Destined And Chosen for God

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Our consumer society today shows us that we have to buy things now, and buy them in bulk to beat prices, without thinking that tomorrow has its own needs. Advertisements tell us that companies have the best products in the world, and all are number one in quality and in production, and they do not consider that things and people grow old. Stores can make their presentations attractive that make our eyes bigger than our houses, our stomachs and our kitchens. They can be so appealing that it’s easy for people to open wide their purses and swipe their cards fast, yet find themselves difficult to open their hearts to the plight of the needy.

Our consumer society today also promotes all kinds of insurances, from life and property to intellectual rights. So, we have to work so that we can retire, thus lose the enjoyment and meaning of our work and the stamina of our youthfulness. We get life insurance only to die and not see the benefits of our contributions. We are happy to have accident and health insurance, and lose personal care how we drive our cars and how much we eat and exercise. What about our eternal life insurance?

Popular culture tells us that artificial contraceptives are good devices and beneficial to all, that abortion is a human right, that sexual promiscuity and self-indulgence are healthy human behaviors, that marriage of the same sex is just as good and true as marriage of a man and woman, that killing of human embryos to harvest their stem cells is praiseworthy. Yes, today’s world is too comfortable with lies and very uncomfortable with truth. Many would rather live comfortably without God than live uncomfortably with truth and with God. Even Amos, who was a simple shepherd and a dresser of sycamores, was rejected by the priest of Bethel, because Amos was proclaiming the message of God. Adam and Eve were promised by the devil a life like gods. We tend to accept more the popular rather than what can form our consciences to the truth and things of God.

In his letter to the Ephesians St. Paul proclaims:

  1. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens…. He chose us in him…. to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph 1:3-4). We have all the blessings to live here on earth and in heaven. Yet we become so attached to this world that we find it difficult to follow Jesus towards the Father through our responsibilities and relationships. We are seasonal pray-ers. We pray only when we find the time, not aware that our time is God’s gift to us. We easily find our way to gossiping, unaware that we ourselves are full of weaknesses and sins. We are short tempered and proud, unaware that life is too short for anger and pride. We are lazy, thus making ourselves susceptible playground of the devil. Only in Christ can we bring back the blessings of the Father for us as chosen people, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
  1. “In love He destined us for….Himself through Jesus Christ…. In Him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions…. In Him we were also chosen…. so that we might exist for the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:4-6). {Imagine a criminal attempt to murder a king. He is arrested and thrown down in the dungeon. He can only be grateful for being alive. Now, imagine that the king shows up in prison, walks into his cell and tells the prisoner that he can go free. Surprised and overjoyed he leaves his cell, only to find out the king is locked inside. Shocked, the guard explains that the king took the punishment on himself so that he could have another chance to live. Then the joyful criminal is greeted by an official who leads him to a beautiful and well furnished room with access to the king’s palace. That would be a very generous king, to do so much for a criminal who tried to murder him (cf. epriest, July 12, 2009).} Have we imagined well? That is an image of what God has done for us. The Father sent Jesus to the world to redeem us, to make us His children and share in the joy of His kingdom.

Today let us renew our trust and commitment to God. Let us make prayer a priority in our life. Prayer, though, is not particularly when we talk, but when we make God present and when we listen to Him. Let us make the Sacraments, especially the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, important devotions in our life. And let us chose our friends who can lead us closer to the Lord through words and actions, in our responsibilities and relationships. As we strive to be holy, let us ask our Mother Mary, always to lead us to Her Son Jesus, who gives us strength in the face of temptations and authority over unclean spirits.

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Facing Life’s Challenges In Faith

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The readings today bring beautiful and important situations we may consider:

a) In the first reading, God says to Ezekiel: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me…. whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them” (Ez 2:2-5). The Israelites underwent a crisis of faith which they could not control mainly because they were looking at and admiring the way of life and worship of their neighboring nations. So the Lord always had to put them to the test.

b) In the Gospel, Jesus tells the Jews: A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mk 6:4). The Jews, residents of Nazareth and fellow countrymen of Jesus, were experiencing a deeper crisis of faith when Jesus appeared and became too much for them. They could not believe that someone could be better than they were, and that Jesus was talking with authority. They refused to listen, to believe and to love their own. The Jews were very jealous that they even had to refer to Him as “this man,” “the carpenter” and “son of Mary.”

c) In the second reading, the Lord tells Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul also underwent a crisis, but a crisis that led him to accept Jesus to be the power of, in and behind his preaching, and the grace of God the moving factor of his life. In his weakness the power of God would be made manifest, the Kingdom of God realized, and God’s Will done on earth as in heaven. Paul’s grace was to suffer for the Kingdom of God.

The greatest critics in our life are the ones closest to us: our family, relatives, neighbors, people we relate with almost every day. Jealousy and violent reactions happen because of a relationship that is selfish. We do not want somebody to be better than us. We want to manipulate everyone according to our standard. We cannot accept a person as he is.

This is one big crisis that we experience. Many times we cannot accept Jesus because we want Him to be and to do things according to our desires and standard. We want Him to turn around when we do something wrong, especially our favorite sins. We want Him to see us when we do something good. It’s hard for us to be open because we do not want to expose our weaknesses and our sins even to God.

We are asked to pray and be watchful against attitudes that are against the examples and commands of Jesus. In Jesus, who is the Savior of the world and King of all, we cannot remain possessively selfish and proud egoists; neither can we keep our minds and hearts so small for the love of God. God gave us a big heart enough to accept Him and His Kingdom.

It takes a great amount of humility and knowledge of self to know and accept Jesus. It is easy to fall into the trap of being like the unbelieving Jews. We are so distracted with many philosophies, with our own ideas and with products media bring to us. Remember that humility has a root word in Latin that means earth or soil. If we disregard our origin that from dust we came and to dust we shall return, knowledge of Jesus, who is divine yet became human for our salvation, will only be superficial, and knowledge and love of our neighbor will also be foreign to us. As Jesus and neighbor can be one, we can also ask the same similar selfish questions: who is this that comes into my life? Where did he get his wisdom and style? Thus, to know Jesus and to love Him just as we love our neighbor is to know self and realize our origin and our destination.

Mary also underwent a crisis in accepting her motherhood of Jesus, who became for us the Eucharist that we now celebrate, but she left everything in the hands of God and proclaimed: be it done to me according to your word. Before Holy Communion we humbly pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Let us ask Jesus and Mary to give us the courage and fortitude to face life’s challenges. With these gifts of courage and fortitude we can be faithful to the commands of God, for only Jesus can turn our crises into opportunities of life and joy, and with Him we can make a big difference in this world for the Glory of God and for the good of his people.

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The Power of Humility

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

1. Media has been storming us with ways to live and with things to acquire. Among the many things that media bombard us with are the following:

a) We should work hard, have more money, gather more properties, so that we will be happy now and plan to retire. So, we should work for 12 to 16 hours a day so that we can retire and fill our house with things. And when the house is full we put what we think are unimportant things in the garage and park our car outside.

b) We should always look physically attractive and find ways to extend our life. So, we should get all kinds of beauty and anti-aging products, so as not to miss any good one, (to add a year to our life?).

c) We should expose our accomplishments and project our status in the community, so that everyone will know us, respect us and give credit to us. So, we tell everybody what we have and what we have done (till their ears bleed).

2. The two stories in the Gospel today tell us that we have to recognize our need for help, that we need to accept the power of God over life, and that we have to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

Jairus was a synagogue leader. His position could make him proud, and for his companions, seeking the help of a carpenter’s son would be a shameful situation. But at this point, he recognized his need for help from someone greater than he was. He was not aloof or skeptical, unlike the Pharisees, but humbly fell at the feet of Jesus and pleaded: “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live” (Mk 5:21ff). His faith gave him hope and brought back the life of his daughter.

The woman with hemorrhage was not getting any better, and spent all her savings. She was not influential. Her long suffering could bring despair. But at this point, with shame because she was unclean and afraid of the people who could drive her away, she made her crucial wish: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured” (cf. Mk 5:21ff). So it happened.

Their humility made Jesus turn around and heed their plea. Despite the seeming hopeless situation, Jesus strengthened them in their weakness and enlightened them in their darkness. Here we see the powerlessness of men and the power of faith.

They also showed their courage, not because they had something to show off, but only because with their prayer and faith, they could face their fears and deal with their situation. With their willingness to take Jesus into their lives and with their courage to face their fears did they realize the great power of faith that could bring back to them health and life.

3. Like the Disciples, many times we are indifferent to what’s happening around us. We also say: “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?” (cf. Mk 5:25ff). We think we are getting close to Jesus, while all the time in our words and actions we drive people away from Christ and the Church. But just like Jairus and the woman, we can also approach Jesus through the following:

a) The sacraments. When we kneel before the priest at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we allow God’s mercy to flow into our hearts. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we fill ourselves with God’s life. When the priest anoints the sick, he brings down the healing power of God. The Sacrament of Confirmation allows the Holy Spirit to come with all His gifts. At baptism we accept a person into the Church. In Matrimony, man and woman confirm their love in the Blessed Trinity. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Church ordains priests as ministers of the blessings God has for His people.

b) Our relationships. When we are obedient to one another because of our love for God, we bring in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, as well as the love of our Mother Mary, to shine not only in our families, but also in the whole world.

c) Our service to the poor. At the end of time, everyone will face God, and will hear the words: “whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did to Me; whatever you did not do to the least of My brothers you did not do to Me.”

d) Our prayers. In prayer we get in touch with our God and with ourselves. In prayer we allow the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to work in us, so that we can exercise our capacities in the wisdom of God.

May the healing power of God remain with you always.

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The Word in Our Life

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The era of the Apostles was no different from our time today. People then worshiped stars, the human body and the unknown. They worshiped stars and worldly things as if they were solutions to problems and difficulties. They worshipped the human body as if it were the only pleasure in the world. The worshipped the unknown as if it would protect them from their fears. Today people worship technology, progress, wealth and power as if they will stay forever in this world.

God showed Job that He (God) was always in control of all things and was the refuge of people who humbly come to Him. He questioned Job:

Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb?… I set limits for it…. and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

God still shows us the same condition. We can also ask ourselves related questions. Has money solved the problems about money? Love of money is still the root of all evil. Did any bailout solve the problems of the economy? Consent to abuse of money and bailout have heightened the abuse of access to money. Have the popularization of contraception and the pro-choice movement and the legalization of abortion solved the problems of population and the rights of women and of the family? Popularization of contraception has only fostered promiscuity, and abortion has degraded man and woman into instruments of commerce and sexual abuse. Has the legalization of marriage of the same sex solved issues on constitutional rights? It has degraded the dignity of marriage.  Have wars solved differences among nations? They have perpetuated killing of innocent people, made the production of weapons a lucrative business and made the strong more arrogant. (And many others.)

At all times the Word of God brought about order into the world. At creation the Word of God brought life to the world and to man. The Word of God stopped Abraham from killing his son as sacrifice to prove His fidelity, and promised him innumerable descendants. The Word of God broke the bonds of the Israelites and brought them out of Egypt. The Word of God split open the sea so that the Israelites could be liberated from the Egyptians. (And many more.) The Word of God was born to us at Bethlehem, performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead and promised eternal life to all who would remain faithful. In the Gospel today, the Word of Jesus calmed the sea and calmed the fear of His Disciples.

In our highly technological society, we need to learn to accept our fears and limitations and our dependence on God. Progress, technology and science are not gods. They crash. But we tend to see them as OUR creation and we become very dependent on them. They have become so attractive that they become for us the modern temptation of Adam and Eve who were seduced by the devil that they would become gods. Progress and technology have become imbedded in our lives, just as we glorify advertisements, movies and TV scripts, and other campaigns that idolize them. And as they crash, we also crash.

God continues to give us opportunities to recognize Him as God and to realize that we are creatures and should be dependent on Him. He gives us all the opportunities in our responsibilities and relationships, in hardships and trials, in aspirations and inspirations. Just like the Apostles in the boat, it is going to Jesus that we discover the greatness of our life and the power of His blessings. It is in being faithful to Him, despite the difficulties we experience, that we can calm the storms of our life. It is in our love for Jesus as we see Him in the light of His revelation of the Father that we can walk according to His ways.

In prayer, we come to Jesus, and Jesus comes to us and works in us and through us. It is the school where we learn the beauty and wisdom of God’s suffering for love of us. Prayer is an exercise that strengthens us in faith, hope and love for Him. Prayer also opens our hearts to the needy and the suffering, as they are instruments of our salvation. For at the last judgment, the Son of man will say: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

We thank the Lord for the Eucharist, for He fills us with the power of His Words and the vitality of His Body and Blood, so that we are able to carry our crosses in life and face God in His glory.

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The Seed

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

In the parable of the Kingdom, because His Word is the only powerful force in this world that brings salvation, He makes us realize that real strength comes from within. Any power or aid to power coming from outside the person, organization or nation is only temporary. Aid to a person’s need, unless he’s incapacitated, will soon end, for only he and his God-given capacities can create an impact that will last. Aid to an organization to develop itself will soon end so that its members will progress and realize its vision. Aid to a nation will have to end, or it will lose its independence and its ability to develop its own potentials.

The parable of Jesus shows us His power in our growth as Christians:

  1. The power of the seed. No one has any power over a seed to grow unless placed in proper conditions, usually in the ground, (unless grown in a laboratory). No matter how small, it explodes silently from within and brings about life that makes it useful. The Word of God planted in the hearts of men cannot but burst forth to the world in order for the world to recognize its Creator, thus give life not only to one person but to all in the Kingdom of God.
  2. The power of the tree trunk. Jesus says, Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:4-5).
  3. The power of the fruit. The fruit manifests the nature of the tree. Jesus says, By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit…. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. (Mt 7:16-20).
  4. The power of the land. The earth is a very quiet and ever accepting of all creation. It does not complain. It is not arrogant. It only receives whatever is given, and makes use of it to generate power and life, whatever it is, moss, weeds, trees, worms, crickets, etc. And many have walked this land/earth to proclaim the Kingdom of God:                                      a) By faith and for the sake of the kingdom, Abraham walked to the land of Moriah to sacrifice his son to the Lord and received the promise of fatherhood in faith of all believers;                                                                                                                                              b) By faith and for the sake of the kingdom, Mary accepted the words of the Angel to be the Mother of God. She walked to the land of Judah to visit her cousin Elizabeth to proclaim God’s visit to His people;                                                                                                       c) By faith and for the sake of the Kingdom, Joseph walked with Mary to Bethlehem to register and providentially witnessed the birth of the Savior of the world;             d) By faith and for the sake of the Kingdom, the Apostles and many missionaries walked many lands to preach and proclaim God’s Kingdom;                                                             e) By faith and for the sake of the kingdom, many who seek peace tread paths to their relatives, friends and neighbors to bring forgiveness, show compassion or perform works of charity and mercy;                                                                                                       f) By faith and for the sake of the Kingdom, we strive to be faithful to the commands of God as we walk in this “valley of tears” to the Promised Land in Heaven where He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Rev 21:4). In many situations of love and life, we tread the land of our hearts for God’s love to grow and His Kingdom to spread, to receive God’s light, and for His children to bear fruit, fruit that will last. So the Holy Father announced the Year of the Faith from October 2012 so that God’s Kingdom would grow.

Thus, when we work, we acquire its discipline and participate in God’s creation of His Kingdom for the good of all. When we study, we acquire its discipline, so that we can develop our intellect and be prepared to teach in word and in deed the presence and the glory of God. When we pray, we acquire its discipline and are able to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow God to work in and through us so as to live according to His Will. When we respect and are obedient to legitimate authority and relationships, we reflect the life of Jesus who was obedient to His Father and sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify us. When we do works of charity, we bring the compassion of the Lord who served His people instead of being served, and proclaim His presence in the Church and in our families. When we teach and make disciples of all nations, we obey His command, and as we celebrate the Eucharist, we come as a Church to the table of the Lord and to proclaim His death and resurrection until He comes again. With Mother Mary may we come to serve Jesus more faithfully everyday.

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Build Up Your Neighbor

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. If it is not pulled backwards in the bow, it will not fly to hit the target. So, let us go back a little bit. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit of the tree that was forbidden them to eat; and at that very moment that they ate, they realized that they had done something wrong. Because of that, they did not want to see God or be seen by God. Why? Because a disobedient sinner cannot face God at any time.

We cannot just seek to satisfy temporally the desire of our eyes, for the eyes are the window of the heart, or the cravings of our heart, for the heart is the tabernacle of the Most High, or the urges of our bodies, for our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. All things are directed for the good of all to build faith and hope in men and women to grow in the spirit of gratitude, and directed always for the greater glory of God (cf. 2Cor 4:15).

Now we shoot the arrow bullseye on our target for Christian living: obedience to the will of God. Jesus would then say: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:33-35). Christian life is not about material things, for they perish. It is not a matter of convenience because the latter is temporary. It is not about personal preferences that we can even lose the sense of sin, for it is God’s preference and command to obey Him, to love one another and to serve the needy.

We have a saying: Small minds discuss people, great minds discuss ideas. Unsuccessful people see the problems, and think and dwell on them. Successful people see the problems and think of solutions. The former is a drain and burden to their companions, the latter, advantage and benefit to his companions, and uplifting to leadership in the group.

So, to be great and successful Christians we have to know ourselves, control ourselves and give ourselves for others for their good and for the greater glory of God. How? By a life of generosity, attitude of humility (thinking of others as greater than you are), and a life of purpose that actually gives energy to ourselves and to others.

In your relationship with others, build them up, be slow to bring up your own agenda, slow to moralize on every statement and situation, and allow them to express themselves in words and in deeds. Then, the Lord will not ask you, “Where are you,” for you are in Him, just as the others are in him, and we are one in Him and because of Him. Be kind and understanding, put yourself in the shoes of the other person; and the patience that maybe too elusive will follow you all the days of your life.

When somebody​ makes a suggestion or makes a statement, unless it is explicitly morally wrong, don’t immediately disagree. Consider it. Think about it. Discuss it with somebody, if necessary. There’s always something good in suggestions. When you disagree immediately, you bar yourself from further communication. That makes you a close-minded person, and open only for things that soothe you. Always think that the other person has different background and experience. Say you’ll consider it. To consider does not necessarily mean you like it or you don’t like it. Remember, you don’t have the monopoly of information, knowledge, and experience. Treat people with the dignity of having intellect. Then you can practice the humility and gentleness of accepting people as they are.

Consider now the way of light: Accept as a blessing whatever comes your way in the knowledge that nothing ever happens without God’s concurrence. Avoid duplicity in thought or in word, for such deception is a deadly snare.

Share with your neighbor whatever you have, and do not say of anything, this is mine. If you both share an imperishable treasure, how much more must you share what is perishable. Do not be hasty in speech; the mouth is a deadly snare. For your soul’s good, make every effort to live chastely. Do not hold out your hand for what you can get, only to withdraw it when it comes to giving. Cherish as the apple of your eye anyone who speaks to you of the word of the Lord (from a letter attributed to Barnabas, The Way of Light).

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Jesus, the Gift of the Father

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (B)

It is inspiring that the Israelites proclaimed, All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do” (cf. Ex24:7). But we know they did not follow through with this. Nevertheless this proclamation really was rooted on the following:

a) God’s love is immeasurable. God initiated this relationship of obedience with His people to show them that He loved them and so they would remain in Him. The Israelites could not take any credit on what they had, on what they could do and on what they were, because everything was God’s blessing to them as a people. Only in obedience as a people to God could they worship and love Him. And obedience to God was their only course to enter the Promised Land.

 b) God’s graciousness is unquestionable. God was humble enough to come to a renewed relationship with a sinful people. Despite the unworthiness of the offering of animals, God accepted them in the hope that His people would open their hearts and remain faithful to Him. His humility was His gift to them so that they would not be lost forever.

 c) God’s fidelity is unsurpassable. He was so generous to forgive the transgressions of the Israelites, and granted them back the privilege to be His people, which they lost repeatedly by worshipping other gods, for as the Psalms tell us: the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Ps 145:8).

 On our part, we learn the following:

a) Obedience and humility are God’s gifts to us for our salvation. We look up to Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). St. Paul exhorts us to remain obedient and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to be blameless and innocent and to shine like lights in the world.

 b) God’s humility in sending His Son to us is His gift to us, in order that we will not be lost forever due to our sins. In our responsibilities and relationships we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, for if we only talk about it, we are like sounding cymbals. St. John says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil” (Jn 3:17-19).

 c) God possesses everything and does not need anything, nor can we pay Him for anything. He only wants to share His joy and blessings with His children. He even sent His Son to redeem us from the evil one. Our fidelity to God rests on our obedience to His commands and on faithfulness to our work and our relationships. St. Paul in his letter to Titus says, “They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:2-7).

 The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ will have meaning only in the understanding that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and living tabernacles of the Lord. As we receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, let us commit ourselves to become His living tabernacles that will open to His people the only begotten Son of God from whom flow rivers of blessings and graces in our words and actions. From the celebration of the Eucharist we bring Jesus to all we meet, in our responsibilities and in our relationships. With Mary, who was the first tabernacle of the living God, let us become more conscious of the presence of Jesus in us, let us “pray without ceasing,” avoid harsh words that sadden the Holy Spirit, work for the promotion of peace and development, and foster an environment of love filled with God’s graces.

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