Tag Archives: Catholic Church

A Reflection on our response to Christ Love

I want to share this beautiful and enlightening reflection on John 15:9-11 from Fr. Vincent Serpa’s book “Just a minute, Sixty Seconds a Day with the Gospel”:

“Jesus said to his disciples:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

John 15:9-11

Nowhere else do we find Jesus expressing such intimacy and vulnerability. What he said to them on Holy Thursday night he showed them on Good Friday. What he said to them he says to you this very moment! He loves you with a love that keeps your heart beating. He loves you with a love that caused his heart to stop. What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it?”

-Fr. Vincent Serpa
Just a minute, Sixty Seconds a Day with the Gospel

What are you going to do about it?

Just think about it:

“He loves you with a love that keeps your heart beating”.

Everything, that is, the air that you breathe, the light that strikes your eyes, you and me, all exists because of him…without him we would not exist. We owed him this very instant…

“He loves you with a love that caused his heart to stop.”

By his death on the Cross, he transformed the ultimate act of human cruelty into the ultimate act of self-giving. It was his love for humanity that opened the gates of heaven for you and for me.

Imagine how your life will be different if every time you see someone suffering you see Christ suffering, if every time someone offends you, you remember all the times that you have offended Christ, and how he still offers you his wounds, his suffering and his death on the Cross, just for you. How much our life will change if we keep such a perspective and what a difference we can make in the world!!!

Do you believe that you can make a difference? I do, because of his Love.

God Bless!

Note: One of my favorite radio shows/podcast is Catholic Answers Live. It is Q & A radio show dedicated to defending and explain the teaching of the Catholic faith and confront head on some of today’s most controversial topics that affect our society. I highly recommend it.

cal_podcast_0

 

Love and Salvation

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”

1 John 4:16

This is the good news for humanity. God is Love! Love has always been at the heart of God’s plan. Indeed, the history of salvation is a history of God’s love for his creation. Love was the basis for the relationship between God and Israel:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”

Deuteronomy 6:5

…and it is at the heart of God’s plan for redemption:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”

John 3:16

It was at the Cross, that Love was poured into humanity in all its divine mercy and glory! In returned, we are called to love God and to love one another:

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

Matthew 22:37-40, citing from Duet 6:5 and Lev 19:18

This love cannot be merely expressed by words but it has to be materialized by works as St. John says:

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth”

1 John 3:18

and as Jesus says in Matthew 25:41-45:

“Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then they will answer and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

Matthew 25:41-45

So it is very clear that works of mercy are necessary for salvation, but can they earn our salvation?
The answer is simply NOT A CHANCE. We cannot earn our way to heaven because salvation is a free and unmerited gift from God. Paragraph 1996 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it very succinctly:

“Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life”.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 1996

God through his Grace freely gives us love and in return we are moved to love one another in works of mercy. As Pope Benedict XVI beautifully wrote in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est:

“since God has first loved us (1 John 4:10) love is now no longer a mere “command”, it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us”.

This illuminates the relationship between faith, works and salvation. Works play a role in our salvation because God loved us first (1 John 4:10). This Christian love (Caritas) is fulfilled through works of charity and obedience to God’s commandments. It is a necessary response to God’s love.

Works are an indelible consequence of love, without love there is no works, without works there cannot be love and without love, faith is dead. As St. James wrote:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead”.

James 2:14-17

It is because we were first loved by God that we can love one another. Thus, the merits of our works belong to God, as Saint Augustine puts it:“When God rewards our merits, he rewards his own gifts to us“, because it is through Christ, in Christ, and with Christ that we love one another:

“Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5

So what are we going to do about it?

Hunger, war and diseases predominate most parts of the third-world countries, but also an utter lack of respect to human dignity predominates in the developed world.

We are called to be the Salt and light of the Earth:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:13-16

What about the poor who goes hungry every night in India or the dying in Africa?

What about 4,000 babies that are aborted each day in the US alone?

As followers of Christ are we supposed to ignore this? Or are we called to be the Salt of the Earth, the light of the World?

To be silent on such issues is to be complicit! Let us be the salt and light and do something about it. We can donate our time in a soup kitchen, nursing homes or even at a local hospital through their volunteer program. Let us pray to end abortion. Let us be kind with our neighbors…it all starts with opening our hearts to his Love the rest will take care of itself.

God Bless!

St. Joan of Arc

Today, May 30, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Joan of Arc.

“Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing”.

GK Chesterton
Orthodoxy

I hope this quote from Orthodoxy peaks your interest into the life of this great saint of the Catholic Church.

 

About the Big Bang and Fundamentalists

The recent debate between Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Ken Ham, a young earth creationist supporter, reminded me of something that St. Thomas Aquinas said:

“First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining a Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dares to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise unbelievers will scorn Sacred Scripture, and the way to faith will be closed to them.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas

In other words, some fundamentalist interpretation of scripture contradicts our observation of the universe and their staunch literalistic interpretation of the Bible may be a stumbling block for unbelievers, closing faith to them.

God is truth and cannot be deceived or deceive. As Sir Francis Bacon said: “God wrote two books. One is Holy Scripture and the other is nature”. They cannot contradict each other. One reveals how God created the Universe and the other reveals why God created the Universe. They do not oppose each other, but complement each other in reviling the beauty and power of our Creator. It is amazing that not a hundred years ago, scientists like Fred Hoyle mocked the primordial atom theory, the Big Bang Theory, first proposed by Fr. George Lemeitre, a Jesuit priest, as nothing but religious propaganda.

Einstein thought that Fr. Lemeitre’s theory was the most beautiful explanation of creation once he looked at the evidence that support Fr. Lemeitre theory.

The key here is openness to evidence. On one had it seems to me that staunch atheists refuse to look beyond their biases about religion and look closer to the cosmological and philosophical evidence for the existence of God on the other hand
Fundamentalists who hold a literalistic interpretation of the Bible refuse to see irrefutable evidence about the age of the universe. Making their faith look un-reasonable to non-believers and in the process alienating people who are searching for truth.

The result of such public debate between these opposing views is that it foments a caricatured notion that there is no place for reason in faith and no place for faith in reason. The history of science as it was developed in the West begs to disagree with such ill informed notion.

“But you have disposed all things by measure and number and weight.”

Wisdom 11:20

This verse from the book of Wisdom, often quoted by St. Augustine in the third century, greatly influenced many thinkers during the early and late Middle Ages. It reveals something about creation. The act of creation was not arbitrary but carefully designed “by measure and number and weight” and thus allowed for the investigation of the world because it argues that the world was created by reason and thereby can be understood by reason. This line of thinking led to the creation of the universities, the scientific method and many scientific fields by the Catholic Church, which ultimately led to the scientific revolution.

Fundamentalist creationists staunch advocacy in favor of young earth creation can be a stumbling block for many because it refuses to accept the evidence and change its position. Perhaps St. Thomas anticipated young creationist postures when he caution about rigid Bible interpretation.

Faith properly understood is reasonable and beautiful because it brings us closer to the good, the beautiful and the true.