Closer to Us than We are to Ourselves: Holy Trinity Sunday

“Do not seek God in outer space –your heart is the only place to meet Him face to face.”    –Angelus Silesius

All the truths in this world can ultimately be traced back on the truth of just two statements; first, there is God and second, you’re not Him. Many philosophers may argue that the most important question is ‘who am I’. However, for believers, I propose that the most important question to answer would be ‘who is God’. The question ‘who am I’ must always go hand-in-hand with the question ‘who is God’ for only in knowing God’s identity, our Creator, can we truly comprehend the meaning of our existence, our origin and destiny. Today’s celebration of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity invites us once again to answer the question who is God.

Delivering a homily on the Blessed Trinity was termed by pastors as the ‘preacher’s nightmare’. While on the other hand, for the most of us, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity remains just as it is, a mystery just to be accepted and believed in as summarized by a few words of catechism or for a few others as fully stated in the Athanasian Creed. While we full agree with St Augustine’s “si comprehendis, non est Deus (if you understand Him, He is not God),” nonetheless, it is never prohibited to approach and indeed, upon closer reflection, by revealing this mystery, God wants us with all His heart to approach Him in this mysterious identity. For it’s not only us who search for Him but also He who seeks for us. Indeed, we may not all become successful in finding Him but we can be sure that we will all be found by Him.

The point is, despite of being a mystery, the Trinity is an invitation to know God and an initiative of building a relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Lack of understanding this mystery must not mean incapability of loving in our part. Just because we cannot feel Him doesn’t mean that our relationship with Him will be less real. In fact, it is more real, much more real than our earthly relationships. We are made in the image and likeness of God. God is a relationship, a communion of persons. It also follows that our personal relationships are made in the image and likeness of God. If our relationships here feel so real, how much more would be our relationship with God since earthly relationships are just images and likenesses. This is what St Paul tells us in the Second Reading, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” We have gained access to this grace by faith and if we will truly believe it, this relationship would be fully realized in us and in our lives. The Father will be revealed to us in His All Powerful love and goodness which is above anything this life can throw at us. We will never hesitate in approaching the Son, who is like us in everything except sin, who can understand us because He experienced it all, who loved us to death and is now with us living in the Eucharist, in the sacraments and in the Church. And the Holy Spirit will consume our whole being as the God within us, the God willing to enter our human personality and change it, the love of the Father and the Son which is also for us, a love so real that it is a person!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“God is love, and He who remains in love, remains in God, and God remains in Him (1 Jn 4:16).” St John eloquently summarized the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity in this statement. The Blessed Trinity is never above the human experience. We can always experience Him in the truth and the fullness of love. Love, indeed then, is the origin, the means and the fullness of human experience. And those who truly love, whether they believe in God or not, will soon find God or else God will find them.

The First Reading tells us how the Wisdom of God is present in every detail of the creation. It tells us that with wisdom, we will discover the hand and presence of God in every moment of our lives; that He is concern with every detail of it and there we can encounter Him because He has found delight in the human race.

Finally, the Gospel assures us that God will never tire of revealing Himself to those who seek Him. He continues to reveal Himself and guides us to all truth. So we must make an effort to know Him, for we cannot love a person we do not know and we will discover the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and exclaim with the Psalmist: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”

PS. When Moses asked God who He is, He answered with the words “I am who am” cleverly explained as denoting God as the fullness of Existence, an Existence that continues to reveal Himself. But for me, it simply means that God is saying: You will know me by the things which I will do. Indeed, we will know Him more in the best things to come! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1st Reading: Prv 8:22-31

Ps 8: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

2nd Reading: Rom 5:1-5

Gospel: Jn 16:12-15

God with Us and For Us: Ascension Sunday

“and I –once I am lifted up from the earth – will draw all men to myself (Jn 12:32).”

20160227_141131

 The focal point of today’s celebration is not the departure of Jesus’ physical presence on earth but rather the beginning of an indwelling presence that is much more real than physicality. The Ascension of Jesus is the unveiling of the full glory of His Risen Body, the unveiling of the lifted humanity imbued with divinity. Henceforward Jesus’ ascension, He has been seated at the right hand of God where He exercises a permanent priesthood by interceding to God for those who draw near to God through Him (Cf CCC 662). It also signifies the inauguration of His messianic kingdom, the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision for the Son of Man: “to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom; that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom, one that shall have not be destroyed.”

So what do these mean for us? The Ascension is essentially for us. Ascension is not the undoing of the Incarnation but rather its intended goal. The Incarnation is not just a temporary visit but rather an expedition to redeem our lowly and fallen humanity and Christ brought humanity home to heaven by the Ascension. Jesus’ redemptive act not only changed us forever but also changed God forever. The humanity of Jesus, His body and soul, is exalted to God forever. The Second Person of the Trinity, God Himself, though divine is also human, though spiritual is also bodily, like us!

And as the First Reading and Gospel exhort us, we are witnesses to these things. We are called to testify and give evidence to these things by our word and example. First and foremost, we need to reexamine our view of the dignity and value of humanity because the Ascension affirms that humanity is destined to reign with Christ, to reign with God. Any indignity therefore committed against the humanity of each individual is a sacrilege to the humanity of Jesus who is also God. Humanity is not just an element of any economic and political institution but rather of God Himself. Secondly, humanity must never tire or despair of reaching out to God because Jesus Christ intercedes for us to God, because God knows what it is to be human. He knows our frailty, our weakness, our disordered passions, and He understands. So we must never give up since Jesus Christ never gives up interceding for us and obtains for us whatever grace necessary so that one day we may be with Him in the bosom of the Eternal Father. Finally, since our humanity was incorporated into the Godhead, we are also called to be bridges to the divinity. We are all priests capable of interceding to God through our High Priest Jesus Christ everyone around us. We are to be His witnesses to the ends of the world. Thus, we are now again invited to reflect on how our individual humanity becomes an access to the divine for all those who are around us. We are called to lift up Jesus Christ in our own ways so that He can draw all men to Himself. Moreover, if God Himself has lifted Him up, so we are also called to lift Him up. Christ’s rule at the right hand of God would be incomplete unless He rules at the right hand of our lives. Ascension also reminds us not only the importance of humanity but also the primary importance of Jesus Christ over all humanity. Jesus Christ is the Lord of All Nations, the King of All Humanity, the one to whom our final allegiance must be due.

Lastly, the Ascension gives way to the presence of God that is more intimate than physical presence. By Ascension, the presence of Jesus is made available not only to the first century disciples but for all His believers throughout the ages. Because He ascended and reigned at the right hand of God, He is now present in each one of us in a most intimate way by His Spirit. And as we prepare for Pentecost, let us pray for the renewal of the outpouring of this Spirit over us.

1st Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Ps 47:2-3.6-7.8-9. (6)

2nd Reading: Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23

Gospel: Lk 24:46-53

The Peace Project: 6th Sunday of Easter Year C

“They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Micah 5:4)

“Peace be with you,” these were the first words of the Risen Christ to His apostles and now as we near the end of Easter season, the Risen Lord reminds us once again to claim this everlasting gift. However, even after more than two thousand years, this peace have appeared to be elusive for most of us. Nonetheless, I believe that it only appeared to be so, peace is not elusive, and it is us who have been elusive to His peace.

Yes, peace is a gift, freely available, but first a gift must be received. A peaceful city is first and foremost, a city of peacemakers. You cannot give what you do not have. Peace is a personal obligation prior to becoming a social reality. Peace is therefore a virtue, a virtue which the Gospel passage today instructs us to obtain. Peace is a spiritual fruit borne by love, love of Jesus Christ which primarily entails keeping His words. The Word of God was engraved in the heart of man, and we must keep it there, and the keeping of it is called conscience. This conscience fashioned according and oriented to the natural law of the love of God and neighbor is renewed by the example of Christ and maintained by the indwelling of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit promised to us.

The possession of a good conscience is the possession of the indwelling peace, the indwelling presence of God. A faithful conscience then is a perpetual Easter, an experience of the Risen Lord. Like charity, peace begins at home but it should not end there. For peace to transform into social achievement, we must learn to recognize the indwelling presence of God in our fellow men. We must recognize how the Holy Spirit acts through them against all biases of race, culture, prejudice and yes, even religion. In the First Reading, we saw how peace was achieved in the early Church despite differences of opinions, beliefs and culture. Peace was realized when they recognized the action and presence of the Holy Spirit in all the members of the Church, whether Gentile of Jew. Peace was achievable to us Christians now as it was then, and the presence of deep divisions and disagreements among us is one of the questions that we will all have to answer to when the Risen Lord comes back.

With all those things said, nonetheless, peace remains a project which cannot be achieved even by worldwide treaties or enforcement but rather by the gentle guiding grace of God. Peace is the goal which the Holy Spirit continues to teach us as we heed the lessons of history. The struggle for peace is a process of purification and healing in which we are made worthy of receiving it and keeping it. The vessel must first be worthy before the gift is bestowed. In the project of peace, after doing our part and teaching others to do theirs must come praying for peace. As the psalmist sings today: “May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity, the nations on earth you guide” and we respond: “O God, let all the nations praise you.” It reminds us that all nations will finally be united one day in the worship of God and world peace will be attained under His rule. The Second Reading paints for us the picture of the perfect and heavenly city coming down from heaven as if to emphasize once again that the peaceful earth will be achieved by God’s own hands. Moreover, upon closer examination, we will see that the essence of the heavenly city is not on its majesty but rather on the abiding presence of God. Thus, it drives home the point that it is the mere presence of God that makes any community like the heavenly Jerusalem. Indeed, one of the most beautiful name for the Eucharist is Holy Communion for it is truly the gift that must bring us into communion with one another.

The Lord has given and continually gives us His peace, His abiding presence. May the Holy Communion we receive bring the world together so that His peaceful reign may truly be with us all. May the Peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

13106064_10208253044819968_739310929_o

St Joseph, Dreamer and Worker of God’s will, pray for us that we may continue dreaming and working for God’s peace.

1st Reading: Acts 15:1-2.22-29

Ps 67:2-3.5.6.8

2nd Reading: Rv 21: 10-14.22-23

Gospel: Jn 14:23-29