Hail To The King!

The good fight of faith goes on. It’s not one that’s simple but one that is of cosmic proportions. And yet while we can say this is one that is generally looked at as one between good and evil, there is no limitation on what the enemy does just to win souls over to the dark side. Despair, hopelessness and worries are among the openings that the enemy look at as opportunities to win people over. That’s why we have to be mindful of how we react to these threats of faith.

Just today, the sister of a colleague underwent surgery for an ailment that happened so fast she had to be rushed to the hospital. Yesterday, her brother and I were talking about how irritants and minor disruptions seem to be manifesting more around us as of late. We agreed that we have to be more prayerful and look at these as moments to increase our faith and trust more in the God that is the Ruler of the Universe.

While these events are happening, time is just zooming by and today is already the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, and the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Isn’t it awesome and timely given the “threats” happening lately? I can’t help it but rejoice as it overshadows the sense of sadness over what’s happening lately among people close to us and their loved ones. We are joyful that the Lord is reassuring us again and again that for as long as we see Him with the eyes of faith, we’ll be alright.

Casting these distractions aside, it is important to take time to reflect on this title given to Jesus Christ, The “King of the Universe”. In the Gospel (Jn. 18: 33B-37), St. John brings us to the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. Caiaphas and the high priests have charged Jesus with a political crime, one that if proven guilty would get a punishment of death.

So Pilate said to him, Then you are a king? Jesus answered, You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

If you’ve noticed, truth is the recurring theme being emphasized in St. John’s Gospel as we focus on the conclusion of the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate. People whose faith is deep, believe in the truth that Jesus Christ is King and Savior. His might and power is hidden from many, especially on those who existed during His time on earth. Only those chosen and those who have the eyes of faith are able to see this truth. As followers of Jesus, we are not perfect though as we also struggle at times to recognize Jesus as King whenever we sin and fail Him.

At the start of the school year during the coating ceremonies of my daughter before she entered Medical Clerkship, the Dean of the School said that they are “doctors but not yet”. I remembered this because in today’s Mass, the Celebrant mentioned about the dual nature of the Kingdom of God: 1) Something yet to come (eschatological), and 2) “Now”. “Already but not yet”. It’s deep and thought-provoking but for me it isn’t a mystery that needs to be solved, only to be believed and lived.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God,
the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rv. 1: 5-8)

In his book, “Kim.2”, Fr. Armand mentioned that in our search for happiness, the question is not “Are you a happy person?” but “Are your people happy with you?” The search for happiness and meaning is not really about how we become fulfilled but in our ability to make other people feel about what might be possible when one lives a life of faith in the Lord. Our ability to live the Kingdom of God in the present will be shown in how we become men and women for others. We have to make others experience God’s love so that in doing so, we bring to others the God’s Kingdom in the now.

Let us pray that the Lord grant us the ability to increase some more our faith, that we proclaim more strongly with the life we live that Jesus through His Crucifixion and Death, is indeed the King of the Universe.

The LORD is King; He is robed in majesty.’ (Ps. 93: 1a)

He Is Near!

One officemate is in the hospital combatting a sickness, friends are challenged in their jobs, while others speak of bad luck and misfortunes. The past days have been quite challenging to most that one faithful follower of the Lord just said that despite all these let us pray more and be hopeful that we persevere till the end.

In the Gospel (Mk 13: 24-32), the Lord speaks about the end of days and His Second Coming. He tells that “in those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the Heavens will be shaken.

There must be some confusion among the disciples as the Lord hasn’t even clarified how things will turn out with the First Coming. As it was in their time, so it is with ours. Day in and day out, the same problems we encounter, the same challenges re-surface. If your faith is weak, then all these become heavy burdens, anxieties prevail, and miseries seem piling up higher and higher.

We know that the disciples experienced Jesus Passion, Death and Resurrection, and then they must have remembered the Lord telling them, “Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”

They must have patiently waited, they did their mission work, then they died, and yet the “Second Coming” didn’t literally come to pass.

So, what is Jesus telling? He is exhorting us to be ready at all times:

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk. 21: 36)

More importantly, Jesus wants us to be prepared as nobody knows, except God the Father:

But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

He doesn’t want you to waste your life but eventually be “… an everlasting horror and disgrace.”

When we are facing difficulties and challenges, we shouldn’t waver in our faith. It may appear that the Lord hasn’t answered our prayers but my take is that we should trust Him all the more. I think and believe that those times we feel abandoned are critical in that those instances may spell the difference between salvation and eternal damnation. Distrusting and losing hope is a sign that we are losing faith in God, thus may be the instance that we’ve abandoned Him and gone astray. Thus, the more we feel we are alone, the stronger we should cling to the Lord. As the Gospel tells us,

“He spoke to them of the signs taking the lesson from the fig tree, such that “when you see these things happening, know that He is near, at the gates”.

He is near, not in the flesh (except during Mass in the Holy Eucharist), but in His Holy Spirit. So, be careful! Whatever is happening with you, just believe that this is the enemy’s way of bringing you over to the dark side. Remember that these tests are temporary,

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Jesus is telling us that whatever sufferings you are experiencing here, or, whatever happiness you are enjoying now are fleeting and will not stand the tests of time. Only His words will.

Have faith!

Let us pray that the Lord grant us the strength to persevere and to endure the long wait. May the Holy Spirit make us become more aware of His presence, His love and His peace.

You are my inheritance, O Lord!’

Make Me Be Your Heart

God will never be outdone in generosity. He always pays you back and with much more.

Way back in college, one of my best friends introduced me to devotions that I still carry on today. He introduced me to the devotion to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Señor Santo Niño de Cebú. He isn’t only generous in sharing on matters of faith, he is also in giving time and material things. He comes from a rich Chinese family and was one of those classmates blessed with a car while still in school, which he more than willingly and graciously shared with us then. Whenever our going home time coincided, he would always offer to drive me, no matter how out of the way it was. So much so that there were several times that I pretended to stay in the library even if it’s already time to go, just so that he not be inconvenienced. That’s how this friend is so generous with everything he has, even while we were struggling students with futures still uncertain. Up to now, he remains a loyal and great friend to me and to our other brothers in the community.

In the Gospel (Mk. 12: 38-44), Jesus made a commentary to His disciples on the generosity of the poor widow, who gave everything that she had, compared to the rich people who gave what were their excesses:

Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The path to discipleship will also entail a lot of challenges, trials and difficulties. Sometimes we even question “why” we experience certain events that require sacrifices and discomfort. Yet we know Jesus has told us that if we love Him, we have to carry our cross and follow Him. Following the Lord requires a tremendous amount of trust because the journey takes us into a lot of uncertainties and unexpected places. This requires us to yield our comfort zones. The fact is, we cannot say with certainty that we love God with everything that we are unless we trust Him — fully.

Actually, when we trust Him fully, there’s no more limit to our loving and caring because this is what God is: absolutely loving and genuinely caring.

The difficulty may be that Jesus doesn’t set limits to how we love others. It is inclusive: it means loving including those who are difficult to love. If this is difficult to do, there is no other perfect example than the Lord Himself, who handled these remarkably in His time. He did this out of genuine love and obedience for the Heavenly Father. The Scriptures is rich with stories of love that Jesus showed to others, including those who persecuted Him.

If it is so heavy to do, just be consoled that your dependence on God will help you, comfort you, and fix your brokenness. Just like the widow of Zarephath in the First Reading (1 Kgs. 17: 10-16), you can be assured that whatever kindness you share to others out of love, God will make sure that your “jar of flour will not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry”.

I’m grateful to the Lord for blessing me with great friends who are fellow pilgrims who share themselves unselfishly in this life journey. While I don’t think I deserve God’s awesome goodness, He just won’t allow Himself to be outdone. I credit it also to the goodness of my parents and their respective families for God’s blessings and graces to flow through to me. Surely God isn’t outdone even up to now and still counting!

Let us pray that the Lord grant us the grace to be His heart in loving and caring for others.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (cf. Mt. 5:3)

Short Note

In all my life, I always keep a short note of the important details whenever I travel, read books, watch real life movies or the like. These notes are particularly useful whenever I share insights with others, or simply when giving a talk or speech. The short notes give a quick memory aid in recalling important details that I want to remember.

A similar instance is read in today’s Gospel (Mk. 12: 28B-34), when one of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:

Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This Gospel takes prime importance in the fact that loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength is the greatest commandment. But Jesus didn’t stop at that, and goes on with the second most important, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

Jesus summed up the commandments simply and yet the impact is huge and complex as well. It is important to point out that unless you love God first, you cannot love your neighbor. When you love God with all that you are, this love translates into a closer communion with God, which allows us to freely flow His love to others. Only when you love God can that love overflow into other relationships. And, you can’t say that you love God, who is invisible, without loving others who you can see, touch and feel!

When we look at the love of neighbor as an effect of the overflow of your love for God, this second Commandment takes on a clearer meaning.  The Lord doesn’t only say to love your neighbor, He further says to love “as yourself.” How do we love oneself? Simply by loving God! We just have to remember that we are made to love God and be with Him in our Heavenly home someday. Loving God is not for God, who is already perfect, but for us so that we become one with Him and achieve our deepest purpose and meaning in life. Thus, loving God is the best way to love oneself. There’s no other way.

Loving your neighbor comes naturally when you love God. That love just flows naturally without our noticing it. As said earlier, when you love yourself, this love manifests in how you care and love others. Indeed, other than it is the easiest way to prove that you love God, it is also the best manifestation of your inner love for God.

Then there’s no better way of loving our neighbor than bringing them to God. Thus, enabling our neighbor to have an intimate relationship with the Lord by becoming their link to Him is one of those noble achievements that we can ever have in this life. The reward will be like no other as God has promised.

Finally, let us reflect on the times that we have been the image of God’s love to others. If our love for God consumes our life, this love will surely overflow to others like the abundant waterfalls of the mountains. Love for God is contagious, it will reflect and show in how we relate with others in our day-to-day living. When our zeal for the Lord is total, there’s simply no way to contain this.

Let us pray then that we don’t forget this short but relevant note that we received through the Gospel today.

Let us pray that we become effective links of God to others: that we become better messengers of God’s infinite love to others in the simple things that we do every day.

Let us pray that God will bless us with the strength and the joy to show and tell the world of His love all the days of our life.

Whoever loves Me will keep My word, says the Lord; and My Father will love him and We will come to him.’ (cf. Jn. 14: 23)