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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Justice of God: a glmpse

The twenty-four elders.. touched the ground with their foreheads worshipping God with these words, ‘We give thanks to you, Almighty Lord God... The nations were seething with rage and now the time has come for your own anger, and for the dead to be judged, and for your servants .. all who worship you, small or great, to be rewarded. There is no peace without justice, but what happens to us if God's justice were given immediately after we sin? Rather than immediacy, God exercises patience, giving time for mercy, because (1) He is love, and (2) we are beings of time. On the latter, God designed us gto be dynamic beings whose fathom can only be appreciated over time. To God, who sees all time as an instant, our sin at one moment is not the end of the story therefore. Many find the existence of evil in the world to be in contradiction to the existence of a God who is love. But seen in the light of finiteness and time, it isn't a contradiction at all. God bides his time because the ultimate salvation of man comes from mercy, and mercy plays out for the sinful by repentance and conversion, both being acts done in time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Reflections on the First Three Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan -- the beginning. He does not need the regenerative washing, but we need him to institute this sacrament of initiation. The Spirit samctifies the water for Baptism, the Father's blessing with words of election: This is my Son, Beloved, in whom I am well pleased. The Son of Man, the Son of God, stands in our place as the Truly Worthy, making us worthy to be so called into the family of God. Then the Wedding Feast at Cana: our Blessed Mother notes the lack of wine, asking her son implicitly to intervene as only the true Bridegroom could. Do not belittle the need for this sign! The last two generations have done much to ridicule the dignity marriage -- and look at how the children have had to pay for it in tears and broken spirits! In the Lord's place, I too should like to be warned when the wine of light-heartedness should run low. Being a husband, I should then do something about it when it happens: Do whatever he tells you. The Bridegroom should know more than anyone what is best to do then. I must care for my marriage first of all. It must be a constant celebration of love: God's love, the source and template for all human love. Then the Proclamation of the Gospel. Anointed at Baptism, grounded firmly on love in my marriage, I should then proceed boldly to mission: proclaim, set free, to heal and bind up -- by God, I am equipped for every good work. Forth! Faith! Love!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Without grace we can do nothing!

Translation of Pope Benedict's address on Monday of Easter:

"Indeed, the Baptism that makes us children of God, and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ, must become life. That is to say: they must be reflected in attitudes, behaviors, actions and choices. The grace contained in the Sacraments of Easter is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. Nevertheless, everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let that grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, [to change whatever] might do harm to me and to others, then I allow the victory of Christ to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing – without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion can become an instrument of God’s mercy – that beautiful mercy of God."

Monday, April 01, 2013

Which comes first: faith or grace?

Was Easter God's response to the faith of the people of Israel? Does God give the grace of his salvation with the faith of the Christian believer?

The Easter grace of Baptism

The grace of Easter applies today most intimately in the sacrament of Baptism, but many Christians postpone this grace unnecessarily. These were from the Office of Readings today:
  1. From Ex 14:15-15:1, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them. The passage across the sea, or the salvation of Noah and all aboard the Ark, have been cited Biblically and by Church Fathers as a clear type of Christian baptism: the waters that bring death and new life.
  2. From an antiphon today:
    O God, through the light of the New Testament you have revealed to us the meaning of the miracles you performed in the earliest times.
      The Red Sea was a symbol of the baptismal font,
      and the people freed from servitude prefigured the sacraments of the Christian people.
    Grant that all nations who have receive Israel’s privileges as a reward for their faith
      may be regenerated by sharing in your Spirit.
    Through Christ our Lord,
  3. From Ezekiel 36:16-28,  I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land. I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.
  4. From Psalm 41(42), 
    Like a deer that longs for springs of water,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God, the living God:
    when shall I come and stand before the face of God?
  5. From Romans 6:3-11,
    When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
    If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin.
What a mighty gift, the Easter grace, that is being delayed and, in some cases, the opportunity is forever lost, through a horrible and quite recent misunderstanding of the doctrine! May God who wills to gather us all into his one family in a new life make us faithful to his most perfect and holy will!

Further reading; Infant baptism was already a practice in the second century AD.