Sharing in Christ’s Mission

There are days that we feel confused on what to do, what to write, and even on the little things. Even when we think about it, the words are hard to come by, the thoughts hard to organize. This is the time that we have to let the heart move our hands so that rhythm can be restored, inspiration can be summoned, the Spirit’s wisdom can be discerned. Just like the Church, we need the guidance on how things are in relation to God’s Word. We cannot just interpret the Word as we like, we have to ensure we are guided and discerned by the Holy Spirit of God. This is when we need the Church to shepherd us through the rough seas and storms that we have to navigate in this life.

In the First Reading (Nehemiah 8:2-4a,5-6,8-10) The prophet Ezra reads from the book of the Law and interprets it for all the people old enough to understand. Many times we need the guidance of elders and superiors who help in our journey. Ezra read from the book of the law of God, and interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. This is when we need the Holy Spirit to guide the Church who will lead us well. St. Paul explains in the Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:12-30), that the people of God are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. Saying, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

The Word and the Body of Christ are now announced by Jesus as a continuation of Israel’s prophetic tradition. Jesus announced His ministry as the focal point in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21) when He reads from the scroll handed to Him; it contains the words of the prophet Isaiah. What is momentous in this event is that this defines Jesus ministry,

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.

The Lord Jesus not only announces God’s salvation; He also brings this power about in His person. He is not an ordinary prophet, He is the Christ, the “Anointed One” filled with the Spirit of God. The Kingdom of God is now at hand, even at this time more than 2,000 years after the Lord walked this earth. It is made present through power of the Holy Spirit so that the Kingdom of God can be fulfilled.

To continue the saving ministry of Jesus, we are invited to do our share in bringing glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, healing to the sick, and freedom to the oppressed. We definitely can’t do these on our own as the thought alone overwhelms. We have to follow the leadings and guidance of the Spirit, with which the Church continues the saving mission of Jesus. By the Spirit’s power, we will prevail, we will succeed, we will be victorious!

May we therefore have the courage to say “Here I am Lord, I will go Lord!”

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Lk. 4: 18)

The Father’s House

The Church in the Philippines has a special permission to reserve one Sunday just to celebrate the Feast of the Child Jesus—the Santo Niño. The readings give us an opportunity to get to know Jesus as a child. 

In the Gospel (Lk. 2: 41-52) after Mary and Joseph completed the celebration of the Feast of the Passover, they returned and journeyed for a day before discovering that Jesus was not in the caravan with them. They returned to Jerusalem to look for him for three days and found him in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.” When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother 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?”

In the beginning, Jesus already knew His identity. That’s why He stayed behind in the Temple even when it’s time to go home. He wasn’t lost at that time. Jesus claimed it with confidence and certainty when He said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

How about you, do you know that you are God’s child?

Also, Jesus knew His mission. He was already clear about what He should be doing while in this world. This should be the same with us. If you haven’t found your purpose in life, it’s time to think seriously about it. Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” 

Finally, Jesus teaches us to be obedient: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them...”

Knowing our purpose isn’t enough. There has to be both a spirituality and obedience to the will of God. After your conversion, you have that responsibility to be in the “Father’s house”, just like Jesus.

In this Feast of the Sto. Niño, let us pray that we may be reminded of our identity as sons and daughters of the Father. May we know and fulfill our mission and calling in life. May this knowledge make us bow down in humility and become obedient to God.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Any who did accept Him, He empowered to become children of God.” (Jn 1:14.12)

Be A Light

Many years ago when I was being sent on an errand by my Lola, I found a one-peso coin along the way. Upon returning home I told her about it and she said, “This is not ours, let’s give it to Church when we go to Mass.” Young and immature I was then, I felt dismayed that something that I found and could buy some candies is to be given elsewhere. But later, that lesson struck me about the values of being honest and trustworthy. Do not get what is not yours. Values that should be at the core of our being. Being endowed with honesty and trustworthiness stem from a deeply-seated humility and nobility of character. Not many are given that gift though, as it comes from a purposive and well-thought of behavior brought out by many years of learning and submission to authority. My Lola is a prime example as she has nurtured these values in her children and grandchildren (who have the blessing and opportunity to be guided and taught by her in our growing up years). She never took for granted the chance to teach us whenever situations were presented. And we are grateful to her for it.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 3: 15-16, 21-22), we can see one of the perfect models of trustworthiness and humility in Scriptures, St. John the Baptist. When the time came that he was asked if Jesus is the Messiah, his classic reply is one filled with obedience and humility:


“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

St. John lived his calling faithfully and without any selfish interest whatsoever. True he was popular and had many followers that’s why many were filled “with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”

There are many cases wherein people who have been entrusted betrayed their friends and benefactors. People like Judas Iscariot, spies, corrupt politicians and officials, come to mind as among these kind of people. When we sin, we become like them. It’s not about education nor about being with a certain religion. There are many professed Catholics who betray their faith by being unfaithful in their positions. Nobody is perfect, but what makes it more serious is when you don’t acknowledge, repent and mend your ways. Thus, it is something that is drawn from natural and moral laws that is almost always common sense. It takes strength of character, wisdom, and fear of the Lord to overcome the temptations to abuse power and wealth. When you fail, have the humility to accept it and repent before God and Church. When one has these virtues, it’s almost always automatic that that person is endowed with integrity. Sad to say, this is lacking today.

When you are a person obedient to faith, without blinking an eye you can present God to others without fear and worry. You know yourself and as well as the source of your power and strength. You don’t derive it from people and earthly power. It’s something powerful and out-of-this-world. You know that God is with you and won’t fail you.

After Jesus’ Baptism, God the Father affirmed “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Just like Our Lord, due to grace received at our baptism we are acknowledged by God as His sons and daughters. Thus considering most of us received Baptism when we were still infants, we have this obligation to learn, nurture and spread the faith. As parents, ask yourselves, “Have you done your obligation to teach your children what our faith is all about?” Have you taught them morality and in building principles and values in their lives? If you failed these roles, most probably these are the reasons why the world today is filled with dysfunctional men and women who persist in their ways.

Lately, Netflix released the movie “Noah” as an ambitious portrayal of the Biblical character descending from our first parents Adam and Eve. As the film portrayed, building the ark from “out of nothing” and a literally barren earth, Noah’s faith in the Creator (as the film calls God) was strong and unfailing. Despite threats from other men and to family unity, his obedience to the Creator prevailed and didn’t waver. His faith was strong and he was obedient.    

In this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, may we be obedient and faithful to our calling. May we have the strength to persevere and just like St. John the Baptist, offer everything that we have to God, whose honor, glory and power must “increase” while we “decrease” in faithful submission to Him. May we be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” (First Reading, Is. 42: 1-4, 6-7).

The Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Ps. 29: 11b)

Becoming a Light to Others

There are many messages and insights that today’s readings bring forth. The First Reading (Is. 60: 1-6) shows the author’s inspiration of an event that’s so deep and well-described. Through the darkness, “the light” and “glory of Yahweh rises” upon us. The dawn of God’s new day coming makes your “face radiant”, your “heart throbbing and full”. The Prophet Isaiah must have been so filled with the Holy Spirit when he wrote this. The words are not only powerful, they are also alive and penetrating to the core of one’s being as if describing experience singing in praise of Yahweh!

 

St. Paul in the Second Reading (Eph. 3:2-3a, 5-6) tells us that this new dawn is not only for the people of Israel but is also for the Gentiles as well. Today’s Gospel (Mt. 2: 1-12) talk about the adoration of the Magi — foreigners and pagans — who came all the way from the East to pay homage to the Christ Child. They were guided by a rising star, yet for the rich and powerful, as Herod was then, signals a threat to their dominion and power over others.

 

As the Gospel reminds us that if God permitted the Magi to recognize and give the Child Jesus proper respect as the “newborn King of Jews”, we should know that nothing in our lives, not even sin, can keep God from bringing us to Jesus. We are also being challenged to detach ourselves from our treasures and offer it to the New Star, the New Treasure, who is Christ the Lord. Just like the Magi, for as long as we have faith that is solid and “diamond hard”, surely we will overcome obstacles to find Jesus and bow down in humility and faith.

 

Let us pray that the Solemnity of the Epiphany inspire us to seek the Rising Star in all that we do, even at the cost of persecution and difficulties.

 

May we realize that faith and trust in the Lord is what matters the most in this dark and challenging world that we live in.

 

May we realize that whenever threatened by darkness and challenges, our faith in Jesus will guide us into a new direction where we choose a better way of living.

 

May we become a radiant light to others as the star led the Wise Men to Jesus, through our service, dedication and compassion to the least, the lost and the last.

 

We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage.’ (Mt. 2: 2)