Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Blessings

Luke 2:16-21


"We solemnly ask for your blessing," the fiancees tell their parents.

What does it mean to live a life of blessings?

We are indeed imploring the Lord to bless our entire year.  For the opposite of blessing is a curse.  When we confess, we somehow acknowledge that our blessings disappeared and what resulted is a life of curse.  We don't want curses to greet us this New Year 2015.

How do we go about living a life of blessings?

First, recognize the Lord as the source of all blessings.  Remember "Bless us o Lord and these Thy gifts..." before we eat our food?  Reflect how everything is a blessing that comes from the Almighty.  For He does not wish us to die or to suffer.

Second, to be blessed means "to find favor with God."  Mary was chosen because she enjoys God's favor.  When we feel that God is away, we do not enjoy His favor.  Thus, to find favor is a sign to total intimacy with God.

Third, pray to bless others.  We invoke Mary to bless us.  The mandate of the priest is to bless people and things in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  The whole world in turn becomes blessed, offered to God and favored by God.

May we live a life of blessings all year round!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 5, Simbang Gabi

Saying "Yes" to God

Luke 1:26-38


I would like to use the analogy of the a woman saying "yes" to a man to be his wife for the rest of his life.

The best basis for saying "yes" is pure love; love not in terms of need but only for love's sake.  When a woman detects love not in terms of need, then her "yes" will have a meaning of a lifetime.

When we see our relationship with God as a need or a function, then we don't love God enough.  That's why we can't commit ourselves to Him for life; instead we commit ourselves only when we are in need.

We need to know enough about God to commit ourselves to Him unlike Mary who knew, loved, adored, and served God.  That's another reason we say "no", we don't know him enough.  But if we do, then our journey with God really begins.

Knowing leads to dialogue and dialogue leads to shared vision.  This leads to communion, of being one heart and one mind.  The beloved becomes to resemble the lover.  We become like God who loves us.  And if God is "mercy and compassion", we too become "mercy and compassion".

Finally, Mary's fiat yields the fruit of love - the incarnation of the Son of God.  Let our love bear fruit - Jesus Christ, in our children, neighbors and communities.  That is the real fruit of saying "yes" to God - the birth of Jesus, leading to the transformation of the whole world in love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 3, Simbang Gabi 2014

A life of integrity

Matthew 1:18-24


Could a life of integrity still be possible?

The dictionary defines integrity according to two connotations: honesty and wholeness.

When we say a person is honest, he hasn't compromised his values.  When a person is in a state of wholeness, he is not fragmented - he is wholistically sound in mind, body, and spirit.

Such is the disposition of Joseph when, despite of Mary's scandal in the eyes of the world, he decides to take her in.  Consequently, he lets Jesus inside his home and his lineage.

How do we live a life of integrity?  First, let us confront our fundamental option.  What are we in this world for, really?  We have to make it clear that we are for God, no more, no less.

Second, life of integrity entails getting to the source of things - God himself.  How much do we know about God?

Third, a life of integrity, which should be habit forming, should be reflected in one's decision and way of life.  To put it simply, it is a life lived in God, with God, through God, and for God.

How many times have we made wrong decisions not to beget Jesus in the world.  Start living a life of integrity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Simbang gabi day 2, Dec. 17

Wholeness and Holiness

Matthew 1:1-17


As we contemplate on the lineage of Judah, a feeling of awe and wonder are produced as the end product of the generations lead to Jesus.  The family must have been so blessed!

As we think of our journey to celebrate Christmas, let us also think that the Lord Jesus would come from our own lineage, that we shall be begetting him in our own homes, and that he is a member of our family.  Are we ready to allow the lineage of Jesus to touch our household?

I would like to reflect on the state of wholeness of our family and its congruent reality "holiness".  To be whole means to be well, to be integrated, in a state of being complete. To be holy on the other hand, means to be sanctified, which means both consecrated and blessed by God.

If our families have not been like that we ask for forgiveness.  We also ask for the healing of generations.  We want to have a fresh start.

We would like to cling on to the Holy One from now on.  We cannot continue clinging on to materialism and greed and still come out clean.  Just know where we are placing our roots.

Finally, like Pope Francis as the bridge-builder between God and man, let us dare to connect our children to our proper future - God himself.

This Christmas let us dare to do something different - be uprooted from a sinful past, cling on to Jesus, and start connect the entire future to him.  And that future starts today.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Church, icon of the Holy Trinity

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, let us start developing a zeal for being Church as soon as we realize that the Church is not a building but a people, a people called by God to be the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

As people called by God, we start recognizing that living this life according to our own becomes totally empty.  We cannot cause our own lives.  Let us refer to the One who gave us life.

We are being shaped according to the body of Christ.  Now reflect on the cross - if we don't desire for this cross as the means of our salvation, we are not aligned with the body of Christ who was placed on top of the cross.

We become the new temple of the Holy Spirit where God dwells.  From our lives emanate the very radiance of the holiness of God.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A


Love

Matthew 22:34-40


Love God above all things and love your neighbor as you love yourself ...

Love is the primary consideration.  We know that love needs hands and feet.  It is not just something romantic or sexual.

And the primary consideration is this: a man who doesn't love God above all things will not be able to love a woman enough.

The love of God is the very reason for our existence.  His love through Jesus is the very cause of our salvation.  We need to reflect if the quality of our love for God reciprocates the love He has for us.

And how should we love God?  The whole of our being.  Remember the prayer of St. Ignatius, "Take, Lord, receive my liberty, my mind, my understanding, my will.  That that I have and who I am are yours.  Do with them as you will.  Only Your love and mercy are enough for me.

Give to God until there is nothing else to give ... except oneself.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Yes to God

Matthew 22:1-10

Painting by Joey Velasco

What a beautiful promise from the book of Isaiah, "The Lord shall wipe the tears from their eyes..."

In the parable of Jesus, the king also possesses the same heart as God's, but the people are not attuned to his invitation.

The example of the man who is not appropriately dressed signifies the number of Catholics who want to receive God's gifts but have no time to serve Him in return.

St. Francis, in a classic film "Flowers of St. Francis" was seen inviting a rich man to give a loaf of bread.  But even if he was constantly pushed away by him, he would return.  He explained to the rich man that he didn't need the bread, but he was offering the man the chance to serve God.

Our parish workers are ashamed to go to our homes because we are too busy.  But they want to constantly invite people because they are offering the opportunity for the neighbors to serve the Lord and to be generous with the gifts they received from Him.

Perhaps, we can reflect again on the first reading on what the Lord actually promised to those who believe in Him so that we may think twice before rejecting His invitation:

1. "He shall prepare for us a banquet of rich food" - in contrast with lack of food that the world is experiencing because of greed and selfishness.  He wants to offer us abundant supply of food and jobs.  Participate in God's work and "nobody will be found wanting." (Acts 4, 34)

2. "He will destroy Death forever" - Our bodies are subjected to death because of sickness.  It is the same with spiritual Death brought about by a denial of the Lord to rule over our lives.  Let Him lead us each day to life.  Participate in life-giving activities, especially those that brings hope to people's lives.

3. "He will take away our shame" - because he will forgive us in Jesus.  The quest for grace is far more exciting than a life of sin.

Think twice before we say no to God.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Trusted stewards

Matthew 21:33-43

photo courtesy of : Holy Redeemer by the Sea Catholic Parish


How could it have happened that despite all the care of the vine grower, the vineyard still yielded sour grapes?

But no matter what the causes are, we cannot prevent the vine grower what he is supposed to do: destroy the whole vineyard.

The vineyard is supposed to be the world and the vine grower is the Creator.  The plan is to create man in His image and likeness and entrust the created world to him so it could yield a fruitful harvest.  But do we reflect God's image and likeness?

In the gospel, the tenants seized all messengers and hurt them; they even killed the son.  The solution is simple: put an end to all their evil deeds and entrust the vineyard to those who can be trusted.

Pray to be a trusted steward of the Lord.  How?

First, know our mission: to be stewards of God and not to own this world to ourselves.

Second, think of the common good; think of the next generation.  May all we do be motivated by a desire to work for the good of all.

Third, think of our participation in the Church as a community of trusted stewards.  Put more flesh into being Catholics, not simply asking for blessings to but share our lives for others.

In these ways we can be trusted stewards.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The only thing that matters is doing God's will

Matthew 21:28-32

Photo courtesy of lmu

In the gospel, we are confronted with the basic reality if our lives reflect our wills or if we reflect God's will.  We will know through these three things:

First, extend our arms sidewards.  If they don't reach outside the confines of our homes and family, and reach out to the poor and to strangers, we would not have life even in own families.

Second, extend our arms upwards.  If they don't reach out to heaven, our lives would be in vain.

Third, do a kind of a self-embrace and reach in to our hearts.  If we cannot feel the loving embrace of God then our lives would be superficial.

By now we should realize that we are the ones who are unjust and not God.  Because He has given us everything, even to give His Son so we may realize the value of life but we are not listening.  We need to shift all our attention and start doing God's will.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Stewards of people

Matthew 18:15-20


Not only are we stewards of things, we more are stewards of people.

There a quote from Max Lucado that struck me: "When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want?  Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame?  Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car?  Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement?  Of course not.  What will matter then will be people.  If relationships will matter most then, shouldn't they matter most now?"

We have to invest in shepherding people, especially our children.  But what good will it do if we don't shepherd people outside our homes?

Today's Sunday readings point us how to be good stewards of people.

First, we are to affirm them when they're right, but correct them when they are wrong.  The best gift we can give our children is a rightly formed conscience that is oriented towards God.

Second, we are become good stewards of people when we use our authority to lead them to salvation and not to perdition.  Show them God's face.

Third, we become good stewards using the rule of two's: If we can expand God's disciples by two's, this world would indeed become better.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time


Ready to follow him?

Matthew 16:21-27

Photo courtesy of catholic.org

Can we actually say "no" to the Lord?

We may, but actually we can't.  Can we claim that our plans are better than God's plans?  Can we claim that we have connected heaven and earth when we follow our own plans or or just made the gap between them wider by our rejection to be available to God?

The readings for today simply says that there is a power greater than ourselves. This is Jeremiah's experience. God's ways are far greater than our ways.  And we cannot but follow him.

What does it mean to follow him?

First, the reason why we don't follow him is because we haven't understood him or his logic.  Carrying the cross doesn't make sense unless we enter in to the mystery of Christ's love for us.

If Christ he hadn't carried that cross because he wanted to be comfortable, we wouldn't be in this situation of comfort today. What Jesus did was to take up our wounded nature to be with us till death so that he may raise us up to life.  Remember that we are living in grace and blessings simply because Jesus suffered to save us.

Secondly, we still say "no" to following Jesus despite the first point, but be warned of Jesus' words, "He who saves his life will lose it."  Admit it, but the more we save ourselves, the less time we have for others.  Isn't this is what is happening when we find more and more people think about themselves and fewer people volunteer to serve God and His Church?

Finally, we may follow him if after a long struggle with ourselves, we are fully convinced that even if we gain the whole world, we suffer the loss of our lives and when God finally comes, he shall reward us according our behaviors.

Ask: Are our lives reflections of what God wants?  Let's make a tough but worthy choice to follow him and be his disciples.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Be trustworthy

Matthew 16:13-20

How could God make us his faithful stewards after all the unfaithfulness that we have done against Him? God can simply because some people can be trusted.

Such is Eliakim in the first reading.  He was given almost absolute power by God to open and close as symbolized by key of the House of David.

Peter was also entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.  What makes Eliakim and Peter trustworthy before God?  What will make us trustworthy before Him?  Do we want to be God's trustworthy stewards?

First, we have to decide to be trustworthy stewards.  All saints in heaven were trustworthy when they were on earth.  Aim less than this and we shall finally decide our place in the afterlife, and it will not be heaven.

Second, we have learn the life of being trustworthy by replacing a sinful lifestyle with virtues.  For example, if we know for a fact that selfishness leads to death, why do we still live selfish lifestyles?  Why do we hold on to selfishness and greed?  Now, let us be convinced that humility, selflessness, and oblation are sure heavenly virtues.  Let us observe them by living them out.

Third, us monitor the rewards of trustworthiness.  Humility, selflessness, and oblation bring out the best in God.  The more we live them out, the more God will be glorified.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Are we residents or foreigners?
Matthew 15:21-28

Generally, being a foreigner is alien to a Filipino because you see Filipinos all over the globe.  Whenever you see a Filipino, you feel at home even in an alien country.

Of course, this changes when the Filipino residing in another country tends to feel that he / she is above Filipinos in stature simply because he/ she changes his nationality.  He/ she starts alienating himself / herself from the rest of the Filipinos.

The issue in today's reading is about being an alien and being at home.

A more important question is: When have we been at home with God and when have we alienated from God?

There are three important things that we need to find our true home in God.

The first is Catechesis.  A continuing education in faith will make us be oriented to God's ways.  Ignorance of the faith alienates us from Him. 

Liturgical participation, especially in the Eucharist, enables us to actively participate in the abode of the Lord.  Non-participation implies we are interested in heaven.

Thirdly, concrete acts of mercy help us to make others feel at home in us and in God.  Our strategies for self-survival alienates us from the rest of humanity.

Can we now see the point?  Sin through selfishness, greed and pride are the ultimate strategies for alienating ourselves while lives of pure grace connect us to God.

May we find our true home in God!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Faith life

Matthew 14:22-33


We don't know where it is coming from, but there are people who believe that the moment they become active in the world of faith, their world would be filled with sufferings.  Therefore, they don't get active in serving the Lord until they are truly ready to accept trials.

But isn't it more terrifying not to live in the presence of the Lord each day and each moment of our lives?

Life can truly be enjoyed if there is faith.  Faith enables us to see the glory of God each day.  Otherwise, we wallow constantly in doubt and skepticism.

There are three decisions we have to make.

First, we have to make a decision to live in faith.  Baptism initiates us into the world of faith, and so do confirmation and the Eucharist.  The faith witnessing of our parents becomes our teachers in the world of faith.  We need to make a decision to be initiated into the world of faith. 

Second, we have to make a decision to nourish our faith.  Faith is not automatic.  We need to take care of it and see it grow in our lives until we increase our sensitivity to faith.  Be open to formation programs.  

Third, we have to make a decision to make faith real each day.  We need to walk on the waters like Peter to experience Jesus.  Participate in the world of faith in the mass and outside the mass and see the change in people's lives. 

Let our lives be lives of faith.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Offer, bless, break, give

Matthew 14:13-21


All readings reflect the fullness of life even in situations of scarcity.

Only Jesus can can convert a situation of life even from a just five loaves and two fish.

I cannot figure it out how He did it, but this I can figure - I am the cause of the fallenness of people.  I am the cause why people are suffering.  I am the cause why the world is slowly dying of hunger.  I am the cause why the young people are in danger of moral decay. I am the cause of what is happening in the world.  If I can just align myself with God's world ever since I was conceived, I would be experiencing such death in the world.

How can we pave the way for such fruitfulness?

First, we need to offer back every little thing we have.  Just five loaves and two fish from a child is enough to have food for thousands of people.  How dare we give so little to God and expect a lot of things from Him.  Why?  What have we given?  If we haven't given, what have we really received?

Second, we need to bless every gift we receive and give; to sanctify, to make holy, and to use it for a holy purpose.  How many of the parents are actually praying for the sanctification of their children?  Only a person with a holy and noble intention can convert a gift into something great.

Third, we need to break our gifts free from ourselves.  Once free, the more exciting thing starts - the sharing of gifts.  It is not true that the world is dying.  If it is, it's coming from people who don't want to let go of their possessions and share them.

Fourth, we need to give our gifts.  In every gift that is given, another gift is received.  Life is experienced.  Love triumphs.

God does not wish for us to die.  He wishes that all receive the fullness of life by creating that one gift beyond compare - us.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Wisdom

Matthew 13:44-46


Let us imitate Solomon in choosing wisdom.  He may have opted for power.  But he chose wisdom.  Wisdom is a better investment than riches or power.  We need wisdom each day so we can choose the right decisions.

Choosing the right decisions should lead us to the righteous life, the fruitful life, and the godly life.  Wisdom should enable us to see the Kingdom of God unfolding in our midst.

In order to gain wisdom we should:

1. learn from the wisdom of the ages - we don't need to relearn what was already learned by others;
2. have a common sense or the sense of the common - what is good for all is what we should consider before our personal goods.
3.  have a sense of where the road of our decisions lead us.  They should all lead us to God.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God's patience

Matthew 13:24-43

How does God's patience work?

In the book of wisdom, God who is all powerful has the power to bring punishment to man, but if he sees that man is repentant, he pours out His mercy upon him and is patient as man lives a life of mercy and conversion.

How does our patience work?

In the modern times, where things are immediately available, the young generation today are regarded as having a short attention span; they may also be impatient with slow computer speed and internet access.  Same may be true for others who have no patience with their parents who lag behind technology.  But could we imagine parents as not having enough patience to bring up their children?  Unless they are corrupted by the modern world, every parent will give up everything just to see the child through.

Patience all works with our relationship with God.  We don't have the patience to serve God, but when our lives are at stake, we immediately call on Him to help us.  How can we call on God when through the years we don't even have the patience to know Him?

Finally, patience works with being Church as well.  We don't have the patience to join organizations or ministries.  But the Church involves itself in the work of salvation.  And salvation is the first one to suffer when we do not offer our time, talent, and treasure in being Church.  How true are Jesus' words: "What good does it do a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?" (Mt. 16, 26)

Let our patience imitate God's patience and cause salvation to take its course in our lifetime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

15th Sunday in Ordinary time, A

Meaningful life


Taking off from last week's Gospel, as we possess the heart of a child, we become more sensitive to God's presence in the world.  We also become more sensitive to love and commitment.  What if we have lost that sensitivity?

There are only two scenarios in life: a world with God and a world without God.

A world with God is orderly; a world without God is chaotic.  Imagine people who think only of themselves.  Will they find fulfillment in life?   The issue haunting DAP and Pork barrel are just symptoms of what lies in the very hearts of men and women if indeed, people's contributions are used for the benefit of all or a chosen few.

Second, a world with God reaches out people; a world without God reaches only themselves and their immediate families.

Third, a world with God reaches heaven; those who don't end right here in this world.

Most significant of all, God's world can easily be reached from within, whereas for those who lively worldly lives, no matter how hard they try to buy things, money cannot buy the happiness in the heart that only God can supply.

A world with God constitutes a meaningful life.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Qualities of a child

Matthew 11:25-30


This is to quietly ponder all the things that happened to us since Ash Wednesday.  As the fullness of God's revelation was laid down before us, we realize that we are the People called by God, the Body of Christ, and the Temples of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of the Lord is now passing to us.  We are His "Alter-Christus" out to save others.

As we enter into the mystery of the ordinary season, we realize every day is not ordinary.  It is in fact a gift, God's gift to us.  Only a child can realize that every day and every moment are gifts to be lived fully.

Only through the eyes of a child can we truly appreciate what a day is.

A person who has ceased becoming a child is a dead person; there is nothing new in life.

You can create any quality of a child.  But I want us to be child-like.  A child possess the following qualities:

C- compassion; a child never ceases to love.

H- healthy outlook; he looks for the healthiest opportunities of life filled with happiness;

I - intellect; not ignorance; he is always there to look for meaning;

L - life; life for life's sake; every moment is an opportunity to live;

D - docility; especially docility to grace, he finds God in the world.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Marks of a True Church

Matthew 16:13-19

The common element between St. Peter and St. Paul is Rome, but more than the place is the Holy See, the Church that Jesus commanded "To proclaim the Gospel to all peoples... "  How beautiful it would be if we imagine our monument standing side by side with St. Peter and St. Paul's monuments in St. Peter's Basilica because we have taken part in this great mission. 

We need to be foundation of faith for the next generation.  The strength of being Church depends on our adherence to it. 

Let us heed to the marks of a true Church.  The first mark is being One - with God and with one another.  Through Baptism, God initiates us into His world so we can be one with Him and with one another, just like the picture of communion in heaven.

The second mark is holiness.  The sinful Church is made holy by the body and blood of Christ.  There is no other institution that enables its members to be holy except in the Catholic Church that Jesus bestows graces through the reception of the sacraments.

The third mark of a Church is Universal.  God is god of all peoples and of all generations.  The Church strives to reach out to all people regardless of affiliations until we realize that all is one with Him.

Fourth, the mark of a true Church is apostolic, where every member knows his / her mission - to proclaim the Good News and make disciples of all nations.

If we live in communion, participation and mission of the Church, we fulfill our vocation to be the people called by God, the body of Christ, and the temples of the Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Corpus Christi

The body of Christ

John 6:51-58

The Holy Week, Easter season, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus - are all meant to saturate us with the very presence of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit in our lives.  How true are Jesus' words: "I shall be with you until the end of time."

Jesus is truly present in the Most Blessed Eucharist, a sacrament in today's times we somehow take for granted because of over familiarity.  Do we in front of the King of Kings tinker with our cell phones and tablets, cover our ears with big earphones, and chat indiscriminately with our friends while the mass is going on, just to emptily receive the Blessed Host during communion time?  Do we actually know the reality of the Divine Bread that we receive in the Eucharist?

Second, Pope Francis in his homily on Corpus Christi this year 2014, wants us to be discerning on what is "false bread" and "true bread."  The false bread is the fruit of egoism, self-sufficiency and sin.  The true bread is the fruit of entrusting ourselves to the care of Jesus who is our life and our salvation. Jesus is the true bread that gives everlasting life to those who receive Him.

Finally, our reception of the Holy Communion molds us to be the "body of Christ" to others, engaging in Jesus' redemptive love to lead others to an eternal communion with God.  Every work that we do becomes an instrument of salvation.  To offer our very own lives is a gift we give for the salvation of the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Most Holy Trinity

Live the Trinity

John 3:16-18


In the life of the Church, we are oriented to live life "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

We practically breathe the Trinity, live the Trinity, and share the Trinity.

We need to mirror the Trinity in our lives.  My first experience of the Trinity started when my mother taught me the prayers, especially the Our Father.  We were taught how God provides for His children.  Why do we seem independent from God?

The first time I learned about Jesus was when I received the Holy Communion.  It is joy when I receive Jesus in my body.  Why do we seem far away from what Jesus taught us?

The first time I learned about the Holy Spirit was not when I was confirmed.  Back then we were confirmed when we were 7.  But I learned about the Holy Spirit when I was ordained a priest.  "The Spirit of the Lord was upon me; He has chosen me to bring glad tidings to the poor."  When does selfishness and greed become a viable option for living instead of bringing glad tidings to the poor?

There is no space for other things or other concerns.  We are meant to live in the Trinity.  Always and forever.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

6th Sunday of Easter, A

See Love, see God
John 14:15-21

Are we ready now to receive the Holy Spirit?

Are we ready to move on from resurrection to ascension of Jesus? Are we ready to move and walk by faith?  Are we ready to do Jesus' work on earth?

What does it mean to receive the Holy Spirit?

First, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, we need to fulfill the basic demands of faith - know God's commands as a sign that we really love Him.  There is no compromise to sin.  If we love God, we will follow Him.

Second, we receive the Holy Spirit if we we pursue the truth that comes from Him.  At this point, the Holy Spirit starts guiding us through the life that is within us.  He draws us to the know the Father through Jesus.

Third, if we see the Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is in us!  Though this may seem ironic because we cannot see the Spirit, yet, we indeed can see Him through the concrete manifestations of love.  Even love can be embodied.  We are the living manifestations of the Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit that moves our very being.  In the love that we are, grant that we may see God as well!  It is God all in all!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

3rd Sunday of Easter, A

Jesus' simple presence in the Eucharist


One of the signs of the Resurrected Lord is precisely in the "breaking of the bread" that obviously refers to the Eucharist.  We need to see the signs of the resurrection in the simplicity of Christ's presence.

Eucharistic spirituality is something that affects our outlook on life.  Life is the Eucharist and the Eucharist is life.

The very start the Eucharist starts with "In the name of the Father..." means we are to start and end our lives "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  How much more if we open our hearts to receive His word in the liturgy of the Word.

Second, Jesus took the loaves, blessed, broke, and gave them to the people.  Our actions reflect the presence of the Lord from participation in the mass to actual life outside the mass.

Third, let us acknowledge Jesus in the Church that is the "Body of Christ."  As Church, let us make sure the Christ's salvific action goes on until He comes again.


4th Sunday of Easter, A

Life to the full

John 10:1-10


What does it mean "to have life to the full?"

First, a life lived in unity with God is lived in the fullest sense because God is the author of life vs. money as the source of happiness.  When we choose our state of life, let us choose what God wants.

Second, a life that follows Jesus is lived in the fullest because Jesus is the way to the fullest life vs. other personalities as our "idols".  Jesus provides the way of life, and outlook on life.

Third, a life lived in true love is lived to the fullest because God who is Love partakes his love to us.  I am not referring to the kind of life of lovers that eventually distances itself away from the source of love, God himself.  How could such love ever survive?

Also, love opens us to the world of the community.  It's impossible to want to enter into heaven if here on earth we do not want to collaborate with our communities and build living communities of faith where love is truly lived.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Where is the Lord?

John 20:19-31


Where is the risen Lord?

Jesus says, "Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Jesus might not just be talking to Thomas but to all of us who have not seen him but totally believe in him.  If we truly believe in Jesus who rose from the dead:

1. we shall be enriched with the teachings of the apostles who are totally rooted in Jesus' teachings;
2. in the Holy Eucharist, by which every movement causes salvation;
3. in communion of mind and heart and in prayers, for Jesus commands us to "love one another as he has loved us."

and 4th, in the sharing of resources, knowing full well that life is not in receiving but in giving, as what Jesus did on the cross.

Ultimately, this is the peace the Jesus offers - peace in God and peace in the world.  Peace because we are doing what pleases God.  Then God's mercy will be upon us!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter vigil, A

To be resurrected with Jesus

Matthew 28:1-10


Today, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Hallelujah!

The resurrection of Jesus is prefigured in the readings of the Old Testament.  Also, in reflecting on all the readings in the Easter vigil, let us know that from Jesus' resurrection we are invited to resurrect as well.

The first reading gives us an intimate picture of life - God created us in love.  The resurrection of Jesus invites us to see a new vision of life - God in us.  In Him, there is no death.  Search for all signs of life and root them in God.

The second reading is a call to loving obedience.  Jesus' total oblation to His Father is the very heart of the resurrection.  In turn, the Father provided for His Son by resurrecting Him from the dead.

Let us enter into this new life with God who provides constantly for all our needs, including life from death.  Know full well to make our every actions have the mark of the resurrection of Jesus - totally obedient to the Father.

The third reading is an invitation to move from one state to the other - from slavery to freedom.  But it can also be from darkness to light, from death to life, from earth to heaven.  I call this movement a life of total service.  Jesus continues to serve the Father by resurrecting from the dead.  May our every motive from now on be to lead people from death to life, from selfishness to self-giving, and from sin to grace.  Resurrect everyone from sin to grace!

The result from all these is heaven and holiness, and of our renewed, loving relationship with God in Jesus Christ.  Live in love and holiness!  Let heaven be here on earth because everything is being resurrected by Jesus, including our lives.  The passion, death, and resurrection are the marks of a true Catholic and Christian!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday

Thought, word, deed

Matthew 27:11-54


There are three important considerations for commemorating the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem:

1. Jesus riding on a donkey is fulfilling a prophecy from Zechariah: " Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, o daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a cold, the foal of a donkey." (Zech 9,9)  This King is truly humble;

2.  Throwing of cloaks on the path of someone is a sign of utmost respect and homage; we see Jesus clearly not just his outward appearance but who he is for us - our King; and

3. "Hosanna!" which means "God saves", which God is truly at work;

All these we can see in Jesus, the Messiah who is to come; allow him as King to enter and touch our lives for good.

In the gospel, Jesus lives out the very qualities of a Messiah - a disciple:

1. He listens like disciple; he listens to God.  How often do we listen to God and change our way of thinking?

2.  "God has given him a disciple's tongue, to save the wearied."  We speak of what we hear.  Allow God's gentle presence to touch our touch so we may speak words that would give rest to the wearied, light to the ignorant, and repentance to the troubling heart.

3.  Jesus has a heart that loves and sacrifices.  Our behaviors are marked by the things that we hear and speak.  It is the ultimate test of our entrance to heaven.  May the things that move our hands and feet be the product of our intense love for God.  May Jesus be the true Messiah of our lives!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

4th Sunday of Lent, A

Seeing as God sees 

John 9:1,6-9,13-17,34-38


In the reading from the book of Samuel, the prophet Samuel is to choose from among Jesse's sons.  "God does not see through the outward appearance; the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16, 6 - 7)

In the gospel, Jesus explicitly states, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

It is hard to proceed with further reflection on light and blindness unless we fully realize we are not the light; that we cannot produce this light no matter how hard we try.  We are blind; and only through Jesus that we can see.

As this point in our Lenten preparations, we should be able to see as Jesus sees things.  Realize three things:

1. There could not be any source of happiness except in God alone.  Let us stop relying on wealth as the source of our happiness.
2. There could not be any fulfillment in this life except in serving Him and doing His will.  Let us stop relying on comforts and luxury as the source of our happiness.
3.  There could not be any joy except in seeing heaven, God's presence and reign here on earth.  Let us stop believing that we can control all things.

We are not the light.  But with Jesus we can truly see!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

3rd Sunday of Lent, A

Thirst for living water

John 4:5-42


What is it that distinguishes ordinary water with living water?

1. Ordinary water satisfies only for a time; living water satisfies us for all eternity.
2. Ordinary water satisfies a few; living water affects many and all.
3. Ordinary water is simply water for the body; living water is based on truth.  Eventually, it is Jesus that all generations benefit and have life.

In order to receive living water, we need to start our journey of encountering Jesus.

Encountering Jesus on a daily basis enables us to experience metanoia, a radical change of self to being like the Beloved, Jesus Christ himself.

Third, metanioa enables us to become evangelizers, changing the world for good and leading people to communion with God through Jesus in the Spirit.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2nd Sunday of Lent, A

Transfigured to be disciples of Jesus

Matthew 17:1-9

The blocks in striving to know God were removed last week when we confronted temptations.

For this second week, we are invited to see Jesus in his grandeur and majesty.  But Jesus also invites us to see ourselves who we really are.

In the first reading, God promised Abraham, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing."

If Abram had not taken the Lord's words seriously, he wouldn't have been the father of many nations.

We too have our our promises; are we ready to receive them or day in and day out, we have said "no" to the Lord?

In the gospel, Jesus is the direct image of the Father, "This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him."  

Who are we?  What is our transformed selves?  We are disciples-in-process.

I have used the marks of a true Church to describe the qualities of a true disciple:

1. One - the disciple-in-process unites himself totally to God and his children; to the Church that God loves;
2. Catholic - the disciple-in-process speaks God's language, a language that changes the hearts of all people.  His actions are sources of salvation for the least, last , and lost; 
3. Holy - the disciple aligns himself in the holiness of Jesus and strives to purify all his intentions to conform to Jesus; 
4.  Apostolic - the disciple is sent on a mission to transfigure the world according to the image of the Jesus.

Remember these words from Lumen Gentium that marks the transformation of a Christian: Christ's disciples are to conform themselves to him until he is formed in them (cf. Gal 4:19). "For this reason we, who have been made like to him, who have died with him and risen with him, are taken up into the mysteries of his life, until we reign together with him" (LG 7 § 4).


Saturday, March 08, 2014

1st Sunday of Lent, A

Temptations

Matthew 4:1-11


Why are we tempted?

Jesus was also tempted. It is not the temptation that causes sin; it is what we do after the temptation.

Temptation is the desire to do something bad or unwise.

Much of it has something to do with what makes us human: desire.  The desire that could be used entirely to serve God now is used for things other than love of God.

For the first week of Lent, we need to reflect what keeps us away from God and come back to him.

First, the temptation to turn the stone to bread is the temptation to survive on material things and not on the love of God.  Jesus' answer: poverty of spirit.

Second, the temptation to power.  Jesus' answer: humiliation for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Third, the temptation to pride.  Jesus' answer: humility and total trust in God.

Temptations will still come.  But blessed is he who proclaims his poverty, embraces humiliation, and exults God above all things.  He is ready to experience the love of God.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Don't worry; follow God

Matthew 6:24-34

Before we enter into the Lenten season, let us remember that we are going there simply because God loves.  He wants to straighten up things.

He wants us to cooperate.  He wants us not to worry about things.  Things will take care of themselves.  He wants us not be too preoccupied with money.

Remember these two people:  who will prosper, the one who is preoccupied with his life or one who is preoccupied with serving and pleasing God?  The latter will end up more responsible because he loves the Lord and is a faithful steward while the other is greedy and selfish.

God wants us to reflect us the same love he has for us, that is why Isaiah mentions the love of a mother to her baby.

So, as we enter the Lenten season, let us remember these three things:

1.  We will be immersing ourselves in God's love.
2.  We will imitate God's love by offering our lives to him.
3.  We shall see the Lord in our daily struggles to offer our lives to him by serving others unreservedly.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

God and the law

Matthew 5:38-48 

The readings reflect a strict observance of the law.

But I don't think this is simply about the law.   Rather it is about God who is the author of the law.  God made the law to reveal His heart - he doesn't want everyone to die because of selfishness.  The law is about God.

The law is about Jesus, the Son of God who perfected the law in himself.  He is teaching us the law of love, "Love one another as I have loved you."  Now the law seemed stricter, but it made more sense because the guiding post of the law is love; and love is perfect only in Jesus.

Finally, in Jeremiah 31, 33: "The law shall be written in your hearts."  The Holy Spirit which is poured on the apostles on Pentecost is the same Holy Spirit guiding us right this very moment.  Thus we shall know how to live the law because it is planted deeply in our hearts.

If we think we're already following the law, why do we rebel against God, thinking that our plans are better?  If we think we know Jesus, why don't we make our daily sacrifices to save others?  If the law is written in our hearts, why are we not united as one Church?  It's simply because we haven't loved God enough.

Let us remember, every observance of the law should always lead us to a deeper, closer relationship with the Author of the Law, God, in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.  This should be enough to change our lives from selfishness to self-giving.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Follow the law

Matthew 5:17-37

What law have we followed lately?  The rules of the road?  Paying taxes?  Just wages?

What does the law do?  It gives order to many.  If all follow the law, there will be order.

What is God's law?  God's law is a covenant in the Old Testament that gives life and order to the entire community called the God's people.

God's law is in Jesus in the New Testament, called the law of love "Love one another as I have loved you."  If we follow this law, surely love will flow everywhere.

Jesus gave us a mission, a command, "Proclaim the Good News to all; make disciples of all nations."  If we follow Jesus' command, many will follow him and the whole world will be saved.  That's how important following God's law is; many will be saved.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Salt and light

Matthew 5:13-16

I would just like to reflect on faith and action.  St. James the greater said, "Faith without works is dead."  How does active faith translate into action?

The readings point out to the incarnation of faith in concrete actions, "If you share bread to others ... your light will shine."

Jesus further described the images of a fruitful disciple - he is "the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world."  What a colorful, lively world this could have been.

With the poverty and corruption pervading all around us, we can only question ourselves, "What happened to our faith?"  Why doesn't it translate into concrete action?  Remember, St. James put it simply, "Faith without works is dead."

I would like to follow the challenges posed by the bishops regarding the Year of the Laity, for they teach us how to put faith into action.  There are three things, that we should work on:

First, know the faith.  Know the fundamentals of faith not separated from life.  Learn from the 10 commandments and the precepts of the Church.

Second, live the faith.  The document says, "Make your faith bear on your day-to-day decisions and activities."  In everything we do, faith is always at work.

Finally, build communities of faith.  Learn to form relationships that is formed by God's word, sanctified by the sacraments, and committed to transform lives, public and private.

Learn to see the concrete Jesus walking upon the earth and blessing it through our sacrifices and actions.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Presentation of the Lord

Called to be signs of contraction

Luke 2:22-40


The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the explanation on the Presentation of Jesus: 

"The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord.216 With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples"." (CCC, 529)

We can reflect on three things:

1. Jesus as first born offered to the Lord - consecrate the very born, the very first offering.  It puts our lives immediately on track when we think immediately of God and offer our first and best gifts to Him.

2.  Light - of Jesus as manifested in Simeon and Ana.  We who are offered to God are called to radiate the light of God and His reason to the world espousing darkness and sin; 

3. A sign of contradiction - that all of our actions to the smallest detail account for the rise and fall of our children; thus

Always think about God and serve Him well and be the cause of salvation of all peoples starting from our families.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Follow Jesus

Matthew 4:12-23

The readings are filled with positive things that just as concrete as our lives: light, the kingdom of God is coming, and proclaim the Good News.

All these things are happening, but why are they not happening?  It's because we have not done what the apostles had done when they were invited by Jesus, "Follow me."  They immediately left their families behind.

We cannot experience the light, the forgiveness of sins, the curing of diseases, and the proclamation of the Gospel unless we follow Jesus.  Why are we not following Jesus?

We need faith to follow Jesus.  We need to know our faith; we need to entrust our whole beings to Jesus.

We need hope to follow Jesus.  We need to rely on Jesus that things would be better only in knowing, loving, and serving Him.

Finally, we need love to follow Jesus.  Love entails self-giving as Jesus did.  Only a person filled with authentic love for Jesus will follow him.  Only the person who has authentic love will bring light, Good News, and healing to the world.




Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kapistahan ng Señor Sto. Niño, sanggayong A

Sa pananaw ng mga bata
Ebanghelyo: Mat. 18, 5 - 10

Mula sa makulay na kasaysayan, ng Pilipinas, naitalaga ito sa pangangalaga ng Sto. Niño na unang dinala sa Cebu.  Mula noon, ang bawat salinlahi ay naialay na sa Banal na Sanggol at sa Mahal na Birheng Maria.

Sino si Kristo sa atin?  Saad ni Isaias, "Siya ang kahanga-hangang Tagapayo, Makapangyarihang Diyos, walang hanggang Ama, Prinsipe ng Kapayapaan."  Malawak ang kanyang kapangyarihan, sakop sa buong mundo at sakop ang lahat ng panahon!

Nakalulungkot lamang dahil ang ang mundo'y balot sa pag-aaway, kasakiman, pagkakanya-kanya.  Hindi nito makilala ang gawa ng Diyos!

Ngunit ang kasagutan ay hindi sa malalaking bagay.  Ito'y matatagpuan sa puso ng isang bata.  Siya lang ang nakakakita ng kapangyarihan ng Diyos.

Gayahin natin ang bata: mapagkumbaba, alam na hindi ito mabubuhay sa sarili kundi nakasalalay ang buhay sa mga magulang, lalo na sa ama.

Tignan natin ang mundo sa mga mata ng isang bata: malinis, wagas, walang bahid dungis ... kumikilala, tumatanggap. Ganito ang pananaw ni Hesus.

Ikatlo, ipagtanggol natin ang mga bata.  Ito mismo ang mundo ni Kristong bumabalot sa mundo.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Renewing our baptism



As we begin the Ordinary Season, we encounter a young adult Jesus receiving baptism from St. John.

What an inspiring presence this Jesus was.  The prophecies of Isaiah in the Old Testament is rightly fulfilled in him - not boisterous, bringer to justice, and is able "to open the eyes of the blind, free the captives, and bring people from the dark dungeon to light." (Is 42, 7)

Our adult Jesus is exactly as what Isaiah prophesied.  And his inspiring presence inspires us to renew the gift of our baptism. Incorporated to God's family, we are obliged:

1. to be obedient to the Father just as Jesus did.
2. to do what is right and righteous just as Jesus did.
3. to be what is pleasing to the Father just as Jesus did.


Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Epiphany of the Lord

The manifestation of Jesus

Matthew 2:1-12


Even though in the first reading, when it says in Isaiah, "Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come" (Isaiah 60:1) to refer to Jesus who is light to all people, we can infer that Jerusalem is also that light because through her, the Savior of the world has come and all nations shall worship him as represented by three wise men.

That Jerusalem may also be each of us Christians as Jesus is manifested in our lives.   This is the essence of Epiphany.

Three things should help us witness the manifestation of Jesus:

First, the orientation to see Jesus.  Where are our lives going?  We definitely should want to see Jesus all our lives, from birth till the end of our lives.

Second, let us ask the grace to discern where Jesus is.  Like Mary "who pondered all these in her heart", let us verify if we are still traveling along the path of Jesus or not.  Pray to ask whether the things or people we encounter are leading us to Jesus or not.

Third, pray for courage to live Jesus.  There is no other manifestation except that that which we demonstrate in our lives as manifested in our words and actions.

Pray to see, love and serve Jesus 24 hours a day, 365 days in a year until we celebrate the next Christmas!