Saturday, February 17, 2018

New beginnings

1st Sunday of Lent

Mark 1:12-15

Every thought about new beginnings brings freshness and rejuvenation: new year, resolutions, new life, new paths to tread, and new challenges to face. 

Our readings point out to a new beginning.  Noah and his family, coming from a world of sin and degeneracy, was given a new covenant by God.  A sign of this new beginning is a colorful rainbow which is a reminder that mankind would not be washed away by floods ever again.

In today's gospel, after being exposed to the wiles of the devil and emerging triumphant over its temptations, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Good News.  He said, "The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.'"

Let's utilize the Lenten season for our new beginnings, now with God more than ever. 

First, let that time to serve God be now or forever withhold our peace.  It should have been when we were born.  But let's realize that each day is an opportunity of new beginnings with God as our Lord and Guide.  He is Lord, meaning, we shall take time to offer our lives in adoration and service to him; and Guide, meaning, each day would be meaning because we opt to listen and respond to him.

Second, realize the kingdom of God.  Here and now, the kingdom of God dwells, not when we waste our lives with useless and worldly enjoyments and suffer the consequences of delaying the kingdom of God.  Let's be aware that what we do adds up to the realization of the kingdom of God here on earth;

And finally, Repent.  This gesture is not simply negative.  It seeks to put an end to vainglory and prioritize the Good News in our lives.  Anyone who prioritizes God in his or her life becomes a new creation with a new heart that belongs to God.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Serve Him no matter what

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B

Mark 6:7-13

Job talks about the travails and burdens of life.  Actually, his story is also of almost all of us human beings who despite our efforts to create a comfortable life, still are beset with problems and frailties.

We need to read the whole story of Job to get the picture of life and answers to life's questions like "Why do bad things happen to good people?"  The point is found in Desiderata: "Despite the drudgery and broken dreams, it's still a beautiful world."

Jesus, in spite of forces that sought his destruction still proclaimed the Good News.  He healed, exorcised, performed miracles, and a host of good deeds.  We should learn from this experience:  No matter what happens, let us proclaim the Good News.  How?

First, serve.  Serve unconditionally.  Peter's mother-in-law, the moment she was cured, immediately served the Lord.  When we are cured, we celebrate by going to the malls.  We forget to serve the Lord. 

Second, pray.  Jesus woke up early in the morning to commune with his Father.  No matter what happens, pray.  When we are beset with problems, the first thing we do is sacrifice our prayer life; we cease going to church.  We will not be able to solve our problems when we are far away from the Lord.

Finally, fulfill the mission.  No matter what happens, let's fulfill the mission entrusted to us by the Lord.  We shall of use to him and to others.  We would be able to make a difference in this world. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Molded to be prophets

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:21-28

Moses condemned the false prophets.  Jesus silenced the devils.

What we need are committed prophets of Christ, possessing a strong sense of faith and grace in the world.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all baptized share in the prophetic function of Jesus Christ as we engage in teaching and witnessing  to lead others to the faith.  The key word is "evangelize", i.e. proclaim Christ to others by word and deed.   What do we need to get into the disposition of being evangelizers?

First, a strong sense of faith.  We cannot preach what we don't believe.  Let us make every effort to deepen our faith through on-going Catechesis and exposure to God's word.

Second,  a strong desire to evangelize.  There should be a strong desire to share the Word, even in the most ordinary circumstances.

Third, a desire to reach out to the unbelievers.  The Church teaches:  "The true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says: "Lay people who are capable and trained may also collaborate in catechetical formation, in teaching the sacred sciences, and in use of the communications media" (CCC, 906).

Let's seek to be true prophets, witnesses, and evangelizers of Jesus Christ to the world.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The way Jesus was reared

Feast of the Santo Niño 

Mark 10: 13 - 16

It's a joy for us to celebrate the Feast of the Santo Niño.  The entire history of the Catholic faith in the Philippines hinges on the offering of the image of the blessed Child by Magellan to Queen Juana as a gift during the baptism on April 14, 1521.

The images of the Santo Niño and Poong Nazareno really present to us profound insights on our country's adherence to Jesus, our Savior.  If we are serious in deepening our faith, let us adhere to Jesus the Child, the young man, respectable adult, and the loving Messiah.

On this blessed Sunday, we are all invited to enter into the childhood of Jesus and embed him in our hearts, minds, and lives, for we too once upon a time, became children.

First, on the hidden life of Jesus. The Church teaches us: "The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life" (CCC,
533).  How we were reared by our parents might be the same way Jesus was reared by Joseph and Mary.

Second, on obedience.  "Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven" (CCC, 532).  It gives us a rich insight on how Jesus effectively teaches us to love the Father; he's speaking from his own experience when he was a child and which we can also imitate.

Third, on doing the Father's will. "The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.226 Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" (CCC, 534).  How wonderful would it be if we hear these same words from our children, "I must be about my Father's work."

We are assured of the growth and development of our children when they are wholeheartedly doing the Father's affairs.  Then the Santo Niño has born fruit in our lives.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sensitivity to God's call

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 1:35-42

We are much appreciative of our parents and those who introduced to us the ways of the faith for through them, we have known and observed it.  Today, we are capable of knowing what is bad and good; the good, we live out; the evil, we cast away.  Our religious practices and devotions are manifestations on how we are living out our faith.

But perhaps, we can aim for something better in our faith.  It is not just a set of formulae;  rather, Someone is calling us for something much greater.

This is the mystery of the call which Samuel heard.  It's not just an ordinary call.  He was instructed to respond accordingly, "Here am I, Lord, your servant is listening."

We dread the moment when we couldn't hear Him who call us everyday.  We dread every moment when we think we're the only ones conducting our lives, when we can hear what the world is saying, but cannot hear what He's saying.  God is the voice within, calling us to serve him everyday and every moment. How do we become sensitive to God's call?

First, acknowledge people and event pointing the way to Jesus.  In the Gospel, John declared, "There is the Lamb of God."  We learn about the faith through our parents, school, and church.  Let the things we learned deepen our relationship with Him.

Second, Jesus responded to the invitation of the 2 men, "Come and see."  And they followed him.  It was 4 in the afternoon.  It was at this point they were called "disciples".  A disciple follows the Lord 24 hours and for the rest of his life.  The disciple is formed according to the heart and mind of the one he's following.  We may respond to the call to be transformed according to the heart and mind of Jesus.

Third, "You shall be Cephas."   Jesus called Simon "Cephas."  When we follow Jesus, he will reveal to us our true selves, the one God intended us to be.

May parents give the best gift to their children - not only financial security in the future, but more importantly, their vocation in God.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Light that destroys the world's darkness

The Epiphany of the Lord

Matthew 2:1-12

The story of the three wise men may come to us as a great post-Christmas story with the drama of deceit, revenge and treachery.  But underneath this drama is a revelation much greater than we can ever imagine.

What an irony; Christmas comes to us not in a grandeur fashion, but in an obscure way, with the sight of a humble child resting in the manger.  This feast should lead us to notice the grandeur in the obscure and the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Where does Epiphany lead us to?

First, the light.  That light is the brightest of all lights.  It leads us directly to God; his glory shining upon all of us.  Even at nighttime the light keeps shining.  Let us be aware of God's presence every moment of our lives, in our decisions and actions.

Second, the assembly of kings.  There are only two kinds of kings reacting to this fact: ones are like Herod, who was perturbed at the thought of this king.  For he rules with corruption.  He compromises with men but contradicts God.  The second ones fall to their knees to do God homage.   They should teach us a lesson that all power comes from God and that power should be practiced most humbly.

Third, the assembly of nations.  "Lift up your eyes and look round: all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and your daughters being tenderly carried."  This is the image of the Church that serves as light to the world, teaching all children the truths of faith.  Only the Church shall walk towards the Lord.  The true Church shall see the star that leads to Jesus.  Only the Church would be able to offer the gifts fit for a king.