Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On Positions and Titles

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B
Gospel: Mark 9: 30 - 37

A man went inside the office of an ambitious politician who always wants to impress himself on others. He caught him talking on the phone, "Yes, Mr. President, what? Oh yes, yes, I'll do it. Goodbye Mr. President." Then he put down the phone and said to the man, "Oh well, we don't know whom we will talk to next. Even the President needs me." And he proceeded, "What can I do for you?"

The man answered, "I'm called by your secretary to fix and connect your telephone. Is it working?"

Sometimes, names, titles, functions can get into our heads and start corrupting us. We want to be above others and to earn a name for ourselves. But what does it really mean to be on top? Does it also mean a change of ways, of culture, that is way above others as well?

No matter what our positions are, the Lord looks on us equally because all of us share in the same dignity as human beings and as adopted sons and daughters of the Lord. Moreover, he planted his spirit in each and everyone of us and filled us with love. We are in no position that we are above or below anybody else.

Let's then involve ourselves in greater things rather than becoming conscious of accomplishments, positions, or worldly successes. If we want to be rich, let's learn from the poor ones and develop a poverty of spirit that depends on God alone. Let's take the Lord as our model of a real leader who took the path of suffering and death just to gain our redemption. Let's choose to be poor in wordly cares so that we can be rich in love.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Benedict XVI Apologizes for Muslim Offense

Makes Invitation to Dialogue

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2006 ( Benedict XVI said that he is "deeply sorry" for the harsh reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, and invited Muslims to open and honest dialogue.

In the Pope's first public address since his trip to Bavaria, he said today: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims."

"These in fact were a quotation from a Medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Holy Father said from the balcony of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo to the crowds gathered in the rain to pray the Angelus.

In his address on Tuesday in Regensburg, the Bishop of Rome quoted a dialogue on Christianity and Islam between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian, which took place in Ankara around 1391.

The Pontiff quoted what the emperor said regarding the question of the jihad (Holy War): "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."


Today Benedict XVI pointed to the statement released Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone "in which he explained the true meaning of my words."

"I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect," the Pope said.

In his statement, Cardinal Bertone explained that "the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way.

"He simply used it as a means to undertake -- in an academic context, and as evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text -- certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come."

The Arab television channel Al-Jazeera transmitted live the Pope's words during the Angelus.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The more we know

Gospel: Mark 8: 27 - 35
24th Sunday in ordinary time
Cycle B

Take it from Socrates when he said, "The more I know, the more I don't know. I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

This statement takes a humble stand on how we can view things. But it also invites us to continue to cherish as we know more about something or someone.

When Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do the people say that I am?" he was inviting them to enter into the mystery of his very self, to get to know him more, "But you, who do you say that I am?" The disciples had been with Jesus more than anybody in the crowd.

Till now the Lord is asking all of us, "Who do you say that I am?" Grant that we may acknowledge that inspite of all our knowledge on things and concepts and of people like family members and friends, we know very little of God and devote little time to really get to know him.

Each day that the Lord gives us is always a day of knowing the One who loves us and gives us life each day. Is it really asking too much if we allow more time and dedication for him and his work?

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Removing the blindness from our eyes and deafness from our ears

Gospel: Mark 7: 31 - 37
Cycle B
23rd Sunday in ordinary time

If there's something really worth venturing into, it's in seeing the world as God sees them.

There's also another saying, "If you want to see the future, look through the eyes of a child."

We all fall short of being able to see and hear things. We may have eyes and ears, but we have not gone beyond what we normally see and hear. That's why many people fall short of living a full life by seeing only the lure of physical wealth and not being able to see beyond it.

In spiritual life, we also fall miserably short of seeing God and his real beauty. We limit our spirituality to asking him for blessings and thanking him if we receive them. We limit Christian life to just doing good and avoiding evil. But we are afraid to give ourselves totally to him thinking that we would lose the comforts that we have. But just look at the sad situation of greed and poverty around us and would know the results of our own shortsightedness.

We need to see beyond things. We need to see and hear as God does. We need to recognize that we have been blind and deaf and mute despite our having one. We need to acknowledge the Lord's good intentions and the power of his will to transform our lives completely. And most of all, we need to move and do things as God does them, so that more of his children would live and not just ourselves. I tell you, they’re worth much more than anything in the world if we give ourselves totally in service to him.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Heart that belongs only to God

Gospel: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 3, 2006

Split-level Christianity is how we describe the level of faith that is oriented to both God and the world.

It is like a scene from Godfather I, in which a baby is being carried by Don Corleone (Al Pacino) to be baptized in a church. While the priest solemnly baptizes the child, in another scene and juxtaposed to it, Corleone's men is killing his family's enemies.

We may be saying, "I am a Catholic and I am practicing my faith," but eventually the conduct of our lives will prove whether we really are for the Lord or not.

The ultimate test is what is eventually our hearts' desires, and the Lord can see through this.

Pray then for a proper orientation towards doing God's will instead our own. Ask for a heart that is real and a heart that reaches out to others and to God. Ask for strength to remain faithful to Lord despite the lures of this world.

Ask for a heart that belongs only to God, to love, and to life.

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