Peter left Jesus' church!

 After the Resurrection Jesus did not scold Peter, or demote him from being the leader of his Church. Jesus, our God, understands and accepts our human fraility. Three denials are balanced with three "Peter, do you love me?" Peter replies:"Yes Lord, I love you." Then Jesus calls Peter again: "Come follow me." The story of Peter is our story today. Our steps are:

(1) Jesus calls each of us by name and says:"OOO! Do you love me?"
(2) Before replying ponder just how much Jesus loves you. He offered his life for you.
(3) Acknowledge your own fraility, sinfulness and lack of power to be faithful and ask for help and strength. If we have a warm relationship with Jesus in prayer. (Prayer is absolutely essential-heart to heart prayer).
(4) Only then can we answer and mean it:"Lord Jesus I love you" the warmth of Jesus love will put new life into our hearts.

Wed, 03/31/2010 - 06:34

Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-7
              Philippians 2:5-11
              Luke 22:14 -23:56

  We call this week:"Holy Week". We recall and pray about Jesus' sufferings, death on the Cross and Resurrection. Let us ponder the sufferings.

  It is vitally important to realize that Jesus' sufferings are not ancient history, unconnected with us today. They were freely taken on for us today. St Paul says (in Galatians 2:20) "Christ loved me and gave his life for me." To appreciate the sufferings of Christ ponder that sentence very deeply. Each of us can use the same words as Paul. It makes Jesus' Passion very alive, and very much connected with each of us today.

  Jesus suffered cruel bodily torture. His back was all blood with cuts from the whips. Consider the love for you behind it. Jesus head was pierced by thorns. Consider the love. Jesus is with us now when we have pains in our body.

  Jesus suffered very much in his heart. He was afraid, and had no support in Gethsemane Garden (they were sound asleep). He was betrayed by his friend Judas; Peter denied he even knew Jesus. There were false accusations, insults, power harassment and an unfair trial. All this was accepted because Jesus loves us. The solders spat in his face - love!

  Do not concentrate so much on the sufferings themselves, but rather on the love for you behind them. This is very personal love.

  Because Jesus went through such human suffering he can say to us as God;"Fear not, I am with you in your suffering."

  Read the Gospel of Luke's Passion Chapters 22:19 - 23:48 very slowly. Always call to mind;"Christ love me, and gave his life for me"
  Pause and taste that love. Jesus is beside us in a very special way when we meet suffering. He has experienced suffering. His invitation has special meaning: "Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Let us go to him in prayer and scripture this week. We can be changed from darkness to light.

Mon, 03/22/2010 - 17:54

Scripture: Psalm 51
              John 8:1-11

  Last Sunday Jesus taught us by word that God is full of compassion for us sinners. We had the Parable of the Loving Father and the Prodigal Son. In today's Gospel Jesus teaches us by his actions and attitude the same lesson. Jesus condemns the sin of adultery, but he shows compassion to the sinner. On the surface there seems to be only one sin. But let us look more closely. There are other serious sins. For example, the Scribes and Pharasees ruthlessly used this woman to trap Jesus. They put the woman into the most humiliating shame by putting her on public show. They did not treat her as a human person, but as a mere thing, i.e. as bait in a trap. These men had cold, bitter hate of Jesus because he was challenging their kind of surface-only religion.

  But let us notice that Jesus condemned no one - not even the scribes and Pharasees. He called on each one to examine his own conscience before condemning this woman. "He who is without sin, let him caste the first stone." Do we judge others? Do we impute bad intentions or bad actions on others? So often people do not know that they hurt us. Do we use people to get power?

  One thing we must be aware of when we read the Scriptures is this. Mostly we see BIG sinners getting love compassion and foregiveness from Jesus. Some people who regard themselves as just "little sinners" feel left out! The meaning in the Scriptures is that everyone, from the biggest sinner to the so called "little sinner" is included in God's compassion. Never feel left out!

  We all at some time have clashes with someone - we are human! The clashes and hard words leave a wound in the heart. This wound makes it hard to forgive. Let us recall how forgiving God has been to us; and then try (with God's help) to forgive others. "Let the one who is without sin caste the first stone." A deep saying for 2010!

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 06:08

Scripture Luke Chapter 15


  I have a recommendation for Lent. Open your Bible to chapter 15 of St.Luke's Gospel and read very, very slowly the 3 parables of God's limitless love. They are: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost silver coin, and lost sons. In this parable we called "The Prodigal Son", let us look at the elder son. He can be so like us! Yes, he did what his father told him in a mechanical, outer way, but he had no respect or love for his father. He showed outright disrespect for his father - he would not go into the home to meet his father, he referred to his younger brother as "that son of yours." He had a hard, cold unforgiving heart. But his greatest lack was that he did not realize that his father loved him very much. He was so tied up in his own self that he was blind to his father's love.
  Please note well the limitless love of the father. The father goes out of the home to meet and talk with his oldest son. And he says those important words:"My child, you are with me always. All I have is yours."
  Through these 3 parables Jesus shows us just how much God, our Father loves each one of us as we are. Note well how the father was watching the distant road waiting with hope for the return of his younger son. He sees him and runs out of his home to meet and embrace him. "Welcome home, my son." (Fathers of that era just did not run! They did not give such a warm welcome to a child who had insulted him so gravely. But God our Father is different from most fathers of the world. He loves us unconditionally).
  Slowly read this parable again. Pause prayerfully at times to ponder the deep teaching of Jesus. God our Father says to each one of us in a living voice: "My child, I love you. You are with me always. All I have is yours."

Tue, 03/09/2010 - 09:35

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15
              Psalm 103
              Luke13:1-9
  When we pray we come before God as-we-are, and talk to him from our true heart. But, who is this God? What is he like? The readings in today's Mass give us a glimpse of God.
Exodus: God calls Moses by name. In the Scriptures calling a person by his/her special name is a symbol of warmth and intimacy. God knows my own personal name and calls me by it. God invites warmth and intimacy in prayer. But God is the almighty creator, so at the same time we should show respect and reverence to him. (This is the implied meaning of Moses taking off his shoes). Balance is important: intimacy and reverence. One should not overshadow the other.
  God ALWAYS hears our prayer. They ALWAYS reach him. God says: "I see your miserable state. I hear your appeal. Yes, I am well aware of your sufferings. I will deliver you." (The Scriptures have an eternal present tense!) Let us send up our prayer to God, and let God decide what is truly best for us.
  Sometimes I hear people say: "I got sick (or failed an examination, or some suffering came): it was because I did not come to Church." In the Gospel Jesus is strongly opposed to this kind of thinking. Our God is NOT a punishing God; He is not a cold, strict God of laws. In the Gospel some people were killed by Pilate, others died when tower under construction fell on them. It was said of them: "Their death is a punishment for their sins." Jesus tells us that this is not so. God is not like that, God understands human weakness and He waits hopefully for our conversion. We can always go back to God (like the prodigal son) and get a very warm welcome back. This is the gentle Father - God we pray to, as his beloved children. Two lines of the Psalm 103:8 and 14 sum up an image of the God to whom we pray: "The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. He is slow to anger..... for he knows the clay of which we are made." Let us send up our prayer to such a gentle God.

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 03:25

Scripture: Psalm 27
              Luke 9:28-36 Luke 23:33-46
 Psalm 27 is the Responsorial Psalm for today's Mass. It is a psalm full of trust in God. King David prayed this psalm when everything seemed to be going against him. Please use it as your own prayer! Especially:"Of you (God) my heart has whispered:"Seek his face." It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face." The word "face" stands for the whole Person.


 What is God's face like? i.e. what is God like? Who is God?
In Jesus Christ we see the true face of God. In today's Gospel we see Jesus climb a mountain, and light and glory shine out of his face. His clothes too are a brilliant white. This is the concrete way of the Gospel, saying that Jesus is truly God. Now let us go to another mountain -  Mount Calvary. Jesus is nailed to a cross. His face is covered in blood, a face full of pain. His clothes have been stripped off him. Our Jesus is truly human. Jesus is 100% the one true God, and 100% human, like us.


 Let us look at the human face of Jesus to understand the heart of our true God. At the wedding feast at Cana Jesus laughed and rejoiced with the guests. And when he met the weeping widow-mother who now lost her only son, Jesus grieved with her, as he later shed tears at his friend Lazarus' tomb. Jesus showed a tired face asleep in the front of the boat. His face showed hurt and disappointment when he was chased out of his home-town, Nazareth. He showed an angry face on behalf of the poor who were being charged high prices by the merchants in the Temple. He showed a joyful welcoming face to the mothers and children when he blessed them... Jesus showed an understanding face to Zachaeus, and a forgiving face to Peter. Jesus is alive today and lives amongst us. This is the face of God towards us today. This week let us make a short silent time to hear the whisper of our hearts. We really do yearn for the peace of meeting the gentle God of peace and life. "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps.46:11)
"O Lord, I seek your face; hide not your face from me"  

Tue, 02/23/2010 - 12:52

Scripture; Deuteronomy 26:4-10
              Psalm 91
              Romans 10::8-13
              Luke 4:1-13
 We have entered Lent! Does "Lent" mean to you giving up things like sweets, alcohol, chocolates, sugar, movies etc? To make those sacrifices is good, because we can come to realize that material things are really worthless compared to things of the spirit and spiritual. But do not put full emphasis on "giving up things". Our religion could become merely negative and external. This Lent (while making sacrifices) let us open our hearts to experience the fact that God loves me personally as I am. God gives me His love, understanding and compassion - that is more important than the tiny things I can give Him! Actually we give more by realizing the depth of his love and replying to it.

 Following today's first reading we all can also say:"The Lord hears my voice and sees my misery, my toil and my oppression, and saves me." That is God's love for me.
In Psalm 91 I too can pray "The Lord is my refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust...." The Lord says:"I am with you, I will save you in distress."

 On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes rubbed on our foreheads with the words: "Repent and believe the Gospel." The "Gospel" is the joyful news that God loves each one of us unconditionally. Use the above readings to reflect on that wondrous message. Those words are said with this background:"Never forget that you are dust and onto dust you will return": These words may sound gloomy but they are not.
 We all must die. To run away from this fact of life is not healthy. We may try to suppress the fact that I must die, but it is always there, lurking in the dark depths of my heart. The Gospels, the Church (and most modern physiatrists) say that it is healthy to face one's death. The Scriptures tell us that death is not the end of everything. It is really the beginning of a new wonderful life with God. Death is never the terminal - it is only the transfer station. In Lent we face our death believing totally in this new life with God in Heaven. (The second reading emphasizes Jesus' resurrection and our own). If we truly believe that God's love totally surrounds us, then going home to him in Heaven will be a delight. Jesus experienced temptation, suffering, rejection, betrayal. He travels the road of life by our side - what is there to fear?
"Fear not, I am with you."

Thu, 02/18/2010 - 05:58

Scripture: Jeremiah 17:5-8
Psalm 1
1Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 6:20-26

In today's Bible readings both Jeremiah and Jesus introduce us to a way of living our everyday lives. It is the way of trust and reliance on God.

In the first reading from Jeremiah and Psalm 1 we have a parable of two trees in the desert. One tree looks healthy from the outside, but it has very shallow roots. When a drought comes it dries up and withers, because it is getting no water, which is life to a tree. The other tree puts its roots deep down in the earth and these stretch out to a water source. This tree keeps green and bears fruit even in time of a drought. It gets life from water deep down.

Some people are like the tree with shallow roots. Goods, possessions come first. The priorities of the heart for such a person are getting on in the world, being comfortable, good marks at school, being popular, getting into a good team etc etc. Such a person has shallow roots and these goods do not satisfy the heart. When any setback or suffering comes the heart is empty with no life in it.

The Bible (in Jeremiah and Jesus today) sets out another way of life that brings life and peace. This person is doing the same work as the other person but in the midst of that daily round of work this person has a deep trust in God. He/she relies on God because human weakness is acknowledged and God's help and strength is requested. This person has deep roots that get life from God himself.

To humbly admit that one is weak and rely on God's help is to be poor in the Biblical meaning. Many rich people think that they are self-sufficient and have no need of God. Their love of material things blunts their sense of the spiritual. Needs of the heart are neglected. On the other hand poor people have
very little worldly goods but they can say: "We have God as our strength." May we learn to be poor in the Biblical sense - it is the only way to be happy and at peace. "A blessing on the one who trust the Lord"(Jer.) "How happy are you who are poor..."(Jesus).

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 13:10

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8
1Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

Peter (later Saint Peter) was a professional fisherman. He knew that the best time to fish was at night. Fish were just not caught with the sun shining. Peter had fished all night and had not caught even one fish. He failed!

Jesus used Peter's boat as a floating pulpit. After his talk, Jesus says to Peter: "Row out into deep water and lower your nets to catch some fish." Peter knows daylight fishing is useless but he humbly follows the suggestion of Jesus, the carpenter. Jesus did not blame Peter for his failure, but encourages him. Peter went with Jesus and Peter was rewarded. He found new life and energy.

We all have failures in life - some are big, others small. For example: We want to be chosen (as a friend, for a team etc etc) but someone else is chose. We want our voice to be heard but someone else talks louder and is the center of attraction. We try our best but often we lose - we fail. Someone sits an exam, but fails despite trying hard. Someone in a marriage tries hard but fails. Some parents do their best for their children yet the child rejects everything. Often the parents feel a failure. Know that Jesus, our God, does not say: "It is your fault. You are to blame." Actually true failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up.

Peter failed. Jesus did not blame him saying "it's your fault." No! Jesus said "Peter get your oars out again and row into deep water" Jesus says the same to us today! No blame, just : "Let us start again together"

If we stop after a failure and pray we will find that behind every failure is a call from God. He calls us to start again and He says: "Fear not, because I am with you. Row out into the deep water again."

As the Japanese proverb says: "Failure is the source of success." Do not blame yourself for failure. Our kind God does not blames us. We can actually meet God himself (and his help and strength) after a failure. Try it.

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 19:02

Scripture: Jeremiah:4-19
              Psalm 71
              1Corinthians 12:31-13:13
              Luke 4:21-30
 God called Jeremiah (he was 19) to be a prophet in a dangerous time. It was a time of political upheaval with a war threatened. He was to go up from his country village to the capital Jerusalem and challenge the king to repent. But Jeremiah had no confidence in himself, he was so young (only 19), and he was so easily hurt. He was fragile! His personality did not fit the situation. But God said:"Jeremiah! Fear not, because I am with you." With this support behind him he could do his job in life.
 Jesus says to each one of us today:"I am with you always" (Mt.28-20). To grasp the deep meaning of these words let us ponder them prayfully.                                The "I" is our God who became 100% human like us (but still 100% God). Please get the balance. Do not let the Divine overshadow the Human (or vice versa). Jesus really felt like you and I. He was truly, truly human.
 Take today's Gospel scene. Jesus had been away from his home village (in the desert, Baptism in the Jordan, miracle at Cana, preaching) and he came back and was asked to read the Scriptures in the synagogue and comment on them. At first everyone was thrilled at his words. Then they had second thought: He is only our village carpenter! Then they became wildly angry because Jesus said God's love and compassion was for the whole world of nations. They expelled him and tried to kill him by throwing him over a cliff.
 Just imagine how Jesus felt. Have you ever been rejected, or even just slighted? If so Jesus is WITH you in your hurt. Later Jesus experienced misunderstanding, loneliness, betrayal by his friends Peter and Judas; he experienced sadness at the death of a friend,  bullying , insults, emptiness of heart and terrible physical pain. If Jesus had not experienced all this he could not have said "I am with you".
 Our God Jesus know how we feel because he has experienced the human condition: Jesus "feels our weakness with us. He has been tried in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence and we shall have mercy and grace when we are in need of help".(Heb.4:15)

Thu, 01/28/2010 - 09:15

Scripture: Nehemiah 8:2-10
               1Corin 12:12-30
               Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

 Think over this modern parable.
  There was a wealthy landowner who had 2 blocks of apartments with 70 families living in them. All the families were poor, many men were out-of-work. All had mounting debts and had not paid their apartment rent for 6 months. The landowner's secretary visited every apartment taking a survey of how many children, he asked about their health, how many grandparents and how big was their debt. This survey aroused fear and anxiety among the residents. "We are going to be evicted from our homes. We have nowhere to go "they thought. Added to that there was a rumor that a developer wanted the land. The fear increased even further when they all received a notice to attend a meeting with the landowner's manager in the local town hall.
  They all went to the meeting with sinking hearts. They felt there was no hope. The manager stood up and said:"You all have large debts and have not paid your rent. But the owner of the apartments is kind and understands your suffering. I have good news for you.  He announces:ALL DEBTS ARE CANCELLED! He wants you to have a new start. He is a kind; he trusts you."
  There was total silence. The residents of the apartments took time to realize just what these words meant! Then they hugged each other and some shed tears out of sheer joy. "We are saved by this kindness."   They returned to their homes and noticed the bright blue sky, the green of the trees, the beauty of the flowers as if it were the first time to see them. Indeed, everyday life had acquired a beautiful new taste. (The parable ends!)


  In today's Gospel Jesus proclaims the purpose why God became human. It was to give us the Good News that GOD LOVES EACH ONE OF US. God is a loving Father who cares for his children. He accepts each one as he/she is. This week consider again and again; say slowly to yourself: GOD LOVES ME AS I AM. This will give a new taste to your daily life.

Sun, 01/17/2010 - 00:00

Scripture: Isaiah 62:1-5
               1Corin 12:4-11
               John 2:1-12

 Let each of us ask ourselves:"Do I have a close, warm relationship with God? Are Jesus and I close friends?" This is the challenge of today's Gospel.
  In the Bible, concrete examples are used to teach deep truth. In today's Gospel John uses a miracle within a meal as a "sign" that we are in a new era. Now we can meet God with warm intimacy.
  At Cana the wine at the wedding reception was finished. (The old era of fear of God was ended). Tasteless water was changed into joy filled wine. This was done within the intimacy and fun of a wedding meal. A new era has begun. God is not a distant, frightening God. New God is close to our everyday lives; he is warm and loving. He accepts us as we are (not as we think we should be). He wants to have a joy filled family meal with us. He invites us into his close friendship and his warm intimacy. He calls each of us by name - that is, by our own personal name (This is a sign of intimacy in the Bible.(Isaiah 43:1 to 62:2).
  Jesus shows the warmth of God when he talks to all, eats and drinks with all at the wedding feast. Jesus has fun with them.
  We are told that the wine was top quality and that there was 120 gallons (540 litters, 800 bottles of it!). This is a "sign" or a way of saying that God's gifts are always top quality and he is generous in his giving.
  We can meet the same God today. Jesus as God is alive and close to us. Let us meet him in warm friendship, being with him or talking to him in close intimacy in prayer. Let us taste his warm friendship in his own meal which we call the Eucharist.
  Jesus in a living voice says to each of us: "I call you by name, my friend....  Make your home in me.  Come to me you who are tired and heavily loaded with worries, I will refresh you."
  Close, warm intimacy with God with no fear or embarrassment - let us taste this great gift from God.

Tue, 01/12/2010 - 22:43
Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11
              Titus 2:11-3-7
              Luke 3:15-22
  The Baptism of Jesus tells us what our own Baptism means.
  At our Baptism water was poured (usually on the forehead) and the words said were: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". These words were given us by Jesus himself (Matt.28:19)
  Let us look at the ceremony of Baptism when it is done in the Church ceremony. (In emergency, any person can baptize a person who wishes it).
  Firstly, the person's name is said. Taro (Hanako), I baptize you....      This recalls the custom of the Scriptures. God says:"I call you by name "Isaiah". Jesus says:"I call each sheep by name and lead them out"(John)
  Water is used. Water symbolizes cleansing and life. Water is vital to the life of humans and plants. We receive the life of God Himself.
  At Baptism we enter into the life and love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  We enter into God's love. The 15th century icon painter Adrei Rubler depicted the Trinity as 3 angels. The icon painting was used for prayer. One gazed at the painting gradually tasting the atmosphere depicted - LOVE. We enter into that love of God who accepts us as we are.
  The priest anoints the baptism recipient with blessed oil. Oil symbolized strength and health. God gives us strength and health of heart.
  A candle is lit from the Paschal candle and the priest gives it to the newly baptized saying:"Walk as a child of light". Indeed, God gives us light in the darkness of this life and world.
  At Baptism God makes a public promise (a covenant promise). God says to each.
 "Fear not I am always with you. I will protect you."
 We make a promise too (a covenant promise is always two way).
 We say:"My God I completely trust you. I put my life in your hands".
  At Baptism the God of compassion and kindness says to each in a living voice: "You are my own dear child. I love you."
  What comfort! What encouragement!
Tue, 01/05/2010 - 22:20

 Scripture: Isaiah 60:1-6
              Ephesians 3:2-6
              Matthew 2:1-12


  The ancient feast of the Epiphany means that God shows Himself to all nations and peoples. Jesus is for all nations, all eras. The first people to visit and worship Jesus were the shepherds who were Jews. Then came the three wisemen who were not of the Jewish religion. This is a concrete way of biblical teaching: Christ is for all peoples.
  The 3 wise men had a star to guide them, but they still had to seek Jesus. We too have a guiding star in our daily lives. It is Christ Himself. But we too have to seek him, especially in prayer. We need to create a quiet time and a quiet heart to become sensitive to the guiding star who is Christ. Such guidance can give meaning and taste to our daily lives.
  The Epiphany is a beautiful feast day, but also a challenging one. We are all accepted by God in Christ. We are challenged to accept people who are different from us. Eg. those from other countries, and religions; those with different personalities, tastes, ideas from our own etc.
  The 3 wise men brought gifts to Jesus. Let us bring gifts to Jesus. Let us give him the gift of our whole self. Let us give him quality time in quiet prayer. Let us give time to help others. Let us give him our stress, tiredness, pain, emptiness, loneliness because He has invited us to come to him. And let us give him a really big gift - forgiveness of someone who has hurt us. If that last gift is too big for us at least let us ask Christ to give us the gift of wanting to forgive. (This is the first step in forgiving someone who has hurt us).
  In Christianity, and in every religion, there is the custom of giving God a gift, often money or goods. But we must be very conscious that such a gift is only an outward sign of the gift of ourselves - our hearts, our minds, our bodies...  To God the heart gift is more important.

Mon, 12/28/2009 - 10:09
Scripture: Micah 5:1-4
               Psalm 80
               Hebrews 10:5-10
               Luke 1:39-45
  The most popular kanji character for 2009 is "new"(新). Psalm 80:18 is: "O Lord, put new life in us"(CEV). Let us prepare for new life, a new start, a new heart this Christmas (=Christ's Mass). Today's scripture guides us.
  Micah was a prophet (i.e. God's spokesman) in 700 B.C. The King, the country's leaders, the priests of the Temple, the rich business men were only interested in their own luxury. The poor were ground down and discouraged. Through Micah God says: "Have hope! Your peace will come from Bethlehem. He will be a gentle shepherd to you." God did not choose the famous capital Jerusalem but a small village 10 kilos away! God will always look after the little people because they are the ones who rely on him. Do I rely on God?
  Asking for God's gifts is very much a part of our prayer. Just look at all the requests for God's help in Psalm 80. Do I ask for God's gifts?
  The reading from Hebrews might seem difficult but has some important truths for our everyday life, so that we can become "new". The almighty God put aside the glory of Heaven and became human like us; His name is Jesus. Jesus offered his body as a sacrifice on the cross to give us peace - in this life and forever in heaven. He renewed that solemn promise to each of us: "I, your God, am with you always. I will protect you." Do I believe that promise?
  In the Gospel we have the example of Mary. After consenting to be the Mother of God, the angel told her that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. Without considering her own convenience Mary sets off immediately to help Elizabeth. To Elizabeth's home it took 4 days walking over hilly country, 130 kilos in all. Do I show people thoughtfulness and help and encourage them?
  Let us face ourselves and ask (and answer) the 4 questions above.
  This is the way to prepare for Christmas. This is the way to become a "new" person alive with hope and joy.
  "O Lord, put new life in us" (Ps80:18 CEV)
Mon, 12/28/2009 - 13:26

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28
               1st Letter of John 3:1-24
                Luke 2:41-52
             
  I feel at times we put Jesus, Mary and Joseph on a pedestal that is too high. We make them super-human! God himself became human just like us. Jesus is not super-human. To make Jesus such, puts him far away from us. He becomes distant and difficult to approach. This can have a chilling effect on our prayer. Jesus says: "Come to me all you are tired and heavily burdened. I will refresh you." Jesus is so easy to go to because He himself has experienced tiredness and has been heavily burdened with worries, fears, pain, betrayal etc.
  Likewise Joseph and Mary, the foster father and mother of Jesus. They did not live in a world that was all light and without pain. We get glimpses of these sufferings in the Scripture. For example: just imagine how Joseph felt not being able to get a room for Mary to have her special baby. Mary laid her baby not in a pretty cradle but in an animal feed trough. Then a little while later they had to flee to, and live in a foreign country, Egypt. All these sufferings called for trust in God. God does care very much for each of us, even though at times we can not feel God's care, love and closeness. Each of us is a child of God our Father. He loves us very much. (1 John)
  In today's Gospel we see a family misunderstanding! It happens in every human family. Mary asks:"Why have you done this to us?" When we meet suffering I believe it is important to face God in prayer and say: "God! why have you done this to me?" Maybe you are hurt or angry with God! That is OK, because God accepts each of us as we are. The important point is that we are meeting God in prayer which gives God the opportunity to gives us His gifts of hope, peace, and yes, even joy in the midst of suffering. Please try it. It works!
  It is so good to have a God who has experienced our real human existence. He is so understanding and approachable. Thank you Mary and Joseph for looking after the young human Jesus.

Thu, 12/17/2009 - 21:18

Scripture: Zephanich 3:14-18
               Isaiach 12:2-6
               Philippians 4:4-7


  When I do not feel very well and someone tells me "Cheer up! Pull yourself together!",  I react! I cannot turn on joy in my heart as if it were as easy as pressing an electric light switch. However in today's scripture readings God Himself is telling me to "Rejoice". Now that is very different because He is telling me also not to rejoice by my own human effort, but to rely on Him. God will give me joy, peace and courage as a gift. For me that is great consolation and encouragement - it gives me joy even in the midst of pain and emptiness. This might sound contradictory, but that is the way our loving God works.
  Consider some of the words from God in today's scripture readings.
"The Lord my God is in our midst...have no fear." (Zepharich)
"The Lord is my strength and my song" (Isaiach)
"The Lord is very near. There is no need to worry" (Philippians)
 St.Paul goes on to tell us to pray and as a result peace and joy will come to us.
  Why is prayer so effective? It is because in prayer we can relax with God. We know that He accepts us totally as we are. He loves us unconditonally. Coming to realize this great truth gives us peace of heart, and joy.
  Jesus invites us in a living voice:"Come to me all you who are tired and heavily burdened (with worries) I will refresh you. Fear not because I am beside you walking life's journey with you."
  These words give me comfort and I can truly rejoyice.
  I pray that everyone who reads this may have that God-given peace and joy.

Tue, 12/01/2009 - 20:38
Scripture: Jer33:14-16
Psalm 25
1Thes 3:12~4:2
Lk 21:25-28,34-36

"Japan Tops 11-nation anxiety index" is a heading in this morning's newspaper. Anxiety, fears, worries plague our modern world. Ask yourself: Am I really happy and contented? Fear is the most crippling affliction of the human heart. It is like a cancer in the heart. We can be afraid of ourselves - do we wholeheartedly accept the person we are? Are we afraid of others? Afraid of our future? Afraid of future sickness? Are we afraid of the death that must come to us? (We can run away from fears by trying to forget them, but they are still there in the depths of our heart). Each of us has some fears. It can be good to name them in front of our loving, accepting God who wants to help us.

In today's first reading (Jeremiah 33:14-16) God gives hope to the exiles in Babylon who were in the depths of fear and despair. Today if we trust the same God we shall "dwell in confidence." The same God will be generous to us and work within us to increase our love for one another and the whole human race (2nd reading Thess.3:12). Jesus tells us in the Gospel (Luke21:34-36) "Be careful about the worries of this world making your hearts blunt."(from Japanese cersion)  Then Jesus goes on to say: "Stay awake and pray for the strength to survive." Here we have the message of Advent! During these 4 short weeks before Christmas let us spend a minimum of 5 minutes everyday in silent prayer. Let God have a chance to work within our hearts. Maybe our "busyness" or occupation with worries and fears are blocking God working within our hearts
.
Here are four scripture passages to ponder this week:
(1) Psalm 25 (Today's responsorial Psalm) "O Lord show me your ways.... your paths"
(2) 1 Peter 5:7 "Caste your cares on the Lord, he will provide..."
(3) Matt.11:28 "Come to me you who are tired... I will refresh you"
(4) Isaiah 43:5 & Luke 12:32 "Fear not because I, your God, am with you"
With prayer like this your worries and fears will evaporate like morning dew!
Tue, 12/01/2009 - 23:36
Scripture: Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm126
Philippians1:4-6,8-11
Luke 3:1-6

The Jewish people in Baruch's time were in the depth of despair. Their beautiful temple had been destroyed and they were captives in far distant Babylon. Their hearts were in deep darkness. Baruch tells them to have hope because God will save them. God promises freedom. Psalm 126 tells us that they were saved. God turned their darkness into light.

We all have some darkness in our hearts. Let us wait with hope and confidence for that light to come. "That the Lord will come is as sure as the dawn" (Hosea 6:3). Jesus is our light in darkness.

In the Gospel John the Baptist is telling us to prepare for the coming of the source of light - our savior, Jesus Christ.

But today I choose only one line in today's Gospel. "The word of the Lord came to John in the desert." The desert has a special symbolic meaning in the Bible. It is the quiet place where we can meet God in prayer. We all need to make our own little special "desert" or quiet time in this busy city. We need quiet in the midst of our busyness. We need silence in the midst of the static in our hearts caused by the fast pace of today's world, with static coming in from TV, personal computer, mobile phones, i-pods etc. The more busy we are the more we need to create a quiet time to pray. In prayer we meet God and we come to realize that we do not do our day's work just by ourselves. We do it relying on God's strength. This realization of tandem will have a most peaceful, stress dissolving influence on our whole lives. The path of life will become straighter and smoother. There will be light in our hearts.
Advent is a time when we consider some basic issues. God became human so that He could be close to us, and give us warming light.

Do I make quiet time to let God show how kind and close he is? Do I want God to enlighten my darkness? Pray and wait in sure hope. "That he will come is a sure as the dawn" (Hosea6:3). Let us go to the "desert".