Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Birth of John the Baptist

The greatest of the sons of men

Gospel:  Luke 1:5-17, Luke 1:57-66,80

Why do we celebrate in a special way the birth of John the Baptist?

As stated in Catholic Encyclopedia, "Apart from Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar who has two feasts to himself. One, in August, celebrates his death, and one, in June, celebrates his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men."

In the first reading from the book of Jeremiah it was written: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations."

Perhaps, this could give us a clue on the life of St. John and his vocation.  But it could be a guide for all of us why God created us and how just as "John was the greatest of the sons of men" we too are called the same way.

First, it was already fashioned that John would be the precursor, "the one who would go before the Lord to prepare his way."  God already knew us and what we can contribute to His creation and how best we can serve him.

Second, each of us is consecrated to God.  Every mode of being is already affected even before we were born.  St. John was exactly that.  He lived simply.  He was faithful to his calling precisely by the life he lived.  We are called to live the same way - as consecrated men and women in the Lord.

Third, we are to fulfill what we are called to do in this life.  John was a mighty prophet, having no fear of men.  But he fulfilled his mission - to prepare the way of the Lord.  And he did just that.  Are we living out the life we are called to do?  Be missionaries of the Lord.

All of us are called to touch each other' lives with the spirit of Jesus.  All of us are meant to save one another and not lead each other to sin.  Let us do just that!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

12th Sunday of the year, cycle C

Give like Jesus

 Luke 9:18-24

The history of Israel has been marked by so much destruction; but is also marked by so much hope and consolation.

The world may opt to destroy it; but Someone else is building it up, filling it with kindness and love.  He promises unity and salvation for the people of Israel.

Now, this verse in Zechariah caught my attention, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced; they will mourn for him as for an only son, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child."  Surely it is a prophecy attributed to what is to come - Jesus Christ and through him, "a fountain will be opened for the House of David and the citizens of Jerusalem, for sin and impurity." (Zechariah 12:10-11,13:1)

Grant us to know the real blessing we have just received!  While people are thinking of money, fame, or reputation, the Son of God definitively killed evil with the power of Sacrifice and offerings!  If we only know who Jesus and what he continues to do for us and our families, we would never be continuing what we have been doing today.

People who fail to know Jesus end up failing to know themselves.  That is why some Catholics are no better off than corrupt people.  Despite all their wealth, they could not lead another to salvation.

Let not our being Church be corrupted to the level only of prayer without any commitment to change the world.  Like Jesus, let us carry our crosses and follow him.  As he offered himself all for our sake, let us also offer ourselves for the sake of the salvation of others.  This is the secret of true life, in the way we offer ourselves for the sake of others.

So, what can we offer?
1.  Let us give what we have.  We always have a sufficient amount of time, talent, and treasure.  Don't look with envy at the backyard of our rich neighbor.  We have more than what we think we have.  And if we believe that what we have comes from God, then everything becomes a gift and life becomes an act of thanksgiving.
2. Let us give what is valuable to us.  It is easy to give what is excess, what is to be thrown away.  When we give to God and for his work, make sure we are giving the best gifts that are valuable to us simply because God deserves it.  Give our lives; give our children to the Lord.
3.  Give in advance.  There is such a thing as planned giving.  Give before we own it for ourselves.  Remember, it is not ours in the first place.

Let our giving reflect the giving of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To save us, he had to offer everything.  And so we do the same.  Imagine a community of givers!  Nobody is found wanting!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

10th Sunday of the year, C

A matter of life or death

 Luke 7:11-17

It is remarkable that events of the Old Testament have their parallels in the New Testament.  This is to verify that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of Old Testament as the Messiah, the Son of God.

But the story does not end there.  The Apostles too have their parallel stories after Jesus ascended to heaven.  The miracles of the Apostles give testimony to the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised us.  Indeed, his words "I shall be with you until the end of time" remain true till today.

This is the mark of our Christianity.  We are called to do what Jesus has started.  And if Jesus was able to raise the dead to life, pray that we may also do the same.

The main question is: Do the lives of modern-day Catholics mirror that of Jesus?  Or are they busy with the affairs of this world such that the miracles are no more; instead, they regard their money as their miracles?

Let all Christians aim to reflect Jesus to others.  Let us aim to bring life to others and not death.  We can do so by being modest in everything we say and do, always bearing in mind whether our words and actions give testimony to God or we scandalize others, specially the children.

Second, let us start discerning whether all our words and actions are in conformity with God's plan. Prudence and right judgment are our guides.

Third, let us be aware that we are all called to serve God.  We have a mission to do in this world.  I would attest to the reality of vocation as a sure sign that we are giving life to others because the life that we project is simply a response to God's call for us to be His instruments instead of just being good while we are not following the Lord.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

National Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The grace of Mary, grace to the world
Gospel: Lk 2: 41 - 51

As we celebrate the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I am reminded of the main message of the readings - grace.

Isaiah talks about the unfolding of the world of grace because God has blessed his people.  Notice also the wide scope of the power of grace.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself is the grace that unites us to the Father.

As we are about to offer the entire nation to the Immaculate Heart, recognize the grace that comes from God and that has wrapped us up in the secure arms of the Father.

"We wish to do this as truly one people, “from Aparri to Jolo”:  formally re-affirming that our country is indeed“pueblo amante de Maria” – bayang sumisinta kay Maria:  a people truly loving Mary the Mother of Jesus the Lord, a people in a true sense “made one” by this love and devotion which we bear, by God’s great gift, to the Mother of God."(CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on the Celebration of the National Consecration).

Secondly, we believe that this consecration will help us free ourselves from the shackles of sin and danger: "freely and firmly offered, would bring grace for conversion from sin and of sinners, protection from the “menace of evil and war; from sins against life and the dignity of God’s children; from every kind of injustice and trampling of God’s commandments; from “the sin of the world, sin in all its manifestations …” (John Paul II’s prayer, 1984)

Thirdly, there is a need for us to reflect on the spiritual growth of Filipinos' faith: "Deeper than all the foregoing, a genuine “return to God and turning truly to the Gospel” and the more authentic living of our faith, these call us and challenge us, in pursuing our vocation to be truly God’s People, to be Christ’s Body in our land."

Our love for the Blessed Mother inspires us to respond to the call of the New Evangelization and renewed faith among our people.  The CBCP urges us to to do the following to complement the Act of  Consecration:  "As part of our Consecration to the Immaculate Heart, there are also the adjoint practices of (1) the Mass and Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of each month, and (2) Prayer and Penance, in our daily lives offered also by us, in union with Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.  As much as possible, the daily recitation of the Rosary will be the ongoing-practice of prayer asked of us.  We are reminded that the Fatima message teaches the “immense power of the Rosary” for faith-life in the world of grace."

May Jesus be our guide in this endeavor!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus

"Worship of the Eucharist and its sacredness"

Cycle C

Reading: Lk. 9: 11b - 17

In the first reading, after bringing out the bread and wine and Melchizedek blessing him, Abram "gave tenth of everything."  (Gen 14, 20)  Now I am fully convinced that giving "tenth of everything" is equated with life itself and unless we do that, we haven't lived at all.

Today, as we celebrate the Body and Blood of Jesus, in last year's homily of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he verified this truth that The Eucharist is intimately linked with life itself, like the tithe. "Lest we recognize Christ in the Eucharist, we risk removing His presence from the rest of time and space," the Holy Father said.

The theme he gave last year was: "Worship of the sacrament and its sacredness" which I shall also use in my reflections.

First, worship - celebration and adoration are linked with the life of the Church: "The worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament is the spiritual “environment” in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth."

Second, Sacredness - is none other than Jesus himself: "He did not abolish the sacred, but brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship, which is, yes, fully spiritual but which however, so long as we are journeying in time, makes use again of signs and rites, of which there will be no need only at the end, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will no longer be a temple." (cf. Revelation 21:22)

Sacredness is also linked to being church: "The experience of being church – listening to the Word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the Bread of life. Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together."

Thus, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and living out his will give life to us individually and communally.  The result is communion, our intimate union with him and with one another, the true picture of heaven on earth.