Oxymorons and Serendipity

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When something man-made breaks down,
that is usually the end of the useful life of that object,
be it a piece of furniture, a toy, an electronic gadget or a car.

When something in nature (that is, God-made) breaks down or dies,
something new and more wonderful comes out of the destruction or the decay.
A seed falls to the ground, dies and then a new plant sprouts out of the decay.
Leaves fall and rot and out of the rot comes new soil that will nurture new life forms.
Stars explode and new stars are born.
And out of the stellar dust comes the mud from which man has been formed.

Indeed, if God can create something out of nothing,
He can transform our weaknesses and shortcomings
into the fullness of our being.
Thus, the last becomes first and the poor have their fill.
He transformed the cross from being ultimate sign of defeat
into the eternal symbol of victory.

“Behold, I make all things new.”
for out of human weakness, pain and suffering will spring eternal life.

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To Sacrifice is To Give Up & Give It Away

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Lent is a time of sacrifices, of giving away and offering up of pleasures and possessions.

There is something about material possessions that warp that human soul and distorts it’s values. Even in death and in the afterlife, the rich man still considered Lazarus his servant. He would have him come and cross the great divide between them just to quench and cool his tongue. He would have him go and tell his brothers to repent.

In todays’ world, it is difficult for me to understand why people who have already more than enough would want still more. Or, why would people cling on to things they do not need but which other people do. Why does it seem that there is no limit to people wanting more and more.

And real sacrifice is not only giving up but also giving away. It makes no sense to give up chocolates for Lent and then binge on them in Easter. It is not meritorious to give shopping in Lent only to be able to save money for a luxury purchase later on. It is not really a sacrifice to fast only because one wants to lose weight. Whatever is saved from not eating chocolates or not going on a shopping spree or staying away from food should be given away to those who need.

When it comes to material possessions and relating to others, there is great wisdom in the spirituality that tells us that it is giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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Following Christ

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“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

Christ’s teachings and the life he lived have been so counter-cultural and radical;
it was no surprise that the powers that be had his crucified.
He was a such a huge de-stabilizer of their comfort zones.

Even today, in our culture of crass materialism and hedonistic pleasure-seeking,
many still reject him.
But for the many that also have accepted him,
they have seen glimpses and created patches of heaven here on earth.

In my own life, I have found my greatest joys in being with and for others,
in doing good and serving them.
I have had my most miserable moments
when i was totally engrossed with myself
and only with my needs and wants.

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Remember, Man

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It is Ash Wednesday.
A day to be reminded that we are but dust in the wind.
And the wind will eventually blow us back to dust.
Some would celebrate that we are indeed but dust,
But we are glorious stardust.
And that’s the rub.

We dream of the stars and reach for the heavens.
And man has gone a long way from caves to today’s cities.
But man, for all the goodness in him, can fall prey
to wickedness and perversions of tragic proportions.

We see lawmakers and government official
who in their hubris think they are above the law.
Laws are for everyone else but do not apply to them.
And worse, there are no laws that apply to them

There are priests and religious
who in their self-righteousness believe they are beyond sinning.
Just because they “left everything to follow their call”,
they think they are entitled to just about everything.

There are businessmen and entrepreneurs
who in their greed and selfishness see everything,
and often everyone, as theirs for the taking.
They find nothing wrong owning more that what they need
And the rest have to content themselves with crumbs from their table.

In prayer, I humbly acknowledge that I am not immune to such tendencies
and fervently ask to lead me not into temptation
but to deliver me from all evil.

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Imagine Generosity

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Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; 

Imagine a world where there is no more hunger nor poverty,
for we have the resources to end hunger and poverty.

teach me to serve you as you deserve, 

Imagine people giving out of their fullness but also their emptiness
for if we dig deep enough into ourselves we will always have something to give.

to give and not to count the cost,

Imagine a world where there is no more inequality nor want,
for there are many people working and yearning to make this happen.

to fight and not to heed the wounds, 

Imagine the world with no more wars nor conflict
for men have the capacity to live with one another in peace.

to toil and not to seek for rest, 

Imagine the world where everyone shares in the blessings poured on us everyday
for we have more than enough talents and resources to make our world a paradise.

to labor and not to seek reward, 

Imagine heaven on earth and hell is banished and vanished forever.
But there will always be tears and heartaches even as man seeks for perfection.

except that of knowing that I do your will. 

Amen.

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Tantum Quantum

There is something intrinsically immoral when eight, just eight, persons own more assets and resources than the lower fifty percent of the world’s population. there is something inherently unjust in a situation that would allow just ten percent of people to possess as much as the ninety percent. There is something debasing and corrupting about owning more than what one really needs to live and be happy. Once, we are trapped in or enslaved by possessions, it is very difficult to break away from them. Indeed, in today’s Gospel, Christ warns us: “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Ignatius of Loyola found an effective way of breaking away from the shackles of riches and possessions. He chose to be indifferent and detached from them. He looked at resources and possessions merely as a means to attaining his higher and loftier goals.
Tantum quantum. He used them only in as much as they helped him achieved his goals – that of doing Gods will for him.

Christ’s admonition to the rich young man was also an example of tantum quantum: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement, the face of the rich young man fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. We also walk away from Christ when we refuse to help those in need because it would mean giving some of our riches away. We also walk away when we deny others our time because it would mean less time to be enjoying our possessions. We also walk away when we keep more than we need because whatever we keep that we don’t need we deny these of those who truly are in need.

 

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My Sunday Morning Coffee

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If I spill the cup I am holding and it contains coffee,
I would spill coffee and not chocolate nor tea.
In the same way, if my heart is filled with goodness,
the goodness spills into my actions and words.
And if my heart is full of evil,
evil words spill out of my mouth.
“For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

The evil I see in others is often the evil we hate most in myself.
To save my ego, I project what I hate most in myself to others.
This way, I save myself the pain of confronting the evil in me
and instead criticize it in others in my delusional self-righteousness.
“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?”

Nothing like a good coffee to perk me up on a Sunday morning
And realize the evil person percolating within me
To choose not to be critical for I am more in need of redemption that others
To choose to speak out of whatever goodness there is in my heart.

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