Two kingdoms, two worlds

Today we celebrate a new liturgical year. Last Sunday we were closing the old year with the celebration of Christ the King. Jesus answered Pilate, “Mine is not a kingdom of this world”. Yet often we hear that the “kingdom of God is in our midst”. Today is the first day of Advent, a season to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus into our midst. Lurking in the dark recess is Omicron. Good and bad. Two kingdoms, two worlds.

How do we make sense of this? One of the greatest challenges to our Christian faith is the existence of suffering. If God exists, and is a God of Love, why is there suffering? In this world we live in, suffering inevitably exists. In the kingdom that is promised us, every tear will be wiped away. When we want to build kingdoms for “myself” at the expense of others, we deny the establishment of a world where love is the answer. Two kingdoms, two worlds; riches of the earth versus treasures in heaven.

St Paul to the Thessalonians, “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race. We urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. (Second Reading)

God has allowed this pandemic, and with it the sufferings that come with it. The beginnings of this pandemic and its subsequent spread is a consequence of human action. This is not a debate of what we should or should not have done. That is beyond me, or us as single human individuals. This is just about acknowledging that every single person has the complete freedom to choose to do what he or she wants. Whatever we do has a knock-on effect on the other person. But as single, human individual person it is not beyond us to choose to love one another and the whole human race.

In Advent, we are preparing for the coming of Christ into our choices and subsequent actions. Sufferings can be alleviated by love. We dare say that some sufferings can be avoided if there was love, the love for the other not that love for self. This kingdom is in our midst, and near at hand. Advent is this preparation to let this kingdom come into our world.

St Paul to the Thessalonians continued, “You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus”.

A new liturgical year arrive with a fresh cycle of scripture readings. Instructions on the authority of Christ the King. Instructions we must allow into the use of our freedom, to come into the small and simple acts of our daily life. We are human and we progress by taking small steps. This Advent is a preparation for Christmas. Let this Christmas define our whole year ahead, so we can make the choice to allow the Word amongst us to come alive in our little actions, where love will comfort suffering, allowing the kingdom into our world.

What menace will Omicron turn out to be for our world? What kingdoms will it destroy? We do not know. We only have the power to love. But it is enough to build a kingdom that is not of this world.

1st Sunday of Advent

Life has no straight roads

Today’s mass readings are about what happens at the end of the road. The readings came alive as I travelled this week from Mae Sot to Umphang. Route 1090 is nicknamed “the death highway”. A long stretch ascends into the mountains where for 114 km of it there are 1219 bends, curving to the left and the right. Just like our life, there are no straight roads.

“Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.” (First Reading)

This pandemic has taught me to appreciate road trips as arriving at destinations do have a different emotional feel. It’s the wisdom that the journey changes us by the time we arrive, for in our belief there is a fork at end of the road of our earthly life either to everlasting life or disgrace.  

Route 1090 took me up and took me down. The road was also slipping sideways. At stretches the view was breath taking, but most of it was mundane and arduous, curving and cutting through the thick rainforest. The road was narrow, and the mountain bends did not permit me to see what was further ahead. I knew my destination but not my journey. Death beckons all but how will we reach it?

Last weekend I was privileged to be at a retreat for returning Catholics. There I heard many different life stories. Like the road, things can suddenly change around the next bend. Some heard the call to return at the low points in life, few at the highs and others during the mundane grind of daily life where they wondered about life’s meaning. But all had a common realisation that God is faithfully present with us along the entire journey. At each bend he beckons us closer. If we ignore the call he will be at the next, 1219 and more till we respond.

At the end of route 1090, a trek through the rainforest awaited me. It was advertised that it would take 2 hours, but I realigned my expectation that it would take me 3. In painful reality, it took me 5 but the reward at the end was worth every ounce of energy. I had never before exhausted my physical energy for an event. Here in that last hour, and in darkness as well, I was on the Spirit that formed my mind.

When the trek was uphill, I did not want to see how much higher was the climb. I just focus on my next step but I found myself mumbling the Hail Mary every time it went uphill. My mortality was in better perspective. Like suffering in life, we don’t know how long it will last but prayers help us to the top of the hill. Sometimes it is even a false top as round the bend we see a steeper slope. Such is life.

As the trek when downhill, I felt pain in my old crumbling knees. I was alive to the very present as the pain would not allow me to wander elsewhere. In life at our lowest points, when we cannot see anyone but our own self, we must know that God is there present. It was on the flats that my mind wandered and was distracted by the heaven of a cold beer at the end of the trek. The mundane happenings in our life can drift us away from God. Until we find meaning.

There are no straight roads in life. The better prepared we are for the road trip, the better people we become arriving at the fork. Along the way, like today’s scripture readings were to me, the Word is amongst us.

Route 1090 – the Death Highway

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The non-compete clause

There are many teachings in the Gospel in terms of how we should behave that go against the human grain. We all aspire to be great in life only to be told that to be great we must become a servant, where to be first we must be slave to all. When we reflect deeper on this passage, we realize that it is not wrong to aspire to be great. Every saint is great, Christ glorious! The message here is how we can go about attaining this greatness.

And many of these teachings seem to go against our nature. Competition amongst humans is natural. Competition leads to learnings and progress. It does make us better. The first disciples as we read in this passage were competitive. James and John, quite innocently, wanted the highest honor. When the rest found out they were indignant towards the pair. They were outraged because they felt James and John tried to sneak one behind them. They were all competitive; all wanting to be first and great.

I travelled this weekend and stopped at a coastal village. Two fishermen were mending their nets. They could have been James and John. Others were doing their own thing, some sizing up the clams, others trying to sell the catch. Was there competition here? There surely was. They had to compete to survive. My mind wandered to the time of the first disciples. Jesus had plucked them out of their jobs, and so they obviously came along with all they had learnt in life.

When we aspire to be greater in our faith life, we are responding to being called by Christ through the Holy Spirit. We are invited to be in glory. Like the disciples we will arrive at that moment with a lot of baggage accumulated throughout life. Like the fishermen sorting out the catch, some we must discard. We must keep the fire and passion that makes us competitive. It will teach and progress us towards greatness. Once we have encountered Christ, we will re-define what greatness of life is. Once that is re-defined, we will have to recalibrate our methods of attaining it.

Passages in the Gospel teaches us these methods. They are only unnatural because worldly life has shaped us to go the other way. Serving one another is also natural. I saw it at the coastal village as we would all see in the many events of our life. We have all serve and were served. We see it clearer when we live life against the odds or when the curve of affluence is much flatter.

Serving the other is second nature to true love. Every parent makes sacrifices at their own expense for their child. The greatest wish of any parent is actually not to be loved in return but to see their children pass on the love to others. This is natural too.

What do we want in life? Happiness, purpose, peace, and fulfilment? Because of our human nature we are not sure. We want our cake and eat it too. But our Creator who made us know the greatness and glory we truly want. He has also said that in his house there are many rooms. Competition in worldly life often mean one winner. In our faith, God wills all of us to be great and glorious. In the Gospel, he tells us the methods to attain it but emphasize the non-compete clause. We must serve one another.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cut both ways

Today’s Gospel passage, when taken plainly can make people shy away from religion. We are asked to give up all our material riches. For some, religion is a thing of the past. I ask myself if I prefer to die rich or in peace. I would want both. But if I were forced to choose, it would be peace. Without faith, or religion, death is the ultimate end; either does not matter. But when we ask the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, it is a ponder that comes from deep within, the voice of our soul.

“The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him” (Today’s Second Reading)

The word of God searches deep into us. We don’t need a religion or belief for that. No created being can hide from it. It searches deep into us, not to inflict a cut, but to draw out our true self who is essentially good to live with one another in this material world. We are all, without exceptions, this ‘good being’ for after all we are created in the likeness of God. This likeness of God is the desire and capacity to love. True love, God’s love, is to put others before self.

The double-edged sword cuts both ways. A blessing, and sometimes a torment. I am no scripture scholar and there are better understandings of its meaning. However, today we see the word of God being interpreted somehow to cast doubts over vaccinations. I am no medical expert either. And this is not an article for pro or anti vaxxers. But the question asked today is apt. When faced with the choice of being vaccinated, we should ask deep within our self, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

God gives us love. He showers it upon us even if we do not acknowledge it. This gift is constant, unconditional, and unlimited. We are rich with love. And apart from love, God also give us the freedom of choice. Freedom too is a double-edged sword. We first have the capacity then receive the freedom to love. Freedom too cuts both ways. We are consequences of our own action or inaction, and what others do or don’t will also affect our life. Likewise, when we think more for our self, it will negatively affect the other.

St Francis de Sales wrote on this holiness. Doing good in life because we want to inherit eternal life is of course very good. But there is a higher level of this holiness; we are driven to love so that the other gains salvation, without a thought of our own. I wrote a few weeks back about the spiritual exercise when applying sanitizers to our hands where we do it not first for our self but for the sake of the people around us. Being poor is spirit (Today’s acclamation) is to use love and freedom to choose the other first and surrender the consequences to God. The consequence here is to be repaid a hundred times over.

“I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer, for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her silver ranks as mud.” (First Reading)

Live life with Wisdom. Pursue its richness. Who are we to others around us? It is how and what we choose to do with the love of God given to us that will determine if we cut it in life.

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exit door ajar in marriage

For better or for worse, till death do us part. The proper marriage vow, a decision to unify a lifetime commitment between wife and husband. There are many good marriages out there that have abided by this vow, and they have become heart-warming testimonies of true love. A love that conquered seemingly insurmountable challenges and form the solid foundation of good family life. Children and youths thrive and grow in life to contribute to make the world a better place.

“Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table. May the Lord bless us all the days of our life.” (Today’s Psalm)

For some though this has become an old-fashioned romantic idea. It is more necessary to enter a prenuptial agreement than to solemnly vow before God to love one another, whatever happens. This love is the complete, mutual giving of oneself to the other, where two shall become one. “As long as we love one another God will live in us, and his love will be complete in us”. (Acclamation)

“This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” (Today’s Gospel)

This vow is far from being a legal agreement but an invitation to God to be present in our marriage. We must surely understand that we cannot control every event that will happen in our shared life. This is an invitation to God in faith that his love will be with us through these many unexpected occurrences. Lasting the course often see adversities turning into joy.

However, one of such unexpected occurrences is that marriages do break up for a variety of unfortunate reasons. Although the commitment is broken between the two, the vow made before the altar of God remains. God remains faithful and does not judge nor condemn. He continues to be present to the couple through the next chapters of their life. Unseen, even misunderstood, his door is never shut.

Marriage is brave commitment, perhaps too brave without the help of God. It demands great human strength to be true to our words. We need that help. It is both spiritual and psychological. This is simplified: It is two people entering a room and closing its door accepting that there is no exit. An option to divorce is to leave that exit door ajar. A prenuptial agreement pushes that opening a little wider. We will always encounter disagreements. It is completely natural. When we are locked in that room with God, we know that working out an agreement is the only way. When we do, our giving to the other increases and love grows. A door ajar can often be the easier way out especially in the midst of anger and hurt. Closing that door should be that prenuptial agreement.

Simplified, yes. Marriage can still be a romantic, fairy tale full of love with a happy ending. Children believe in those. It will happen when we enter marriage innocent and child-like, giving without calculating, not knowing where the exit door is.

“‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’”

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Behind Jesus

I was watching an episode from the series, The Chosen. Jesus was adding more disciples to his travelling mission. In that scene a ruffled Simon Peter came up to Jesus and strongly voiced his opinion that the group should be more organised with leaders appointed. Behind Jesus, he said, there were a lot of differing opinions with no leader to moderate. Jesus’ reply was that it was not yet the time (but hinted that Peter would play a role when that happens). Meanwhile, he said to Peter, ‘we’ must listen to everyone.

Behind Jesus, we sometimes argue a lot too. We differ in opinions in our ministries. We differ about best approaches, methods, and expressions for the mission. We jostle for positions of importance, our ego unable to be suppressed, wanting to be the greatest. We join communities. We then leave because of differences. Jealousy, in-fighting or simply not being listened to. Yet, we all came to do something in the name of Jesus.

“But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” (Today’s Gospel)

We are each called into mission. We are called because of who we are, maybe despite being headstrong and stubborn in our views. We are called for where we are in life; ‘where’ being the situation we are in, and the people around us. This is our immediate, unique mission field. With our naked eye, we cannot see the big picture of salvation being painted by the Holy Spirit. We are a small but important detail. Faith teaches us to trust, but the lessons of Jesus continue to refine us to be loving. Growth in being loving is an infinite process. And in today’s context, to accept and embrace differences in our work for the common mission.

Jesus assembled a motley crew to make up his twelve. They probably never understood why they were each chosen until the day of Pentecost. We too form a motley selection to be seeded far and wide into the diversity of life. We too will not completely understand until life is over for us. There are reasons for such diverse differences amongst us. Opinions can differ but they must not be allowed to set up barricades. We cannot fight and divide but pray and unite.

Eldad and Medad in the first reading did not attend Moses’ big meeting. Presumably, they would have missed out on the consensus on structures and procedures to prophesy. Despite it, they went on to do just that, prophesy, prompting a complaint. We can easily identify with the complainant when others do not seem to conform to us. But let’s hear what Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”

Behind Jesus then is not yet the organised institution of a Church in which we operate in today. Sometimes it is not yet time for a structure. Jesus was not in a hurry to hemmed it all in. Then, and now, he is in no hurry too. Outside of ‘organisation’, are ideas being initiated by the Spirit. We must listen because our world is always changing. Outside of ‘organisation’ are also works being done by the Spirit because the organised institution of the Church is not meant to contain them but to give us an organised strength to go out to mission.

Our differences make up the beautiful colours of our human nature. They are the colours the Holy Spirit use to paint the big picture of our salvation. So, let us accept each other without that silent grudge. It is hard but that is where we must start if we are all for God.

From the series, The Chosen

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Opinions

This week in Thailand saw two monks stirring up a debate. They held a dharma talk live on social media and peppered it with humour, laughter, and youthful slang words. It attracted 200,000 followers, mostly the young who found the style, refreshing. But it also provoked criticism from those who found that it was inappropriate and disrespectful towards the religion. Two opinions at war.

I read with some interest the Preparatory Document from Rome for the Synod 2021-2023, “For a synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission”. Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission as we journey the third millennium. “The synodal journey unfolds within a historical context marked by epochal changes in society and by a crucial transition in the life of the Church”. To my simple understanding: Times have changed, how are we as Church to continue reaching out? This will certainly prompt many opinions. 

We are called to “scrutinise the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel”. (Vatican Council II)

It’s natural for everyone to have different opinions. Many opinions formed around one central theme is very good. It allows for a wider, all age encompassing, more inclusive way forward. It will help with us “journeying together”, one of the central approaches for a synodal church. Different opinions can live with one another provided they sprout from a common root. When we begin exchanging our opinions about our Church, it must be rooted in the one constant that has remained unchanged throughout the millenniums: the Love of God.

The question for me today is, “How is this love of God best expressed to people in these times?” If we were around during the Old Testament, we would realise that the expression of God’s love among the people has changed, drastically perhaps, but his love itself has not. Today for some, it may be better received, and understood, through social media punctuated with humour, laughter, and slangs. But acceptably, not for everyone.

Some of us were raised through tradition. Some find comfort in rituals. Some schooled in doctrines and catechism. The call is not so much to let these go but rather to add on to these foundations. Pope John Paul II popularised the call for the New Evangelisation as far back as 1983 amidst the challenges of secularisation. Prophetic. Today our human behaviour has been further altered by social media and the yet unknown full impact of the pandemic. So today we must heed this call to express this love of God with a new ardour, through new methods and expressions. How do we determine these?

“Where do these wars and where do conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? (Today’s Second Reading)

In “journeying together” we must be prepared to first listen to one another and allow the Holy Spirit to lead. Differing opinions can create silent wars among ourselves. We have seen enough of this in our daily life, supressing the flow of love from one to the other.

‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ (Gospel)

Opinions matter. Opinions help. But always having it only ‘my way’ doesn’t. Though this was much about the Church moving forward, it applies to our everyday life simply because the Church is in each one of us. Be childlike and welcome the other. Allow that Church in us to formulate our opinions.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Discipleship – A lifestyle choice

When I look at the crucifix, it is hard to be beckoned by his call to “follow me”. When I look at the crucifix, it is hard not to be consumed by the suffering, and so I remain spiritually stuck at the foot of the cross. Somehow, I think a good Christian life must be filled with sacrifices that will lead to hardship and suffering. I cannot see beyond that, into the Easter joy of true happiness and peace. I shudder at the call to take up my own cross.

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”. (Today’s Gospel)

“To be a follower of mine” is to become a disciple. Discipleship in today’s context is a lifestyle choice. It is a choice “to take up our cross”. We can politely decline. When we “take up”, we make a conscious choice to ‘take’ the way of the cross. It is a lifestyle choice because we decide to live a certain way. The are many alternative lifestyles but we choose to adopt the ways of the gospel as our guiding principles.

When we take up the cross, we are not taking the cross of the crucifixion, but rather the cross of the Resurrection. Christ died on the cross, once, to redeem humanity. Good Friday is done. Discipleship is to continue the works of Christ, now Risen. Discipleship is not running headlong into hardship or suffering. Discipleship is the lifestyle choice of the wise who knows that it leads to true happiness and peace.  

This is that wisdom: “For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

Our Christian life is this sacrifice, the “losing of his life for my sake”, to love the other first before self. This does not lead to a death on the cross but a resurrection off it. Somehow, the more we give away of our self, the more fulfilled we find ourselves. Fulfilment leaves us in a state of peace and true happiness. This is the promise of discipleship. No self-engrossing worldly lifestyle or values have delivered fulfilment. Just listen to what the pandemic is telling us.

“Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead”. (Second Reading)

Discipleship is more than just being baptised. Discipleship is not just coming regularly for Sunday mass nor to merely be a member of a ministry, although they will help. Discipleship begins with an internal reset. It is within us where we form who we truly can be. The reset focuses our priorities on works of the kingdom over other worldly desires. The path of discipleship only begins when we start to express in action our proclamation ‘to love the other’. Discipleship is faith with good works.

Why do we not want to be a disciple when we don’t need to be materially rich to attain fulfilment in life? Why compete in uneven playing fields in the world to find true happiness, joy, and peace? It is as a disciple that the poor become rich, and the weak, strong.

Discipleship is not our imagined cross of hardship. We must rise from the foot of the cross. It is not about being burdened by the weight of our cross but to allow the cross of the Resurrection to lift us and carry us through our worldly life. Let us, with conscious choice and intention, take up our cross. Christianity is a lifestyle and discipleship is our choice.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Verbalise

I saw the funny side of this picture. A sign of the times we live in. Somewhat opposite to the message of last Sunday’s passage, Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean”. The threat from this virus is backing us into a corner, pushing us deeper inside ourselves to reflect upon life, particularly on what we can make clean. It is a time for renewal so that we can embrace this time ‘to live life differently’.

“‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’” (Today’s Gospel)

The key is deep inside us. Some of us do not want to open that door. Behind it are things of our past. They may be filled with disappointment, anger, hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness. They may be in the way for us ‘to live life differently’. The past can cripple us spiritually, like the man in today’s passage, we are blind to see, deaf to hear, and dumb to proclaim the Risen Christ in our personal life. “Ephphatha”.

One of the keys to spiritual rehabilitation is to verbalise. Events in our past may seem like random, isolated happenings. They disrupted our grand plan of life and led us down a different route. Mostly it took us to places we did not want to go. Experiences make or break us. Spiritually, they only make us. Events in our past are all interlinked. If today, we are in a better place and shape despite a difficult past, then verbalising it may help us see, hear and proclaim the Risen Christ with us.

One of the more practical ways to verbalise is to establish a small group of trusted friends. To this small group we can open that door and talk about it. Verbalising, and having people listen to us is helpful. They can lift a burden off us. Retracing our past, joining the dots together, help us uncover the many blessings in disguise that we received. Together, we point out for one another, the then hidden presence of Christ in the episodes of our life. Like the deaf man, we can then be touched.

“Say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’” (First reading)

Yes, indeed we need courage to re-visit our past. But the touch of Christ heals. “For water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland, the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water”. This can happen in the desert and wasteland of our past. The scorched earth will become fertile ground for us to grow into who God wants us to become and go forth ‘to live life differently’.

To live life differently, as our Pope says, is to spread this pandemic of love. When we are restored by his touch, it is for us to go out to touch others. In last Sunday’s second reading we are shown the way, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves”.

Today, we probably sanitize our hands more often in a day then we make the sign of the cross. It is OK as we are reminded not to be like the Pharisees. As we sanitise our hands, we are inclined to think only for our own safety. So, when we begin to sanitise our hands thinking first for the safety of the other before our self, then we are truly making the sign of the cross.

22nd and 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Spirit and Life

As I prepared for a conference this week, I re-looked at the thoughts of Sherry Weddell in her book ‘Forming Intentional Disciples’. This was thought provoking: “The majority of Catholics are sacramentalised not evangelised”. It was a platform for her to discuss that “that the majority of adult Catholics are not even certain that a personal relationship with God is possible”. As a born Catholic I fully understand her thoughts, but my understanding would not be possible without my faith life breaking into the realm of encountering God.

“It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (Today’s Gospel)

We need to situate today’s Gospel. The preceding paragraphs were on Jesus proclaiming, “I am the bread of life”. That led to the Jews arguing among themselves as to “how can this man give us his flesh to eat?” To which Jesus replied, “In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

In the sacrament of the Eucharist, we receive the bread of life. We receive who we are to become who we receive, The Body of Christ. My padre shared is his homily that the Resurrection in the Gospel is not just Christ being raised to life from his death on the cross, but rather his coming amongst us, deep into our personal lives to be with us and accompany us through life’s many crossings, as the Risen Christ.

“But there are some of you who do not believe”.

I am certainly sacramentalised. And I understand now that I was not evangelised. It was not that I did not believe. As Sherry Weddell put it, I “have the capacity to believe placed within me by Baptism and the presence of the Holy Spirit”. But I struggled because I had no idea or concept of what an encounter with the Risen Christ is, or that it is possible to have this personal relationship with God. If you have never experienced that realm, how could you? My catechism classes left me the image that God is the God of the Universe and that He is Almighty.  

“Encounter” is seeing the Risen Christ in the realities of our personal life – God in the little details of our everyday life. Most times it is nothing sensational, but yes, a sensation. An “encounter” brings to life the catechism of God’s presence; one can sense, feel, and be touched. It is life and spirit.

We each have a unique story. No two of us are the same. So, when we continue to encounter God in our personal life, we discover that God is personal to us. And we can then be certain that a personal relationship with God is possible. Encounters evangelise us. And as a born Catholic, it led me to a personal ownership of my faith and belief. It was no longer that which my parents gave me. It was my own because I have encountered the Risen Christ in my own life.

With this connectedness to God, and having a personal relationship with him, his words indeed are spirit and life. Together with our inter-connectedness with each other as members of the Body of Christ, our Christian faith becomes this lived experience.

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021