Dare you ask for the Spirit? “Ask and you will receive,” Jesus promises us in our Gospel today. But let’s be real and go deeper: How many times have you prayed for a particular favor only to be disappointed? What do you do when you ask but do not receive? The way I used to make sense of the times when I did not get what I begged for was to balance “Ask and you shall receive” with what Jesus also says later in our Gospel today: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?” Perhaps getting what I wanted would not be good for me. Maybe what I was asking for was a snake or a scorpion – something that would hurt me, something dangerous for me and those close to me. For a time, I was content with this explanation, but then I was assigned to be a chaplain in the Philippine General Hospital. I met many saintly patients: kind-hearted mothers … [Read more...] about Dare you ask for the Spirit?
Acts holy spirit
(The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 13:14 In her book Wearing God, author Lauren Winner says our clothes can silently communicate to others who we are. What we wear may indicate career, community or identity, moods, or social status. Think of a T-shirt with a slogan, a business suit, a uniform, or greasy jeans and what they might reveal. She writes, “The idea that, as with a garment, Christians might wordlessly speak something of Jesus — is appealing.” According to Paul, we can similarly wordlessly represent Christ. Romans 13:14 tells us to “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” What does this mean? When we become Christians, we take on Christ’s identity. We’re “children of God through faith” (Gal. 3:26-27). That’s our status. Yet each day we … [Read more...] about Dressed up
(The Philippine Star) - July 2, 2019 - 12:00am Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. — Luke 9:23 Sipping her tea, Nancy gazed out her friend’s window and sighed. Spring rains and sunshine had coaxed a riotous expanse of color from a well-groomed flowerbed of lilies, phlox, irises, and evening primrose. “I want that look,” she said wistfully, “without all the work.” Some shortcuts are fine — even practical. Others short-circuit our spirit and deaden our lives. We want romance without the difficulties and messiness of committing to someone so different from ourselves. We want “greatness” without the risks and failures necessary in the adventure of real life. We desire to please God, but not when it inconveniences us. Jesus made clear to His followers that there is no shortcut that avoids the hard choice of surrendering our lives to Him. He warned … [Read more...] about Taking shortcuts
(The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2019 - 12:00am Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! — Romans 7:24-25 At his death, the great artist Michelangelo left many unfinished projects. But four of his sculptures were never meant to be completed. The Bearded Slave, the Atlas Slave, the Awakening Slave, and the Young Slave, though they appear unfinished, are just as Michelangelo intended them to be. The artist wanted to show what it might feel like to be forever enslaved. Rather than sculpting figures in chains, Michelangelo made figures stuck in the very marble out of which they are carved. Bodies emerge from the stone, but not completely. Muscles flex, but the figures are never able to free themselves. My empathy with the slave sculptures is immediate. Their plight is not unlike my struggle with sin. I am unable to … [Read more...] about Unfinished works
(The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2019 - 12:00am The [Ethiopian] asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”— Acts 8:34 Waldo is the cartoonish star of “Where’s Waldo,” a now-classic best-selling children’s book series. Waldo hides himself in the crowded scenes on each page, inviting children to find where he’s hiding. Parents around the world love the moments of sweet discovery when their children’s faces signal they’ve found Waldo. They also enjoy the occasions when they’re invited to help find him. Shortly after Stephen, a deacon in the early church, was stoned to death for proclaiming Christ (see Acts 7), widespread persecution broke out against Christians, causing many to flee Jerusalem. Another deacon, Philip, followed these fleeing Christians into Samaria, where he proclaimed Christ and it was well received (8:6). While there, the Holy … [Read more...] about Finding Waldo