Sunday, December 30, 2007

The heart of family life

In my years in the priesthood, I myself wonder why priests like me are called “fathers”. In fact, Jesus himself said, “You shall not call anyone “Father”; only God is your Father.” (cf. Mt. 23, 9). Not until I read the readings for today especially in Sirach where it says, “The Lord honors a father above his children and confirms a mother’s right above her children.” (cf. Sirach 3: 2)

As the priest fulfills the privileged role of a “father” in a way that he leads God’s children safe and sound to “Our Father in heaven,” to too every father or mother is given such worthy role to mirror God’s fatherhood to his children.

In the feast of the Most Holy Family, may I invite you then to give the profoundest reverence to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the Holy Instruments of the Lord in spreading His love, forgiveness, and salvation. But this is also the time to realize how profoundly sacred our families are.

Unfortunately, so many issues have threatened that sanctity – abortion, contraception, separation of parents because of poverty and other things, live-in marriages, extramarital relationships, same-sex marriages – and a host of other problems which demean the very heart that binds family members and threatens the growth of the children. That is why the Lord’s command still remains unperturbed, “Honor your father and your mother.” (Ex. 20, 12)

Let we link all families to God’s eternal word and the sanctify of our very own families. Give joy to every member; let us support our parents in their old age; let love abound and remove any stain of sin and selfishness; let every family journey toward heaven, where God is all in all and we are His children. Let Jesus, Mary, and Joseph show us the way, amen!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Christmas well-observed

Christmas Day,
Cycle A,
Gospel: John 1: 1 - 18

The essence of Christmas is when we become the symbols of Christ and transformed according to His likeness with something that is lasting and not fleeting as the Christmas decorations, gifts, and food. How do we make this commitment to be transformed according to the image of the Christ Child?

First, it means to recognize that Christ joined our world, not for anything else except to be with us. When I was ordained a priest, I knew that God didn’t remove me from my woundedness; I knew that I was still the same person before and after I was ordained. But I knew that in this journey of the priesthood, He is with me and I am with Him; and it’s the only thing that matters.

Second, Jesus shared nothing else except love and only Love. By this, we are transformed and molded by Him who loves us. He heals us, forgives us, and gives us a chance to grow. Through Him, we rid ourselves of our selfish intentions each day.

Third, He enables us to share the same love to others, to touch others and heal them, and to bring Him to others. It is the triumph of love when the whole world is transformed, when each of us knows what to do and peace and justice abound as a consequence of all our actions; when all of humankind becomes one family united in love and everyone gives and receives life. This is the fruit of a Christmas well-observed.

God bless us this Christmas and the New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A word of Hope

Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Gospel: Matt. 11, 2 - 11
Picture courstesy of: Norwest Indiana Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical Spe Salvi is a timely reminder for us especially this Christmas, which is also known as a season of hope.

“Spe Salvi,” in hope we were saved. The Holy Father says, "Hope is the distinguishing mark of Christians, the fact that they have a future; not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness.”

The Holy Father invites us to get to know our Lord more intimately, and that our hope would lead us to a real encounter with Him.

We have filled ourselves with false hopes. The lure of this world, the attractiveness of its scientific systems and technologies have left us feeling secured that we already possess the key to life.

But even reason is God's gift that we unfortunately turned as our own gods that we have become blind to the the true source of all reasons - God himself.

We need to pray, to listen, to understand, and open our world to Him. Listening entails that we empty ourselves so we can hear the Beloved speak when we are praying. We need to understand that life is limited, that no matter how advanced things seem to be, they could and will never compensate for the things of God. It is when we are weak that God is strong.
Finally our hope in the Lord opens us to the world of others who are hoping as we are that despite the hardships of life, everything will turn out because we believe, because we hope, and because we love.

May the season of Christmas be a season of hope to bring light to our lives brought about by the coming of the Christ Child who is our light and our salvation.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A new way of looking at things

2nd Sunday of Advent
Cycle A
Gospel: Mt. 3: 1-12
Photo courtesy of Advent Devotions

A researcher filled a glass with water halfway, then he presented it to two subjects. He asked them this question, "How do you describe this glass?" One said, "The glass is half-empty." The other said, "The glass is half filled." Which one is correct among the two?

We look at reality in different ways. Noticing the negative things that are happening in this world, one could give a conclusion that this world is hopeless, and therefore, it justifies every act of self-survival, "It doesn't matter whether others suffer and die, as long as I and my family live." But others would treat the negative things in a different way, "Everything is not hopeless, I can still do what I have to do, not for myself but for my children.

We may look at the world in a negative way, but for God it is totally different. Ever since the beginning, He has a plan, a plan of salvation for us, a world where like in the first reading, "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them (Is 11:6). All people live in harmony, peace, in hope, and in joy. This is a God who promises justice and peace and the poor will be taken cared of. He sends His very own Son to bring this to fulfillment.

Everything then is not hopeless. Let us join the work of the Lord and follow St. John the Baptist who cried out, "Make straight the way of the Lord!" Let us start with ourselves by heeding to the will of the Lord to bring salvation and hope into this world.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yearning for something new

First Sunday of Advent Cycle A Gospel: MATTHEW 24 : 36 - 44 ( NRSV )

Is there something to look forward to this Christmas?

Judging from the scheme of things, they seem the same - prices increasing, people committing crimes, bad news in newspapers - the same old things seemingly on and on and man is no better than he was in the past.

But Jesus changed all these. He put an end to the old world and replaced a new world right in the hearts of men and women. He told us in the gospel that this world would end and He would come to rule us forever. And His kingdom will be a kingdom of love, peace, and justice.

Actually, for those who are living the old lifestyle, they are slowly dying. But for those who committed themselves to Christ in the past would enjoy the fruits of real life in the future.

Can you feel the new world coming? Can you grasp it from within and without? Is the whole family in that new world? Is Jesus the king of your new world? Do you see the poor having life in your world?

Let the passage to Christmas be a time to put the old world aside and yearn for the new one. MARANATHA, come Lord Jesus!