Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter vigil

We are the Children of the Resurrection

 Gospel:  Luke 24:1-12

This has been a profound Easter journey for all of us who from Ash Wednesday have been prepared and are prepared to experience this blessed night!

Following all the readings for the Easter Vigil where the world is in the process of being "created", I believe that everything destroyed by the evil one is now being restored to its fullness, both creation and us.

Furthermore, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his reflections in "I believe in One God" explains aptly the Resurrection account in these points:

First, everything now resolves around this gravitational center of the Resurrection, stressing that "The Cross alone could not explain the faith ... the Paschal Mystery consists in the fact that the Crucified man 'was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures'" (1 Cor 15,4).

Second, the Pope Emeritus emphasized that the "resurrection is closely bound to the testimony of those who has a direct experience of the Risen One."  Even today's gospel would attest the women "told it to the apostles."

Third, "The Resurrection now begins the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to all peoples the Kingdom of God begins ..."

And fourth, "we are called upon to take part, in our inmost selves, in the whole story of the Death and Resurrection of Christ."

Congratulations for being counted as one of the Easter people!  Alleluia!  The Lord is Risen, alleluia!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday reflections

he is disfigured ...

John 18:1-19:42

The old testament people were forewarned, "Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’ (Isaiah 52:13ff) considering that the One chosen by God could not be recognized because he was so disfigured ... disfigured by sin.
In this most solemn moment of commemorating the crucifixion and death of the Lord Jesus,  allow me to use the reflections of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his book "I believe in One God".

He said, "We feel how full of love the words were when he spoke on the previous evening during the last Supper. "This is my blood, of the covenant, which is poured out for many." (Mk 14, 24)  Jesus' sacrifice and death is because of this covenant God has for humankind: he loves us eternally and has entered into a covenant of life and love with Him.  

Secondly, Jesus embraced the whole of humankind.  In the Pope emeritus' words, "Christ's death recalls the accumulated sorrow and evils that weigh upon humanity of every age: the crushing weight of our death, the hatred and violence that still today stain the earth with blood."  He chose to enter humankind's world, embracing even the crushing moments of man's forgetfulness and sinfulness that would disfigure even his face, only to show us that he is willing to do everything for our sake.  This is the ultimate reality - Jesus chose to be one with us, touching the most wounded part of our lives, only for love.

Third, according to the Pope Emeritus, "If Good Friday is a day full of sorrow, it is therefore at the same time a particularly propitious day to reawaken our faith, to consolidate our hope, and courage so that each one of us may carry our cross with humility, trust, and abandonment in God, certain of his support and his victory ..."

This is what Pope Francis also said during his inaugural homily, "to hope against hope" that Christian men and women would be protectors of the earth and of one another in Jesus.

Jesus ultimately touches our lives and brings it to light.  We are never to continue wallowing in darkness.  He will bring us to light.  Victory is ours because we decide to carry our crosses because of love for Jesus and one another.

1st Last Word


Luke 23:34

I believe that in this time of Good Friday that commemorates the Passion and Death of Jesus, what is folly to men is utterly wise to God.  It seems so illogical for us to forgive sins and to embrace the cross as means of salvation or attaining life.

I could only give witness to the Eucharist as the instrument for the forgiveness of sins.  Because in yesterday’s liturgy of the Last Supper and washing of the feet, the whole Eucharist is paralleled with the saving and condemning judgment of God.  Just as the angel of death passed over those whose doors were marked by the blood of the lamb while killing the first borns of all the others, so too in every Eucharist, the Lord passes by and grants salvation to all those who partake in the supper of the Lord.

Blessed Eucharist! We are forgiven each moment we celebrate it; we are saved!  We are saved by Jesus, but why?  There could only be one explanation: because he willed it so!  It was his solemn oath to forgive us and grant us life.  Jesus said, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Moreover, he says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Finally, Jesus says, “ You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus simply wills us to forgive; as he has forgiven us so may we forgive one another.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

The night of our salvation

 John 13:1-15

The account from the book of Exodus is summarized as follows: the lamb, up to one year old and unblemished, shall be offered and killed to be eaten by a family or two.  They shall take the blood and apply it at the door post.  The family shall be dressed as if geared for a fight.  At the night, the Lord shall go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both men and beasts; but those whose houses are marked with blood, He shall pass.

Note the mystery of this night in parallel with the account.  The lamb is unblemished; it shall be offered through being killed; and the family shall share it with themselves and with other families.

Jesus is the supreme sacrifice to the Father.  He is unblemished; a fitting offering to the Father.  He shall be shared by many till all are united in him.

We who are in the world are celebrating our salvation from sin and death; but this is not yet the time for merrymaking but of preparation for what is to come - the impending battle and our ultimate victory in God.  God's judgement becomes our salvation; he shall free us from the slavery of sin and death.

How majestic is the Most Holy Eucharist!  Every time we attend it, we are geared for salvation.  Jesus saves us every moment, making us unblemished every time we partake in the breaking of the bread. 

Moreover, in the gospel, he further translates it to life itself.  Now, the Eucharist is not simply a rite or a symbol; it is an actuality of life lived in love.  Now we become saving gifts to one another.  Now he plants his own love in us, making us instrumental in the salvation of others.  Only the proud man will meet judgement and condemnation.  But he who partakes in the Eucharist and a life of love will be saved.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm sunday mass homily, cycle C

The humility of God 

Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56

 Following Pope Emeritus Benedict's reflection on the passion and death of Jesus in his book, "I believe in one God", he summarized the events from the Last Supper till Calvary in this one word, "humility".

First point: Jesus corrected the arrogance of Adam, "who wanted to be like God".  "In becoming man, he does not hesitate to take upon himself all human weaknesses, save sin, and going even as far as the depths of death." (p. 37)

Second, he goes to the point of "emptying himself, taking the form of a slave ... he doesn't was to use his being as God."  This is known as kenosis, the humbling of Jesus.  He did this to embrace and go beyond our reality marked by suffering, poverty, human limitations, and by death.

Third, "the Lord did all these because of his "love" for us; he chose to empty himself and make himself our brother, out of love he shared our condition, that of every man and woman." (p. 38)

Humility now has three connecting realities: correction of arrogance, to the point of self-emptying, and love.  These shall be our guide to a better understanding of our own human realities, now founded on Jesus.

Blessing of Palms homily

"To ride on a donkey" 

Gospel: Luke 19:28-40

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains aptly the rationale behind Jesus entering Jerusalem, "riding on an ass" in three points:

First, Jesus fulfilled the words of Zechariah (9, 9) that says: "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

But perhaps, if we would continue reflecting on Zechariah, "I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken."  This king will show the folly of power and the exultation of the lowly.

Second, continuing with Zechariah, "He will proclaim peace to the nations."
   He will be a great king who has the power to bring lasting peace to people.

And third, his reign shall have a universal significance: "His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

4th Sunday of Lent, C

New creations

 Luke 15:1-3,11-32

After winning over our temptations, recalling to mind the covenant, renewing our response to the Lord in this time of Lent, we could be like babies born into this world, they have their taste of the new life, with the produce of the soil which the Lord gave his own.

The story of the prodigal is the story of a man who has died but is alive again.

What makes him dead is his world of sin, of wanting to own everything for himself.  And how he killed his father by taking his share of the estate so he might exclusively own everything.

But what made him come back to life?  His ability to realize his mistakes, his desire to come back and "to serve" his father.

If we could only realize the gravity of our mistakes against our Lord, then we could start traveling on the right path.

Our desires also account for the new life in us.  If we desire to turn our attention to Divine Master and know him exclusively, and finally, if in us, there is no other motivation except to serve Him all through our lives from now on, then we are on the to becoming alive in him.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent, C

Be ready to respond

Luke 13:1-9

In this week, we hope to reflect the simple act of being able to respond to God's invitation like Moses did together with Jesus' invitation in the gospel.

What and how then should we respond?

Remember how Moses responded.  There is a need.  This is known as conscientization.  We respond because there is a need, a lack, a dearth.  The people of Israel are living as slaves and are pleading to be free.  In the gospel, we shall perish as they did, not because of the sin that is theirs, but nevertheless, we shall perish as they did.  Think of many times people have perished because of not responding to God?  Take a look at the surroundings.  What is mankind's needs including our own?

Second, remember God's promise, "I mean to deliver them."  Confront ourselves: why does it seem that we don't trust God's word?  Why do we put more trust on ourselves and the things of this world and not God.  He meant to give us life, we should go back to Him.  What He has is a blueprint of life.  What we have is our own means to survive.  But in God's world all are meant to live.  Trust Him.

Third, remember Jesus' love as we respond to him, "We'll give it a chance to bear fruit."  Jesus till now has been so patient with us.  Respond also in love.  And with that kind of love, there is no measure.  The measure is how much we can give to him.

Much of the things of this world resulted from the measure we have given God.  If we have given so little to him, we receive so little.  But if we give much, then we receive much.  We receive life's blessings together with others.