Friday of Second Week of Lent
March 5, 2021
What happens to the favorites? They are bullied, sold, and become a cornerstone. Today, the first reading from Genesis talks about Mr. Israel’s favorite son, Joseph, who was hated and sold for twenty pieces of silver by his own brothers. The Gospel presents the parable about the owner’s only son, (Jesus) who was captured and sold for thirty pieces of silver by his own disciple Judas. Both stories have the same destiny and outcome. Joseph became the savior of his family during the famine time. Jesus became the Savior of the world. They both became the “Cornerstone”.
Each one of us was created out of love by God. We are the children of God. We are precious and favored by God. Our lives will not be too different from the lives of Joseph and Jesus. We are called to carry our cross daily, give up our (false) selves and follow Jesus. But the promise for us is that we will be saved and become “protectors” for others if we trust in God and persevere in our suffering.
Unfortunately, we sometimes are the unfaithful tenants or the jealous siblings or the bullying friends, who go out and kill our own “favorites”. “Here comes that master dreamer!” “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.” Remember, we cannot kill the favorites of God. We can destroy him/her in our own power but God will make him/her even more powerful and important in the eyes of eternity. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Question: Have you been rejected and felt abandoned in your life?
Thursday of Second Week of Lent
March 4, 2021
A Generous Heart
“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance” (LK 8:15). Today’s Gospel tells us a story about the selfish rich man and the poor perseverant Lazarus. They have two different sets of lives: rich and poor; selfish and generous; ignorant and perseverant. Who are you?
Who is a generous hearted person? God, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Have you seen anyone who has a generous heart? God loves the generous, for God is very generous. Have you ever encountered a poor person? Do you know his or her name? St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “We often talk about the poor but we do not have any poor friends.”
A generous heart is a combination of blessing and gratitude. A generous hearted person is blessed first by God. They are generous because they have “something” to give or to share. They are more blessed because they realize that everything they have is blessed by God. Nothing they could say they deserved it. Their families, possession, position, power, security, education and breath of life are from God.
A generous hearted person is also very grateful. They are generous not because they want to share a little here and there to feel good or to perform “work of mercy”. They are so grateful that they cannot keep what they have to themselves. They need to share. They are generous because they always give. And they give to the last penny like a poor widow (Mk 12:41-44) who put a few cents in a basket. They treat others as their own people with a generous heart, open mind and forgiving spirit.
We are generous not how much we give, but how faithful we give. The poor Lazarus was persevering in his asking. God will judge us justly based on how we treat others with the blessings God has given us. Be generous as God is generous.
Question: Do you consider yourself as a rich or a poor person?
Wednesday of Second Week of Lent
March 3, 2021
Sometimes we are afraid of wanting to become great. Or if we desire to become great we do not want to sacrifice and discipline to become one. Therefore, we never become a true disciple of Jesus. Jesus challenged us:
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.
First, I always thought that Jesus did not want me to be great but to always aim for servant or slave in a sad attitude. Now, I understand that Jesus wants me to give all I have, my soul, my heart, my strength and my mind, to God in service of the poor. That is a great thing to do. Why not? Mother Teresa had a great dream. She decided to take care of each dying and sick person one by one like she’s caring for Jesus. Now, her Sisters of Missionary of Charity exist throughout the world.
Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955) who decided to use her considerable inheritance for the benefit of the poor. After the death of her father, she and her sister began to use their wealth to have more priests work with the American Indians. Saint Pope John Paul II said she “was a woman of lively faith, deeply committed to the truth revealed by Christ, the truth she knew so well because she constantly listened to Christ’s voice.” She had a great heart for the poor.
Aim to be great … for the glory of God and for the common good of others, especially the poor. Then you will be blessed abundantly by God.
Question: What “one great inheritance” God has entrusted to you that you want to share with others?
Tuesday of Second Week of Lent
March 2, 2021
After being perfect, being righteous, and being merciful, Jesus calls us to be real today. What does it mean to be real?
Be real means say what you mean and do what you say. Jesus warned, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” Living in the Communist country for 21 years, I heard the same warning in Vietnam as well, “Don’t listen to what the Communists say, but look at what they do.” Basically, we can’t trust the unreal.
Be real also means be honest, equal and dignified to one another because we all are created equally and loving by the same God. Jesus said, “You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.” We are brothers and sisters. Do not treat others differently based on economic, educational, social or spiritual status.
Being truly real means being a servant (leader) to others. Jesus taught, “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
It is a tough challenge. However, this invitation from Jesus is the truth. We need to live everyday with this realization. If we do otherwise, we are living untruthfully to ourselves and to one another. All our talents and status are gifted from God. They are meant to serve people and bring forth peace, justice and love here on earth.
Question: Would you like to be real as Jesus is real?
Saturday after First Sunday of Lent
Feb. 27, 2021
This morning I read an article from my own Redemptorist news about 7 lay missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer joining the Redemptorists in Argentina. I asked myself why these 7 people wanted to commit their lives for this mission? What moved them to become joyful missionaries? The answer I found was they listened to Jesus’ invitation and they followed him. Today, Jesus invites us to be perfect. Do you dare to be perfect?
How can I become perfect and holy? Jesus has the answer for you: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Some of us would argue, “But I have neither enemies nor persecutors. Am I perfect?” Then you are ready to become “missionaries of love” for others.
We are called to be holy, perfect, merciful like God. “For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” We sometimes choose the best of the best to fall in love, to befriend with or to care for. We choose a famous church or school or business to go to. We want to gain before we want to lose ourselves. We think about ourselves before we think for others.
We are called to go beyond ourselves to share God’s goodness with one another. Like the seven lay missionary Redemptorists, they go out of their own needs and the needs of their families to “preach” the Gospel of love to all.
Question: Do you dare to be perfect as God is perfect?
I believe everyone needs to learn about forgiveness. We need forgiveness from others or from God. And we need to forgive others because they might hurt us in the past or they indirectly make mistakes that impact us. As Christians we MUST forgive and be forgiven. No forgiveness … no true peace.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday: 2-18-21
Choose Life or Choose Death
After hearing and learning the guideline of Jesus about fasting, prayer and almsgiving yesterday, today God wants us to be very clear about our goal and motivation. Choose life or choose death? That is the question.
Even though we are living (comfortably) does not mean we are very guaranteed to have life. Jesus said in the gospel today: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Maybe you try to “save” your life but you are not sure of your eternal life.
God wants us to live so that we can have life eternal. Suffering, carrying our cross daily, rejection, and even being killed are not death. They are only temporary deaths. If we listen to God’s voice and believe in God who is merciful and source of eternal life, then we have no fear and anxiety. Let’s choose to live for Eternal Life not for eternal death.
Question: Are you living or are you dying?
Meditate on Las Siete Palabras de Jesús en la Cruz with Redemptorists from around the country.