Saying Yes to Joy!!

What are you looking for?

Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

What drives you? What gets you out of bed on a daily basis?

What is one thing you’d do even if you wouldn’t get paid for?

If you have an answer to these questions, then you’re a happy joyful, full of life person.

If you don’t have an answer, if you’re actively looking for an answer, I’m glad you’re here. This talk should put you on the right path. It will at least point the right way.

This talk is entitled “the joy of saying yes”. Before we get to say yes, we need something or someone to say yes to.

To get you that point, you don’t have the luxury of simply going with the flow. You can’t simply do what you’re told without asking questions.

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point one—You can definitely not be indifferent.  Rev 3:15 I know your works.  You’re neither hot nor cold. Lukewarm. Indifferent.

Jesus alluded to this in Mt11:16-17— “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: We played the pipe for you and you did not dance. we sang a dirge and you did not mourn. When you live for nothing, even God gets tired of you. When you don’t care, what are we to do with you?”

When you live for something or someone, life becomes exciting. No fear. Bold. Joyful. Future is filled with adventure.

Look at the apostles. They started as frustrating fisherman or tax collector or simple men to boldly testify later “we mst obey God rather than men”. Jesus has been raised from the dead. That means something for everyone and we cannot not tell people about it.

If you want to experience joy, you have to make a choice. It’s a choice for joy happiness, abundant life.

Rev 3:20 behold, I stand knocking at the door

John 10:10- Jesus says: I have come to give you life and to give it abundantly.

Second point. John 1:35– what do you seek? Come and see. Be ready to be surprised by joy. When God calls, he gives you everything and takes nothing away. He does not make you less yourself. He allows you to be yourself and then some. stdas0374-1.jpg

Are you just surviving? You were made to thrive, to live life to the full. You were made to live in communion and deep intimate friendship with your creator. When that happens, you are completely happy.

Don’t you sometimes feels like something is missing? You have everything (job, car, career, good supporting family and friends, even money and popularity sometimes etc.) and yet something is missing?

If that ever happens to you, God is calling to Luke 14:10 come higher.

It’s when you come to what God is calling you to, that’s when you thrive. It’s when you ask God to help you discover what you were here for, that’s when you live life to its fullness.

It’s unthinkable that God created you for nothing.

In Jer. 29:11 the Lord says:  “I know the plans and thoughts  I have for you, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope”.

Are you thriving where you are? Would you do what you’re doing even if you don’t get paid? Does what you’re doing get you out of bed every morning thinking man I can’t wait to start…?

If the answer is no. You have an opportunity for a new beginning.

Third point: Isaiah 55:10 purpose. Everything has a purpose. Explain this.Isaiah_55-8.jpg

Now the million dollars question is this: how do you find your purpose? It’s much easier to find God’s plan for things, but how do we find out what God’s Plan for us?  not easy, but there is a way.

Sit before the Blessed Sacrament in the classroom of silence with phone off, and ask the One who created you to tell you what he created for. “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” Thats how I’ve found my purpose in life, and I am a person of joy consequently.

I can guarantee you he will answer. He loves you too much. He cares about you too much to ignore you. He wants you to thrive. There’s no thriving outside of his plan. That’s the beauty.

So stop looking for stuff in TV, iPhone, there’s no ‘App’ for Gods plan for your life. No one but he can reveal to you what he wants for you. So be still. Turn to the lord with your whole heart. And he will turn to you with his whole love.

The fourth point. Don’t say you’re too old or too young. Jeremiah was under 20 when called to give an unpatriotic message to Israel. Moses could not even speak when he was called to speak to the most powerful king of Egypt. St. John the evangelist was 16 when Jesus called him.

Therese of Lisieux was 21 when he discovered the little way. A genius way and simplified way to live the gospel.

St. Jean Marie Vianney was 33 when he was sent to one of the worst parish in France. He transformed the town and the parish to one of the holiest known part of the world.

Tiger Wood was 3 when he first broke 50 on a nine holes of golf.

Mozart was 5 when he wrote his first symphony.

Bill gates was 19 when he cofounded Microsoft.

Winston Churchill was 65 when he became Britain’s prime minister and picked a fight with Hitler. A much needed fight.

Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born.

Mary was 13 or 16 when she said ‘yes’ to become the bearer of the most important and greatest thing that has happened to our world.

Mother Teresa was 40 when he began the missionaries of charity. She is worth dwelling on. How did she begin? Silence in front the Blessed Sacrament. Then boom! Her calling becomes clear like a noonday sun. She discovered exactly what to do with her life. There was never a day she questioned that call.

There can be tough moment, but when God calls, nothing is too difficult. There’s nothing you cannot handle. No fear can restrain you.

Find what God is asking you to do. Then you will find joy. Lasting joy.

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A Reference Point

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Phil. 4:8).

Most Scientists have the propensity to explain all phenomena of life through biological processes. They want to make matter the cause of human activities. Observing the human person, they want to explain his activities such as nourishing, metabolizing, formation, dispositions, motions, and organization etc. in term of what they see. They look at him as a machine, or a mere biological entity. They forget that he is a continuous and integral whole that cannot be explained in term of his parts. They ignore the fact that everything has an underlying principle, or a cause that allows it to be what it is, and capable of performing its activities. According to Leon Kass in his book entitled The Hungry Soul, the human person cannot be explained through his biological activities, which are constantly changing. Form, something that remains stable in the midst of flux, is the best way to explain the activities of the human person.Cravings-FrontCover-DigitalFinal-Vsn2-300x300

Kass makes form the heart of human activities. The form can be understood as the order that maintains unity in the midst of diversity, “giving it an integrity that the components by themselves do not have”. Form is like a reference point, a constant, or something unchangeable. He thus emphasizes the supremacy of form over materiality “though form and material are interdependent in definition and in fact”. It is not visible, but “’invisible looks’ is announced in the language of visibility”. Our look is a manifestation of our form. So, we can perform our activities because we possess a form. In fact, the form represents the foundation for everything that a person does. Action follows upon being as Aquinas says. The action that a person performs is a reflection of how he is structured. I will compare Kass’ primacy of form with Aquinas’ view on the primacy of form, and show that what we are, and do is a result of the way we are formed.

For both Kass and Aquinas, the form determines what a thing is. As Kass sees it, the form is the organizing principle allowing something to continue through a lifetime. For instance, although metabolism means the continuous exchange of stuff between inside and out and no molecule in the organism, although it seems to remain the same and persist over time, although it seems to be maintained of the self, by the self, and for the self, metabolism of itself cannot persist. Its persistence is contingent upon the form. Metabolism undergoes change over time; it needs the form to sustain it when some of its components are changing.

aaaWithout the form, in Kass’ view, the metabolism would disintegrate during change. The form of a given organism is a certain organization-in-action. So, organism is only the effect of the real cause that allows a thing to perform its activities. The true organizing cause is the form. Aquinas follows the same path. The intellect is the form of the human body. For that whereby primarily anything acts is a form of the thing to which the act is to be attributed. What allows the soul to know is primarily knowledge. So, knowledge is a form of the soul. We primarily perform vital activities through the soul. The soul is the primary principle of our nourishment, sensation, and local movement, and likewise of our understanding. Therefore this principle by which we primarily understand is the form of the body (ST I, Q. 76, 1). What is true for the relationship of soul and body is also true for the relationship of form and metabolism.

anatomyanimalMoreover, our human uprightness, which is due to our form, allows us to relate to our world. As Aquinas asserts it, it is fitting that man possesses an upright stature (ST I, Q 91, reply 3). Further in this same reply, he says that due to his erect stature, man’s superior part (the head) allows him to turn toward the superior part of the world (heaven), and his inferior part turns toward the inferior part of the world. Our uprightness, in the word of Kass, is reflected in every detail of our deep structure. The way we are shaped and formed allows us to experience the world in a manner different from all animals. Even though they and we are experiencing similar objects, we respond to these objects exponentially different. As Strauss asserts through Kass, “upright posture pre-establishes a definite attitude toward the world”. As Aquinas would have it, our structure permits us to better accomplish our proper end (ST I, Q 91, 3).

Though that is the case, our uprightness does not happen without steep effort, but that effort is rewarding because it removes us from the ground, distances us from things while at the same time allows us to overcome distance, and provides a certain mastery over nature. One of the greatest benefits of our upright standing is that it allows us to become ‘detached beholder’, or ‘disinterested interest’.

aweFor instance, a deer looks a person in order to detect whether or not he is a potential danger. We, on the other hand, look so as to see to behold and discover something new. Being a detached beholder gives us the capacity to search for the true, the good, and the beautiful through our seeing, imagining, understanding, pointing etc. Looking disinterestedly opens us to see things the way they really are without seeking closeness, nor remoteness, nor unification, nor separation. We must keep in mind that we are capable of performing these activities on a consistent basis only due to our inwardness— the form.

Our hands and arms are two of the most obvious manifestation of our inwardness. The form gives us the freedom to use our arm and hand in space and time. Though animals do seem to have hand and arm, unlike them, ours can be used on a variety of ways. our hand and arm allow us to have a ‘gnostic’ encounter with the world. When the hands and arms are cooperated with the eyes and ears, we can swing our arms to and fro, sideways, upward and downward etc. so as to relate to the different parts of our body. The capacity to perform these activities gives us the freedom to provide for ourselves through crafting. The fact that we have hands and arms opens us to “unspecified possibility”. That means that there is nothing we could not do with our hands—be it fighting or defending. Moreover, our hands and arms allow us to express our affection and create new forms of communications. In encountering someone we express our joy to him with a handshake, a hug, or simply with a wave. When we see something that catches our attention, we point to it; we behold it or show it to someone. As Aquinas says, we look for beauty and of itself. Through our hand and arm, we express both friendship and philosophy according to Kass. Again, it is due to our uprightness that we are able to access, or perform these activities. What we do with our hand and arm is a reflection of what is going inside of; it is an expression of our inwardness.

rsWhat is obvious from all this is that the human person is a mystery being that cannot be reduced to mere material entity. The human person is a masterpiece that science can never completely decipher. This lesson is simple, but profound. We are not to change our biological makeup as we see fit because we are much more than a biological being. We transcend what science will ever be able to discover about us; so, even if science opens the door to endless possibilities by allowing us to change how we were born, we must not do so because it stands in steep contradiction with our underlying principle. That’s a choice that demands us to be grounded in something other than biology. It is a reminder that man is a middle between nothingness and greatness, so he must labor if he is to be great. He is nothingness due to his biological makeup for today he flourishes and tomorrow he withers and fades like the lily, and greatness because when he grows old and decay, our body and soul are not annihilated but glorified. We are nothing since biologically speaking we are like animals, but we are great because what regulates our biology transcends biology.

constantTherefore, our decisions must not be based on our emotional needs primarily or on what the body is demanding of us. They must be grounded in something incommensurable— something constant. That’s the moment of choice. For each one of us, there will be a time when we will have to decide for or against the Good, for or against the Truth, and ultimately for or against greatness. So the question is: will you choose mediocrity or greatness? Choose wisely.

The Depth of Our Helplessness

We are in this life in a spiritual journey to meet our Lord. We have to face many spiritual battles before we can finally reach the mountaintop. These battles cannot be won based on our own power. The conversion story of Augustine is a testimony to this. Despite the many efforts he personally made to find the truth—God, he never finds it until he understands that he must not rely on his own power. It is only God’s grace that enables us to turn to him. Although he was wholeheartedly looking for happiness, it could not be found without God’s grace. Two of the questions he asks show the primacy of God’s grace over personal effort. First, “why do I hesitate to abandon secular hopes and dedicate myself to God and the happy life?” (Confessions book vi, xi (19)). Second, if God is the author of supreme good, why do I have the power to will evil and reject good? (Book vii, iii (5)) I want to show that regardless of how willing we may want to surrender to God and do the right thing, God’s grace is indispensable in order to make that choice.
After Simplicianus told Augustine the story of Victorinus and St. Anthony, it became clear to him that he needs to convert to the catholic faith. He understands that there is no delight for him unless he turns himself to God. However, he quickly realizes having the knowledge that God is the source of happiness that he is seeking, and actually embrace that happiness are two worlds apart. As he put it, “the enemy had a grip on my will and held me prisoner”. His new will to enjoy the only source of pleasure was not strong enough to conquer his older will. His two wills were in conflict and robbed his soul of all concentration (book viii, v (10)). By saying this, he clearly understands that his happiness does not lie in worldly affairs, but he could not give them up on his own; though the burden of the world weighed him down, he could not turn to God until he called upon Jesus to fill him with power to overcome the disease of worldly allurements (book viii, v (12)). That tells us, even if we know what to do, our intellect and will need help to act. We need God’s grace. Without grace, we cannot make heavenly choice. We are in good shape only when our source of energy is God.
We have the power to reject good and choose evil because we have the power of choice. To understand the second question, Augustine works out some principle. God is good. All that he created is good. If they were not good, they would not exist at all. Evil has no being; so it was not created (by God) (book vii, v (7)). It enters the scene as a result of our bad choice. Humans are created with the power to choose. As such, he can choose whatever he pleases. As a result, he makes good and bad choice. God lets them choose lest he interfere with their freedom. To avoid evil, we need to regulate our choices. On our own, we will always fail. We need God’s grace to help us order our choices. That’s possible when we embrace the mediator between God and man— Jesus Christ (book vii, xviii (24)). It is only with God’s intervention do we receive the grace to make good choice. Yes, we find the grace to serve the Lord willingly only when we put on Jesus Christ (book viii, xii (29)). Unless we put our spiritual mouth at the fountain of God’s delight and drink avidly, the truth we are seeking could not be found (book ix, iii (6)).
It is my hope that no one has to look deep to realize how much God is necessary in his lives. From the breath we respire to our greatest accomplishment, I hope it is easy enough to see God’s fingers in all of them. So when you realize how much you’re contingent upon God, please take a moment to thank him for being so generous to you today. It’s as simple as that!