Saturday, March 28, 2015


Palm Sunday 2015

Today is commonly known as Palm Sunday. The celebration of the Paschal Mystery begins with commemorating the triumphal entrance of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem amidst songs and praises by the people who greeted Him shouting: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

Why is it called “Palm Sunday”? What has a “palm” anything to do with Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection? The drama of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery involves a lot of symbolism. “Palm” is one of these symbols. Contemplate on this powerful imagery: from the “palms” of olive branches or palm trees that we hold on Palm Sunday through the “palms” of our sinful hands that symbolize our wicked deeds to the “palms” of Jesus nailed on the cross, -- in all these we experience God’s love for us!

The Palms of Praise. Today, we carry branches of olive or palm trees and we greet Jesus, in the image of the priest, as He enters the sanctuary. The “palms” recall the palm branches that the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. But actually, the palms symbolize the attitude of praising God.

To praise and worship God is our first obligation because it is the reason for our being, the motive behind our existence. Why do we exist in this world? To know and love God. To praise and worship Him all the days of our lives. Our life is heaven is a life without end praising and worshipping God unceasingly. If we want to enter heaven, we have to practice it here on earth by offering continual praise and worship to God.

How do we praise and worship God? Through our good works! More than just bringing palms to the Church today, what pleases God are not the physical “palms” that you carry and wave, but your heart that is full of praise and gratitude to Him. So, let a clean and contrite heart, a repentant and grateful heart, be your “palm branches” today, as you stand before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Be grateful to God. Be sorry for your sins. In thanking God and in asking pardon, you praise and worship Him. That’s the “Palms of Praise” that is pleasing to God!

The Palms of our Sins. The Prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading, describes the painful experience of the Suffering Servant in these words: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” Our attention is focused now on the actions beat, pluck and buffet. What do they have in common? One thing: they are done using the palm of our hands! We beat someone using our palm; we pluck someone’s beard using our palm; we attack someone with buffets using our palm. Our “palm” symbolizes our offenses against God. How many times we have beaten God’s will by following our own will, or plucked the beard of His patience, or attacked with buffets His goodness through our sinful acts?

The people who carried the “Palms of Praise” during the triumphal entry of Jesus are the same people who “beat Him, plucked His beard and buffeted Him” using the “Palms of their Sinfulness” during the Passion! Beware of converting your pious devotion a source of self-righteousness that makes you judgmental of other people’s weakness! Just because you are doing God’s will should not be a reason for you to despise others in their defects! Beware of self-righteousness and vanity!

The Palms of Jesus Nailed on the Cross. In order to avoid self-righteousness and vanity, let us always be aware of the “Palm of our Sinfulness”. But let us look at our palms filled with sinful acts side by side with the “Palms of Jesus nailed on the cross!” When you look at yourself in your sinfulness, you might also cry out, like in the Responsorial Psalm, “My God, why have you abandoned me?”

Sometimes, when we see that our sins are repeated, we think that we are a hopeless case. We say to ourselves: “I won’t go to confession anymore, because I still commit the same favourite sin again and again”. But do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. God does not abandon us in our sinfulness. Instead, when He saw the “palms of our sins”, He placed on the side the bloody “palms of Jesus”, nailed on the cross. Jesus, who, as the Second Reading reminds us, “was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God; rather, He emptied Himself… by becoming obedient even to death on a cross”.

So, do not be ashamed or afraid to confront your “palms of sins” as you carry the “palms of praise” this Palm Sunday, because the “Palms of Jesus nailed on the cross” will wash away your sins through His blood. And you will indeed offer a worthy praise and worship to God, the Father, through Him, in your good works. In order to do that, follow the path of the P-A-L-M-S, that is:

PPraise God in your charitable works.
A Allow God to change you this Holy Week.
LLower your pride so that His grace can penetrate.
MMake room for others in your heart.
SSubmit your will to God’s will.

Have a Blessed Palm Sunday to all!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jesus purifies our hearts through His Cross

3rd Sunday of Lent: Purification of the Temple

“Jesus did not need anyone to testify about human nature, for he knew what was in man.”

Jesus knows what is in the depth of our hearts. St. Augustine says God knows us better than we know ourselves because He is nearer to us than we to ourselves. He is our creator; that is why He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Jesus comes into our hearts today, especially during the Holy Communion, in the same way that, in the Gospel, He enters the Temple in Jerusalem. St. Paul reminds us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas Aquinas also says that when we are in a state of grace, the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – resides in our heart as in a temple.

What will Jesus find in your heart? Will He find “the temple of the Blessed Trinity – the Father’s house – turned into a marketplace”? Will Jesus find “bad business” inside the temple of your heart? When we sin, we exchange God’s gift with things that don’t have value: sensual pleasures, selfish interests, pride. When we exchange the most valuable gem – God’s grace, friendship with God – with things that worth nothing – a passing pleasure, – that is bad business. There is disorder.

St. Josemaria said: “The world, the flesh and the devil are a band of adventurers who take advantage of the weakness of that savage you bear within you, and want you to hand over to them, in exchange for the glittering tinsel of a pleasure — which is worth nothing, — the pure gold and the pearls and the diamonds and rubies drenched in the life— blood of your God Redeemer, which are the price and the treasure of your eternity.” (The Way, 708).

Jesus enters into our hearts. And if He finds disorder there, He will “make a whip of cord” and knock over the tables of our pride, all the animal instincts craving for illicit pleasures and all the bestiality that we carry within. Jesus will purify the temple of our body from all impurities and will restore our hearts as the place of dwelling of the Blessed Trinity. But the question is: Will you allow Jesus to do that? Will you not act like the Jews in the Gospel asking Jesus: “What right have you to do this?” Indeed, on what authority would Jesus intervene in our lives? Jesus has all the rights to do that because He is our creator and redeemer.

Purification of our hearts also means “putting order into chaos”. In the First Reading, when God gave to the Israelites the Ten Commandments through Moses, God was trying to put order into chaos. Our human experience tells us that whenever we see disorder in our things, in our home, in our behavior, we immediately make rules, guidelines and policies. This is also true in our spiritual life: whenever we see disorder in our relationship with God and with our neighbors, let us put order by following God’s commandment of love. St. James in his letter said that one act of charity covers a multitude of sins (Cfr. James 5: 20). One act of love will put order into chaos. Are there lots of disorder and chaos in your life, in your relationships? Put order. Follow the commandment of love.

Lastly, purification of the heart passes through the way of the Cross. Jesus makes “whip of cords” and the Temple was cleansed of defilement. He does the same with us. He allows us to pass through pain and suffering in order to purify us. Sufferings can be a means of purification. “Things that hurt instruct”. We may ask: How can suffering purify our hearts?

St. Paul, in the Second Reading, tells us that the cross is foolishness to the Gentiles, a scandal to the Jews. But “the ‘foolishness’ of God is wiser than humans, and the ‘weakness’ of God is stronger than humans”. The Cross is God’s wisdom and strength – His instrument in purifying us. Suffering and pain “draws us apart from worldly cares and brings us closer to God”. This is God’s wisdom: the only way we can get closer to God is by taking us apart from ourselves, from worldly cares. Pain and suffering – the Cross does this! How do you accept the trials and discomfort of everyday life?

Jesus knows the depths of our hearts better. He knows our defects and impurities and He tries to purify them through the blood of His cross. But He makes us also pass through the way of the cross in order to cleanse us. He knows that we will grow more mature and more intimate with Him if we follow the Via Crucis.

Therefore, let us cooperate with God’s wisdom, with God’s way of purifying our hearts this Lenten season through the practices of sacrifices and self-denial. May the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany us and obtain for us more graces from Her Son. Amen.

"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.