Friday, December 31, 2010

Religious freedom, the path to peace

Solemnity of Mary, mother of God
cycle A
Reading: Lk. 2: 16 - 21

As I grew older, the more I realize that round fruits and noise don't have any link with a brighter future except possessing a positive disposition. Unless we realize that our concrete actions account for the situation we have, our preparations for the New Year come to naught.  We need to ponder like Mary.  What exactly did she ponder on?

First, the act of pondering is very important, especially when a person is oriented to God and wishes to do His will.  Do we desire to make the Master happy?

Second, Mary pondered on the shepherds themselves and what they had to say.  Have we seen God in others, most specially the poor?  Do we listen to what others are not saying?  Do we address the needs of the poor?

Third, Mary pondered on the Christ Child on what he would be in the future.  As Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I would like to focus on the message of the Holy Father for this year:  Religious Freedom, the path to peace.

Even though the context of Pope Benedict's message is the violence done against the Church in other countries, we may apply it also to our situation where instead of reflecting on our life with God, we chose to focus on other worldly concerns.

Religious freedom highlights the dignity of persons.  The more we think of our relationship with God, the more we value life that comes from Him.

Religious freedom enables us to celebrate the uniqueness of persons with whom God communicates Himself to.  It enables us to respect and help one another.

Finally, religious freedom enables public order, development, and regard for the common good.  These are the action components of peace.  How willing are we to do these things?

These are the things we need to do to realize Jesus in our lives.  This is what we are to become in our lives: bringers of life and love to others and realizers of God's presence in the world.  We would face the New Year with renewed hopes.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our family this Christmas

Feast of the Most Holy Family, cycle A, Reading: Matthew 2:13-15,19-23 

In order to commit ourselves to bring Christ into the world this Christmas we need to enter into his Family, God's family. We need to make God's family our own.

In order to do this, we need to recognize God as our Father.  Joseph became father to Jesus because God willed it so.  Joseph mirrored God's fatherhood.

We also need to live out the love that is God himself, the love that binds the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It is the binding force of a family.

Finally, we need to connect the whole family till the next generations.  What we live out today is transmitted to the next.  That is why what we do to our parents comes back to us.

Pray to be a Christian family where Jesus dwells, like with Mary and Joseph.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Prince of Peace

Photo courtesy of Musings of a Catholic Mom

Midnight Mass
Solemnity of the Christ's Birth
Reading: Luke 2:1-14

After being prepared by the Holy Spirit all these time to meet our Lord, imagine that we are slowly walking towards the manger ... to realize what is in front of us ...

We, who are not far off from the poor shepherds,  are also wounded and humbled by life, weighed down by crosses, persecuted each day, now come towards the humble stable.

We gather together in this great meeting announced by the angels. As we enter into the humble abode of Mary and Joseph, we finally see Him who has just been born into our world.  He cannot speak, but he is already saying a thousand words as a baby to his mother, and the mother feeling every bit with her sleeping child who stayed in her womb for nine months, now wrapped in swaddling clothes.

And as we gaze upon this humble Child, we begin to affirm that:

...  He is our Wonder counselor ... every time we invoke his name, we are consoled, cured of our illnesses, he heals our past, he gives us new life.

...  He is our Prince of Peace ... He brings us in communion with one another, as he has forgiven us, so too we forgive one another, we bring peace to others ...

And He is our Mighty God ... there is power in being a Child, but not an ordinary child, but a Child who loves, a Child who mirrors God himself.  We hold in our hands the King of the world, and allows us to touch him.  That is a real king.  That is our God.

As Christmas has dawned upon us, promise this humble Child to take care of him, to be his strength, to defend him, to fight his cause, to care for him, to share him with others.  This is true Christmas! Merry Merry Christmas to one and all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The ultimate preparation for Christmas

Day 9, Simbang Gabi, Cycle A, Reading:  Luke 1:67-79

We are almost ready to receive the last set of graces before we receive the ultimate Christmas gift - Jesus himself.  We need to learn from the canticle of a man who was once mute but now could speak.  Now he utters the truths of God and not His own.  And the message of this canticle could be our own:

1. Our need for the Redeemer - He has visited his people; ask what you like the Lord to redeem... once and for all offer it to him and be confident he is already assisting you.
2. Ever faithful groom who never forgets his covenant - it is taking us and whole of humanity its lifetime to be molded according to the bride of Christ.  Not only be patient but remain faithful to Jesus...
3. a prophet to give witness to the glory of God -  Will we be the ones to give witness to salvation of Jesus?

Prepare for the blessed night that is to come.  And the final preparation is this - Plead our Lord to redeem us, dedicate our whole lives to remain faithful to Him; be a living testimony of the salvation of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The gift of prophecy

Day 8, Simbang Gabi, Set A, Reading: Luke 1:57-66

After Mary's fiat and the the fruits of the Holy Spirit overflow, are we ready to bring Christ to the world?

This gospel invites us to focus on the gift of prophecy which is sorely lacking in today's world. When Christians turn off their prophetic role, evil finds its way in the world.

Sin makes us blind, deaf, mute.  Grace opens our eyes, fine tunes our ears, and tames our tongues.  Real prophets:

1. are able to see the divine in the midst of the material world.  They are not blind to the sin around them.  They denounce it.  They proclaim the presence of the Lord in the world.
2. Prophets are able to hear the sound amidst the silence.  People of the world remain deaf to the cries of the poor and the suffering.  Prophets could feel the sentiments of the poor and bounce into action.  They are able to hear the voice of God telling them what to do to cure the ills caused by sin.
3. Prophets are definitely not mute is speaking the truths of God.  Rather, they would prefer to suffer persecution and even death rather than silence God's word.

Taking all these, prophets cause God to be present in the world to cure people and bring healing and freedom to them.  Grant that we may turn out to be true prophets delivering Christ into the world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

True joy is the gift of the Holy Spirit

Day 7, Simbang gabi, cycle A, reading: Lk. 1: 46 - 56

A continuation from yesterday's reading is the overflowing gift of the Holy Spirit.  And when the Holy Spirit flows, there is real joy.  What is false joy and what is real joy?

From Mary's Canticle we can detect three things that are sources of real joy:

1. When God is proclaimed above all else - the false joy will exult oneself, but true joy has God as our deliverer.  For Mary this is clear, "My heart rejoices in God my Savior."

2. When the poor are given justice - False joy arises in exulting one's wealth.  True joy stems from exulting the poor and the lowly.  We may always have the poor with us, but to keep them poor is terrible indeed.  We could have at least done something in our lifetime to change the outlook between rich and poor.  After all, we are all poor in God's eyes.

3.  When God has come to help Israel, his servant - that in everything that happens to our lives, it is the saving action of God all along.  False is the joy of a person who accomplishes by his own power, and he does everything to maintain it.  True joy results in humility before God and celebrating life because God has visited his people.

If we have true joy in our hearts, it is easier to see Jesus this Christmas.  Everything is the action of God!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The fruits of Christmas

Day 6, Simbang Gabi, cycle A, reading: Luke 1:39-45

For the fifth and sixth day, we turn exclusively to Mary as she assists her cousin Elizabeth (day 5, simbang gabi), but the service turned into a song (Day 6) because the Holy Spirit is at work, the Holy Spirit that caused everyone to be jumping with joy, for Mary to be filled with grace and for Elizabeth who was humbled that "the mother of my Lord would come to me, and my baby in my womb leapt for joy"  eventually Mary uttering the beautiful Magnificat, a prayer most especially dedicated to the Lord.  Tell me, are these your usual feelings as a Christian?

I'll give a hint on the fruits of the Holy Spirit as reflected by the gospel:

1. Generosity - service, selflessness; not a tinge of selfishness,  of thinking only about what is good for oneself.  Would you rather see a world filled with generous people or selfish people?  How do we inspire others to generosity and service?

2. Real joy - the joy inside Elizabeth because she was visited by the "Mother of the Lord".  Joy for the other, not envy; love, not jealousy.  What area in others' lives would you feel most joyful?  As we start admiring others, we begin to connect and life becomes relational - "Love one another as I have loved you."

3. Life - even inside the womb, not death.  Which would you rather see - life or death? Fruitfulness or barrenness.  Sooner or later, generosity or the lack of it accounts for life or death around us.  Choose the path to life by offering ourselves.

Then Christ will be alive, breathing, and his heart pumping for us this Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fulfilling our Fiat

Day 5, Simbang Gabi, Cycle A, Lk. 1: 26 - 38

By now, we may be enthralled with the life offered by Immanuel, for now, he reveals himself to us.  What we need now is the spirit of Mary as she said "Yes!" to doing God's will.

"Fiat" is a Latin word meaning "Let it be done." Things haven't happened yet Mary already gave herself fully into the cause.  Into what?  Doing God's will.

How do we give in to to Fiat to God?  How do we remove the fear inside our hearts of following God's will?

1. Do some  practical calculations - if I do my own will, how many people will benefit? How many will benefit if I give in to God?  What do I receive if I follow my own will?  What do I receive if I follow His will?
2. Do some visioning (spiritual) - What could life be like if I do my own will?  How happy would I be?  Now what would life be if I follow God's will?  How will the world be like if I follow what I want and if I follow what he wants?
3.  Core of my existence - Why did He create me in the first place?  What is my mission in this world?  How could I survive if I follow His will and if I follow my own? 

From all these, may we see a new world unfold if only people including ourselves follow God's will.  I'm sure the world will be a better place to be.

God with us

Day 4, Simbang Gabi, cycle A

After our ancestor and Joseph, what are we really prepared for this day?

Ahaz was filled with fear, but God assured him of a child to be born and his name shall be Immanuel, meaning God with us.

God is always with us.  But how should we train ourselves to recognize that God is with us?

1. Breathe we know God is with us. (physical) - He is the breath of life, giving life to our mortal bodies.
2. Love and we know God is with us. (social) - If we love others the same way God loves us, then God resides in us.
3. Save and we know God is with us. (integral) - If we do the same work Jesus did and be the instrument of salvation for others, then God is with us.

God has been with us all along.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Be docile to God

Day 3: Simbang Gabi
Reading: Matthew 1:18-24

For this third day, I believe that the Holy Spirit is asking each one of us if we are ready to take part in doing God's work.

This is precisely who Joseph is for us.  We need his virtue so we can take part in the incarnation of the Holy Spirit.  We need the grace of docility in Joseph.

1. Joseph is in touch with righteousness - his willingness to leave Mary is to spare her from death.  He is willing to sacrifice for her.  Pray to stay on the right course of life.
2. Joseph submits to the angel's wishes - his decision is not final.  Even though it was a dream, he was fully convinced of God's plan.   We can accomplish so many things if we only submit to the Father's wishes.
3. Joseph performed his fatherly role with so much passion. - Every good tree bears good fruit.  This is the action part of salvation.  We are excited to still see this unfold in our lives.  Plan well, do well, live well.  But do all these as God wants. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

God in the familiy

Day 2, Simbang Gabi

Inspired by the opening of the CBCP Year of the Youth this 2011, the Bishops invoked Jn 5: 33ff that says a lot about becoming a witness.  The young people are invited to give testimony to the living God through Jesus.  So, this is our prayer - that we may see the face of salvation through Jesus Christ this Christmas.

The genealogy of Jesus orients us to the fact the Jesus is true man born in this world just like the rest of mankind - with a lineage.  So, if we want to see Jesus in the concrete, I would invite us all to carry our family lineage so that we can all see Jesus, from our ancestors right to the next generation.

Let us pray to heal our family.  Let us reflect where in the family tree goodness prevails, and third, that we clarify where our lineage is really going?  Is everybody in the family going to God?

Pray to incarnate Jesus in the family lineage.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The face of salvation

Day 1,  Simbang Gabi

From the book of Isaiah: 
Thus says the LORD,
         "(A)Preserve justice and do righteousness,
         For My (B)salvation is about to come
         And My righteousness to be revealed.
    2"How (C)blessed is the man who does this,
         And the son of man who (D)takes hold of it;
         Who (E)keeps from profaning the sabbath,
         And keeps his hand from doing any evil."
    3Let not the (F)foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
         "The LORD will surely separate me from His people "
         Nor let the (G)eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree."
6"Also the (N)foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
         To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,
         To be His servants, every one who (O)keeps from profaning the sabbath
         And holds fast My covenant;
    7Even (P)those I will bring to My (Q)holy mountain
         And (R)make them joyful in My house of prayer
         Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on (S)My altar;
         For (T)My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
    8The Lord GOD, who (U)gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,
         "Yet (V)others I will gather to them, to those already gathered."

From the book of John
"You have sent to John, and he (AM)has testified to the truth.
 34"But (AN)the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
 35"He was (AO)the lamp that was burning and was shining and you (AP)were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
 36"But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for (AQ)the works which the Father has given Me (AR)to accomplish--the very works that I do--testify about Me, that the Father (AS)has sent Me.

Isaiah speaks of life; he speaks of a vision where the eunuch is not dry, and the stranger is welcome, and everyone is gathered to the Lord.  Meanwhile, the gospel speaks about being a witness to the truth so that we might be saved.

These readings show the face of salvation and God's desire that we be witnesses of salvation.  Havc we seen the face of salvation?

This year 2011 is dedicated to the Youth, "The CBCP Year of the Youth".  The Church wishes that the youth at their young age be living testimonies of the Good News.  How could we mold our youth and ourselves to be living witnesses of the salvation of the Lord?

We have to start from square one; reflect the beginnings of faith or the lack of it.  Life is not simply being converted from sin to grace.  Let us reflect on many instances the Lord entered into our lives through our parents, through the Church, through the goodness of other people.

Second, the faith we have will be subjected to tests until it is brought into perfection.  For the Lord forms us and makes our love perfect in the midst of trials.  Would we stay faithful to him?

Third, the faith we have will be fruitful in good works.  Now it can be seen and enjoyed by many. We can say at this point that we could see the faces of salvation in the way we deal with our neighbors, how we help the poor, and how we fight to bring about justice, peace, and love.  The only thing that remains is seeing Jesus face to face and smiling at us.

This is Christmas - that we become living witnesses to the presence of Jesus in the world.

How to see the extraordinary in the ordinary

3rd Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

As Christmas is fast approaching, with all the Christmas preparations around us, are we truly searching for Christmas in the right areas?

Jesus reprimanded the people, "What are you looking for in the desert - a man dressed in fine robes?"  Sooner or later they would not be able to recognize the Messiah even if he was in front of them.

Dare to see Jesus in the ordinary.  Make every meeting with people special.  Because they are gifts.  We could know how important people and things are once they are no more.  Make ordinary things special.

Secondly, learn to see the gift in all things and people.  Everything is an opportunity - the Church, the family, even our enemies.  If we don't close our worlds to these things, these will surely lead us to life and to God.

Third, make everything instruments of salvation - everything in us and around us could be instruments to lead others to salvation - even eating, drinking, and resting.  At the end of the day, reflect if all our interventions in the world lead others to God, to life, to forgiveness, to salvation, then everything becomes special.  Everything becomes God's presence.  That is what Emmanuel means, "God with us".

Saturday, December 04, 2010

On promises

2nd Sunday of Advent, cycle A

"Promises get nailed."  That's why we get cynical when someone gives promises.  We too don't give promises.

But we are immersed in so many promises - promises of a product that would make us young, strong, vibrant, schools that promise us good paying jobs, parents who will give us the best care, and so forth.  To which of these would we believe in?

Have we believed in the promises of God or of salvation?  Have we relied totally on Jesus or have we turned cynical, not engaging too much in the works of faith?

But the promises of the Lord is far too superior than any of our promises.  For one, the promise is coming from the sincerest of hearts - the heart of God himself who feels our pain.

Second, the promises of the Lord is carried on by his worthy servants who gave everything they have for God.  John the Baptist is a classic example.  His whole life is a living witness that God's promises are true because he puts his life on the life.  Of course, so did Jesus.

Third, God's promises bear fruits far greater than any other promises.  The effect is tremendous - the salvation of the whole of mankind and everyone living in the fullness of God.

The lesson here is simple: open our hearts to the Lord; do not be cynical.  Serve him with all our might.  Because His promises are true.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The false Christmas vs. the true one

Advent 1, Cycle A

We celebrate Christmas year after year, but are we truly celebrating Christmas?

The gospel today challenges us to be awake to the lures of the world that we forget the true meaning of Christmas.  May we distinguish between a true and false Christmas:

a kind of Christmas that corrupts, and let us be alert from all these:
1. A Christless Christmas vs. a Christ-filled Christmas -  goodness may be innate, but if we continue to distance ourselves from Jesus, our goodness will not last.  Without Christ we are nothing.
2. A commercialized Christmas vs. a renewed Christmas - cease to make Christmas a costly one and we shall utilize all efforts to get to know the real source of Christmas.  Have we really known Jesus Christ all these years.  If we have, how come we have less time for him while we have more time for worldly concerns?
3. A comfortable Christmas vs. a sacrificing Christmas - since the original Christmas didn't have any tinge of merry-making, eating, and Karaoke-singing, let us make this resolve that as the day approaches, so too is our commitment to serve the Divine Master, even if it means carrying our crosses for the sake for lifting others specially the poor and embracing a simpler lifestyle.

When Christ comes, may he find us Christ-filled, offering, and enlivened.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christ the King

Cycle C, Solemnity of Christ the King

Never for once could the kingship of Jesus be similar to that of earthly kings and queens, presidents and those in power we see today.  He humbled himself, but God exulted him, giving him the name above all names, for it shall be proclaimed by all that Jesus Christ is LORD.

What makes him a king above all the rest?  Three things:
1. His power emanated from His Father in heaven - thus all goodness and justice would be exercised by him;
2. His kingship is eternal while others tried in vain to perpetuate themselves in power - What lasting legacy we would leave our children and our people? Of course, the things that would reach eternity;
3. His power reaches to down below - to the depths of man's reality, and from there he starts the path of healing.  Let us finally commit ourselves to uplifting those who in time have reached the lowest ebb of their lives; let us help to lift them up and bring back their dignity.

Jesus' power as king reaches to the ends of the earth, to the highest and lowest of life, to the shortest of time till eternity, to lift us all.  May we who are limited, small and weak, commit our lives to do what the Master pleases.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The wheel of fortune

26th Sunday in ordinary time
Cycle C

The "Wheel of fortune" may be a game show, but it also connotes a fatalistic attitude of relying on twist of fate.

However, the readings also declare a sort of twist for people who lived convenient comfortable and luxurious lives in this world at other people's expense.  If we have only one world, these people must have been collecting more than they could chew and much more: they are actually depriving others of the lives they are living.

Jesus commands us to share even the smallest bit of food that fall on the ground - all for the sake of our suffering brethren.  This is my advice: Don't think of the poor only in times of crisis or need.  Neither think of them only once a year.  And finally, don't think of a person as if he needed your change.  Think of the poor as being with us all through the centuries of corruption.  Include them in the agenda of life if we want to progress in this world.  And finally, he needs a sustainable program planned and implemented institutionalized system of giving tantamount to tithing will finally lift them up from their shackles.   Only then could we realize what Jesus meant when he said, "As long as you did this to the least of your brothers and sisters you did it to me." 

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Be faithful

19th Sunday, cycle C

"It is not because we have served him well, but because we are faithful."

I remember the song "What matters most."  "It's not how long we held each others hands; what matters is how well we love each other."  Sooner or later, the only sign of a successful marriage is the time the couple spent together.  "What matters most is that we've loved at all."

We are concerned if we have given God what is due him.  That is why we think of giving to the poor after we've spend some for ourselves.  But the point of the entire gospel is how much we've been faithful to him.

When people are faithful, they value the Beloved; knowing that He loved them first.

When people are faithful, their lives change for the better.  They become like the Beloved.

When people are faithful, they abound in good works, to the pleasure of the Beloved.

When people are faithful, they stay with Him till the very end.

It is not what we've done for God, what matters is if we've been faithful all along.

For more reflections, go to this link.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The day I stopped praying

17th Sunday in Ordinary time
Cycle C
Gospel reading: Luke 11: 1 - 13

Don’t get me wrong. I am a man of strong faith. At least I struggle to be one. But the day I stopped praying was when I was a child. I prayed to receive, receive, and receive. I prayed to get high grades, to receive honors, to receive gifts, and all others that I need to pray for. I asked God to focus on me and hear my prayer.

But time after I graduated from elementary, something happened with the way I prayed. By the time I finished Grade school, I was not really interested in what I was praying for. Yes, my prayer was answered. But I gained much more: I gained a Friend.

After grade school, I continued praying to Him, but unlike my first experiences of prayer, the next ones I found hard for the Lord to grant them. I prayed for so many, but it seemed that the Lord is granting only a few. Maybe, the Lord wanted me to grow in my outlook of prayer – from a childish one to a childlike one. For I was challenged with this thought, “If the Lord seemed not hear your prayers, would he still be your true friend?" I stopped praying to receive. Instead, I started praying for the Lord to hear others' prayers. I knew they would be more important than mine.

Later on, my prayer further evolved to something like this: what would my Friend want of me - my time, my talent, my treasure? Since I knew that what I would give to him would not suffice for all the good He has done for me, I wouldn’t have anything to offer Him, except my own life.

This new journey of prayer led me to where I am right now. I decided to offer myself to the Lord as a priest and commended everything I love – my parents, my family, my friends, my concerns of the future – I offered all those dear to me. I knew that I value all these, but there’s no better way to value that to entrust everything to His care.

I still pray like a child. I’d pray with all my might, especially when my mother was confined at the hospital. I would bargain and plead to the Lord for her recovery. But I also knew that His will is a whole lot better than mine. I had to let go of what I want and allow him to do what is best. We in the family made a final commendation of our mother. He prepared her and received her into His loving arms. I knew that everyone would be secured in His loving arms and there is nothing to be afraid of.

Yes, I stopped praying wrongly, but the Lord taught me how to truly pray.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The closeness of God

15th Sunday in ordinary time
Cycle C
Gospel:  Luke 10:25-37

There are three instances the God is as close to us as ever.  The first is his Word.   The world revolves because of the power of words.  Every moment we use words.  Grant that our words be God's word.  We don't have the right to use words as we please but rather, to use words to bring life to people.

Second,  God is close to us in Jesus Christ and our relationship with him as the Body of Christ.  Grant that we may give life to this body and not take it for granted.  If we want to animate the Church, we better learn how Christ lived in this world.

Third, God is close to us in the very person next to us.  "Whatever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters you do it to me."  Do not delay any act of kindness till tomorrow.  It may be too late.  Jesus is passing by each day.  Do not lose the opportunity to give each day; give a portion for others.  That will kill the poverty besetting our nation.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Be a modern-day disciple

14th Sunday, Cycle C

Rejoice when Jesus says, "The harvest is great".  We have a God who looks at the positive, not on the negative; who chooses abundance and an overflow of blessings over scarcity.

But where are workers?  Jesus says, "Beg the Master to send laborers to the harvest."  Then he immediately instructs his disciples to go forth to the towns in his name.  Jesus also commands us to go forth and bear fruit.

But despite God's promises why do we still not follow him and work in his field?  Probably we are carrying too much baggage.  Maybe we have programmed our lives that we don't have time to do God's work.  De-clutter with the useless concerns - these are the things we won't bring to eternal life.  Invest in things that will last forever.

Secondly, We don't follow because we don't desire to bring peace to people's lives.  Jesus commands his disciples, "In whatever house you enter say, "Peace to this household."  But if we don't bring peace to others, we won't gain peace for ourselves.  Our lives would be a never-ending struggle to survive.  If we bring peace to others, we would gain peace for ourselves.

Finally, we don't become Jesus' disciples because it is not God's kingdom we serve but our own kingdoms.  Yes, we serve ourselves, but in God's kingdom everyone lives; there is justice, peace, equality; there are blessings; the poor are served. 

Pray to be God's disciples.  It may be the best decision we would make.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How deeply do we know Jesus?

12th Sunday in Ordinary time, Cycle C 

There are three levels of relationships: the first is the head level; here we know someone's opinion about issues.  In this level, the heart is not involved.

The second level involves the heart.  Here we come to know how the other feels about things.  We can feel as the other feels.  In this level we clarify what is behind a certain feeling.

The third level is the gut level.  Here, no words are uttered; we are deeply one with each other.  We came to be one with each other because gut involves everything in us as we give ourselves to to the other.

What level have we known Jesus? Do we open our bibles to read about him and share his word to others?

Secondly, have we felt as Jesus felt?  When his apostles abandoned him, how do we feel about that?  Do we feel like leaving the Lord also?  Have we asked how he felt about things and people?  Do we share his feelings for mankind?

Finally, have we put our lives on the line just to follow the Lord because we are fully convinced that the path he took would lead us to salvation?  How about laying down our lives for the sake of our children?  Have we done what needs to be done to insure their salvation - to the point of sacrificing our lives for them as Jesus did?

Let us yearn to know, to love, and serve the Lord.  He is worth offering our lives to.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Become the Eucharist

Solemnity of Corpus Christi, cycle C

Pope Benedict, in his homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, said, "Become the Eucharist."  For most church goers whose intention is simply to fulfill a Sunday obligation, how could the message of the Holy Father produce a lasting and most profound effect in their lives?

I am reminded of term "Eucharistic Spirituality".  Spirituality is the totality of what I believe in, what I share to others, and what I put my life into.  Spirituality reveals what is in my heart, who I am, and what my mission is in this world.  It reveals the fruit of my love for Jesus and His love for me.

Every aspect of the Eucharist has a direct bearing in my life.  That is why I have to pay attention to celebrate every moment most worthily.  Every word and action are invitations from a loving God that also become my words and actions outside the Church.  As I heard it said, "The Lord be with you," I am to remind the others, "and also with you."  As peace and forgiveness are given to me for free, so I give them freely and unreservedly to others.

Jesus in the Gospel said, "Give them something to eat."  That is the Eucharist.  I become the bread Christ wishes me to be.  He wants to feed others and bring them to life.  I need to offer myself, be lifted up, be broken, and to be given back to others just as Jesus did.

How I wish that there would be many of us to be bread for others.  That is the Eucharistic spirituality.  That eventually becomes the story of my life in the Lord.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Final commendations

6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle C
Gospel: John 14:23-29
Photo courtesy of One Year Bible Blog

In the gospel Jesus gives final instructions to his apostles before he is led to the slaughter.

In this last Sunday of Easter, Jesus also gives his final commands to us before going up to heaven.

I would summarize Jesus' message in three realities: love, Holy Spirit, and peace.

"Love one another as I have loved you" - let us start aligning our love with Christ's love.  Every love inside our hearts is coming from the Triune God.  Then we will know whom to love and how to love truly.

Holy Spirit - the Lord will not leave us abandoned.  With the gift of discernment, anything we do in this world is properly supervised by the Holy Spirit.  Nothing could go wrong.

Peace - Peace is not the absence of war.  On the contrary, we enter into war to insure lasting peace.  It entails making day-to-day sacrifices to insure the growth of our lives.  It is joining the PPCRV in the Philippines to ensure clean, honest, and orderly elections.  The way of peace today is our ticket to lasting peace tomorrow.

I hope we have learned something while Christ is still on earth.  And when he would go back to heaven, we already would know what to do here on earth.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Earning heaven the hard way

5th Sunday of Easter, cycle C
Gospel: John 13:31-33,34-35

In the secular world, hard work cannot be stressed enough.  For the spiritual world can it not be the same?

Jesus earned our salvation the hard way.  In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas acknowledged enduring hardships for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  It is through those hardships that the Christian communities were born in the pagan world.  It is also through the hardship of Church that the Good news continues to be preached to all peoples, most especially to the poor, where the glad tidings of the Lord is brought.

How about us?  How have we worked to bring about Christ's kingdom here on earth, in our families, communities, countries, and the world?  The road towards heaven is crooked and narrow, but it is worth all the effort.  There are no short cuts to bringing up a child and planting the seeds of goodness in his heart.  There is no easy road for someone to help alleviate the sufferings of the poor.  But the satisfaction for traveling such road is endless, tantamount to eternity of bliss.  All the sacrifices are nothing as compared to what is to come - our new life with and in God.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saints in heaven

4th Sunday of Easter, cycle C
Gospel: John 10:27-30

Can we do a bit of visualizing?  We have been immersed with the things we see in this world that we tend to be blind with what is to come.  The danger is that we might not be part of the story. 

Read Apocalypse 7:9,14-17, what are the highlights of this story?
1. Myriads of people dressed in white robes and holding palms for the Lord: are we part of these people?
2. Their robes are washed with the blood of the Lamb: have we given Jesus' sacrifices any merit in our lives?  Have we made our sacrifices for love of Him.
3. They shall never be hungry because the shepherd will lead them to the springs of living water: are we willing to be lead by the Lord in our lives?  Are we willing to be instruments of life to others?

Give Jesus' world a thought in our lives.  It is a lot lot better than the world we have created for ourselves.  Here, the Lord's presence is supreme.  In His world, all people live.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The cliches of being a Catholic and what we can do to change them

3rd Sunday of Easter, cycle C
Gospel: John 21:1-19

Have you ever limited your definition of being a Catholic?  Do you have cliche concepts of Catholicism such that it does add anything to your life?  Let us dismantle any of these cliches because our faith is far greater than anything we can imagine:

"The nominal Catholics" - or Catholics simply by name.  I am a Catholic because my parents are Catholics.  Today Jesus is calling us to a world of intimacy.  He knows each of us by name.  He knows us through and through.  Do we know Jesus most clearly?

"Sunday Catholics" - these Catholics activate their faith one hour every week.  In order to know the Beloved you need to spend more time being with him, to "waste" more time knowing what is in his heart.  How can we love someone whom we do not know?  Love the Lord most dearly.

"The split - level Catholics" - these Catholics are not living out their faith in an integral way, but only by compartments, more often in conflict with one another.  But with Jesus, everything is connected.  Just when Peter said, "I love you Lord", Jesus would say to him, "Feed my sheep."  How many of us would see the hand of the Lord in all areas of our lives?  How many of us have responded to following him unreservedly?  How many of us have seen him in our families, in our life's journey, and in our commitment to serve the least, the last, and the lost?  How many of us are actually convinced that our lives are fleeting, and it is only God would remains?  Follow Jesus most nearly.

Let our love for the Lord be sincere.  And sincerity means to risk everything for God.  Only then will we understand what being Catholic truly means.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In search for lasting peace

2nd Sunday of Easter
Cycle C
Gospel: John 20:19-31

Jesus repeated these words to impart the power of the resurrection to his apostles, "Peace be with you."  What does "peace" mean?

Peace is not the absence of war.  Unrest complicates things and brings havoc to one's life.  It is truth that will lead one to freedom, learning from the words, "The truth shall set us free."  If need be, let us confront and not repress unfreedom.  Only then can we also help others to gain real peace.

Second, peace is equated with life itself.  Peace is attained only in a world filled with justice and love.  It is tantamount to seeing heaven here on earth.  If it is life itself, then we need to take part in it and invest time, talent, and treasure to make peace work for others, for ourselves, and for God.

Finally, we need a huge dosage of faith to realize peace.  Only a life oriented in the Lord can earn true peace.  The others are all a sham.

Pray for true peace!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The power of the resurrection

Easter vigil
Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

Taken from an ancient homily given last Holy Saturday, it says that Jesus descended to the dead, now to fetch Adam and Eve and the rest who were waiting for their Redeemer.  At the sight of him Adam, the first man God had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Now, our love story is complete; we who have been loved by the Lord; we both living and dead.  There is not a moment, a space, or a lull in our entire reality that Christ hasn't entered.  Now, he is bringing us to Himself and to His Father, to our real home and His kingdom.  We shall be like Him forever.

Let us praise God then for this wonderful gift.  Do we deserve this? No! Not one minute or one ounce.  It is Jesus who decided for all of us.  Now it is our time to respond.

Let us respond by making His word alive in our hearts and minds from now on.  Let us celebrate every Eucharist with joy.  and finally, let us renew the promises we made during baptism - that we will radiate Christ's light to others, no more, no less.  Then the power of the resurrection will be upon us.  It is Christ who decided for us!  Praise be Jesus forever!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The washing of the feet, the paschal offering, and Jesus

Holy Thursday, Cycle C
Washing of the feet
Gospel: John 13:1-15

As we are commemorating the washing of the apostles' feet by our Lord, we are reminded of three symbols that are deeply connected with Jesus in his desire to prove his total love for us.  These things also mark the very essence of our being Christians, both you as laity and I as a priest:

1. slavery - the washing of the feet; to get things done we have to do the work ourselves; there is no room for delegation, for management or even planning.  Only the slave can cleanse a dirty feet.  Only someone who knows how to bend can easily toil the land.  Only a man who humbles himself can cause another to live.  Let us then serve one another from now on!

2. the paschal lamb - sacrifical offering; there are two sides to the paschal lamb; the meat to enable the household to live and the blood for the angel of death to pass while the first born of the Egyptians were killed.  Jesus is the paschal lamb; only through his self-offering we are healed.  We are reminded that for the sake of love we are to place our lives at the line.  If only to make others live, I would offer everything I have - time, talent and treasure for the sake of the others.

3. the bread of life - the unleavened bread, hastily done, brings temporary relief to the family on their way to attaining freedom.  Jesus is the bread of life who feeds the hungry.  When we minister to one another, we need not delay, nor plan how it would go; rather, we need to do it now.  Our hunger for life needs to be fulfilled today.  Our ministry to proclaim the word has to be done now.

These three symbols, the Lord Jesus asks us to do in his memorial.  It is the new covenant sealed in His body and blood.  Let us appreciate the real essence of Christianity by living these symbols today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let us enter into Jerusalem!

Palm Sunday, Cycle C
Gospel:  LUKE 22 : 14 -- 23 : 56

Enter into Jerusalem with Jesus!

Jerusalem connotes the heavenly Jerusalem, our final destination in heaven.  But it also connotes how Jesus would lead us there - through the power of the cross.

We are entering Jerusalem because of the triumph of love that Jesus initiated.  Now the bond between us and His Father would not be separated for all times.

We enter Jerusalem because of the triumph of forgiveness and not vengeance. Jesus shows us the key to life by giving all others the opportunity to live.

We enter Jerusalem because of the triumph of generosity. Jesus entrusts his whole self on our behalf.   Offering ourselves to God means being available to give our time, talents, and treasures for His work.

Let us enter Jerusalem with Jesus.  Let our lives be stories of the triumph of love, forgiveness, and generosity.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Intimacy with Jesus

5th Sunday of Lent
Cycle C
Gospel: John 8:1-11
Photo courtesy of Vignan Das Gangula's Page

The more we come closer to celebrating Holy Week, the more we get to realize that this is not the story of our conversion; rather, this becomes a story of our intimacy with the redeemer of our lives, Jesus Christ, the one who is to enter into his death for our sake.

Intimacy is a loaded word. We cannot imagine not entering into intimacy with anybody. We will just wither away and die. How about intimacy with Jesus? Do we give it a thought? By this we will realize that Christianity is not just about being good and avoiding evil; it is more about our intimacy with Jesus who is everything in our lives.

Jesus is the sacrament of the Father. He is intimately linked with Him. Our way to the Father is only through Jesus.

Jesus is the forgiveness of the Father. No matter how much we ask for forgiveness by praying directly to God, it is only through Jesus through the sacrament of Reconciliation can we attain real forgiveness.

Jesus is the way to the Father. Our lives are one big journey, not to financial security, but to salvation. Are we traveling in the right direction or are we lost? When we are on a journey, we involve our whole selves. Reflect if our every action leads us to way of salvation for ourselves and others.

Then we are ready to encounter the suffering Lord this Holy Week. Let his cross be ours for the sake of love.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Be a new creation

4th Sunday of Lent,
Cycle C
Gospel: LUKE 15 : 1 - 3, 11 - 32

The Lenten season is meant to renew us and make our faith livelier. In the second reading, St. Paul describes the Christians as the "new creation" in Christ. But what does it mean for us to be new creations after this season?

First, to be new creation means to recognize our genesis in God. Once and for all we make a firm decision to participate in the creation that is continually going on, i.e., the creation of hearts that are oriented in and toward God.

Second, to be new creation means to bring out all ingenuity to preach the good news and cause the renewal of peoples. If I find myself creative in other things, why not in the work of God?

Third, to be new creation means to be pregnant, to bear the fruits of grace. For a country of 80% Catholics, it is nearly impossible that the Philippines would remain in the shackles of poverty if all people are renewed in their faith. Otherwise, being Catholic remains only in the baptismal certificates and not in actual life.

May we be new creations in God.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Who are you Lord?

3rd week of Lent, cycle C
Gospel: LUKE 13 : 1 - 9

For this third week of Lent we are invited to cling to the main source of our divine nature - God himself through Jesus Christ. Though we recognize God as mystery it cannot be denied that He revealed himself in the scriptures as a just God and a merciful God.

As a just God, He hears the cry of the poor and the oppressed and comes to their rescue. This constitutes the entire history of Israel from slavery to freedom. "I am who am" is invoked in every generation by all people and He comes to our rescue by punishing the oppressor. God deserves all adoration and respect. Otherwise, we are belittling the King of heaven and earth. Justice will come upon us all.

But God is also a merciful God. Like the parable of the barren tree, he is willing to give everyone a chance to be fruitful by caring for us. Have you experienced being loved by someone enough for you to change for the better? We change for the better simply because God forgives us.

May God's justice and mercy be our focal point to adore, love, and serve Him.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Our transfigurations

2nd Sunday of Lent
Cycle C
Gospel: Lk. 9, 28-36

The message of the transfiguration of Jesus points to his divinity which people didn't recognize at the time, judging from his physical appearance. But Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. His divinity emanates from his humanity.

Do we see divinity emanating from our humanity as well? If not, then consider this: ever since we were created, God already placed divinity inside of us when we were baptized. Also, everything God created was good, including us. Our humanity should not be a lame excuse for us to continue living in darkness and sin simply because we are not children of darkness. We all come from God, and we are all good.

Thus, we need to do something to increase emanation of the light inside us. We need to expose ourselves more with the source of Light whom we may have neglected to know all these years. Let us expose ourselves more to areas where we could detect the presence of Lord instead of wallowing in dark activities.

Finally, we need to emanate that light inside of us by concrete actions. If all Christians would just let that light out, including our present leaders, then the Philippines would be living proof of the Light of Christ. We may have forgotten that we the Church are the body of Christ here on earth.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The real score of temptations

First Sunday of Lent, cycle C
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
Photo courtesy of Cris Cook

Temptations may be blessings in disguise. They eventually test the quality of our faith and lead us to perfection. There are three levels of temptation and how we can rise above them.

First: the temptation to wealth - the goal is to subdue our cravings to satisfy our senses and put order into material things. "Not only on bread does man live but on every word the comes from the mouth of God." Poverty should help us realize that despite the things that give us comfort, it is only God who gives us true life.

Second: the temptation to power - the mountain is a symbol of the meeting place between God and man. But when man plays around with power, then he starts to corrupt himself, making him insensitive to the powerless and oppressed. "God alone shall you adore" was Jesus' response to the lure of power. God alone must we serve. A way to counteract our insatiable desire for power is to place ourselves at the service of everyone else, most specially the poor.

Finally, the temptation to serve oneself - Pride. The last test is man challenging the very power of God as if he were at par with Him. "You shall not test the Lord your God." Utmost humility and oblation are effective weapons to the temptation to put oneself at the center of things.

The result should be a life that denounces itself of the things of this world and commits itself unreservedly to the service and adoration of the Divine Majesty. Life for many is obtained, not death.

Monday, February 15, 2010

To be truly blessed

6th Sunday in Ordinary time, Cycle C
Gospel:LUKE 6 : 17, 20 - 26

"How do we really help the poor?" But I think the better question is "How did poverty come in the first place?"

I'm sure when God created the world, He did not intend it to be so. Thus, poverty is an offshoot of sin in the world, a deviation from God's plan. Man has a lot to do in building a world where people abuse and kill each other, accumulate wealth for himself, leaving others in the dark to suffer and die.

Jesus came into the world to change all that. He did it through his own poverty, passion, and death to be with us through and through. But as he resurrected, so too we shall be resurrected with him.

Thus, the beatitudes make sense; there is hope for the poor, for those who are hungry, or suffering, or persecuted simply because they all have Jesus as their source of hope and consolation. This is sharply in contrast to those who are already wallowing in wealth, food, comforts, and laughter. If they have all this without totally depending on God, everything they have or worked for come to naught.

Rely totally on God then; learn to live the simple lifestyle and whenever possible, offer everything you have to let others specially the poor live. Be counted among the saints in heaven who are totally selfless, self-giving, and are now interceding for us. Then we shall be truly blessed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

God's word vs. man's word

5th Sunday in ordinary time
Cycle C
Gospel: Luke 5: 1-11
Photo courtesy of the

Perhaps we can infer that there is a tension going on between God's word and man's.

In the age of relativism, there is no absolute truth anymore; rather, truth is relative and that people's thoughts are relegated to opinions.

But God's word is still supreme, even before time started till the Covenant. Its offers life to us and serves as guidepost to giving life to others and giving Glory to God.

This word is brought to fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ, "The Word made flesh" who dwelt among us. We in conscience cannot admit that what Jesus said and did in this world is a product of mere opinion, and that his truth is as good as anybody else.

Let us admit that fact that if people are left on his or her ways, this world will eventually collapse. But God's word will live forever. Much more, it is found in the hearts of dedicated Christians who stand by Jesus and do His will on earth.

Let us always keep God's word alive!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Will the real Christian please stand?

4th Sunday, cycle C
Gospel: Lk. 4: 21 - 30

In Jeremiah, God prepares his servant for some real action; he would be a prophet of God. In the gospel, as Jesus started his public ministry, he was met with resistance.

In today's world we have a garbled view on what it means to be a Christian. But before things get more confusing, let us go back to the root of the word. Without Christ, I am nothing.

A Christian knows Christ through and through. He knows Christ from Catechism; but he also knows him through prayer and action. His life is a continual contemplation of the presence of Jesus in his life. He is a friend of the Lord.

A Christian is a follower of the Lord. He fully decides to join his ranks. He consents to bring his full self toward him and follow him wherever he goes. The Christian then is not preoccupied with the world's affairs. His joy is to follow Jesus whom he loves.

A Christian is a witness of everything the Lord stood for. He becomes an Alter Christus in the process, sharing his life to others because of love for him. Only then could we see the unfolding of Christ's presence among us through the modern-day prophets. We hope to be one among the prophets of the Lord.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

God's word

3rd Sunday in ordinary time, cycle C, Gospel: LK. 1:1-4; 4: 14-21
Photo courtesy of Crossroads Initiative

How important is the Word of God in your life?

In contrast with the empty words of the world, the Word of God is powerful. The Word is God Himself. He has power to bring order to our lives.

Second, the Word of God is incarnated in Jesus, the Son of God. He is the basis of a righteous life that is obedient to the will of the Father. He is the fulfillment of the law; all of it resides in him. Thus, the Word is not just inscribed in the 10 commandments; we have to start listening daily to the Word that is Jesus himself.

Third, the Word of God leads us to salvation. It is like Jesus announced, "to bring glad tidings to the poor, to set prisoners free, hope to the downtrodden, and announce a year of favor in the Lord."

Let us cooperate with the Lord as serve as instruments of hope to people. Let God's word be incarnated in us, mainly, Jesus Christ. He is the one we profess to follow, love, and adore.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Baptism of the Lord

The Feast of the Lord's Baptism
Gospel: Lk. 3: 15 -16, 21 - 22
Cycle C

Baptism from the Catechism of the Catholic Church came from the Greek word baptizein which means to plunge or to immerse. To plunge into the waters of baptism means to enter into the death of our lives so that we can rise to new life in Christ.

Christ entered the world of baptism not because he needed to be baptized, but to set an example for us to enter into God's world through total obedience, to be "immersed" in His world and plan of salvation.

The question to ask is: How have we nourished the gift of baptism given to us?

As adults, we should know by now that we all belong to God, we are taken out of the world of sinfulness into grace. We should not give ourselves any excuse to remain in darkness.

Second, we have to build and strengthen this gift by constantly tuning ourselves to God's world. Catechism is not just for children; we should engage ourselves in knowing God's will in the course of our whole lives on earth.

Third, we are immersed now in a new world together with God's children, the Church. We should realize to put our faith in action through being "Church". We are the people called by God, the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Let us multiply every good work borne as a concrete response to the call of a deeper faith. Let us show others that being Church could be the greatest thing that happened to our lives, because it is the result of the loving relationship between God and man.

Saturday, January 02, 2010