Saturday, April 22, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Divine Mercy and the Church

John 20:19-31

Today, we celebrate Jesus as the Divine Mercy.  We remember the words of the prayer, "You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You, Amen."

This powerful prayer says it all about the immense love of the Father through his Son in the Holy Spirit.  It also says a lot about how we are supposed to be as a Church, the font of God's mercy for the world.

The first reading reveals a lot about the life of the early Christian communities.  We might not know it, but in promoting the Basic Ecclesial Communities, we are actually immersing ourselves not only into the life of the Church but more importantly, in the very heart of Jesus, by whose Body we are made of.

What makes the Christian community and how do we form ourselves as a genuine Christian community?

First, the faithful lived together - they were one heart and one mind.  "Comunio" or love that binds us with one another and with God makes a powerful Christian community.  We are not just churchgoers; we become brothers and sisters to one another.

Second, they devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles - the Word of God is central to them that everything they think about and do arise from the Word of God as taught by the apostles.

Third, they met in houses for the breaking of the bread - this is not simply a church attendance ritually done.  Christ's once-in-a-lifetime sacrifice is made available to all generations through the celebration of the Eucharist.  Everything in life is reflected in the Eucharist especially the gift of self as Jesus is to us.

Fourth, the sharing of resources - It will always be a challenge to sell everything, possessions and all, and distribute them according to each and everyone's needs.  But definitely, it is possible to share oneself, time, talent, and treasure all for the benefit of the community as a way of being one with Jesus who offered his very own life for us.  Surely, no one would be found wanting if we share ourselves with others, especially the poor in our community.

Jesus reminded Thomas, "Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."  We who haven't seen the physical Jesus, in faith would be able to say, "Christ lives; Christ's body is the Church that we belong to."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Sunday

No stopping to the resurrection

John 20:1-9

Alleluia!

We are just fresh from experiences of the rich liturgical symbolisms of the Paschal Triduum.  There is no stopping to Jesus' power; not even death could stop what he needs to do for us.

We can only be witnesses to this great event of our God.  It was two thousand years ago, yet the Church has been proclaiming his resurrection, not only each year but always and forever.  What do we announce to others?

First, that there is no stopping to Jesus in fulfilling his divine plan of salvation, the forgiveness of sins.  Death is not the option to sin; rather, forgiveness is.  We make sure that in everything we do, people rise from the grave and be given hope to live again.

Second, there is no stopping to Jesus' power over life and death and heaven and earth.  This second point to move to us to a firmer faith and trust in Jesus and not in our power or wealth.  He is still above all.

Finally, there is no stopping to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus.  Let us not forget our true mission - to proclaim Jesus' resurrection and lead others to salvation.  Politics ends only in this life.  But Jesus' reign will stay forever!

In fulfilling this mission, only then can we be regarded as childr
en of the resurrection of the Lord.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Palm Sunday

On beasts and burdens

Matthew 21:1-11
Matthew 27:11-54

It started with a well-laid plan without a single dash of coincidence.  Jesus is fulfilling his plan to save humankind from the ultimate evil, death; much worse in this case, the killing of the Son of God.

From the first gospel, Jesus marks his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy, "‘Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’

Three reflections come to mind about Jesus' entrance to Jerusalem:

First, Jesus had a well-laid plan converted to action.  Saving humankind is not a coincidence.  We need to trust God in carrying out his plan of salvation.

Second, he rode an ass to actualize a prophesy.  The ass is a symbol of utility instead of power; it is capable of fulfilling the master's orders.  Jesus has a job to do, all for our sake. Let's ask what our mission is in this world and fulfill it like the obedient, useful servants.

Third, the donkey is a beast of burden meant to transport heavy loads.  In the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, it carries Jesus who is about to carry the sins of men and women.  It must be too hard for the animal to carry it.  But people around Jesus see the sight of him riding the mule.  Like the donkey, he is set to carry our heavy burdens of the sinful human race.

Let us enter into the Jerusalem of our lives together with Jesus who is there to carry them for us.

***

The Passion of the cross is the ultimate expression of Jesus' love for us, both friends and enemies.  For Jesus there are no enemies; we are all his enemies by every sin we commit; yet, he places upon himself the burden of our sins.  But Jesus remained steadfast in carrying all acts of violence heaped against him, all for our sake.

These are the burdens carried by Jesus:

First, our sins

Our sins make us more and more violent and detached from God.  Stop opting for the comfortable but insensitive life.  Our quest for enjoyment and self-preservation detaches us from the hurts and pains of people.

Second, the absence of God

Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  This prayer is for him; he meant to pray this with and for us, who in being separated from God, feel abandoned and isolated.  When we feel isolated because of what we have done against God and others, this is the heaviest burden caused by sin, God's seeming absence.  Let us also cry out this prayer and so find our way back to God.

Third, the burden of loving

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in the first reading, "For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away." The non-violence in the face of extreme violence reveals the very heart of Jesus who eternally loves us, that's why he completed his offering on the cross which now serves as the sign of our faith.  It is totally based on God's love for us that we are now called to live out to our brothers and sisters by joyfully carrying their burdens because of love.

Let us enter this Holy Week with love in our hearts and journey with Jesus in his passion, death, and resurrection.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

5th Sunday of Lent

Glorifying Jesus

John 11:3-7,17,20-27,33-45 

Happy are those who are utilizing these blessed days of Lent to enter into the resurrection of their lives.  Faith is preparing us to counter all temptations, recognize the divinity of Jesus, give chance to encounter and be a witness to him.

For this last week before Palm Sunday, let us look on Martha and her journey of faith.  After giving witness to what Jesus can do she made a solemn proclamation: "You are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world."  Jesus also made the same proclamation of himself: "This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified."

This is the main essence of our existence: "To glorify the Son of God in all things."  But how?

First, make a solemn proclamation of Jesus by prioritizing him above all existence.  We can only do that if we know who Jesus is over and above our lives.  Make an act of faith like Martha by offering everything to him.

Second, recognize Jesus having power over all lives. "I am the resurrection and the life."  He has power over all those who die or are killed.  Our sole mission is to cause life and not death in ourselves and others.

Third, we can also partake in Jesus' power to save by unbinding people from the shackles of death.  True freedom is freedom in God, not in disordinate attachments to material things or to power.  This is the mission of our lives, to cause the salvation of others, all for the glory of God.

The final act of the glorification of Jesus is the lifting of the cross itself.  Pray to journey with him to Calvary so as to receive the resurrection of life.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent

Our real selves

Matthew 17:1-9

After Abram left country and family to follow God, God promised him to be the father of a great nation.  His name was changed to "Abraham" and he did become the father of many nations.

As Jesus was transfigured in today's gospel, we pray to be transfigured according to his likeness.  We just need to enter fully into this season of Lent.  We also need to do other things:

First, prioritize Jesus.  Do something different this year.  Don't put Lent in second place.  God doesn't want to be regarded as a second priority.  Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

Second, seek Jesus everywhere.  We are desolated by sights of violence, blood, vengeance, crime, greed, and corruption.  Where is God in all these?  Where is Jesus in my work, family, and priorities in life?  Seeking for God's will is called discernment.  It is to believe that despite all evils and sin, God is there to help free us from them.

Third, be the very face of Jesus.  Be his eyes, lips, hands, and feet.  Feel as he feels; act as he acts.  Respond in faith and be merciful at all costs.

Then we shall witness our transfigured selves in Jesus.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

1st Sunday of Lent, A

Fighting temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Temptation is as old as time which we never seem to neutralize perfectly.  Sin is always before us, contaminating us no end.
Temptation results in sinfulness.  The only way to be strong in temptation is to follow Jesus.  There are 3 temptations we have to triumph:

First, the temptation to wealth

It is God who is our true wealth.  Wealth is not nor forever be a sign of security in the world.  It may be a passport to buying all the things we want in the world.  But it can't be our passport to heaven.

Second, the temptation to power

Jesus has power; but he would rather use it to serve. For what is our power for?  To prove our worth or give ourselves to others?

Third, the temptation to self

Pride is the mother of all sins.  Let our life stories not be about ourselves but how God transformed our lives.

Friday, February 17, 2017

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Perfect in love

Matthew 5:38-48 

Perfection in holiness is not gauged by the number of frequency we enter the church, pray the rosary, held our procession, or even donated to the church.  The readings point out the immediate fruit of holiness in mercy and compassion.

This is simply the very heart of God himself.  He created each one of us out of love.  How can he quarrel with his own creation?

Every parent is a creator: both father and mother prune their children's character to perfection.  They should do much more than just givin them money or even secure their education.   They should be capable of entering and forming their hearts to the core.  But what lies in the hearts of parents?

What God is sharing is his very own heart.  In the book of Leviticus, God enumerated all the things mankind can do for one another: not bear hatred, openly tell him his offence, and loving one another as oneself.  He doesn't want his creation to kill one another.

Jesus took it a step forward:  love the unlovable.  This is harder to bear.  Love one's enemies and pray for the persecutors; offer the other cheek, give the tunic, walk another 2 extra miles.  Aren't these contained in the very heart of Jesus who said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do?"  The command of Jesus is absolute:  Love one another as God loves us.

In this way, every human being becomes a true image of God: creating, correcting, forgiving.  God wants us to perfect his law already planted in our hearts, making us exactly one in him.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Transformation

Matthew 5:1-12

What makes a transformed people?

In the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, transformation occurs when people become humble, obey the commandments of God, and live out his mercy.

Does it mean we are already transformed?  No.  But we are in the process of being transformed the moment we humble ourselves and learn from God.

Jesus went a step further in the process of transformation.  It's not only in following the commandments but in possessing the very heart of God.  The Beatitudes are the keys to God's heart as he plants them in ours.

Jesus may be poor; but his wealth is his Father.  We may learn by redefining our true wealth and proclaiming our poverty before the world.

Jesus' heart is gentle; God is patient for our transformation.

Jesus' heart is totally dependent on his Father.  Only God is his joy and consolation.

Jesus is merciful; his heart is pure; his heart is filled with love.  God is pure "hesed" or mercy; there is not a tinge of any evil intention for humankind.  His intention is to connect people with one another and with his Father.

Finally, Jesus shields those who are persecuted because of how they give witness to God's justice and mercy; they mirror God's salvation.

Are we already perfect and holy?  No. Not until our hearts are transformed into the very heart of Jesus, filled with mercy and compassion for others.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Epiphany of the Lord


Light


Matthew 2:1-12

In the Solemnity of the Epiphany, there are three things that we can reflect about the light:

First, light gives direction

It signifies clarity of sight; it also gives witness to the truth.

The opposite of light is darkness.  Sinners want to dwell in the dark so their actions would not be seen.  Darkness gives way to illusions and lies while light signifies truth and brightness.

Second, light gives witness to communion

In the light people gather.  This is the way of the Church.  From the book of Isaiah, the prophet invites the people to look around; there is a great gather of people coming back home.  This is the vision of heaven.  This is a state where love dwells and families are built.  The opposite of this is individualism and separation, when the rich are separated from the poor, powerful from the powerless, the privileged and the underprivileged.

Third, light gives way to offering

The disposition of people's hearts are joyfulness and thanksgiving.  People generously offer gifts.  God resides in the hearts of people.  Mercy abounds.

The opposite is selfishness and greed.  We are back to sin.  In the dark there is no conversion.  In the light, look again, many are witnessing to the glory of Jesus.

As Christmas ends, know that the light has shown upon us.  It's time we let the light of hearts guide others, especially the children.