Category Archives: Champ Wise

Being Worthy of His Coming

As I was seeking inspiration to write this reflection, the rookie draft of the PBA is on the TV screen. You can see the anxieties not only of the applicants but also among their parents, friends and supporters. For those who were drafted in the top of the order, the anxieties will remain as these rookies will be monitored if they meet the expectations of their respective team and followers.

The people in today’s Gospel are filled with expectations. They kept on asking the question: “What then should we do?” If we look back, we remember that in the first Sunday of Advent, we were told of how the “end of days” would be like, then on the second Sunday, the Gospel exhorted us to “prepare the way of the Lord”. The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete (“Rejoice!”) Sunday, which provides a break midway through this season which is otherwise of a somber nature, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming. While the liturgy all throughout Advent is one of intense expectation and preparation, we take a break to remind us that this season is one of joyful anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.

True, we are all facing different challenges and concerns in our day-to-day living but the Lord reminds us to rejoice:

Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” (Zep 3:14-18a)

Realizing fully this promise is made by God, we ask just like what the people of St. John the Baptist’s time asked, “What then should we do?” We should examine how we are in our earthly pilgrimage; we take moments to reflect deep into our hearts. We know that this is relevant because the promise isn’t made by an ordinary mortal like us but by the Supreme God Himself. For sure, without our cooperation in this plan of salvation, we won’t be able to claim His promise.

St. John the Baptist’s call to repentance didn’t talk about religion, nor about fulfilling certain rituals. What he was preaching was practical and clear: we are asked to share, not to exploit others, and not to mistreat others and “be content with your pay.” Thus, we are reminded that rejoicing doesn’t mean being greedy and excessive, not to steal from others, and not to be abusive with others. Oftentimes we see people being ecstatic and jubilant when they worship but when their faith is tested, they often give way to indifference and apathy. They think that their faith is enough without allowing themselves to be used as instruments of God’s goodness and compassion. They aren’t willing to undergo pain and suffering even for those they love. And yet God asks us to go beyond those we know and the familiar!

Reflect today then on what you should do to be worthy of the Messiah’s promises. While it’s true nobody can ever claim to be worthy of such, this attitude of humility will make you embrace the faith that only through God’s grace can you be allowed into His presence at the end of time. We have to act on our faith and show others how much God loves them. Let us be mindful of those who are in need this Christmas. For now, let us cherish the idea that His redemption is near, it is time to rejoice and not fear.

Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.’ (Is. 12: 6)

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Despite the color and glitter of the season there are many who haven’t yet feel the vibrant spirit of Christmas — yes, many are facing varying challenges in these times. I know because I have friends who share these anxieties. There are also some of them who don’t feel alright whether in their work, in their businesses, and in their relationships. For most of them, something is missing, something just doesn’t feel good.

This is true even around the places we go through every day. If we have that sensitive ability to detect and communicate with others, we’ll be able to know the worries and anxieties affecting people mostly. The world isn’t always what it looks like. Deep down inside, people are sad and lonely. Yet when you go outside your home, you can feel that people are all getting occupied seeing them line up the malls and shopping centers. Hotels and resorts are getting booked for the traditional Christmas dinners and parties. Everyone is hurrying up to buy gifts for their loved ones and friends. This busyness is also a tempting time to miss the real reason for the event, which is the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The purpose of Advent is most importantly to prepare our own spiritual growth thus in a way preparing our hearts and souls to welcome the Savior not only in each Christmas, but also at any time when His Kingdom is fully revealed.

The readings in today’s Gospel remind us to hope, to appreciate the God who loves us through and through, and to prepare the way for His coming birth. In the First Reading (Bar. 5: 1-9) the Prophet Baruch tells us that God will save His people and splendor will be restored in His city Jerusalem. His people who have been dispersed abroad will return triumphant and with great rejoicing. This is a promise of hope for those who live in fear and misery. God assures that He will remember everyone who trust and are faithful to Him.

In the Second Reading (Phil. 1: 4-6, 8-11) St. Paul tells his gratitude to the Philippians for all that they have done in helping him to spread the Word of God. Just like them, he prays that God will bless those who remain faithful and that your love for each other and for God will be blessed “more and more”. This love for God helps us to develop that discernment to know what is essential and of value to the Lord as we prepare for the day of His coming.

In the Psalms (Ps. 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6) today we proclaim: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy!” However, it isn’t easy to experience joy when you are facing challenges and difficulties. It takes faith that the Lord has done great things for us, that we experience joy, not that we deserve it, but because of God’s loving mercy and compassion. We can’t appreciate and be aware of these unless we repent from our sins. This season, take the time to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to restore the lines broken by our indifference and arrogance.

Thus in our Gospel (Lk. 3: 1-6) St. John the Baptist proclaims for us to “Prepare the way” for Jesus Christ. The prophecy of Isaiah who said that there would be a forerunner to the Messiah is fulfilled as St. John preached baptism for the forgiveness of sins. This is a reminder to us that now is the time to make our preparations for the Lord’s coming, now is the time to make a straight and open path into our hearts for the Savior who will come to us this Christmas.

You are to straighten up your broken ways and get back to the straight path. You are asked to bring down your pride and ego, as these blur you from recognizing the Savior in the manger.

As we go on this Advent journey, let us ask ourselves what crooked ways do we need to straighten and what mountains do we need to level down in anticipation of the Lord’s coming?

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.’ (Ps. 126: 3)

The Strength to Endure

Back when we were still in school whenever this season comes, my parents would prepare everything at home for their children coming back for the break. They would prepare our rooms, clear the home to give way for Christmas decorations and those thoughts would give us the joy in anticipation of the celebration. Those were one of the best memories of family that we love to recall. Today, we like to replicate those moments with our own respective families, ensuring tradition is passed on to the next generation. This is indeed one of the most wonderful times of the year.

Today, the sights and sounds of Christmas are getting brighter and louder. It’s the second day of December and also the start of the Church’s Liturgical Year. During these Sundays of Advent, we are invited to meditate on the mysteries of waiting in joyful and hopeful anticipation. It is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord.

In our waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, the Gospel tells us (Lk. 21: 25-28, 34-36) that there will be chaos, death and fear. The Son of Man will come with power and great glory. Yet the Lord also gave us hope and encouragement so that “when these things happen, we stand erect and raise our heads because redemption is at hand”.

We are cautioned about becoming drowsy from excessive drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, lest that day may catch us by surprise. That day will affect everyone who lives, thus the need to be vigilant at all times. The Lord encourages us to pray that we have the “strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and the courage to stand before the Son of Man.”

This is what makes Advent so special. Jesus love makes Him come to us. Thus, preparing ourselves is something we have to do this season. Let us take the opportunity to create a new beginning, a new chapter in our life journey. Let us tear down those walls of indifference and begin to reach out to family members, neighbors and others who in one way or the other have drifted away from us. If we haven’t done yet, let us bring ourselves back closer to Jesus by going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to bring our hearts worthy of becoming His home again. In doing so, we renew our relationship with God so that we experience the depth of His love where we’ll be touched, healed and transformed.

When we open our hearts to allow His grace to do these to us, we allow Him to bring His love into the world.

Let us pray that we find strength and consolation in Christ’s words and in His redeeming presence with us to endure all our trials and to witness His love to the world.

Show us, Lord, your love; and grant us your salvation.’ (Ps. 85: 8)

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)

Courage and Faithfulness

In the Gospel today (Mk. 10: 46-52), we can surmise that there are two types of people based on their reaction to others asking or shouting for help: the first type are those who have accepted that his “predestined place is to remain at the side of the road.” They are those who ridicule or heckle or even become angry that one of their members would want anything else for himself, as shown by the rebuke the beggar got when he cried out, telling him to be silent.

The second type are the opposite, they sort of comforted the blind man, as if knowing how difficult it must be at the side of the road for a long time to beg for alms and food. They empathize with the beggar knowing how he must have endured the ridicule and the shouts in the sidelines.

In our life journey, we can choose to be the heckler or the comforter. We can unknowingly stop others from reaching out to God by our own bad example. Or we can be God’s messenger and lead others to God by our own loving and caring ways.

This Gospel also exemplifies the extraordinary depth of the Lord’s compassion and mercy. The Lord hears the cry of desperation shown by the beggar, knowing that it might be his only chance at being healed by Christ. But with it, Jesus recognized the beggar’s deep faith, as shown by his calling Jesus the royal title “Son of David”, a revelation that the blind beggar knows that this Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus responded in a way that shows us how He loves those who are in need:

Jesus stopped.

Jesus saidcall him.”

Jesus saidWhat do you want me to do?”

Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

This powerful “formula” of faith as a way to getting healed can be read throughout Scriptures and as shown all over St. Mark’s Gospel. For example, it is because of her faith that the woman with the hemorrhage is healed. When there is no faith, Jesus can’t heal; we see this after his rejection in Nazareth. In each of these stages we can see the compassionate love of Jesus and which we also know from our own faith experience as well. It is this aspect of God’s love that works miracles.

The First Reading (Jer. 31: 7-9) tells us that Yahweh promised to bring people who are lost, “including the blind and the lame”, the “mothers and those with child”. He promised to “console them and guide them”. He claims His children as a “father to Israel”.

Finally, we are reminded that it is our duty to bring others to God and become the messengers of the Gospel to others. These “other people” are our children, families and those entrusted to our care and guidance. There are challenges in carrying out these directions but like the blind beggar, we have to stand ridicule and to persevere in His love.

Let us pray that when there are people asking for help, we stop what we are doing to hear what they want to say.

When we’ve been on the road for long without help coming our way, may we hear God’s angels tell us “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”

Let us pray that we remember the day when through God’s grace, our “sight” was restored.
May we not go astray, may we continue to be faithful till the end.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.’ (cf. Ps. 126: 3)

Like A Missionary

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 from one section of the factory line to another area. He was practically trembling in the cold and so I went back to the Staff House to get one of my shirts to give to him. Since it didn’t have impact on the production, I also asked that the work be suspended for a short while until the water coming through were corrected or contained. When the young man received the shirt, to my surprise, he knelt in front of me to kiss my feet. I pulled out, backed off and told him he shouldn’t do that. His supervisor, who was nearby, told me that it is alright as the man was expressing his gratitude for my kind gesture. The act of kissing my 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. While it may not have challenged him to know more about Jesus, it is through our example that we can show to them who Christ is by the example of who we are. What I did is an expression of Christian faith that while I’m their leader, I’m also there to serve others, regardless of social standing in life. With the centuries-old caste system, this concept of a leader being a “servant” is quite a strange concept in Hinduism.

 

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 baptized; but 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 servant; whoever 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 character, consistency and courage. 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 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 his members and the organization. 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 be a need to educate and remind them of their sacred duty to elect only those candidates who are truly deserving.

 

Looking back at the man from Nepal, I feel sadness because such a beautiful country doesn’t even know who the real God is. There is that kind of challenge that in our own small way, we can be missionaries at the circumstances we find ourselves. For example, after that experience, I organized secret sessions with two managers there. It’s secret because Christian activities are strictly forbidden in that country. What I did was on weekend nights, I invited them to the Staff House and introduced them to Jesus, just like a Christian Life Program (CLP). While there was curiosity among them given the circumstance; I managed my expectations. My objective was just to plant those tiny seeds with the hope that someday the Holy Spirit will touch their hearts and bring them to join the Faith.

 

This Sunday, let us pray that we be more service-like in our dealings with others. Let us pray that our leaders be like Jesus who came to serve and to give His life as ransom for many. Let us pray that we be open to the leadings of the Spirit and become like missionaries to those needing to see the light.

Seeking Wisdom

Last week, I had a discussion with one my colleagues about one of the Churches in the city I haven’t visited yet, the one of San Antonio Abad Parish. My curiosity about the location of the Church was actually piqued when I took a ride to the Mother of Perpetual Help Shrine, and the driver asked me if I have attended Mass at the San Antonio Abad Church. (I haven’t yet!) During that discussion, we both realized the closest meaning of Abad, which is “Abbot”, to distinguish it from the Saint of Padua.

In today’s Gospel, the story of St. Anthony the Great foremost among others, come to mind. I have become a devotee of this great saint, after getting to read on his life and on knowing that he was an inspiration of my patron, Saint Anthony of Padua. Not only was he influential on the life of the Saint of Padua, it was also after having heard, inspired and moved by the story of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert that the famous St. Augustine of Hippo converted to Christianity.

Anthony was born in Coma in Lower Egypt in A.D. 251 to wealthy landowner parents. At age 18, shortly after his parents’ death and leaving him to care for his unmarried sister, he decided to follow the Evangelical counsel of Jesus to the rich man in today’s Gospel which reads,

“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.” (Mk. 10: 21)

Anthony gave away some of his family’s wealth, sold the remaining property, and donated the funds thus raised to the poor. He then left to live an ascetic life, placing his sister with a group of Christian virgins, a sort of proto-convent. (en.wikipedia.org)

Clearly the testimonies of these great men are the ones that inspire and create interest in the “Pearl of Great Price” that they’ve found in their search for God. Jesus taught us about the importance of the Word, Heaven and Eternal Life over earthly material possessions. All the great saints like St. Anthony the Great, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Anthony of Padua had the gift of Wisdom to choose the Gospel over wealth.

In today’s First Reading, 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”.

It cannot be denied that most if not all of us want to be happy. Aside from the happiness that holy men and women feel in serving the Lord, most people want to live a comfortable life, go on vacation, dine in fancy restaurants, and drive that fast car in the luxury dealership. Regardless of your definition of happiness, Jesus wants you to be happy in the right perspective. He wants you to live comfortably, but not necessarily ignoring His will for you and in pursuing the greater good for others. But isn’t it true that when you make a sacrifice for a loved one or family member, 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: making others happy that you become truly happy.

God has commanded, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” He must be first and the top priority in our lives and anything that stands before us and God, must be relegated to the background.

Putting it lightly, when you want Heaven more, it is then about you giving up temporal things so that you’ll win it in the end. Things that blind you, things that cloud your focus and things that distract you from the more important matters deserving more attention, should be the ones that we worry about. These block our sights on Jesus and Heavenly Treasures. The great saints were given that ability to see the most important aspects and thus they were able to focus intently on Heaven. Many even gave the greatest sacrifice of offering their lives so that in return they gain Eternal Life. It is not easy choosing, especially when you are concerned with a lot of temporal things. However, when you desire something really the most, it’s easy to give up and sacrifice over things you desire the least.

Jesus wants us to discern what are more important, what things that have to be left behind especially when those things are what’s keeping us from following Him. There are also times we want to give something for Him but it’s just that this “something” is not what is being asked of us. Again, the importance of prayer, discernment and wisdom.

Let us therefore ask the Lord to grant us the gift of Wisdom, so that we learn to set our priorities straight. This Wisdom is one that can have positive impact and inspire others and is only possible when you have an intimate relationship with Christ.

May we be granted the strength to pursue the love of Jesus, who is the True Wisdom.

‘Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!’ (cf. Ps. 90:14)

AZS 10.14.2018