Today we contemplate the mysteries of the Crèche. Usually, however, we stop at one dimension - joy, peace, hope, beauty, purity, innocence. And this is natural, because it is holy and we turn our thoughts to images of childhood, the love of mother and father. We associate with that which is most beautiful - with purity, innocence, sense of security.
But there is another side of this mystery. Less joyful. The birth of Jesus is also a rejection, incomprehension, poverty, humility, loneliness and suffering. The cross.
In Bethlehem, Jesus experienced the "dark side" of human nature - comes "to his own" (Jn 1, 11) and is rejected.
Today, as every year brings us a sign, a Child in the arms of the Mother. A baby, we know is small, fragile, helpless, totally dependent on others and incapable of life itself.
And so is God in Bethlehem. Limitless, the Almighty, the One who "fascinates and arouses fear" comes in the simplest and most humble character. God comes to earth in such an ordinary way in such humility that a person simply does not notice.
Jesus rejects Herod and the royal court, and therefore the world of politics, rejecting the scribes, and the Jewish religious elite. In contrast, He takes the simple shepherds, the people despised by the "big world". He accepts the sages, wizards, and so the Gentiles are also treated with contempt by the followers of the God of Israel.
To really experience God we need humility. All the great saints and mystics who interacted every day with God were men of great humility.
The humble handmaid of the Lord was Mary. Mary was all for Jesus and lived in His shadow. St. Luke writes that, through all the secrets she participated,in her heart, pondering them, meditate on them.
An equally humble man was St. Joseph. Holy Scripture does not provide any thought, nor anywords of Joseph. Joseph is a man deeply silent and listens to God.
Following the simplicity and humility of the shepherds, and spontaneously bending his knees before the child lying in the manger. The humble were also wise. United in humility, coupled with wisdom and openness made them look for the Messiah, to recognize Him in the Child and bow to adore Him.
Today we contemplate Jesus in the manger. Like the shepherds, let us adore Him with joy and praise, or as Mary, kneeling in humility, silence, prayer.
Because - "God became man so that man might become God"
God loves man despite his weaknesses, and even his ingratitude, infidelity and
sin. When people go astray and commit sins, God sends them His messengers-- the prophets. However very often the messengers of God are sometimes misunderstood, and experience hostility from those they are supposed to help. This is so because those to whom the prophets are sent are "rebel people" to God. These people are " impudent and stubborn", as we heard in the first reading of today's Liturgy of the Word, in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. The messengers of God must realize that they do not speak on their own behalf, but it is "the mouth of God". Therefore, they must preach what God has recommended them to preach, though they are often unpopular commands, which require the recipients sacrifices and changes to policies which are often discarded! The Evangelist, Mark, in his gospel, tells about the arrival of Jesus to his home town of Nazareth, where Jesus suffered from His compatriots misunderstanding and even rejection. They asked conceitedly: "Where does this come from? And what is the wisdom given to Him?" And they took offence to Him. He wondered at their unbelief, but was not discouraged for the work which the Father commissioned Him to do, and went further around the villages teaching about the Kingdom of God and the goodness of God, who wants eternal bliss and complete happiness in heaven for all. When we look at our times, we see that nothing has changed since then. We are all exactly the same, like the Jews in today's Gospel. We like to live according to our habits, according to cliches, no surprises,and no remorse. We like to think that everything is fine, that we need not do repentance or change our life. And yet, through Baptism, we have all been incorporated into Christ and all have become Priests and Prophets and have been called to change our life styles. Thus, we have received a mission of proclaiming the Gospel and becoming Apostles, despite the fears and anxieties and specifics. Let us realize that He constantly accompanies us to care and help fulfill His Apostolic Mission. Let those who by their own lives and examples guide their loved ones and further encourage friends and strangers to get to know and fall in love with Christ. Let us remember that today we have become Christ!
God did not make death, and did not delight in the death of the living.(Wis.1:13) This truth is difficult for many to accept. They ask: Why do people die? Why do children die young? The Book of Wisdom answers this question: for God created man--made him in the image of His own eternity.(Wis.2:23) Death, says the wise man of the Old Testament, is not a physical death. Death, in the Bible is not a biological death, but rather a cut off from God. When we gather around the altar, here, we have to realize that we participate in the mystery of eternal life--- the mystery of participation in the life of the risen Christ. The risen Christ is present among us, He speaks to us and He gives us the Holy Communion. The Gospel, which is Good News, is that of Christ, and in Him alone the Father desires our salvation, and everything is done in order that we might live. Scenes from today's Gospel of God, prove this true intention. We heard of two miracles. The first one involves the healing of a woman, who, by faith alone touches the robes of Jesus. Later on, in the resurrection of Jairus' daughter. It seems Jesus could not refuse when one of genuine faith asks for health and life. Today's Gospel reading talks about a God who loves life and His desire is such that He wants us to live it freely. However, He does not make it without our will. The woman from the Gospel craved for and came to Jesus to touch Him to regain her health. Jairus pleaded with Christ for the healing of his daughter. Their requests allowed Jesus to work and give them the gift of life. The same applies to us: we desire His grace and His power, but we also need to take His indications of real life seriously, because in Him lies our true hope. Thus, faith in God allows miracles, but it must be a total faith, full of unlimited trust in God! Such faith on our part requires first and foremost, a Resurrection---a Resurrection to a new life! and, what is more difficult---it must be unconditional faith!
The elements of water--rough seas, high waves and tsunamis are always a symbol of supernatural threats. While fire is menacing, it can be quenched with water, but a strong wave of flood waters we cannot stop.
Only God is able to grip each of them. We see it right in today's Gospel.
Jesus is personally with His disciples during the storm, then calms it, but not in order to demonstrate His power over the elements, but in order to show how weak the faith of His disciples was, even yet. "Why are you terrified?...do you not have faith?"
After all, Jesus came to silence the raging storms of another kind--the chaos of our actions, because of sin. He came to give silence--a peace that goes far beyond the body and nature. Although one with the other is deeply and mysteriously linked.
The storm and chaos in the heart is the source of all the turmoil of war in the world. Today, as never before, we can ask ourselves again the question: do we live on it, to love, or rather for meeting the senses? Do we live for heaven or for earth? Is it easy to trample on our lives and corrupt our minds?
Jesus did not come to delete the consequences or the causes of all our storms and chaos.
A very important question formed in the mouths of the frightened disciples, "Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
God is with us among the storms that we continually create, if we recognize Him then everything becomes new: "If so, who is in Christ, is a new creation. The old things passed away; behold (everything) has become new". (2 Cor. 5:17)
In fact, every storm is a grace. This is in the intellect, the heart, even in nature, because it makes us realize that our life is fragile and one flood or wave can deprive us of our life, not only physical, but we can also lose eternal life. In the Ocean of Life we can sail to the "attachment--to the One who, in the biggest storm of suffering and loneliness, on the cross--He trusted.
It is good to trust in God.
Today's Gospel has beautiful words about the life of God in us. It gives us hope and confidence that despite our human weakness the kingdom of God is growing in us and thriving and overtime will bring first fruits.
Take a closer look at today's Gospel.
Our life and everything it creates is a huge estate. Our hearts are dedicated to the cultivation of the land.
God is the sower and throws His words to the ground, and we are waiting for His development. Let us know the words are directed especially to us. This special grain is tailored to this very land, to our conditions. God looks at our souls, their growth, their path of development. He selects the words, the content and the message to the possibilities of our reception. Although He always speaks of love, it is a way of speaking that is adapted to each of us.
Therefore, do not worry about anything, God Himself, as a farmer, will take care of what He has sown in us. He will give us sun and wind. He sprinkles us with rain and He loosens the earth and removes the weeds.
God's word will develop in us and grow to eventually bear fruit. We have only to open our hearts and give Him the fields of our life.. Trust and wait with great hope for the harvest. Is it really too much?
Notice that God does not ask the impossible of us. He adjusts requests to our human capabilities.
He only asks us to let Him sow the seed of His Word in us and through us, in our souls.
He just asks us to let His Word grow in us and through us in our hearts.
He just asks us to spread His Kingdom in our hearts, souls, and around us. In this way, we will live in God, but others will be involved in this new life as well.
So Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God can appear in any place, at any time and under any circumstance, and that the Kingdom can develop quickly and have a great range .Because, when "love" is spread, we do not know how and where it casts forth its roots, and who among us, actually brings God's yield.
So, let's believe that, in God's Kingdom we are where we give and receive love.
Every day, when you love your fellow man, and are interested in them,-- there is God's Kingdom!
"Everyone who believes in me, will have eternal life."
Today, we will focus on these words.
This sentence, although all of us know it and often repeat it, is not understood as it should be.
Let us consider what eternal life is.
Well, only God is eternal, and He alone has eternal life. Everything is created for man, the environment, the earth, the cosmos--they all have a beginning and an end. Therefore, they are not eternal. If we consider man merely as a body, he is then like other creatures ---dead, and by himself he is not eternal.
However, it could not be true love if God did not give man anything from His immortality. Knowing that you only live approximately 78 years on this earth and then turn to dust and finally cease to exist, humanity would plunge into a deep depression. This would quickly lead to some form of self destruction, because we could not make sense of our existence.
But man is not like other creatures on earth, not like animals, or plants, rocks or soil. God created the miracle of love, the human soul, and He gave it to man. The soul is nothing but the element of God, His tiny miracle.
In each of us, at Baptism, God has placed immortality--our life! He gave us the most precious treasure--our life!
Does our mind comprehend this unusual, fascinating truth!?
For in us, there is the life of God. It was given to us at the beginning of our earthly existence so that we can honor Him and grow and mature.
However, it is import_ant, to either accept this gift or reject it. What will you do with such an incomprehensible gift? You get a wonderful gift and do not even unpack it!
The condition, is you have eternal life, you cannot lose Him, as it is faith in God's son. He brought us to this life since God sent Him to us so that we might live forever.
So, let's review this attitude, think about it--do you truly believe?
The next condition is the second birth. When you resign from your old life, when you agree to die from the world, from yourself, only then are you truly born of God.
Resignation from everything that is ours, then everything will become Gods.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, we actually experience the most important, the most central reality of our existence, our life.
What significance has the Spirit... it only indicates the frequency of this word in the Bible, exactly 740 times! It is one of the most commonly used words alongside "God" or "Salvation." Even the frequency of which it is used, indicates how much the word of God steers us in the direction of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, and especially in the Gospels, every now and again, in the most import_ant events, we meet with the Holy Spirit who somehow directed the life of Jesus.
If Jesus needed the Holy Spirit in all its actions, we need Him more. So, how is the Holy Spirit import_ant in our lives?
We live so that we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Not just to have a particularly great career, earn a lot of money or enjoy many pleasures or to have authority over many people.
The main purpose of our existence is to be filled with the Holy Spirit!
We can say that we are like chalices, which like wine, are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Glasses have a different shape and appearance, new and sometimes made of gold, sometimes old, rusty and jagged, but each is expected to adopt the same Spirit. We are, after all the temple of the Hoy Spirit.
The three most important events of Christianity are: Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.
Can we say-- Pentecost is the event which concerns us more personally?
Because the Incarnation and the Redemption was the work of one person--Jesus. It was also the participation of one man-- Jesus. On the other hand, Pentecost, filled with God is to be for everyone, without exception.
With this truth emerges many applications. It reminds us anew, that the Spirit is more important than the body and matter. In our culture, it seems like it is only the body, and the Spirit does not exist.
No! We have to develop towards God. We have to develop the spiritual, or intellect, will and feelings and then we develop a spiritual relationship with others the more we become spiritual.
Of course, this can only happen in cooperation with the Holy Spirit present within us. Without it we are like a flower without sun. That is why Jesus promises Him as the greatest gift.
We just need to invite the Holy Spirit and open ourselves to His coming.
Initially, we might think that today we celebrate the end of Christ's presence on earth,..but it is not.
We celebrate, not the end of Jesus' presence on earth but only the change of His presence.
At the moment of His entrance into Heaven, Christ ceased to be present on earth in a human, physical body, but He began a presence of a "Mystical Body"--the church, which is, all of us, His followers.
Many pages in the Bible state that Christ is alive and still works in His church through us, His followers. We Christians are now the body in which Jesus is alive. St. Paul writes: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Gal. 2:20)
We Christians, are the mind through which Christ is currently working: "Have this mind among yourselves; which is also in Christ Jesus," writes St. Paul (Phil 2:5)
We are now a voice which Jesus says: "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me." (Lk. 10:16).
Finally, we are the heart through which Jesus loves. He said, in fact: "Whatever you do for one of the least of my brothers, you do for me."(Mt. 25:40)
Christ lived on earth only 33 years, in which He was limited by time and place. Therefore He intends for everyone of us to be an extension of Himself, becoming another Christ, keeping His personality. By each of us He wants to continue to incorporate, die, resurrect and be saved.
He wants us to continue to pray and preach, suffer and work. To be a witness of Christ, you do not have to leave for the missions, or to lecture. A more meaningful life is a better example, better than a sermon, kindness and love, joy and forgiveness are much more attractive.
Let us remember, that, we can be the Bible that some people have not read. Few of us read the script_ures, and not everyone wants to or knows how to read them, but they are all interested and they watch us.
What kind of Bible are we? True or False?
Do we give our whole life to Christ?
"These things I command of you, that you love one another."
The commandment of love is the most import_ant and greatest commandment of God.
God is love, and all is expressed through love, because love is not just a word, or a slogan often in the mouth of many people, love is the driving force, giving strength, giving birth, giving life.
There is nothing above it.
Love formed the universe, set in motion the planets and stars, and gave life to all creatures.
The world, earth and humanity still exist thanks to this love. Love just builds unity, gives happiness and eternity.
This is why Jesus tells us to love one another. He does not say much about many other things that may seem import_ant to human concepts. You will notice Jesus does not provide many different commandments, precepts or give many other clues. He says only one thing--LOVE.
If you look at the whole Gospel, we can see it is a great message of love-- a book showing God's love.
Today's words Jesus directed towards His disciples, preparing them for the great mission of building the church. These words also direct us today, because we too have to build a church community. And, to make this building sustainable by God, it must be based on love, which is God.
Note that the instructions that are directed to our community constantly speak of love, as the only force that binds us together.
Jesus said the same words to the Apostles. They were called to do great Work, and on their shoulders rested the church, but on our shoulders it is to make its revival.
Today, Jesus says to each of us: "Love one another as I have loved you." It is a difficult task to love each other always and selflessly.
The world is trying to fight such a love. Pushing it as a "cheap commodity" and trying to call it love. The world says, live for the moment! Play! All you must! Only with such behavior it is hard to find true love, because selfishness reigns here. If this is good for me then I must leave the door open to myself and have a plan "B" in the event that adversity will come.
Friendship with Jesus does not guarantee us a convenient and comfortable life. However, we are guaranteed the mature joy that enters into our lives--a sense of happiness-- of fulfillment and mature love. All which will enable us to love and be loved, and to be confident that whatever we ask of God, in the name of Jesus Christ--His Son is true.
Could there ever be a more wonderful recipe for life than that which is a love for Christ?
"I am the vine and you are the branches".
This beautiful comparison, given by Jesus, brings us closer to the essence of the union with Him. Just as the branch cannot live without a bush, so we are not able to live without Jesus-- without a union with Jesus.
A shoot must be united, organically fused, to the bush "juices" that also circulate in it.
Similarly, we have to be grown into, united "organically", with Jesus to circulate the life of God within us. Without this connection a person dies. Of course, it is not a death in the concept of a typical biological death, but rather it is the death of the soul--- of the spirit.
Thanks to the junction of the vine, we can bear fruit. God cleanses every off spring that these fruits will be more fruitful, more abundant.
From grapes we make different wines. First you have the fruit of the vine crushed. At this time it is the "wilderness juice".
On Good Friday, Jesus also gave a "crush" of Himself extruding wine-saving blood.
Each of us, as a branch of the vine of Jesus awaits the same. He is waiting for us to throw the press and to extract our fruit juice into wine.
As Christians, we have to give of our lives to reveal the meaning of our existence. We have become the "first wine", wine of the highest class, so we may gain salvation.
Our vocation is therefore to be in unity with Jesus. Not without reason, Jesus called Himself the Head and Mystical Body of the church so together, we now form one body.