Sun, 11/23/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Ezekiel 34:11-17
Psalm 23
Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus has an important lesson for us in today's Gospel. He tells us that after we die God will have a review of our lives.  He will ask us these questionsg: "When you were on earth did you give me food when I was hungry? Water when I was thirsty? A welcome when I was a traveler? When I was sick and in prison did you visit me?" We might say: "God! When did me meet you yourself?"  He answers: "When you did something good for those suffering people you really did it to me myself." What a great challenge for us now!
In Japan, who are hungry? Beside the homeless, there is a great hunger in hearts. Jesus might ask us:"Did you give a warm smile to people, say "well done" or "thank you"? Such kindness feeds lonely hearts."
In Japan, we have a lot of water, but a massive number of thirsty hearts. They are the lonely and sad people. Do we give them the water of a warm welcome, a bright greeting, an encouraging visit or telephone call?
In Japan 'the traveler' of the Gospel could be the migrant worker or those who have just moved into our neighborhood, or those men on work away from home. Do we give such a warm welcome or, just pretend they are not there?
In Japan, beside the sick in hospital there are those afflicted with stress, depression, addiction and worries. Jesus will ask us: "Did you give kindness and support to those people?"
In Japan there are people actually in prisons with high walls and bars on the windows but also prisoners of the heart, people confined to bed, people who shut themselves away and don't come out of their house; and there are the bullied. Do we give support? If we do, there is an eternal reward in Heaven.
"The greatest sickness today is not leprosy or cancer or TB. It is loneliness . The greatest evil today is our indifference and coldness towards these lonely ones"  Mother Teresa.

Index of sermons

Sun, 11/16/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Mark 10:13-16
Today at the Church we celebrate the beautiful Japanese custom of children aged 7,5,and 3 receiving a blessing. Please read the scene in Mark's Gospel (10:13-16) of Jesus blessing the children.
This week is called 'Bible Week'. The Bible is God's message to each of us.  So when we open our Bible, let us ask ourselves: 'What is Jesus/God saying to me in this passage?'
Back to Mark. Jesus had been preaching all day, and was also answering questions by some who were against him.  They were trying to trap him.  So Jesus was very tired when he ended his teaching time.  It was then that mothers with small children came to Jesus and asked him to bless their children.  The 12 apostles tried to chase the mothers away by saying;"The Master is tired, come tomorrow!"  But Jesus told the mothers to come, and he blessed each child.
So what is the 'message from God' in this scene?  It is this:Jesus is so approachable.  He is interested in our daily lives.  Let us go to him in prayer.  He is never too busy or too tired - he always receives us with open arms.  Telling him our joys and sorrows is prayer.  The great doctor of prayer St. Teresa of Avila says:"Prayer is a heart to heart conversation with God whom we know loves us"
Being a parent (and also a grand-parent) in today's unsettled, competitive, hedonistic society is tough work!  Parents need God's help to be good, patient mothers and fathers.  Ask God for that help. He is always delighted to give it.  Parents!  Please pray with your children in simple words. Please read the Bible to them in simple words.
May God bless children and families in Japan.

Index of sermons

Sun, 11/02/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Lamentations 3:17-26
2 Cor.4:14-5:1
John 6:37-40
Today is All Souls' Day.  It is a special day in the Catholic Church when we pray for our dead. In Scripture (2 Macchabees 12:45) we read: "it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead".  In the ancient second Eucharistic Prayer we pray: "bring all the departed into the light of your presence! We pray:"Rest in Peace" (R.I.P.)
The Japanese Bishops in their guideline pamphlet (1985) tell us not to forget to pray also for our non-Christian relatives and friends.  The 4th Commandment tells us to honour our father and mother.  This honour continues after their deaths by praying for them.  Praying for the dead is part of love of neighbour.
The keyword in this prayer is God's loving-mercy.  We who remain living can sometimes discover the deep meaning of God's loving-mercy when we pray for our dead.  We pray that God our Father will pour out His loving-mercy over our own loved ones.
Gratitude is also the basis of our prayer for the dead.  When I go home to visit I always go to my parents' and grand parents' and friends' graves and stand before them and say "Thank you".  To make my prayer more focused I recall some concrete good thing. And for those I hurt I say "Sorry". They are still alive in God's care so I can talk to them personally.
Hope is another basis of our prayer.  Jesus rose from the dead.  He is the first, we all in turn follow Him.  Jesus tells us that death is not the end of life, it is only the change-over point to a new, glorious, eternal life in the happiness of God's company, when "he will wipe away our every tear" (Isa.25:8, Rev.7:17&21:4).
Let us pray for our dead by recalling God's loving-mercy (read Luke 15 to realize the depth of it).
Let us pray in gratitude and with hope.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/26/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18
Matthew 22:34-40
Let us ask ourselves this question: Do I love God with all my heart, soul and mind? Or only 80%? 50%? 10%? Or do I forget him altogether - especially during weekdays!? Then Jesus says:"Love your fellow human being (neighbour) as yourself."
Now ask ourselves this question: Do I love myself?
If I do not love myself (in the balanced sense that Jesus uses these words), I cannot love others or God. If my heart is diseased with self hate,
constantly comparing myself with others, or is weighed down with resentment and non-forgiveness, there is just no room for love.
In order to love oneself in a heathy way it is absolutely essential to deeply realize that God loves me as I am. His love is unconditional. He loves me, not in spite of my faults, but because of them. That is why He sent His Son to us.
One of the most beautiful, healthy and spiritual exercises I have ever heard of is this. In traditional India for 3,500 years there has been a caste
system. Lowest in caste are the Harajin. A leader from this group influenced by Christ had his followers do this exercise. They looked at themselves in a mirror. They aimed to look right into their own hearts, to see their true selves. Then they prayed this prayer. "O God, you love this me as I am, with a deep love and tenderness."

Try that prayer. Through it you will learn to love yourself, your neighbour and your God in a deeper way.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/19/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 45:1-6
Thess 1:1-5
Matt.22:15-21
The Bible shows us that the Jewish people gradually learned about the trueGod.  The thinking 3,000 years ago was that each country had its own God. Asslaves in Egypt, Ra seemed at times stronger than their God!  Then they were freed - God was the God who liberated. In the desert, He cared for them.  But entering Canaan they were tempted to worship Baal, or in Babylon Marduk. But gradually their image of God was becoming clearer.  Today's first reading is unique in the Old Testament. The true God used the pagan king of Babylon, Cyrus, as his instrument of peace and liberation. In other words, there was truly only one, supreme God.
Finally God became human in Jesus to give us the definitive image of God.  He is Abba, Father, we all are his especially loved children - he calls each of us by our own personal name. When we see the gentle, kind heart of Jesus,
we see the gentle, kind heart of the true God.
When I was small my image of God was good, but child-like. As a youth the image changed, as an adult changed again, and also in my 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's 70's. I hope and pray my image of God keeps changing. By 'change', I don't mean 'different'; I mean my image of God became deeper, closer, more loving. St Paul says in I Cor.13:11 : 'When I was a child I thought as a child, but now as an adult I think as an adult'.
This image we have of God is important for our daily life and for our prayer. If god is for us a strict, punishing God our prayer will be full of fear, and of course so will our daily life. If God is the gentle, loving, welcoming, forgiving Abba, our life will have joy, hope and love.
In a living voice Abba says: "You are my child, I call you by name."
Today is mission Sunday: let us share God's gentleness with others.

P.S. The Gospel tells us: A good Christian needs also to be a good citizen.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/12/2008 - 00:00
SScripture: Isaiah 25:6-10
Ps.23
Philippians 4:12-14,19-20
Matt.22:1-10

PETER KIBE
The theme of these readings is 'banquet'. In Scripture the 'banquet theme' is a symbol of God's warm companionship.
Today I write about a Japanese man who had a warm companionship with Jesus. He is Peter Kibe, one of the 188 Japanese to be beatified on November 24 in Nagasaki. The winner of the Beijing Olympic Marathon, Kenyan Samuel Wajiru, said that in his 6 years' stay in Japan he learnt Japanese 'gaman', i.e. stoic self command. It is a special trait in Japan. There is a special word in the New Testament, used 45 times -'endurance'" (Greek:hupomone). It is a gentle word often coupled with life, joy, hope. God gives this gift; it is God who gives us courage to endure joyfully. But God builds on our natural gifts.

Peter Kibe is an encouraging example.  He was born in 1587 in Urabe, Oita, on the Inland Sea.  From his youth he knew the sea and boats. 1587 was the very year of Hideyoshi's first notice of persecution of Christians.  At 13 Peter went to the seminary, but did not graduate.  Again at 27 he still felt this strong urge to be a priest, so he sailed to Macao, then to Goa in India.  He was refused admittance, but he still felt this strong call to be a priest to help his persecuted brothers and sisters.
Now follows and example of Christian endurance.  Peter walked about 5,000 kilometers, over three years to Jerusalem. He travelled in dangerous times through present day India, Pakistan,Iraq,Iran,Jordan,through mountain and desert. In Jerusalem(probably the first pilgrim from Japan)Peter walked in the footsteps of Jesus. Peter realized that in all his journeys he was never alone. The words of Jesus: "lFear not! I am with you" meant a lot to Peter Kibe.
From Jerusalem he went on to Rome, knocked at the door of the Headquarters of the Jesuit Fathers, and asked to be a priest and a Jesuit.
Within 6 months he was both! That is how the Jesuit superiors saw this mature man of endurance. Peter was 33.
Peter Kibe returned to Japan by ship. From Lisbon, around the Cape of Good Hope, to Mozambique, to Goa, to Malacca, to Ayutthaya, to Macao to Manila. He was shipwrecked three times!
In Manila he bought a small, old boat and with another sailed to Kagoshima. He wrote: "Trusting in a wind from God, we hoist our sails. I return for the salvation of my brothers and sisters."
Peter Kibe worked as a missionary for 9 years in Mizusawa, Iwate prefecture. He was betrayed by a friend, taken to Edo for interrogation and torture. He was condemned to death because he would not deny his faith or priesthood. He died by being suspended upside down. Indeed fortitude, perseverance, endurance is a gift from God.
Peter Kibe was 100% Japanese, 100% Christian. Let us ask Jesus to give us the gift of endurance knowing that He is there to fortify us. Let us trust our God and raise our sails with hope and sail on the journey of life.

Jesus said:"You will be betrayed... but not a hair of your head will be lost.... your endurance will give you life" Luke 21.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/05/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaich 5:1-7
Philippians 4:6-9
Matt.21:33-43
In Japan we have a hymn, the title taken from Psalm 139:18:
"God's care is without limit, and we live in that care all our lives"(#53).
Today's challenge is: Do we realize just how much God does for us, and do we appreciate his care and thank Him for it?
In Sunday's 1st reading and Gospel also we have a parable.
The owner makes a vineyard. It takes a lot of work. He ploughs it, fertilizes it, clears it of stones, erects a watch-tower to guard it, and makes a wine-press. Then leases it to tenants. The tenants take everything for granted, no gratitude at all. In fact they come to think they own the whole vineyard and run it for themselves!
God our creator has gone to considerable effort to build a beautiful 'vineyard' in our hearts. He has gifted us with life, family, friends. He has given to each some special talents. All during our life he guards us but still gives us a great freedom.
Do we appreciate all that God has done, and is doing for us? Do we thank him? Or do we only produces sour grapes?
Here is one way of praying: Quiten your heart, then ask for God's help. From your youngest years call to mind some of the good things that have happened to you - in your family, at school etc. Go thorough your youth, your adulthood just gently calling to mind the good things. Thank God for each of these experiences. Some will be at times just a tiny event, but made an influence on you. Some will be 'ordinary' events, some religious.
In this type of prayer, called 'The Prayer of Remembrance', only recall the good things. Then thank God for them. After gratitude, then we ask for blessings.(St Paul: today's reading).
Indeed "God's care is without limit, and we live in that care all our lives."Scripture: Ez 18:25-28

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/28/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Ez 18:25-28
Phil 2:1-11
Mt 21 28-32

In Japanese we often sing a hymn with these words (#390), "Think like Christ, Speak like Christ, Act like Christ, Love like Christ". This hymn summarizes today's second reading. At the Last Supper Jesus said: "I have given you an example that you may copy what I have done".(Jn.13:15) St Peter in his letter "Christ has left us an example that we may follow in his steps."(1Peter 2:21)
What does it mean to us today "to think like Christ."? The constant theme of Jesus' thinking is summed up in Psalm 31 that He prayed all his life even to his last breath: "Father, I give my whole self into your hands" It is a prayer of trust for us too.
"To speak like Christ." Through his words Jesus gave peace, courage, encouragement and forgiveness.  He talked to Zachaeus and gave to him a meaning in life.  Are we instruments of peace to others through our words?  Do we say "thank you" to others and really mean it?
"To act like Christ." When Jesus was taken prisoner in the Garden of Gethsemane he acted in a most unselfish, thoughtful way. He said to the soldiers: "You have me, let these others go free." For 3 years Jesus walked through Palestine with Peter. Many times Peter was extremely impulsive, and at times thought only of his own gain.
Jesus was so patient with him. Peter sunk in the waves through weak faith; he denied 3 times that he even knew Jesus. But Jesus always accepted Peter as he was. Do we accept people as they are?
"To love like Christ." Jesus gave up his life for us, his friends. Do we give up our lives in a little way for others? Do we give time to others? Do
we really listen? Do we give up our own convenience for others?
To think, speak, act, love like Christ we must get to know him well by reading and praying the Gospels, by talking to him as a friend in prayer, and by being united to him in Holy Communion.

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/21/2008 - 00:00
In our parish liturgy today we celebrated "Respect for Aged" day. Here is Fr.Hermann Heuver'SJ , Prayer in Old Age.
The full text of Fr.Hermann Heuvers' prayer-reflection.

《 LIFE'S ULTIMATE TASK  》
What is life's most important task?
To grow old with a cheerful heart,
To be still, even when I would like to be active,
To be silent, when I would like to talk,
To have hope even in times of frustration,
To carry my cross in humility and serenity of heart.
To put aside envy even when I see younger people walking God's path full of health and energy,
To humbly accept help from others when it is me who would rather give help,
So when I can no longer be useful for others because of fraility,
I need to gently and humbly accept the heavy burden of old age as a gift from God.
I have a heart that has been in use a long time
and now God is giving it a final polishing so that I can return to my true home all bright and shiny.
To gradually release myself from the chains that bind me to this world is indeed a wonderful work.
When I can no longer Do things let me accept this restriction with humility.
However, for my closing years God has kept for me the most important work of all, and that is.....
PRAYER
Even if I can no longer do anything else with my hands
right to the very end I can still join those hands in prayer.
I can pray asking God to bless all those I love.
As I approach my death may I hear God's voice when He says;
"COME! YOU ARE MY FRIEND
I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU"

By Fr.Hermann Heuvers S.J.
From "Autumn of Life"(1973)
(Translation: Fr.Barry Cairns)

Index of sermons

Sun, 08/03/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-3
Ps.145
Rom.8:35-39
Matt.14:13

We humans can see and feel the 'meat' on our bodies, but we also have a soul, a spirit, a heart ? which we can not feel or see. Our bodies easily feel hunger and thirst and we can easily satisfy these. But sometimes we pay no heed, or even suppress the hungers and thirsts of our soul or spirit. What can satisfy this need.

Saint Augustine as a youth rejected his mother's faith, and led a life devoted to pleasure, making money and personal fame. He went to Mass in Milan to study the style of Ambrose's oratory. But then he found the content of Bishop Ambrose's sermons was striking a chord in his heart. Only God himself can satisfy all the needs of a human heart. Augustine at 33 was baptized. He wrote: 'O Lord my God, you made the human heart to be in tune with You. Therefore our hearts can not find true satisfaction and peace until we rest in you.'

But who is this God?  What is He like?  In the human Jesus we see the heart of God.  Let us look at today's Gospel.  Jesus' cousin and friend, John the Baptist, is killed.  Jesus felt this death deeply.  God understands our sorrow ? He has experienced it.  Then Jesus sees the crowd and is deeply moved with compassion.  He sees their thirst and hunger of spirit. The Greek verb for 'deeply moved with compassion' (splanchnizomai) is a very, very strong word used by or of Jesus 9 times.

It is a deep inner emotion, an earthquake (scale 7) of the heart, it is a massive flood of love. That deeply compassionate God is the only one who can satisfy the longings of the human heart. Let us like Augustine, rest in Him. Let us answer his invitation to a fest for the heart.
Sun, 07/27/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: 1Kings3:7-12
Psalm 119
Matt.13:44-46

If Jesus appeared to you and said:"Ask for anything you want. I will give it to you."(as God said to Solomon), how would you answer Him? In prayer I imagined Jesus' question. Here is what happened. At first I asked for health, but then something from my deeper heart rose to the surface. There are more important things than health, so I asked to get to know and trust God more. (The Holy Spirit was definitely at work, otherwise I would have stayed on the more immediate level!)

To me that question that God asked King Solomon is repeated today to each of us personally. It is a question which challenges what I regard as most important in my life.

God's gift of letting each of us know how much he really loves each one of us is truly a wonderful treasure. It is a "pearl" of great worth. Am I prepared to put all my goods aside for it?

Only God can satisfy our heart's deepest desires. Material goods do not satisfy us for very long! We always want more-and more- and more!

"O Good, you have made us for yourself and our hearts cannot find rest until they rest in You." (St.Augustine)
Sun, 07/20/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Wisdom 12:13-19
Psalm 86
Matt 13:24-30
The theme of these 3 readings is: God is so patient with each of us; He is not a punishing God, but rather full of gentleness and understanding of our human fraility.

In the Gospel Jesus uses a parable to tell us a vital message. There are all sorts of people in our society and in our church. God is patient with all and especially with me, therefore I am called to be patient with others.
In Japanese, we use the word for wheat and the weed is called poison-wheat (in English:'darnel', or'tare', or just 'weed').

Do not immediately pull the weed out, but wait! Do not judge a person to be poison - wait. God waits, let us do the same. God is so patient with me, let me be the same.

Also in our society and church there are all sorts of people. These have different personalities, (i.e. different from mine); there are different education levels, in political thinking there are left-wing, right-wing and middle, different nationalities, and all with some (but different) weaknesses.
God accepts each one as he/she is - let us do the same.
If you are finding it difficult to accept someone, here is a way of facing the problem.
(1) in a concrete way make a list of your weak points, your mannerisms, your failures, your sins
(2) realize in prayer that God accepts you totally as you are
(3) tell God that you are finding 'ooo' hard to get on with,
(4) ask God to give you strength to accept "so + so",
Remember Mother Teresa's words: "Peace begins with a smile".
Oe Kensaburo, in a recent interview, said we in Japan need 'tolerance(寛容)'.
Sun, 07/06/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30s
Today in a living voice Jesus says through the Gospel: "Come to me, you who are tired and who are carrying heavy burdens - I will give you rest." Here is an invitation to prayer. It is an invitation from Jesus Himself.
What is "prayer"? Put simply it is a conversation between good friends. Jesus says:"You are my friend."
St Augustine describes a friend such as Jesus is, as: "Someone who knows everything about me and still accepts me as I am! Jesus uses the word "friend" knowing how scripture describes a friend. Here is Scripture: Sirach (Ecclesiastics)6:14,
"A faithful friend is a sure shelter whoever finds one has found a rare treasure.
A faithful friend is something beyond price, we cannot measure friendship's worth.
A faithful friend is a life-giving medicine. Those who rever God will find such a friend"
Bishop Ken Untener (RIP2004) of Saginaw, Michigan wrote what he called "Little Books" (white, blue, black) with a short scripture passage and asked the users of the book to spend 6 minutes talking to Jesus about it. ("Talking" in prayer means sometimes using one's own words to Jesus as a friend, but also sometimes in quiet just enjoying each other's company). Let us try 6 quiet minutes.
In this busy world we all get tired, we all have some kind of heavy heart-luggage - let us go to Jesus as we are. It is his invitation. He promises "rest", "peace". We also all have heavy yokes to carry. Never let us forget that it a double yoke - myself and Jesus together. Then it becomes light and easy to carry.
Sun, 06/29/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:6-18
2 Corinth. 12:7-12

From yesterday (June 28) until June 29, 2009 we celebrate the Year of St. Paul. 。。。。

。。For St.Paul the word 'Power' or 'Strength' had a very special meaning almost the opposite to the usual meaning. One example is in today's reading (2 Tim 4:17) "The Lord stood by me and gave me power." And in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says to Paul: "My power is at its best in your weakness", and Paul sums it up for himself (and us) in verse 10:"For it is when I am weak that I am strong."

Here we are touching on the first step in walking with Jesus. We must admit that we are not self-sufficient, we are not a wholly independent unit, we are not strong enough on our own power alone to live a peaceful, contended life. We are human, frail, dependent beings. 。。We are 'weak' (in the broad Biblical sense). In other words we depend on God for strength. We should acknowledge this dependence (it is such a healthy dependence) on God.

In today's reading (2 Tim.4:6-18) Paul is in prison, about to die. He uses imagery from the Olympic Games of the time (Olympus is in Greece). He reflects on his life and says: "I fought in a good wrestling match, I finished running the Marathon course and now from Jesus, instead of a perishable crown of laurels, I will receive a crown of glory". Would you like to be able to say that when you are dying? I certainly would!

So let us, like Paul, acknowledge our human frailty, and our in-built human weakness, and ask for the help of Jesus who gives us strength, power, support and courage.

All of us can say with St. Paul: The Lord stands beside me and gives me strength. Slowly, quietly taste those words. They can put encouragement into our whole day-indeed our whole life.

Sun, 06/15/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: Exodus 19:2-6
Matthew 9:36-10:8

In today's Exodus reading Moses goes up a mountain to meet God and talk with him. In Exodus 33:11 we read: 'The Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face, just as a man speaks to his friend'.

But Moses was exceptional. Most people at that time feared God and did not want to get too close to Him! Then God sent His Son Jesus to tell us that the true heart of God was gentle, kind and understanding of human frailty. God wanted warm friendship with us.

We see the true heart of God not only in Jesus' teaching (eg the kind father welcomes back his prodigal son), but also in the personality of Jesus himself. Jesus was so sensitive. He felt peoples' suffering with them. In today's Gospel Jesus sees people who are heart weary, oppressed, with all kinds of hurts. The Gospel says '...He was filled with pity for them.' The English word compassion means literally 'to suffer with people'. Jesus was, and is now, full of compassion for each of us. He calls each of us by name (as He called each apostle by name in today's Gospel). He knows each of us; we are not just a global mass to God.

Today Jesus sees our stress, the wounds in our hearts, our worries, our depression, our loneliness, and our human frailty. He sees how we are hurt by betrayal and harsh words and treatment. He suffers with us. As he took on true humanity, he has experienced these hurts with us. He suffers with us. As he took on true humanity, he has experienced these hurts with us. This makes him so approachable.

Let us go up the mountain of prayer to meet and pour out our hearts to him. Jesus says: "Come to me you who are heavily burdened".

And now let us get down to the concrete! This week let us spend at least five minutes each day in quiet companionship with God - by using our own words, or just tasting God's compassion with no words at all.

Sun, 06/08/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: Call of Matthew 9:9-13

Have you ever noticed how often people seem to be eating in the Scriptures? In Old and New Testaments it is called 'The Banquets Theme' and has a very deep symbolic meaning. A few examples: The Lord will have a feast on a mountain (Is.25:6); Your Lord prepares a feast for me (Psalm 23:5); Jesus eats with Zachaeus; with Matthew; with the two at Emmaus; at the Last Supper; at a wedding feast at Cana; he multiplies bread and fish, etc, etc.

In his famous parable the Welcoming Father prepares a feast for his prodigal son. The deep symbolic meaning is this: at a meal the family relaxes and all enjoy each others' company. This is a symbol of the relationship between God and each of us - a warm, relaxed friendship.

On May 30 Yomiuri Shimbun published the result of a survey on Japanese and Religion. 72% felt un-religious. 43% felt that religion used fear. So what is the real, authentic teaching & way of Jesus?

We say that Jesus calls us, as he called Matthew. We are free to follow this call or not. (Matthew chapter 19 shows the rich young man refusing - but still Jesus loved him). In today's scene Jesus says "Matthew, come follow me." Matthew got up and followed him. Later Jesus had dinner at Matthew's house. This 'having dinner' is not just an incidental detail. It is vital in the text. Jesus calls Matthew to have a warm, relaxed friendship with Himself.

You and I are called in the same way. The Scriptures always have an eternal present tense. We too are called to a friendly, relaxed, warm relationship with God. THIS is the core of our religion - the Way of Jesus. So chase fear out of your heart!

We foster this warm relationship when we pray. St.Teresa of Avila says: Prayer is a heart to heart conversation with our friend Jesus whom we know loves us. Why not try it! Taste God's warmth.

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: Psalm 31
Matthew 7:24-27

The keyword in today's scripture readings is "rock". Jesus uses a vivid story, that still applies to buildings today. For example, today's Tokyo is built on an old marsh. When erecting a building it is important to go deep to build solid foundations. Down to bed-rock is best. If the foundation is weak the building will fall down in an earthquake or flood.

We humans need a solid foundation (or a rock-like base) on which to build our everyday lives.

Jesus tells us that his words are such a solid foundation. Jesus' words (or teaching) is summarized in :'GOD IS LOVE'. Each of us can say: God, my gentle Father, loves me. That love is unconditional, i.e. He loves me just as I am.

It is especially important to recall this wonderful truth when the storms and floods and earthquakes of life hit us. When suffering, loneliness, sadness betrayal etc hits you cling on to this solid base for life: 'God loves me'.

Read all of Psalm 31. The one who composed this Psalm was really hurting! He cries out to God his Rock. In vivid detail he lists those hurts, and puts them before God as a prayer. And in v.15 he says:"I put my life in your hands, O my God"

God is love. Abba, my gentle Father God, you love me and care for me personally. Let me make this the immovable, solid rock-foundation of my whole life.

'God is love.' This is the truth that sets us free. It gives a taste to everyday life. It gives joy and zest. Try it!

Slowly pray Psalm 31.

Sun, 05/25/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: Deut. 8:2-16
I Cor. 10:16-17
John 6:51-58

This Sunday we celebrate a special day in the Church's calendar still called in the Latin 'Corpus Christi' (i.e. the body of Christ). At the Last Supper Jesus taking bread solemnly proclaimed: "This is my Body - do this in memory of me." "This is my Body"="This is myself, strengthening food for your heart."

But then Jesus said something very important and full of meaning. He said: "Do this in MEMORY of me." The word 'memory' has a very special biblical meaning. That is, by solemnly repeating the action, the past action becomes present today. (This 'memory' meaning is not just a Christian thing, but is also active in primal religions, such as the Aboriginal People of Australia. They of today, celebrate an action or event of the past and they believe that this becomes alive to present day people. Our Catholic Mass is the same religious basic practice. The Last Supper comes actually alive again to us today.).

Jesus chose bread (unleavened bread) to tell us concretely that He Himself in Holy Communion is food for the heart. That is, He gives us strength (as ordinary food does for the body) for our hearts so that we can live our daily lives with a spiritual zest.

Jesus gives us companionship. He is our supporting friend traveling with us on life's daily journey.

Indeed, happy are we who are called to his Supper.

(Note: Companion - comes from Latin cum + pan, i.e. to eat bread, or food, together. cum = with, pan = bread)

Sun, 05/18/2008 - 00:00

Scripture: Exodus 34:4-9
2Corinth. 13:11-13
John 3:16-18

With my camera I still have to adjust the focus before I take a photo. If I do not focus, the photo comes out all foggy!

When we turn to God to pray we need to adjust our 'heart focus'. Otherwise our prayer will be vague and foggy.

Who is our God? Jesus strongly teaches that there is only one God, but within the one God there are three Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Please do not attempt impossible divine mathematics, but rather enter into the spirit of what this teaching means. This is about the inner life of God and therefore is a mystery. I said: "the spirit of this teaching". That is, enter into the great love that God has for you yourself personally. Taste it.

God the Father: we are his beloved children, wrapped up in his love. He knows our human fraility and accepts us as we are. In the 1st Exodus reading today, the Jewish People had rejected the one God and built another god. But in spite of this we read: that God is a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness, always faithful to his promise to care for us.

God the Son; became human - Jesus Christ. Read in the Bible how gentle, forgiving and kind he was 2,000 year ago. He is exactly the same today to you and me. "I call you by name. I am with you."

God the Holy Sprit; -the source of peace, strength and consolation. The Holy Spirit gives our hearts warmth, guidance and strength - in one word - LOVE. The words of Baptism are: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". That is, we are in invited into the warmth, protection and companionship of God himself. A realization of the deep meaning of this can change our daily lives into a joy.

Sun, 05/04/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Acts 1:1-11
Mathew 28:16-20
During the 2nd. World War the German city of Dresden was heavily bombed. The city was reduced to ruins. A church was reduced to rubble. But after the war ended, among that rubble the parishioners found the statue of Jesus that used to stand outside the church. That statue had depicted Jesus with outstretched welcoming arms. Now the body of the statue had very little damage but the hands had been broken off in the bombing.
The parishioners re-built their church and outside it they placed the same statue of Jesus, but without hands. At the base of the statue were written the words:"You are my hands".
In the first reading today (Acts) Jesus say to the disciples and to us today: "You will receive power, and then you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth." Jesus calls on us to be his instruments of peace in our own small society.
For example:
When we lay our hand on the feverish brow of a sick person, we do this in place of Jesus -giving his peace. We are his hands. Further, we are his feet when we visit some weighed down with worry. We are Jesus' nouth when we give encouragement to others. We are his ears when when we listen to another's worries.
This is what 'being a witness' means. But let us note well this vital point: we do not do these things with our own energy alone; Jesus promises us his strength, his power to accomplish the mission he entrusts to us. He empowers us.
In a living voice through the Scriputure he says to us today: "Know that I am with you always, yes, even to the end of time."
Sun, 04/27/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: 1Peter 3:15-18
Psalm 22
John 14:15-21

"Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope". (1Peter 3:15) What is Christian hope? I knew a woman (who since has died) who was confined to a wheel-chair, and had much pain. Yet she always had a smile when she met people. I always felt good after meeting and talking to her. One day I asked her directly: "Sayako-san, why are you always so cheerful?" Her answer left an indelible impression on me. She answered: "I believe Jesus is beside me. Together we keep going." THAT is hope in the concrete.

The hope of a Christian has as its foundation, the central teaching of JesusーGod loves me as I am. He does not love because I am good, He loves me weak as I am, just because God made me.

Even further: He does not love me just as one of a general mass of people, he loves me as an individual. "He calls me by my name, I am precious in his eyes and he loves me. (Isaiah 43).

We have hope right now in this life's journey; but our hope is even further strengthened for our future because we are walking life's journey with a definite destination ahead of us. That wonderful destination is complete union with God in love. (We call this: Heaven)

The whole Bible gives a history of God's dealing with people. That history continues. Yes, God is in our history. That gives us hope.
Hope is a sheer gift of God. We can not earn it. Let us ask for it. And let us share this gift with others. If we get the chance as Peter says: Tell people that we hope because God loves each of us as we are.

If you are suffering and everything seems hopeless, I suggest that you read Psalm 22. In verse 1-18, the Psalmist pours out his sufferings to God. From verse 19 to 31 hope arises, and he tells others about his rescue by God.
Sun, 04/20/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Peter's 1st letter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

Jesus says: "I am the truth" or "I am the teaching".
I ask : do we put too much emphasis on the teaching of Jesus, rather that on the very person of Jesus himself? Please note well, the teaching and laws of Jesus are important, but can become only head knowledge or outward observance unless we have met and accepted Jesus as a Person into our lives and hearts.
That is the very essence of Christianity: accepting Jesus into our hearts and everyday lives. He becomes our true support for everyday living (or in words used by Peter: the keystone or cornerstone of our lives). The early Christians expressed this as: "I accept Jesus as Lord of my life."
To meet this Jesus we need to open the Gospels, and PRAY THE SCRIPTURES. In today's Gospel Jesus is talking to his disciples. He has just washed their feet, foretold his own death, and foretold the betrayals of both Peter and Judas. The disciples are really down-heart, sad and frightened. Jesus knows this. He is so thoughtful. He gives them encouragement. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Yes, I will die, but through my resurrection I will return and walk the path of life together with you so that you can arrive safely at life's destination Heaven. I have already prepared your place there". Jesus says those words to us today in a living voice. Let us taste these words, and their encouragement.
"I myself am the truth" means that in order to be authentic Christians we need to meet the Person, Jesus Himself. We do this by reading about the gentle Jesus in the Gospels, and then approaching him just as we are in prayer, i.e.talking to him and enjoying his company. Let's try it this week!
Sun, 04/13/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Psalm 23
John 10: 1-18
The 4th Sunday of Easter is called "Good Shepherd Sunday". Jesus identifies himself with Psalm 23 when He says:"I am the good
shepherd. I call my sheep by name, they recognize my voice and they follow me". I give here a summary of a section (#6) of
Pope Benedict's recent encyclical "On Christian Hope".
"The Lord is my shepherded: I shall not want... Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil,
because you are with me... (Psalm 23). Every single one of us, because we are human, must face death. Death is a path when we
seem to be so alone ('the path of final solitude'). BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE when we face death. Jesus is by our side. Jesus
himself faced the loneliness and fear of death, and now he comforts us by saying : "Fear not, I am with you."
Jesus experienced death, but now through his Resurrection He has returned to accompany each of us when we face death.
"He comforts me with his shepherd's rod and staff: (Here let us remember the basic meaning of com-fort, it is the same root as
fort-ify, i.e. strengthen).
I find Psalm 23 great comfort. As the Pope says, it is the source of a 'new hope'. If anyone who reads this web site feels
scared or down-hearted read again slowly and prayerfully Psalm 23. Remember Jesus said: "I am the Good Shepherd. I call each
of my sheep by name." Indeed Jesus is the gate through which we can pass and find new hope. Having hope like this can give a
sparkle to our daily lives.
Sun, 04/06/2008 - 00:00
Scripture Psalm 16:8-11
Luke 24:13-35
Today's Gospel is important for our daily lives. We journey on the road of life. (The Gospel pair journey to Emmaus). This
gospel is full of symbolism that can really effect our daily life. Jesus travels the road of life with us. (or in the words of
Psalm 16, He is right beside me). Do I recognize Him? Do I pour out all my worries and hurts to Him? Do I bring my true self
to Jesus when I talk to Him in prayer? That is what He wants. Jesus does not want to meet a false self-one that I think I
should be. He wants me as I am. If I am sad or hurt He wants to meet me that way. If I am happy, or have had even a little
success in something, He wants to share that too.
Jesus never pushes himself on us. He waits for our invitation "Come and stay with us" said the Emmaus pair. We too can make
the same invitation.
Through a vivid story about the Risen Jesus, the Gospel is telling us what prayer is really all about, and even how to pray.
We need to give Jesus time in prayer. We need to make a short quiet time in our busy lives to talk things over with Jesus.
(i.e.really mean the invitation!) If we do this, we will find that our daily lives will somehow go along better. Why? Because
we come to realize that we do not walk life's journey alone, but rather together with Jesus. He becomes our strength and
guide.
In a prayerful atmosphere let us open the Scriptures and read a passage very slowly. The Risen Jesus still explains the
Scriptures to us, giving us their deeper meaning.
We do not walk the path of life alone. Jesus in a living voice today says: "Fear not! I am with you."
Sun, 03/30/2008 - 00:00
Scriptures: John 20:19-31

Today is called 'Divine Mercy Sunday'. But, what is this Divine Mercy? I finds words in the style of a dictionary description not very helpful! But when I see the concrete examples of the mercy of Jesus, then I start to understand. By seeing the love that Jesus had for people we see the divine mercy. Mercy is a translation of the Hebrew word 'chesed'. It has been translated as love, covenant love, mercy, compassion, loving-kindness etc. Again, let us look at examples of Jesus' merciful love in the scenes after His Resurrection. Jesus met the weeping Mary of Magdala and gently called her name "Mary". Jesus gently consoled and taught the two down-hearted disciples returning to their home village, Emmaus. Jesus so thoughtfully ate a slice of fried fish to assure the disciples he was not a ghost. Jesus did not scold Peter for denying that he was a follower of Jesus, but instead asked: "Peter do you love me?" And in today's Gospel we see the apostle Thomas who said he just could not believe that Jesus was alive.
He meets the resurrected Jesus. Jesus understood Thomas's doubts; he did not scold him, he showed compassion, mercy and understanding. The Jesus of the Gospels who is so gentle and kind, is alive today and lives with us. We can meet the same Jesus in phrayer, in the Scriptures, in the community and in the Eucharist. He is divine mercy in a human heart.
Doubts of faith are a part of life. The English Cardinal Newman said: "Faith without doubt is dead". He means that these very doubts cause us to ponder on the meaning of our faith and so strengthen it. Thomas and the kind way Jesus greeted him gives all of us hope. Jesus, full of mercy, says today to each of us. "Come to me all you who are tired and weighed down with stress, I will refresh you". Let us taste his mercy.
Sun, 03/16/2008 - 00:00
Scriptures: Isaiah 50:4-7
Philippians 2:6-11
Matthew 27:11-54

Today is Passion Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. To fully understand Jesus' suffering and its meaning for us today, 2 points are essential.

Point 1: Jesus is the true, one God who put aside for the time being His God-ness and became truly, truly human. He was not just acting a part as human, he was human, just as you and I are human (This is the message of Philippians 2:6-11). Therefore this is real suffering that Jesus experiences.

Point 2: Behind all this gruesome suffering is love for each of us. The Passion is the proof of His love. Each of us can say with St.Paul. "Jesus loves me and delivered himself up for me". Let us look at Matthew's Passion. Jesus, as every human does, felt the betrayal by his friend Judas. It cut him to the heart. Likewise the people He loved, incited by jealous leaders, chose Barabbas instead of Himself for freedom. It was so unfair, so unjust, so ungrateful.
Just as such ingratitude hurts us, it hurt Jesus. Then the soldiers scourged him with leather whips; they mocked (i.e. bullied) him by making a mock crown of thorns in imitation of a king's crown. Then the soldiers spat on him, and hit him. Behind all this suffering is love for you and me. This is a love that won us peace, life and healing. Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry his cross. Jesus helps us to carry the cross of hurt and suffering in our lives. But in his suffering Jesus also went through that very common human experience of sheer emptiness. Jesus did not feel that God His Father was giving him comfort. From the depths of his heart He cried: "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?" All this suffering emphasises Jesus' love, love, love, love. He is with us in our suffering. He walks with us (in Japanese,DOUHANSHA)in our suffering.
Sun, 02/24/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Exodus 17:3-7
John 4:5-42
What do we do when wewant to pray? St.Teresa of Avila describes prayer as a heart to heart conversation withJesus (God) whom we know loves us. Simply, prayer is friends talking (Jesus says: I call you my friend).
Two practical examples of conversation prayer are in twoBible readings of today's Mass. InExodus, Moses pours out his troubles and fear to God. In the Gospel we see Jesus meeting the woman at the well. He is breaking all the rules of that time. E.g..He, a Jew is talking to a Samaritan - this was just not done. And he was talking to a woman unaccompanied. But Jesus knew her need was great. She had been through the trauma of broken relationships, her marriages had failed. She was lonely - coming alone at midday to the well was a time she would normally meet no one. Jesus just talks to her gently. He gives her dignity by asking for a drink of water. To become a giver rather than a receiver bestows dignity and worth. But the most important point is that Jesus accepts her as she is, with all her worries, all her failures and all her faults. This point is vitally important for prayer. Today when we pray we MUST call this point to mind, otherwise our prayer will be just words that come from the mouth and not the heart. We are always accepted by God just as we are. We can approach Him with confidence. St Augustine describes a true friend as someone who knows allabout me and still loves and accepts me. Jesus became a friend of the Woman of Samaria. He wants to be your friend. He says in a living voice: "I call you my friend."
Sun, 02/17/2008 - 00:00
February 17, 2008 2nd Lent Year A

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-4

Matthew 17:1-9

The Japanese novelist, Shusaku Endo, has written a book called 'Who is God for me(Watashi ni totte KAMI toha)'. In the book he gives the story of his faith journey and why he still believes in God. He describes his faith in a gentle, understanding, compassionate God.

During Lent we look at the fundamentals of our faith. What could be more basic than for each of us to face ourselves and ask: “Who is God for me”. So I present the God I believe in.

I meet the unseen God through the humanity of Jesus. God became human in Jesus. When I read the Gospels and see how gentle and kind, how accepting of human weakness, how welcoming and warm is Jesus in his humanity, I can say: 'this is the heart of the true God' I, a human, can meet the true unseen God, through the human Jesus. He is 100% God and 100% human.

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus on the mountain in the glory and light of God. Peter, James and John are with him. Shortly those same 3 disciples will see Jesus in the Garden where he shows his humanity through the darkness of suffering.

Jesus leads us to Abba, God our Father. Jesus sends the strength of the Holy Spirit to sustain us.

Jesus as a true human being experienced human suffering and worry. His heart was hurt by the treachery of Judas. He even experienced desolation when he cried out: ”My God, why have you forsaken me?” This experience of real humanity makes God so easy to approach. We can feel he is close to us because he has gone through it all. The words of Jesus have indeed a very deep meaning. He says to each of us: “Fear not, I am with you.” THAT is my god.
Sun, 02/10/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7,
Psalm 51
Matthew 4:1-11

Here it is: Lent again. (This is the earliest Ash Wednesday and Easter since 1913). In the very ancient rite of ashes we hear:
TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND BE FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL.
These words must be looked at with the Biblical background in mind. Eg. ‘sin’ is ‘missing the mark’. We aim at the target, but miss. In Lent we acknowledge our misses and start again.
‘The Gospel’ means the joyful message from God through Jesus. The very Kernel of the message of Jesus is: God is love.
Yes, that is the summary and center of Jesus’ life and teaching. It is indeed good news, truly a joyful message. God loves me.
God loves me ? in silence, taste the deep meaning of these words.
God - His attitude towards us humans whom he created is love, compassion, understanding, mercy.
loves ? God knows all my human weakness through and through, and always accepts me as I am ? that is true love.
me ? I am weak, frail; I make resolutions and break them. I tell God I will be more religious, but I fail. He accepts me as I am, not as I think I should be.
In the Sunday readings we see God creating humans, and they refusing to rely on God’s strength and wisdom. But God is love, he is generous, he is compassionate (Psalm 51). God sent his Son Jesus ? true God and truly human. As a true human being Jesus suffered true temptations. So we in our fraility can approach God with confidence.
As a special effort for Lent let us spend 5 quiet minutes in prayer. For example take;
‘God loves me’ and just taste the meaning, chew it over.
This is a truth that can set you free.
Sun, 02/03/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
In today's Gospel we have Jesus' sermon on the mount, and the 8
Beatitudes. They express the kind of attitude of heart we need to walk the
path of Jesus, which is our path of life.
Previously I have explained the deep meaning of being poor in its full
Biblical sense - that is, totally relying on God's help.
Today I choose on other Beatitude: 'God blesses those people whose hearts
are pure. They will see Him'(CEV). But what is a pure heart? The original
Greek word for 'pure' is 'KATHAROS' which means unmixed genuine, absolute.
For example as I write I have 2 Japanese paper weights on my desk. One is
iron, mixed with copper and silver plating, the other is pure iron. The
mixed metal one, although pretty, is not 'pure'. The plain iron one is pure.
So this beatitude is often not fully understood I feel, if we narrow it
solely to the sexual area. It is much, much wider. It is challenging and
encouraging. It means to have 100% of one's heart offered to God. It means
being like Jesus, and with Jesus not just when we pray, and not just on
Sundays, but every moment of our ordinary lives. It means being a Christian
on every week-day too. It means being kind and thoughtful, accepting and
forgiving others, doing our school-work, house-work, office-work as best we
can. It means being honest etc. In a word in means being 100% Christ-like,
i.e. a 'pure' heart, - a heart that is unmixed with such worldly values as
making money, getting on in life, being famous etc. To do this WE MUST PRAY.
We must be in touch with God -only He can make us pure (Katharos) through
and through. Then we will see God. We will realize He is with us at every
moment of our ordinary everyday lives.
Sun, 01/27/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah8:23-9:3
Psalm 27
Matthew 4:12-17

Throughout the whole bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we see the theme of light and darkness. Darkness expresses despair, suffering, sickness, our human failings etc. Light comes from God - hope, joy, encouragement, consolation, healing.
Let each of us ask ourselves: When I meet suffering, i.e. darkness, do I try to create light by myself, or through using material things? Do I just rely on my own effort? Do I try to forget (or suppress) suffering by using material goods to escape? Such strategies just DO NOT WORK!
God is light. Jesus is the light of the world. If you are in darkness, here are some suggested steps.
1)Humbly admit that your are in darkness.
2)Again humbly admit that you are helpless. Admit that it is impossible to create light yourself.
3)In prayer face God and ask for light and warmth. He will gladly give light because He loves you.
4)In thanksgiving share this God-given light with others.
Jesus is our God who experienced our human nature. He therefore experienced darkness. He knows what it is like. We can go to him with confidence.
"The Lord is my light and my help whom shall I fear? Hope in him, hold firm and take heart Hope in the Lord." (Psalm 27)
Sun, 01/20/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 49:3-6

I want to emphasise just one line from today's Isaiah reading. That is Isaiah 49:5.
MY GOD IS MY STRENGTH.
Let us look at the first two words "My God." Who is he? What is God like? He is a gentle, caring, loving Father (Abba). He looks after me as His specially
loved child. Yes, each of us, without exception, can say those words. It is a truth that will set us free. God knows all my faults and still loves me. He
loves me, not in spite of my fraility, but because of it. God's love is unconditional.
Now let us look at the words "my strength" . Actually it is God who gives us strength. To receive this strength we need first to acknowledge that we
ourseves are weak. We just cannot manage walking life's journey on our own strength alone. Let us acknowledge humbly that we need strength. If we do not, we
ourselves set up a barrier of pride that stops God's strength reaching us. God delights in giving us His strengh. His strength gives us courage, and
endurance.
This theme of 'My God Is My Strength' is frequent in both the Old and New Testament. The people of the Old Testament said they were weak, not strong enough
to do what God wanted.
Eg.Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.
In the New Testament Jesus says:"I am with you". This means Jesus is beside us sharing His strength with us as we walk life's journey. Jesus says:"Apart from
me you can do nothing." To St.Paul, and to each of us Jesus says:"I am your strength in weakness"(2Cor.12)
This week let us frequently call to mind these words, and ponder them:
Sun, 01/13/2008 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-7
Matthew 3:13-17

Perhaps one of the most comforting of all Scripture is when Jesus says to each of us:"Fear not! I am with you." This saying has a deep meaning for each of us. What is this meaning?
Well, let us start with a true story, yet it has a message like a parable.
In 1853 the dreaded sickness, then called leprosy, now called Hansen's disease, entered the Hawaian Island Kingdom. The Hawaian rulers ordered all afflicted to be taken to the isolated island of Molokai. Taken from their families they were exiled for life. The wounds of the heart were harder to bear than the sickness itself. Isolated, lonely, feared, the people of Molokai lived a wretched life.
In 1873 Father Damien asked the government and Church to go to Molokai as their priest. Some accepted Fr.Damien, many did not. 10 years later Fr.Damien himself contracted leprosy. From that time all said:Fr.Damien is one of us. He can now really understand our sufferings. He is with us as a brother.
The Son of God, put aside the glory of God and took a human body, heart and soul. This Jesus approached John for Baptism. John said:"No, my baptism is for sinners, you are not a sinner." But Jesus said he wanted baptism. No, Jesus was not a sinner but he came to be with us sinners. Jesus is one of us. He experienced human limitations, weakness - He was 100% human (while still 100% God). He experienced suffering, so He has a real understanding of our frail human hearts. He is our firend, our brother.
Jesus today in a living voice says through the Scriptures to each one of us: "Fear not! I am with you. I call you my friend." Let us talk to Jesus as a friend.
Sun, 12/23/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaich 9:1-7
Matt. 1:18-24
Luke 2:1-14
Let us look at the real meaning of Christmas.
God Himself put aside the glory of Heaven and became a human being, just like us. God shows us concretely that He is with us.
God told Joseph and Mary that this child’s name is to be “Jesus”. So the very name tells us the meaning of Christmas and the reason why God became human. The name Jesus means “God saves”. Face yourself and ask these questions. Do I have a dark corner in my heart? If so, I need saving. Do I have a fear? A sickness? Someone I cannot forgive? A weakness? A bad inclination? A fraility? If so I need saving.
I need the Savior Jesus. He is one who saves. That is why God came to us as human on this earth. “Come to me”, He says.
The other name given by the prophets is Emmanuel. This means:”God is with us”. Since the time 2,000 years ago when God became human, in a very special way God is with us humans. God has experienced the frail human condition.
He walks the path of life with us. He understands our human fraility. He is with us in our daily work. He is close to us in our loneliness, suffering, fear and worry. He says in a living voice:”Fear not, because I am with you”.
Because our God Jesus has experienced the same human condition as ourselves He is so easy to approach in prayer.
Here is the message of Christmas.
Jesus saves us. (List where you need saving.)
Jesus is with us, beside us, walking life’s journey with us.
He says:”Fear not I am with you” (Ponder this).

Sun, 12/09/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:4-9
Matt. 3:1-12

Have you ever felt sunk in suffering? Or oppressed or bullied? Or deserted and alone? Or betrayed? Or felt everything is hopeless?
If you have felt like that, read today’s readings from Romans and Isaiah. In Romans Paul tells us that the stories of the past when told in the Scriptures give us consolation, encouragement and hope. It is a past event, but God keeps acting like that today. The Scriptures have an eternal present tense. Then move on to Isaiah. Isaiah chapters 7 to 12 are called the “Book of Emmanuel”. Emmanuel is a Hebrew word which means “God is with us”. At the time of Isaiah the people were sunk in suffering. They were oppressed by the army of Syria, they felt deserted ? no allies ? even God seemed to have forgotten them.
Everything seemed hopeless. Using poetic imagery Isaiah tells the people of that time, and us today: Trust God, He is with us (Emmanuel). He can even do the impossible. For natural enemies like the wolf and lamb, the calf and the lion to eat grass together is impossible. This is a poetic way of expressing the impossible; as poetry we do not read it literally, but look for the message behind it. The message is: God is with us. And as St Paul says: With God standing beside us, what could we possibly be afraid of. (Rom 8:31)
We Christians see the God who became human as the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy . With a very deep meaning, Jesus is the God who is with us humans, because He himself experienced the human condition of pain, rejection, betrayal and loneliness.
This Advent open your Bible and read the Passion of Christ, or Luke 15 (The father who loves his wayward child), or John 15 (Vine & branches, I call you friend), or Matt 14:22〜(Peter sinks).

Have hope! Take courage! Because no matter how you feel, God is with you.
Sun, 12/02/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Colossians 1:12-20
Luke 23:35-43

Today we start our spiritual preparation for Jesus' birthday. What is your image of life? Is it dark, negative and pessimistic? Or one of an interesting journey that is full of warmth and light?
People with a dark image say. Life is just a round of 4 seasons, work day after day, short holidays at Obon and New Year, but then back to the endless cycle. It is all so tasteless and uninteresting. There seems to be so little joy in this revolving wheel!

Jesus and the Bible show us a very different image. In Isaich today we read: "Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. Let us walk his path. He will show us the way.... let us walk in the light of the Lord".?The thinking behind this saying is, that we, as it were, meet God at the top of the mountain, and in his presence we feel that light of hope and peace.

So this week let us in prayer ask ourselves. Where do I need light? What darkness do I have in my heart? For example some dark corners needing the light of Jesus maybe: resentments, grudges, lack of forgiveness, or some addiction - to TV, the Internet, alcohol, drugs, or even a mobile phone, or buying things.

Having acknowledged your darkness (always in prayer - i.e. in God's loving presence) ask for the warmth and light that Jesus promises. This sense of waiting in hope is what the Church's season of Advent is about. We do not just wait in emptiness, we wait with the sure hope that God will show us the way.

"Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord." That is, approach Him in prayer. "He will show us the way" (this is our sure hope).

"Let us walk in the light of the Lord.