Homilies for Sundays of Easter

Apr. 28, 2018

“REMAIN IN ME, AS I REMAIN IN YOU” (Jn.15:4)

Readings: 1st- Acts 9:26-31; 2nd- 1 Jn. 3:18-24; Gospel- Jn. 15:1-8

Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine to express his desire for us in the gospel of today; “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower”.  Again, he says, “I am the vine, you are the branches”. The vine grows branches, and the branches become part of the vine. The vine is sustained by food from the earth while the branches are sustained by food from the vine itself. Any branch that does not grow in the vine will not bear fruit, and will be cut out from the vine.

Importantly, the image of the vine was used in the Old Testament to capture the relationship between God and Israel. In what the prophet Isaiah called “The Vineyard Song”, he lamented the disappointment which the owner of the vineyard recorded from the vineyard he planted on a fertile hillside. He cleared it of stones, built a watchtower to protect it, and hewed out a winepress. But the vine failed to produce grapes. Having exhausted all efforts to cultivate the vineyard, the owner of the vineyard decided not to prune it anymore. The vineyard became overgrown with grass. The prophet cried out, “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his cherished plant; He looked for judgment, but see bloodshed! For justice, but hark, the outcry!” (Is. 5:1-7). That means that the choice to either bear fruit or not belongs to us.

In the gospel, Christ calls our attention to the danger of disconnecting from the vine. First is that we lack pruning from the Father. We become weak and vulnerable. We lose life and fertility. We fail to bear fruit. He states, “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned” (Jn.15:6).

On a positive note, remaining in the vine offers great advantages to the branch. Christ is the vine into whom and from whom we grow. To grow in him means to channel our efforts into him, recognize the need to go to him regularly. To grow from him means that we can only be sustained by his love through prayers and the sacraments. He is our source and our strength. He uses a strong verb to demonstrate validity of our relationship with him. The verb “remain” is a strong one. It also means, “abide, cling, dwell, endure, hold the fort, keep on”. Jesus is inviting us to abide in him, to cling to him, to dwell in him, to endure in him, to hold the fort with him, and to keep on being in him. Only in him can we bear fruits.

The second reading from Saint John seems as if it is the beginning of the discourse that is continued in the gospel. John writes about God’s commandments, and how our hearts respond to God’s invitation; “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us” (1 Jn.5:24). Then Christ says in the gospel, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). Every aspect of our lives must be connected to Jesus to bear the desired fruits.

John uses the image of the heart to express this relationship, “we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn.3:19-20). God’s love is shown in the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Sacred Heart was pierced with a lance on the Cross for our sake. The Heart loves us, gives us life, heals us, and circulates in us the blood of eternal life. The Sacred Heart is greater than our own hearts. As disciples of Jesus, our hearts do two things: “believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us”. We must marry faith and love in our relationship with God. If we believe in God, then we must love as God loves since “God is love”.

When Jesus asks us to bear fruits, he is inviting us to bear fruits of faith which is love. The metaphor of the vine thus becomes clear when we follow Jesus’ words, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” (Jn. 15:9). The invitation is to remain in Christ’s love to be his disciples. We cannot keep the faith box separate from the love box, else we lose the content of our faith. For instance, anyone who claims he believes in God and is violent or wicked cannot be a believer because no true believer in God perpetrates violence.

Jesus invites us to remain in him, to branch out to the world as extensions of his love. Faith can only be identified by its works of love. Faith is evident in the daily interactions we have with others. We carry God’s image everywhere- at work, at school, in business, at home, etc. We are like the person(s) at the front desk of an office. The front desk lady/man is the image of the organization. If that image isn’t cheerful, loving, receptive, those who come in and go out will identify that organization by an uncheerful face. The same applies to us. We all sit at God’s front desk. How we relate with others translates their understanding of God. We present to those we meet the image of Christ who is good, Christ who is light, Christ who is the way, truth and life, Christ who is the gate, the security, Christ who is trustworthy, and Christ who is kind. We must remain in Christ -Faith-, hence, bear the fruit of love. 

SPECIAL APPEAL TO COUPLES:

“Remain in me” is a special invitation to couples. It is a way of reminding you of the source of your sustenance in marriage. Your marriage cannot survive if it does not draw strength from Christ. Christ is explicit here, “Cut off from me, you can do nothing”; “Remain in me as I remain in you”. It is very clear.  Once couples start shrinking in their faith, they start shrinking in their love. As Fulton Sheen said, love one another as a gift from God, not as gods. That way, you find in her/him an irreplaceable gift that cannot expire. Always recognize that your love flows from the Vine whose branches you are. If you center on yourselves, you get frustrated, wear out and wither. If you concentrate on yourselves alone, then you expose yourselves to the tortures of self-centered ego. You become jealous. You become possessive. You become more of a receiver than a giver because your love is not refilled by Love itself. I urge you all to make Jesus the center and source of your love. Pray together as couple. Move to God together. Go along with your partner. Enjoy God’s love together, don’t stay back, and don’t pull the other backwards. God loves you together. That way, you will bear endless fruits. That way, you won’t contemplate divorce even when the challenges come in your marriage relationships.     

Apr. 21, 2018

WE ARE GOD’S CHILDREN: THE NOW AND THE NOT YET

Readings: 1st- Acts 4:8-12; 2nd- 1 Jn. 3:1-2; Gospel- Jn. 10:11-18 

I visited one of my very good friends on Thursday. She is ninety years old, a holy woman. What she did was to ask me to hear her confessions as usual. This time she said it’s in preparation for her death. She narrated that she needed to prepare adequately for the next journey. At the end of our conversation, she wrote a Mass card and gave me names of those I should say Mass for. Then she gave me one final intention, “Say mass for me in preparation for death”. Ironically, this friend of mine isn’t sick. She walks on her own and still drives her car. She visits the homebound till date and gives them Holy Communion. Don’t think she’s confined in one place waiting for death. No. She remarked that everything in her life had always been done by preparation. She gave examples: “I prepared for my trip to Europe. I prepared to have my children. I prepared for their baptisms. I prepared for everything. If I did prepare that much for my trip to Europe, why wouldn’t I prepare for the greatest trip in my life, which is death? Isn’t that interesting? 

If we think of the conversation above in relation to the second reading, we appreciate our relationship with God. Jesus taught us to call God, “Our Father”. And Saint John says, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called God’s children”. Then he emphasizes, “Yes, so we are”. In John’s passage, we see the relationship between being God’s children and being image of God’s love. At creation God says, “Let us make man in our image (tselem) and likeness” (Gen. 1:28). Then in the New Testament, John writes, “God is love” (1 Jn.4:8). We are God’s children because of God’s love. As children of God and image of Love, we are God’s representative here on earth. That is why the world wouldn’t know us. We enjoy God’s privilege of bearing his image on earth. We have dominion over all creatures. We are filiated through Christ. With Christ, we become con-filiated (adoption) into God’s love. Then St. Paul tells us, “Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand” (Col. 3:1). We are thus “trans-filiated” beyond earthly things into the perfection that will be at the end of time. That’s hope for the future. We become God’s image on earth, then behold the fullness of that image in heaven. 

Saint John writes, “what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn.3:2). This gives us an idea of what my friend described at the beginning. That we shall see God as he is should be something to prepare for with excitement. It’s a certainty as John says, “We do know”. We do know that we shall see God as he is. The author of the book of Revelation writes, “They will see the Lord face to face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (22:4-5). Heaven is about perfection where we will see God as He is. On earth, we have a privilege of catching a glimpse of him through created realities. The waters reveal him. The trees reveal him. The daylight reveals him. But humanity is the fullness of God’s glory on earth. The prophet Isaiah writes, “I will not yield my glory to another” (48:11). The “now” is who we are and what we live out, namely, God’s children. The “not yet”, is what we hope for, namely, to behold God’s face at the end of time. 

The gospel demonstrates how strong God’s love is for us. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn.10:11). Jesus is the good shepherd for our sake:

1. “A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”. Jesus lays down his life for us. He is willing to die for his flock. He is committed to the safety of his flock. Jesus depicts his death and resurrection in his statement, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again”. 

2. “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me”. Jesus uses his relationship with the Father to describe his relationship with his sheep. Jesus knows us and wants us to know him, to be intimate with him as our shepherd. 

3. “A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away”. Unlike the hireling, the good shepherd sacrifices for the sheep, goes ahead to protect them. The good shepherd takes care of the weak ones in the sheepfold. The good shepherd is different from the shepherds described in the Old Testament (Jer. 23::1-4; Ezk. 34:5-6). The hirelings become threat to the sheep. Christ is the good shepherd, and as David writes in the Psalms, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Ps. 23:1). 

4. “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd”. Christ is advocating for the unity of mankind. At the end of time, Christ wants all to be united in God’s kingdom.

Think about this story that has been going around on social media for some days now. A little boy walks up to Pope Francis crying. He can’t just speak into the microphone. The little boy can’t ask his question because of the grief in his heart. So, Pope Francis asks them to bring the boy to him. He whispers into the ears of the pope about his atheist dad who died recently but had all his four children baptized in the church, “Is my dad in heaven?” That was a tough question. The pope said that God decides who goes to heaven, and that God has “the heart of a father.” He asked the young girls and boys in the audience if they thought God would abandon a father like Emanuele’s, who was a good man. “No,” the children shouted back. “There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope said to the boy. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.” The pope had earlier said in his homily that this principle of doing good to others is one that unites all of humanity, including atheists; “Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point”.

The question of going to heaven may not be tough for us because we are already God’s children. That’s who we are. It’s our privilege. It’s a thing of joy to imagine that we are going to see Him as He is. But we must prepare for it by listening to the good shepherd, and following him. It is hard for nonbelievers who refuse to answer God’s children on earth. Christ’s prayer is to unite all of us at the end, “and there will be one flock, one shepherd”. 

Apr. 14, 2018

“YOU ARE WITNESSES OF THESE THINGS” (Lk. 24:48)

Readings: 1st- Acts 3:13-15,17-19; 2nd- 1 John 2:1-5a; Gospel- Lk. 24:35-48

Two aspects of Jesus’ appearance are presented in today’s gospel: 1) the doubts of his disciples and 2) the mission to preach forgiveness of sins in his name. John describes the risen Christ as an Advocate with the Father. He reminds believers to shun the “super-man” syndrome in their relationship with God. The “super-man” syndrome is the attitude of relying on oneself and presuming that one is immune to sin. John says, “I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin”. As Christians, God invites us to a life of holiness through knowing God’s commandments and keeping them. It entails an intimate relationship with Christ who is our Advocate.  

Saint John goes on to say, “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 Jn. 2:1). God recognizes that we are vulnerable and fallible. He sends us Jesus to advocate for us. Jesus intercedes for us before the Father. He comes to give us life in abundance. He communicates to Nicodemus how much he intercedes for us as an advocate, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (Jn. 3:16-17). Jesus is an advocate of God’s love. Saint Paul describes this mission thus, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19).

Christ’s ministry is a ministry of suffering for the entire world. Peter exposes culpability of the Jews as well as their ignorance in crucifying Christ who is “the author of life”. He insists that, “God raised him from the dead”, and “of this we are witnesses”. The Jews put Christ to death by crooked means. The gospel records, “Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were seeking testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they did not find any. For many bore false witnesses against Jesus, but their testimony was inconsistent. Then some men stood up and testified falsely against Him” (Mk. 15: 55-57).

The antecedents to his crucifixion are playing out days after Christ’s resurrection. His appearance evokes feelings of different kinds. The disciples on their journey to Emmaus encounter him and bring back their experience, how they have recognized him in the breaking of bread. Jesus appears again to reinforce their story. The disciples are troubled. They have questions in their hearts. They are imagining if he is a ghost, a phantasm. In this case, there is an encounter between Jesus of Nazareth whom the disciples know and Jesus who is risen from death. They cannot believe in ghost. But Jesus gives them proofs of his resurrected body; “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have”. That’s the first proof which doesn’t seem sufficient for them. So, Jesus gives further proof to them. He takes the baked fish and eats it in front of the disciples. Possibly, the sense of fear and doubt in the disciples relates to their betrayal and denial at his crucifixion. Jesus turns the scene around.

Let’s think about the benefits the disciples get from Jesus during this encounter:

  1. Peace; “Peace be with you”.
  2. He flushes away their doubts; “Why do questions arise in your hearts?”
  3. He gives them compassion and shares in their meal; “Have you anything to eat?”
  4. He provides understanding; “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”.
  5. He sends them on mission; “…that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem”.
  6. He makes them witnesses; “You are witnesses to all these things”.

It is this privilege that Peter speaks of in his address to the Jews when he says, “of this we are witnesses”. We are indeed witnesses to the resurrection.

Witnessing here reverses the false witnesses of the Jews against Christ. It cancels out the old order of sins and ignorance, of trepidation and fear. It cancels out falsehood and replaces it with “the Way, truth and life” that is Christ Jesus. We are witnesses to Christ’s love. We are witnesses when we share in the divine meal. We are witnesses when we assist our fellow human beings in their needs. We are witnesses when we protect and promote the dignity of human life from its conception to natural death. Jesus is inviting us to be His witnesses in our various vocations and professions.

Some question for us to reflect upon from today’s readings include: Can you identify one major thing in your life that casts doubt on your faith? How do you confront such doubt? Can you identify one thing that casts doubt upon your bearing witness to Christ’s love in your life? How do you confront that?

Tell Jesus to open your minds to understand the Scriptures and what the Church teaches. That way you will be able to be a true witness for Christ.

May. 27, 2017

Readings: 1st- Acts 1:1-11; 2nd- Eph.1:17-23; Gospel- Matt.28:16-20

EVERY CHRISTIAN NEEDS THE MOMENTUM OF GRACE 

Ascension is an auspicious moment to reflect on what heaven means for us as believers in Christ. I have always used the metaphor of taking off and landing the plane to capture the image in human terms. Saint Paul writes to the Ephesians, "What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth" (Eph.4:9). In the Nicene Creed we pray, "He descended into hell, and on the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty". Christ descended into the earth and now he is ascending to heaven. Can we say, he landed on earth, just as we understand landing of the airplane? He also took off from the earth. According to astronauts, landing and taking off are the most difficult actions for the aircraft. Experts describe landing and taking off as intricate actions for the airplane because it must conserve enough momentum, secure clarity and proper focus to perform either of those actions. Remember, the balloon cannot also fly without enough air. So, the Christian can only function effectively with the momentum of grace. 

In the first reading, Luke writes, "When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight (Acts 1:9)". Christ was taken up to heaven to enable us realize the reality of heaven and the possibility of making heaven. Ascension is a symbol of motivation because through it we appreciate that heaven is as close as we can make it. Christ wants Christians to make heaven our gaze. Speaking to his angelus audience on April 17th 2016, Pope Francis said, “The Ascension of Jesus into heaven then reveals to us this reality that is so comforting for our journey, (that) in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was brought to God”. Jesus “has opened the passage up for us,” and “draws us up to him leading us to God.” 

Before his ascension, Christ mandated his disciples, "Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to everyone" (Mark 16:15). And after he was taken up into heaven, the disciples went forth and preached everywhere while "the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs" (Mk.16:20). Christ never deserted his apostles. He was present even while he ascended into heaven. He is “true God and true man”. Pope Francis put it this way, Jesus is no longer “in a definite place in the world as he was before the Ascension. He is now in the lordship of God, present in all space and time, next to each of us.” Christ’s ascension confirms the missionary mandate to the apostles, "I will be with you till the end of time" which we hear in today’s gospel. He commands all of us to go into the world and proclaim the good news, and not stand idle like those "men of Galilee" gazing into heaven. 

If we go back to our airplane metaphor, going to heaven implies our capacity to take off. While on earth, each of us continues to gather the momentum of grace. We’ll take off at the end of our earthly mission. How far heaven will be from us depends on how we use God’s grace while on earth. Our momentum is the grace which we acquire through virtuous actions. Scripture says, "From his fullness, we have all of us received grace upon grace" (Jn.1:16-17). Because he was filled with grace and the Holy Spirit, Christ went about doing good. Those good deeds kept his momentum of grace active. He showed love. He healed the sick. He showed compassion. He forgave sinners. He cared for and supported those in need. He prayed. The gospel says, "These signs will accompany those who believe…" (Mk.16:17-18). 

Saint Paul encourages us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us to goodness of life and love (cf. Phil.4:13). The more momentum of grace we acquire, the more we love; the more we become compassionate, merciful, forgiving and peaceful. The more momentum of grace we acquire, the stronger we become in faith, in prayers, and the more persevering we become in the face of suffering. The more graces we acquire, the more heaven-minded we become. 

Think of the numerous end-time prophecies that we hear in the world today much more than the promptings good works. Is the world ending tomorrow, next week, next year or in the next fifty years-time? That’s quite insignificant compared to the demand for goodness in our lives. The disciples asked Christ similar question, “Lord, has the time come for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?” His response to them was, “It is not for you to know times and dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come upon you, then you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:7-8). Mark the words, “dates that the Father has decided by his own authority”. In some other gospel passage, Christ states, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt.24:36; Mk.13:32). End-time dates belong to God because he is the Creator of the universe. Ours is to open ourselves up to the working of the Holy Spirit who infuses in us the momentum of grace. 

Do not stay idle wondering when the world would end. Do not be afraid what date it would be. Rather, witness to Christ through good works of faith. The more you do good works, the more connected you are with God. That way, going back to him will be a mere transition to eternity. 

May the Lord fill us with grace, the momentum to ascend with him on the last day. Amen.

May. 20, 2017

Readings- 1st: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 2nd: 1Peter 3:15-18; Gospel: Jn.14:15-21

“PENTECOST MODE ACTIVATED”

It is common these days to hear people use the slogan “mode activated” at different times. Some of those celebrating birthdays post on Facebook, “birthday mode activated”. Those preparing to travel on vacation would post, “vacation mode activated”. Those going in for exams would write “exam mode activated”, etc. The same can be said about today’s gospel. Jesus continues his lengthy farewell speech to his disciples. So, for us, it is “Pentecost mode activated”, or “ascension mode activated”. Jesus’ conversation with the disciples center mostly around the impact of his stay and the continued presence of the Holy Spirit after he returns to the Father.

Going back to the first reading, Philip and the apostles go into the Samaritan territory with the good news. By the power of Christ Lord Jesus, they perform miracles and cast out unclean spirits. One significant happening in that episode is that though the Samaritan converts received the word of God, they’re yet to receive the Holy Spirit. According to Scriptures, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit… Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts8:14-17). There could be different interpretations to this action by the apostles. First is that the Samaritan converts had only received the ritual baptism but not the full transformation that comes through the divine presence of the Holy Spirit. The apostles themselves already lived in the power of the Spirit, the transforming presence of Jesus. On his appearance after his resurrection, Jesus said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn.20:22). He then commissioned them to go into the world to impart the same Spirit and to grant forgiveness to believers.

My other interpretation is that this could be an act of confirmation performed by the authorities of the Church. We are aware of the bishop’s confirmation, a sacrament which transforms believers into active soldiers for Christ. Peter is the head of the apostolic college and in his capacity, leads the delegation to confirm the Samaritan converts. Philip is only one of the seven deacons selected in the last Sunday’s reading (Acts6:4-7), a Greek speaking believer. The Samaritans have some common religious practice with the Jews such as the messianic expectation and hope in God’s final reign. But being confirmed in the Spirit is a way to strengthen their faith in God. The passage tells us the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit as believers. When Paul visited Ephesus with the good news, his question to the Ephesians was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” Their response was that they were never even told of the Holy Spirit. Paul therefore prayed for them, laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (cf.Acts 19:1-7). The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of mission; he leads us to the truth.

In the gospel, Jesus tells the disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth” (Jn.14:15-17). We need to pay attention to some of the words here. Jesus says, “another advocate”, which means there already has been a previous advocate. Sure, Jesus is the “first Advocate”, who in his humanity unites us with God. The word “advocate” is the same as “Paraclete” taken from the Greek word “Paracletos” translated to mean “one who stands beside”. The easiest way to understand this expression is to use the analogy of the coach with his players in any sporting event. Jesus was the greatest coach ever. He taught his disciples everything, ate with them, played with them, and finally washed their feet. Activating his “ascension mode” he tells them, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you”. The physical Jesus is going back to the Father. The spiritual presence of God, the Holy Spirit will continue to be with them. Jesus taught them the truth, so the “Spirit of truth” will come to strengthen them in the truth. In this passage, John’s theology points us the unity of the Trinity as Jesus returns to his Father; “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…” (Jn.14:15).  “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father… Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn.14:21).

A great allusion in today’s gospel is made to the commandments and love, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. He goes further to say, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him”. When Jesus explained the commandments to the Jewish teacher, this is what he said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heat, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself (Matt.22:34-40). To love God is to keep his commandments, and to keep the commandments is to love God. That’s the greatest way to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers.

Now, it’s time to activate the “Spirit” or “Pentecost” mode. Christ invites us to keep the commandments, to love God and love our neighbors. How do we receive the Holy Spirit? How do we show his presence in your life? Saint Peter refers to suffering and persecution as one way to demonstrate our maturity as Christians. Christ suffered and was put to death, again he rose in the Spirit. The Spirit gives us hope in times of suffering and pains. God does not desert us because we are suffering. He doesn’t even punish us. I met someone few days ago on her sick bed. She felt that she was going through a lot, and truly she was. After some conversations, she told me she felt she was suffering because she could have been a nun but chose to marry. But she has a lovely marriage and wonderful husband. I was blunt to tell her she’s not correct. That’s fantasy. The lady for example, is a woman of strong faith, committed to helping others and the church as well. God couldn’t punish her because she’s not a nun. We all need to recognize that both the religious life and the married life are different vocations. The important thing is to live our vocations well- love God and love human beings. Secondly, and by the way, there are nuns who are sick and suffering. Could they say they’re suffering because they refused to marry? No. So, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us grace to see suffering as means to salvation. Let us keep loving God in the vocation that we have each undertaken- marriage, priest, nun, single, etc. Let us also love our fellow human beings. That’s the best way to keep God’s commandments. In that way, God lives in us, inspires us, and guides us our Advocate, Paraclete and Coach.