Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blessings

Solemnity of Mary, mother of God
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

Happy new year!

New years are the best times to make resolutions and feel hopeful that blessings would abound.

In as much as we focus on the gifts that are to come, let us also realize that new year is a time of grace, a time for new beginnings, and a time of utmost realizations regarding the meaning of our lives.

For the new year, we focus on the giver of the blessings - God himself with whom Mary kept pondering the events in her heart; God who is object of praise, honor, and adoration of the shepherds.

We focus on Mary's heart as our inspiration because she embodies how to praise the Lord. Remember, to focus on the gift and not on the giver makes our blessings futile. The gifts are reflections of how much God our Father loves us.

Second, our blessings should mirror Christ's redemptive act. To where are we going to use the blessings? For ourselves or for others? Let us join Jesus, the Savior of the world who aims to lead us back to the Father.

Third, our blessings should mirror the love of the Holy Spirit. They should be immersed in a sea of love, mercy, generosity, and sacrifice. In Pope Benedict's message for the World Day of Peace, we are called to the most profound sense of responsibility to creation through global and intergenerational solidarity and contribute to the cause of lasting peace, "If you want peace, protect creation." This third factor points out to our responsibility to the well-being of others and not simply ourselves, the common good and not our own interest, and our responsibility to the people of the next generation.

Pray that we may receive the blessings of the new year with renewed hearts. Without God, we are nothing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The vocation of the family

Feast of the Most Holy Family
Cycle C
Gospel reading: Luke 2:41-52


As we glance at the manger we see the shepherds looking at the Baby Jesus. But we also see in a more central manner the figures of our Lady and Joseph looking tenderly at the newborn King. And not only they are the ones looking but so too millions of families with eyes glued to this holy scene, hoping that many would take Mary, Jesus, and Joseph as the model for their families.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Family. Every father should look at Joseph as the model for fathers - responsible, holy, and faithful. Every father is the mirror of God the Father who provides everything for His children. To provide is not simply giving money; rather, the whole person dedicates the whole himself to provide everything, including soul and life, to his family.

The mother should look at Mary as the model of mothers - inspiring, thankful, lowly, and filled with love. In her, motherhood becomes a fitting offering to God with whom she becomes a "maidservant."

The child should mirror after the Savior of the world; he/she should look up to Jesus as the model of children - obedient, respectful, and supporting to his parent. The love a child receives from his parents should become his strength to do what he is destined to do; i.e. do his Father's will.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas: the unfolding of a new world

Christmas night
Reading:LUKE 2 : 1 - 14


The context of the Lord's birth could not be far from our own world - a world in which political leaders want to maintain the status quo; where a small portion of the population want their exclusive share in the world's riches while the rest of the people wallow in suffering caused by these inhuman structures.

This is the story where the Holy Family found themselves in; they were displaced, outcast, without food, home or even a decent shelter.

Yet, from this desolate scene, another alternative world is coming about - it marks the indwelling of the Lord with his power and mercy. Now, the recipients of this new Kingship are the simple folks (including Joseph and Mary), a barren woman (Elizabeth) and an old man (Zechariah), and a group of poor shepherds. Why? Because a small, helpless, homeless newborn baby is now the Savior of the world.

In this alternative world, the poor and the outcasts are the most important people, us included, as we give witness to the goodness of the Lord.

May this new world flourish. May we continue that path that Jesus took. Eventually, may we have the strength to dismantle man's created world of power and greed and start a real world of justice, love, and peace.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 9, simbang gabi - our commitment to bring Christ into the world

Simbang Gabi, day 9
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

With the last day of our preparation for Christmas, we realize fruit of the preparation - it is God who is preparing us all along to bring Jesus into the world, into people's hearts, into the workplaces and into communities; into churches and homes - everywhere. What started with God's story of love ended up being our own. Now we are a part of the story of salvation. The buck now falls upon us to proclaim the Christmas message - it is Christ who lives in all of us.

We can still commit ourselves more concretely to the work of salvation. Three things Zechariah prophesied in St. John that we can also fulfill in our lives:

1. "to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins" - in a liturgical way, for people to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist to receive full pardon always and forever;

2. "to give light to those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death" - we are the modern-day Catechists to remove the ignorance from people's minds and bring them to God's light;

3. "to guide our feet into the way of peace" - to live a life of charity and generosity, always making ourselves available, time, talent, and treasure, to help the poor back on their feet and for us to travel on the road to heaven.

These three things are the core 0f Christian life - liturgy, catechesis, and social apostolate. Remove one and Christian life is not complete. But live them out in an integral way and we possess a mature faith enough to make Christ's work of redemption fruitful.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 8, Simbang gabi: realizing our vocation

Simbang gabi
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

Photo courtesy of the
Byzantine Archeparchy

As we near the end of our journey and the beginning of our journey with Christ this Christmas, it is evident that we are being prepared for something nobler and greater, i.e., to become the modern-day messengers of the Lord Jesus to our brothers and sisters. But in way do we become messengers? I will point out an important reality that would mark the essence of becoming messengers: the reality of our vocation.

Vocation is an affirmation of God's presence in our lives. Our vocation is not just to aim to have a high-paying job or a successful career or being able to send our children to private schools. In the world of vocation we acknowledge that this is not our world; nor it is our story. Rather, it is the story of God's tremendous love for us and we are witnesses of this love.

Second, vocation affirms who we are and why we are created in the this world. Who are we? We are transmitters of God's presence in the world - in schools, at work, in businesses and market places, and in our residential communities and parishes. We utilize all of our unique resources and expertise to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth. Unless this so, our lives will remain empty no matter how much we accomplish in this world. By not becoming messengers of the Lord, our lives remain empty and meaningless and our tendency is just to hold on to existing relationships whom we thought would be the source of all our meaning.

Third, vocation is our way to heaven. In the readings the Lord purifies us until we become pleasing offerings to the Father like Jesus. It may also be that we are purified so the Lord can continue working in us. Be holy models for your children and the next generation. Leave the mark of God's holiness behind. By doing God's will here on earth, we shall gain the everlasting happiness in heaven.

This Christmas, commit to living out our own vocation of being sons and daughters of the Lord.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 7: the thankful heart

Simbang Gabi
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

I believe that with only 2 days to prepare till Christmas, we are slowly being prepared by the Holy Spirit to be living tabernacles like Mary who carried Jesus in her womb, and bring Christ into the world. Are we ready to take such role?

Let us examine our hearts if we are ready. Better yet, let us imitate the heart of Mary as she sings the Magnificat. Her heart is filled with recognition of the Lord, the source of her true happiness.

What constitutes a thankful heart? Mary's heart is a "lowly" heart, not a "proud" heart. It puts God at the top of everything. It provides an adequate space to let God in and learn His ways. A proud heart doesn't have the attention for others. It puts the self at the top.

Mary's heart is a "poor" heart, not a "rich" heart. A rich heart has always someone or something apart from God to cling on to. A poor heart is totally dependent on God.

Last but not the least, Mary's heart is a "giving" heart, always giving time to be available for others. A giving heart heals poverty and selfishness. Every person realizes his dignity with "givers", not with "takers". It is the giving heart that is the secret to eradicating poverty, not selfish hearts.

Eventually, a poor, humble, and giving heart is the very heart of Christ. Thus, the reason for Christmas. We are now prepared to celebrate Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 6: reclaiming the innocence of Paradise

Simbang Gabi
Gospel: Lk. 1:39-45

Photo courtesy of: AWF Media gallery

See how the Song of Songs was written: "My Beloved is leaping like gazelle, like a young stag ..." There's much in common with the world of husbands and wives and the Lord's love for us His children, "He is like a young stag..."

The story of Christmas is none other than a love story between us and the Beloved, and Christ as the supreme offshoot of this relationship. It is like a story of paradise all over again, but this time, more intense is our relationship with God. This can only be possible with a thorough, more committed preparation of His coming to our lives this Christmas and the days after that.

Would it still be impossible to recover the story of paradise? Have we really lost touch of our sense of the Lord? Have we forgotten to listen to Him? We can counteract all these if we like Mary, yearn to be "filled with grace". "The child in my womb leapt for joy" seems to be the symbol of pure and unadulterated joy; it is so innocent.

Reclaim by consciously making a commitment to rid ourselves of sin. Second, get genuinely interested in the Beloved who is higher than life itself and our very being. Third, commit to do His will and make Him happy. Be filled with grace and share it with others; then we'll see goodness and life overflow. Then we are ready to receive Christ this Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

To mirror God's love

4th Sunday of Advent
Cycle C
Gospel: Lk. 1: 39 - 44


We have been following the readings as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. Nowadays, there is a growing dichotomy between secular "Christless" Christmas and the authentic Christmas. In the Philippines, this is translated to an overindulgence in parties, merry making, and excessive drinking as compared with those who aim for the true meaning of Christmas through peace and conversion.

Mary is the prime example of the way to Jesus. We may not carry her inherent goodness, but we can be assured with the thought the God created us to be good. It is just a matter of cultivating that goodness in us and in others. Let this be our life's goal.

Mary did not remain inherently "good". She placed herself at the total service of the Divine King. May we also inculcate her words "I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say." There is nothing that matches a person who commits himself to totally doing God's will. In fact, this should be the only thing we should be doing in this world.

Thirdly, Mary realized God's will in her life. Let us lives be mirrors of God's love as a moon mirrors the light of the sun. Only then could we joyfully see Jesus, the real essence of Christmas. He is love abounding. Only then could we see the multiplication of love and service.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 4: Help us in our unbelief

Simbang Gabi
Reading: Luke 1:5-25

Yesterday, God inaugurated his plan with Joseph. But today, like Zechariah, not all are capable of understanding God's plan. They remain mute, deaf, and blind to the reality of God's presence. Reflect on the following:

1. It is us who prayed for life's blessings but we somehow get lost along the way. Let us remain faithful to the source of blessing. God hasn't broken his promise!

2. The promised blessing will be of highest quality, like God's promise to send an upright man, John the Baptist, into the world. God made us. We cannot be less than who we are.

3. A lot of it still depends on the quality of our faith. The Lord sees through us. The reason prayers are taking more time to be heard is because we are not prepared to see the glory of the Lord. Conversion would entail a life-long commitment before we can see the miracles of God abound. We may have to deal continually with our own disbelief until such time we are prepared to receive God's bounty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 3: God's masterplan in actuality

Simbang Gabi
Gospel reading: Matthew 1:18-24

The main event for this day is Joseph agreeing to be part of God's plan to take Mary as his wife to start off the work of salvation. It is extraordinary that God would ask for our consent before carrying out His will.

But God always respects our capacity to choose. Unfortunately, we don't utilize this gift of choice well. We use it to turn away from the Lord. Let us utilize this opportunity to align ourselves with God wants and not what we want.

First, God's plan is all encompassing. Undoubtedly it hits all people and breathes life into it. God's plan may be likened to business plans. The only difference is that all of God's promises will come true with or without us. Pray that we may be part of this plan.

Second, there is an assurance of God's presence throughout the whole process. "Emmanuel" means God is with us, manifested concretely by Jesus Christ. We shall always see him around our lives.

Third, to realize the kingdom of God we need to connect with God. We need to align every activity, action, decision to His. Then the Kingdom will come with us in it.

Pray that we would all participate in the unfolding of the history of salvation like St. Joseph.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 2: the grace to acknowledge God's presence in our world

Day 2, Simbang Gabi
Gospel reading: Mat. 1: 1 - 17

From Dec. 17 onwards the liturgical texts of Advent are more directly concerned with the immediate preparation for the Christmas feast. The mystery of God's love, the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God (Eph 3:9), is the foreground. God realized it in the Lord's ancestros and proximately in the infancy of John the Baptist and in the persons of Our Lady and St. Joseph."
(Ordo 2010, p. 12)

Power, homage, compassion and peace - what is this special relationship God has for his children? Why does God give us all these blessings that we do not deserve?

More than the reasons are the consequences that spring from a God who loves us eternally and gives us blessings. First, we ought to thank God immensely for making us part of Himself. "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you...." Why is God doing this to us? Because he simply loves us unworthy creatures. May we change our orientation from disregarding God to repaying Him by loving and serving Him more.

Secondly, He has to do what was undone and destroyed by man's greed. He repaired our relationship with Him through His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, who is the epitome of the loving obedient Son to His father. Cooperating with the salvific work of Jesus is our very identity, not a set of people who continue to cause God a terrible headache.

Third, God has been through the ages, present in our world. Let us analyze in our lineage how God works in special people who influence the family for good. Let us thank the Lord for saving us each day and leading us to His care. This is still God's story, not our own. But we have a part of it. We are the people whom God loves so tenderly as to let His Son do the sacrificing for us. Acknowledge it and cling to the Lord with all our might!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 1 of Misa de Gallo: a call to trust the Lord

Gospel: Lk. 7: 19 - 23

Day 1: the start of Simbang Gabi. Experts say that the first impression is always crucial to the success or failure of an endeavor.

Same is true with faith. We may start our "evening masses" to anticipate Christmas, but if we have started on a wrong foot, chances are we may not recover and see the light of the essence of this sacred event. Christ may not be born in our lives.

Let us invest in this first day to clear our intentions. In order to celebrate Christmas worthily we have to trust God to the fullest. Learn from the first reading, "I am the Lord unrivalled; there is no other god beside me." (Is 45: 6 ff) Be led by the power of the Lord and he will put our lives in order.

Second, pray to be strong in times of trials as Jesus is. "I did not promise you a comfortable life; but I promise you a meaningful life", so goes a saying. Pray for a sturdy faith that even in times of trials and we start thinking that God is not granting our prayer, we shall not falter.

Third, pray that no matter what, we shall be faithful. Notice that in the most interesting stories, the body is as important as the ending. When that time comes, would we still be interested in the unfolding of the message of a story?

Pray for all these and we shall see Jesus born in a manger. Only the faithful person would know that it is the Lord the world is celebrating this Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rejoice!


3RD Sunday of Advent
cycle C
Gospel: Lk. 3: 10-18

As the third candle of the advent wreath is lit, we are reminded of how close the Lord is to us and how joyful we would be in meeting Him.

John the Baptist was also filled with joy as he announced the coming of the Messiah. But his approach was different. He did not focus on himself, on how good his words were, and how he could deliver a message of hope.

Rather, he immediately translated hope into action: to demand for payment other than what is required, to give one's tunic, not to extort anyone ... all these are signs of hope, especially for those who think that life is filled with despair.

The greatest teaching of John was to introduce Jesus as the Messiah, the transmitter of the Holy Spirit. This self-oblation puts Jesus at the center of things and not John. This act makes more concrete the work of salvation.

Again, we pray to be like John the Baptist on the road to helping others on the road to salvation. The most wonderful experience of Christmas is when a people, submerged in poverty and sin, would start moving on the road to healing and salvation just because they pave the way for the coming of the Lord.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Why we celebrate the Immaculate Conception


Why do we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception?

First, what does the title connote? Mary as the Immaculate Conception connotes total unity with God who is our first beginning and our last end. Mary embodies the new man as God wishes it to be, sinful and undefiled like the Father.

Second, the title opens for us a world of hope of what we should be. We may have fallen from the state of holiness, but God has given us a concrete model to learn from, that hopefully in this world, we may struggle through to imbue holiness in our being. It also connotes that all the things we do in this world should be "sanctified" or made holy. Imagine if all people would travel in this world with this in mind. Nobody would be traveling in sin and no one should suffer as a consequence of sin.

Finally, Mary's Immaculate Conception always points to the reality of Jesus, our beloved Messiah. She was prepared by God as a living tabernacle, undefiled, for her Son. So too must we strive to bring Jesus and His work into the world.

Mama Mary, pray for us, your children. Lead us to your son, Jesus Christ, Amen!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The miracle of generosity


32nd Sunday in Ordinary time
Cycle B
Reading: Mark 12: 41-44
Photo courtesy of campaignforcatholicschools.org

In the book of Kings, the jar and jug that were always filled with flour and oil is indeed a miracle from God. However, the greater miracle there was that the poor widow offered to Elijah her last meal. That is the miracle of generosity.

In today's times, this miracle is dwindling. People's attitude to earn more and receive more is killing the rest who couldn't compete with the harshness of life. But nobody survives in a selfish world. Even the strategy of killing population through contraception is the clearest example of a selfish world invented by man.

Generosity is first demonstrated by God followed by his Son Jesus Christ. It takes one generous act to save the world. We are surviving only on the goodness of God. We are to follow Him so that not only we survive this is world, but but so too others also, most specially the poor. It would be a shame to join the selfless saints in heaven while our objective is just to save our own families.

Be generous with your time, talent, and treasures. If the community is generous, everyone will benefit. It is better to give than to receive.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The fruit of seeing

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B
Reading: Mark 10:46-52

"See I told you so!"
When we were young, every time we commit mistakes, our elders would tell us, "See, I told you so." Now, when we're grown up, our inner parents would whisper the same words. We'd give in to these words or not. But sooner or later, we'd realize that the voices are right all along.

The blind Bartimaeus in the gospel today becomes an icon for all of us who are in one way or another become blind to the reality of God's love and are so immersed in the ocean of human imperfection. How will be be like Bartimaeus and be able to see?

First, he called Jesus "The Son of David". He saw in Jesus the reality of being a king. He could see how God works. Could we see enough to place our hopes in Him?

Second, "He said, "I want to see." His request is explicit. Perhaps, we still do not know the core of our troubles. The core of our problems is not because we are receiving little income, nor we only have less in life. The core inside of us is love waiting to be filled and to give itself to others. We are blind to this reality and we fill ourselves with material things.

Third, after being able to see, Bartimaeus followed the Lord. That is the fruit of seeing. What is our fruit after seeing? Kind hearts? Generous spirits? Freedom to serve our Lord?

Pray to see.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

True wealth

28th Sunday, Cycle B
Reading: Mark 10:17-30

I am reminded of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, particularly, the meditation on the three pairs of men as a prelude to asking for the gift of poverty a person must have in order to give glory to God and to work out his salvation.

All three men received 10 thousand ducats, an estimate of about 1 million dollars today. The three pairs are all concerned with pleasing God and saving their souls. The first one promised to remain faithful to God and want to rid themselves of the hindrance the money brings to them, but they ended up not placing the means even at the hour of death.

The second pair also want to please God, save their souls by ridding themselves of the attachment, but they remain with the thing acquired, so that God should come where they want and so they don't leave it, although it would be best for them.

The third pair would also have the same disposition, but to rid it or to keep it is not the issue, for they have remained detached to it, even abhorred it, for to place themselves in the total service of the Divine Majesty is their ultimate and real joy.

The moral of the story is not whether to choose the gift of actual poverty or not, to feel attraction or repugnance to it, but to crush the disordered tendency so as to place oneself at the total service and praise of the Divine Goodness.

Are we intent in totally serving the Divine Majesty and to give joy to Him? Would we opt to make it our life's goal, to sell everything we have so that the only thing that remains to give our Lord is us? Would it not please the Lord if we use everything we have to serve others?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mama Mary, pray for us

Photo courtesy of Marwin L. Llasos

There has never been any country as dedicated to Mama Mary as the Philippines.

This may be an overstatement, but such is so for millions of Filipinos who place themselves under her loving care. This may also be the most significant time to renew our commitment to the recitation of the most holy Rosary.

The Rosary is our way to Christ through Mary. In the spirit of deep contemplation, we are immersed in the sea of Christ's life and being in his joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. Mama Mary caused all that to happen.

Secondly, the repetitive nature of the Rosary enables us to enter more deeply in communion with God. Every Our Father and Hail Mary uttered, recited, should not be meant to distract us away from the purpose of contemplation. Every phrase "I love you" uttered repetitively in thought and word enables us to commune with the beloved and be enveloped by his/her love. Such is our case with God; He pours out all His blessings upon us.

Thirdly, the Rosary opens us to the deepest reality of being Church. It starts off with the vertical relationship with God when we pray the Our Father. The first words of the Hail Mary opens us up to our communion with God who uttered the first words of praise in honor of the Virgin. And the second part of the Hail Mary includes us and our participation in the divine work of salvation, "Pray for us sinners."

Each reality well prayed should lead us closer to one another and with God. Such is the reality of the Filipinos, no matter how it is beset by corruption and calamities. Mama Mary, help the Filipino family. Amen.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The law of love

27th Sunday in ordinary time, cycle B

Gospel: Mark 10: 2 – 16

Jesus repudiated Moses' law of divorce. Why? In the law of love, man or anyone is not higher in stature than their partners. Rather, they are co-equal, having been created by God as “male and female”.

Second, that in the law of love, God is the author; otherwise, if we leave it to man to decide, he will freely do as he pleases.
That is why divorces, trial marriages, live-ins, separations, and adulteries are predominant. With this kind of love, there is no true love because it is divorced from its true source – God. If love is detached from God, it becomes selfish; if it is selfish, then it fails bring life. If there is no life, there is no generation of life.


Love comes from God because God is love. That is why Jesus chose to be one with us in all things except sin. Learn the way God loves. His love is eternal; it is ever faithful; it is fruitful. It produces families. It causes unity in families. It makes us all alive. The contraceptive mentality is opposite to all these. It does not produce love. It makes love die. For with the multiplication of humanity is the love inside people’s hearts for one another; thus, all live. That is God’s love.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The true servant


25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B
Reading: MARK 9 : 30 - 37

He does not want people to know he's there ... the entrance of Jesus to Galilee is a preparation for his entrance to Jerusalem to do the Father's will. This symbolizes his utmost humility in offering his life for us and the paschal mystery he would undergo - his passion, death, and resurrection.

Who is the greatest?... not the powerful, not the famous or the rich, but those who take the role of a servant. Who are we truly serving?

He takes a little child ... Children do not have rights in Jesus' time. But they are dearest to him. Who are closest to us - the rich or the powerless?

May we truly recognize the grace of serving the poorest of the poor.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy brithday, Mama Mary!

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

Happy birthday, Blessed Virgin Mary! What gift can I give to you today?

From the book of Micah, you are Bethlehem, the smallest, unknown town, from which the Savior of the world would come. God chooses the weak and the small and make them strong. God gave you to us as a pleasing gift.

From the gospel, we discover God's enormous plan of salvation, far beyond any of us could imagine. And you have a very big part in it. For from you came forth our Savior Jesus Christ.

What gift can I give you today? I will offer you a heart patterned after your heart and the heart of Christ. I offer to you my humble and wounded heart tested by various trials and sufferings. I will offer to you my noble heart, a heart that loves the poor and reaches out to them. I will offer to you my very own life.

Happy, happy birthday, Mama. The whole world, both in heaven and earth, rejoices at your feast. Please whisper each one of us to your beloved baby, Jesus Christ and teach us to live according to his will. Amen.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

To see as God sees

cycle B
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Photo courtesy of: Grandma Faith's Space

"If you want to see the future, look at it through the eyes of a child.

I say, "If we want to see things, look at it through the eyes of God."

Perhaps God sees the world so differently from ours. For one, through God's eyes, all of us are created good; it's us who chose to follow evil. Let us realize the good in us once and for all.

Second, in God's world there is life, not death. Though we thought we love life, we are also instrumental in bringing death to others by our selfishness. Our self-centered concerns kills others, that overwhelming desire to receive and not to give wastes away a lot of life. Change this attitude.

Lastly, in God world, everybody lives and not just a "chosen few." When I say everybody, I mean everybody. All who are born in this world deserves the kind of life we are experiencing. Have we thought about the greater majority and not just our personal good. Have we thought about others and not just our own family?

Take these paths then and we shall see as God sees - life for everyone.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Have we compromised our faith?


22nd Sunday in Ordinary time
Cycle B
photo courtesy of Franciscan Action Network

There are some things in this life that we should regard as "non-negotiables" - freedom, love, trust, respect, honesty. If we haven't compromised these to lesser values, we are indeed blessed.

Faith is non-negotiable, but have we compromised it lately? How do we regard our relationship with the Lord? Do we relegate Him to second place? God also calls us to possess a pristine faith. We are all called to regard our Lord as God above any other. Does He deserve the way we are treating Him right now?

Secondly, we nourish a lively faith if our lives are oriented to serve all people, most specially the poor. All deserve to live, not just ourselves. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the universal destination of goods is to render life to all people, even our private properties.

Thirdly, we sustain our faith unto eternal life if we can truly say that we haven't compromised our values. This is our gift to God - ourselves as pleasing offerings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We are on FACEBOOK!

Friends, we are on FACEBOOK! Just look for my name so we can interact better there. I post our latest gospel reflections, movie reviews, and reflections about our country. All of these make sense in helping us be inspired with the things that influence our lives. God bless!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

3 levels of faith

21st Sunday in Ordinary time
Cycle B
John 6: 60-69
photo coutesy of timelytidbits

After 5 weeks of intensive orientation about Jesus as the Bread of Life, Jesus' living words fell on deaf ears.

How could people do this to the Lord? And how could we in today's generation still abandon Him? The Lord has the best intentions, but we are the ones' stifling his plans.

Let us cooperate with his grace. Then we shall see that the Lord is correct all along.

We need the gift of faith to realize the Lord's plan in our lives. The faith has three levels: first, faith enables us to do good and and avoid evil. Let's face the fact that life is a not a choice between good and evil. Rather, it is a choice between two goods - the good the comes from ourselves and the better one that comes from following God.

The second level of faith entails doing what pleases the Lord and not ourselves. Go to confession. Get married. Be active in church activities. Give to the poor.

The third level is the most matured way of manifesting the faith. It entails offering everything for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, denying ourselves of what we want, embracing the world of suffering and pain, being simple in life, teaching values to others, loving and not expecting to be loved, to give and not to receive, to suffer persecution and ridicule, and yes, to offer one's life totally for God.

All of us who are bound for heaven should enter into the third level of faith - to work only for the greater glory of God. This should be the fruit of Jesus' teachings. This is our response to the overwhelming mercy of God and to give life to others, most specially, the poor.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knowledge and Wisdom


20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B

Both knowledge and wisdom are gifts from the Holy Spirit. There is supposed to be a beautiful relationship between the two. Unfortunately, some choose to stay at the level of knowledge. Some gain wisdom only after having experienced so much in life. There will be a time when we think that we know all things, but only now do we realize we haven't learned a single thing.

In the readings, lady Wisdom invites the readers to enter its world. It prepares food that lasts forever. It invites the foolish to take wisdom's course. It is not plain knowledge that we should aim for; it should be wisdom.

Take the analogy of food. People have spent so much - their time, talent and treasure, just to ensure that there is food on the table. Some want to acquire more than just food - wealth, fame, reputation. But like physical food these are as good as our time here on earth. When will we realize that given all our investments of the 3 Ts, we haven't invested at all.

Invest in having food that lasts forever. The man filled with wisdom will acknowledge that it could be possible only if he invests most or in fact all of his time, talents, and treasure (and not just a portion of them) to knowing, loving and serving Jesus. Jesus will give him the power to give food to the hungry, to have the heart for them, to have the heart for building a community of persons loving and serving God through people, and to have the time and the energy to see to it that the whole community is becoming more "humane" and that we could see God in the midst of all our efforts. That is true wisdom.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Call to a livelier faith

19th Sunday in Ordinary time
cycle B

For three weeks now we have been reflecting on the Eucharist. Actually, following the gospel of St. John, the encounter between Jesus and the crowd reflects a call to a livelier faith. Unfortunately, crowd is not taking this too well; eventually they leave our Lord.

Is our faith degenerating or getting worse or are we growing deeper in our faith? Things are never stagnant with the faith; either we are slowing growing or we are dying. Let us pray that we are growing in faith. Let us test the depth of our faith through the following questions below:

1. Is our concept of faith individualistic or ecclesial? If we claim that our religion is our own and does not affect others; if religion for us is a matter of personal piety, then we are degenerating. From the very start God called a set of people and not just individuals. Our faith should lead us to a reality that we are all called by God and that we all have duties and responsibilities to one another.

2. Is our faith exclusively spiritual that it affects only our souls or is it incarnational and integral? When we say incarnational, it starts from the moment of our birth Jesus and is dedicated to do the Lord's will in our entire lives. It is integral in that it affects every aspect of my entire being - to my family, to my social, political, economic, and social life. We are embodied spirits and not only souls; that in this world what we do to our brethren today constitutes the moments of our salvation.

3. Is our faith concerned only with freeing ourselves from sin; or are we concerned with the sinful structures affecting us all? We see social realities around us - the incidence of couples not getting married in the church, that corruption is our country's second skin, and that the youth corrupt themselves with vices. If we fail to do something to eradicate these things, no matter how many times we go to confession and we don't do anything to cure the social ills, our faith is useless.

These three and much more, the Lord is calling us to a deeper and more concrete sense of faith, a livelier faith that we can pass on to our children. Take your pick, which faith would you rather espouse?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

There's still hope

18th Sunday
Cycle B

The readings for today deal with difficult people in accepting God's interventions. Moses was put on trial by the people. But God still acted on the people's behalf, sending them a rain that turned to manna and birds that flew in the night.

Jesus diagnosed the crowd's wrong notion of his mission. But He still offered himself as the food that will last forever.

Probably more important here is how God deals with us finite beings, not condemning us any further, but giving us more life.

For St. Paul, this is a call to inner conversion and to practice more compassion to others and more dedication to God.

Would our hearts be so far as to continue misunderstanding God's intentions? This life could turn out to be meaningful if we decrease complaints which simply are manifestations of a state of corruption. But there will always be hope. Among the signs of hope are the following:

1. The sun continues to shine and God allows us to witness His blessings everyday. From now on we realize that we cannot bring light to others except through God's light.
2. Children continue to be born in this world, a manifestation from our Lord that life still goes on and the world is still filled with blessings. From now on we recognize that life can only have meaning in God.
3. That there is always time for us to learn from our mistakes, be reconciled with God and live life anew. That this life is a constant struggle to change outlook according to His will.

Let us allow ourselves to be formed by the Lord and let us make his mission on earth our own.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We are "food"

Cycle B
17th Sunday

Food has always been a central theme in the scriptures, starting from Genesis where God instructed man to eat anything except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There seems to be two kinds of food after that: food that leads us to life and one that leads us to death.

In our world today, "food" continues to be the main ingredient to sustain our lives here on earth. Unfortunately, the quest for our own food also leads many to death, crime, poverty and corruption. Selfishness causes food to become scarce and eventually, death.

Jesus chose the metaphor of food to connote his mission and our vocation as Catholics and Christians. Jesus gives himself as food to nourish our souls. His food is not in short supply; it always serves a great many. Finally, his food leads us to eternal life where there is no more hunger.

When we think about food, could we also apply these principles? Food that nourishes the souls of many, food that feeds many, and food that lasts forever that we in our lives here on earth are not found wanting? Obviously, as Jesus is our Food, once we receive it, He is commissioning us to be "food" for others. Who would assist our neighbors to have food on the table starting from the poor? Who would be instruments in leading our brothers and sisters regain their dignity back as useful members of society, worthy of respect instead of constantly extending their arms to receive a coin or an old gift? Who would give them jobs to sustain their families? Who would teach them that God exists and that God is our Food above anything else. If our neighbors are becoming increasing poor, we have ourselves to blame. But if we become instruments of the Lord, we give ourselves a pat on the back. Jesus is dwelling in all of us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Good Shepherd

Cycle B
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings about the good shepherd should be a wake-up call for all Christians to take up the task Jesus did as the "good shepherd" from the clergy to the laity.

The good shepherd "gathers" and not scatters. We are fond of gatherings. We have our own friends. But what are we gathering for? If it is not for the Lord or for some good effort, that gathering is useless. Secondly, are we gathering only for a few friends and families? Increase that to "all people". For the Lord wants everyone to be saved, not a chosen few.

The good shepherd "takes care of his flock." But before taking care of the flock, the flock has to "listen" to the voice of the shepherd. Jesus in the gospel felt pity for the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, at the start, he taught them. To whom do we listen to? What area do we have more knowledge than the rest? Could we honestly say that despite the things we have, it is the Lord whom we listen to? Do we take time to reflect the gospels and share them with others? Do we engage in holy conversations? Do we influence others to "listen" to God? Do we heed to the call of the Church? In this present day and age, are people still attuned to the voice of the Lord in the deepest recesses of their hearts?

The good shepherd "offers his own life for his flock." We may not be able to offer everything, but we can at least offer a little bit of time, talent, and treasure to do God's work. We may be lacking in time simply because we are desperately trying to save our lives. But notice that we are also losing every opportunity to good to others. Let us multiply time, talent, and treasure for the Lord and for others. You'll see that there will be an outflow of graces from God!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Are we so different from God?

Cycle B
14th Sunday

In the first reading, God called the Israelites rebels. But in the end, He blessed them saying, "There is a prophet among them."

God's approach of solving things is really so different than ours. Imagine, the normal reaction would be to take revenge, to retaliate. After all, God is God. But He showed His true nature as a loving God, a merciful God, who would do everything to lift us up.

In the gospel, Jesus was totally mangled by his townmates, ridiculing him in every way. But Jesus was not concerned with that. Rather, he was totally amazed at their lack of faith. How could a people loved by God be so uncaring? What an irony from the first reading.

How could we have turned away from Him who loved us? What happened to us? What did we exchange him for? Are we reaping the fruits of our denial of God? What could we do to bring us back to Him? Perhaps the second reading will give us a clue. The clue is - we have been given a thorn in the flesh. This is the effect of sin in our lives. Like a scar, we are condemned to live with struggling to remove all these. But as Jesus said, "My grace is enough for you," it gives us a reason to continue fighting till we see that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

May this give us inspiration to go back, to start from the very beginning - that it is God who is the source of who we are.