Monthly Archives: March 2017

Jesus, the Source of Living Water by Fr. Joel

 

In the first reading, we heard how the people of Israel quarreled and tested thLiving Watere Lord and questioned if he was in their midst or not. This was because they were thirsty in the desert after leaving Egypt on their way to the promise Land. They blamed Moses for bringing them out of Egypt and suffer thirst in the desert. However, the Lord ordered Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water came out for the people to drink. The Psalm said that if today you hear his voice harden not your hearts. This is a call to obey God’s laws and worship him for he is our rock and salvation. In the second reading Saint Paul said that we have been justified by faith and we have received love and peace from Christ through the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. That is the greatest form of love for Jesus to die for us.

In the gospel, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asked her for water to drink but she did not give him because he was a Jew. The Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. Jews will not use the same cups and bowls that Samaritans used. These two parties despised one another to the extent that they do not interact for whatever reasons. But Jesus came and broke this negative behavior and asked for water from a Samaritan woman. When she refused he said to her, if only knew who asked you for water, you would have asked him to give you living water. The living water, if you drink, you will never be thirsty again. The woman was wondering how Jesus was going to get water since he did not have any bucket to get water from the well that was very deep. She did not understand the kind of water Jesus was referring to. Then Jesus explained to her saying, ‘’everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst again because it gives eternal life.’’ Now the woman became interested in the living water so that she will not have to come back to the well to get water again.

In the cause of this conversation, Jesus told the woman about her past sins and how she was married to several men in the past. Then the women started sensing that Jesus was a divine person. Jesus encouraged the woman to worship the true God in truth and in spirit. He revealed to her that he was the true expected messiah. Then the woman ran to the town and called people to come see the messiah. As the people came, they saw and heard Jesus speak and they believed him. As a result, they asked him to stay for some days with them and he did.

We see a connection between the first reading and the gospel in the theme of water. God gave the people water from a rock in the desert to quench their thirst. While in the gospel Jesus gave living water that quenched our thirst forever. Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets. By giving living water, he has fulfilled God plan for his people so that they will not be thirsty again. This symbolizes the love of God for his people. He does not want us to perish. He provides us with our needs and protects us from danger. Just like Saint Augustine would say, ‘’our hearts are restless until we find rest in the Lord.’’ We shall constantly be thirsty of water in our lives until we drink the living water from Jesus. We shall never be satisfied with worldly things until we accept Christ as our savior. Only Christ can satisfy our thirst and hunger for true peace and love. We shall never find meaning in our lives until we accept Christ and allow him to rule over us. It is the living water that is capable of washing us clean and empowering us to do great things for God and humanity.

Our society is full of vanity and emptiness, unless we allow Christ into our lives before we can have true love and peace. Many people think is by the amount of money or material things they have that they can become happy in this life. That is very wrong. Nothing in this world can give us true joy and peace unless we drink from the living water of Jesus. We can drink from this living water through reading the scripture, worshipping God in truth and in spirit, accepting the sacraments, detaching ourselves from worldly possessions and pleasures, sharing our resources with the need around us, and repentance of our sins. This period of lent offers us the opportunity to seek and receive this living water from Jesus. It is only Christ who can quench the thirst for companionship, love, peace, and joy. Many people are lonely, empty, depressed, sick, isolated, hopeless, and discouraged in life. All we need is Jesus in our lives in order to be revived again. Do not go anywhere else looking for happiness, comfort and peace, but go to Jesus and he will give you living water. When you believe in Jesus and follow his teaching, you will surely be nourished and strengthen by him and you will have peace and joy in your life.

In this gospel story Jesus destroyed the walls of hatred and discrimination between the Jews and the Samaritans. He introduced to them love and peaceful living as children of one father. In this story Jesus showed respect for the women and how to treat them fairly. In spite of her past sins, he did not judge nor condemned the woman but healed her and offered her love and forgiveness. Jesus cleansed of her sins and corrected her misconception about God and his religion. True worship is in truth and in spirit but not in a particular place. Today, we are called to repent of our sins and receive living water from Jesus. We are called to break down the walls of hatred, discrimination, racism, and division that separate us but build bridges of unity and love in our society. We are called to live the life of humility, mercy, love, and unity. We are called to give each other living water to quench our thirst and hunger for love, peace, and unity in our society. We are called to serve God and our neighbor in truth and in spirit.

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT 2017

JESUS, THE SOURCE OF LIVING WATER

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Transfiguration of Our Lord by Fr. Joel

 

In the first reading, Abraham was asked by God to leave his pagan country and go to aninvite God into your life unknown land in order to receive God’s blessings. Abraham obeyed and he was richly blessed by the Lord. And through Abraham many people are being blessed. Saint Paul in the second reading encouraged Timothy to be strong in bearing hardships as he witness to the gospel of Christ. The Gospel today is the story of the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus at the mountain before three of his disciples. Jesus became transformed and he was shining brightly like the sun. Moses and Elijah appeared and the voice of God was heard from the clouds. Moses represented the law, Elijah represented the prophets, and Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

Shortly before going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, Jesus took three of his disciples up the mountain to pray and be with God the father. At this time the disciples were doubtful of Jesus because he had said to them that he was going to suffer and die in the hands of the leaders of the Jews. The disciples could not understand why Jesus would suffer and die since he was the messiah. Therefore, Jesus took them up the mountain to encounter God and his glory. While at the mountain, they saw a glimpse of his glory and it was very beautiful. As a result Peter wanted to make some tents for them to stay back at the mountain and continue to enjoy the beautiful experience. This experience strengthens the faith of the disciples in Jesus as the real messiah. They also learn that his suffering and death were necessary for the salvation of the world. The voice of God confirmed to them that Jesus is his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.

The transfiguration of Jesus at the mountain prepared Jesus and his disciples for his suffering and death of in Jerusalem. It became clear to the disciples how important the suffering and death of Jesus on cross were to the salvation of the world. Therefore, as Christians, we must not only have faith in Jesus but we must also work hard for our salvation. Carrying the cross is part of our experiences as Christians. We must go out of our comfort zones and away from evil like Abraham did in order to receive God’s blessings. We must embark on a spiritual journey with faith carrying our crosses and following the footsteps of Jesus to a destination known by God. It is only through the cross that we can gain salvation. We must allow God to guide and mold us according to his will before we can be qualify to enter his kingdom.

As we continue with our Lenten observances: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, let us be encouraged to persevere against temptations and hardships. We are encouraged today never to give up our struggles against the devil. If we are faithful in our Lenten observances, we shall obtain the graces we need to overcome evil and experience the glory of God.

The mountain symbolizes a place of encounter with the Lord. Lent is a moment in which we encounter the Lord in our lives. The disciples of Jesus encounter God on the mountain and their faith was strengthened. This encounter prepared them for the suffering and death of Jesus in Jerusalem. They were also challenged to do greater things for God. The encounter of the transfiguration of Jesus teaches us the importance of the cross, suffering, and sacrifice in our lives as Christians. Without suffering and sacrifice no success and victory can be achieved. There are no short cuts or easy ways to success and the kingdom of God. We must be ready to endure hardships and tribulations before we can receive the crowd of glory.

In order to experience transformation in our lives, we need to get out of our comfort zones and work hard for it. To experience positive change in our lives, we must climb the mountain of transfiguration. To prolong the experience of a beautiful encounter with the Lord, we must build befitting tents for the Lord in your lives. To encounter divine power in our lives, we must open up our hearts and invite God into our lives. To be transformed in our lives, we must listen to and obey God’s instructions. To experience God’s glory we must avoid the life of sin but begin to live the life of holiness. To enjoy the glory of God, we must be ready to carry our crosses and journey with Jesus to Calvary. This season of lent gives us the opportunity to be united with Jesus in his suffering and death so that we can share in his resurrection and glory. We are called to pray, fast, detach from worldly pleasures, and be kind to one another during the season of lent. We are called to embrace the cross because it is the key to our salvation. If we choose sweet, easy, and pleasant ways of life, we shall all perish, but if we choose the tough, hard, and unpleasant way of life as suggested by Jesus, we shall survive and inherit the kingdom of God.

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT 2017

THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

 

 

Overcoming the Temptations of the Devil by Fr. Joel

In the first reading we heard how the devil tempted Eve, the first womanfruit of temptation God created from the rib of Adam, her husband. Eve fell into the temptation and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and gave some to her husband. The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom as the devil had told her. As soon as they ate the fruit of this tree, their eyes became opened and they realized they were naked. This means that they felt the sense of guilt. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans 5:12-19 made reference to this sin of Adam and Eve. He said that through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death. Since all men and women are descendants of Adam, they have inherited sin and death as well.
In the gospel of today, Jesus was tempted after his forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert. However, he did not fall for the temptations of the devil. Jesus was tempted in three different areas of life. Namely: the devil asked him to turn stones into bread and eat if he is the son of God. To this temptation, Jesus answered thus, “man shall not live by bread alone but by the word of God’’. This was a test on self-control regarding eating and drinking. It also included the temptation to misuse power to get food and being selfish with food.
The second temptation was for Jesus to throw down himself from the top of the temple and that the Lord would protect him. To this test, Jesus answered, “You should not tempt the Lord your God”. This test is about seeking attention, praise, and approval from humans instead of God; It includes taking unnecessary risks in life, laziness, looking for short cuts or easy ways in life, and over dependence on others and God to provide us our needs. The third temptation was for Jesus to fall at the feet of the devil and worship him and all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor would be given to him. To this test, Jesus answered, “You shall worship only the Lord your God alone”. This test is about idol/Mormon worship, materialism, seeking worldly power, fame and authority.
The period of lent encourages us to work hard and overcome temptations like Jesus did. Just like we have inherited sin and death from the first Adam, we have also the opportunity to inherit the grace to overcome sin and death from the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Learn from Jesus how to over the devil during temptation. Jesus defeated the devil by using prayer, scripture and fasting. By praying more during lent, we shall be able to over the temptation of worshiping idols or Mormon and cultivate the habit of humility and service to one another. By fasting during lent, we shall be able to control our addition to food and drink and avoid gluttony and drunkenness. By giving alms during lent, we shall be able to control the spirit of materialism, greed, selfishness, and the desire for worldly powers and glories.
Temptation is real and inevitable in our lives as Christians. But through faithful observance of the Lenten season, we shall be empowered to win the battle against the devil. If we pray, fast, read scripture, and give alms to the poor, we shall overcome temptations. Remember that temptations are not obstacles to our progress in life. But they are opportunities to grow and become stronger on our journey and struggles toward perfection. No student will be given a certification of graduation from any school without being tested to evaluated on a certain strength and ability of the student in a giving field. In the same light, for us to become successful and perfect Christians, we must be tested and we must prove to be worthy of our status as children of God. The devil is the chief examination officer for Christians. However, the devil can only tempt us but cannot force us to do what he wants. We have the will power to reject his wishes and overcome his temptations just like Jesus did. Jesus did not succumb to his temptations because of his prayer, fasting, and use of scripture to counter the devil. Let us emulate Jesus during temptations.
We are being challenged every day of our lives by the devil to do one evil or the other. We must be strong in faith and use our knowledge of scripture to defend ourselves against the devil. Each time we decided to stand for God but against the devil, we are choosing life and the kingdom of God. But any time we yield to the devil’s temptation, we are choosing death in the kingdom of the evil one. Just like Eve saw the forbidden tree pleasing and good to eat, that is how devil’s temptation is to us. The devil presents to us very good looking and attractive things to tempt us. Therefore, we must be careful with very good looking and attractive things around us. They could be temptations from the devil. Do not be carried away by your desire for very attractive things. This is because you could fall into the devil’s temptation. In our daily lives, we are surrounded by so many temptations of pleasure, power, fame, wealth and beauty. The devil tempts us in the areas of our weakness. Make sure you are on guard and protect yourself from yielding to his tricks in those areas. We must be like Jesus and put God first above everything. Then use our faith and the scripture to assess anything that is attractive to us.
The period of lent is designed to help us practice how to avoid falling into the temptations of the devil. Therefore, learn to use prayer, fasting, alms giving, and the scriptures to overcome temptation in your life.

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT 2017
OVERCOMIMG THE TEMPTATION OF THE DEVIL