Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mary, Mother of God

Where are we going?

Luke 2:16-21

Whenever we think of the New Year, we always think about good luck, a time of blessings and abundance  to the point of making it our annual ritual.

Perhaps this New Year, we may start with something different.  How many of us have actually pondered things over like Mary?  Before we can ask for blessings of abundance this coming year, can we ask the question, "Why is God giving me another year of life?  What does he want me to do?"

Mary, in pondering all these things in her heart, as well as pondering the baby Jesus in her arms, had the opportunity to see everything as God sees, even the future till our time today.  Mary is very much a part of our lives; thus, the title Mother of God and Mother of the Church.  She saw the whole humanity on the road to heaven.

May we reflect also on the following:

First, reflect the future of humanity

Where is humanity going with all the violence and sin around us?  Could we opt to start changing the course of the future from destruction to building up; from wounding to healing?  The theme of the Pope Francis' message for the Prayer for the World Day of Peace centers on active non-violence as the way to peace. Peaceful non-violent action is not cowardice.  It is actually working for real and authentic peace without resorting to killing or violence.  Pope Francis said, "Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all."

Second, reflect on the meaning of our lives

Where are we actually going with all the things we are doing?  Do you think we're living meaningful lives?  Are we getting closer to God?  Perhaps we can use Pope Francis' message as he quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict, " “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’” (Pope Benedict XVI, Feb. 18, 2007)  Our inclination to active non-violence depends on our orientation as sons and daughters of God and therefore not prone to doing violence against our neighbors.

Third, reflect on God himself

Mary pondered all these things in her heart as she looked on Jesus, her Son.  Let us also look on Jesus.  Search through his heart and move from there.  He wants to change the world for good; are we ready to join him?  Are we ready to do God's will?  Have we understood Jesus enough?

Pope Francis' New Year message puts it:  "This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.  Ultimately, a life well-lived is a life lived in God.

These are the things we can do for the coming year; how exciting our lives would be because the year would not be filled with our schedules but with God's schedule; not our wills but God's will!  It's an exciting year indeed!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Day

Jesus, Lord

Luke 2:1-14

Right this very day, Christmas day, light has shown upon us; hope is in front of us; the Child is born.  He is set to purify us and refine our ways.

Contemplating at the scene, we can just sigh in awe and wonder, letting the baby speak to us; he is using the language of love.  He reveals to us who he is.  Who is Jesus to us?

Savior

Jesus means "Savior".  God saves.  "He will save people from their sins."  (Mat. 1, 21)  We have destroyed so much life, in ourselves, in others, and in God's creation.  The more we know, live and share Christ, the more things and people will be restored as God wills them to be.

Christ

Christ means "anointed".  Jesus is the Christ because he is consecrated by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit for his redeeming mission.  Let us acknowledge our anointment in Jesus so we can also take part in the work of redemption.

Lord

By this title we recognize Jesus as the sovereign king over nature, demons, over sin, and over death, above all by his Resurrection. "His name is above every other name." (Phil. 2, 9)  Let's manifest Jesus' kingship by prioritizing him in our lives.

"swaddling clothes"

God's beloved Son is wrapped in swaddling clothes, a sign of abject human poverty.  He would not be identified with the rich, proud, and powerful.  Jesus' title as Son is manifest in his obedience to the Father.  So too our conduct in this life will be subjected to the Father's will.  "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased."  (Matt. 3, 17)  Let the concern of our lives be on how to please the Father.

Let us dedicate all the time of our lives not in enriching ourselves but in getting to know who God is in Jesus Christ.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

4th Sunday of Advent, A

Fulfill the Lord's command

Matthew 1:18-24

For the fourth Sunday of Advent, the cycle is nearly complete.  All the advent candles are lit.  We are ready to receive Christ this Christmas.

In the first reading, Ahaz did not recognize the Christ; nevertheless, God himself who gave the sign: a virgin shall bear a son and she shall name him, "Immanuel", which means "God-is-with-us".

In the gospel, Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly so as not to put her to shame.  But the Angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins."  Joseph is different from Ahaz in that he took Mary as his wife to fulfill the Lord's command.

What does it take for us to fulfill the Lord's command?

Strive to grow in faith

As it is not easy for today's generation to fulfill the Lord's command, but it is easy for people to follow the ways of the world, let us strive to grow in faith.  Faith enable us to know the language of God more than the language of the world.  Faith is nourished in the Church.

Strive to listen 

Listen not with the physical ears, but with our hearts.  Be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit.  Know the signs of the times.  Discern.  Then we shall know where God is.

Live out

Live out what we have learned.  Put faith into action.  Then we shall see the saving works of the Lord.

Let us be like Joseph, not losing opportunity to heed God's command to take Mary as his wife.  We may lose the chance to serve Jesus.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent, A


Rejoicing

Matthew 11:2-11 

"Gaudete" means rejoicing.  But what the people of this generation rejoice in?  Malls? Money? A lot of gifts and merrymaking?

We have to distinguish what is true and false rejoicing.  If we feast on what is fleeting, what serves the self, orsurely, what is evil, then that is extremely false rejoicing.  There cannot be any joy except in Jesus alone.

The gospel points out the sources of true rejoicing:

First, the poor are helped

In the gospel, it says, "The blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor;"  If we see that life in the community is flourishing - the ignorant are taught, the poor are helped, the sick are visited, those who are dead in sin are raised to life in the Spirit; that is true rejoicing.  We need to invest in these every moment of our lives.


Second, Jesus in the ordinary

Jesus asked, "What did you go out to see? ... a man wearing fine clothes?"  Only in recognizing the presence of Jesus in each one of us can we detect true rejoicing.  Even the most ordinary person can be an instrument of Jesus.

Third, Jesus above all others

In the gospel, it says, "A greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is."  We are referring to Jesus, our Lord and King, and all that He stood for; we should prioritize Him in our lives.  This also symbolizes the triumph of goodness in the world, especially the goodness that comes from Jesus, who will bring about the final d
efeat of evil.

These are the sources of true rejoicing that the world cannot supply.  These will surely lead us to the ultimate good - God himself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Inspirations at your Fingertips!: 2nd Sunday of Advent, A

Inspirations at your Fingertips!: 2nd Sunday of Advent, A: Integrity Matthew 3:1-12  The readings for the second Sunday of Advent reflect a quality that is present in John the Baptist and of cour...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christ the King


Kingdom of Christ


Luke 23:35-43 


What is it like in the kingdom where Jesus is King and Lord of all heaven and earth?

It's like this:

The kingdom of heaven is filled with disciples.

Only disciples are allowed to enter heaven.  People who consider themselves as good and have done good works on earth may be entering heaven based on the merits of their good works.  But have they heeded God's words?  Have then done Jesus' will?  Did they pass through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus?


Second, the kingdom of Jesus is also on earth through the Church.

The Church is icon of the Holy Trinity.  It is the body of Christ.  It lives in unity in Christ, sharing all gifts and charisms.  Did we really consider ourselves as active members of Christ's body.

Third, the kingdom of heaven is found on the passion and death of Jesus.

He fulfilled his kingship not through the crown or throne, but on the cross, a symbol of the forgiveness of sins through his passion, death, and resurrection.  Do we also embrace our crosses?  Are our crosses the means to save others?

Let the kingdom of heaven be upon us through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

33rd sunday in ordinary time, C

The problem is we don't seem to connect heaven and earth.  Heaven is future while what we have right now is earth.

But we can't delay heaven.  God is not future.  He is today.

We have to correct the notion of separation of heaven and earth:

1. kingdom of God is now, it started while we were children and it is on-going.  
2. Jesus - how much have we known him?  We need to identify with Jesus now.
3. love - not only families, but also the poor.  Love now.

This is how we connect heaven and earth.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Resurrection 

Luke 20:27-38 

"Resurrection" is the theme of today's readings.  In the Book of Maccabees, the seven brothers would rather give glory to God rather than sacrifice their faith.  They believed that they would receive everlasting life.

In the gospel, Jesus took the discussion of whose wife will the widow be to another level.  "They shall not marry because they are like angels..."

Let us also take our lives to the next level.  How often do we sacrifice spiritual life for money, power, comforts of this world, or even reputation?  These do no not have any merits in heaven.  But Jesus said, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Mt. 6, 20)

What do we store in heaven?

First, focus on heavenly things.  Remember your childhood when you were asked, "Who wants to go to heaven?" And we raised our hands.  What happened after all these years?  Focus on Jesus, the king of heaven and earth.  Move out from there.

Second, our lives on earth is itself our journey to heaven.  Imagine what heaven would be like.  Live exactly like it on earth.  All saints in heaven were disciples while they were on earth.  Let's be disciples of Jesus.

Third, lead others to heaven.  By the conduct of our lives, we already know whether we are going to heaven or not.  But much more, everything that we do to our brothers and sisters account for our entrance to heaven.  Lives of faithful service will get us to heaven.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, C


Grateful heart

Luke 19:1-10 

See how God loves what is small, who is humble, and how he blesses them.

Zacchaeus is in the same predicament.  Aside from being small in statue, his dignity has fallen considering the ire of the Israelite for being a tax collector.  But Jesus called him by his first name and even invited himself to his home.  Zacchaeus was indeed grateful that he offered to pay four times the amount he stole and give half of his belongings to the poor.

These are the signs of a grateful heart:

Remorse - the sinful man realizes how much he offended God not only because he deserves just punishment but more so, he offended God who is all-good and deserving of all his love.

Amendment - the sinful man experiences how he is deeply loved by the Father despite his sinfulness that he is willing to make amends, correct all wrongs, and restore things and relationships to their proper state.

Offering - a grateful heart is an offering heart that loses all selfishness worsened by sin and releases the person from further slavery to it.  He gives his life back to God and offers his services to others.

Gratefulness is the experience of heaven itself as nothing can ever separate us from God.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Between pride and humility

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus' parable opens us to the world of the proud and the humble.

But the book of Ecclesiastes opens us to God's world as judge who rules the world with fairness and equality, decides in favor of the poor and the oppressed, and favors the humble.  In knowing the justice of God do we learn about the life of the humble and the proud.

First, God is a just judge who is fair to all.  The humble man treats everyone with respect.  The proud look only on themselves and looks down on everyone else.

Second, God has preferential option for the poor, the oppressed, the rejected.  The humble man, aside from treating himself as one of the persons mentioned above, is filled with compassion for the poor and the oppressed.  He would do everything to help them up their feet.  The proud will further oppress the poor and justify their poverty.

Third, God loves the humble. The humble becomes a model for all others of a fruitful life that leads to everlasting life.  The proud man's life ends here on earth.

Choose then which one would you prefer to live out: pride or humility?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

The heart of a faithful servant

Luke 17:5-10

For this Sunday, as we reflect on the faithful servant as described in the gospel, I would like to use St. Ignatius' "prayer for generosity" to show the qualities of a servant:

"Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will."

First, the faithful servant deeply knows his master.  He asks for generosity because the master is overly generous.  And to serve the master as he deserves implies total respect and honor to him.  The reference point of service is the master, not the self.

Second, the faithful servant knows who he is and what he should do.  He knows his responsibilities.  Giving, fighting, toiling and laboring are far worthier than costs, wounds, resting, and rewards.  Without expecting to be paid, the servant fulfills what is expected of him.

Third, the faithful servant is oriented totally to his master.  He is set to do the master's will and not his own.  The master's will is in itself the reward for all his efforts.  Following the Lord's will will definitely bring order to the world and to people's lives.

These constitute the very heart of the servant as he utters, "We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”  This is also the heart and life of a true disciple by we are called to be.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

On Christian charity

Luke 16:19-31

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

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

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

Let's reflect on the spirituality of Christian charity.

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, September 18, 2016

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Curing social problems

Luke 16:1-13

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 03, 2016

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, C


In search of true wisdom


Luke 14:25-33 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

True Humility

Luke 14:1,7-14

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

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

What are the marks of true humility?

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

God or this world?

Luke 12:49-53

artwork from dailyencouragement.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Choosing the better part

Luke 10:38-42 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday of week 15 in Ordinary Time, II

On being chosen

Matthew 12:14-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, July 10, 2016

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Mercy

Luke 10:25-37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, July 02, 2016

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Be laborers of the harvest

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Following Jesus

Luke 9:51-62

The readings reflect the urgency of following God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Suffer for love of Him

Luke 9:18-24

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Forgive

Luke 7:36-50


We are invited by the readings to forgive.

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

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

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

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

Forgive then; forgive endlessly.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

Power to bring to life

Luke 7:11-17


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Good Shepherd

Luke 15:3-7

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Corpus Christi

Offering

Luke 9:11-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity


The Trinity


John 16:12-15

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

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

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

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

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

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




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pentecost


Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

John 20:19-23


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 01, 2016

6th Sunday of Easter

Communion

John 17:20-26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 09, 2016

3rd Sunday of Easter, C

Closer to Christ

John 21:1-19

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you love me more than these?"

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

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

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




Saturday, April 02, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

The Eucharist and the Path of Mercy

John 20:19-31


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Sunday

Where is the resurrection?

John 20:1-9


Where is the Resurrection?

It is not a thing of the past.  It is like the Eucharist: it makes itself present.  Only people whom the Lord elects could see Him.  Discern well God's action.

Where is the resurrection?

Peter saw the burial cloths.  But John believed.  Only people who have faith can see the resurrection.  Look for the Resurrection in the signs of the times.

Where is the resurrection?

St. Paul said, "Christ raised us to new life."  We too and the rest of humanity are the living testimonies of God's unending love.  Our desire for life for self and others makes us who we really are.  Look for heaven here on earth.

Live out the resurrection.  Jesus is in the midst.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ikapitong huling wika

"Ama, inihahabilin ko sa iyo ang aking espiritu"

Lukas 23:46


Maaaring nasabi ni Hesus, "Naganap na" kaya nararapat lamang niyang sabihin, "Ama, inihahabilin ko sa iyo ang aking espiritu."

Ngunit ang paghahabilin na ito'y may dawalang kahihinatnan:

Una, nagsanhi ito ng paghahawi ng tabing ng templo, Tapos na ang panahon ng sacripisyo ng Israel at nagbigay daan sa sakripisyo ni Hesus.  Ang templo ay wala na.  Ang pagkahawing ito ay nagdulot ng takot at pangamba sa mga tao lalo na sa mga pumatay kay Hesus.

Ikalawa, nagdulot ito ng kaligtasan, pag-asa, at pananambit ng pananampalataya, "Ito ay isang makatuwirang tao" o "Tunay ngang ito ang Anak ng Diyos."  Ang Espiritu ni Hesus ay nagdulot ng kaligtasan sa mga taong nauna nang namatay ngunit sinasambit ang pagka-Diyos ni Kristo.

Alinman ang reaksyon natin ngayon, ito ang mahalaga: "Inihabilin ni Hesus, hindi ang kanyang maka-Diyos na Espiritu, kundi ang kanyang makataong espiritu, isang kaluluwang tulad natin.  Naghahabilin si Hesus ng kanyang espiritu alang-alang sa atin.  Sa kanyang pamamagitan,  tatanggapin ng Diyos Ama ang ating espiritu.

Tila ang pagkakaalam natin sa ating buhay ay may dalawang daigdig: isang makalupang buhay na abala sa mundo at isang daigdig na espiritual at nakaalay sa Diyos.  Ngunit sambitin natin ang mga salitang ito, "Ama, inihahabilin ko sa iyo ang aking espiritu."  Hindi ba iisang lang talaga ang ating daigdig?  Ang lahat ng ating mundo mundo na ng Diyos.  Tayo'y mga kaluluwang na nakapaloob sa ating katawan at umaasa na aakyat sa Kaharian ng Diyos sa takdang panahon.

Ito ang kwento ng ating buhay: bawat galaw, bawat desisyon ay hindi nakabaon sa lupa.  Dapat ito'y nakasandig kay Hesus na siyang makapagpapaakyat sa atin sa Diyos Ama.  Ano man ang gagawin natin, piliin natin ang maka-Diyos na gawain.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday, C

Love: the thing that binds us 

John 13:1-15


Today is a very special day. We are recalling to mind the Last Supper.  But we also recalling to mind Bishop Mylo Vergara's ordination to the priesthood.  A warm round of applause for Bishop Mylo. Blessed be his priesthood!

We recall also in the Old Testament the story of the Passover, of the hand of God passing over the houses of the Israelites while killing the first born of the Egyptians in their homes, sparing no one, not even the son of the Pharaoh.

We also recall to mind three Christian realities - the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the gift of the  Priesthood, and Jesus' call to serve one another.

What is it that binds all these realities of faith?

First, Jesus wants us to remember.  ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’

Remember, remember!  Remember our first Holy Communion.  Remember  Jesus in the Last Supper.  Remember the saving works of God.  Indeed, let us remember how throughout our lives, God has not left us.

Second, Jesus wants us to see.  Behold!  "This is my body which will be given up for you" and "I am with you till the end of time."

See now, Jesus is here!  And Jesus will feed the deepest longing of the human heart as Bishop Barron said in the 51st IEC.

Jesus wants us to see him in his gifts like the priesthood.  In Cardinal Dolan's words, "Priests are close to Jesus.  According to Mother Teresa, they perform the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ."  Let us appreciate the healing a priest can do for us.

Finally, Jesus wants us to focus on doing something for others.  Abuja Archbishop John Cardinal Onaiyekan in his talk titled "The Eucharist and the Poor" said in serving the poor, "There should be action.  Do something!  Do not say the problem is too much... God is challenging us, "Do the little you can with the right spirit and God will do the rest."

For what binds all these realities we are celebrating is love.  Love is God's decision to free the Israelites and lead them to the promised land.  Love is Jesus' words to the apostles and to us: "Love one another as I have loved you."  Love is the underlying motive for bending over the wash each others' feet.  Love is God instituting the priesthood.  Loving is Hesed or mercy.  There are no explanations; we just do it, immediately, now.  A kind word or gesture, unplanned, but responding to the present moment, is a direct mirror of God's love for us.

Let us learn from the message of the washing of the feet.   Loving entails bending down and taking part in the healing of another. Let the love of Jesus be incarnated in us to satisfy the longing of every heart.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Palm Sunday, C


"Hosanna!"

Luke 19:28-40 and Luke 22:14-23:56


According to one bible commentary, the people singing "Hosanna" as Jesus enters Jerusalem seems to be a divine impulse that most of them did not understand.  This truly is God's action that nobody can stop, not even the interpreters of the Law.  It even says in Luke 19:28-40,  ‘I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out.’

We have been given opportunities to break out from the rituals of daily activities to give more emphasis to praising and glorifying God.  Our prayers and praises in the Eucharist now consciously and done with passion, give way to the God who saves.  We utter "Hosanna" which means "God saves".  Our call is to do much more and allow God to work in us and respond to serving Him all the more.  Our service to others should also cause them to admit that God is saving them.

In the readings, which are extensions of the Gospel for Palm Sunday, the Messiah shows his true glory - that of a humble servant who in the face of extreme violence remains undefiled; his heart remains pure in its intention to give glory to the Father and embrace humankind in love.

The Eucharist is a direct manifestation of the Lord's love for us.  It demonstrates over and over again the Paschal mystery - the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; passion in the act of humility in converting bread into His body; death in sharing himself to be eaten by us the recipients; and resurrection in that we are given the mission to proclaim his resurrection after every mass.

We therefore should know the implications of every Eucharist we celebrate - that we enter into our passion through a life of humility; death each day in our willingness to share ourselves to others so they would be saved; and resurrection, in assisting others to live a life of freedom in the Lord.

It is the same work of Jesus now manifested in our lives.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

4th Sunday of Lent


Food and the Eucharist


4th Sunday of Lent


The Book of Joshua tells the story of the people of Israel reaching Canaan and eating from the produce of the soil given to them by God.  From there on, manna stopped falling from the sky.

Food is so integral in our lives.  I would not wonder why God used the picture of food to describe who He is for us.

The story of the prodigal son further describes our dependence on God.  Life can only be found in the father's house.  What a contrast with the elder brother who despite his obedience refuses to enter the house.

It's really sad when despite of all the food offered to us, still we choose it more than the Food that gives us real life.

The Lord makes himself available to us everyday in the Eucharist.  Every part, every moment, is life-giving.  We might as well learn from the lessons of the Eucharist.

Reflect on its every part that gives life.  The greeting is a reminder that we are always in the presence of God.  The Word enables us to open our minds and hearts to receive God.  The Eucharist is a call to open our lives for others.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

3rd Sunday of Lent, C

The fruitful life

Luke 13:1-9


What is the gauge of fruitfulness, success, or even happiness?  Money or fame?

No matter how we define fruitfulness, happiness or success, one thing's sure - we hate to see our lives go down the drain.  Meanwhile, we see people who have lost hope of living decent lives by giving to sin, vice, or habitual wrongdoing.  This is a life of despair will continue unless someone or something so significant will turn their lives around and instill hope in this otherwise hopeless existence.

The story of Moses is story of hope for the people of Israel.  It was the moment of truth that God is God because He hears their cries and vows to lead them to freedom.  This relationship became the backdrop for a life of fruitfulness and dignity Israel has for being chosen by God.

In the Gospel, Jesus warns us to be awake lest we fall back to living a barren, fruitless existence brought about by God's absence in our lives.  Fruitfulness can be possible if, first, we cling to God as the very reason for our existence; second, that we cling to Jesus as he reveals himself in the Word, in the Eucharist and in life of faith; and third, that we cling to the Holy Spirit to transform our every action and deed into the living presence of God in the world.

Only in our radical dependence to God could we finally experience total fulfillment, happiness, and success, and peace. Our fruitful lives begin.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2nd Sunday of Lent, C

Be transformed in Christ

Luke 9:28-36

As we remember Jesus' transfiguration this day, let's also encounter this transfiguration in the Eucharist and in our daily lives.

There are three moments when these elements are transformed: the bread and wine, transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, the priest and the congregation when they receive Holy Communion to become the Body of Christ, and when the Mass is ended and we are all called to transform our homes, workplaces, and the whole world into the Body of Christ.

This entails a solemn offering of ourselves like Abram in the first reading when God promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and that a land would be given him.  He offered heifer, goat, ram, and turtledoves and God accepted them.

Our transformation cannot be possible unless we allow ourselves to be transformed.  Transformation cannot be possible unless we finally offer not the offerings of Abram, but our deepest selves, including our dreams and longings, to the Lord God Almighty.  Transformation cannot be possible unless we wholeheartedly offer what is closest to us - our families and our children.  And transformation cannot be possible unless we align our lives to Christ, be Christ-like, and offer our lives for others like Christ did on the cross.

Only then can we see the transformation of the whole world according to the very heart of Jesus.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

1st Sunday of Lent, C

Focus all attention on God alone

Luke 4:1-13

photo courtesy of Integrated Catholics

Moses is fully aware that it is the Lord who called Israel out of Egypt and brought them to the promised land flowing with milk and honey.  And as a sign of extreme thankfulness, he tells Israel to offer the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that the Lord has given.  If we are filled with greed, then we cannot even think about offering our gifts back to the Giver of the gifts.

It is the same as in the second reading when the salvation became possible only because God himself gave the solution by sending his only Son.

In the Gospel then, the three temptations simply lead our attention away from God through whom our lives totally depend.

They simply tell us any of them can be our gods.  Our grace therefore is to detect how they destroy our lives.  But the second point is more important - how do we place our full and total trust in the Lord?

The sins are materialism, power, and pride.  The three alternatives are poverty, humility, and embracing persecution for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.  When we proclaim our poverty and emptiness, the more we rely on God.  The more we embrace humility, the more we place ourselves under God's service.  And the more we embrace persecution, the more we exult God in our lives.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Feast of the Sto. Niño

The gift of Sto. Niño to our land

Lk. 2, 41 - 52

We rejoice in this special day that we are celebrating the Feast of the Sto. Niño.  This is not just a feast about Cebu; rather, it is about the rest of the Philippines that the faith was first introduced to our shores.

In the second reading, St. Paul talks about blessing God the Father for electing or choosing the Ephesian Christian community before the world began.  Of course this refers to all followers of Christ and in a special way, we Filipinos are privileged that the faith was planted in our country and we are now reaping the fruits of a bountiful harvest.

There are three reasons why we are blessed by the Child Jesus.  First, we are made holy and blameless in His sight.  This is a gift and a challenge - to live as a people in holiness and influencing all other Filipinos to live a life of holiness.

Second, that the faith may find its way in the very fabric of our national life like the incarnation of Jesus.  All the Church teachings are bearing fruit in the renewal of every Filipino in all aspects of life - political, economic, social, cultural, and religious.

And third, that we may continue to grow in grace, in age, and in wisdom, till our knowledge of Jesus is complete.

This is the gift of the Sto. Niño in our country.  Viva Pit Señor!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Epiphany of the Lord

Light vs. darkness

Matthew 2:1-12

It was meant that the mystery of God would be revealed like light not just to the Jews but even to Gentiles which means to everyone.  But it will take a discerning heart that is open to God to know this mystery.

As we start laying down our Christmas decorations and wrapping up Christmas, let Christ's birth not just be a passing moment but a daily opportunity of conversion for us.  Epiphany becomes moment of recognizing Jesus through that light which guides us in our lives and our ability to separate light from darkness.

The first light in the level of the heart.  People living in the dark would always be perturbed; worried, worried and anxious. They would also employ negative feelings against others and life itself.  But people of the light would always feel excited; the sight of the star would fill them with delight.

The second light is in the level of the mind.  People of darkness would live a life of lies.  Herod thinks he is the highest leader and not the One who is to come.  The wise men would always be guided in their decisions.  God is the One guiding them.

The third level is in life itself.  People of light will regard their lives as gifts to be given away while people of the dark would want to take away life from others.  Eventually, they are taking away life from themselves.

Remember Epiphany: we can see the face of Jesus who is our light even after Christmas.