Friday, August 09, 2019

3 ways to follow Jesus

from "Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse"

 Friday of week 18 in Ordinary Time

If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24-28)

Both readings today call us to follow God's commands.  If we're challenging this thought, the question to ask is, "Is there another source or person who can  who can instruct us the path to life aside from God?"

If God is our Lord, there is no other recourse except to follow him.  He shows us the way through three things:

1.  Renounce ourselves

This day and age, there's no problem being responsible for one's life, future and happiness.  Yet, what kind of happiness are we actually referring to, this life or till eternal life?  Our faith in God calls us to adhere to his will considering his will leads us to eternal life.

2. Carry our crosses 

This world conditions us to a life of comfort.  Yet, we also understand that comfort cannot be attained unless we work for it.  And that involves making sacrifices or "carrying our crosses" so to speak.

3.   Lose our lives for Jesus

This by far is the hardest to follow; yet, the way of Jesus is the only way.  We might be carrying our own crosses and renouncing ourselves, but if we aren't one with Jesus nor have the passion to serve and love him, what's the point of our sacrifices?

Learn the path Jesus took to save us.  Better yet, let Jesus, his every thought, word, and action, be ours as well.  In losing our lives for Jesus could we actually gain true life!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Lord's prayer

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 11:1-13

Abraham pleaded to the Lord to spare Sodom if there were even at least 10 God-fearing persons.  The Lord said he would spare Sodom in behalf of the 10.

In the gospel, the apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Prayer can only be possible if there is an authentic relationship between the person praying and the Lord. Knowing who Jesus is and his role in the history of salvation, we might as well increase our devotion and love for him.

The Lord's prayer contains the summary of our deepest longing for the Lord.  There are three aspects that reveal our knowledge as well as devotion to the Lord:

First, adoration


Adoration demands utmost reverence to God the most High; it demands total adherence to his will and worship to his name.  Only God deserves our adoration.

Second, service


Asking for daily bread is a recognition that everything comes from God and as a sign of thanksgiving, we practice responsible stewardship for all created things, not let them lord over us, but we utilize them as God wants us to use them: for the service of one another.

Third, salvation


The prayer marks our salvation; that we are indeed meant for heaven.  As such, we need to practice compassion, forgiveness, justice and mercy.

All these taken together, marks who God is and who we are in his name.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

How to build a strong Church

6th Sunday of Easter 

John 14:23-29

During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded ruefully: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.” (Anonymous)

The true strength of the Church lies in its founder - God himself, the Father who gathers us as a Church, the Son who built this Church with his own body, and the Holy Spirit that sanctifies the Church. And as we are nearing the end of the Easter Season, grant that we may enliven in us the gift of becoming a strong Church;

First, in firm rootedness in the Lord, neither doubting him nor relying on our own strength.

Second, in faithful obedience God's will and not our own.

Third, in taking the path of peace, not violence, selfishness and greed.  Jerusalem, the Holy City, is the image of heaven, a state of bliss for all Christians who are made holy by God through the daily struggles of life.  They also lived in unconditional love for God and others, offering their very own lives so that others may live.

Be strengthened therefore in the ways of faith!



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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Faces of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

John 20:19-31

The 2nd Sunday of Easter is declared by the St. Pope John Paul II as the Divine Mercy Sunday.  In this Sunday, we reflect how the resurrected Jesus becomes a "fountain of mercy" for us.

First, the early Christians experienced the miracles of healing even after the resurrection of Jesus.  It is the Christian community in-charge of the works of mercy for the sick.   This is the manifestation of the mercy of God, now lived by every Christian.

Second, in our full faith in Jesus, the beginning and end, alpha and omega, the living One who died and now who lives forever.  The second image of mercy is Jesus himself and only through him can we have eternal life.

Third, in the works that reflect peace.  "Peace be with you." Then Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit.  On Christmas night, the angels shouted "Peace to men of goodwill!" How blessed are we who serve the Lord in the name of peace which brings healing to people.

Search for the Divine Face of Jesus in our lives of mercy.

Prayer to the Divine Mercy

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. (Repeat three times) O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You! 

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. 

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. 

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. 

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us, and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.

Read more at: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/how-to-pray-the-divine-mercy-chaplet

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A fruitful life


3rd Sunday of Lent

Luke 13:1-9 

At this point, God is ready and is always ready to save us.  But it seems we are not ready.

The second reading and the gospel give us stern warnings against being barren in this life. 

In this Third Sunday of Lent, could God still change us for good?  Could we still be fruitful as God wants us to be?  How can we be fruitful?  Let me offer three suggestions:

1. Pray more - prayer opens our world to the Almighty.  This prayer doesn't simply call us to recite as set of prayers; nor are they intended for God to listen to our prayers.  The very objective of prayer is openness to a loving relationship with God.  It entails humility on our part to heed God's voice.  Prayer demands a lot of humility, listening, and simply staying in the presence of the Lord.  We need to pray more.

2. Know more - we need to know more about Jesus.  Actually, what our stand is about issues do not count at all if we know that it is Jesus who is our way, truth and life.  God's Word and the Church open us to a world of possibilities with Jesus on how to enter his loving heart.  Only then can we know what lies in our hearts as well.

3.  Change more - We need a huge dosage of life-changing experiences.  The point is whatever we experience in life calls us to a change of heart and mind according to the very heart and mind of Jesus.  A life transformed according to the very heart of Jesus accounts for a fruitful life.  Every moment of fruitfulness is Jesus' fruitfulness in our lives.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The illogicality of God

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:27-38

This Sunday's gospel doesn't need too much explanations.  It is what it says, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly."

There's no logic to this.  Only the logical person would say, "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth."  But Jesus would command us, "Love your enemies." Why is this the logic of God?

For one, when we retaliate against our enemies, how do we differ from them?  "'Vengeance is mine,' says the Lord" (Deut. 32: 35).   But it is the Lord who speaks, not us.  We are not gods.  Besides, Jesus reminds us of the golden rule, "Do no do unto others what we don't want others to do to us." Remember, the wounds we inflict upon our enemies come back to us with vengeance.

"Love one another" is Jesus' command to us; and that means everyone, saints and sinners, friends and enemies alike.  "For he (the Most High) himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked."  

Furthermore, learn to see the face of God even in the enemy, for Jesus reminds us, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me" (Mat. 25, 40). 

Lastly, if ever we feel not forgiving our enemies, look at the man on the cross who suffered even for his enemies.  He said, "Father, forgive them; for they don't know what they do" (Lk. 23, 34).  Jesus forgave his enemies a long time ago.  Who knows?  Our enemies might be the first ones to go to heaven ahead of us.

So, let us be concerned with the salvation of our enemies rather than with their doom.  The logic of God is love; and it is all that matters.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

There is only one Word

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

In the first chapter of St. John, it says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1, 1)

Could there be two words, God's word and man's word?  Since it says, "the Word was God", let us cease distinguishing how man speaks and how God speaks.  Rather, let us make efforts that whatever comes our our mouths are God's Word.

The Word of God frees us. "The truth will set us free." Lies enslave us.  From the gospel, "The Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring the Good News to the Poor", God's Word frees us from the shackles of sin and helps us to live in freedom.  That is our Good News in Jesus.

The Word of God unites us.  Love is the binding force of the Word of God.  It unites us with Jesus and with his body. The Church, saturated in God's Word, is the body of Christ.  Let our every action meant to unite our brothers and sisters in the bond of love, the love of the Trinity.

The Word of God is incarnated in acts of compassion.  In the first Reading, Ezra commanded the people to have a feast, but give a portion to the man who has nothing prepared ready." That is compassion.  Like Jesus, the Word-made-flesh, let's incarnate in us the compassion of Christ.  Then we would know how the Word enlivens us!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Truly Blessed

Luke 2:16-21

I would like to see "blessings" in the first reading to reflect Mary as "Mother of God".   This also gives inspiration to us to face the New Year with joy and hope.

Let's be inspired by the word "blessings"as we face the New Year.  Mary too is "blessed among women" for being the Mother of God.   Let's reflect on the benediction prayer in the first reading as inspiration to enter the New Year as also to venerate Mary, mother of God.

The first in the Book of Numbers is the sentence "May the Lord bless you and keep you." Blessings have various meanings.  It may mean "barak" meaning "to kneel" before God in total adoration to Him who provides for all our needs.  Mary's "Magnificat"reflects her total dedication to God as her spirit rejoices in God her Saviour.

The second phrase is "May he let his face shine upon you."  Mary is totally immersed in the mystery before her, the loving Son who whether sleeping or awake, looks back at her with tender, loving eyes.  A second meaning of blessing is "esher" or "happiness".  One cannot fathom the feeling of the beatific vision.  But this cannot be possible if we don't make efforts to strengthen our faith in God enough to see his divine face shining upon us to guide us each moment of our lives.

The third phrase is "May he lift his countenance upon you and give you peace." Usually, when God lifts is face, he passes judgement of life or death.  But with this assuring presence, he brings peace.  Peace is a process of becoming, a state of total health and well-being.  Peace can only be attained if we work for social justice and social change.   Working for justice is an integral component in the preaching of the Good News.  The third aspect of blessing is "eulogeo" or a kindness.  Mary lived a life of kindness, service, and compassion, and today, she never fails to pray for us still.

Facing the New Year filled with blessings is our elusive dream.  Only a year dedicated to God is a blessed year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The language of God


Christmas midnight mass


Luke 2:1-14 

The Parable of the "Language of God" by Rev. Joseph Healy goes this way:

Once upon a time there was a man in the Serengeti District of western Tanzania called Marwa. In the sixth grade he studied the Christian religion. At Baptism he chose the name Emmanuel which means "God is with us." After finishing high school Emmanuel read magazines and books about God. He believed that God is truly present among us, but he asked: "What language does God speak?"

Emmanuel posed his special question to different church leaders in his village. The old catechist answered. "I think that God speaks Latin." The chairperson of the parish council guessed, "God speaks our local language Ngoreme." But the searching youth Emmanuel had doubts. "When I get the right answer," he said to himself, "I’ll know immediately and feel great joy." So the young African set off on a journey. In the neighboring parish he asked again: "What language does God speak?" One Christian suggested Kuria, another local language.

Again Emmanuel had doubts. He began to travel across the whole of Tanzania visiting small towns and big cities. In one place the Christians were certain that God spoke Swahili. People in western Tanzania said Sukuma while residents in the northeast said Chagga. Emmanuel was not satisfied with these answers. Remembering the African saying -- "traveling is learning" -- he journeyed outside Tanzania. The Kenyans said Kikuyu and the people of Uganda answered, "God speaks Ganda." In West Africa he got different replies: Lingala in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Hausa in Nigeria and Arabic in Morocco.

He decided to travel the whole world if necessary. Passing through Europe he was told "French, German and Italian." The Christians of North America said "English" while South Americans replied, "Spanish." In his heart the young Tanzanian knew that these answers were inadequate. Determined to find the real truth he went to China where the local people insisted that God speaks Mandarin or Cantonese. Emmanuel was tired from his long travels but he resolutely pushed on. In India he was told Hindi. He reached Israel late in December. The local inhabitants said, "Surely God speaks Hebrew."

Exhausted by his long travels and the unsatisfactory answers, Emmanuel entered the town of Bethlehem. The local hotels were filled. He looked everywhere for a place to stay. Nothing was available. In the early morning hours he came to a cave where cows and sheep were sheltered. He was surprised to see a young woman with her newborn baby.

This young mother said to the traveling youth, "Welcome, Emmanuel, you are very welcome." Astonished to hear his name, the young African listened in awe as the woman called Mary continued: "For a very long time you have traveled around the world to find out what language God speaks. Your long journey is over. God speaks the language of love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

Overjoyed to hear these words of Mary the young Tanzanian understood Gods language of love for all people, for all races, for all nations. Emmanuel exclaimed, "Truly, today God is with us.""

This parable reminds of how powerful this language is more than all other languages.   It is not like the language we've used in as we communicate to others everyday.  How do we use the language of love in the sinful areas of our lives? I shall use the images coming from the gospel.

First, no room at the inn.  "Sorry, there's no more room left." The first act of violence done to our Lord is closing the doors for him to work in us.  But how did the Holy Family tackle this?  Not through hatred, but through a quiet understanding and acceptance of man's wounded humanity.  This is a language of love.

Second, Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger.  These are signs of abject poverty.  While we wallow in material things, our dedication to help our brothers and sisters remains wanting.  We keep them wearing swaddling clothes.  How did Jesus tackle this?  Jesus identified himself with them so we may remember Jesus in our suffering brothers and sisters.  This is love.

Third, the night. The night represents the darkness of sin and hopelessness. How did heaven tackle this?  Angels lit up the night sky and sang "Glory to God in the highest".  The night cannot dispel the light.  That light is the hope in our hearts that no matter how violent, how poor, and how rejecting situations are, nothing can stand in the way of the Lord to help and save us.  We should light up our lives for others.  Then our Christmas would be complete!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Small"


4th Sunday of Advent 


Luke 1:39-45

The readings are in exultation of what is small. I'm immediately reminded of the spirituality of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "The Little Way".  It calls for the sanctification of life using the ordinary and everyday things.

We don't need to look for the greatest acts that will lead us to heaven.  Heaven is right here in the midst if we care to see the profound.  Surely God is in the most ordinary things.

The first ordinary being is us.  No matter what exultation we do to ourselves, we cannot deny our littleness before the whole world, before others, and most especially, before God.  But nevertheless, we are loved by the Lord with such profundity.  In Psalm 8, it says, "What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" We must be so loved by the Lord more than we love ourselves.

The second ordinary being is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In the Magnificat, she sang, "for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations shall call me blessed."  Even now, she never fails to lead us to God the moment we think of her.

And last but certainly not the least, our Lord Jesus, our birthday celebrant, the tiny child who was born of poor parents in a lowly stable and be visited by the poor shepherds.  We can only look at the Blessed Image with such devotion and constantly remind ourselves that it is not in being proud that we are saved, but by the humility of Jesus.

May these inspire us to take the humblest path to sanctification.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Totally different from earthly rulers


Christ the King 

John 18:33-37

The Son is coming as a king, "On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship."

The second Reading tells more of this King, "It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

In the gospel, Jesus admits he's a king.  But his kingship is far from that of earthly kings.  Our task is to demythify the concept of kingship.

1. The language of earthly kings is that of power, money, and influence.  Jesus' language is that of service, poverty, and humility.  Let us aim to serve rather than be served as Jesus did.

2. Jesus gives witness to truth.  His kingship is marked by truth.  In our times today, there's an increasing incidence of trolls utilizing fake news to advance propaganda of political leaders.  This is far from the truth.  But the truth sets us free.  And the only truth is that Jesus is king and we are his servants.

3.  Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.  His kingship belongs to the first beginning and the last end.  Earthly rulers are temporal.  Rely solely of God.  Secondly, our lives are also temporal.  But we shall be held accountable after our lives here on earth.  Strive to dedicate each moment serving the Lord.  The consequence is eternal.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 13:24-32


Before we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King next week, let's allow ourselves some time to reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God.  The culprit ultimately is delaying this thought.  But as early as in Daniel's time, the end is foreshadowed:  "Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace."

In today's gospel, Jesus is the key to the end of time: "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."  There's also judgment, salvation, and new world to come. 

Let's then reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God; it's here and now, not tomorrow and not during our old age. 

First, the Kingdom of God changes our outlook on life itself.  Inasmuch as we're thinking of so many things, all of these things will end.  If they will end, why continue investing in them?  Let's start thinking of the more important things like God's reign in the family.

Second, God's reign is found in Jesus alone.  Life is not simply doing good and avoiding evil.  It's not even in praying and rituals.  It's simply about letting Jesus rule over us.  Do we take time and attention to knowing, loving, and living out Jesus?
The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?
Third, God's reign on earth is found in the Church.  We don't wait till the end of our lives to realize the Kingdom of God.  God's kingship connects heaven and earth.  His presence on earth is found in the Church that faithful proclaims his Good News.  The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?  If we focus on exclusivity instead of communion, heaven will be far away.  But if we focus on loving and serving now, heaven will be right here in our midst. This lifestyle reflects
God's reign.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Total generosity

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:38-44 

The story of the widow of Sidon is truly incredible.  It puts Elijah on a dark spot because he kept on asking for food despite the woman's pleading that the bread would be their last meal till she and her son dies.  But his reason eradicated the woman's anxiety: "“Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.”’  True enough, the jars of oil and meal were not emptied.

The message of the readings is not about giving; rather, it teaches overly generous giving, as in the giving even of one's own life.  This is particularly true of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, "who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Phil 2: 7).

The widow in the gospel also found the favor of the Lord, because "she gave everything she had."

A true Christian would follow the Lord's path "to empty oneself" or kenosis.  Jesus' self-emptying is what brings us our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Also, a true Christian would be more concerned with giving rather than receiving, taking after the quotes, "It is better to give than to receive" or "it is better to give than to receive."  If we're preoccupied by what we want to receive, we haven't entered into the realm of self-giving.  But if we know that giving begets giving and love begets love, we would not hesitate to give.

A life of generosity is a reflection of the Kingdom of God, because in Heaven, all the residents of Heaven are givers and not receivers.   May we start our journey to Heaven by a life of cheerful generosity on earth.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The law of love

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:28-34

God is clear on what he wants us to do: love him above all things.  This is also reechoed by Jesus in the gospel, thus, affirming the very heart of the faith.

It is true that Jewish religion enunciated the ultimate laws.  But the spirit of the law could only be interpreted through the eyes of God's beloved Son - Jesus Christ.

First, to love God above all things - demands utmost total and unconditional obedience, adoration, and offering of one's life to the Father, the source of all life.  Who could ever have authority over life itself?  Isn't it God alone?  Who could ever hold the key to true life and order?  Isn't it God alone?  Do we want an organized life?  Then follow God!

Second, to love one's neighbor as oneself - to love others means to recognize the other has the same dignity as I have for being a child of God.  Thus, to accord justice, respect, as well as honor in the same way as I treat myself becomes an absolute norm, considering that I and my brothers / sisters are created in the image and likeness of God.   The second norm is a call to build ourselves as one family of God.

Third, these two laws point to Jesus who fulfilled God's commands and brought it to fulfillment.  He is God's perfect priest who offered the perfect sacrifice, himself all for our sake.  Now he says to us, "Love one another as I have loved you."  This law manifests perfect communion with God and with one another and eradicates all tinge of separation, selfishness, and animosity.  This law reflects the true picture of heaven.  If we live out this law of love, God resides in us and we in God; we also reside in the hearts of one another.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

What makes a saint?

All Saints Day

Matthew 5:1-12

We celebrate the Communion of Saints every first of November.  "All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints" ("All Saints Day", Catholic Org, last accessed Nov. 1, 2018).

It is meant for us to remember all unknown saints, yet in perfect bliss with the Lord, who are now in heaven.  November 2, we would offer the mass for our suffering departed in purgatory.

Three messages:

1. It is meant for us to incorporate ourselves in the communion of saints right this time of our lives and not just consider sainthood in the afterlife.  Our lives today reflect our willingness to be counted among the saints.

2. The Church is also equipped with the communion with holy things that are mainly rooted in Jesus, the source of our salvation.  These are:

2.1.  Communion in faith (CCC 950) - let us nourish this faith and also ensure that others deepen in their faith.

2.2.  Communion of the sacraments (CCC 951) - communion with Jesus through the reception of the sacraments

2.3.  Communion of charisms (CCC 952) - These are gifts coming from the Holy Spirit meant to enrich every Christian community.  Let's offer to use this gifts for God and others.

2.4.  Communion in charity - (CCC 954) - In the Acts of the Apostles, it's clear after the Christians shared their resources with one another, nobody is found wanting (Acts 4:34).  Love abounds.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

To see as God sees

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Mark 10: 46 - 52


Jeremiah prophesied that God would once again gather his people as was Moses' time.  This would be a joyous event, and the scattered children of God would come home with tears in their eyes; and the Lord would once more take care of them.

A "people called by God" is what we presently call "The Church".  The challenge is: are we teary-eyed when we gather together as a Church?  Perhaps, we know so little about being church; perhaps we were somehow "blinded" by what we were accustomed to define it; that's why the way we live Church is far from the Heaven that we envision.

The gospel is about healing the blind Bartimaeus.  The gospel is about Jesus healing the physically blind.  What we dare to ask is to heal our spiritual blindness brought about by skewed images of the Church and our faith.

Conversion

We cannot proceed to the next level of seeing unless we admit that we need conversion.  Yes, we need conversion throughout our lives.  We need to change outlook of life that conforms with God's will, not ours.  Unless we seek conversion, we would not be able to see through the eyes of our faith.

Discernment

"Lord, I want to see."  Let's go a step further and say, "Lord, I want to see you everyday."  I want to see you in my work or studies, in my family and community. I want to see you in the daily events of life.  We may go a step further and pray, "Lord, grant that I may see things as you see them."  Only then could we see God's presence in the world.

Commitment

The final element of seeing through the eyes of faith is to commit oneself only to the truth.  We know that the truth shall set us free.  We shall not compromise truth with lies or self-effacement.  "It's God whom we shall follow rather than man," according to St. Peter and John when threatened by the Jews in speaking about Jesus.  When we are committed to what is true, we shall bring all others to the Lord, thus, making our experience of Church really genuine.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Servanthood


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45

"Kung may tiyaga, may nilaga"; "Kung anong tinanim, siyang aanihin."

These words remind us to persevere if we are to attain our goals in life.  Perseverance calls to be patient even in sufferings if we are fully convinced that all our efforts will pay off. 

But perseverance is also the mark of a true servant, who perseveres to do all tasks assigned to him. 

The servant is the mark of a true Christian.  If we claim we are baptised Catholics, it is imperative that we serve as Jesus served, by offering his life on the cross.  How then can we be good servants?

First, know who we are

 Let us know who we are and what our place is in this world.  God is the Creator, we are the created; God is heavenly, while we are made of dust.  God is Lord, and who are we? Servants.

Second, know the end

What is the end of a servant's being?  We easily forget when our end is to live comfortably and to grow rich and powerful.  Is that it?  We might aim to be rich, but this is not a ticket to enter heaven or eternal life.  If our end is in God, then let us serve him now!

Third, the heart of a servant

What makes us persevere in this task? Love.  Love makes us endure all hardships; for love of God and neighbor.  If there is no love we won't last.  Do we claim that we love God now?  It shows in our actions and in our commitment to offer time, talent, and treasure for love of him and one another.

What makes us persevere in this task? Love. 

Could we now admit that we are servants?  That's the only way a Christian is to go.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wisdom to follow Jesus


28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:17-30


"Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth." 

We may not also understand Jesus' words, thus, losing the opportunity to serve him when he calls us.

In the first reading, from the book of Wisdom, it says: "I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me."

We need wisdom to discern what God wants, not what we want.  Wisdom is the mind and heart of God himself, revealing his plans for the world and the contents of his heart.  Our minds and hearts, because of sin, are alienated from God. But with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can still find our way back to God.

"Go and sell everything you own ..." calls us to develop a spirit of detachment to material things.  They are simply what they are, instruments to an end.  The end is important in discerning wisdom.  Is it God who is our final end?  Then why are we so preoccupied with material concerns that we don't have time to serve the Church and others?

"Give the money to the poor ..."  Another component of wisdom is thinking about others instead of self.  The self is the third priority of our lives.  God is first, others are second, we are third.  If we all make ourselves first, we won't have have the compassion for others.  And if a whole community would be composed of selfish people, imagine the devastation to that community!  But is the community is composed of sharing people, imagine the life that flows in the community!

Only in following Jesus could we experience the fullness of life!

"Come, follow me..."  Actually, this SHOULD be the theme of our lives!  Following him does not come only as we nearing death.  Following should happen while at the peak of our lives!  Only then could we experience the real joy of following him each day and the excitement each day brings.  But this is the message: only in following him till the end can lead us to the fullness of life!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Eucharist and our covenant with God


21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:60-69 

Today, Joshua called on the people to renew their covenant with God.  In full freedom the Israelites responded.

In today's gospel, after the long discourse on the Eucharist, still the people left Jesus, claiming that it's hard to swallow this teaching.  Jesus turned to his apostles and asked, "Are you also going to leave me?"  The apostles responded, "To whom shall we go?  You have the words of everlasting life?"  They also believed that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

The closest covenant with Jesus is the covenant between husband and wife, when the two shall be one body.  This connotes full freedom of two partners to enter into a contract.  Even though God knows what will happen to us if we desert him, still he respects our full freedom to enter into his covenant.

The Eucharist is our covenant with Jesus: "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20).

This covenant contains the following:

First, Jesus' responsibility to care for us - Jesus' action on the cross to forgive us and give us life.

Second, love that binds - A new covenant is created: "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31: 31–33).  This is bound by a deep relationship with God and with one another based on love.

Third, our share in the covenant - to know, love, adore, and serve God is the deepest commitment we can ever give to God.  This should be manifested in our new way of life: the way of love.