All posts by Alan Sienes

Reflections by Alan Sienes on the Sunday's Gospel

Humility in Service

During my assignment in Nepal many years ago, I discovered how their religion (Hinduism) played a major role in how the locals see expatriates. One time during a heavy downpour, I can’t help it but feel pity on a young man who was dripping wet doing his job at moving bottles manually from one section of the factory line to another. He was practically trembling in the cold and so I went back to the Staff House to give him a shirt. Since it didn’t have impact on production, I also asked that work be suspended for a short while until the water coming through was contained. When the young man received the shirt, to my surprise, he knelt in front of me to kiss my feet. I backed off and told him he shouldn’t do that. His local supervisor, who was nearby, told me that it is alright as the man was expressing his gratitude for my kind gesture. (In their culture, the act of kissing feet is a way of telling that I’m like a god to him, thus the gesture of worship.) To which I replied that there is but one God in Heaven. The supervisor just nodded his head as he has already heard about Jesus from Filipinos posted in previous years. With the centuries-old caste system, this concept of a leader being a “servant” is quite strange for them.

In the Gospel (Mk. 10: 35-45) James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus explained that they don’t really know what they were asking. Eventually Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptizedbut to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 

After this lesson on humility and obedience to the will of God, the Gospel continued with underlying themes on leadership and service orientation, “… whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servantwhoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Servant Leadership is one philosophy that’s been talked often though not practiced that much. There are several interplaying factors facing a leader’s plate that’s why it is often set aside. Yet, it is actually about humility, passion and enthusiasm (Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, in his homily today). When one sets it as a model, he will practice doing it regardless of the circumstance. He will be attuned to the details such that his work is always meant to serve others. 

He is humble in service, confident of himself and knows that what he’s doing will always bring out the best in people. Regardless, he is not afraid to speak out for the people he serves. He steers his team to calmer waters when the going gets stormy.

Last week candidates seeking public office have already filed their certificates of candidacy, indicating that elections are just around the corner. During the campaign period, they will be telling and promising the electorate of what they will do if elected. The people’s experience will surely play a role in their choice of candidates. Hopefully, they won’t sell their votes but in a country like ours where patronage politics is common, there’ll also the need to educate and remind them of their sacred duty to elect only those candidates who are truly deserving. 

This Sunday, let us pray for humility in service. Let us pray that our leaders be like Jesus who came to serve and to give His life as ransom for many. 

The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (cf. Mk. 10:45)

Seeking Wisdom

Words do not mean anything unless matched with action. This is what the rich man learned from Jesus. In today’s Gospel (Mk. 10: 17-30), what started like a good conversation with the man asking the Lord how to inherit eternal life. Christ answered him with the commandments, the “minimum requirements”, of which the man replied to Jesus,

Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, 

You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (v. 30)

The man may have been surprised and didn’t expect the Lord’s answer like that as his face fell, and went away sad, for he had many possessions. Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, said the question was like,

“Good teacher, what should I do to be happy in my life?”

This question is deeper than it looks. Fr. Armand dissected it, as seen from the perspective of Christ,

“You’re looking for a serious kind of happiness. You’re looking for happiness that will not be easily taken away from you. You’re looking for happiness that will give you peace, when life is comfortable and when life is painful.”

Maybe Jesus asked further,

“You know what happiness is? Happiness is being sure you are in a place in life where God wants you to be. You want to be happy? Then, do the will of God.”

All of us want to be happy. Regardless of your definition of happiness, Jesus wants you to be happy, in the right perspective. He wants you to live comfortably, but not ignoring His will for you and in pursuing the greater good for others. Happiness is not about yourself. Isn’t it true that when you make a sacrifice for a loved one, or others, you become happy? Ask many of our OFWs and you get the idea.  So, isn’t it then a way of telling that it is not really about you, but about others? Only when you make others happy that you become truly happy.  

In today’s First Reading (Wis 7: 7-11), the prayer of King Solomon for the gift of Wisdom was granted. He preferred her “over scepter and throne”, “beyond health and comeliness”, and “chose to have her rather than the light”. 

Reflect then on this question: “Am I living my life, the way God wants me to live it?”

Let us pray that we be granted the strength to pursue the love of Jesus, who is the True Wisdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Mt. 5: 3

Respecting God’s Creation

When you study astronomy, you will surely realize how vast the Milky Way is, the galaxy that includes the Solar System, which our own planet Earth is part of. This galaxy is estimated to be 100,000 light years across. This surely is daunting, if not difficult to imagine. Now, talk about the size of the Universe, which is estimated to be composed of 140 billion galaxies. Can you even conceive the enormity of the Universe?

Now, taking this into perspective, we may think we are not significant then. In size we are surely minute, tiny specks in the Universe, so much so that we might ask, are we really important?  Of course, to God our Creator, yes we are much loved, that is why He created us in His image and likeness: 

God created mankind in His image; in the image of God, He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1: 27-28)

Infinite is God’s faithfulness, and He hasn’t changed His immense love for us despite our sinfulness and shortcomings.

In the Gospel (Mk 10: 2-12), when the Pharisees approached to test Jesus and asked Him a question about divorce, they cited that “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them,

“Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 

This design of God’s creation is part of Divine Wisdom that we, His creatures do not have even the slightest right to change or alter. Being male and female is something we are born with, thus obviously innate in us. Individually we are created unique from each other, even despite coming from the same family, background, and environment. Each of us grew up into distinct persons, gifted with attributes, talents and personalities. The times are changing though. Man is trying to disintegrate what God has carefully created. 

Today, let us reflect on being male and female. Consider that this design of God is severely under assault in the world today. Challenge yourself to let that uniqueness shine through, in fulfillment of what God has laid out for you.

If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is brought to perfection in us.” 

1 Jn 4:12 

On Influencers

In this age of Netflix and social media, many look for role models and heroes in various Internet platforms. These influencers are those who drive behavior, consumption, and buying. The way they think and act are powerful means of communication that big business have been looking at them to promote their brands and products. They receive huge amount of money for endorsements and advertising campaigns. Their words and actions sway their followers and the public in general. One fine example is BTS, also known as the “Bangtan Boys”, a seven-member South Korean boy band formed in 2010 and debuted in 2013. They’ve won so many citations, rising to many first time awards in the history of Asian and non-English speaking music acts. They were cited by Time Magazine as the “Next Generation Leaders”, “Princes of Pop” (Time Magazine) one of the 25 most influential people on the Internet (2017–2019) and the 100 most influential people in the world (2019). More importantly, they have become partners of UNICEF to establish the “Love Myself” anti-violence campaign; addressed the United Nations 73rd and 75th General Assemblies, among others.

In the Gospel today (Mk. 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48), Jesus said, 

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

The Lord is teaching us to be cautious of who we model our lives after as they may cause us to sin and drive us away from grace and intimacy with Christ. We cannot deviate and get distracted in our relationship with Jesus, therefore we have to exercise control and discretion of our actions and thoughts. 

Influencers have serious responsibilities to those who watch, follow and imitate them. In a way, we are also influencers to our family, loved ones, neighbors, peers and workmates. Everything we do have its influence on their thoughts and actions that is why we have to ensure we are mindful of everything that we put in our minds and hearts. 

Aside from our examples to others, as a way of affirmation, we should appreciate and encourage them to continue their worthy behaviors and actions. Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB emphasized this in his homily today, 

“Appreciation is the big enabler of life. When you appreciate a person, you will discover that he will continue doing the good thing that you pointed out. Doing good becomes a habit. That person becomes a good person. Appreciation multiplies the good in this world.” 

“If we are stingy with our appreciation (when we wait until the person dies before we tell the beautiful things about him), people lose their passion for life. They become timid, they become cautious then they lose the enthusiasm for life. They lose the joy about what they are doing. In the end, goodness stops. You watch out what happens. You will have problems and issues cropping around like mushrooms. Who among us wouldn’t want to be appreciated?” 

“Appreciation builds families. Appreciation builds relationships. And this is the attitude of Jesus.” 

“Let us not be stingy with appreciation. We don’t realize it, many times, especially we Filipinos who are shy, we find difficult to say the good things about people. But nowadays, we need it very much. You know it is only when you start to see what is good and beautiful, it is only when you find the blessing in the pain and the cross that you are carrying, only then shall we find the presence of God in our lives.”

My family is a huge fan of BTS, and I’m closely following how they align with our values and principles as followers of Christ. So far, they’ve been remarkable in their humility, work ethic, and God-given talents. To this day, they’ve continued to inspire others with their fine examples. May they continue to do so.

How about you, have you selected properly your models? 

Do you make sure your actions reflect Christian morals and principles as a devote follower of Christ? 

Do you express and articulate appreciation for the goodness that others do? 

Your word, O Lord, is truthconsecrate us in the truth.” Jn 17:17b, 17a 

Obedience, Humility and Simplicity

Life is a constantly evolving series of victories, of defeats, of happy moments, and of sadness. As I write this, some friends and their loved ones are in the hospital, fighting the sickness brought by the deadly virus. Many have become victims and several have even passed on to the great beyond. These have created so much grief and difficulties such that in the deepest moments of sorrow, the light starts to dim and anyone can fear that there isn’t an end to the darkness.

In the Gospel today (Mk. 9: 30-37), Jesus was teaching his disciples and telling them,

The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” 

The Gospels have spoken much on suffering; even last Tuesday the readings were about the depth of the love of God, such that “He gave His only Son”. (see Jn 3: 13-17) But this love required Jesus to suffer and die on the Cross. Even the Blessed Mother has to go through such suffering during her life, as read in Wednesday’s Gospel (Jn. 19: 25-27), “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Our faith and loyalty to the Lord is tested every now and then. It is certainly not God’s doing, but He allows us to be subjected to trials in order to see how brave and courageous we are to follow Him despite the costs. We are encouraged to persevere knowing that there is a light at the end of the darkness, and that suffering isn’t an end in itself.

The Scriptures exhorts us to obedience, humility, and simplicity. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of obedience and humility to God the Father’s Will. In his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 2: 6-11) St. Paul said,

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likenessand found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

God gave us the gift of free will, so that it is up to us to follow Him or to do otherwise. Yet, we are reminded that at the end of the day, the will of God always prevails, regardless of how grandeur or how noble our plans are. My late Mom used to remind us, “Man proposes, God disposes”. In my talks with young people in the ministry, I always encourage the need to be in tune with the Lord, so that in doing so, we eventually will know what paths we are going to follow. Life doesn’t need to be sophisticated; the Lord taught us that the simplicity of a child can lead to eternal rewards in Heaven someday,

If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives meand whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.

A child is one who is small, helpless and needy. He cannot do things and chores by himself, but needs the support of parents and others. So this should be our relationship with God. We have to shed off pride and arrogance, become humble and simple before God, whose measure of greatness is not power, fame, and wealth.

God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

2 Thes 2: 14

Pain and Suffering

There are many people who subscribe to the idea that pain and suffering are curses or evil spells. A neighbor who use to pass by our home when we were still little children would always tell about the sickness or tragedies that happened to others as punishment. These got us confused especially when there were instances of people we know who are good based on how we see them, were having difficulties. We can’t understand because we don’t hear or see them being or doing bad to others. Most people judge by associating misfortune and tragic events with others. 

Rev. Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, said in his homily today,

Pain and suffering do not just come and go, they are part of life. You won’t live if you don’t breathe. You won’t live if you don’t eat. You can’t live without your loved ones around you. You can’t live without carrying your cross. Pain is a necessary part of life

Mothers pass through severe pain at childbirth. Our life starts with pain. When we cross to the other side, we leave behind our loved ones. It’s sad and it’s painful. Life begins with pain, it ends with pain. Just like books on a shelf; without bookends, the books collapse. Your life without the pains, will collapse.

That is why when the Lord was teaching the disciples that ‘the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days,’ Peter’s reaction appeared normal for one who is a dedicated disciple. However, the Lord rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

It must have hurt Peter to hear those words, but the Lord meant it to create awareness of His true mission. Jesus’ focus on fulfilling the will of God the Father was such that nobody could stop it. That is the way God saves mankind. We risk our faith when we don’t accept the way He fulfills His promise. While it is true that there are forms of pain and suffering that God didn’t create, there are reasons why He allows these to happen that are simply beyond human comprehension. We can be assured though that everything happening around us is still within God’s perfect plan.

I will save you with pain (and suffering) because that is how God does it.” Fr. Armand concluded.

Today, the Gospel (Mk. 8: 27-35) tells us to reflect on the life of the holy men and women who have embraced pain and suffering willingly for God and eternity. Their sufferings and martyrdom for the faith were fully attuned to God’s perfect will. May we put to heart Christ’s challenge to us,

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”

Let us pray for the gift of Wisdom to see the hands of God at work even in the midst of trials and challenges. In faith, may we see the value of pain and suffering, because that is how Jesus saw it, did it.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.’ Gal.6: 14

Open Your Eyes!

The lady protagonist in the Netflix series “Homeland” is one that is blind and deaf to the realities of the world. While being a spy allows her to know most aspects of their operations unknown to others, her bipolar disability and affection for the Marine-turned-suspected terrorist portray a different person. She behaves like one that is stubborn, careless and unreasonable kind of person. She often elicits reaction and catches the viewer’s frustration.

In the Gospel (Mk. 7: 31-37), Jesus healed the deaf man with a speech impediment and ordered the people around not to tell anyone. But the more He ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In the First Reading (Is. 35: 4-7a), the Prophet Isaiah presents God who, 

… comes with vindication, with divine recompense, and He comes to save you. Then will the “eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” 

While these are images of people who have never had the opportunity to meet and listen to the Gospel of God, it is also meant to refer to those who refuse to open their ears and not allow the word of salvation to penetrate their hearts. 

In reality, all of us have these disabilities in one way or the other. These happen when we ignore those who are poor preferring attention to those who are rich and influential in society. We look at how they appear on the surface while ignoring God’s love for them.  “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him
?” (Jas 2: 1-5) 

Today, the Gospel tells us to put into good use these basic human qualities of hearing and listening for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We are not supposed to use it to spread lies, fake news, or gossip. 

In this fractured world, let us pray that the Lord opens the ears and loosens the tongue of the people close to us, in the communities that we are in, and in the society where people often insist on their own issues more than listening to others. We pray that God opens the eyes of those that remain to be blind and the ears to hear the words of everlasting life.

Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.’ (Mt.4: 23)

Humility, Obedience and Charity

In a world full of anxiety and uncertainty, it is rare and difficult to see others in their real and genuine selves. While they can still do both, I have seen that people are more concerned about the need to protect themselves and their loved ones from sickness, harm and other risks, than by extending their hearts to others. Some use their appearances to deceive others into thinking they are what they say they are. They mislead others and lead them to the wrong paths. Despite these, there are others that shine like gems and rise above the challenges. They extend themselves despite the difficulties they face. These are those who don’t allow the pandemic to limit their generosity and good hearts.

In the Gospel (Mk. 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23), the Pharisees and scribes questioned Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”  

Christ responded to them,

“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

When people cling to human tradition without understanding God’s commandments, they become stiff and pretentious. They stick to rules and disregard God’s instructions. In the Gospel we see how their short-sightedness revealed the hypocrisy of their hearts. They showed their true colors to Christ in the way they asked their questions. Thus, there is a clear danger for people who are strictly regimented in the practice of their faith but haven’t grown spiritually in love of God and neighbor. Knowingly or unknowingly, they betray themselves by the arrogance of their actions. Sadly, there are those who are doing a lot of prayers and yet fail to practice the fruits of these devotions. These prayers are supposed to yield humility and therefore obedience to God and charity towards others.

In Matthew 5: 23-24, Jesus revealed the importance of sincerity and genuine love for God,

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

You cannot pretend to be righteous, holy and yet have a grievance and unforgiving heart on others. You cannot appear to be repentant outside and yet deep in the recesses of your heart lie the dark abyss of hypocrisy. You cannot proclaim to be God’s followers in words and yet act in the opposite direction of His teachings.

The Lord warned,

“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Today, we are invited to humility, obedience and charity in order to save our souls (Second Reading, Jas. 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27).

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit guide us on the way to humility, obedience and charity.

The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. (Ps. 15: 1a)

Choosing God Above All Else

The Gospel today (Jn. 6: 60-69) speaks about what happened after the Bread of Life discourse. The disciples of Jesus were murmuring and said, “This saying is hardwho can accept it?” but the Lord was firm in His message despite the fact that “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”  The teaching on the Holy Eucharist was “the deepest and most beautiful teaching Jesus had given them”, but for some it was too much and they couldn’t accept it anymore so many abandoned Him. 

This situation normally happens when times turn out bad. For example, when people feel that their “friends” are in dire straits, they quickly leave as they regard their so-called friends as no longer useful to them. It is a connection made by convenience and betrays the trust that others gave. Sometimes these actions turn out negative for them in the long run as the situation eventually become better for their former “friends”. 

During this pandemic, many may have been changed by the challenges they face. They may have lost faith and hope in God and were reckless just to survive. Actually, this is a situation when our faith is tested hard. It is not the time to give up on God, rather; it is the time to recognize Him walking beside us in our journey. It is the time to respond in a grateful and beautiful way to Jesus who is always with us, despite our fickle-mindedness. Many have responded well in this pandemic: we read and see brave souls put up community pantries to share what they have with neighbors and others. They see these times as opportunities to show their true and authentic faith in the Lord. They allowed themselves to be God’s hands in sharing and giving food and necessities to others in need.

Last night while watching Itaehon Class on Netflix, one of the characters said to the effect, “I’d prefer a father over hunger”. This was in response to the other character in the series, a father, who contemplated of committing suicide, due to his difficulties in providing food for his young son. That was a thoughtful reaction to the situation, and tells us that there is more to life than food. Similarly, the times are for us to respond and prove to God our deep love and faith in Him. Like Toni (the character in Itaehon Class), our action spell our trust in Christ, and tell Him that we “choose God” over the challenges we are facing.

In the First Reading (Jos. 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b) Joshua gathered and addressed all the people: 

If it does not please you to serve the LORD, 

decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. 
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD

The good leader that he was, Joshua was able to get a positive response from them,

“…Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

The Lord didn’t force His disciples to follow Him, instead, Jesus gave them the choice whether to accept or reject Him. But Peter responded in a faithful and profound way,

Master, to whom shall we goYou have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

The other Apostles responded like Peter. They believed that God is the best option. Peter showed us that in life, there is no better option than to follow Christ, no matter what. Nothing in life is worth more than Jesus Christ. If it hasn’t happened now, our faith should lead us to that realization very soon.

Today, let us reflect on Jesus asking us this, “Do you also want to leave?” 

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit grant us the faith and the wisdom to choose God above all else.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps. 34: 9a)

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This morning two of my close friends in college told about the passing of her brother-in-law and the other, about his close friend, all due to CoVid19. It’s not only this day but these past weeks that several friends and colleagues experienced the passing of a loved one due to this virulent virus. Sometimes we hear others ask, “Why is God allowing this to happen

In his homily today, Rev. Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, shared that in an Instagram Live event he hosted, one of the questions asked was,  “Where is God in this Covid19 pandemic?” Fr. Armand remembered his answer,

God is in the very mystery of Covid. God is in our helplessness. God is in our confusion. He did not send Covid to us, but the question is, ‘What do we do with the situation right now, to bring our best foot forward

When you’re in a difficult, mysterious situation, you ask a lot of questions to yourself, some over and over again. “Where is God? I believe it is the same question in the heart of Mary, after the Annunciation..You can imagine that in our human experience, Mary may have asked these questions over and over again, “How could this happen to me?” “What is happening?” “God, what is this?” 

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of “seventeen different memorials, feasts and solemnities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary that are found on the Roman Liturgical Calendar” (Catholic Daily Reflections). Accordingly, today’s celebration is “one of the four great Solemnities by which our Blessed Mother is honored.” 

The Blessed Virgin Mary taught us how to persevere in faith. Yes the difficulties we are facing aren’t easy, but what the Blessed Mother went through were even more difficult. While she was going through all these sufferings in her pilgrimage of faith, she faithfully persevered, immersed in the mysteries of those moments, even declaring when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, 

My soul proclaimes the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His Name.” Luke 1: 46-49.

(Note that the journey to Elizabeth’s home was a long and tiring one, notwithstanding the slow pace of the travel during that time when there were no vehicles yet in existence.)

We may ask the same questions over and over again, but like Mary, we can still proclaim the greatness of God, who is just beside us in our most challenging moments. We can just immerse deeply in the experience, fully trusting in God’s wisdom and power over the situation. Mary chose to continue glorifying God, even in the midst of the mystery happening around her. She believed that “It is not about me, but it is about God”, choosing to accept with her whole heart, body and soul that Yahweh is in control. In facing our difficulties, we can be like Mary who felt God making a revelation in her life. 

It is God, making Himself felt in my life at the moment.” (Fr. Armand Robleza).

Today, amidst the despairing events surrounding us, let us reflect on the life of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary who was conceived without sin, remained sinless throughout her life, never experienced death, and was taken body and soul into Heaven. Mary suffered greatly especially during her Son Jesus’ Passion and Death, but immersed herself in the mystery of God throughout those moments, never asking why God allowed this to happen.

Let us pray for the strength of our faith, for us to submit our life completely to God so that in every trying time, instead of questioning Him, we embrace the mystery of the moment and feel His presence close to us.

Mary is taken up to Heaven; a chorus of angels exults. Alleluia, alleluia.