Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mary, our torchbearer for 2018

Mary, Mother of God

Year B, Luke 2:16-21

Happy New Year!

The Church totally unites herself to God for another year of his presence and glory.  The Blessed Mother, the Mother of God is our torchbearer for 2018 and the next years to come.  She carries for us the following:

The light to shine and direct our steps and guide our decisions in life. She is the "morning star" as mentioned in the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her state of Immaculate Conception is that of a bright light that illumines our minds, hearts, souls, and being and orients our lives to God.

Second, the ability to see the wonders of God.   There are two characters in the story of Christmas that describes this "seeing".  First, the shepherds who were endowed with the gift to see the majesty of God through the humble appearance of the Child in the stable.  The second one is in Mary's heart as she pondered all these things.  Pray that we may see the Lord in the daily events of our lives.

Third, incorporation into God's family.  Jesus was incorporated to the Jewish family through the circumcision.  But now, we make sure to be incorporated in God's family by active and conscious participation in being "Church", the family of God.  With the our support and service to one another, the future of families will remain bright, because all are servants and disciples of the Lord.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Orient to become God's family

The Holy Family

Luke 2:22-40

We look up to the Holy Family through which Jesus was raised to be the perfect Messiah that he truly is - grown to maturity, filled with wisdom, and God's favor was with him.

God wishes us to celebrate Christmas by incorporating us into his family through the Holy Family.  What are the signs of God's family?

First, God's family is rooted in his commandment: Honor thy father and mother.  Honoring our parents is honoring God who is is first and foremost, our Father.  Our parents are the transmitters of the faith to the children.

Second, God's family is equipped with a vision: "You may now let your servant go in peace, because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all nations to see".  Eventually every family efforts should lead us to a deeper knowledge, relationship, and awareness of Jesus' presence in our world - like seeing him in every man and woman.

Third, God's family is committed to perfection each day: "Jesus grew in maturity; he was filled with wisdom; and God's favor was with him."  Growing in maturity and in God's favor is a life-long commitment that needs to be realized in a day-to-day bas
is.  Perfection is not a goal; it is the way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas: a world of justice, love, and peace

Christmas Day

Midnight mass

Luke 2:1-14

Words cannot express the profound effect of this humble night, unknown to the powerful, but revealed to the lowly shepherds; on how the whole world that was supposed to tremble on the coming of God, silence and peace overpowered it, with the Child born in the vilest of all places - a manger reserved only for animals; a place only the shepherds know what it is for.

But let us learn from the story of the humble birth of the Son of God and what it means to us who wish to be one with him:

First, he wishes to save his suffering people, not inflict judgment on them.  He is the Wonder-Counselor Isaiah was talking about in the First Reading; the source of peace that comes from good counsel.  He truly touches our hearts and enlightens our minds by his loving presence.

Second, his path is abject poverty, not wealth or power.  Why?  Simply because we have placed our brothers and sisters in a state of abject poverty caused by our selfishness and greed.  We thought power and wealth could make us live, but we contribute to to death and suffering.  Christ chose to stay with the lowliest of his people, so we may find ourselves devoting our lives to help, assist, comfort, and free them.  This becomes our vocation or calling in this life.

Third, he chooses the path of peace to change the world.  The option to take the path of active non-violence is so compelling that we are led to it to reach out to others, to uphold justice and speak against death and corruption, to turn weapons of violence into tools for farming and abundance; and to change the hearts of our children towards God.

It is probably ineffable at this point to actually describe the depth of Christmas; nevertheless, stay close to the manger where the poor Child lays, and the new world will open - a world of justice, love, and peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fulfilling the promise of Christmas

4th Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:26-38

As we approach the blessed moment of redemption which is very imminent, our readings contain the fulfillment of the promise made to David and until now is being fulfilled in our hearing.

David was blessed by God because of his faithfulness, and God's kingdom shall be established in him.

In the gospel, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son and name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.

What are we looking for this Christmas? Let us not be lost in the petty concerns of Christmas; rather, let us focus on the One who is to come into our lives, reflecting on these three things:

First, "He shall be called Son of the Most High" - As we are familiar with Jesus as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, we remember that part of the restoration of God is that fathers would be reunited with their children.  Jesus becomes the fulfillment of that reunion between God and man.  We turn to him to be reunited to our Father for all eternity.

Second, "He will be a descendant of David and will rule over the house of Jacob" - We are also familiar with King David and how he ruled Israel in justice and mercy, and God's favor was upon him.  We now remember that part of the real meaning of Christmas is to acknowledge that God established his kingdom, not only through David and his descendants, but through the living Church established by Jesus to be His living body here on earth.  Let us renew what it means to be a living Church and we shall experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Third, "His kingdom will have no end" - This phrase gives us the glimpse of what is to come - the establishment of the reign of God in all eternity.  We only need to reignite our faith in Jesus, be active in the Church, and be the Lord's disciples for all eternity.

Let the real Christmas be upon us, Jesus' eternal reign in our lives.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The poor celebrate Christmas

3rd Sunday of Advent, C

John 1:6-8,19-28

Every time Christmas comes, a parish calls its members to include the poor in their Christmas list.  This gives a powerful message that Christmas is not just about merry-making, eating good food, and exchanging gifts.  The only gift worth exchanging is us when we become God's gifts to others, especially the poor, the least, last, and lost.

The words of Isaiah regarding the one anointed by the Lord to bring glad tidings to the poor are the exact words Jesus read when he began his public ministry.  Coming from mouth of Jesus, the world is transformed to one where the poor are not ostracized; rather, they become recipients of God's overly abundant graces.

What does it mean to be God's living gifts of Good News to the poor?

First, the Word. The Word itself is Good News!  We need to be immersed more in God's word as it serves as light to our lives, molding our decisions and moving us into action.  Allot significant time to be immersed in God's word to transform our lives for good.

Second, the Light.  John the Baptist is not the light.  But he speaks for the light.  He gives witness to the light.  When we are absorbed in the Word, it lights our lives.  We see the world in a different light, God's light.  Even the poor is seen in a different light.  When we diagnose the cause of poverty in greed and selfish, otherwise known as the darkness of life, we do well to start giving of ourselves to help them.

Third, Jesus.  He is the one whom John the Baptist is referring to; the one whose sandal-strap he is not worthy to undo.  This is the very message of Christmas; Jesus is the One we are waiting for all this time.  If we only know the real meaning of the Church as the Body of Christ, then we would know how to be the living gifts or Good News to the poor.  Knowing that God is with us, "Emmanuel", his saving actions would now be possible through us men and women of the time.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Real preparation for Christmas

2nd Sunday of Advent, B

Mark 1:1-8 

How are we preparing for Christmas?

The Christmas rush is now creeping to our bones.  Such panic is exhibited to meet the deadline lead to the blessed day as well as the much-need vacation for the family.

The readings cry out "Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths."   How do we prepare for the Lord's coming?

First, remember the God who cares.  We can't place our security in material things.  Only God is our good shepherd.  Only he can straighten crooked paths.  Do we feel confident in knowing who God is and what he can do to our lives?

Second, conversion.  All John's teachings lead to a process of conversion, from sin to grace and from self to others and God.  Everything leads to conversion.  Reflect: do our actions lead to a change of heart and life?

Third, walk the talk.  John lived in total poverty and simplicity.  Obviously, God is the one taking care of him, imbibing him with the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.  All thoughts and words manifest in our actions.  Only then can we realize if our actions are leading us to God.

Real preparation comes when it is not us who live but Christ who lives in us.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Just Share!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 25:14-30

Described in first reading is the image of a pious, perfect wife, excelling in virtues and good works.  She truly becomes the joy of her husband.

Today's gospel, the parable of the talents, calls us to be the same for our Lord, who is our bridegroom.  He gives us ample time till his second coming for us to maximize the use of our gifts at his pleasure and for the good of others.

The useless one who buried the talent to the ground symbolizes a person who despite God's gifts is not interested in sharing and even investing it for the future.  Thinking that the talent is mainly to benefit himself, he will not do anything to benefit others, thus, hiding the talent on the ground.

As in the readings, what then constitutes a fruitful life?

First, a life that is focused on pleasing the beloved

Remember the industrious wife and her relationship to her husband.  How true it is when a man and woman becomes one; when his visions and goals coincides with her, and as one body, they journey together.  Such is us and God if it is clear to us that our life's mission is to give joy to the Master instead of pleasing ourselves.

Second, a life that utilizes its own free will to please the beloved

The ample time of the master's absence did not deter the industrious stewards to fulfill their mission.  Self-motivated, their lives are abundant in blessings.  Such is also our lives here on earth, fruitful in spite of the Lord's seeming "absence" that we still utilize all gifts only for him.

Third, a life that shares itself to others

"Come share in your master's joy" is the utterance of the master as he expresses his satisfaction over the fruitful servant.  "Sharing" is truly a magical word.  When joy is shared, two persons and more are affected by that joy.  How much more when we share our gifts to the poor and help them get up.  We shall fulfill the Lord's remarks are we enter into heaven, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Mat 25: 40).

We still can share our time, talents, and treasures for God and others.

Reflect: What have I shared lately to others for the greater glory of God?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Got enough light in your life?

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 25:1-13 

Wisdom is personified.  It makes an appeal for us to cherish it, learn from it and live it.

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins further explains what wisdom is.  Wisdom focuses on three points, according to a homily of St. Agustine:

1.  Both of them have lamps that symbolize their good works.  But the good works of the foolish are only for the esteem of men and women.  They don't reach heaven.

2. "The bridegroom is late in coming" symbolizes ample time for repentance and conversion.  But the foolish delay conversion till the last minute, even totally abandoning it till Christ, the groom, would come.

3.  The cry - symbolizes the end of the world where the loudest sounds of heaven would be heard.  The wise virgins have ample oil to light the bride as she meets the bride groom; while the foolish ones have to go back to the empty esteem of men and women, hoping that their good actions may merit heaven.

Would our actions lead to heaven?  Let's hope so.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Charity: the greatest commandment

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:34-40

The readings reveal the practical, even the most basic aspect of the faith as revealed during the time of Moses till Jesus: love of God and neighbor.  God loves the poor that usurers would be punished severely.  God will retaliate; he will come to the aid of the poor.

In the New Testament, Jesus summarized the Law into two: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also."

These laws are summarized in one theological virtue: charity.

First, Jesus puts it most aptly in his law of love: "Love one another as I have loved you."  This implies that love for God and neighbor are not two distinct realities.  Our love for God should result in an unconditional regard for others; our love for others should transcend to its deepest meaning in love for God.

Second, charity results in an unconditional adherence to God's commandments.  Jesus said,"Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love" (Jn 15: 10).

Third, watch for the fruits of love: "joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest" (CCC 1829).

Heed St. Paul's words: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" ( 1 Cor 13: 13).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Come to the banquet of the Lord!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:1-10

Isaiah describes fully the Kingdom of God where there is a state of fullness, happiness, and life.  It's a perfect state of being that no one else can provide except Him alone.  It is a picture of heaven.

But it is not a heaven in the afterlife.  Rather, it is now, right here in the world where God reigns.  The problem why we don't see this picture is that we don't realize him in our lives.

The gospel also portrayed the kingdom of God as a banquet of rich food in the context of a wedding.  But this time, people are not prepared for the feast.  They're already far away from the king.

Times today have caused us to be preoccupied with a lot of things, leaving our hearts and minds filled up and not having enough space to accommodate God.  What results is a life lived in disarray and a community life which is wanting.  If only we can declutter our lives, then we shall see more of God and less of ourselves.

First, bring to mind God's perfect world.  How much do we really desire God and heaven?  Only then can we start organizing our lives according to God's will.

Second, follow Jesus.  God is not a formula or a set of rules.  Christ talks to us every moment.  Even at the beginning of our lives Christ communicates to us.  Are our lives reflections of what Jesus wants of us or we to ourselves?

Third, live Jesus.   St. James declares, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2: 26).  The acid of an authentic Christian life is through actions reflecting God's will.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Christian maturity

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21:28-32 

The readings this Sunday appear progressive.  From integrity of following the law in the Book of Ezekiel to doing God's will in the gospel of Matthew, the message speaks a lot about our growth in Christian life.

St. Teresa of Avila even wrote a book on her experience of communion of God in prayer titled "Interior Castle".  In this this castle, there are seven mansions, each going a level deeper and more intense in one's encounter with God.  The castle is the state of the soul in one's search for God within.

Christian life begins with level one:  doing good and avoiding evil based on the covenant with God,
the Ten Commandments.  If we're really intent on following God, we should heed every one of his commands.

The second level to Christian maturity is utmost humility.  "Jesus did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, (Phil. 2: 7).  Only the humble of heart is open to following God's commands and not simply follow the law.

The third level is in the gospel, "The one who did his father's will."  Actually, Elizabeth Scalia enumerated three "dangerous" prayers which may symbolize our deepest relationship with God.  These are:

1. "Let your will be done." - It is also the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; it depicts a prayer of total submission to the Father's will;

2.  "Ruin my life, Lord." - This prayer runs counter to what we usually pray:  "Please don’t wreck my life!”  But there's another prayer by Sir Francis Drake that best describes this sentiment:  "Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore..."

3.  "May my life yours." - This prayer is similar to St. Ignatius' prayer of generosity, "Take and receive of Lord my liberty, my will, my mind, my memory..."

If we live out these prayers, only then can God work wonders in our lives.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Peter, the Rock, and us

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:13-20

We may know so little about Shebna, except that he was the master of the palace who was so irresponsible that he was dismissed from office and Eliakim took his place.  This happened during the reign of Hezekiah of Judah.

Authority or power reflects the very power of God who brings order in his creation.  He also exercises power based on justice and love that brings order to people's lives.

In the Gospel, Jesus gives power to Peter and calls him Rock on which he will build his Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  What made him give this authority to Peter?

First, Peter recognized Jesus as Messiah - the main message here is how much do we know about Jesus? Enough to leave everything behind, sell all riches and give them to the poor, and come follow him?  If we truly know who Jesus is, it would be very easy for us to follow him and be active in his Church.  For Jesus is the very strength of the Church.  The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Second, Peter was entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven itself!  This is a great privilege indeed!  But the key represents the power of the Church to loose and to bind; to forgive or not.  Remember on the power of Jesus to save or to redeem.  Now, remember our power to bring people to salvation.  But are we using our power to save?

It's an invitation for all of us to deepen our relationship with Jesus.  Then we shall know every nook and corner of our personhood and the authority given to us, the power to redeem people in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Citizens of Heaven

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 15:21-28

The key to the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman was her total submission to God.  Jesus just didn't see this in any of the Jews who felt that they were the chosen ones; thus, they felt they were above everybody.

In the first reading, we pose this question:  "Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?"  The Lord will accept in his holy mountain the following:

1. those who have submitted themselves totally totally at the service of God (pagtalima) - no one is exempt from this, especially those who are busy with family affairs and work.  Without any conditions, let us place all our cares and concerns under the Lord's feet and orient everyone in the family to serve the Lord;

2. Integrity and upright of heart (kabuuan) - they are single-hearted for God; not those who are fragmented, overwhelmed with other concerns which are all inferior to God; those who don't sell themselves to the world, but yield totally to God; these are the people whose integrity remains intact because God owns them; and

3. faithful to the covenant till the end (tapat) - at the end of the day, it all redounds to this: Do we really love the Lord?  Then we shall remain faithful to him and love others, especially the poor, because it is God who loves us first.

These people shall climb the mountain of Lord.  They will receive the crown of everlasting life in heaven.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Can you see Jesus?

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Matthew 14:22-33

We may not dare to ask where Jesus is simply because we knew him in an invisible way.  Our faith tells us the Jesus is here with us.  On the negative side, however, some commit sin as freely as they want to, after all, Jesus cannot be seen.

In the first reading God appeared, not in wind, earthquake, and fire, but in a gentle breeze.  In the Gospel, Jesus is seen walking above the waters.  Where can we find Jesus?

First, Jesus resides in our hearts.  Peter doubted so he fell.  He lost his sight of Jesus.  Let's not lose sight of Jesus in word, sacrament, and life.

Second, Jesus resides in the world.  We just experienced a powerful earthquake.  There are news about nuclear wars.  Wherever this whole world is going, God still resides in his creation.  As long as life is produced, as long as hearts are still beating, as long as nights turn to days and back, God resides in his creation as Jesus walks over the waters to help regulate creation.  We just need to cooperate with his grace.

Third, Jesus resides in our neighbor.  Don't go about looking for God in the neighbor.  Help him / her instead.  As long as there is love, there is God.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Our transfiguration in Christ

The transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-9

On this blessed day, Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of the the apostles. His glory shone and the Father was well-pleased.

When this vision was over, Jesus was in his usual form and he ordered them not to tell anyone about the vision till the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

What can we learn from the Transfiguration:

First, even his humanity, Jesus' divinity is revealed.  

Could we also see the divine side of people or have succumbed to seeing humanity in his fallen state?  Let's put our faith in people for being created in the image and likeness of God.

Second, God's favor is upon him.  

Jesus is the image of his Father.  What makes us god-like is our adherence to the Father and our willingness, ability, and readiness to do God's will.

Third, the Transfiguration is connected with the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  

It also defines our lives here on earth not in terms of comfort, material prosperity, and power but in offering our lives and carrying our crosses for the sake of the salvation of others.

We can experience our own transfiguration by allowing ourselves to be the disciples of Jesus.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Choosing the real treasure

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Matthew 13:44-52

Christian life is ultimately choosing the real treasure, like choosing the better part as Mary, sister of Lazarus did.  She chose Jesus.

To choose the better part or to make a decision based on what is of true value is known as wisdom.   In the first reading, instead of power or wealth, Solomon chose wisdom.  In the gospel, the kingdom of God is aptly visualized and explained.  Do we choose God's kingship over earthly lures?  Are we all choosing the better part?

The parables of the kingdom enable us to open our minds and hearts to its values, benefits, and advantages among all others.

First, wisdom helps us to let go of everything to follow the kingdom

The most common hindrance to God's kingdom is the kingdom that we have created for ourselves and our families.  We practically own everything in our lives with no space for God.  When the time of trials come, only then do we realize our kingdoms collapse.  But God's kingdom will not collapse.  And in God's kingdom, we truly live.

Second, wisdom helps us to know what is useful and useless

What is useful we keep; what is not, we throw away.  But what is useful according to our standards?  Where are our standards based?  On our own lives?  We are not the kings of our lives.  We are useless servants.  God has no need of us.  But our total need for God enables us to detect what is useful and what is useless.  How do we spend our time, talent and treasure? On useless things or in Godly works?

Third, wisdom helps us to use our talents for all

The wise person knows how to use his talents, both old and new and use it accordingly, all for God's greater glory.  If in the past we have this orientation to use everything for our luxury, now, use it all for God!  Then our wisdom would convert to glimpses of the kingdom of heaven!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Images of God's kingdom

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:24-43

The gospel exposes us to various images of the kingdom of God.  There is already a light into this.  The kingdom is not just an end reality.  It has a process - a beginning, a middle with complications, and an end (fruitfulness).  Every process involves the participation of the person in the kingship of God.

From the book of Wisdom, it tells about virtuous man who knows about the justice of God and how he is to be kindly with his fellowman.  This is the kingdom of God unfolding in the person himself / herself.

How do we let the kingdom of God blossom in our lives?

First, the kingdom starts with acknowledging God as king of our lives.  

Recall when we started to know the consciousness of power of God, who taught God to us, and how we can learn from him.  That is planting the seed of faith in our hearts.

Second, the kingdom of God is nourished in our lives.  

The book of Wisdom precisely tells us of the many opportunities by which we can be virtuous, filled with compassion for our neighbors and profound love for God.  I'm sure our lives would change radically if we have God in our hearts, with virtues nourished to perfection in us.

Third, the kingdom of God reaches its fullness in our lives.  

Fullness and perfection are states of God reigning in heart of every person, regarding himself / herself as a son / daughter of the Lord.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our hearts

Matthew 13:1-23 

It is stated in the first reading: "the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do." (Is. 55: 11)

Without doubt, God's words will not come back to him empty-handed.  His will will be carried out.

Apparently, the ones who would carry out God's word to completion are us as described in the parable.  But there is another key here: the heart.

The heart which is exposed to all kinds of situations and circumstances account for the the fruitfulness or barrenness of the word in their lives.  It is the heart that is ultimately ready or not to receive the word that makes make it fruitful or barren.  Let us analyze our hearts on how open we are to receive the word in our lives:

First, the hardened, close-minded heart

Nothing could be done with this kind of heart.  It is still beating but it seems dead.  But the point is that it's still beating.  We who possess this kind of heart should ask: if we're so closed-minded, why are we still alive?  What is there to live for?

Second, anxious heart

Sooner or later, this heart will stop beating.  It's so exposed to the stresses of this world.  It's so tied up to this world that it forgot to beat with God's beating heart.  If our hearts beat only for this world, what accounts for it beating?  Who and what makes it beat?  Know that it is only God who makes it beat; we just chose to jive with the world's affairs, and forget God's.

Third, the fruitful heart

This heart beats with life, zeal, and health.  Scientists have studied the dynamics of the two hearts that beat as one: "Two hearts really DO beat as one if you're in love: Scientists find couples' vital signs mimic each other."

What more if our hearts beat together and in-sync with God's beat?  What if the world's hearts beat as one?  Would there still be killings?  Would there still be poor?  Would neighborhood communities continue not to have compassion with one another?

Final point, notice the words of Isaiah: "The word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do."

God's will will be fulfilled, but woe to those whose hearts do not beat as one with God.  Blessed are those who do otherwise.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

13th Sunday in Ordinary time, A

The first reading from the second book of Kings may seem like a simple repayment for a hospitable gesture.  But it is much more.  The women served Elisha because she can see God in him because he is a prophet of the Lord.  Thus, she is serving the Lord above all others.

In the gospel, Jesus warned those who give priority to their families rather than to him: "He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me."  This statement is so true.  If we prioritize our families more than we love God, it shall be manifest immediately in the lifestyle of the family.  Whereas we give priority to God, we end up becoming good fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and good children.  This is the essence of what it means to be a good Christian.

How are we to give priority to God then?

First, let us recognize that without God we are nothing.

Second, let us appreciate what Jesus did for us.

Third, let our faith in the Lord be manifest in our concrete actions on mercy.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who God is

Matthew 11:25-30

Rejoice, because the King comes, and he rules with justice.  He is also humble.

In the gospel, Jesus also exulted his Father for being just, for revealing himself not to the clever but to mere children.

The readings point to the reality of God who is all-powerful, yet filled with mercy and compassion.

Eventually, Jesus points to himself, whose yoke is easy and his burden is light.

How should our relationship to the Lord be?

First, appreciate the faith

Relationship with the Lord should lead us to appreciate the faith we have received. This faith opens us to the world which only the eyes of faith can see.

Second, let us see the world through a different lens.  

The lens is Jesus himself.  If we feel the need to retaliate, know that this God opts to forgive and give sinners another chance.

Third, let's carry God's soothing yoke with joy. 

It's like carrying the burdens of our brothers and sisters beset by trials and suffering.  It is a lot better than the yoke of sin.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Eradicating evil

Matthew 10:26-33 

In the first reading, evil seems to be found in the very hearts of people who despise the good and wish their end.  But they will reach their own ends while God will emerge triumphant.

In our situation today, it seems that evil is all around us, in Marawi, and in our own hearts.  It seeks to nullify every good we have done.  But in reality, it is leading to its own destruction.  In Tagalog, the word "nagwawala" typifies what evil is: towards destruction, even of itself.

In the Gospel, Jesus underscores the need to have courage: "Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear."  He commands us to be steadfast in faith, not compromise it; rather, to side with the truth.

How then do we eradicate evil?

First, be faithful to God.  

He creates; he reconciles; he makes whole.  He forgives; he satisfies; he heals.  "To whom shall we go?  You have the words of everlasting life." (John 6: 68)  Let us be fully convinced that only God has the power to create.  Evil renders nothing.

Second, participate in God's creation.  

Heal, reconcile, build, make whole.  Forgive as Jesus forgives.  Our work here on earth is to continue Jesus' work of salvation.

Third, return back to God.

Return to him all glory, honor, and all works of creation.  Give glory to God. He will in turn embrace us; not disown us.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Most Holy Trinity

God of mercy and compassion

John 3:16-18

The readings have it:  "This is a God of mercy and compassion!"

From the Book of Exodus, the Lord passed Moses and proclaimed, "The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, and rich in kindness and faithfulness."

The gospel multiplies this fact: "For God so loved world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life."

Let us be immersed constantly in the sea of God's love.

First, God the Father is merciful

He led the people out of Egypt and called Israel "his son."  When was the last time we felt this overwhelming love of God that we don't need to ask for anything because we are always provided for?

Second, God the Son is merciful

We are sinful human beings, yet Jesus didn't condemn the world; instead, the world be saved through him?"  When was the last time we deserved just punishment, but we experienced Jesus filling us the grace of himself?

Third, God the Holy Spirit is merciful

When was the last time we were enveloped with the sea of God's love that we chose correctly against the world; we also chose to live among the poor and assisted them in their needs?

It's true, by being immersed in the sea of God's love, we become love incarnated as well.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Images of the Holy Spirit

John 20:19-23

This day is where it all leads to - from the experience of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus - the apostles received the Holy Spirit after 50 days of the Jesus' stay on earth and ascension into heaven.

Jesus said, "I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (Jn. 16, 7)

And now, we are the recipients of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus dwells in each of us.

In the upper room where the apostles were for fear of the Jews, a sound of a strong wind was heard, and tongues of fire rested on their heads.  They began to speak foreign languages and the gift of speech.

In the second reading, St. Paul explains that it is the same Holy Spirit at work but with different gifts, each used for the good of the Christian community, the Church.

In the gospel, Jesus sends his peace to the apostles, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, Jesus sends the apostles to forgive and retain sins, a sure authority given to the Church.

The Holy Spirit moves us :

First, to recognize Jesus in the midst - in ourselves, in others, in every moment of our lives, and act accordingly.

Second, to unite ourselves as one in God - we become Church, the body of Christ; and love unites us with God and with one another.

Third, to offer our God-given time, talents, and treasures for the salvation of all.

Fourth, to fulfill the mission God entrusted us to do - the forgiveness of sins and freedom from evil.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday of the 6th week of Eastertide

What to ask our Lord

John 16:23-28

In the first reading, the Church further progressed with Apollos being taught "the Way"; i.e., the course of discipleship.

In Gospel, Jesus reaches to us in the most intimate way, showing us "the way" to the Father, "Anything you ask for from the Father, he will grant in my name."  We to need to be education as regards "the way" to the Father.

We have not asked correctly because we don't know what to ask, how to ask it, and what to expect after asking it.  Our relationship with Jesus demands "a way" by which we are to ask, not that kind by which we demand that God hears our prayers even without knowing who he is.

This is the way to ask our Lord:

First, what to ask 
Ask anything because God is the author of our entire existence.  It is just unfortunate that the evil one destroys the world God created.  Our prayer should be integrated with the intention to heal the world and make it whole again in God.

Second, how to ask it
Ask in total devotion to God, knowing he whom we are asking the gift.  Asking does not depend on what is being asked, but on the relationship between the one asking and God he is addressing his request.  Many people prioritize the intention, the gift, but not the giver of the gift.  To know the Lord is the best gift of all.

Third, what to expect after asking
God heals; he makes whole, he grants, he gives back; he makes fruitful.  What do we expect?  God grants our prayers according to His most Holy Will and our hearts "resting in Thee."  The whole experience should lead us to a deeper faith in the Lord, offering to him what we have asked, be it for the good of ourselves, others, and the rest of the community.  What do we expect?  Lead everyone to God.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

Divine Mercy and the Church

John 20:19-31

Today, we celebrate Jesus as the Divine Mercy.  We remember the words of the prayer, "You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You, Amen."

This powerful prayer says it all about the immense love of the Father through his Son in the Holy Spirit.  It also says a lot about how we are supposed to be as a Church, the font of God's mercy for the world.

The first reading reveals a lot about the life of the early Christian communities.  We might not know it, but in promoting the Basic Ecclesial Communities, we are actually immersing ourselves not only into the life of the Church but more importantly, in the very heart of Jesus, by whose Body we are made of.

What makes the Christian community and how do we form ourselves as a genuine Christian community?

First, the faithful lived together - they were one heart and one mind.  "Comunio" or love that binds us with one another and with God makes a powerful Christian community.  We are not just churchgoers; we become brothers and sisters to one another.

Second, they devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles - the Word of God is central to them that everything they think about and do arise from the Word of God as taught by the apostles.

Third, they met in houses for the breaking of the bread - this is not simply a church attendance ritually done.  Christ's once-in-a-lifetime sacrifice is made available to all generations through the celebration of the Eucharist.  Everything in life is reflected in the Eucharist especially the gift of self as Jesus is to us.

Fourth, the sharing of resources - It will always be a challenge to sell everything, possessions and all, and distribute them according to each and everyone's needs.  But definitely, it is possible to share oneself, time, talent, and treasure all for the benefit of the community as a way of being one with Jesus who offered his very own life for us.  Surely, no one would be found wanting if we share ourselves with others, especially the poor in our community.

Jesus reminded Thomas, "Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."  We who haven't seen the physical Jesus, in faith would be able to say, "Christ lives; Christ's body is the Church that we belong to."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Sunday

No stopping to the resurrection

John 20:1-9


We are just fresh from experiences of the rich liturgical symbolisms of the Paschal Triduum.  There is no stopping to Jesus' power; not even death could stop what he needs to do for us.

We can only be witnesses to this great event of our God.  It was two thousand years ago, yet the Church has been proclaiming his resurrection, not only each year but always and forever.  What do we announce to others?

First, that there is no stopping to Jesus in fulfilling his divine plan of salvation, the forgiveness of sins.  Death is not the option to sin; rather, forgiveness is.  We make sure that in everything we do, people rise from the grave and be given hope to live again.

Second, there is no stopping to Jesus' power over life and death and heaven and earth.  This second point to move to us to a firmer faith and trust in Jesus and not in our power or wealth.  He is still above all.

Finally, there is no stopping to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus.  Let us not forget our true mission - to proclaim Jesus' resurrection and lead others to salvation.  Politics ends only in this life.  But Jesus' reign will stay forever!

In fulfilling this mission, only then can we be regarded as childr
en of the resurrection of the Lord.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Palm Sunday

On beasts and burdens

Matthew 21:1-11
Matthew 27:11-54

It started with a well-laid plan without a single dash of coincidence.  Jesus is fulfilling his plan to save humankind from the ultimate evil, death; much worse in this case, the killing of the Son of God.

From the first gospel, Jesus marks his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy, "‘Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’

Three reflections come to mind about Jesus' entrance to Jerusalem:

First, Jesus had a well-laid plan converted to action.  Saving humankind is not a coincidence.  We need to trust God in carrying out his plan of salvation.

Second, he rode an ass to actualize a prophesy.  The ass is a symbol of utility instead of power; it is capable of fulfilling the master's orders.  Jesus has a job to do, all for our sake. Let's ask what our mission is in this world and fulfill it like the obedient, useful servants.

Third, the donkey is a beast of burden meant to transport heavy loads.  In the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, it carries Jesus who is about to carry the sins of men and women.  It must be too hard for the animal to carry it.  But people around Jesus see the sight of him riding the mule.  Like the donkey, he is set to carry our heavy burdens of the sinful human race.

Let us enter into the Jerusalem of our lives together with Jesus who is there to carry them for us.


The Passion of the cross is the ultimate expression of Jesus' love for us, both friends and enemies.  For Jesus there are no enemies; we are all his enemies by every sin we commit; yet, he places upon himself the burden of our sins.  But Jesus remained steadfast in carrying all acts of violence heaped against him, all for our sake.

These are the burdens carried by Jesus:

First, our sins

Our sins make us more and more violent and detached from God.  Stop opting for the comfortable but insensitive life.  Our quest for enjoyment and self-preservation detaches us from the hurts and pains of people.

Second, the absence of God

Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  This prayer is for him; he meant to pray this with and for us, who in being separated from God, feel abandoned and isolated.  When we feel isolated because of what we have done against God and others, this is the heaviest burden caused by sin, God's seeming absence.  Let us also cry out this prayer and so find our way back to God.

Third, the burden of loving

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in the first reading, "For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away." The non-violence in the face of extreme violence reveals the very heart of Jesus who eternally loves us, that's why he completed his offering on the cross which now serves as the sign of our faith.  It is totally based on God's love for us that we are now called to live out to our brothers and sisters by joyfully carrying their burdens because of love.

Let us enter this Holy Week with love in our hearts and journey with Jesus in his passion, death, and resurrection.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

5th Sunday of Lent

Glorifying Jesus

John 11:3-7,17,20-27,33-45 

Happy are those who are utilizing these blessed days of Lent to enter into the resurrection of their lives.  Faith is preparing us to counter all temptations, recognize the divinity of Jesus, give chance to encounter and be a witness to him.

For this last week before Palm Sunday, let us look on Martha and her journey of faith.  After giving witness to what Jesus can do she made a solemn proclamation: "You are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world."  Jesus also made the same proclamation of himself: "This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified."

This is the main essence of our existence: "To glorify the Son of God in all things."  But how?

First, make a solemn proclamation of Jesus by prioritizing him above all existence.  We can only do that if we know who Jesus is over and above our lives.  Make an act of faith like Martha by offering everything to him.

Second, recognize Jesus having power over all lives. "I am the resurrection and the life."  He has power over all those who die or are killed.  Our sole mission is to cause life and not death in ourselves and others.

Third, we can also partake in Jesus' power to save by unbinding people from the shackles of death.  True freedom is freedom in God, not in disordinate attachments to material things or to power.  This is the mission of our lives, to cause the salvation of others, all for the glory of God.

The final act of the glorification of Jesus is the lifting of the cross itself.  Pray to journey with him to Calvary so as to receive the resurrection of life.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent

Our real selves

Matthew 17:1-9

After Abram left country and family to follow God, God promised him to be the father of a great nation.  His name was changed to "Abraham" and he did become the father of many nations.

As Jesus was transfigured in today's gospel, we pray to be transfigured according to his likeness.  We just need to enter fully into this season of Lent.  We also need to do other things:

First, prioritize Jesus.  Do something different this year.  Don't put Lent in second place.  God doesn't want to be regarded as a second priority.  Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

Second, seek Jesus everywhere.  We are desolated by sights of violence, blood, vengeance, crime, greed, and corruption.  Where is God in all these?  Where is Jesus in my work, family, and priorities in life?  Seeking for God's will is called discernment.  It is to believe that despite all evils and sin, God is there to help free us from them.

Third, be the very face of Jesus.  Be his eyes, lips, hands, and feet.  Feel as he feels; act as he acts.  Respond in faith and be merciful at all costs.

Then we shall witness our transfigured selves in Jesus.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

1st Sunday of Lent, A

Fighting temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Temptation is as old as time which we never seem to neutralize perfectly.  Sin is always before us, contaminating us no end.
Temptation results in sinfulness.  The only way to be strong in temptation is to follow Jesus.  There are 3 temptations we have to triumph:

First, the temptation to wealth

It is God who is our true wealth.  Wealth is not nor forever be a sign of security in the world.  It may be a passport to buying all the things we want in the world.  But it can't be our passport to heaven.

Second, the temptation to power

Jesus has power; but he would rather use it to serve. For what is our power for?  To prove our worth or give ourselves to others?

Third, the temptation to self

Pride is the mother of all sins.  Let our life stories not be about ourselves but how God transformed our lives.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

Perfect in love

Matthew 5:38-48 

Perfection in holiness is not gauged by the number of frequency we enter the church, pray the rosary, held our procession, or even donated to the church.  The readings point out the immediate fruit of holiness in mercy and compassion.

This is simply the very heart of God himself.  He created each one of us out of love.  How can he quarrel with his own creation?

Every parent is a creator: both father and mother prune their children's character to perfection.  They should do much more than just givin them money or even secure their education.   They should be capable of entering and forming their hearts to the core.  But what lies in the hearts of parents?

What God is sharing is his very own heart.  In the book of Leviticus, God enumerated all the things mankind can do for one another: not bear hatred, openly tell him his offence, and loving one another as oneself.  He doesn't want his creation to kill one another.

Jesus took it a step forward:  love the unlovable.  This is harder to bear.  Love one's enemies and pray for the persecutors; offer the other cheek, give the tunic, walk another 2 extra miles.  Aren't these contained in the very heart of Jesus who said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do?"  The command of Jesus is absolute:  Love one another as God loves us.

In this way, every human being becomes a true image of God: creating, correcting, forgiving.  God wants us to perfect his law already planted in our hearts, making us exactly one in him.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A


Matthew 5:1-12

What makes a transformed people?

In the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, transformation occurs when people become humble, obey the commandments of God, and live out his mercy.

Does it mean we are already transformed?  No.  But we are in the process of being transformed the moment we humble ourselves and learn from God.

Jesus went a step further in the process of transformation.  It's not only in following the commandments but in possessing the very heart of God.  The Beatitudes are the keys to God's heart as he plants them in ours.

Jesus may be poor; but his wealth is his Father.  We may learn by redefining our true wealth and proclaiming our poverty before the world.

Jesus' heart is gentle; God is patient for our transformation.

Jesus' heart is totally dependent on his Father.  Only God is his joy and consolation.

Jesus is merciful; his heart is pure; his heart is filled with love.  God is pure "hesed" or mercy; there is not a tinge of any evil intention for humankind.  His intention is to connect people with one another and with his Father.

Finally, Jesus shields those who are persecuted because of how they give witness to God's justice and mercy; they mirror God's salvation.

Are we already perfect and holy?  No. Not until our hearts are transformed into the very heart of Jesus, filled with mercy and compassion for others.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Epiphany of the Lord


Matthew 2:1-12

In the Solemnity of the Epiphany, there are three things that we can reflect about the light:

First, light gives direction

It signifies clarity of sight; it also gives witness to the truth.

The opposite of light is darkness.  Sinners want to dwell in the dark so their actions would not be seen.  Darkness gives way to illusions and lies while light signifies truth and brightness.

Second, light gives witness to communion

In the light people gather.  This is the way of the Church.  From the book of Isaiah, the prophet invites the people to look around; there is a great gather of people coming back home.  This is the vision of heaven.  This is a state where love dwells and families are built.  The opposite of this is individualism and separation, when the rich are separated from the poor, powerful from the powerless, the privileged and the underprivileged.

Third, light gives way to offering

The disposition of people's hearts are joyfulness and thanksgiving.  People generously offer gifts.  God resides in the hearts of people.  Mercy abounds.

The opposite is selfishness and greed.  We are back to sin.  In the dark there is no conversion.  In the light, look again, many are witnessing to the glory of Jesus.

As Christmas ends, know that the light has shown upon us.  It's time we let the light of hearts guide others, especially the children.