THAT LASTING BEAUTY

Be true to yourself and your principles. Remain humble in spite of your achievements in life. You are someone who people look up to and admire, someone of great influence to others. Having that genuine care for your constituents is a stepping stone in building strong connections with them. Give utmost unconditional love & care. People will remember you for what you’ve done through your actions, just like the saying, “actions speak louder than words.”

Answering the Call to Follow Jesus!

At any time in our life, we are always confronted with two opposing choices: we either choose to be with the Spirit, or go with the desires of the flesh. In today’s Second Reading, St. Paul exhorts us to “…live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.

For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal. 5:16-18).

That is why in the continuing daily struggle between good and evil, we are always confronted with the choice, “Who should we obey, the Spirit, or the flesh? These options cut across all areas of our life, as all of us possess a great number of virtues and gifts. We strive to be caring, kind, generous, selfless, loving, patient, and so on. At the same time, we can also be greedy, arrogant, angry, deceptive, lustful, lazy, jealous, and so on. As the National Fellowship of Catholic Men said, ‘We all have habits that are sinful and that need to be “cut off” and virtuous impulses that we need to “put on” more and more.’

When we are called to follow Christ, we have to realize that indecisiveness is already a choice for the flesh. We do that usually when we’re already in our comfort zones; we want it easy, so we don’t make any decision. Indecisiveness is indirectly a decision not to go the way of the high road, as it speaks of laziness and even non-commitment to Jesus’ calling. In this 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus calls us to follow Him and proclaim the Kingdom of God. We have the option to either accept His calling, or reject Him. “Who will I listen to more, the Spirit? or the flesh? If I’m having difficulties, how will I decide? As we grow in faith and love for Jesus, we gain insights on how our Lord would handle difficult circumstances. We eventually discern the will of God through the Holy Spirit working in our thoughts and actions. However, we’d need to spend time in prayer, the Eucharist and Scriptures. We need to do that in order to guard this love for things of Heaven as if it were a valuable pearl in our possession.

The moment we do this consistently, we are winning the battle without our realizing it. We become more and more like Jesus, and reflect Him to others. In so doing, we are already proclaiming the Kingdom of God by the fine example we show to others.

PERSEVERE

Let’s live our lives in a way that leads to the pursuit of our goals. No matter how long it takes to achieve them, all it takes is perseverance.

The welfare of our loved ones will motivate and compel us to be dedicated to the cause. We become fully involved and this calls for constant action which ultimately is a hard habit to break.

Nod to Christ!

In the on-going NBA finals, it is common to behold a sea of California Golden Yellow when in the Oracle Arena, the home court of the Golden State Warriors, while one can see a flood of wine and gold, when in the Quicken Loans Arena, the home court of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wearing the team colors brings with it pride and energy — pride of where one belongs, and energy for the athlete(s) competing in the sports. The same can be said of our faith; we also like to be associated with being followers of Christ, especially in a country like ours where the majority are Christians. In this Sunday’s Gospel, the disciples had the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, after Peter, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, proclaimed him as “The Messiah of God”. The Lord directed them not to tell anyone, then told them of his forthcoming Passion, Death and Resurrection:

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Lk. 9: 23-24)

These words are very important to us and to all followers of Christ. For us to be effective disciples of Jesus, we must strive to be able to reflect him in our lives. Sinners that we are, with God’s grace, he empowers us with his grace and mercy. The last few weeks made me feel good, you know why? Prior to the May 9 elections, it’s very common seeing politicians taking the business section (with taxpayers money I suppose) while flying within Philippine destinations.

Lately though, it is very noticeable that all of them in the same flights that I’ve taken so far, have travelled on the economy section. Coincidence? Nah. They’ve taken the lead of the incoming leader. As Fr. Ely said, “Our action precedes our essence.” The real way to leadership is by example, not by rhetoric. Whenever we want to lead, we should show the way. There’s really no need to tell our followers how to do it, let’s show it how. Jesus is the perfect example. He matched his words with action.

We only need to listen to him and follow his example. Our action precedes our essence.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10: 27)

SELFIE NO MORE

Make life worth living for people around us. No matter what we are going through, it is our responsibility to be engaged and remain enthusiastic to what life offers. The cross we bear is not for ourselves but for the people around us. There is no room for a selfie. Embrace your cross and be involved.

REPENTANCE AND FAITH

We are all sinners, but God loves us nonetheless. Despite of the severity of our sins, God has chosen to forgive us. It’s up to us to accept it by our own authentic repentance.
In this Sunday’s readings we are like the fallen King David, and the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet. David took part in the murder of Uriah the Hittite, when after sleeping with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife; David sent him to the frontlines to get him killed, in an act of adultery and murder. This story is one of those that tell us how evil a man can get, just to satisfy his desires. However, David repented deeply and was forgiven by God. On the other hand, the woman who wept at the feet of Jesus was sinful and was known by many as such. Her faith in God led her to seek forgiveness for her sins, and because she realized how much she was forgiven, she in her own way also tried to overwhelm the Lord with her affection. Like David, we should take comfort in the Lord’s promise to rescue us from sin and death, and anointed us in Baptism and in Confirmation. His promise to the children of Israel has made us heirs of the Kingdom too. However, we often fail to realize the great love of God and squander His gift of salvation. Often we are unfaithful to our being sons and daughters of God.
The good news is that God has provided us the the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a means to return back to Him. We should take comfort that like what Jesus has said to the woman, He will also tell us “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Lk. 7: 48, 50). Our faith that tells us that no matter how sinful we are, if we come to God in genuine repentance and contrition, we will get His pardon and mercy. Just like what God did to King David and to the sinful woman. We shouldn’t be judgmental on others and even on ourselves. We can’t go astray just because we think God won’t forgive us. We should never doubt Jesus’ power to convert even the worst of sinners, like the Pharisee, who doubtful that he was; was also being self-righteous and scornful. May we be grateful to the Lord for forgiving our sins. May we try to live by faith for God and for God alone. Nothing else suffices. Serving the Lord will be appreciated by Him, regardless of who we are, and where we are. Only love for God, filled with hope and faithfulness is required. “I confess my faults to the Lord, and you took away the guilt of my sins.” (Ps. 32: 5)

WORD OF THANKS

Behind the silence of the teachers yesterday, was their honesty why they are present in this retreat. If only you were given the opportunity to speak with them individually, few might have said they are present because they were required; some might have said they are longing for spiritual nourishment while others who are embraced by their pride and selfishness secretly hold back their hunger for enlightenment so they could find a spark to light their humility and serve others. Nevertheless, we surely went back this morning not because of attendance nor directive but because we agreed to bring out and awaken the Champion in us.

Fr. A, we were somehow the lost lamb when we came, but when you started your opening salvo, we started seeing the direction towards home. You showed the sun to our dark horizon. We found not just the mirage but the precious and amazing oasis in our desert. Thank you very much. As teachers, this retreat touched our limbic brains and encouraged us to make adjustments so our students could claim us as the rockstar of their lives.

The road to being Champion may be challenging. As humans, we have emotions like any other that could test the solidity of our faith. But life has it’s own enchantment. That’s why you came. Thank you, for generously sharing the six secrets of living a life with no regret. The code of a Champion.

Holy Family Academy Faculty, Angeles City, Pampanga