Friday, June 20, 2008

Parents and Children

Our eastern tradition strongly advices us filial piety. It is interesting how Confucius recorded it in his Analects and how the modern Church explains about that piety in the context of parents and children relationship.

Here are the quotations:

"Few indeed are those who are naturally filial towards their parents and dutiful towards their elder brothers but are fond of opposing their superiors; and it never happens that those who do not like opposing their superiors are fond of creating civil disorder. The gentleman concerns himself with the root; and if the root is firmly planted, the Way grows. Filial piety and fraternal duty--surely they are the roots of humaneness" (Analects, 1:2).

What are the duties of children toward their parents?

Children owe respect (filial piety), gratitude, docility and obedience to their parents. In paying them respect and in fostering good relationships with their brothers and sisters, children contribute to the growth in harmony and holiness in family life in general. Adult children should give their parents material and moral support whenever they find themselves in situations of distress, sickness, loneliness, or old age (Compendium of CCC, 459).

What are the duties of parents toward their children?
Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as children of God and to provide, as far as is possible, for their physical and spiritual needs. They should select for them a suitable school and help them with prudent counsel in the choice of their profession and their state of life. In particular they have the mission of educating their children in the Christian faith (Compendium of CCC, 460).

Monday, June 16, 2008


Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

We often heard about sweet Jesus, Jesus who advises service and to be servant. But in Luke 12: 49-53 we hear totally different Jesus. In this Gospel Jesus says, “I came to bring fire to the earth! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” In saying this, Jesus teaches us a lot how to face many difficult moments in our life.

Sometimes we think that to follow Jesus is just to follow the sweet Jesus, like many people who know Jesus only from the surface. They think that following Jesus means to be wishy-washy, that is, try to be nice to everybody, so that they never make any decision. These people are coward. They will always say, “Well, I know it’s right, and I have to do something, but you know, bla, bla, bla....”

Or one can say, “We have to follow Jesus who defend the oppressed, opts for the poor, and visits the sick friends.” Then they set a meeting at a poor man’s house. A year before the meeting, however, a bomb blasts in a city very far from that house. Those wishy-washy men then cancelled the meeting for the sake of their safety. The meeting was placed in another “safe” city, then the result of the meeting was so ridiculous, they said, “We are sent to be on the side of our brothers and sisters who are poor and oppressed.”

These kind of people don’t see Jesus completely. Jesus can be really sweet. Oh believe me, he could be so. Remember when Jesus faces the sinners who really acknowledge their sinfulness, he is so tender and so sweet. He touches them, cures them, kisses them, and hugs them. But when he faces the hypocrites, people who think that they have followed the rule perfectly and always consider themselves as the right ones; or when he has to say the truth, Jesus is really tough. He says, “I come to bring fire and division!”

As the followers of Jesus we have to make decision to be like him, not being wishy-washy man. Choosing Jesus means not choosing the other. We have to choose the truth. I remember when I had to choose between being a Jesuit or a Carmelite, my spiritual director said, “A choice is a sacrifice. You have to choose.” In our life we will always have to choose. In facing the culture of death Pope quote the book of Deuteronomy, saying, “See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live" (Dt 30:15.19). To choose life means to reject death. Our prophet Elijah, although he was alone in God’s side, he bravely challenged the Israel on Mount Carmel to choose between God or Baal, saying, “How long will you go limping with two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him, but if Baal is God, then follow him!” To choose God means to reject Baal.

However, don’t get me wrong. Jesus never slanders and intentionally spreads divisions. Only the evil one spreads divisions to create chaos. No, Jesus works for peace and unity, he prays for the unity before he died. Remember John 17, the entire prayer is dedicated to the unity: Ut omnes unum sint, that they may be one.

Division is the risk that has to be taken if we choose the right thing to do. Jesus knows it since the beginning, so then he seems to ask us, “Ok let’s take this risk.” Some of the most unexpected crises we face from the opposition of others when we set out to do what we perceive to be good, moral, and right thing to do. Jesus knows how devastating such crises can be, and he warns his followers to be prepared to encounter them also.

So, are we prepared to set fire on the world and take the risk, that is, division? The world will hate you. But remember his encouraging words, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Inner Peace

Dear brothers and sisters,

While living in this world, we are making a journey to a place that we as religious people call our Father’s house. We are people in journey, we are pilgrims, we are homo viator. In this journey one of the many things that we pursue is peace. Particularly, in this time of trouble in our countries, in our beloved Catholic Church, and in the world, we are desperately looking for peace.

Jesus comes up today in the Gospel (John 14: 27-31) with a promise to his disciples and to us who hear His words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

However, what is actually the peace that the world cannot give? Are there any differences between these two kinds of peace, from the world and from God?

The answer is: YES!

The world can give a peace as a situation without war or trouble. Once Julius Caesar said, “Si vis pacem, para bellum!” (If you want peace, prepare a war), so that the confronting side will be afraid of the power of its enemy and the war will be canceled. Is this a true peace? No, because instead of peace there will be continuous fear of each opponent’s side.

The just war tradition allows people to wage a war, and of course violence included, in pursuing peace. The critical question is: Can peace be pursued by violence? No way! Because violence creates violence.

Then, what is the true peace that Jesus has promised?

Let us try to understand it through this story:

During the civil war in Japan, there was a famous general caught by the enemy. The enemy would hang him before the mass the following day. He was put into jail. Evening came and the soldiers gave him very good foods as the gift of his last day, but he couldn’t eat it. He worried of his fate, because he would die soon. The night came and he couldn’t sleep, but then he tried to calm himself down. Soon after he calmed down, he remembered what his teacher had said: “Tomorrow is not real, only the present time is real.” Then a flowing of peace came to his heart, he woke up, ate up the foods, and slept very, very, very well. The following day, early in the morning hundreds Japanese troops rescued him from the jail.

Therefore, the real peace is not outside, it is inside. The true peace is inner peace. We always try to pursue external peace, that’s not too bad, but we have to know that the real peace is not a matter of external things. That’s way it is useless to take a vocation in a very expensive place, but there’s no peace in somebody’s heart. It is useless that we think that we can work well in a certain parish, with a very good neighborhood, in Florida or in Chicago, or in New York, if there is no peace in our hearts, restlessness will always haunts us. Now we can understand why a very rich and famous people such as Michael Jackson, Prince Charles, etc. seem do not enjoy their lives, and seem not happy. But we can see a very happy face of a farmer, a simple man or woman, who have not many possessions.

So dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to God that He may pour out His peace in our hearts. Let’s ask Him for this inner peace so that we can live peacefully whatever the situation around us is. Then we can say with St. Teresa of Avila, “Solo Dios basta!” God only is enough, for He is the source of our peace.

Homily delivered at Whitefriars Hall
May 6, 2006, Washington, D.C.