It is Important that We Know Our Role

When we were still in our teenage years, experiencing anxieties and uncertainties were common, mostly due to unnecessary worries about our future. We want to get things done fast, in our curiosity to know who we will eventually become. We want to finish school in a hurry, do business or get employment fast, as we’re impatient to be somebody, someday. We’re living in a culture of speed and impatience that we want all things to happen in a snap of a finger.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples what he is to others. The disciples replied,

“Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Mt. 16: 13b-15)

Then Jesus asks his disciples who they believe that he is. Simon Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v. 16) Jesus commends Simon Peter for this declaration of faith, telling him “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” Then Jesus calls him the “rock” upon which the Church will be built. This bold admission of Peter’s faith in Jesus set the tone for his role, one that is for his leadership in God’s Church, literally the first among the disciples.

Each of us has a unique role in the mission of Our Lord Jesus and His Church. We may not be as prominent as Peter who became the first among a long line of popes, but our role is both unique and necessary to God’s plan for humanity. We are all pieces of the God’s complex jigsaw; though each of us may feel irrelevant and small, but really uniquely essential.

Peter’s understanding of his mission may have been so vague and unclear on the day Jesus told him he was to be the foundation on which the Lord would build his Church. It must have taken many years for Peter to develop some understanding of those words. Yet as the Church grew, Peter fulfilled his mission patiently by doing the tasks that prayer and discernment revealed him day-by-day. He was not told everything at the start, yet his trust and faith in the Savior opened up the tasks that he must fulfill as the leader of God’s Church.

How about us? Have we understood our role in God’s plan for the world? Like Peter, we should ask Jesus in prayer and in faith, every day, to help us fulfill our part of His mission. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the daily events of our lives to slowly reveal to us what we have been called for. Our assignment is part of our uniqueness as a person, hence we shouldn’t compare ourselves with others. When we know what we’re tasked to do, we will experience deep fulfillment and inner peace, which only comes from submission to His will for our lives.

“Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Ps. 138 : 8bc)

Being Jesus to Others

Up to now, I’m still savoring the Lord’s assurance last week: “Don’t worry, it is I.” For the 386 times the Holy Book mentions “Do not be afraid” — as if it’s not enough assurance from the Lord — He tells us that having faith will unlock the blessings that we long for. Or the fervent prayers that we obtain our innermost desires out of His goodness and mercy. Especially those petitions we believe is really good for us.

In the Gospel, the Canaanite woman (the Canaanites are generally looked down upon by the Jewish people) comes to Jesus with a deep faith, asking for help for her daughter, possessed by a demon. Jesus challenges her resolve by saying:

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

And then:

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Such was her faith — very deep enough to convince Jesus to give her desperation, her heart’s hopelessness.

If you reflect on the reading, the Canaanite woman was actually very mournful, like telling Jesus, “What I am asking is nothing to you but everything to me”. Jesus could have persisted with his position that he was “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” but her need and her desperation allowed Jesus to go beyond His limits (of His mission’s scope) to respond with generosity.

Loving others is not the love of family, or the love of friends, but the love of enemies. These are the people who are exactly that — unlovable — as we label them to be. This condition is exactly what it is: “loving until it hurts”. The Canaanite woman provides a different look at how we view compassion and generosity. We tend to give to others our excesses, which cost us almost nothing; and yet this could mean the world to them!

The Lord is the God of all. As Champions, we have a duty to embrace others in this world who may be different from ourselves, to respect and love them, especially our enemies.

So the next time we see a little girl in the street selling Sampaguita leis, an elderly needing help on something, presence in our child’s piano recital, or whatever; let us remember Jesus’ challenge. Let us be aware and reflect on those seeking our help: Are they the Canaanite women of our lives, hoping for us to share something which is not important to us but everything to them?

“O God, let all the nations praise you!” (Ps. 67: 4)

Breakfast of Champions

Good morning!

• You must have tried lots of strategies, yet, why are some people in your organization content with being deadweights?
• Are you at a loss in handling millenials in your workforce?
• Can you give a determined yes to this question: Do I inspire people in my workplace?

Every once in a while, answers pop up, mentors appear, inspiring insights are revealed. Allow us to invite you to listen to one inspiring speaker: a Salesian priest, an educator, an artist, a visionary, and a champion leader, Fr. Armand D. Robleza, SDB. He has authored many award-winning books including the CODE OF CHAMPIONS wherein he defines “Champions as meek people who inspire others with the passion that matters to them”.

Join Fr. Armand and his team from SOULBYDESIGN, INC. over breakfast on September 14, 2017, Thursday, 7:00-11:00 a.m. at Bohol Room of EDSA Shangri-la Plaza Manila. Registration starts at 7am. Savor a bite of the six secrets of living with no regrets. Cap your morning coffee with the million-dollar question: what happens to a genuinely happy person?

Investment for this valuable 4-hour session is only Php2,900 which includes already your hearty breakfast meal.

To register to this gathering, you may call 846 9865 / 0917 5034378 Madz Nayve or email us at soulbydesign@yahoo.com

See you there.

God’s Signature

The past week our fellow kababayans experienced fear and anxiety when news that North Korea’s military is “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around the US territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles. CNN reported that specifically, the statement mentioned a potential strike on Andersen Air Force Base designed “to send a serious warning signal to the US.” In the local front, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake shook Nasugbu town in Batangas and other areas in Luzon Friday afternoon.

These are stories and events that evoked fear and anxiety amongst people in Asia and the Pacific, more so that there have been terrifying events happening lately as well. Similarly, the Gospel tells of the story when Jesus walked towards the disciples on the sea, and “they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Mt. 14: 26-27)

Many times in our Christian life we have been reminded that as long as we have faith, we don’t have to worry or fear, as the Lord will be there to protect us. It comes with the assurance, “It is I”, which is akin to the signature of God.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the interpretations of the phrase “I Am that I Am”, (which is another way of saying it) is found in numbers 203-213.

Specifically, in 206,

“In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (“I AM HE WHO IS”, “I AM WHO AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is – infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the “hidden God”, his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.”

In our journey of faith, the steps we take progressively become difficult and there are times we ran out of momentum such that we take a dip. Challenges in the form of difficulties on the road we take, critics that appear from the unexpected places, and our energies suddenly seem insufficient to carry us through, really bring us down to the ground. We feel the force of the wind and the courage that prompted us to start the journey can be clouded in doubt and darkness.

Yet it is in these low points of our life that the Lord challenges us to make the real act of faith, without the momentum and enthusiasm that propelled us to begin our journey. We have to remember that just like in Peter’s case, amidst doubt and fear, Jesus responded promptly to help in his distress. Let us remember that “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter”. (Mt. 14: 31)

So the next time we experience distress, let us remember that “it is the Lord”, who said, “do not be afraid.” And He signed it to give us His promise and guarantee.

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” (Ps. 85: 8)

Our Transfiguration

I remember someone close who, when I was still in my grade school years, asked me to beg off from attending Mass with my family because “Heaven is already here on earth”. Young as I was then, I’d question myself why my parents would always insist going to Sunday Mass together as a family rather than individually. I would have preferred to go Mass on my own convenient time, had my late Dad not stomped his foot down every time I brought up the idea. Years later, the person close to us was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the brain, and of course, we were deeply saddened by the news. Yet a transformation happened: he humbled himself before God, went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation several times, and spent his remaining earthly days in prayer and gratitude to the Lord. While it was sad, it was also a happy experience despite the pain of losing a friend who was then astray, but was led back into the fold before he departed. How the Lord ensures that we are given second chances!

The Feast of the Transfiguration is an event that Jesus provided His three closest Apostles Peter, James and John a preview of His Glory to strengthen their faith and eventually prepare them for the coming Passion, Death and the Resurrection.

Without the Transfiguration, it may have been very, very difficult for the disciples to undergo trials and suffering. Climbing the high mountain was in itself an ordeal, but it was well worth it in the end. They may not have lasted long, and may not have given up all that they had, but Jesus made sure they know what the mission is all about.

At times, we are so filled-up with worries about our ministries and obligations, yet we forget that Jesus is the reason for everything: it’s not about us looking how good we are doing our assignments, but it is really more on what the Lord wants us to do and learn from it too. We have to pray and listen to Him more, and allow the Lord’s light to illumine our souls, remembering that this is God’s work; we are only His vessels and ministers.

Real change and transformation happen more on the inside of us than outside. Change for the worse is really very easy, yet in the end, it is worthless and may even be tragic for us. On the other hand, change for goodness is very difficult, but it is much better and well worth it.

Like the Apostles, may we be enlightened by the Lord with an everlasting light that would allow us to see beyond earthly pains and sorrows, and into the majesty of God’s Power and Heavenly Glory.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt. 17: 5C)