Saturday, September 24, 2016

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

On Christian charity

Luke 16:19-31

Amos warned those who are living the comfortable life, shielded from any sentiments or feelings of mercy and compassion for the poor and thus, unable to extend arms to help them, "That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over." (Amos 6, 7)

In the Gospel for today, the rich man descended to Hell (or Hades) because he deprived Lazarus even of the crust that fell from his table.

Their lives are devoid of love and that is the exact meaning of hell.

Let's reflect on the spirituality of Christian charity.

First, charity is one of the theological virtues.  Virtues are formed out of habits or repetitive actions based on the intention to do what is good.  (CCC 1823) What makes charity a theological virtue is that it mirrors the source of all good: God himself.  When we are charitable, we live out the love of God who is first and foremost the generous One.

Second, loving is a commandment, not an option.  The Old Testament speaks about loving God above all things and loving neighbor as ourselves.  This is further strengthened by Jesus himself: "I give you a new command: love one another as I have loved you." (Jn. 13: 34 - 35)

The Lord commands us to love, the least, the last, the lost, and even our enemies.  Jesus loved us even when we were still enemies (Rom. 5, 10)  While on the cross, Jesus forgave his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do." (Lk. 23, 34)  Thus, charity is inclusive and all embracing.  Selective loving is false love.

Third, charity is the source and goal of Christian maturity. (CCC 1827)  It is the motive and goal of all our actions.  Charity raises human love to the level of divine love.  Once we reach it, we shall find rest. (CCC 1829)

In living out charity, we live out God himself, for "God is love." (1 Jn. 4, 8)



Sunday, September 18, 2016

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Curing social problems

Luke 16:1-13

Amos is known as a social prophet, meaning, he reveals the social sins of the people of Israel like desecrating the Sabbath and being dishonest in dealing with business transactions.  God will render his just punish
ment over them.

In the gospel, even though the man in the parable is a dishonest steward, the owner still commended him because of his astute ways.  Then Jesus pointed out the message of the story, "For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light."

Despite our religiosity, our country is beset with social problems.  As of press time, even the Philippine President admitted that the corruption in government extends from Luzon to Mindanao and that he alone could not solve the problem. How do we as Catholics help the President in solving this gargantuan problem?

Social sin needs social action to eradicate it.   Let's band together to solve it.  The problem is ourselves.  Neglecting the situation, we continue to think about our own selves, not aware of the social consequences of our actions.  We don't heed to these words of wisdom, "Love people, use money".  Instead, we "love money and use people."

Social transformation starts with personal conversion.  By serving God first and using everything to help people, we become the trusted stewards of the Lord.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C


In search of true wisdom


Luke 14:25-33 

Wisdom may arrive at moment of realization, after we have done something wrong and we haven't done anything at all about a situation.  Only then do we learn.

In an article "5 regrets of the dying", a nurse recorded the most common regrets of the dying.  The five regrets are: "I wish I'd have the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me"; "I wish I hadn't worked so hard"; "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings"; "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends"; "I wish that I had let myself be happier."  These are words of wisdom coming from dying person.

And if I may suggest, Christians as we are, may I include three more to the list:

1. "I wish I had thought of others more than myself."  By thinking more about how to serve others and make them happy, we are actually contributing to our own happiness.

2.  "I wish I'd listen to the wisdom of the Church rather than myself."  In the long period the Church has existed in history, it's credibility lies in being able to withstand the test of time, taking into consideration all its frailties and mistakes.  If we don't listen to the Church, we only risk committing the same mistakes as our ancestors.

3.  "I wish I'd thought about the world to come rather than my own world here on earth."  If heaven were in my mind even when I was born, I would have spent everyday of my life getting there.

In all of these, in loving others, in the Church, and in heaven, God is present.  He is the source of true wisdom.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

True Humility

Luke 14:1,7-14

Today's gospel is so pointed it challenges us to confront ourselves whether we are living lives of humility or arrogance.

Noting that in heaven, there is no such thing as first or second class saints, we need to live this value right here on earth by ruing every form of selfishness, arrogance, and greed and imitate Jesus in humility, self-emptying and service.

What are the marks of true humility?

St. Ignatius pointed out the path to true humility.  These are:  embracing poverty over wealth, service over power, and God over self.

Embracing poverty means despite our material possessions, we are all poor in God's eyes.  There is no distinction between the rich and the poor because we all need God.  We need to know who we are: helpless human beings totally dependent on God for our lives.

Second, embracing service means that I place whatever power and authority I have to serve others and not myself.  I cannot serve unless I stoop down and make myself available to help them, feel their pains, and help free them from their sufferings.  This is exactly what Jesus did to save us.

Third, embracing self-emptiness means to fill my life with God while emptying myself of self-indulgence.  Pride is the enemy of God.  Like St. Paul, let's pray that we may say, "It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me." (Gal. 2, 20)

In embracing these three things we would gain the true treasures of heaven, especially the love of God in us.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

God or this world?

Luke 12:49-53

artwork from dailyencouragement.wordpress.com

Jeremiah was thrown into the cistern for speaking against Israel.  It was fortunate that Ebed-Meleck, the Ethiopian, pleaded King Zedekiah that he be saved.

Jesus in today's gospel said, "I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!"  Jesus came not to bring peace on earth, but division.

A Christian witnesses for Christ; he doesn't compromise with the world.  St. Peter said, "It is better for us to follow God rather than men." (Acts 5, 29)  It's high time that we reflect if our lives are series of compromises with the world or we are still faithful to God?

We have compromised with the world if our values are worldly - giving in to wealth, power, or pride rather than poverty, humility, and persecution for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.

We have compromised if our children have opted to live in the same way as we have lived.

Thirdly, we have compromised our lives when we have not worked for the salvation of others.  Despite our accomplishments, we have accomplished nothing.

Be more sensitive with God's presence and His promptings.  Our lives will find its true meaning only in serving Him.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Choosing the better part

Luke 10:38-42 

It may seem that Jesus preferred prayer over work.  But this is not the message of the story of Martha and Mary.  The message is "choosing the better part."

Abraham, though he had a wife and household, chose the better part when he decided to accommodate the guests who turned out to be angels.

Jesus chose to suffer and die for our salvation.  What better part are we choosing?

If we continue to work actively in the world instead of working for the salvation of people and for the greater glory of God, we have not chosen "the better part."  Even for people who say that serving God through the family but are actually too busy to serve God directly are not really choosing the better part.

To choose the better part, we have to consciously and unreservedly choose to follow Jesus above all else, Jesus who is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John, 14, 16)  From this basic premise lies what we are to do in this world.

We follow Jesus as "way" when we follow him to his passion, death, and resurrection and carry our own crosses for the salvation of others.

We follow Jesus as "truth" when in spite of the noise this world offers, we choose to heed only to the truths of faith.

Finally, we follow Jesus as "life" when we choose to live in the love that he offers to us, unconditional, pure, and self-giving.

If our decision will redound to bringing others to God's reign and giving the honor and adoration due to God, we have chosen the better part.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday of week 15 in Ordinary Time, II

On being chosen

Matthew 12:14-21

All of us have own plans on earth, replacing what God wants us to do in the world.  By own actions we thought we can just move about the earth and follow our dreams.  But imagine a dream followed that is not in accord with God's dream - death is sure to follow.

In the midst of life's plans, there is Someone who calls us, chooses us and sends us on a mission.  His name is God.  And He will not take it sitting down until his will is followed by everyone.

Let's focus on "being chosen" vs. "choosing ourselves."  The former may in the passive tense, but it connotes a much direct reference on the One who chooses us, God himself.  While the later would consist of a stream of self-motivated actions with us moving according to our own whims and caprices, the former directly reflects the very image of God who chooses us make this world a better place.

God chooses us, but unfortunately, we couldn't detect it because we are so busy saving our lives.  How do we live a life chosen by God?

First, for the chosen, God's spirit dwells in him.  Jesus, whose spirit is God's spirit, is the concrete image of the God's presence in the world.  We as human beings are meant to manifest God's spirit and not our own.

Second, we are able to proclaim the true faith and not be swayed by false ones.  Millions of schools of thoughts and philosophies continue to be created.  But chosen will be able to detect truth from lies.  The worst form of lie is the absence of God or even the irrelevance of religion as a way of life.  From our view of religion, our way of life is affected and how we spend our time, talent and treasure.

Finally, the chosen will directly reflect God's love.  He would not be violent or vindictive, but salvific as God's love saves us.  Our dreams  will account to nothing if we don't live out God's love.

The result: all nations will put their hopes in God because His way is the way of truth, love, and life.  Everything points to Jesus.



Sunday, July 10, 2016

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Mercy

Luke 10:25-37

The reading from Deuteronomy assures us, "The Word is very near you, it is in your lips and in your heart." (Deut. 30, 14)

Such is God's law that is planted in the very hearts of people. Another word for this is simply "mercy".

Mercy is Jesus as he saves us by enduring all sufferings for our sake.  And as God is overly merciful with us, so we need to be merciful to God, to others, and also to self.

Mercy or "hesed" is God's loving care.  It is love with hands and feet that moves and acts for others.  Three more action words connote mercy.  These are forgiveness, empathy, sharing.

In the world of forgiveness, we share in God's forgiveness.

In empathy, we need to feel with one another before we can help them.

In sharing, we use what we have and share them to our brothers and sisters.

Mercy can only be the concrete and tangible way of loving God and our neighbor.


Saturday, July 02, 2016

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Be laborers of the harvest

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

Everything in  the first reading tells us about life - flowing river, a nourishing mother, flourishing like the grass.

This is how God sees the world and us.  Though we see sin, evil, and poverty, Jesus sees a great harvest, "The harvest is great but the laborers are few." He commands us to ask the Father to send laborers to the harvest. (Lk. 10, 1-10)

We are those laborers.  But do we allow ourselves to be God's laborers?

In order for us to be laborers, we need to know the following:

1. Do we know our roles here on earth?  If we are intent on just following our dreams of a better life, we are not laborers of the harvest.  Why are we on earth for?

2.  Have we responded to God's cal to send us?  Have we gone to communities, even the peripheries?  Do we even know that we are sent?  Again, if we are too busy with our affairs, we don't have the capacity to listen to the one who sends
us.

3.  Have we cured the sick?  When was the last time we gave food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, home for the homeless.  When have we brought sight to the blind and made the lame walk?  Have we brought a dead man back to life by bring hope to him?

If we haven't started any of these things, no wonder we cannot attribute all good things as coming from God, nor do we recognize the flowing river, the nourishing mother, and the flourishing grass.

But we have experienced these things.  Can we just allow ourselves to be sent by Jesus and the real beauty in this world?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Following Jesus

Luke 9:51-62

The readings reflect the urgency of following God.

Elisha followed Elijah and succeeded him only after doing final service to his father.

In the gospel Jesus  reprimanded those whom he called but have to do some errands first, "Those who look back are not fit to enter into the kingdom of heaven."

There are three connotations of following: the first one is about following the law; the second one involves physically following another, and the third one involves offering one's life to do the will of another.

Jesus commands us to radically follow Him.  Going to church every Sunday and following the 10 commandments are simply not enough.   We need to follow the Lord and live out His will if we wish to gain eternal life.

The Song "Day by day" can give us a glimpse on how we can follow Jesus.  The lyrics go this way:

Day by day
O dear Lord, three things I pray -
to see Thee more clearly,
love Thee more dearly,
follow Thee more nearly day by day.

See Thee more clearly ... The reason we opt for material things instead of God is because we don't exert effort to know him each day through the teachings of the Church and the Word of God and the reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.  We cannot start loving someone whom we don't know.

Love Thee more dearly ... It's a bit odd for men to propose love to women if in the first place, they neither know how God loves nor do they love God.  For love to be sincere, it has to be deeply rooted in God's love, for God is love.

Follow Thee more nearly ... Each day, let us make it a point to get closer to Jesus, to develop intimacy with Him, serve Him, and follow Him in carrying our crosses.  Martyrs receive the crown of everlasting life because of their adherence to Jesus through the offering of their lives.  Are we ready to align our lives with Jesus?

If we do these things, seeing, loving, and following Jesus, then everything we do is Jesus' fruitful work on earth.  People would see and feel the love of Jesus concretely.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Suffer for love of Him

Luke 9:18-24

Jesus may have asked, "Who do people say I am?" but actually, he wants us to know him as one who suffers for our sake.

The first reading mentions it, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced; they will mourn for him as for an only son, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child." (Zech 12, 10 - 11)

The Eucharist is not just a celebration of food and thanksgiving.  It is a remembrance of the sufferings of Christ.  Whenever we receive the Eucharist, salvation is attained at the expense of Jesus' offering of self on the cross.  Reception of the Eucharist is not a right to be demanded; but a gift freely given by God who loves us.

May we identify with the sufferings of Christ.  First, we need to know what we are suffering for.  For Jesus it is very clear, he had to suffer and die to save us.  To what are we suffering for?

Second, to suffer means to feel with those who are actually suffering.  We stop complaining not just because we don't have the luxuries but because we know there are those who are dying each day for lack of food and justice.  We need to empathize with them before we can help them.

Third, the path to heaven is a series of wounds inflicted by sin but healed by forgiveness and love.  This is our real connection with Jesus.  We live each day embracing our crosses, sacrifices, and sufferings to be totally united with him and with one another.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Forgive

Luke 7:36-50


We are invited by the readings to forgive.

But forgiveness cannot be possible unless we admit that we have sinned.  Imagine, if we claim we have not sinned, then the world would be living in unity and sharing.  But it is not.  Unless we admit our sinfulness, God cannot forgive us.

Second, know that God is the one who forgives and not just ourselves.  When we forgive we are sharing in God's power to forgive.

Third, we need to realize the fruits of forgiveness - the state of becoming whole and well, uniting with God, healing, restoring to life.

We should be more concerned about this than inflicting pain, hatred, and vengeance against those who sinned against us.

Forgive then; forgive endlessly.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Power to bring to life

Luke 7:11-17


The readings tells of Jesus and the Prophet Elijah raising the dead sons to life and giving them back to their mothers.

The mother replied, "You are the man of God; and the word of God is in you."

The Eucharist brings life to our dying souls.  Such is the heart of God, life itself.  There is no space for death nor corruption.

The beginning is life.  The end is life.  All that lies between them is life.  Let's reflect on each one.

At the beginning of all our intentions is to bring life, but to whom?  Only to ourselves?  Let us bring life to all, even to those dead in sin.

Second, what process are we doing to bring life?  Killing?  The means are as important as the end.  Let's be consistent with bringing life.

Third, where are we going with all these?  Eternal life?  Salvation for all?  Let our actions account for the salvation of many.  This is the very heart of Jesus.

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Good Shepherd

Luke 15:3-7

The image of the Good Shepherd is the closest picture to describe the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It poses three challenges to us Christians: food, the Good Shepherd, and the sheep.

First, the Good Shepherd brings the sheepfold to green pastures where there is an abundance of food.  The image of food is central to our faith because of the Holy Eucharist. It is challenge that as we receive spiritual food from our Lord, we are called to provide food for our hungry brothers and sisters through justice and mercy.

Second, the image of the Good Shepherd is that of a merciful, caring shepherd.  The more we get to know Jesus, the more he embeds his merciful heart upon us, causing us to be merciful as well.  Hatred and vengeance do not have a place in his merciful heart.

Finally, the sheep is deeply connected with the Good Shepherd.  Here we actually practice and live out mercy as well, enough to give life to our brothers and sisters.  This is the task of life, that we become Christians molded after the very heart of Jesus.

May we wear the scapular and align our hearts with Jesus' heart.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Corpus Christi

Offering

Luke 9:11-17

From the first reading, the Eucharist has been equated with offering.
What is offering?

The gospel talks about offering; from the boy who offered his food to Jesus; Jesus offering the gifts to the Father; and Jesus breaking them and giving them to others.

Offering is Jesus himself, a sacrifice that is offered for us.

Jesus instructs his apostles to "give them something to eat themselves."

The Eucharist is made possible because of giving and offering.  We cannot continue Christian life unless we consider ourselves as gifts or offerings to God just as Jesus does in every Eucharist.

How can we be gifts of God to others?  First, we need to consider that nothing exists in this world that is not a gift.  We receive gifts that we don't deserve.  But God gave them to us so we can take care of them.  Gifts cease to exist if we take it for ourselves.  That is sin.

We need to give them back to God for Him to sanctify our gifts.  But before we do that, realize that it is God who gave us the totality of Himself through his Son so that we may live.  Because Jesus offered himself totally, offer everything to God to make them holy.

Third, we need to break ourselves and be distributed to others.  This is the ultimate show of giving so that others may live.  We offer our time, talent, and treasure to serve others and practice compassion.

Imagine if the world world were filled with compassionate people.  It will be a gift for everyone and even for the next generation.  True, not only physical food would be in abundance, but spiritual food as well, with all faithful serving one another and loving God above all others.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity


The Trinity


John 16:12-15

Everything in our faith is leading us to a silent but sure communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What is communion? It is a direct picture of heaven.  As of now, there are things we don't understand, like why there is poverty in the world, or why we are committing sin, or why we hurt others and ourselves.  But we will come to understand eventually, starting from the desire to know Him as He reveals Himself to us.  Soon we shall be one with Him in a definitive way in an unbreakable bond of love.  Sin is no more.

The Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church teach us the ways to be one with Him.  From the book of Wisdom, it is said, "The Lord created me when his purpose first unfolded, before the oldest of his works." (Proverbs 8:22-31)  Know thyself!  We were already existing in God even before the creation of the world!  Know God and we will start knowing who we are, not as persons of this world, but persons of God.

God reveals to us as the loving Father, the Creator; the Son, the Savior; and the Spirit, the Paraclete.   From our knowledge of the Father from the first reading, we now turn to Jesus who judged us righteous and at peace with God. (Rom 5:1-5) How true is this about ourselves?  Jesus looks at us with loving eyes; it's about time we change from vengeful creatures to loving persons patterned after Jesus' loving heart.

Thirdly, God reveals to us as the Holy Spirit. "God's love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit." (Rom 5, 5)  We are persons in love.  All the things we do arise from God's mercy poured into our hearts.  He become healers of wounds caused by sin.

Apply these in everyday life, knowing who we are in God and this whole will change according to His likeness.  This world, once ruled by sin, will now be in total communion with God.




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pentecost


Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

John 20:19-23


The Holy Spirit enables us to detect the Lord's presence in our lives and in the mysteries of faith particularly the Eucharist.

Every Eucharist, every sacrament, every action in the Church become the living presence of Jesus through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Even our unity in the Church becomes the surest image of God's presence because of the Holy Spirit.

Known as the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the fear in their hearts changed to courage.  They spoke in a language that all people understand.  Immediately, 3000 were converted to the faith, all because of the Holy Spirit.

Let us appreciate Holy Spirit in our lives as we walk the way of the Lord.  Let us recall when we first received the Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.  We were initiated into God's world.  We need to learn more about the world we entered into, the world of God through catechesis.

Second, we let us be sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the concrete instances of life.  We need the spirit of discernment to differentiate right from wrong.  We need to form our consciences according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Third, let us fill ourselves with the light and fire of the Holy Spirit.  Let the passion of the Holy Spirit be upon us as we proclaim the Good News to others and influence others to live the life of the Holy Spirit.  Then the whole world will know that it is not just journeying through material time and space; rather, we are journeying toward the Kingdom of truth, justice, peace, and love.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

6th Sunday of Easter

Communion

John 17:20-26

A Christian community would not be exempt from conflicts and differences of opinions, but problems would always be resolved because of love that binds every faithful.

This was the situation described in the first reading.  The apostles deliberated and their decision not to burden the Christian community of Antioch with laws of circumcision and the prohibition of eating meat of strangled animals was met with approval.  The community was united.

In the gospel, Jesus prayed, "May they all be one as You are in me and I am in You."  Another word of unity is communion and heaven is pictured as the "Communion of saints", being united in love with one another and with God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the communion of saints connotes three other communions: Communion of faith, of sacrament, and of charity.

Communion of faith is unity in the faith that we have received from the apostles;

Communion of sacraments binds us in Jesus Christ.  The Eucharist brings about communion.

And communion of charity, which consists of acts of charity done for the good of all.

If we observe these things, then we become one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church."  (CCC 959)

Saturday, April 09, 2016

3rd Sunday of Easter, C

Closer to Christ

John 21:1-19

The reason why Jesus instituted the Eucharist is so that we can remember him in word and action, "Do this in memory of me."

Remembering was stressed by Peter when he recounted how the Pharisees killed Jesus.

In the gospel, they didn't dare ask who it was because they were sure it was Jesus.

Could we recall Jesus in the Eucharist and in life?  How could we know it's him?

I also want to stress another important reality by which we can know Jesus, "Love one another."

"Do you love me more than these?"

Do you love me... calls us to think not only of equivalence of loving God with others, but rather, to consider him personally and exclusively, "Do you really love me?"  Who is Jesus to us?  By this confession we will know how authentic we are as Christian witnesses.

More than these ... calls us to prioritize Jesus above all others.  More than anything else in this world, more than all the things we receive, more than all the people we love.  How much do we love him?  If he is not our priority, then we already sealed our ability to give witness to him.

Feed my sheep ... is a sign of Jesus' love that we should emulate.  The love is one with the beloved. If we truly love him, we will also love whom he loves.  Whom do we really love?  our own exclusive families? or those beyond our families to God's family?




Saturday, April 02, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

The Eucharist and the Path of Mercy

John 20:19-31


It is incredible that the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus to serve as a lasting reminder of the mercy of God until we reach everlasting life.

But the mercy of God is also translated as food, peace, and healing;

Food, because as we need food to survive physically, so we need the spiritual food, the Bread of Life, Jesus himself, to feed the deepest yearnings of our hearts.

Second peace, because a situation of peace is not when people are dead, nor there is peace when people are afraid because of some violent powers overruling them.  There is truth in the saying, "There is no way to peace; peace itself is the way." The freedom we attained during the People Power Revolution did not come from guns or goons.  Rather, it came from the hearts of vigilant people who stayed committed to fight for freedom using non-violent means.

Third, healing, because God's promise to us is heaven itself translated to life, healing, and abundance.  Healing is a result of a life of grace.  Translated to societal levels, it means development and well-being.

All these, peace, healing, and food are the real desires of our souls.  These also reflect the very heart of the Divine Mercy.