Thursday of Fourth Week of Lent
March 18, 2021
Do you want to hear the truth …. about yourself? Jesus today told the raw truth about his people, “I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.”
Could you imagine if Jesus said to each of us, “I know that you do not have the love of God in you”? It would be very sad to hear this truth. There are a few ways to examine this truth. For Jesus, truth is not a moment of truth only, but also the truth of every moment. If we do not accept the prophets’ word, we do not accept God’s Word. If we do not respect and care for our neighbors, we do not love God. If we still have someone to reconcile, then we are not at peace with God either.
We might want to hear the truth about someone else but not our own. “The truth will set you free.” We love to speak about the truth, but who has the truth? Those who have a purity of heart see the truth and have the love of God in them. We keep fighting, killing and hurting one another in the name of ‘the truth”. However, how many people honestly know the whole “history of truth”? The answer is only God knows the whole truth.
We need to be humble to learn more about the long history of God’s salvation and the complex human’s development in order to be more merciful and peaceful in our minds and hearts. Learning history and time truly humble me and open my horizon of understanding. I thank God for blessing me with almost 49 years of life to appreciate and celebrate God’s creation and salvation in human history.
Question: Do you have the love of God in you?
Tuesday of Fourth Week of Lent
March 16, 2021
To Heal or Not To Heal
Do you still remember Pope Francis’ image about the Church? He called the church the “field hospital.” He said in 2013, “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.”
Jesus in the Gospel today saw “In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.” So many people gathered together waiting for the opportunity to bathe in a “miraculous” pool. Jesus might debate in his head and heart, ‘to heal or not to heal’ on the sabbath. Finally, he decided to ask a man with his 38 years of sickness, “Do you want to be well?” And Jesus healed him. Because of this healing act, the Jews tried to persecute Jesus.
Today, we see and hear the sick everywhere. Coronavirus pandemic has killed many people and still threatens so many lives. Unemployment and hopelessness are happening right in our families and parishes. Suicide and violence are not just news but reality. People are sick and paralized spiritually. God is seemingly too far to reach for some people.
To heal or not to heal? That is the question. When people need healings we cannot ask so many unnecessary questions. We need to train our hearts and minds for instant compassion. Like Jesus, we might fail the “sabbath laws” but one sick person could be freed from suffering and bondage of sin. Jesus met him again and said, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” It’s worth it!
Question: Do you have instant compassion for healing?
❤️Good morning! Have a very Blessed Weekend! 💕
Saturday of Thursday Week of Lent
March 13, 2021
In biblical context, the heart is a symbol of the center of our lives. Heart also means our emotion, love, inner being, software of our hardware body, our soul. Today, the readings invite us to check our hearts: Desire, attitude, thought, mercy, love, compassion, humility, sincerity, friendship and holiness.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Our heart was designed delicately and carefully by our loving God. The capacity of love in ourselves is enormously large. Nobody ever never can use up the capacity of love and forgiveness in our heart that God has given us. We can forgive up to seventy times per day. We can love not just our friends but also our enemies.
God is very clear about God’s expectation. God says, “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings …. It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.” If God desires and asks us to be merciful because God knows and trusts that we can do it.
Be aware of our sacrifices like prayer, going to church, charity, and fasting. If we do not have the intention of the genuine merciful heart, we might be like the Pharisee today, who said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.” He compared, boasted, and judged others during prayer.
Question: How is God’s heart in your body?
Friday of Third Week of Lent
March 12, 2021
Love and Love
Do you want to love and to be loved? We all do. Love is the subject of everyday and forever. Do you love me? Will you marry me? Am I loved? Will I see my loved ones in heaven? All these questions constantly run through our minds out of sentiment, loneliness, curiosity and religious determination. Today, the Scribes asked Jesus another good question: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Somehow, this Greatest Commandment of Jesus does not excite many souls of Christians, I found. Maybe it is not supposed to excite people but it is a law imposing on people’s lives. It seems that ‘loving God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength’, is like you are imprisoned for the rest of your life without freedom and joy. It’s not good. Is it true?
Someone might say, “‘Loving your neighbor as yourself’ absolutely does not gain me anything but only troubles.” That is why the Church continues to preach on this subject over and over to encourage people to be nice and respectful to one another; going to church and pray; helping the poor and needy. Is it true?
My dear sisters and brothers, the Greatest Commandment that Jesus summarizes for us is the ONLY WAY to live and to live fully this life and eternal life. If we want to be truly happy, peaceful and meaningful out of this life, we need to connect with God and with one another. This Commandment is not a heavy burden law for us to drag everyday. It is a life-giving love from God. Only genuine and generous love can give us life. The problem is that sometimes we refuse to be loved by God and others. We think we can fulfill our satisfaction by selfishly loving ourselves. We should love ourselves in order to love God and others more. So, love and love!
Question: How do you love yourself?
Wednesday of Third Week of Lent
March 10, 2021
The Gospel proclamation: “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” Many of us don’t know how to discern God’s Words and Evil’s words. How do I know that I am doing God’s Will?
First, in order to know God’s Words we need to hear the Word of God in the Bible. We need to hear over and over from the Old Testament to the New Testament. We need to memorize a few words, phrases and stories from the Bible. It’s like you need to memorize the basic multiplication table in order to easily solve mathematical problems. Of course you need to be open and genuine to do good, not to do evil.
My spiritual director, Fr. Bill Creed, SJ, once told me, “In order to know that what you’re doing is according to the Will of God, you check yourself if you are peaceful, joyful or content.” If we try to force ourselves too much, we might try to fulfill our own will, not God’s Will. As a result, we become frustrated, impatient and abusive.
Jesus says, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” God wants us to be better and better every day. God prepares us today for tomorrow. Do not give up too quickly. God’s Words are spirit and life. We need to listen with our whole being and all six senses.
Question: You might say: “I have come not to abolish but to_______.”
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?
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?
Fr. Tat: Rejoicing in Hope | Empty your Glass & Let God Fill It