Search This Blog

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lenten Recollection (Inmates of Surigao City Jail) March 19, 2010

I. Lent: A “Turning Point” of Christian Life

Lent is God’s call to us to recognize the truth of our lives, to get in touch with the ways in which we have lost our truth, our ideals and our connection with community. This is a spiritual journey searching the innermost corners of our heart. Lent is not a sad time but a quiet time. It is a time to go deep within the interior desert of our soul. It can put us in touch with our real hunger. It can stir in us the courage to confront what keeps us from following the Christ to Jerusalem.

Lent is a call to holiness (wholeness). Let this Lent be an honest time in which we use the season to ponder and make new decisions that will bring us to wholeness. The capacity to forgive and ask for forgiveness is acknowledgment that we have broken bonds and the break diminishes us as persons. It is an opportunity for putting back together the world that we have damaged by our actions.

Lent is a time of repentance, of rending our hearts, opening them to God’s mercy and forgiveness and opening them to our sisters and brothers. Forgiveness presumes a horizon larger than self. It is a decision for freedom. If the essence of freedom is choice, then the object of freedom is commitment. “Repentance is an absolute, spiritual decision made in truthfulness. Its motivations are remorse for the past and responsibility for the future.” Lent is a time to take back the pieces of our lives that has been given over to what is not of God. Each of us knows what is not right in our life.

II. An invitation to enter into the dynamic of the story of Jesus  the JESUS-EVENT in our life.

1. Formation of being a disciple of Jesus:

1.1. Faith-ing process: Knowing the story of Jesus. What do you believe? (Desire for God – “What do you seek? Where do you live? Come and See… They remain”

1.2. Mission: Telling the story of Jesus. Acting out your belief (Community of disciples – Church)

1.3. Spirituality: Living the story of Jesus. Becoming what you believe (the power behind the person’s motivation – to do something important for God, to move away from self-centeredness to other-centeredness, and to respond to God with generosity of heart.

2. Jesus and the Kingdom of God

2.1. Kingdom requirement: Conversion – to turn towards: ‘repent and believe!’

2.3. Vision-Mission of Jesus: Luke 4: 16-18

2.4. Thru his life, parables, preaching and healing, restoring the dead, breaking barriers, bridging hope

2.5. Hope for the new heaven and new earth: Kingdom where truth, justice, love, peace and harmony shall reign

3. Journeying with Jesus to Jerusalem: Passion Sunday

III. “Go and Tell… “I Have Seen the Lord! …” “Remember…”

Understanding ‘Story’ and Telling Story

Human life is unimaginable without stories.

Telling stories comes so naturally to us that we do not reflect sufficiently on its significance for our lives.

Remembrance is vital if we want to grow in self-knowledge. But we remember by telling stories. Memory is made of stories rather than mere chronology and stories bring experience back to mind.

1. Good stories are based on experience.

2. Stories reveal personal identity and people and events that shaped that identity.

3. Stories are dynamic, open to reinterpretation and re-telling, and transformative.

4. Stories are the ground for understanding spiritual, doctrinal and ethical symbols.

5. Stories form community.

6. Stories when received can transform the listener.

7. Stories can be told in a variety of ways.

8. Stories can be suppressed.

IV Confession

The Purpose of Confession

That reconciling of man to God is the purpose of Confession. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. Then, in the Sacrament of Confession, grace can be restored to our souls, and we can once again resist sin.

What Is Required?

Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily:

1. Must be contrite - or, in other words, sorry for his sins.

2. Must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.

3. Must be willing to do penance and make amends for his sins.

Proclaim the experience of the Risen Lord …

ACT JUSTLY, LOVE TENDERLY, and WALK HUMBLY with the God of Creation

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Prodigal Son; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

The Gospel story is the family story of the Prodigal Son, generally understood as the greatest short story in the world. The context of today’s parable is very important. The Scribes and Pharisees, who considered themselves as followers of the law and self righteous, grumble that Jesus is the friend of sinners and eats with them. So Jesus tells the story about a father who has two sons, both of whom are lost. The central focus of the Parable, however, remains on the Father from the beginning to the end. The sons are different. At the beginning of the story we see that the younger son is the bad boy, favorite of the tax collectors and sinners who are listening to him. The elder son, the good boy, matches up well with the Scribes and the Pharisees who are also in his audience. What unites the story and makes it powerful is the abundance of love the father shows towards both his sons.

But by the end of the story we see that both of them in different ways prove themselves to be obstacles to the family unity and harmony which the father desired more than anything. That younger son reminds us of the struggle that takes place in the society at this time to be successful. He convinces his father to give him his share of the inheritance and squanders the whole thing in a totally irresponsible way of living. He shames his father and the family name. He degrades himself by living in a gentile country and working for a gentile employer. This son is not dumb and he knows that if he has to survive he must do something to change his life. Therefore he makes a plan to return to the father not as a son but as an employee, hoping for some work, food and shelter. This is the interior change and the repentance. He is also aware that such plan may not work since he has disgraced the family and the father may disown him. But on his return there is a surprise for him when the Father receives him back and restores him back to his former dignity of a son. Perhaps in the present day situation when we look for a change and new life we visualize ourselves to be like the younger son living with the pigs in need of returning to our Father. There in such situation we have someone waiting for us with open arms to welcome us and receive us. There is always the hope and restoration of the dignity of man.

In the parable we are given a most beautiful description of our heavenly Father. He is outside of the house waiting for the younger son to return. And when he does return his father ran to him, clasps him in his arms and kisses him tenderly and he brings him in and throws a party for him. When we return to God he throws a party for us too. Not only does he come out of the house once when he sees his older son angry, but he comes out a second time to try to persuade him to come into the house. In the same way our heavenly Father comes out to welcome each of us to his party. The most beautiful line in the parable is what the father says to the elder son, “all I have is yours”. Our heavenly Father says also to us, “All I have is yours”. This is a most beautiful promise and stunning invitation. We are not told at the end of the parable whether or not the elder son went in to the party. After reading this parable we also have a choice to make, whether to stay outside or to go in to enjoy the Father’s party. But the best offer of happiness is from God our Father, “all I have is yours”.

The prodigal son did not get the full opportunity to fully express to his father that he would become a paid servant. The Father immediately readmits him as the part of the family and gives the order to bring the robe, the ring, and the sandals and to kill the fatted calf for a celebration. The younger son in reality had a warped notion of his father’s forgiveness. He had no understanding of what mercy really means. But now he had just learnt the depth of the love of the Father. The elder son also did not know what forgiveness and love meant. He did not and could not forgive his younger brother for his misdeeds. In this parable Jesus teaches us the depth of the generosity of God and his mercy. God our heavenly Father is always waiting at the door waiting for us to come to him. At every Mass we receive the same invitation from Jesus, to share his body and blood and hence his forgiveness. The younger son needed to turn back from his frivolous lifestyle and return to the father’s house and be a responsible and obedient son. In our life we often regret that the other is more privileged and gets more benefits than us. Often we are hurt and indignant like the elder brother in the parable. We indeed have missed the point. It is not about who is more or less deserving in a given situation. It is our ability to love unconditionally and to believe in the basic dignity and equality of all people.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Season of Lent

Lent is a forty-day season of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. The season begins on Ash Wednesday, when pastors mark the foreheads of Christians with ashes as a reminder that we are created from dust and to dust we shall return.

During Lent we follow Jesus from his adult ministry through his suffering during Holy Week to his crucifixion and death on Good Friday. And we read the Psalms that foretold what happened during that week.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, also called the Sunday of the Passion, and continues through Holy Thursday (when Holy Communion was instituted at the Last Supper) and Good Friday, when Jesus was tried, crucified, and buried.

Because the Last Supper was celebrated during the Feast of the Passover, which is calculated on the phases of the moon, Easter is called a movable feast. Lent is scheduled backwards from Easter. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox. The forty days of fasting and penitence during Lent do not include Sundays. Christians always celebrate Sunday as the day Jesus rose from the dead, so it is never a day of fasting.

Lent is a time of stripping down to essentials, as each Christian focuses on his or her individual relationship with God. It is a time when Christians remember our baptisms, when Jesus washed away our sins, giving us newness of life to celebrate in the triumph of Palm Sunday and the glory of Easter. Many early Christians were baptized on Easter Sunday, so Lent became a special time of study and prayer in preparation for their baptisms. Later the entire congregation joined in the study and prayer as they looked forward to the anniversary of their baptisms on Easter.

Because Lent is a time of letting go of the bondage of sin, it is also a time of celebrating the freedom from the bondage of slavery. At the Feast of the Passover, all Jews give thanks for their freedom from the captivity of the Egyptians.