Alleluia, The Lord is Risen!

Alleluia, The Lord is Risen!

The most important event in Christendom is the Resurrection, without which, there would be no Christianity to speak of. For the unbelievers, they doubt that this event ever happened, and make up stories telling that there is no resurrection. The Apostle St. John the Beloved shares today’s Gospel from an eyewitness point of view, one that was present together with Peter and the women disciples. He was given the task of taking care of the Blessed Mother, he was there when Jesus died, he was there when Jesus body was taken down from the cross. On the first Easter, he was there to see the linen cloth, the empty tomb.

The happenings of Holy Week are events of contrasts. During the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the crowd was with Jesus, only to turn their backs on him when he was brought to Pilate. The Apostles must have felt so lost, after having a “savior” in their midst. They’ve just lost a teacher, mentor, companion, and friend — they were convinced He was the Messiah, but there was nothing after that. Jesus is dead, lying in the tomb. No, there was no army to rescue Him; he died like most human beings.

Just like the tomb, the Apostles descended into the darkness of confusion and anxiety. They denied Jesus, and so is the all of creation. From the crowd to the nails, the wooden cross, the hammer, the hatred, the pains, etc., all were one in condemning our Lord and Savior. Aside from the physical pain, more heavy for Jesus to carry are the psychological and emotional pains. Everyone, including you and me at the present time, conspired to crucify Jesus. These times the darkness fills us, just like the tomb used to encase the battered body of the Savior.

We also live in that emptiness. From the time our first parents Adam and Eve fell into sin, we’ve lived in darkness. We’ve been encased in a similar tomb, sealed and there is no light. Sometimes we experience things that send us into this brink and we feel the walls are closing in on us.

It gets darker. You live in the dark, empty tomb of heartaches and you know there is an end to this. You long for the light.

Easter shows us this light. It is truly hard to fathom and understand. But we simply have to trust and let the Lord take that stone that is blocking us. Sometimes we’ll again find ourselves in the same tomb, but as long as we keep on searching for the light, for the Savior, we know He will come to help us out, and have new life. And there He will be in all His glory!

Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad! (Ps. 118: 24)

My Lord, Thank You!

At this morning’s breakfast, I was greeted with news that brought forth sad emotions: an infant was left at the front porch of the clinic across our home. An infant left in the cold, by most probably the mother, for reasons unknown to us only she and God knows. The accompanying dangers you know. As my daughter Alexa discussed those, I mentioned the mother may have done a Miriam (hiding somewhere in the bushes watching) to ensure no danger happens until someone picks up the baby). Knowing things like this on a Good Friday is still so disheartening to say the least.

In these past two days liturgy, the Gospel readings tell us of the all too familiar events comprising the Passion and Death of our Lord and Savior. The message has always been the same throughout: all the acts that He has done (and is still continuously doing), is for you and me. Every act of God is an act of love and mercy.

On Holy Thursday, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the most important of the legacies that Christ left us. Imagine the Church without the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Without its strong foundation in the Holy Eucharist, it will crumble, it can’t survive the wrath of the ages. The homilist said that when we create a tasteful cake, there is a difference in the one who baked, and the resulting pastry. Regardless of who the chef is, the resulting taste and flavor tells it all. However, in the Holy Eucharist, the bread becomes His body, and the wine, His blood. A mystery so deep, but yet we submit and obey to His command of participating in it. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11: 26)

Unlike the mother who left the baby in the street, our Lord has and will never abandon us; it’s we who have always betrayed him. We reject him every time we sin, his Passion and Death replayed over and over again.

Will this Holy Week be just like any other holy week? Are we going to respond with firm conviction of believing and acting on this faith? Unlike the Apostles and other disciples, we are blessed with knowing what events come next after Good Friday.

May the quietness of the tomb allow us to eagerly anticipate with fervent hope of the forthcoming event still to unfold. May the Lord grant us the strength to resist falling over and over again.

The Call to Empty Ourselves

This Sunday, called Palm Sunday is the first day of the Holy Week. In the Gospel reading today, St. Luke gives us a glimpse of the Lord’s Passion. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul clarifies the divinity of Jesus right from the start. Unlike us, he wasn’t created in the image and likeness of God, because He is God (Phil. 2: 6). However, in his humility, he ‘emptied’ himself, took human form, and gave up heaven to be with us. He accepted the Father’s will, shared our pain, hunger, frustration, and humbled himself even to death on the cross. From being in the company of the Almighty and the endless praising of the Angels, Jesus just relied on prayer to connect to the Father. Aside from that, he went the extra mile: he came in the form of a slave and not as a powerful ruler. He came from a poor family, from the small village of Nazareth, and labored as a lowly carpenter in order to sustain himself. Truly unnecessary, but Jesus did it for us all.

Jesus gave up everything up there in heaven to get to earth, so that we from this earth will be redeemed and get the chance to go to heaven. He was hated by the chief priests and elders in order for us to learn compassion and understanding. He was condemned to death so that we could be saved. He was crucified so that we may have eternal life.

He ‘emptied’ himself for us. He paid for our sins and shortcomings.

The message of Palm Sunday is for us to follow Jesus’ example. He is asking us to choose service instead of being served. He is asking us to humble ourselves, safeguard Holy Mother Church, and care for the hungry, the poor, the needy, the oppressed and the marginalized in our society.

As we meditate on the unfolding events of Holy Week, may we make the statement of faith that Jesus, in his obedient suffering and dying, revealed to us as God’s Son and brought to fulfillment the Kingdom of God. May we learn to empty ourselves for others, so that we will fill our emptiness with His grace.

Unless We Repent

When I was in grade school, I broke a thermos bottle while playing one summer. I felt so bad because I know what I did was really a waste of money that could have been better spent for family needs. Knowing then that it’s expensive, I already thought of ways on how I can raise funds to buy a new bottle. It seemed impossible to achieve. However, I was surprised that Mom wasn’t all that mad and forgave me wholeheartedly. It was something I didn’t expect to happen easily.

Similarly, we find the loving and compassionate heart of Jesus quite hard to easily accept in today’s Gospel. The Fifth Sunday of Lent picks up from last Sunday’s Gospel, and that God showed the extent of His love in forgiving our sinfulness. Today though, we hear not a parable, but a story of an encounter between Jesus, the Scribes and Pharisees and a woman caught in adultery.

It seems too good to be true that God is so forgiving. It is like the kind of mercy a parent shows when they still believe in their child who has done great wrong (like me then!). Our Lord Jesus’ response to those who accuse the woman is like a warning to us about making a judgment on others. It is a lesson so compelling that we ought to remember we will also stand before God someday. It is so profound in meaning to remind us that as sinners we are all unworthy to judge others, knowing our very own sinfulness. And yet, Jesus, the one who is sinless, offers us mercy and forgiveness.

Let us start by looking at how we treat others at home, at work, and in the office. When we are hard on others, it’s because we are hard on ourselves and cannot really believe we are loved. It is said that the light of God’s mercy is so bright that “you can no longer see the stars that are our sins and faults”. Maybe this is another meaning to the statement of Jesus when he says that he is the “light of the world”.

This season, the Lord challenges us to sin no more and to live in God’s love and peace. Let us remember that unless we repent, it is not possible to be healed by Jesus’ redeeming blood on the cross without our own consent and cooperation.

IN SOLIDARITY

Our integrity showcase our external behaviors which are congruent to our internal principles. It is our personal choice to uphold ourselves and align it with our standards. It is important to note that we can not always control how we feel but we can always clothe ourselves and show compassion and consideration towards others.

Become New for God!

The season of Lent presents us a hopeful challenge, which is to become a new creation for God. Our earthly pilgrimage is a beautiful journey but is also filled with difficulties. Daily we are confronted with choices between good and evil; choosing between hanging on to our faith, or engaging in pleasure without conscience, and without being responsible to others.

Today’s Sunday Gospel speaks of the Prodigal Son, one of the readings we are all too familiar with. This story reminds us of the extreme and forgiving love of the Father, who went beyond society’s norms in those times in order to meet head-on his long lost son, to celebrate his return. A big party was organized to celebrate the reconciliation of the son with his father, his God, his family and community. This shows us the depth of the father’s love and mercy. Yet while this banquet is being celebrated, Jesus reminds us to avoid self-righteousness by presenting the elder brother, who complained and compared himself with the repentant sibling. The father’s appreciation of the loyalty and faithfulness of the older son didn’t decrease his love and mercy for the younger son. The self-righteous son however, failed to fathom the depth of his father’s love and mercy.

Our familiarity with this Gospel shouldn’t make us overlook its very powerful message. Becoming new for God is indeed what we need to do every moment of our lives, but most especially in this season of Lent.

We therefore have to return to our Heavenly Father with repentant hearts, and to experience fully the Holy Mass as it presents us with the opportunity to move from sinfulness to reconciliation with the Father.

As prodigal children, we have hurt our Heavenly Father with what’s happening around us. Poverty, hunger, abortion, graft and corruption, greed, and the like are common. These are happening because we have lived lives squandering the wealth that the Father has provided us. We need to return home and reconcile with Him.

In all humility, let us accept the reality that we are sinful, but ready to receive God’s mercy, and to experience the Living Jesus in the Holy Eucharist as a loving and forgiving God.

“In my misfortune I called, the Lord heard and saved me from all distress.” (Ps. 34: 7)

GETS THE JOB DONE

Happy people inspire people. Inescapably, we spread our light or shadow on the lives we touch. Our persistence is a consistent trait and gets the job done. We keep our duties sacred. Look back and check if the people in your workplace or community find you reliable.