Monday, December 31, 2012

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

The Lord will give us "peace"

 Luke 2, 16 - 21


In the Solemnity of the Mary, mother of God, this day is also dedicated to "The World Day of Prayer for Peace".

What is peace?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2304 - 2306, there are many things laid out for peace; I have chosen 3 things:

1. Peace is not merely the absence of war or maintaining the balance of powers between adversaries.  Rather, it is a requisite for the development of human life.
2. Peace requires safeguarding the good of persons, free communication among men, and respect for the dignity of of persons and peoples.
3. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.

Peace is Jesus, the Prince of Peace. By the blood of his cross, "in his own person he killed hostility."  He is our peace.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feast of the Most Holy Family


My family, your family

 Luke 2:41-52

The Feast of the Most Holy Family should give us a glimpse on how our families could be one.

The child Jesus did not grow up matured in an instant.  He too learned invaluable things from his parents, his first models of discipleship.  Jesus was formed inside the family setting.

If love abounds in the family, each member loving and serving every other member, it could be a real picture of a small heaven.

If each member does his/her God-given responsibilities to every family member, the whole picture is a small Church assisting one another to life.

If each member is trained to be discerning of the presence of God, the whole abode becomes the living temple of the Holy Spirit, the home of God Himself.

May this letter below give us the heart which our parents deserve -


Sa aking pagtanda, unawain mo sana ako at pagpasensyahan. Kapag dala ng kalabuan ng mata ay nakabasag ako ng pinggan o nakatapon ng sabaw sa hapag kainan, huwag mo sana akong kagagalitan. Maramdamin ang isang matanda. Nagse-self-pity ako a tuwing sisigawan mo ako.
Kapag mahina na ang tenga ko at hindi ko maintindihan ang sinasabi mo, huwag mo naman sana akong sabihan ng "binge!" paki-ulit nalang ang sinabi mo o pakisulat nalang. Pasensya ka na, anak.  Matanda na talaga ako.
Kapag mahina na tuhod ko, pagtiyagaan mo sana akong tulungang tumayo, katulad ng pag-aalalay ko sa iyo noong nag-aaral ka pa lamang lumakad.
Pagpasensyahan mo sana ako kung ako man ay nagiging makulit at paulit ulit na parang sirang plaka. Basta pakinggan mo nalang ako. Huwag mo sana akong pagtatawanan o pagsasawaang pakinggan.
Natatandaan mo anak noong bata ka pa? kapag gusto mo ng lobo, paulit- ulit mo 'yong sasabihin, maghapon kang mangungulit hangga't hindi mo nakukuha ang gusto mo. Pinagtyagaan ko ang kakulitan mo.
Pagpasensyahan mo na rin sana ang aking amoy. Amoy matanda, amoy lupa. Huwag mo sana akong piliting maligo. Mahina na ang katawan ko. Madaling magkasakit kapag nalamigan, huwag mo sana akong pandirihan. Natatandaan mo noong bata ka pa? Pinatyagaan kitang habulin sa ilalim ng kama kapag ayaw mong maligo.
Pagpasensyahan mo sana kung madalas, ako'y masungit, dala na marahil ito ng katandaan. Pagtanda mo, maiintindihan mo rin.
Kapag may konti kang panahon, magkwentohan naman tayo, kahit sandal lang. inip na ako sa bahay, maghapong nag-iisa. Walang kausap. Alam kong busy ka sa trabaho, subalit nais kong malaman mo na sabik na sabik na akong makakwentohan ka, kahit alam kong hindi ka interesado sa mga kwento ko. Natatandaan mo anak, noong bata ka pa? Pinagtyagaan kong pakinggan at intindihin ang pautal-utal mong kwento tungkol sa iyong teddy bear.
At kapag dumating ang sandali na ako'y magkakasakit at maratay sa banig ng karamdaman, huwga mo sana akong pagsawaan alagaan. Pagpasensyahan mo na sana kung ako man ay maihi o madumi sa higaan, pagtyagaan mo sana akong alagaan sa mga huling sandali ng aking buhay. Tutal hindi na naman ako magtatagal.
Kapag dumating ang sandali ng aking pagpanaw, hawakan mo sana ang aking kamay at bigyan mo ako ng lakas ng loob na harapin ang kamatayan.   At huwag kang mag-alala, kapag kaharap ko na ang Diyos na lumikha, ibubulong ko sa kanya na pagpalain ka sana ... dahil naging mapagmahal ka sa iyong ama't ina...

-Written by Rev. Fr. Ariel F. Robles, CWL Spiritual Director, St. Augustine Parish, Baliuag, BulacaN
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas midnight mass

Hail to the Christ "Child"!

 Luke 2:1-14

This is the night we have been waiting for.  All preparations lead to this night - from the Lord desiring to dwell in our world, in our families, in our faith, in our actions.  He prepares us for this blessed night to enjoy the light.  And what do we expect to see? A humble, helpless, little child wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger, with no one else to see him except the poorest of the poor - the shepherds, the animals, and St. Joseph, and Mother Mary, in a cave not meant for human beings by for animals.

But God allowed all these to happen.  In the picture of extreme poverty lies his divinity, to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Kontakion of Romanos the Melodist:

"The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!"

 
What makes this Child lovable?  Only God knows why He chose that His Son should be in this state.  One thing for sure - a child speaks a thousand words.

I would just like to dwell on what this Child can be capable of:

1. He is a Wonder - Counselor - He bring peoples to forgiveness and reconciliation as what any child can do;
2. He is a Mighty God - this small helpless child is a direct reflection of the Mighty God who rules because of pure love as any child can do;
3. He is the Eternal Father - constantly mirroring his Father who has no beginning and no end; for he is the eternal presence of the unity of a Family under the Father's care, as any child can do;
4.  He is the Prince - of - Peace - to bring peoples together as what any child can do.

There is a popular song sung by children that I want to share.  May this song encapsulate what a child can do to us - he can heal us and bring us together only if we let the children and the child in us a chance to rule us.



Sana ang buhay ay walang dulo
O hangganan
Sana’y wala ng taong mahirap
O mayaman

Sana’y iisa ang kulay
Sana ay wala ng away


Sana’y pagibig na lang ang isipin
Ng bawat isa sa mundo
Sana’y pagibig na lang ang isipin
Sana’y magkatotoo
Sana’y laging magbigayan
Sana’y laging magmahalan


Sana ang tao’y hindi nagugutom
O nauuhaw
Sana’y hindi na gumagabi o umaaraw
Sana ay walang tag-init,
Sana ay walang taglamig


Sana’y pagibig na lang ang isipin
Ng bawat isa sa mundo
Sana’y pagibig na lang ang isipin
Sana’y magkatotoo
Sana’y laging magbigayan
Sana’y laging magmahalan


Vigil mass for Christmas


What's in a name


Matthew 1:18-25

As we are about to witness the momentous occasion tonight, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus the Lord, a vigil mass is celebrated in the evening so that we may enter more fully into the mystery of Christ's birth.

His name shall be "Jesus".  In the first reading, Judah' name is changed from "forsaken" to "my delight".  On that day, her integrity shall be restored and God will rejoice in Israel.

What's in a name?  

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally."

Enter into the mystery of a name, especially "Jesus".  "Jesus" came from the Hebrew word "Joshua" meaning "God saves."  By this, Catechism reminds us of two basic realities about Jesus: who he is and what his mission is.  

By knowing Jesus, we also get to know our identity - we are children of God like Jesus.  Secondly, our mission like Jesus is also revealed - "to save".  Christmas is us being reborn now in Jesus who is to come to this world.

Erratum

"immoral" should read as "immortal" in the December 24 reflection.  My humble apologies! - author

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 24

The covenant

Luke 1:67-79

This last day prior to the celebration of birth of Jesus, we are being invited by the readings to enter into an authentic relationship of love with God that has been shattered by sin, though not entirely, for it was restored by Jesus in an unbreakable bond.  And this reality marked by our relationship with God is known as the Covenant.

The covenant, a testament of this history between the immortal God and mortal man, marks the story of our salvation.

It starts with creation itself, when there is total communion between God and man as reflected by man's harmony with God's creation.  We need faith to realize that this world is a reflection of God's love for us.

This is shattered by man's disobedience, but not entirely, for there is a second series of the Covenant - from Noah to the call of Abraham, to the priests and the prophets.  God opens up a covenant that would give order to our lives.  Here, we need hope to realize that once again, the communion would be restored.

The third source of covenant is through Jesus Christ himself - God made man.  Now, the revelation of God is completed, whole and entire, not by installment.  Now, the law is not external; it is written in our hearts in Jesus Christ.  We just need to know him, to love, him, to live him, and share him in others.  We need love.

Thus, we need three things to live the Covenant - faith, hope, and love. And as St. Paul says, "The greatest of this is love." And it will happen on the day of the birth of Christ, the Lord.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

4th Sunday of Advent, C

 The little things matter

Luke 1:39-44

Now that we are in the 4th week of Advent, the 4th and final candle symbolizing space and time is also lit.  Light is upon us, not darkness.  And the first reading points to an insignificant, small place in Israel and in the map of the world - Bethlehem.

It's like the story of Tolkien's The Hobbits and even The Lord of the Rings.  The destruction of the evil ring now falls on two Hobbits. In the present movie, however small and insignificant they are, the more are instruments of freedom for the dwarfs. 

Mary is also the small, insignificant woman of the New Testament.  But in her consent and action lies the salvation of the world - Jesus Christ.

Before Christmas, we are asked to consider these 3 things that mark "smallness".  For these are the marks our Lord took to save us.


Quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is "the perfect man", who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way."  (CCC 520)

3 small things we need to enter Christmas:
1. discipleship - we need to be followers like Jesus who was the obedient Lamb led to the slaughter.
2. Humility - a quality of the heart that links us up with Jesus.
3. Poverty - Because Jesus chose to deprive himself of Godhead to enter into our fallen wounded world that makes salvation possible, for the sake of our suffering brothers and sisters, let us also take up their cause.

These 3 small things

Friday, December 21, 2012

22 December

Jesus' presence in prayer

Luke 1:46-56


In this special day, the Lord prunes our very being, touching and healing every part of our lives and filling it up with His presence.

this particular day, after all actions are done, we turn to interiority, allowing that space that cannot be filled by the lures of this world.  In this world Jesus fills us up with his divine and felt presence, causing a profound change in our lives.  This world is known as prayer.

In the Old Testament, Hannah offered prayers for his son Samuel.  In the New testament, Mary sang a song the filled the world with the love of God.

What is prayer then?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Jesus fills us with His presence in prayer if we know that our prayer is God's gift to us and not of our doing.  We respond to the gift through a genuine prayer.

Prayer is also a covenant, and the best gauge of covenant is in the level of the heart, on how deep our relationship with the Lord can go.

Finally, prayer is communion.  One man's communion can lead to the communion of all members of the Church and become One Body in Christ.

Jesus wants to be incarnated in our prayer life through him as gift, covenant in the level of the heart, and communion.