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To Love the Law

To Love the Law

6th Sunday of Easter [B]

May 9, 2021

John 15:9-17

Jesus gave His disciples the new commandment: to love one another as Jesus has loved them. The question may be raised: why another law? The Bible possesses a lot of laws and regulations. In the Old Testament alone, they are hundreds of regulations that are still effective for the Jews until now. The Church also has many laws concerning different aspects of Christian people from how to properly participate in the Eucharist to how to elect a pope. Aside from the Bible and the Church, we have many other laws to follow.

No wonder that often we see laws and regulations as burdens on our shoulder and restrictions to our freedom. For some, obedience to the law is sign of weakness, and breaking the rules is an achievement. However, if we investigate a bigger perspective and delve into the purpose of law, we shall discover that laws are not horrendous as it may seem. At least, there are three purposes of law.

Firstly, the law helps us to grow. The commandments may be restrictive, but they form and educate us. Just try to imagine that in a soccer game, there is no regulation on ‘hand ball’. Consequently, players will not only touch the ball, but keep it to themselves. It ceases to be a soccer game! With this simple and basic rule, players are ‘forced’ to use their feet to control the ball. This pushes players to train hard to master the skills, and hopefully turn to be world-class players. As children, we are trained to be punctual by following schedule, both in homes and schools. This simple rule does not mean to restrict our children, but to teach a disciple as well as to learn the value of time.

Secondly, the law saves us. The commandments may limit our movements, but they are for our safety. Just try to imagine that in a soccer game, a hard tackle is not a violation. Players will start punching and kicking one another, and it’s a matter of seconds before a riot begins. It ceases to be a soccer game! With this rule, players will be mindful of the harm they can cause, and yet, they can continue enjoying the game because no one is injured or hurt.

These two elements of law are also present in the commandment of love. The law of love forms us to be more loving persons. The real love is tough, even to love someone who are dear to us. It is hard to forgive, even our close friends. it is difficult to make daily sacrifices for our children and family members. It is not easy to be patient with people we serve in the community or the Church. Yet, if we choose to keep the commandment, we grow to be a more loving person. Love turns to be our second nature and we love spontaneously. If God is love, then we become God-like each day.

The law of love saves us. St. John of the Cross once said, “in the twilight of our lives, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.” Heaven is where the perfect love is, and to achieve that perfection, we need to build it gradually here on earth. The more we obey the commandment, the more loving we are, the more the heaven opens for us. Love saves us for the eternal bliss.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Mengerti Hukum Kasih

Mengerti Hukum Kasih

Minggu Paskah ke-6 [B]

9 Mei 2021

Yohanes 15: 9-17

Yesus memberi para murid-Nya perintah baru: untuk saling mengasihi seperti Yesus telah mengasihi mereka. Pertanyaan yang mungkin muncul: mengapa perlu ada hukum baru? Alkitab memiliki banyak hukum dan peraturan. Dalam Perjanjian Lama saja, ada ratusan peraturan yang masih berlaku untuk orang Yahudi sampai sekarang. Gereja juga memiliki banyak hukum tentang berbagai aspek dari kehidupan Kristiani mulai dari bagaimana berpartisipasi dengan benar dalam Ekaristi hingga bagaimana memilih seorang paus. Selain Alkitab dan Gereja, kita memiliki banyak hukum lain di dalam hidup bermasyarakat dan bernegara.

Tidak heran jika seringkali kita melihat hukum dan peraturan sebagai beban di pundak kita dan pembatasan kebebasan kita. Bahkan bagi sebagian orang, ketaatan pada hukum adalah tanda kelemahan, dan melanggar aturan adalah prestasi. Namun, jika kita menyelidiki perspektif yang lebih besar dan tujuan hukum, kita akan menemukan bahwa hukum tidak mengekang seperti yang dirasakan. Setidaknya, ada dua tujuan hukum.

Pertama, hukum memiliki unsur edukatif. Perintah-perintah itu mungkin membatasi, tetapi itu membentuk dan mendidik kita. Coba bayangkan, dalam pertandingan sepak bola tidak ada aturan tentang ‘hand ball’. Akibatnya, pemain tidak hanya akan menyentuh bola seenaknya, tetapi juga menyimpannya mereka bawa pulang. Ini tidak lagi menjadi permainan sepak bola! Dengan aturan sederhana dan mendasar ini, pemain ‘dipaksa’ menggunakan kakinya untuk mengontrol bola. Hal ini mendorong pemain untuk berlatih keras untuk menguasai skill tersebut, dan harapannya tentu, bisa menjadi pemain kelas dunia. Sebagai anak-anak, kita dilatih untuk tepat waktu dengan mengikuti jadwal, baik di rumah maupun di sekolah. Aturan sederhana ini tidak berarti membatasi anak-anak kita, tetapi untuk mengajar seorang anak akan pentingnya nilai sebuah waktu.

Kedua, hukum menyelamatkan kita. Hukum mungkin membatasi pergerakan kita, tetapi hal ini ada untuk keamanan dan kenyamanan kita. Coba bayangkan bahwa dalam pertandingan sepak bola, tekel keras dan kontak fisik membahayakan bukanlah pelanggaran. Pemain akan saling mulai meninju, dan beberapa detik kemudian akan menjadi tauran. Ini tidak lagi menjadi permainan sepak bola! Dengan aturan ini, pemain akan memperhatikan cedera yang dapat mereka timbulkan, namun mereka dapat terus menikmati permainan karena tidak ada yang cedera atau terluka.

Kedua elemen hukum ini juga ada dalam perintah kasih. Hukum kasih membentuk kita menjadi orang yang lebih mengasihi. Kasih sejati itu sulit, bahkan untuk mengasihi orang-orang yang kita sayangi. Sulit untuk memaafkan, bahkan teman dekat kita. Tidak mudah untuk membuat pengorbanan setiap hari untuk anak-anak dan anggota keluarga kita. Tidak mudah bersabar dengan orang-orang yang kita layani di komunitas atau Gereja. Namun, jika kita memilih untuk mematuhi perintah, kita tumbuh menjadi orang yang lebih pengasih. Kasih berubah menjadi kebiasaan dan keutamaan kita dan kita mengasihi secara spontan. Jika Tuhan itu kasih, kita menjadi seperti Tuhan setiap hari.

Hukum kisah menyelamatkan kita. Santo Yohanes dari Salib pernah berkata, “di masa senja hidup kita, Tuhan tidak akan menghakimi kita atas harta benda duniawi dan keberhasilan manusia, tetapi pada seberapa baik kita telah mencintai.” Surga adalah tempat kasih yang sempurna, dan untuk mencapai kesempurnaan itu, kita perlu membangunnya secara bertahap di bumi ini. Semakin kita mematuhi perintah, semakin mengasihi, semakin surga terbuka bagi kita. Cinta kasih menyelamatkan kita untuk kebahagiaan abadi.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Three Ways to Remain in Christ

Three Ways to Remain in Christ

Three Ways to Remain in Christ

Fifth Sunday of Easter [B]
May 2, 2021
John 15:1-8

Jesus said, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me [John 15:4].” To remain in Jesus is not just an option but a necessity to bear fruits of eternal life.

The question is how we are going to remain in Jesus? We can do at least three ways. Firstly, we need to remain in His Word. Jesus said, “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. [John 15:3].” How can we remain in Jesus if we do not know Him? How can we know Him if we do not read His stories and teachings in the Bible? That is why St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Often, we, Catholics, are accused of not reading the Bible enough. While the accusation might be false, the invitation to read and reflect on the Bible remains true. Reading Scripture may be challenging, but it has its precious rewards.

Secondly, we remain in Him through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him [John 6:56].” We face a difficult time because of the pandemic, and many people are deprived of the Holy communion. None can replace the sacramental union with Christ in the Eucharist. As a priest, I am saddened by the situation, but at the same time, I am glad because ‘absence makes the heart grows fonder.’ Often, I see some of the faithful shed their tears when they receive the Body of Christ after a long absence. The pandemic forces us to reflect more profound on the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives. Sometimes, we need to learn from the saints. Bl. Alexandrina da Costa of Portugal consumed nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years until her death. The bread of life truly nourishes the soul, and when the soul is healthy, the body will manifest this vigour.

Thirdly, we remain in Christ by staying in the Church. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, and because of one vine, all the branches are closely interconnected. One branch does not live for the sake of itself but the entire plant. One healthy branch can contribute to the wellbeing of the whole ecosystem, and at the same time, another branch may require more nutrients and support from other parts of the plant. This is why I will encourage people to be part of a community and be active in the local Church. The Church has extremely diverse communities within her. There are groups based on age. There are communities based on spiritual traditions and devotions. While it is true that being part of a community may be difficult sometimes, it also provides the opportunity to grow and love.

These are three ways that we may remain in Jesus, and Jesus remains in us. We continue to grow and bear fruits for the glory of God.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Tiga Jalan untuk Tinggal di dalam Kristus

Tiga Jalan untuk Tinggal di dalam Kristus

Minggu Paskah kelima [B]
2 Mei 2021
Yohanes 15: 1-8

Yesus berkata, “Tinggallah di dalam Aku dan Aku di dalam kamu. Sama seperti ranting tidak dapat berbuah dari dirinya sendiri, kalau ia tidak tinggal pada pokok anggur, demikian juga kamu tidak berbuah, jikalau kamu tidak tinggal di dalam Aku. [Yoh 15:4].” Tetap berada di dalam Yesus bukan hanya sebuah pilihan tetapi keharusan agar dapat menghasilkan buah-buah kehidupan kekal.

Pertanyaannya adalah bagaimana kita akan tetap tinggal di dalam Yesus? Setidaknya kita bisa melakukan tiga cara ini. Pertama, kita perlu tetap di dalam Firman-Nya. Yesus berkata, “Kamu memang sudah bersih karena firman yang telah Kukatakan kepadamu [Yoh15:3].” Sering kali, kita, umat Katolik, dituduh kurang membaca Alkitab. Meskipun tuduhan itu mungkin salah, ajakan untuk membaca dan merenungkan Alkitab tetap benar dan sangat relevan. Membaca Kitab Suci mungkin menantang, tetapi ini sangat mendasar untuk hidup di dalam Kristus. Bagaimana kita bisa tetap di dalam Yesus jika kita tidak mengenal Dia? Bagaimana kita bisa mengenal Dia jika kita tidak membaca kisah dan ajaran-Nya di dalam Alkitab? Itulah mengapa St. Heronimus berkata, “Ketidaktahuan akan Kitab Suci adalah ketidaktahuan akan Kristus.”

Kedua, kita tinggal di dalam Dia melalui sakramen, khususnya Ekaristi. Yesus berkata, “Barang siapa makan dagingku dan minum darahku, tetap di dalam aku dan aku di dalam dia [Yoh 6:56].” Kita menghadapi masa-masa sulit karena pandemi, dan banyak orang kehilangan kesempatan untuk menerima komuni Kudus. Tidak ada yang bisa menggantikan persatuan sakramental dengan Kristus dalam Ekaristi. Sebagai seorang imam, saya sedih dengan situasi ini, tetapi pada saat yang sama, saya juga terharu karena saya melihat beberapa umat meneteskan air mata ketika mereka menerima Tubuh Kristus setelah lama tidak bisa menerima-Nya. Pandemi memaksa kita untuk merefleksikan lebih dalam tentang makna Ekaristi dalam hidup kita. Sungguh, banyak dari kita merindukan Ekaristi. Terkadang, kita juga perlu belajar dari orang-orang kudus. Bl. Alexandrina da Costa dari Portugal hanya mengkonsumsi Ekaristi Kudus selama 13 tahun sampai kematiannya. Dari kisah Alexandrina, kita belaja bahwa Roti Kehidupan benar-benar memelihara jiwa, dan ketika jiwa sehat, tubuh akan mewujudkan vitalis ini.

Ketiga, kita tetap di dalam Kristus dengan terus bersatu dengan Tubuh-Nya, yakni Gereja. Yesus adalah pokok anggur, dan kita adalah ranting-rantingnya, dan karena satu pokok anggur, semua cabang saling berhubungan erat. Satu cabang tidak hidup untuk dirinya sendiri tetapi untuk seluruh tanaman. Satu cabang yang sehat dapat berkontribusi pada kesejahteraan seluruh ekosistem, dan pada saat yang sama, cabang lain mungkin membutuhkan lebih banyak nutrisi dan dukungan dari cabang-cabang yang lain. Inilah mengapa saya selalu mendorong umat menjadi bagian dari komunitas dan aktif di Gereja. Gereja memiliki komunitas yang sangat beragam. Ada kelompok-kelompok berdasarkan usia. Ada juga komunitas-komunitas yang memiliki berbagai tradisi spiritual dan devosi. Memang benar bahwa menjadi bagian dari komunitas terkadang sulit, hal itu juga memberikan kesempatan untuk tumbuh, mengasihi, dan berbuah.

Ini adalah tiga cara agar kita dapat tetap di dalam Yesus, dan Yesus tetap di dalam kita. Kita terus bertumbuh dan menghasilkan buah untuk kemuliaan Tuhan.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

The Good and Holy Shepherd

The Good and Holy Shepherd

Fourth Sunday of Easter [B]
April 25, 2021
John 10:11-18

The fourth Sunday of Easter is commonly known as the Good Shepherd Sunday. The reason is that every year, the Church always chooses the Gospel from John, especially chapter 10 [year A: John 10:1-10; year B: John 10:11-18; year C: John 10:27-30]. In this chapter, Jesus introduces His identity as the Good Shepherd. This Sunday is also famously called the Vocations Sunday. In 1964, Pope Paul VI established the World Day of Prayer for Vocations on the fourth Sunday of Easter. Why ‘Vocations Sunday’? The word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin word, ‘vocare’ that means ‘to call’. In the same Gospel, Jesus says that the shepherd ‘calls’ his sheep by name and they hear his voice [see John 10:3-4].

Often, we associate vocation with the vocation to the priesthood or religious life, become a priest, or become a religious sister. However, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not only call a few sheep to follow Him, but the entire flock. Jesus invites everyone to follow Him, and thus, everyone has a vocation.

Generally, in the Church, we have the clergy and the laity. The clergies are those who received the sacrament of Holy Orders or ordination. Under this group are the deacons, priests, and bishops. Meanwhile, those who do not receive the ordination are the laity. Under this distinction, we have married people and those who remain single for the Lord. There is also a special category, that is people with vows. Traditionally, we have three vows or promise to God, the vow of obedience, the vow of chastity and the vow of poverty. Christians who professed vows usually belong to communities [technically called institutes of consecrated life] like the Order of Preachers, the Society of Jesus, and many others. When a laywoman professes vows, she becomes a religious sister of a specific community like Sr. Maria, OP. When a priest has vows, he is called a religious priest, like Fr. Joseph, OFM. A priest who does not profess vows and attached to a diocese is called a diocesan priest. Indeed, these categories are oversimplified and fail to do justice to many other forms of lives within the Catholic Church. The point is that the Good Shepherd is calling all of us to follow and to be with Him. It is a universal call to holiness.

Yet, what is holiness? Does it mean when a man is ordained to be a priest, he is automatically holy? Is wearing a religious habit a sign of holiness? Is constant prayer and piety manifestation of holy persons? If holiness is following and becoming one with the Good Shepherd, then to be holy is to live and act like the Good Shepherd Himself. What, then, is the main character of the Good Shepherd? Jesus tells us, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep [John 10:15].” The Good Shepherd is ‘Good’ because His love is radical and sacrificial.

To be holy is to love radically and sacrificially, and true love is performed every day in every way possible. Holiness is when a man works hard every day for his family. Holiness is a mother who cares for her baby and ready to lose her sleep every night. St. Theresa of Avila used to say, “Know that if you are in the kitchen, God walks among the pots and pans.”

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP