Custom Search

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Via Dolorosa 3/14...Jesus Falls The First Time

The next few days in Lent, we journey with Jesus, Who "went out, carrying His cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha" (John 19:17).  I pray that every step of this journey will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, NAB)

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he 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.” (Philippians 2:6-8, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

O Jesus, the path you must journey to Golgotha is not easy, uphill, downhill, rocky paths, the crowd mocking, the soldiers whipping, cursing, and swearing.

Dear Jesus, after all the scourging, flogging, beatings and sleepless hours, you must have been terribly exhausted.  The weight from the beams of the Cross against your open-wound shoulders must have been bitterly painful.

Blood oozing from your head pierced by the crown of thorns, kept on blinding your view. You cannot see your chosen disciples, your mother, your friends, people you have healed…

Suddenly, your knees failed you and you collapsed, the entire weight of the Cross crushed your flesh and bones. Your face smashed the dusty ground; the wounds on your body tore open.

O, the pain Jesus has to bear for the love of his people…the Cross he has to carry.  The soldiers and crowd continue to ridicule, jeer and taunt him as he struggled to pick himself up…  Everyone watched but no one helped. What have we done to our King?

Quiet Pondering:

Jesus, my Lord, everything you have taught, everything you have preached, everything you have shown and shared…was somehow simply not returned to you during your torturous climb to Golgotha.

Ears have heard, but now forgotten; eyes have seen, but now turned blind.  You know this is the will of the Father – this is the only route to save mankind, this is the price of our sins.

Why are the hearts of human ever so hardened?  Did not God created mankind in His very own image? 

What has the world then done to my people?  What have you, my Creation, done to your God?

The Cross is heavy but Jesus, the man, remained obedient; the pain is awful, the remaining journey ahead to Golgotha, frightful.  Each step of the way of the Cross is beginning to be purified by the Most Precious Blood of Jesus the Christ.

May this Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, so holy, also wash and purify our hearts and soul this Lent so that we, too, can turn our lives back to the Father.

Resolve to be mindful that it is not the weight of the Cross, but our sins, our turning away from Jesus daily in everything we say, not say, do and not do, which has caused Jesus to suffer and bleed so much.

Jesus, for the sake of your sorrowful passion, may the Precious Blood of Jesus cleanse me and help me become aware of all my actions which bring hurt to you, help me to remember the sufferings you have to humbly endure for our sake. Help me to take up my own cross and simply follow you.

“Most people really do not suffer from a sense of inferiority, but a sense of superiority.”
- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Via Dolorosa…The Journey of Christians In Malaysia

As the journey in this season of Lent continues, I read of a shocking report describing another subtle and shameful “persecution” faced by the Christian communities in Malaysia, a country in South East Asia, this present day. 

I would like to take some time to share this with the rest of the world.

Obviously, the massive earthquake and destructive effects of the tsunami hitting Japan has not woken up the hardened and corrupted hearts of the powers-that-be in the ruling government of Malaysia. 

In fact, certain local controlled media even had the nerve to publish (subsequently apologized) insulting cartoons poking fun of this most catastrophic tsunami, claiming thousands of innocent lives.

This self-professed developed country officials obviously does not understand the meaning of the word 'empathy' and neither do they see solidarity of the ONE human race!!

Such blatant acts of defacing and desecrating the inspired holy Word of God and marginalising against the Christian communities in Malaysia must be made known to the rest of the world so that the global Christian family can pray in solidarity for the ultimate reform in freedom of worship for all religions in Malaysia.

I quote the recent article from the online alternative news portal, The Malaysian Insider below.

This is testimony of the nature of the cross that Christians must carry in a shameful country such as this…their journey of the Way Of The Cross, hence, becomes very real daily...

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) was told today that its shipment of 5,100 Malay bibles seized at Port Klang had already been stamped with the home ministry’s official seal without its prior permission.

“At 5pm today, KDN informed Bible Society of Malaysia that they had already chopped the bibles and asked Bible Society of Malaysia to come collect the bibles,” the importer said in a statement to The Malaysian Insider, calling the home ministry by its Malay initials.

Bible Society of Malaysia is alarmed by the defacement of the Christian bible by non-Christians chopping it with words that the Christians have not accepted or agreed to,” it added.

The BSM had earlier today refused to collect its cargo of holy books that had been detained for the last two years after the home ministry imposed two conditions for their release.

The society was stunned that home ministry officials had moved to act on their own and only notified BSM after the act, and called on the ministry to immediately put a stop to it.

As the bible is the holy book of the Christians, due respect should be given to it by consulting the relevant Christian representative organs before any external text is inserted into the bibles.

“Bible Society of Malaysia calls upon KDN to stop chopping the copies of the Alkitab detained at Port Kelang [sic],” it said in the statement issued today.

Church leaders have stressed that they cannot follow the conditions imposed by the ministry, as it would mean desecrating their own holy book.

A separate shipment of 30,000 Malay bibles worth RM78,000 imported by the Sarawak branch of global Christian group, The Gideons, was also seized at Kuching port.

It is not known if they have been subjected to the same treatment as BSM’s cargo.

The Sarawak importer had said it too was refusing to collect the Alkitab for the same reasons as the BSM.

The Malaysian Insider understands Sarawak home ministry officials had earlier contacted the importer to collect their holy books and carry out the stamping on their own.

Both importers are seeking advice from national church leaders on the matter.

BSM reminded the home ministry of its previous agreement made with the Christian community and repeated in an official letter dated December 22, 2005 “that Christians are permitted to have access to their holy book in the Bahasa Malaysia language provided that the sign of the cross and the words ‘Penerbitan Kristian’ are respectfully imprinted by Christians themselves”.

The society urged the home ministry to honour that agreement.

Yesterday, the importers each received a notice from the home ministry’s Publications Control and Quranic Text Division secretary, Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad, informing them of the two conditions imposed for the release.

The first requires the importers to directly stamp on the cover of each of the 35,000 copies the following words: “Peringatan: ‘Al Kitab Berita Baik’ ini untuk kegunaan penganut agama Kristian sahaja. Dengan perintah Menteri Dalam Negeri.”

[In English: “Reminder: This ‘Al Kitab Berita Baik’ is for the use of Christians only. By order of the Home Minister.”]

The cover of the Alkitab would be stamped with the department’s official seal and dated as well.

The second condition requires the importers to stamp a serial number on each copy, as if to demarcate copies from the released shipment and to enable the book to be traced back to the port of import.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Via Dolorosa 2/14...Jesus Is Made To Carry His Cross

We journey, this Lent, with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).  I pray that every step of this journey via Dolorosa will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum. 

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his stripes we were healed.  We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.” (Isaiah 53: 4-6, NAB)

“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.” (Matthew 27: 31, NAB)

“Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Sweet Jesus, why did we make you carry the cross of execution reserved only for criminals?  The two wooden beams looked so familiar to the simple carpenter from Nazareth.

Yet, when you held the Cross, you most willingly stretched out your scourged, bleeding arms, lovingly embraced it, and tenderly kissed it, and humbly placing the beams over your bruised and bloody open wounded shoulders.

Although you were in excruciating pain and consciously exhausted, you still found joy in carrying the Cross for the sake of the whole world, you bore the cross for our sake.  We, followers of the ways of the world, felt 'victorious' again in getting rid of another agent of change…only this time, it was the Son of God.

Quiet Pondering:

Jesus, the Cross that you bore ought to be ours to carry, not you – simply because you are pure.  Like the soldiers and the rest of the crowd, we too wanted to see the gruesome scene of you carrying the Cross through the streets of Jerusalem, we want to mock you.

Either we are blinded or simply lacked courage to go radically against the crowd; we merely gaze in seemingly quiet agreement. 

Jesus, you knew our failures yet you still freely chose to remain obedient to the way of the Cross, you allowed us to betray you…the weight of our sins, you willingly bore…for the sake of uniting our souls with God.

The Cross of shame, by your obedience, will be transformed into the cross of dignity and salvation.  How can we be so blind?  How can we not recognize you?

Resolve to be a true disciple of Christ and speak up for what is the truth and justice; take courage not to be easily swayed by the crowd of the world – make a commitment not to double-cross Jesus...carry your own cross. 

Jesus, for our part in not wanting to carry our own crosses daily, we humbly beg for your mercy and forgiveness.  Help us not to create crosses arising from our own selfish desires, to burden others’ journey.

“Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the CROSS, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast.  The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Via Dolorosa 1/14...Jesus Is Condemned To Death

We journey, this Lent, with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).  I pray that every step of this journey via Dolorosa will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NAB)

“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.”  (Isaiah 53:7, NAB)

“So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”” (John 18:33, John 19:1-16, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Innocent Jesus, what have you done to deserve the insults, the mocking, the bloody scourging and painful crowning with thorns?  How can the innocent be condemned to death?  We, like Pilate, would rather offend God rather than displease men, why? 

It is most unjust for us to condemn you each day, the Innocent, to disgracefully die on the wooden cross just to save our own face, our reputation...

Quiet Pondering:

Jesus, despite knowing every single one of our thoughts, before even they rise up from our hearts, you willingly and obediently accept this unjust sentence from us.  Like Pilate, we allow our human condition to overcome us daily to condemn you to death – we are seduced by the power syndrome of the world.

Daily, we choose to separate ourselves from following you.  How can we call ourselves your disciple, when in our own lives, we often pre-judge others, discriminate them, speak harshly against them, abuse them, fail to understand and love them?  Others may not know, but deep within your heart, you know.

Resolve to speak with your heart rather than with the tongue...

For our part in crucifying Jesus daily, we ask for God's mercy and the courage to repent...

“There is a new dirty word in our language, only it has five letters instead of four.  And that word is CROSS.”

– Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Week In The Desert...

"In the desert you discover your true name, and God calls you by that name."
- Alessandro Pronzato

We now enter the first week of Lent as the weekend of Ash Wednesday comes to a close.  What is so meaningful about Lent this time when the world is still weeping over the loss of so many lives in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami?  It has truly been a testing week! 

The desert truly tempts and seduce us to doubt God, to lose hope in God, to give up on God, to abandon God...

Nevertheless, we must allow God to shape our future destiny.  We must trust God to be our faithful companion throughout this journey...the way of the Cross...

To encounter God in our life, we must persevere in allocating time daily for scriptural reflection and personal prayer...listening to our loving God., allowing God to examine us. 

God alone is enough to face all the seductions and temptations of the world...

"Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough."

-St Teresa of Avila

Remember...Do Not Ever Forget...

“God, who is everywhere, never leaves us. Yet, He seems sometimes to be present, sometimes absent. If we do not know Him well, we do not realize that He may be more present to us when He is absent than when He is present.”
– Thomas Merton

Today, the skies seem gloomy as I journal this blog.  A storm seems to be approaching...I can hear the sounds of thunder and see flashes of lightning from a distance. 

Nevertheless, my thoughts go back to the many innocent lives lost in Sendai and its vicinity in Japan...the cruelty of the earthquake and tsunami.

Flashback: Smoke and fire rose on 6 August 1945 when the US dropped the first atomic bomb, destructing the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Flashback: 9 August, 1945 marks the day American forces dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan, in Nagasaki; again completely destroying the city.

Such were the selfish capacity of humanity in destroying itself and ending life as if God had given them authority - without an iota of thought for the loving God that created and breathe life to mankind.

Following the recent massive devastation of Japan by the most catastrophic earthquake and tsunami (does not the scenes of destruction today look so similar to Hiroshima and Nagasaki?), US President Barack Obama 'reminded', “Today's events remind us of just how fragile life can be.”  Yes, if only the entire humanity constantly remember this.

Japan, rocked by the earthquake and swept by the tsunami, once again comes to a sudden standstill; the whole world watches in shock, mourns from afar and becomes united in prayer…  Yes, life is indeed fragile.

If only, the entire human race walk the talk and passionately live life (and manage nations) with this simple motto, then the world would be stripped of poverty, hunger, discrimination, corruption, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction...everything else that promotes the culture of death!

As emergency aid and military support rush in from all over the world into Japan, the global community is again cruelly jolted to remember our solidarity as ONE human race, ONE people of God - to remember the Divine, the ONE Creator, the ONE Source of Life…who lovingly sustains us as we go about living, journeying…more often than not, without even a flicker of thought with regards to God.

History is filled with such events, feeding the culture of death, as a consequence of man's quest for power and sometimes, natural disasters.  The initial reaction of our human condition is always...

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?” (Psalm 22: 2, NAB)

Perhaps, a hint of wisdom can be found, further on in verse 28 of the same psalm, as to how we ought to live our lives, how we ought to journey.

“All the ends of the earth shall remember… the Lord…” (Douay-Rheims)

“…All the families of nations will bow low before you.” (NAB)

There is simply nothing more for me to write about today but I invite you to take a moment, this Lent, to maintain a reflective silence and light a candle for our fellow pilgrims in Japan who have returned to the Father and those who have suddenly lost their loved ones.  Theirs is now a new journey…

Our own journey, on the other hand, continues to be renewed this Lent…as we ‘remember’ and ‘bow low’ before the God who loves us - in preparation to meet Him…whenever He calls us home.  Life is truly precious...

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord's.”
(Romans 14:8, Douay-Rheims)