To paraphrase Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the real point of loving is to never get tired of loving. It takes courage to love as it exposes us to be vulnerable. We cannot dictate that the loving and mercy we have shown will be extended to us in return. We cannot complain if it does not get reciprocated. We focus rather on what was given is beautiful and the recipient becomes happy and empowered. Maybe, love will flow back and opportunities of caring will be exposed and bloom to really ignite mercy.
If you recall in last week’s Gospel (on the celebration of the Feast of the Sto. Niño), after looking for three days, Mary and Joseph found Jesus sitting in the midst of teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. They were astonished and Mary said to him, “Son why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2: 46 – 49)
Fast forward to this Sunday’s Gospel, which happened early in Jesus ministry; he taught in their synagogues where people were hungry for the message given to them. His preaching was so powerful that people praised him. In Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk. 4: 16-21)
Today we are shown the continuation of Jesus focus on the business of the Father. Just like an individual or a company for that matter, his words are like a mission statement:
• The Spirit of the Lord has anointed him
• He is sent for the poor, the captives, the blind and the downtrodden
• To proclaim the Lord’s year of favor
While reading the scroll, Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies of hope and expectations. The same Spirit that he promised the disciples that they would be “clothed with power from on high”, is the same Spirit that enabled him to act as he did at this “inauguration” of his public ministry. This is the same Spirit we receive at Baptism and Confirmation.
As recipients of these gifts, we have been challenged to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We have to learn to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, as it does not manifest itself like magic. It takes time, perseverance, patience, and most importantly the desire to pursue a truly spiritual path to holiness, in order for the gifts to reach their potential. Aside from that, we are also challenged to share and give the Spirit to others, especially the poor, the captives, the blind and the downtrodden.
Learning to live with the Holy Spirit begins with prayer. It is only by prayer that we can recognize and respond to the calling of the Holy Spirit. In this fast and hurried pace of our lives, let us therefore allow silence to envelope us. Our willingness to do that will allow the Holy Spirit to be heard — especially among the noise and clutter of our lives.
How do we behave in front of colleagues? It is very important to commit ourselves and aim for the highest standards of ethics and integrity even when no one is around. The way we conduct ourselves will inspire people’s confidence and trust in us. You may not become aware of it and possibly not know it but people around you will help you and pave the way to accomplish your goals. They will be at your side to give you the necessary support. One’s integrity builds the foundation of fruitful relationships.
There are several colorful and interesting festivals in this merry month of January. Among these are the Sinulog in Cebu, the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan; and Dinagyang in Iloilo. All these celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Niño. Go around the Philippines and you can still find a lot of other fiestas and celebrations honoring the Sto. Niño. Without much thinking, you can easily deduce that the Child Jesus is extremely popular in the Philippines.
Being a child speaks of innocence, simplicity and unconditional love. We can relate with that so to speak as we have been small children in ages past. Relating with a child is to recognize our nothingness, our smallness, our shortcomings in front of our Almighty God.
Our human weakness reveals our need for God, thus, our love for the Sto. Niño shows our recognition of His mercy, goodness and great love for us. In a country that still has a high incidence of poverty, the presence of the Sto. Niño provides a sense of assurance, a refuge of families who are in search of better futures: joblessness, without decent homes, inadequate education, and even hunger, among others. Thus, we can safely say, the reason of the big number of devotees. But that’s just half of the story: the other half also tells of the great multitude of those who have received favors and answered prayers from the Sto. Niño! I am one of those!
While we can cheer and celebrate our way in these festivals, we are being challenged to the realities of most of those who participate in the glee that is the festival. Our celebrations will be empty and void of meaning if the realities of the least of the Sto. Niño’s “brothers and sisters” are not addressed. We have to grow our love for others and strengthen society by recognizing the various problems affecting most of our fellowmen. We may not be able to do it in a grandiose scale, but we can start at home by teaching our children the value of love, social justice, and peace. We have to build our families in the fear and love of God.
On this feast, let us again discover the child in us, and imitate Jesus’ childlike qualities of innocence, simplicity, loving and total dependence on God. This attitude should also make us grow in faith and action. Just as the Lord Jesus “advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man,” (Lk. 2: 52) every family should provide the foundation for Christian formation. We have to allow God to work in us and in our families, “knowing that here on earth, God’s work is truly our own.” (Pres. John F. Kennedy)
Hi Fr. A! May you keep on inspiring more souls and awaken more hearts for the world to be filled with happy and contented people! Your Code of Champions is indeed refreshing and remarking.. A blessing just in time for me! Thank you Fr. A! God bless you more! 😃-
Alma Foz Vallejo, Standard Chartered
What is your motivation to commitment? Should there be a compelling reason that inspired you to do it? More often we just want to finish what needs to be done but we fail to take into consideration what we feel about it. Before committing, check if the heart is excited- and motivated.
One of the most striking virtues of St. John the Baptist is his humility and devotion to Jesus. He never entertained in his mind to claim to be the Messiah, despite having all the opportunities to do so. He was faithful and radically obedient to his calling, and being like the precursor of Jesus, he readily pointed the people to the Lord.
Today’s is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In the Gospel, we hear John the Baptist respond to the confusion of the people who thought that he might be the Messiah. In reply, John explains the difference that the baptism he performs with the Baptism that Jesus will do: John the Baptist baptized with water, but that someone will come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The type of baptism that John performed was not yet a Christian Baptism; it was a preparation for Christian Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received. All doubts of John, if any, would surely have been cleared after he baptized our Lord. He was a prime witness: heard the voice of the Father, saw the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and stood closely beside Jesus, the Son. The Holy Trinity manifested in the start of Jesus’ public ministry, which confirmed without doubt John’s belief that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
At this early time of the New Year, we are reminded of our own lives that should always point the way to Christ. John pointed to Jesus the people whom he encounted in his preachings. Just like any faithful and loyal soldier of Christ, he never claimed credit to himself. He was consistent and gave glory to God through his humility and simplicity.
This pointing may be a good part of our New Year’s resolution, isn’t it?
When we offer ourselves in service to Christ and the Gospel, we provide an opportunity to point to Christ, whether conscious of it or not. Aside from the Blessed Mother, John is also a perfect model who pointed to Jesus all that happened to him: while he was still inside Elizabeth’s womb, during his own ministry, and up to the time of his death after being imprisoned by Herod.
Given this, can we not also let the happy times, the sad times, our pinnacles and the lowest parts of our lives point us and others to Jesus?
May we remain humble and submissive to the Lord, so that our lives become the message of the Gospel, and point others to Christ. May John’s example inspire us to be true followers of Christ, regardless of the cost.
It’s not everyday that we come across people who touches the heart and leaves a mark in our lives. These are rare moments. And when these happen, we are changed, we are treasured, we are made complete. We are blessed with God’s love! Our Lord is a champion, in fact, He is “The Champion”! We come from Him, we are made in His name, so therefore we have every potential to be a champ like Him! This is how we honor His kingship! We set our lives to inspire and to declare to all that He is good and He is God! The Seminar reinforces this truth, it is powerful, it is a gift! –
Kathlene Agcaoili, Team Manager, Expert Global Solutions
Thank you Fr. Robleza for reminding us the key points and pearls on how to face the challenges of an imperfect relationship to be a perfect one. Surely through the Code of Champions, we, us couple will empower our relationship. God bless you Fr!
Drs. Richard and Johanna Castro
The Code of Champions seminar was a great reminder of what kind of person each one of us should be. More than the engaging speaker (which Father truly is), the lessons were valuable. His book reminds me of the book Ten Golden Values where effective anecdotes drove the case in point perfectly. We love the talk. Definitely learned and relearned a lot. 🙂
Marc and Rain Ayende, Sitel/GMA 7