Sunday, November 25, 2018

Totally different from earthly rulers


Christ the King 

John 18:33-37

The Son is coming as a king, "On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship."

The second Reading tells more of this King, "It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

In the gospel, Jesus admits he's a king.  But his kingship is far from that of earthly kings.  Our task is to demythify the concept of kingship.

1. The language of earthly kings is that of power, money, and influence.  Jesus' language is that of service, poverty, and humility.  Let us aim to serve rather than be served as Jesus did.

2. Jesus gives witness to truth.  His kingship is marked by truth.  In our times today, there's an increasing incidence of trolls utilizing fake news to advance propaganda of political leaders.  This is far from the truth.  But the truth sets us free.  And the only truth is that Jesus is king and we are his servants.

3.  Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.  His kingship belongs to the first beginning and the last end.  Earthly rulers are temporal.  Rely solely of God.  Secondly, our lives are also temporal.  But we shall be held accountable after our lives here on earth.  Strive to dedicate each moment serving the Lord.  The consequence is eternal.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 13:24-32


Before we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King next week, let's allow ourselves some time to reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God.  The culprit ultimately is delaying this thought.  But as early as in Daniel's time, the end is foreshadowed:  "Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace."

In today's gospel, Jesus is the key to the end of time: "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."  There's also judgment, salvation, and new world to come. 

Let's then reflect on the immediacy of the Kingdom of God; it's here and now, not tomorrow and not during our old age. 

First, the Kingdom of God changes our outlook on life itself.  Inasmuch as we're thinking of so many things, all of these things will end.  If they will end, why continue investing in them?  Let's start thinking of the more important things like God's reign in the family.

Second, God's reign is found in Jesus alone.  Life is not simply doing good and avoiding evil.  It's not even in praying and rituals.  It's simply about letting Jesus rule over us.  Do we take time and attention to knowing, loving, and living out Jesus?
The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?
Third, God's reign on earth is found in the Church.  We don't wait till the end of our lives to realize the Kingdom of God.  God's kingship connects heaven and earth.  His presence on earth is found in the Church that faithful proclaims his Good News.  The Church is guided by Jesus' command to "Love one another as I have loved you."  Isn't that heaven today?  If we focus on exclusivity instead of communion, heaven will be far away.  But if we focus on loving and serving now, heaven will be right here in our midst. This lifestyle reflects
God's reign.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Total generosity

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:38-44 

The story of the widow of Sidon is truly incredible.  It puts Elijah on a dark spot because he kept on asking for food despite the woman's pleading that the bread would be their last meal till she and her son dies.  But his reason eradicated the woman's anxiety: "“Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.”’  True enough, the jars of oil and meal were not emptied.

The message of the readings is not about giving; rather, it teaches overly generous giving, as in the giving even of one's own life.  This is particularly true of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, "who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Phil 2: 7).

The widow in the gospel also found the favor of the Lord, because "she gave everything she had."

A true Christian would follow the Lord's path "to empty oneself" or kenosis.  Jesus' self-emptying is what brings us our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Also, a true Christian would be more concerned with giving rather than receiving, taking after the quotes, "It is better to give than to receive" or "it is better to give than to receive."  If we're preoccupied by what we want to receive, we haven't entered into the realm of self-giving.  But if we know that giving begets giving and love begets love, we would not hesitate to give.

A life of generosity is a reflection of the Kingdom of God, because in Heaven, all the residents of Heaven are givers and not receivers.   May we start our journey to Heaven by a life of cheerful generosity on earth.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The law of love

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 12:28-34

God is clear on what he wants us to do: love him above all things.  This is also reechoed by Jesus in the gospel, thus, affirming the very heart of the faith.

It is true that Jewish religion enunciated the ultimate laws.  But the spirit of the law could only be interpreted through the eyes of God's beloved Son - Jesus Christ.

First, to love God above all things - demands utmost total and unconditional obedience, adoration, and offering of one's life to the Father, the source of all life.  Who could ever have authority over life itself?  Isn't it God alone?  Who could ever hold the key to true life and order?  Isn't it God alone?  Do we want an organized life?  Then follow God!

Second, to love one's neighbor as oneself - to love others means to recognize the other has the same dignity as I have for being a child of God.  Thus, to accord justice, respect, as well as honor in the same way as I treat myself becomes an absolute norm, considering that I and my brothers / sisters are created in the image and likeness of God.   The second norm is a call to build ourselves as one family of God.

Third, these two laws point to Jesus who fulfilled God's commands and brought it to fulfillment.  He is God's perfect priest who offered the perfect sacrifice, himself all for our sake.  Now he says to us, "Love one another as I have loved you."  This law manifests perfect communion with God and with one another and eradicates all tinge of separation, selfishness, and animosity.  This law reflects the true picture of heaven.  If we live out this law of love, God resides in us and we in God; we also reside in the hearts of one another.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

What makes a saint?

All Saints Day

Matthew 5:1-12

We celebrate the Communion of Saints every first of November.  "All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints" ("All Saints Day", Catholic Org, last accessed Nov. 1, 2018).

It is meant for us to remember all unknown saints, yet in perfect bliss with the Lord, who are now in heaven.  November 2, we would offer the mass for our suffering departed in purgatory.

Three messages:

1. It is meant for us to incorporate ourselves in the communion of saints right this time of our lives and not just consider sainthood in the afterlife.  Our lives today reflect our willingness to be counted among the saints.

2. The Church is also equipped with the communion with holy things that are mainly rooted in Jesus, the source of our salvation.  These are:

2.1.  Communion in faith (CCC 950) - let us nourish this faith and also ensure that others deepen in their faith.

2.2.  Communion of the sacraments (CCC 951) - communion with Jesus through the reception of the sacraments

2.3.  Communion of charisms (CCC 952) - These are gifts coming from the Holy Spirit meant to enrich every Christian community.  Let's offer to use this gifts for God and others.

2.4.  Communion in charity - (CCC 954) - In the Acts of the Apostles, it's clear after the Christians shared their resources with one another, nobody is found wanting (Acts 4:34).  Love abounds.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

To see as God sees

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Mark 10: 46 - 52


Jeremiah prophesied that God would once again gather his people as was Moses' time.  This would be a joyous event, and the scattered children of God would come home with tears in their eyes; and the Lord would once more take care of them.

A "people called by God" is what we presently call "The Church".  The challenge is: are we teary-eyed when we gather together as a Church?  Perhaps, we know so little about being church; perhaps we were somehow "blinded" by what we were accustomed to define it; that's why the way we live Church is far from the Heaven that we envision.

The gospel is about healing the blind Bartimaeus.  The gospel is about Jesus healing the physically blind.  What we dare to ask is to heal our spiritual blindness brought about by skewed images of the Church and our faith.

Conversion

We cannot proceed to the next level of seeing unless we admit that we need conversion.  Yes, we need conversion throughout our lives.  We need to change outlook of life that conforms with God's will, not ours.  Unless we seek conversion, we would not be able to see through the eyes of our faith.

Discernment

"Lord, I want to see."  Let's go a step further and say, "Lord, I want to see you everyday."  I want to see you in my work or studies, in my family and community. I want to see you in the daily events of life.  We may go a step further and pray, "Lord, grant that I may see things as you see them."  Only then could we see God's presence in the world.

Commitment

The final element of seeing through the eyes of faith is to commit oneself only to the truth.  We know that the truth shall set us free.  We shall not compromise truth with lies or self-effacement.  "It's God whom we shall follow rather than man," according to St. Peter and John when threatened by the Jews in speaking about Jesus.  When we are committed to what is true, we shall bring all others to the Lord, thus, making our experience of Church really genuine.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Servanthood


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45

"Kung may tiyaga, may nilaga"; "Kung anong tinanim, siyang aanihin."

These words remind us to persevere if we are to attain our goals in life.  Perseverance calls to be patient even in sufferings if we are fully convinced that all our efforts will pay off. 

But perseverance is also the mark of a true servant, who perseveres to do all tasks assigned to him. 

The servant is the mark of a true Christian.  If we claim we are baptised Catholics, it is imperative that we serve as Jesus served, by offering his life on the cross.  How then can we be good servants?

First, know who we are

 Let us know who we are and what our place is in this world.  God is the Creator, we are the created; God is heavenly, while we are made of dust.  God is Lord, and who are we? Servants.

Second, know the end

What is the end of a servant's being?  We easily forget when our end is to live comfortably and to grow rich and powerful.  Is that it?  We might aim to be rich, but this is not a ticket to enter heaven or eternal life.  If our end is in God, then let us serve him now!

Third, the heart of a servant

What makes us persevere in this task? Love.  Love makes us endure all hardships; for love of God and neighbor.  If there is no love we won't last.  Do we claim that we love God now?  It shows in our actions and in our commitment to offer time, talent, and treasure for love of him and one another.

What makes us persevere in this task? Love. 

Could we now admit that we are servants?  That's the only way a Christian is to go.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wisdom to follow Jesus


28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:17-30


"Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth." 

We may not also understand Jesus' words, thus, losing the opportunity to serve him when he calls us.

In the first reading, from the book of Wisdom, it says: "I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me."

We need wisdom to discern what God wants, not what we want.  Wisdom is the mind and heart of God himself, revealing his plans for the world and the contents of his heart.  Our minds and hearts, because of sin, are alienated from God. But with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can still find our way back to God.

"Go and sell everything you own ..." calls us to develop a spirit of detachment to material things.  They are simply what they are, instruments to an end.  The end is important in discerning wisdom.  Is it God who is our final end?  Then why are we so preoccupied with material concerns that we don't have time to serve the Church and others?

"Give the money to the poor ..."  Another component of wisdom is thinking about others instead of self.  The self is the third priority of our lives.  God is first, others are second, we are third.  If we all make ourselves first, we won't have have the compassion for others.  And if a whole community would be composed of selfish people, imagine the devastation to that community!  But is the community is composed of sharing people, imagine the life that flows in the community!

Only in following Jesus could we experience the fullness of life!

"Come, follow me..."  Actually, this SHOULD be the theme of our lives!  Following him does not come only as we nearing death.  Following should happen while at the peak of our lives!  Only then could we experience the real joy of following him each day and the excitement each day brings.  But this is the message: only in following him till the end can lead us to the fullness of life!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Eucharist and our covenant with God


21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:60-69 

Today, Joshua called on the people to renew their covenant with God.  In full freedom the Israelites responded.

In today's gospel, after the long discourse on the Eucharist, still the people left Jesus, claiming that it's hard to swallow this teaching.  Jesus turned to his apostles and asked, "Are you also going to leave me?"  The apostles responded, "To whom shall we go?  You have the words of everlasting life?"  They also believed that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

The closest covenant with Jesus is the covenant between husband and wife, when the two shall be one body.  This connotes full freedom of two partners to enter into a contract.  Even though God knows what will happen to us if we desert him, still he respects our full freedom to enter into his covenant.

The Eucharist is our covenant with Jesus: "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20).

This covenant contains the following:

First, Jesus' responsibility to care for us - Jesus' action on the cross to forgive us and give us life.

Second, love that binds - A new covenant is created: "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31: 31–33).  This is bound by a deep relationship with God and with one another based on love.

Third, our share in the covenant - to know, love, adore, and serve God is the deepest commitment we can ever give to God.  This should be manifested in our new way of life: the way of love.




Saturday, August 18, 2018

Communion, the ultimate union

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:51-58

Communion - what a wonderful word that signifies not just a special kind of unity, but of an intense reality of oneness that cannot be separated by any time and space!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: "Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.151 We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta)152 - the first meaning of the phrase "communion of saints" in the Apostles' Creed - the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality,153 viaticum. . . ." (CCC 150 - 153)

First, union with Christ - The Eucharist is the foretaste of heaven because here on earth, union with Christ is made possible.  We further expand this thought by incorporating our thought, word, and deed to that of Christ, making us one body in him.  It is becomes possible for us as recipients of the Holy Communion to be one with each other as one body of Christ.

Second, union with the holy things - communion of saints, the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality.  Such union is totally possible only if we allow ourselves to be united with the Church, which from it is born the saints, the sacraments, and all graces that come out of it.

Third, viaticum - the last food of our journey to everlasting life which is none other than Jesus himself who will embrace us and lead us to his kingdom.

Desire for total union as you receive the Holy Communion, union with God and with one another in the bond of pure love.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Presence

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:41-51

This is the second part of Jesus' discourse on the Eucharist.  It is prefigured in the first reading when an angel commanded Elijah to eat the scone and drink the water.  These sustained his journey for forty days and nights without food till he reached Horeb.

In the gospel, Jesus said, "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever."

I would like to dwell then on life the Eucharist is giving us, both in this world and in eternal life.  But a condition for that life is to acknowledge that Jesus is present in the Eucharist.

Presence.  In today's times, this presence is replaced with virtual reality.  A person who is not present can still be present virtually by liking and making entries on social media.

But presence is still different.  It's the person in front of you body and spirit, ready to assist you or lend a hand.

Jesus is totally present to us.  The Jesus who said, "Take and eat; this is my body" is the same Jesus present in the priest as he raises the bread and says, "Take and eat, this is my body.

Second, Jesus is present as we receive him in Holy Communion.  We receive him by the mouth; we savor his presence.  We walk with utmost reverence to Jesus inside our bodies.  We become incorporated to Jesus' own body, making him our own.

Third, we become Jesus' presence to others.  We use every inch of our bodies to reach out to people, to forgive, to extend help to the poor, to raise up the fallen.  We give life to others because Jesus is present to us.

Grant that we may be present totally to Jesus every time we participate in the Most Blessed Eucharist.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Thankfulness


18th Sunday in Ordinary Time


John 6:24-35

What is the Eucharist for us personally?

From its original word, it means "thanksgiving to God".

We say as the bread and wine are offered: "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received...the bread and wine, fruits of the earth and work of human hands..."  That is thanksgiving.

We have our whole lives to thank for.  The air we breathe, the people we meet, our homes, the food, our strength... God supplies everything for us.  Sometimes, our words of thanks come in late.  We need to be given before we can thank God.  But God already supplies us even before we can ask for the grace. 

Thank God also for the things money can't buy.  Love or compassion, sharing and caring, forgiveness, integrity.  These are all faces of goodness.

Most of all, thank Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist.  He's the only one who can give us life.  I thank the Lord for the gift of priesthood.  Every priest may be weak, but he is endowed with the gift to celebrate the Eucharist and to transbustantiate bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ to be shared to others.

Only Christ can save us, forgive us, and bring us to life.  Only Christ can supply us with the gifts of compassion and love. Only Christ can orient us to a life of stewardship.  Christ is the bread of life.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Great Sower


11th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mark 4:26-34

I am fond of stories; every story starting with a beginning, with a middle and an end. 

The story of Ezekiel tells the word of the Lord as being planted on a high mountain, then he takes care of it until it becomes a noble cedar where animals would rest in its shade.  It is the Lord who did it.

The parables of the kingdom of God say one thing - it is God who planted the seeds, make them grow, till birds can rest in its shades.

We are witnesses of the story that is unfolding - the story of the kingdom of God in every heart.  We are not the planters nor the keepers of the kingdom.  We witness various things how God works.

How his word is planted daily in people's hearts.  He plants every seed each day at each moment.  Are we still listening?  Are will still accepting the the good news?

How he nourish his word every heart.  Are we giving time to nourish the word through the various opportunities the Church is hosting?  Do we give it to the slow but sure development of a spirituality marked by faithfulness to God?

How his word bears fruits in every heart.  Do we see concrete manifestations of the word in every person, in their thought, word, and deed?  Do we sense a building of a community of disciples faithful to the word?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Unity, Diversity, and Church


The Most Holy Trinity

Matthew 28:16-20

There's no doubt that God's power is unmeasurable.  It surpasses all powers of the created world.

In the human mind, we should no longer doubt about this power.  Even God owns our rationality.  Just read the first reading and we shall realize the glory of God.

In the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, from the unmeasurable and unfathomable comes that quiet invitation to regard the presence of God as non-negotiable and uncontestable.

As God revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Scripture and Tradition, let our faith fathom this reality.  Let us simply accept him in our lives.

We accept the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the bond of pure love which we could only imagine in human terms.  But this perfect love is a total mystery.  God's love makes us love one another even though the other seems insignificant to us.  It is simply revealed that this love, as pure as heaven itself, is possible.

At the same time, we accept the unique Persons of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Father who creates, the Son who saves, and the Holy Spirit who guides.  The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father and the Son just as we are created uniquely from each other, yet, we are all human beings.

Third, the Church is the icon of the Trinity.  Whatever we manifest in this world as a Church reflects the God who calls us as his own, whose body of Christ we belong to, and whose Spirit we are the temple of. 

In being Church may we see the unquestionable presence of the Holy Trinity.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The power of the Holy Spirit in us


Pentecost

John 20:19-23

Ten days after Jesus' ascension to heaven, the apostles received the Holy Spirit.  From then on, the Good News is being proclaimed right at this very day.

All of us are proclaimers of the Good News.  We are recipients of the Holy Spirit.  What does it do to us?

First, we are reborn

The "powerful wind from heaven" that filled the room gives an image of the powerful God who breathes life to the soil in which man is created.  Now, with Pentecost, he again breathes unto us a new Spirit, a renewed spirit that makes us "new creation" in Christ.  Let us be more aware if our Catholic ways are bereft of life or dynamism or it is life-giving to others.

Second, tongues of fire

The tongues signify the authority of the apostles to proclaim, to teach, to instruct the faith about God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It signifies the authority of the Church to proclaim the truth and give life.  Are we "hot" in proclaiming the Word like fire or are we simply lukewarm in faith?

Third, unity

There becomes one voice, one understanding; eventually, it became one people.  The disunity of Babel was healed by the power of the Holy Spirit to various men and women and caused them to be one heart and one mind in Christ.  This is the real definition of Church.  It is not based on greed, power, comforts, and luxury, but rather, on a deep yearning to create the community of disciples and a Church of the poor.

Let the Holy Spirit touch our lives so that we may become the true disciples Jesus wishes us to be, instruments of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

What is the gauge of real fruitfulness?

5th Sunday of Easter 

John 15:1-8

28 days after Easter, the readings hint to us the fruitfulness of Easter experience.

How do we define fruitfulness of life?  Material prosperity? Fame and fortune?

St. Paul in the first reading started his fruitfulness journey.  From a killer to a missionary, he won many many converts to Christ.  In fact, we are fruits of his missionary zeal.

Fruitfulness can only be possible if we attach ourselves to Christ like the vine to the branches.  Note the inseparable relationship between the vine and the branches.  It defines who we are and what we should do.  For apart from him, we are nothing.

Secondly, fruitfulness is gauged by the intervention of the "vinedresser" who is God.  The vinedresser prunes the useless as well as optimizes the fruitful to bear more fruits.  Have we established our relationship with God?

Finally, fruitfulness can only be possible if we regard ourselves as disciples of the Lord.  We can be better Catholics if we place ourselves at the complete service of the Divine Master and serve others whom he loves.

Only then can we determine our fruitful our lives are.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The call to be a witness

3rd Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:35-48 

In the first reading, St. Peter explains the mystery of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection to give clarity to the minds of people.

In the Gospel, even though some of the disciples were still unbelieving and dumbfounded, Jesus explained to them that all of these have to happen.  They are witnesses of all these.

In the 15th day of Easter, the 3rd Sunday, we are called by the Lord to start becoming witnesses of his passion, death, and resurrection.  How can we be authentic witnesses of the Lord?

First, let's gather the moments God touched our lives.  It simply points out that we're not only ones in control of our lives.  Rather, he helps us, he sustains and he saves us; he is our Lord.

Second, we are to increase our knowledge of the love of God.  This doesn't mean simply we are to know who God is.  To know God in the level of the heart means we are moved to decide because of the love we experience which is so pure and so sublime enough to save us and pardon our offences.   Such love comes from God.

Finally, we are to move our entire being to respond also in love.  A parent who transmit God's love to his or her children becomes a witness of the powerful presence of God.  Every moment calls us to move people to conversion through actual experience of our presence to them.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Ways to concretize mercy


Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

John 20:19-31

The second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  We remember how Jesus revealed himself to Sis. Faustina in a time of conflict and violence and promoted the messages of peace and forgiveness. 

The rays flowing from the side of Jesus symbolize the outpouring of his mercy: the red rays symbolizing the life that flowed out from the offering of his life and the white ones symbolizing the healing and purifying power of his love through the sacraments.  Thus, we pray: "Jesus, we trust in you."

In the first reading we hear of how mercy is concretely manifested in the life of the early Christian communities. 

First, they were one heart and mind.  When mercy becomes the guiding force of the community, it is bound by deepest bonds of love.  We become one in love, heart and mind with one another.  Jesus, whom each Catholic receives in the Blessed Eucharist binds each member to each other, making them one body.

Second, mercy is manifested in their faithfulness to the teachings of the apostles which are deeply rooted in Jesus himself.  We all become faithful witnesses to the heart, mind, words, and actions of Jesus, the Divine Mercy.

Finally, mercy abounds when the community shares resources for the benefit of one another.  The irony of selling all possessions and sharing them to the needy of the community results in the vibrant existence of the Church starting from its inauguration in Pentecost till today.  Acts attest that "Nobody is found wanting."  This is because even ones helped share their blessings with others.

It is inevitable that mercy will always have a concrete face, mind, heart, spirit, and body.  It is manifested in every Catholic and Christian who wishes to live as a true disciple of the Lord.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The true gift

Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-15

We formally enter into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord, or the mystery of his passion, death, and resurrection.  We need to enter fully into this mystery and know what it means for us.   And if there's a word that would encapsulate its meaning, the word would be "gift".

As we are fond of receiving gifts, we also realize that gifts have qualities needed for them to become real gifts.  For instance, a gift has to be freely given with a joyful heart.  If it is forced because we expect to receive something, then it is not truly a gift.  The Holy Eucharist and Jesus' command of love, on the other hand, are authentic gifts from Jesus.  What constitutes a true gift?

First, a gift needs to be given in the spirit of pure, immaculate intentions, as pure as a young lamb prepared for the family during the time of Moses.  In the gospel, Jesus is Begotten Son anointed by the Father with the purest heart filled with love for all of us.

As we also celebrate the Year of the priests and consecrated persons, know that God who is holy expects that his ministers too are holy, and so are the ones who would receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Second, a gift is given in the spirit of great humility.  The washing of the feet is the most obvious manifestation of that state of humility.  Jesus who is God, humbled himself to wash the dirtiest, most used or overworked parts of the human body - the feet.  In order to clean and wash it, there's no other recourse except to bend back and head. 

In order to give the gift of ourselves generously to others, we need a huge amount of bending.  This is the mark of a true Christian, not in the times we received God's bountiful graces, but in the times we've given ourselves to others in humble service.

And third, a gift becomes redemptive to the recipient.  In the Old Testament reading, the blood of the Lamb became the sign of salvation for the people of Israel.  Meanwhile, the Angel of Death killed the first-born of those without this sign.  The sign of our salvation is and will always be Jesus.

May our every action as Christians always account for the salvation of others.  It's time that our every gift, the gift of ourselves becomes redemptive for others.  As Jesus has ordained priests and religious in every time and place, all of us are called to make a mark in the history of salvation by becoming Jesus' gifts for the salvation of the world. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How to live humbly

Palm Sunday

Mark 14:1-15:47 

As we enter into the holiest of all weeks, we focus all our attention to Jesus as he formally enters into Jerusalem, eventually entering into the very mystery of our salvation.

Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, enters Jerusalem riding a colt or ass, a sign of of humility.  People also respond in humility by throwing their garments on the ground and others waving palm branches that exude fragrance.

The Beloved Son of God teaches us a valuable lesson in humility.  As he humbles himself to save us, so too we respond in total humility and love to Jesus and others.

As Jesus enters the temple, he brings all of us with him.  We are built as a Church with Jesus our cornerstone.  Life is now changed in Jesus.

In the Gospel which narrates the passion and death of Jesus, humility is very much at work here.  Jesus becomes bread and wine for us to eat and drink, always keeping in mind that he, our Lord, gives himself unconditionally, body and blood, by embracing our humanity.  We are challenged to use our humanity to save others.

In conclusion, let us travel through the path of humility:

First, by ridding ourselves of any notion of self-exultation or self-preservation.  The Lord will utilize humble people for his work, not the proud and self-filled.

Second, by relying totally on his grace and goodness.  Peter was confronted with his own weakness when he denied our Lord. Yet, Jesus made him the prince of the Church.  We realize that life would have order if we rely totally on the goodness and grace of God.

Finally, by serving one another in love.  The Church which is Christ's body on earth, could be the source of hope to a world dying of sin.  Let's dedicate time, talent and treasure to be Christ's body here on earth by our love for one another. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

How to make our love perfect

5th Sunday of Lent

John 12:20-33

In the 4th Sunday of Lent, on its 33rd day, the readings point out to love - aligning our love with the love of God.

This love is the cause of the new Law that would be planted in our hearts.  We would detect it's love coming from God.  There's no need to educate us to that love.  It's Jesus' love.

We are to love as Jesus loves.  How did Jesus show his love?

He showed love through his passion, death, and resurrection.  He also invites us to enter into our deaths so we may rise again to new life in Jesus.

Second, discipleship is a natural consequence of this love.  There would be no need to explain.  The disciple in love would follow Jesus immediately.

Third, this love would lead to total emptying of self for the sake of others.  It is totally other-centered.

Never grow weary of knowing Jesus' love.  Feel it and live it.

As we celebrate St. Joseph's feast tomorrow, let's also remember how St. Joseph died to self to marry Mary as a sign of following God.  Second, he fulfilled his being disciple taking care of the Mary and Jesus, and he did it all for the sake of others.

Jesus commands us to perfect that love in our hearts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reasons to rejoice


4th Sunday of Lent


John 3: 14 - 21

Laetare Sunday means "Rejoice!"

According to the www.fathersforgood.org, the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 18th) is called Laetare Sunday, when the Church takes a bit of breather from Lenten practice and opens Mass with the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice, Jerusalem … Be joyful, all who were in mourning!” – taken from Isaiah chapter 66 (www.fathersforgood.org/ffg/en/big_four/laetare_sunday.html).

Though Jerusalem was captured by the Persians, still Cyrus made a public declaration to build the temple and allow the people to come back and worship in the temple of the Lord.  That's a reason to rejoice.

In the Gospel, no matter how deep the wounds of sin inflict our relationship with God, he wouldn't condemn the world:  "Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.  For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved."

God's love is enough reason for the whole mankind to rejoice.

First, God loves us with an everlasting love.  Let our love for God be permanent and eternal.  Let's acknowledge the permanence of love, a love that reaches eternal life in heaven.

Second, God loves us with a salvific love.  It is supplied for us by Jesus who aimed to save us from sin.  Let's not choosy in the way we love.  Rather, let our relationship be opportunities to save the other and lead him / her to heaven.

Third, God loves us with a sacrificial love.  As Jesus chose to sacrifice his life for love, may we imitate him by suffering on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are poor.  Remember, no one attained salvation by sitting comfortably in a chair.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How to prioritize Jesus

2nd Sunday of Lent

Mark 9:2-10

This 2nd Sunday of Lent, also 12th day of our Lenten preparation, we  focus on on the very person of Jesus. Undoubtedly, Abraham prioritized God above the life of his very own son, that's why God even said, "I swear by my own self ..."  God gives witness to his own nature.

In the Gospel, Jesus was transformed to who he really is - majestic, truly the Son of God.  Let us take time to acknowledge who Jesus is in our daily lives.  We acknowledge we placed him in the peripheries of our own preoccupations.

How do we prioritize Jesus?

First, determine which is passing and which is eternal. 

Time and again, we learn about faith.  But our faith doesn't have any hands, eyes, lips, teeth, and feet.  We ignore the call to be Church.  But remember, which of our preoccupations can lead us to heaven?

Second, relate everything with the eternal. 

In a family, the preoccupation of every parent is to provide for the well-being of the children and prepare them for the future.  But real preparation is not simply about money.  Imagine, what would our children be if we are gone?  What legacy would we leave behind?  Blessed are the parents who prioritize sharing God's values to their children.  Start determining which truly counts in heaven. 

Third, choose the first step.

Knowing the eternal in mind, we're back to our day-to-day activities.  But even the most trivial is accounted for.  How many of our activities reflect God and his kingdom?  Let our lives be a picture, not of ourselves, but of God and his reign on earth as in heaven.

Finally, learn to see God's kingdom in the daily sacrifices of life.

Learn from the passion of Jesus.  In embracing the cross, he also embraced his resurrection.  Grant that we may see Jesus in our sufferings and sacrifices and see the greater picture of salvation at hand.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New beginnings

1st Sunday of Lent

Mark 1:12-15

Every thought about new beginnings brings freshness and rejuvenation: new year, resolutions, new life, new paths to tread, and new challenges to face. 

Our readings point out to a new beginning.  Noah and his family, coming from a world of sin and degeneracy, was given a new covenant by God.  A sign of this new beginning is a colorful rainbow which is a reminder that mankind would not be washed away by floods ever again.

In today's gospel, after being exposed to the wiles of the devil and emerging triumphant over its temptations, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Good News.  He said, "The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.'"

Let's utilize the Lenten season for our new beginnings, now with God more than ever. 

First, let that time to serve God be now or forever withhold our peace.  It should have been when we were born.  But let's realize that each day is an opportunity of new beginnings with God as our Lord and Guide.  He is Lord, meaning, we shall take time to offer our lives in adoration and service to him; and Guide, meaning, each day would be meaning because we opt to listen and respond to him.

Second, realize the kingdom of God.  Here and now, the kingdom of God dwells, not when we waste our lives with useless and worldly enjoyments and suffer the consequences of delaying the kingdom of God.  Let's be aware that what we do adds up to the realization of the kingdom of God here on earth;

And finally, Repent.  This gesture is not simply negative.  It seeks to put an end to vainglory and prioritize the Good News in our lives.  Anyone who prioritizes God in his or her life becomes a new creation with a new heart that belongs to God.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Serve Him no matter what


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B


Mark 6:7-13

Job talks about the travails and burdens of life.  Actually, his story is also of almost all of us human beings who despite our efforts to create a comfortable life, still are beset with problems and frailties.

We need to read the whole story of Job to get the picture of life and answers to life's questions like "Why do bad things happen to good people?"  The point is found in Desiderata: "Despite the drudgery and broken dreams, it's still a beautiful world."

Jesus, in spite of forces that sought his destruction still proclaimed the Good News.  He healed, exorcised, performed miracles, and a host of good deeds.  We should learn from this experience:  No matter what happens, let us proclaim the Good News.  How?

First, serve.  Serve unconditionally.  Peter's mother-in-law, the moment she was cured, immediately served the Lord.  When we are cured, we celebrate by going to the malls.  We forget to serve the Lord. 

Second, pray.  Jesus woke up early in the morning to commune with his Father.  No matter what happens, pray.  When we are beset with problems, the first thing we do is sacrifice our prayer life; we cease going to church.  We will not be able to solve our problems when we are far away from the Lord.

Finally, fulfill the mission.  No matter what happens, let's fulfill the mission entrusted to us by the Lord.  We shall of use to him and to others.  We would be able to make a difference in this world. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Molded to be prophets


4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:21-28

Moses condemned the false prophets.  Jesus silenced the devils.

What we need are committed prophets of Christ, possessing a strong sense of faith and grace in the world.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all baptized share in the prophetic function of Jesus Christ as we engage in teaching and witnessing  to lead others to the faith.  The key word is "evangelize", i.e. proclaim Christ to others by word and deed.   What do we need to get into the disposition of being evangelizers?

First, a strong sense of faith.  We cannot preach what we don't believe.  Let us make every effort to deepen our faith through on-going Catechesis and exposure to God's word.

Second,  a strong desire to evangelize.  There should be a strong desire to share the Word, even in the most ordinary circumstances.

Third, a desire to reach out to the unbelievers.  The Church teaches:  "The true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful.
"

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says: "Lay people who are capable and trained may also collaborate in catechetical formation, in teaching the sacred sciences, and in use of the communications media" (CCC, 906).

Let's seek to be true prophets, witnesses, and evangelizers of Jesus Christ to the world.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The way Jesus was reared

Feast of the Santo Niño 

Mark 10: 13 - 16

It's a joy for us to celebrate the Feast of the Santo Niño.  The entire history of the Catholic faith in the Philippines hinges on the offering of the image of the blessed Child by Magellan to Queen Juana as a gift during the baptism on April 14, 1521.

The images of the Santo Niño and Poong Nazareno really present to us profound insights on our country's adherence to Jesus, our Savior.  If we are serious in deepening our faith, let us adhere to Jesus the Child, the young man, respectable adult, and the loving Messiah.

On this blessed Sunday, we are all invited to enter into the childhood of Jesus and embed him in our hearts, minds, and lives, for we too once upon a time, became children.

First, on the hidden life of Jesus. The Church teaches us: "The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life" (CCC,
533).  How we were reared by our parents might be the same way Jesus was reared by Joseph and Mary.

Second, on obedience.  "Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven" (CCC, 532).  It gives us a rich insight on how Jesus effectively teaches us to love the Father; he's speaking from his own experience when he was a child and which we can also imitate.

Third, on doing the Father's will. "The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.226 Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" (CCC, 534).  How wonderful would it be if we hear these same words from our children, "I must be about my Father's work."

We are assured of the growth and development of our children when they are wholeheartedly doing the Father's affairs.  Then the Santo Niño has born fruit in our lives.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sensitivity to God's call


2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 1:35-42


We are much appreciative of our parents and those who introduced to us the ways of the faith for through them, we have known and observed it.  Today, we are capable of knowing what is bad and good; the good, we live out; the evil, we cast away.  Our religious practices and devotions are manifestations on how we are living out our faith.

But perhaps, we can aim for something better in our faith.  It is not just a set of formulae;  rather, Someone is calling us for something much greater.

This is the mystery of the call which Samuel heard.  It's not just an ordinary call.  He was instructed to respond accordingly, "Here am I, Lord, your servant is listening."

We dread the moment when we couldn't hear Him who call us everyday.  We dread every moment when we think we're the only ones conducting our lives, when we can hear what the world is saying, but cannot hear what He's saying.  God is the voice within, calling us to serve him everyday and every moment. How do we become sensitive to God's call?

First, acknowledge people and event pointing the way to Jesus.  In the Gospel, John declared, "There is the Lamb of God."  We learn about the faith through our parents, school, and church.  Let the things we learned deepen our relationship with Him.

Second, Jesus responded to the invitation of the 2 men, "Come and see."  And they followed him.  It was 4 in the afternoon.  It was at this point they were called "disciples".  A disciple follows the Lord 24 hours and for the rest of his life.  The disciple is formed according to the heart and mind of the one he's following.  We may respond to the call to be transformed according to the heart and mind of Jesus.

Third, "You shall be Cephas."   Jesus called Simon "Cephas."  When we follow Jesus, he will reveal to us our true selves, the one God intended us to be.

May parents give the best gift to their children - not only financial security in the future, but more importantly, their vocation in God.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Light that destroys the world's darkness

The Epiphany of the Lord

Matthew 2:1-12

The story of the three wise men may come to us as a great post-Christmas story with the drama of deceit, revenge and treachery.  But underneath this drama is a revelation much greater than we can ever imagine.

What an irony; Christmas comes to us not in a grandeur fashion, but in an obscure way, with the sight of a humble child resting in the manger.  This feast should lead us to notice the grandeur in the obscure and the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Where does Epiphany lead us to?

First, the light.  That light is the brightest of all lights.  It leads us directly to God; his glory shining upon all of us.  Even at nighttime the light keeps shining.  Let us be aware of God's presence every moment of our lives, in our decisions and actions.

Second, the assembly of kings.  There are only two kinds of kings reacting to this fact: ones are like Herod, who was perturbed at the thought of this king.  For he rules with corruption.  He compromises with men but contradicts God.  The second ones fall to their knees to do God homage.   They should teach us a lesson that all power comes from God and that power should be practiced most humbly.

Third, the assembly of nations.  "Lift up your eyes and look round: all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and your daughters being tenderly carried."  This is the image of the Church that serves as light to the world, teaching all children the truths of faith.  Only the Church shall walk towards the Lord.  The true Church shall see the star that leads to Jesus.  Only the Church would be able to offer the gifts fit for a king.