haters gonna hate

“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Gospel reading: Luke 4:24-30)

Jesus anticipated His own people rejecting Him. As a Catholic twenty-something who is “living her faith out loudly in an increasingly God-shunning world” (that’s me!), I, too, feel like a young woman rejected by my generation.

Yes, loving and (moreover!) following Jesus in the world today is pretty counter-cultural. But I also like to think of it as revolutionary. Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not only a rebel, I’m a rebel with a cause: to bring Love (Jesus!) to a world that has forgotten that it was designed and brought to life in love by its Creator.

It seems like most of my peers prefer human love and moral relativity rather than Divine Love and Truth. It also seems like most of my peers see me, a devout Catholic, as a black sheep. But I’m cool with that, because I love being led and held by my Shepherd Jesus! And it is my ardent joy to bring others to Jesus by trying to live my own life breathing underwater– that is, clinging to what many in my general roll their eyes at and simply label as idiocy.

Yes, Jesus warned me that I, too, would be rejected by the world– the very world in which He is meant to be King, but is still rejected. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18).

If Jesus lived today, he could probably just tell us young Catholics: “Haters gonna hate!” We’d get the picture.

Loving Jesus today means accepting the fact that I will be hated by many.

In fact, loving Jesus today even means feeling hated and rejected by the very country I live in!

As a devout Catholic twenty-something, I’ve been labeled things like “naive,” “goody goody,” “rigid,” “extreme,” “fanatical,” “sheltered,” “self righteous”… the list goes on. Yet the Holy Spirit gives me the strength to bear these labels with love. Though it is at times painful and hurtful to feel misunderstood and like an outcast in my generation, belonging to Jesus gives me an inexplicable, radiant JOY that nothing and no one here in the world can ever, ever give me!

Giving up the world and all of its ephemeral promises is so worth the exchange of taking on the Cross and all of its eternal promises! As Luke 12:34 says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Catholic twenty-somethings, let us always bear hatred patiently, smiling and reveling in the fact that Our Love, Jesus, has already triumphed, and that He will remain triumphant for all eternity!

Christ came to send the SWORD

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” (Gospel reading: John 13-25)

Christianity is a peaceful religion, but it was ironically introduced to the world in a quite bloody fashion. First of all, Christ Himself said: “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword”(Matthew 10:34). And eventually, Christ brings eternal peace to the world by being the first person to take “the sword” upon Himself. For Christ IS the New Testament, and over 2000 years ago, He suffered a most violent, bloody death in order to show that He, the Word Made Flesh– the Gospel Incarnate!– is the very sword against all evils. For when His heart was pierced, the blood and water that gushed forth from it was to save the whole world.

Indeed, through His passion and His death, Christ showed us that one must first conquer himself before he can use “the sword” of the Gospel to conquer evil. With no evil within Himself, Christ shows us the Ultimate Pure and Holy Sacrifice. Yet before dying for all sinners, even Christ Himself, 100% God but still 100% Man, falls on His face and prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Similarly, as His disciples, we must kill off every last bit of our self will and sin before we can bring “the sword” of the Gospel to others.

May we who are part of the “Church Militant” always remember that the Gospel is a two-edged sword; it brings peace to others, but it also brings a bitter, painful death to self. May we always remember that when we allow Christ to destroy our sin, we are saying “yes” to abiding in His peace and His love!

bringin’ me to my senses…

“He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” (Gospel reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

While meditating upon the parable of the prodigal son, I have always related more to the prodigal son’s brother. I can imagine myself being as jealous as him, even when I know that Jesus offers me eternal life, and that “everything [He] has is [mine].” However, I know that the most exhilarating aspect about being Christ’s disciple is the fact that Christ demands me to give Christ-like love.

Giving Christ-like love means thinking and acting against my fallen human thoughts and ways, and instead, thinking and acting like Christ. This often feels like the hardest thing in the world, but it is consequently also feels like the most rewarding thing in the world. I know that if I am humble and I let Him, Christ can transform my thoughts, my ways, and most importantly, my heart.

Regarding the prodigal son: “Coming to his senses, he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired words have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger….”. Indeed, whenever I feel like I am falling wayward, I know that it is not my own wisdom, but the Holy Spirit in me, Wisdom Himself, who brings me to my senses and helps me to realize that I am more like the prodigal son than I know or am willing to admit. Yet when I accept my sinfulness and brokenness, I become closer to Christ and more receptive to His transforming love.

In the Most Holy Eucharist, Christ Himself prevents me from “dying from hunger.” His True Presence feeds me with Perfect Love and gives me the grace and the strength to say “no” to my fallen human inclinations and rather to love as He loves. I must be perfect as my Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), and I do this by perfectly loving as His Son perfectly loves.

Catholic twenty-somethings: BUILD THAT KINGDOM!

“Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Gospel reading: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46).

At the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God… Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand! Though it will have its completion at the end of time, the Kingdom of God is here and now. And today, we have the calling to build upon this Kingdom, which God intends to last for all eternity!

May we thus live every day saying “yes” to God, Who in His grace will produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit here on earth through us. Our wonderful Creator, so brilliantly creative, has designed our bodies and our souls to accomplish what He would like to be done in His Kingdom!

How often do we say we will do things for others tomorrow? Or that we will accomplish what we were made for in the future? What we fail to realize is that we are sacrificing the Present Moment, which itself is pregnant with possibilities to use that grace which Christ has so freely poured out into our lives!

Fr. Jean-Baptiste Saint-Jure, SJ said: “Just as a workman uses the shape and size of tool best suited to the job in hand, so God gives us those qualities which are in accordance with the designs he has for us.”

Indeed, we are God’s tools with unique shapes and sizes, and God is merely asking that we let Him use us today, in this present moment. Today, we Catholic twenty-somethings already have the opportunity to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the breath of the power of God (Wisdom 7:25) amongst our brethren!

May we Catholic twenty-somethings be excited and joyful that the Lord is currently using us, even in our brokenness, frailty, weakness, and hardships, to build His strong and everlasting Kingdom.

battle for your heart

“If they shall not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither should they be persuaded if someone should be risen from the dead” (Gospel reading: Luke 16:31).

Jesus has a good point. If someone hadn’t believed Moses and the prophets– and all of those signs and wonders and miracles and covenants kept!– why should they believe someone has risen from the dead? Moreover, would they ever believe that the Son of God would rise from the dead?

There have been times in my life that Jesus seemed like such a distant reality. His life and His death and His rising didn’t make sense, and it didn’t seem to matter much to me or to my world. But the two things that brought me closer to Him, and to understanding and appreciating His crucifixion and His resurrection, were my sin and my suffering. It was through my wrongdoings and my hardships that I finally began to understand the Cross, and the resurrection into new life that Christ gave me through His Cross!

Satan will constantly try to dissuade us from passionately believing in the saving power of the risen Christ. Satan will constantly try to dissuade us from loving the Cross and from embracing our own crosses. The father of all lies, satan will try to tell us that the Cross is not relevant to this day and age, and that carrying our cross is unnecessary, foolish, idiotic.

Catholic twenty-somethings, we cannot listen to the lies. Let us pray that Christ, He who IS Truth, and not satan (the father of all lies), always wins that every day battle for our heart!

Son of God… and of Man

“Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Gospel reading: Matthew 20:17-28)

I used to be perplexed as to why Jesus, the “Son of God,” also referred Himself as “the Son of Man.” After reading today’s Gospel, however, it all makes much more sense. Jesus is our Son, too, because He has come to serve us!

Although we are called to serve Him as His disciples, to serve Him is our choice. Jesus  came to love without demanding love in return. He gave us the free will to love Him and to follow Him.

Jesus would have still died for us even if not one soul would have loved and followed Him.

Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, shows us that we are to live our lives belonging to God, to others, and lastly, to ourselves. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, shows us that men, too, are to pick up their crosses and follow Him.

Catholic twenty-somethings, in a society where everything revolves around serving ourselves, may we flip the “it’s all about me” mentality of our generation on its head. Like Jesus, may we always strive to serve others before serving ourselves. And may we most especially serve the least amongst us.

Like many of the greatest (and consequently, humblest!) saints, such as St. Faustina and St. Therese, let us always burn with a passionate desire to save souls. Let us remember that like Christ, the Son of Man, our lives are a ransom for many!

loving vs. using

In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 23:1-12), Jesus speaks of the scribes and the Pharisees and warns His disciples not to be like them who “preach… but do not practice” and who “tie up heavy burdens…. lay them on people’s shoulders…. [but will] not lift a finger to move them.” Jesus goes on to say that “all their works are performed to be seen.” Ouch!

We twenty-somethings have grown up in day and age that has trained us to always ask: “Where is this getting me?” and “Is this the best use of my time?”. We’re focused on getting, getting, getting somewhere. And we’re focused on how not to lose, lose, lose time. At all costs. This is our modern world: a fixation on the “me” and the “my.”

As Bl. Pope John Paul II said, we have become increasingly “utilitarian.” Bl. Pope John Paul II also said that the opposite of loving a person is using a person.

When we “love” others only because we want to be praised  or to put something on a resume (“all our works to be seen”), or to feel good about ourselves, or to gain ephemeral pleasure (i.e. sexually, before the “forever” vows of marriage)… is this not using others? Bringing utilitarianism into our relationships is a travesty, and eventually serves as the foundation of the greatest evils against human dignity.

To combat “using,” I must learn how to selflessly give a gift of myself to others! Again, words from Bl. Pope John Paul II. Every day, I pray that I can be purified in my intentions in loving others.

Today’s Mass readings start off with a beautiful entrance antiphon: “Give light to my eyes lest I fall asleep in death, lest my enemy say: I have overcome him,” (Psalm 13(12):4-5). May Christ illuminate our eyes with real love, that we may never succumb to the lies of satan, who has replaced love with “using.”

Filled with the light that is Christ, I hope increasingly to forget, every day, the “me” in love. I want to love even when I receive nothing in return. I want to show others Christ’s love even when I know I will be mocked in return. And I want to love even when it hurts.

As St. Therese of Lisieux said, I am called to the vocation of LOVE. I am called to love God, to love all of the people who exist in my life, to love myself, and to love all of the tasks in my life, big and small, without counting the cost.

Let us pray that every day we may increasingly learn what it is to love genuinely!

an eye for an eye? the whole world would be BLIND.

“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Today’s Gospel reading: Luke 6:36-38.)

These two sentences in the Gospel sound pretty contradictory.

First, take the former sentence: “Give and gifts will be given to you…”. Essentially, the statement goes on to say that if you give, you will not only be given in return; you will be given more in return. What comes back to you will be “overflowing” and “poured into your lap.”

The latter sentence, however, essentially says that how much you give is how much you will get.

So what is Christ trying to say? I believe that in the former sentence, He is saying that while our neighbor does not pay us back, He will pay us back in His grace and His blessings. Christ will reward us, and if not in this life, then in the next. In the latter sentence, Christ is saying that how we treat others, and the love in which we measure out to them, should be equivalent to how we wish to be treated and loved. Our neighbor may never love us back in return, but if we look to the former sentence, Christ will always love us, and bless us back abundantly!

Ultimately, we are called to love others with as much mercy as that with which Christ loves us. No more of this “an eye for an eye” rubbish to which many in our generation ascribe! As Khalil Gibran said: “An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”

Catholic twenty-somethings, we need to be revolutionary in our love and in our mercy. Christ came to bring love and mercy, not vengeance. And in being merciful like Christ, there will come great reward. Perhaps not from human beings nor in this life, but surely from God and in the life to come!

the Holy Spirit: the Forgotten One?

In today’s Gospel reading (Mark 9:2-10), I find it most interesting that Peter is referred to as “hardly knowing what to say” because he and James and John were “so terrified”! What is most profound is how right after a “cloud came, casting a shadow over them,” the disciples hear God the Father say: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” At that moment, the disciples’ hearts were transformed from being filled with fear into being filled with awe!  The “cloud” that came over them was the Holy Spirit, and only He had the power to  turn their fear into understanding– and consequently, awe!

The Holy Spirit, the Third Divine Person of the Holy Trinity, is often overlooked. Yet only by the Holy Spirit are we able to profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God with our lips (1 Corinthians 12:3)!

Many times in my life, most especially when I am afraid like these disciples were while witnessing the Transfiguration of Christ, I pray to the Holy Spirit. I ask the Holy Spirit to kindle Himself in my heart. I know that when I am afraid, that is when I need Him the most– because it is my fear that is holding me back from something glorious in my life… something awe-some!

When I fear anything in my life, including letting God draw me nearer, it means that God is calling me trust in Him, to throw myself into that cloud that is His Holy Spirit, that He may have His way in me and my life!

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

I have a Daddy and a Mommy in Heaven!

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father…” (Gospel reading: Matthew 5:43-48).

It is always so refreshing and hopeful to see young children who are reverent at Mass and at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Every little bit of their will may be super antsy, and yet these kids and tots are still able to retain their composure– and even pray sometimes! “Their parents must be such wonderful, loving, disciplining parents!” we may think in awe.

Yet we often forget our own Heavenly Parents.

We have a perfect Heavenly Father, and we show that we are His children when we imitate His perfect love. May we always go out of our way to love as He loves, even when every little bit of our will may be super weary.

We also have a Heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the most pure, humble, tender, and gentle woman that ever walked this earth!

Let us always retain the life of Christ (grace!) within us, for it was only Christ who was the Son of God and the Son of Mary! As children of Our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, let us pray for those we do not like and for whom we have no interest. In doing so, we will show how wonderful, loving, and demanding (of purity of heart!) our own Heavenly Father and Holy Mother Mary are!

People will see God the Father and Mother Mary in us, and stand in awe of our capacity to love. Little do they know that we only give love like this because we have first received such love from our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother!

By God were made in love, to receive love and in turn to give love! What joy!