Be Grateful!

During the past week another successful review at work was conducted and our team is extremely grateful that we got it with flying colors. In the rundown to the 4-day event, we have to work on our template which was developed over so many months in preparation for a different but related review which happened a month before. Pressure was mounting as the reviews drew near as we wanted to prepare well. Extra work was done, relaxation was reduced, and sacrifices were made. As in any other review, the team wanted to prepare thoroughly and properly. The hallmark of the leadership team was to impress on everyone that we have to be ready for it. We don’t want to leave any stone unturned in the desire to give a good account of the plant’s high ratings in quality and productivity indices. We want to be consistent in visual review and inspection.

When time for preparation was almost done, I told the team that “we’ve done everything we can, now it’s time to pray for God to bless all our efforts.” With God’s grace, the team was able to get high marks and exceed expectations. We thanked the Lord for His graciousness and mercy for guiding us through the preparations, ensuring we didn’t miss anything. He was with us during those pressure-packed moments and strengthened us with good health and patience. When the review team leader revealed the results, the first words we uttered were “Thank you Lord for the help!” No one should claim credit for the results as it was a product of team effort, unity of purpose, and hard work. Everyone cooperated and contributed their share, despite the ongoing operations. Everyone was grateful and thankful for the achievement, giving the glory to God rather than ourselves. It was successful because everyone shared what they could and God blessed our efforts. Without God’s blessings, we know we couldn’t have delivered exemplary ratings.

In the Gospel (Lk. 17: 11-19), only one of the ten lepers healed by Jesus returned to “glorify God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.” The leper was being grateful and thankful for the healing that happened. Other than being full of gratitude, he was able to look down and humble himself such that “he fell at the foot of Jesus…”

When one is grateful, one is also most likely a humble person. He knows that what good things that happen isn’t only his own, but are blessings from God. The more we make great achievements, the more we should be humble to accept that what we have are blessings from God and are results of help from others, who have been touched by the Spirit to follow His leading.

When you are blessed, you should also look forward to the future, to share your blessings so that many will be touched and healed. Regardless of how others see it, a person with humility will most likely say it is a miracle. Out of the humility of your spirit you always give the credit to God: “Ad majorem Dei gloriam”, to God be the glory!  

May we always be grateful and thankful to Him for all that we are and all that we have. May the Lord continue to grant us His favors, that in so doing, we become bearers of His good news of salvation to others.

In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5: 18)

Have Faith!

The other day, a friend revealed a story about a young man who was so depressed such that he took his own life. The young man felt everyone was against him for taking an unpopular stand. He was cyber-bullied and was shamed in school. He felt lost and betrayed by everyone, so much so that he must have felt so down and so alone which eventually led to that fateful decision.

There are times that you feel so burdened with challenges that you feel the Lord is so far and is so quiet: “There are injustices committed,Corruption is still prevalent”, “The children are having problems in school”, “Debts are piling up”, “Health is failing”, “I’m so alone, no one is with me”, etc. etc. You feel that He is indifferent to your needs and prayers. You ask, “Why do bad things happen to me?”, or “Is God sleeping”. It can even take the worse, sometimes questioning your faith, “God, are you real?”

In the First Reading (Hab. 1: 2-3; 2:2-4), the prophet cried out,

How long, O LORD?  I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.”

And yet the Lord responded,

Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

God is telling us to be patient, as things will turn for the better in due time, in His time. It “will not disappoint, if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late”. He is the God of the Universe and so it’s His call when to intervene. All things are allowed for a reason: it is to toughen us, to build our faith, to test our patience. Only He knows what the future holds, so we just have to trust Him and hang on. We are still endowed with free will so it’s really up to us if we want to survive these challenges and persevere in our faith.

In the Gospel (Lk. 17: 5-10), the apostles were asking the Lord to “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied,

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,and it would obey you.”

Faith can move mountains, as they say. The Lord wants to assure us that He is in control. Regardless of what happens, we must be joyful for having Him behind our back. He is “our strength, our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our shield, our stronghold!” (Ps. 18: 2-3).

May we take to heart St. Paul’s message in the Second Reading (2 Tim. 1: 6-8, 13-14),

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. 
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God

May we be always faithful to Him, to be on guard yet secure, to be watchful yet confident and to persevere in the faith.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Ps. 95: 8)

Be On Guard

Enzo (not his real name) is a friend I met way back in the Church community. He has a beautiful family, a stable job, and was active in the ministry for so many years. Some years back, I started missing him in the Friday worship and meetings. It was a few years after that I heard there was a falling out with his spouse and they had chosen to live apart. It was sad because it was like a family made perfectly.

The journey to Heaven isn’t easy to complete especially in a world made materialistic, mad and passive. It takes a lot of focus, hard work and prayers (tons of them) to survive this spiritual battle as there’s a lot of distractions, challenges, and temptations. Our human weakness coupled with loss of commitment to fight the good fight of faith bring in the danger of falling out of the road. It is a threat so real that when you aren’t prepared and ready to do battle against complacency and earthly ambitions, you will surely fall on the wayside.

In the First Reading (Am. 6:1a, 4-7), the Lord warned the complacent in Zion, how they lie upon “beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall!” The Lord declared that “they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.”

The Gospel (Lk. 16: 19-31) tells about the rich man and Lazarus, who lived contrasting lifestyles while living on earth. The rich man was “dressed in purple garments and fine linen,
dined sumptuously each day
”. On the other hand, Lazarus was a poor man, “covered with sores, and who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” To most of us, we already know the rest of the parable, ending with the rich man begging Abraham, “to send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.” But Abraham replied, that they have Moses and the prophets, and for the five brothers to listen to them. The rich man insisted but Abraham said, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

The rich man’s reaction is common for most of us. We want hard evidence to believe in Eternal Life even though we’ve been taught about it in school, in Church and in the family as well. While you may start well in your community, you may find yourself midway in your life journey and then the doubts start to creep in. You start to compare yourself with others and ask questions about why you aren’t this and why you aren’t that. The devil sees the opportunity and so you find yourself getting comfortable with your “new” lifestyle away from Church and then from the Lord. You forgot what you’ve learned in your life journey that like any competition, it is not how you start but it is how you finish.

Let us pray to listen and accept the challenge of St. Paul in today’s Second Reading (1 Tm. 6: 11-16),

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. 
Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ

May we be always faithful to Him, to be on guard, and to persevere.

Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8: 9)

Hope for Honesty

In today’s world, many people commit dishonesty in order to advance themselves in their careers, jobs and businesses. They live as if the world is the end of it all, maybe they’re not sure whether this one is a temporary journey, but maybe also blinded by the present’s BDOs (“bright, dazzling objects”). They’re supported by the prevailing culture of greed, covetousness and avarice. We praise the rich and stay away from the poor. We notice wealth but disregard simplicity. We applaud the loud and ignore the meek and the silent. In all, we encourage the display of wealth as the be-all and end-all in this world.

In this Sunday’s Gospel proclamation (Lk. 16: 1-13), Jesus tells about a rich man’s steward, who was squandering his property. The rich man summoned the hand to prepare a full account of his stewardship. The steward thought of doing something so that when he is removed from the stewardship, “they may welcome me into their homes”. He called in his master’s debtors one by one and lessened what the debtors owe to the master; for example, from one hundred measures of olive oil to fifty, from one hundred kors (an ancient Hebrew and Phoenician measure of capacity) of wheat, to eighty. While the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently, he didn’t approve of his dishonesty.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. This is one principle that should be taught beginning at home and even before one goes to school. Once this value is taken in by a child, coupled with reminders and discussions by parents, most probably this will be carried on into adulthood. Sadly, this is not one of those consistently practiced, in fact this is one of the reasons for many of the world’s problems today.

Jesus said, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealthIf you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” 

Being a person of integrity requires internal strength and mindfulness. It is one that is fortified by continued practice, self-reminder and thoughtfulness. It involves fear “that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our Heavenly Father”. Committing dishonesty therefore is dreaded, knowing that God knows our every thought and deed, and so we give Him our priority in difficult situations, fearful that doing something else could separate us from God.

In the First Reading (Am. 8: 4-7), the prophet Amos lamented on the sins against the poor including cheating and dishonesty. As it was in those times, it still is in these present times. But there’s hope, if we live and model simplicity, hard work and giving quiet service to God and His people.

Let us pray to the Spirit for guidance, strength and perseverance in our earthly journey. We pray for sobriety, simplicity and serious-mindedness in our faith. We also pray for peace, healing, and protection.

Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8: 9)

Our God: Loving, Merciful and Compassionate

We hear in this Gospel proclamation (Lk. 15: 1-32) that the Pharisees and scribes were complaining when tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So the Lord addressed them with three parables, the Parable of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son. These stories show how God, represented by the shepherd, the woman, and the father, respectively; looks for the insignificant sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. In earthly language, it may not be worth it but for God, every soul is important. God loves you immensely that He will take great lengths to reach out and to wait for you. He will be patiently waiting despite your constant wavering and fickle-mindedness. This calls to mind Isaiah 49: 15, which says,

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

He just loves you so much, even more than a mother loves her infant.

In the First Reading (Ex. 32: 7-11, 13-14),

After Yahweh said,

I see how stiff-necked this people is, ” continued the LORD to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, “Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?” 

Moses was able to convince God, who, in His great mercy and compassion for His chosen people, relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on them. Similarly, what is also clear in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that the son repented and asked for forgiveness,

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

Thus, before God can rescue you from sin and its effects, you have to in all humility ask pardon and forgiveness for your transgressions, so that the well of mercy and compassion will flow into you. When you do that, there is great rejoicing in Heaven! Note that in those times, a typical father wouldn’t do what the father in the parable did, that is, to run to his son, embrace him and kiss him. No, that isn’t how fathers in Jesus’ time behaved. And yet, to symbolize God’s deeply loving nature, Jesus illustrated Him that way in this parable.

This Sunday, let us pray that we’ll have the audacity to acknowledge our faults and failures before the Lord and with humility ask forgiveness from Him, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of Fear of the Lord, that we be filled with a sovereign respect for God, and make us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.” (Ps. 51: 3)

God Above All

In this chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks in parables, emphasizing the right way to become a follower and enter into the Kingdom of God. There was the question on the curing on the Sabbath, occupying places in the dinner table, which gave lessons on humility; and on answering the invitation to the Great Feast, to liken the invitation to dine in the Kingdom of God.

Following the Lord is a difficult and challenging path to follow such that many reject the invitation.

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk. 14: 25-33), the Lord explains that when you’ve chosen to follow Him, nothing can get in the way. While Jesus mentioned about “hating” one’s loved ones, He actually refers to “loving them more” than God. It shouldn’t be, it is God above everything. One can’t be a disciple if he doesn’t carry his own cross and follow the Lord. When you’re making a decision to follow Him, you have to figure out what does it take to complete the journey. Finally, He says,

In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Making the decision to follow God involves a conscious choice and labor. It can’t be just a whim or a fad or a spur of the moment resolution. It involves a thorough and deliberate planning because it is something that involves a lifelong and conscious effort to overcome the difficulties along the way. It requires one to see beyond the worldly and into the prize at the end of the sorrows and challenges.

I think it is undoable to overcome these obstacles without the strength, fortitude and courage, among others. It is impossible especially without the Gift of Wisdom. According to the Novena to the Holy Spirit,

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is writtenall good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

It is refreshing to know that it is indeed Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Unless we are prepared to put God above all else, following the Lord is really very difficult, or even impossible to do.

This Sunday, let us pray that we may strive to submit to His will in all we do. May He grant us the discernment to prioritize Him above all else. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to grant us this most perfect of all gifts: The Gift of Wisdom.

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.” (Ps. 90: 1)

Staying Grounded

In a world where power, fame and wealth are the so-called “fruits of success”, people manipulate others in order to crave for attention and visibility. This becomes the norm in a world bereft of modesty and meekness.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 14: 1, 7-14), the ever-observant Jesus noticed how those who were invited at a banquet were choosing the places of honor at the table. He advised them,

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say,My friend, move up to a higher position.Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

While Jesus wasn’t telling us to take the parable too literally, he was reminding us of the importance of humility. Among others, the place that a person sits while eating is significant. While the reading says Jesus is telling a parable, it really is a practical advice about how to find your place in the kingdom of God. In the First Reading (Sir.3: 17-18, 20, 28-29), the prophet Sirach said,

My child, conduct your affairs with humilityand you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
 Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.”

It is about a secret on how to find favor with God and finding your way to Heaven. God does not look at you favorably when you are arrogant and oozing with confidence such that you always blow your horn to announce your presence and capabilities. But this is also not going to the extent of telling your lowliness to others such that you already become clothed with false humility. Remember that the Blessed Mother also said,

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.”

She was still perfect in humility because she said prior to that, “Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid”. 

Humble persons are meek and reserved but when called to the fore, they will not back down from any challenge thrown their way, for they know their inner power comes from God. In one of the finer examples of humility in action it is said that St. Anthony of Padua after his ordination,

“… sought out the humbler tasks that fell to the lot of the members of his community. He spent his days doing the menial work of washing dishes and helping in the kitchen. Here was the son of a wealthy family doing the labor that is so often despised. When about his work one day, Anthony was called upon to deliver an important sermon. He had been given little time to prepare, and yet, launched into an eloquent and brilliant speech that immediately stamped him as an orator of unusual ability. He had remained hidden, but when ordered to mount the pulpit, his speech was not only a treat to the eyes and ear, it appealed to the heart of the large crowd that listened to him. From that day on, his reputation as a preacher par excellence was established.”    

How about you, do you brag about your wealth, your talents, and your family background? Do you keep watch of your pride and stay grounded? Do you realize that when you brag, you make others feel inferior?

Today, let us pray for the gift of humility, the foundation of all virtues. May we remain grateful to the Lord with the thought that what we have are His and just entrusted to us in order to help others find their way to God.

Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. ”(Mt. 11: 29ab)

Spirited Involvement

Gaining Heaven will not be a breeze especially for those who are lazy, uncommitted, lukewarm, and indifferent. In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 13: 22-30), the Lord reminds us,

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

This part of the Scriptures emphasizes the need to be actively involved in God’s plan of salvation for our own good. Not lukewarm, not passive, but spirited involvement.

The Gospel continues,

After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us.” He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from.” And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.” Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!”

It is sad to be complacent or confident of “automatic” salvation especially when you are a member of organized religion or community. Many may expect that being in church, being in an organized religion will be enough to bring one automatically to Heaven, citing other Scripture readings as basis. But what is missing in this belief is that it’s never automatic. There is a response needed to God’s calling. Even the Jews at that time may have been hurt by what Jesus has said. Yet, this is the reality of the Gospel that the Lord has brought into the world. To gain access to eternal life demands that we be mindful of the need to give up personal gains for the good of others, like living our lives with helping others and glorifying God at all times. We have to be the messenger and the hands of God for others. Our ability to discern His will requires attuning ourselves with the spirit of God. When we are in harmony with Him, we become selfless and in fear of God, not the fear we ordinarily know, but the fear which is a “sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin.” It is about reverence and filial submission to our Heavenly Father. (cf. Novena to the Holy Spirit). This fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9: 10).

We have to be careful not to offend God amidst the idea that He can’t be affected, but He ought to be loved and adored above all. We should be aware of things that separate us away from God. Grace is also about being given the wisdom to discern God’s will and the strength to persevere. It requires faith that is unwavering and committed. To stay the course, from time to time God will correct us, if necessary. In the Second Reading, the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 12: 5-7, 11-13) says,

My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”

When we pray for patience, He will subject us to trials that will enable us to exercise our faith and the patience to wait. When we are in a state of grace, we will see better and above our current situations, joyful even amidst suffering and challenges. It is because we know our faith is being strengthened and fortified and that we trust the Lord that “all things work for good for those who love God,who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8: 28).

The Lord reveals the yield of faithfulness,

At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

The humility to acknowledge Him will bear good fruit. This will make us understand the need to be joyful when God calls our attention. Isn’t it then a great gift by the Author of Life?

Today, let us pray for the gift of holy fear of the Lord. That we may be able to see beyond the present, and the peace in the knowledge that we are on the right path to meet Him someday. Even if the road is difficult. Even if the door is narrow.

I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” (Jn. 14: 6)

Listen to His Voice

Reading today’s Gospel may give the impression that what Jesus says contradicts His other pronouncements. In the Gospel of St. John, the Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn. 14: 27), yet this is the opposite of what He proclaims today.

In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 12: 49-53), which is a continuation of last Sunday’s; the Lord said,

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

The Lord is actually saying that not everyone will accept or practice what He preached. In fact, just after Jesus’ time, the Jewish religion was divided and separated. The Jews have always referred to themselves as the “chosen people” and have expected the Messiah to be a future leader or king from the line of King David.

So it was then, so it is now. There will be misunderstandings amidst false prophets continuing to have their own ways of interpreting the Gospel that they borrowed from the Church, causing further division. Religions and sects are sprouting here and there falsely claiming divine origin as a way to attract followers. Yet God’s message isn’t something one picks in the Scriptures to suit his particular agenda but is Divine Revelation chosen by Him at an appropriate time and place. It isn’t based on human understanding but an inspiration given by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel will be preached until the end, and so it’s up to those who refused to acknowledge “The Way” how the Lord wants it to be. The prophet Isaiah said,

“…for my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh.” (Is. 55: 8)

The Lord speaks to us in many ways and we just have to prepare ourselves to discern correctly. It is a gift of grace to understand the leading of the Holy Spirit and it depends on our openness and humility to listen and as well as the readiness of our souls to receive Him. In His unlimited love for us, Yahweh has always wanted to be intimate and bring us closer to Him. In his latest book “Intimacy Brews”, prolific writer and spiritual adviser Fr. Armand Robleza shares that,

We did not ask for Jesus; the Father gave Him to us. Intimacy is and will always be His initiative. Discipleship then is welcoming and surrendering to His love.”

Knowing that, then it goes without saying that we must respond to this intimacy request just like we respond to some long-lost friend asking for a friend request in Facebook. It will not be smooth though, for God will comfort the lonely, the broken-hearted, the poor and the oppressed, but He will also disrupt those in their comfort zones in order for them to listen and change their attitude of passive indifference.

Last night while I was eating my routine dinner, a young girl in High School approached me saying that she is selling a set of colored pens in her spare time in order to support her studies. While I haven’t verified if she’s really a student or not (she actually looks like one), I parted some of the money I have at that time to help her. I thought she was delighted and I prayed she will be blessed with her struggles to go to school. We cannot be single-minded about helping others knowing that God will use these moments to bless others just as He blesses us as we willingly become His instruments of goodness and cheer. You just have to take the view of God to act like His messenger.

Looking at the more challenging situations, there will be times you will be oppressed for voicing out your objections to injustice and suffering. In the First Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah was sentenced to suffering and possible death and was thrown into the cistern of Prince Malchiah. The prophet was later rescued by the king upon the intercession of Ebed-melech, a court official. When encountering the same trials and challenges, let us be comforted by the thought that the Lord will hear our cry, as He did to the Prophet Jeremiah,

The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; he set my feet upon a crag; he made firm my steps.” (Ps. 40: 2-3)

Today, let us pray for the strength and courage to stand our ground against injustice and suffering. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us through in these confusing and difficult times. We pray that we be wise and discerning to listen to His voice in the scheme of everyday life.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10: 27)

What Is Your Life’s Greatest Treasure?

Knowing what is essential and important in life isn’t easy. Sometimes in the midst of difficulties, you wonder why others seem to get it so easily. Then you begin to realize that they are not doing their stuff fairly. They illegally and immorally accumulate and gain wealth. They resort to all sorts of unlawful activities just to get what they want and without thinking of the consequences of their actions. They employ criminal and illicit activities just so they achieve their earthly desires. These activities are done beyond the public eye to protect themselves and deceive others by appearing proper and good. Their outside appearance is completely the opposite of what they really are and thus their deception is something people have to be wary about. Unfortunately, this hypocrisy can mislead and even influence others badly. These contradictions can make people confused and wanting. Thus, we need a reminder, an alternative, sort of a checklist of what to be cautious about and how to know we are on the right path.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 12: 32-48), Jesus said to his disciples:

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom. 
Sell your belongings and give alms. 
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be

The Lord is reminding us of our life objective. Of our life’s “real” purpose, the raison d’ etre. There are so many distractions that this world brings us such that the road to Heaven can get blurry and hazy. Being our Creator, God is reminding us to persevere the challenges and trials, to share to the needy and the poor, thereby “investing” spiritually for Eternity.

Also, He reminds us of the need to be ready at all times. Doing other things that do not conform to God’s will can be fatal as our time is one thing we don’t have control of. We don’t know the time or the hour death will strike, it can come in an unexpected day and at an unknown hour.

Finally, Jesus is asking us to become stewards and evangelizers of the Kingdom. We are called to serve Him well, as doing the opposite will spell disaster. The Lord’s reminders include a stern warning that He “will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful”. Therefore, you need to be alert since your time is limited and anything you do, you have to be accountable for it in the end. Considering you have received the Word of God and yet you choose to disobey Him, you will be doomed:

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely.”

For some who are more gifted and more provided, more will be required by God:

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

To overcome these challenges, we are reminded to obey God and to exercise our faith. In the Second Reading (Heb. 11: 1-2, 8-19) the writer tells us of Abraham, one of the perfect examples of obedience. His obedience was total as he went out to a place directed by Yahweh, without even knowing where his destination is,

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” 

This Sunday, ask yourself, “What is my life’s greatest treasure?”

Let us pray for the gift of wisdom so that we will be able to see life’s challenges from the eyes of faith, as Abraham did. Let us pray to be constantly ready and not waver. Let us pray to remain faithful to God, no matter the cost.

Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Mt. 24: 42a, 44)

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