Category Archives: Champ Wise

Our Brand

Brand is the personality that differentiates a product, service or company and how it relates to its various stakeholders. The brand experience is the action that we perceive when using or feeling the brand. It creates a very powerful pull in the way people make purchase decisions. Marketers engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. These qualities create powerful images that pull customers to purchase and acquire the brand of choice. Where two products or services resemble each other, but one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic,  store branded  product); people may often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the perceived quality of the brand or on the basis of the reputation of the brand owner.

It’s not easy though to build brands. Companies spend vast amounts of money and resources to grow and nurture it. However, only a very few eventually succeed and survive the test of time. For the successful brands even with its accomplishments, it’ll only take a simple mistake to destroy what has been patiently built over the years.

Similarly, the names given to us are our personal brands. How we create it over time, how we nurture it, how we maintain it, tells how we are now in the present. We were given names during Baptism and its either we have lived by it, or have deviated from it. This name is not ordinary, as God gave it to us,

I have called you by name; you are mine.”(Is. 43: 1).

The Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels was celebrated last September 29. St. Michael as we know is the Leader of God’s Army, and is also the patron of San Miguel Corporation, which celebrates its 124th this year. San Miguel Beer, among the Philippines most endearing icons, was founded in 1890, when the country was still under Spanish rule, truly a testament to its strength and endurance as a brand.

St. Gabriel is known as the Angel of Humanity, trusted messenger of God. Gabriel means “man of God,” or “God has shown himself mighty.” The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. He was the angel who appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist. Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, Son of the Most High, and Savior of the world.

St. Raphael is known as the Arrow of Love, and the Doctor of God’s Love. His name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story, which claims that he “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch.

In the Book of Revelations, St. John the Beloved was shown in a vision the deadly war that broke out in Heaven. He wrote about it while in exile in the island of Patmos in Greece. We’ve been told stories about Lucifer (name as used by early Christian tradition) or Satan, formerly the prince of angels, who was once so handsome, but in his pride and conceit became an ugly spirit after plotting against God and Heaven. Pride transformed a once beautiful being into an ugly beast. This can happen then to anyone that rebels against the Almighty Father.

The victory of St. Michael and His Angels predicts what will happen at the end of time. It is also a rich imagery of what happens everyday of our lives, when we are confronted with options between right and wrong, where the battle of good and evil is constantly raging. Hence, everyday consciousness of this battle being waged is important for us to realize how victory for our souls can be achieved. Whenever a crossroad is reached, we have to be alert in discerning the effect of what we think, say or do.

Your name is your brand. Take very good care of it. It doesn’t only represent you, but also your family, your community, and even your company”, Fr. Armand says.

Let us pray that St. Michael and the Holy Archangels, together with our Guardian Angel, guide and protect us in our life’s pilgrimage. It’s a tough journey but let us be comforted in the Father’s awesome promise,

When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in return for you. Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I Love You.” (Is. 43: 2 – 4a).

Seeing Through Faith

One of my favorite stories is about the little boy Matt riding a speeding bus. While all the others were very apprehensive and afraid, Matt was but excited and enjoying it. One of the passengers asked him why he was unmindful of the risk and danger that they were in, Matt just answered coolly: “I’m not afraid, as the driver is my father!

Many times in our younger lives we were also like Matt. We were confident and not worried because we trust them — I remember when I was still a little child, we were in the beach for a swim with my father and when he asked me to swim towards him, I did it because “he’s my Dad.” Our parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and close friends — these are people who we’re sure will take care of us even when the going gets tough. They are so to say, “our pillars of strength”.

The Gospel proclaims,

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ they said in reply, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen,’ Then he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter said in reply, ‘The Messiah of God.’ He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.” (Lk.9: 18-22)

Peter’s answer was firm and without hesitation. It tells about his deep faith in the Lord. We notice that among the disciples, he was the one courageous and firm enough to affirm Jesus Christ as the Messiah. If we are going to do something substantial for God, we must step out in faith to Him. It means to leave our comforts behind and begin trusting Him.

This past week, Fr. Armand came back after a three-week absence, leading a retreat for priests in neighboring Malaysia. The homily he gave last Friday was particularly one of the most inspiring sermons I’ve heard so far. Upon reflection, we realize that Peter’s faith was such that he knew Jesus as “The” Lord and Savior. He knew faith requires that he will go anywhere the Lord will take him. While there were so many times that Peter failed the Lord, he persevered, so much so that he eventually gave up his life in martyrdom for Jesus. Just like the other disciples, who also died martyrs for Christ (with the exception of St. John the Beloved, who died of old age while in exile). It’s about “seeing through the joy despite the suffering”. The man of faith is one who sees. He knows that there is a reason for suffering, for pain, for dying. He in fact, sees more! This capability of seeing through, makes him even have that sense of humor about life!

In the end, the man of faith is a happy man. He realizes that there’s a lot more to life. Our faith therefore should lead us to enjoy and celebrate life! Knowing this, we realize that in our families, in our parishes, in our communities, in our companies as well, we are not just an organization but a group of people put together by God.

Dedication to Our Mission

When we were children, we would always compare with our siblings and friends the toys we got during Christmas, the clothes that our aunts and uncles gave us, or anything that we receive. As we grow older, we would compare how we’re treated by our teachers, superiors, and even by our friends. We want to be treated equally and fairly. In the Gospel, the laborers complained that the landowner paid the same wage to all the workers, whether they started at dawn, midmorning, noon, midafternoon, or even late afternoon. Even our sense of justice is troubled by this development. However, the landowner said,

“My friend’, he said to one in reply, ‘I do you no injustice. You agreed on the usual wage, did you not? Take your pay and go home. I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay as you. I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not?’ Thus the last shall be first and the first shall be last” (Mt. 20: 13-16).

We’re only looking at it from that angle. There is another side to it, however. God’s goodness transcends justice. He reminds us that, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Is. 55: 6-9). We should look at it from the point of view of love and generosity. It should remind us that when we are unfaithful and sinning, He still loves us as much as He loves the Saints and Martyrs who served and suffered much more than us.

It is important then that we should not be envious of others successes, else we become selfish. We become greedy — that feeling that what we have is not enough. We desire for more. We don’t realize that the more we have this attitude, the more we become so materialistic and forget God. As always, our focus should be on God and not on earthly treasures. We should always count our blessings!

Champions believe that everyday is a singular opportunity to create a priceless pearl from the grime. Choice and cross go together. As far as your spirit can carry you, do not run away from pain. It is the only potion of life that can strengthen you for your battles. Welcome it, but don’t ask for it.

In sports and as well as in life, it is not how we start, but how we end. I remember a basketball team in a popular sports league who would always look strong during the pre-season. The team would always seem to start a game strong, and yet, collapse in the end game. If a game were only up to three quarters, the team would have been a champion many times already. However, a game is played not only for three quarters but four. Hence, for the team to win, it should play a consistent game for a full four quarters. Playing it inconsistently would be a disaster and the game would be lost.

The Lord welcomes us all into His banquet. Some of us may heed the call earlier, but some may be able to see the light much later. His love is so great that He invites and accepts sinners “right up to quitting time”. Yet He doesn’t set demands, the only deadline being that we should do it before death claims us. So we shouldn’t wait till that time comes because nobody knows the hour or the day. And that would be too late!

Similarly, the Lord wants us to be consistent. We don’t need to dash to the finish line as we are still a work in progress. We have to be steady, to stay the course. God knows the perfect time for the harvest. He would want us to continue and be patient. Just to trust Him and not be afraid.

A champion is no sore loser. Winning is in his DNA. A champion remains faithful; he focuses on his roots not the fruits. Some things really matter as in really. And the champion allows them to matter indeed. He adheres to his principles, and keeps his passion alive. He could be disconcerting to live with at times because he is so focused in his goals in life. He does not allow himself to be blinded by startling achievements. As Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers once said, “Being in the cover of Fortune magazine doesn’t guarantee you anything,” (Code of Champions).

Let us pray to the Lord that we may persevere in our life journey with gladness and gratitude.


In our lives, we experience two kinds of people with regards giving: the one who gives to live, and the one who lives to give. The one who gives to live vacillatesevery time he gives; he tries to know how much he will get back in return.His motivation is the reward he gets. On the other hand, the person who lives to give expects neither reward nor recognition and is in fact offended if compensated. This type of individual looks at a situation in terms of “what is needed?” He is the type of person who always asks, “How much more is needed?”


In the Gospel, God the Father “gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die, but may have eternal life. God did not send His Son to condemn the world but that the world may be saved through Him” (Jn. 3: 13 – 17).


The attitude that the Lord wants us to develop is the one of caring for our neighbor and those in need. We should be looking at others more rather than ourselves. It’s about being in an attitude of abundance, knowing that God provides, and He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9: 7). Good times should be viewed as opportunities to be thankful and grow in love for God, while when times are hard and difficult it should help us grow in our faith and hope in God to provide us what we truly need. As St. Paul has said, “…I tell you brothers, the time is short …those who weep should live as though they were not weeping and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing… for the world as we know is passing away”(1 Cor. 7: 25-31).


Sharing allows us to focus on the other person, to be “other-ness”. It gives us the attitude of thinking less of ourselves, and more of others. The motivation for living to give is not about recognition. Some of the time there will be recognition for anyone who gives but yet this isn’t the main reason for giving.I have a couple – friend, whose wealth is vast and yet shies away from getting the recognition. I even have to tell that there are times they have to allow that in order to inspire others. When helping, they never turn their heads to see who is looking and never wait to find out what the reward will be. They do most of their sharing in a quiet and personal way.


Jesus himself showed the ultimate example of that attitude of sharing when He emptied himself and took our human form. “He humbled himself even unto death on the cross! Because of this, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name, so that at Jesus name, every knee must bend in the heavens and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father”(Phil. 2: 6-11).


In our lives, we’ll soon realize that we become happiest when we give. Especially when we sacrifice something of ourselves since it tells us that only in doing so that we’ve given enough. It means we’ve passed that point wherein we only think of ourselves — short of selfishness and greed. A smile, a pat on the back, a ray of hope, or a sigh of relief is enough reward. Then we begin to live and become persons for others. The inner joy and peace that we’ve long desired will become finally ours. Because sharing and giving will make us feel really good!


When you give, what is your motivation? Are you a person who gives to live? or, a person who lives to give?


God’s Call

Jesus returned to His hometown Nazareth, went to the synagogue, as He was in the habit of doing. He read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, where it was written,

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore He has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives,
Recovery of sight to the blind
And release to prisoners.
To announce a year of favor from the Lord.” (Lk. 4: 18-19)

Then He said further, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” He then delivered a beautiful homily and people “spoke favorably of Him”.

In many ways, most of us are like Jesus’ town mates. We like to read beautiful texts and postcards of God’s wonderful promises that “do not ask us to do anything, but just wait and receive”. In our excitement to share it with others, we even post it in our Facebook page. However, when called to action, we retreat and like to hide behind in our comfort zones. Whenever we are warned, when priests and ministers correct us, we hate them for that.

I remember when I was still a child, there was this politician who was sort of a bully. He was always doing some injustice to some ordinary people, and the parish priest would always caution him. Everytime the priest hears something bad that the politician did, he would always warn the politician. Until it reached a point that the politician got so angry and he hurled words at the priest. You know what, after a week, the politician died of a heart attack. Coincidence? I don’t know. But one thing is certain. The politician didn’t like correction from God’s priest. He flirted with angering God! And I was told there were strange things that happened during his funeral that made me think why it happened.

In His infinite love, God continuously sends help to correct us when we are wrong, to strengthen us in our weakness, and to affirm us when we are down.

We should be able to discern the messages God has sent us through our loved ones, friends and even the happenings around us.

However, for those who don’t listen to correction, Jesus has taught His disciples to treat them as “you would a Gentile or a tax collector”. Jesus assures His disciples that “whatever you bound on earth, shall be held bound in Heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loosed in Heaven” (Mt. 18: 15-20). These are strong words coming from our Lord, which others do not like to even talk about it. In His time, Jesus spoke with authority and everything that He said can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. This same can be said now, as He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:9). Responding to Jesus is important for our salvation. Else we’re just like the people mentioned earlier.

One of the beautiful paintings I’ve seen in childhood is the one wherein Jesus with the staff of a shepherd is shown knocking at the door. However, one can notice in the painting that there’s no doorknob. The explanation is that there is no knob as the homeowner is the one that can open the door. If he doesn’t, Jesus can’t enter it. Similarly, if we don’t open our hearts to God’s calling, He won’t force Himself on us. We are free to accept Him or not.

Fr. Armand, in his book Code of Champions says,

“If there is no destination, there is no journey to speak of. If there is no finish line, why run the race?

Purpose colors everything. For a champion, no experience is wasted. One single step may be insignificant when taken by itself, but considered as part of a long journey, it becomes necessarily valuable. The goal bestows value on the details of life, that is, the purpose shapes and constructs the entire structure of life.”

Are you ready to respond to God’s call? Will you open the door of your heart to Him?

Rejoicing in Christ

When Jesus “told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly there at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be put to death, and raised up on the third day,“ Peter tried to convince Him not to do it. Jesus told Peter he was a stumbling block to His mission (Mt. 16: 21-27). While Peter had good intentions in saying that, his spiritual maturity at that time made him think that following Jesus meant a life of comfort and ease. He didn’t realize yet that Jesus had a mission to fulfill, in obedience to the Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and come follow me.” Many years later, Peter followed Jesus and was also crucified, but upside down.

What Jesus demonstrated was total focus to the will of the Father. In fact, in all the references to His mission, Jesus was amazingly focused, even while he was tempted many times to do the contrary. Many saints gave up themselves and their lives for Jesus. The past week can’t be complete without remembering St. John the Baptist, whose beheading we commemorated, and the mother-and-son saints, St. Monica and St. Augustine, whose feast days we celebrated. Their lives are fine examples of what real and authentic discipleship of Christ is all about.

(We will not emphasize St. John the Baptist as we already have devoted writing on his life in an earlier reflection. He is one of the very few personalities in the Bible whose birthday and death are both commemorated by the Church. Let’s instead focus our attention on St. Monica and St. Augustine.)

The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. While having some redeeming features, he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica was distressed to learn that her son Augustine, who was 17 at the time of his father’s death, had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil) and was living an immoral life. However, she persisted in staying close to her son, praying and fasting for him. It was on Easter Sunday, Year 387, that St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his group left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

St. Augustine, on the other hand, spent many years of his life in wicked living and in false beliefs. Though he was reputed to be “one of the most intelligent men who ever lived” and though he had been brought up a Christian, his sins of impurity and his pride darkened his mind so much, that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. Through the prayers of his holy mother and the marvelous preaching of St. Ambrose, Augustine finally became convinced that Christianity was the one true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted on reading the life of St. Antony of Egypt, and he felt terrible ashamed of himself. “What are we doing?” he cried to his friend Alipius. “Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!” (American Catholic.Org)

Denying ourselves. Taking up our Cross. Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine flung himself out into the garden and cried out to God, “How long more, O Lord? Why does not this hour put an end to my sins?” Just then he heard a child singing, “Take up and read!” Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the book of the Letters of St. Paul, and read the first passage his gaze fell on. It was just what Augustine needed, for in it, St. Paul says to put away all impurity and to live in imitation of Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life. Another example of humility and courage at its finest.

Following Jesus means imitating Christ. He was baptized, became a priest, a bishop, a famous Catholic writer, founder of religious priests, and one of the greatest saints that ever lived. He became very devout and charitable, too. On the wall of his room he had the following sentence written in large letters: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.” St. Augustine overcame strong heresies, practiced great poverty and supported the poor, preached very often and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. “Too late have I loved You!” he once cried to God, but with his holy life he certainly made up for the sins he committed before his conversion.

The Catholic Church has numerous examples of what authentic discipleship is all about. The number doesn’t stop there as everyday, many more have decided to live their lives for God.

Champions get engaged with life. Always. Champions are committed to the common good over narrow self-interests. Champions believe that greatness was never meant to be a personal agenda. Champions stay the course. The good fight is always worth the fight.

Champions, despite life’s mysteries and challenges, rejoice and stay joyful.


It is said that one of the greatest sins that we can ever commit is the failure to become who God intended us to become. Adam and Eve committed this and what used to be a beautiful life in perfect relationship between God and man became imperfect. A life of enchantment became a life full of darkness and evil. Weeds replaced beautiful flowers as sin marked itself on humanity.

One of the stories I love to hear is about this young farm boy whose father raised chickens up in the mountains near the Davao-Bukidnon border. One time his adventure took him high up in the forest where he scrambled upon an eagle’s nest. Out of curiosity he took one egg, run home and placed it in one of the hen’s nest. The hen didn’t know the difference; to her it is just another egg. What she just knew is just to sit on her nest until the eggs hatch. One day a little eaglet came out and with the other chicks lived a “chicken’s life”. The eaglet became content thinking he was just “one of them” and didn’t know he was different.

When we haven’t discovered yet who we are, we stay with the crowd and remain obscure. If you surround yourself with negative people, you become negative yourself. You live the life of a gossiper, a loser, a hater; in other words, you live a “life with the chickens”.

As the young eaglet grew, he felt something different within him. He thought, “I’m different, there’s more to me than being a chicken”. Confused, he just went about life until one day he saw an eagle up in the sky and he remarked, “I’m like that!” The eagle felt the urge to stretch his wings and thought, “this chicken yard is too small for me. I want to soar up high and see the sky, the mountains and valleys beyond!” He has never tried flying but the instinct to do it grew within him. He felt the power in his wings and flew into the top of the hill and then on into the blue sky, where he landed into the tallest tree up high on a tall mountain. He could fly!

One of the most beautiful days of your life is when you realize God’s purpose for you, which is the day you discovered your potential. You are special and you are created differently from all the others. You are not a number, you are not a statistic. You are special in God’s eyes!

The past two weeks saw us commemorate two important events of the Church: the Solemnity of the Assumption into Heaven, and the week after, the Queenship of Mary. Why this is relevant is the fact that Mary is the perfect model of obedience to the Father and to her Son Jesus, our Lord and Savior. She said “yes” to the Father, even though at that time it may be vague to her what the mission will eventually be. She was even “deeply troubled by the angel’s words” and wondered what it means. In her simplicity and humility, she submitted her future to the will of the Father. She believed and never doubted God. She said “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” (Lk. 1: 38). After that, she visited her cousin Elizabeth, and responded to her greeting,

“My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit finds joy in God my savior,

For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness;

all ages to come shall call me blessed.

God who is mighty has done great things for me,

holy is His name…” (Lk. 1: 46-49)

Just like the Blessed Mother, we too can become who God intended us to be, if we just obey Him. Believe, have faith. We don’t need a compelling miracle to shake us from our disbelief. What we think we can is enough proof of our potential. Obey His calling. There’s no better way to become our potential than to follow our generous and loving God.

Our challenge is to ask God to forgive us for failing to be at our best. Then listen to His leading and we can fulfill His purpose for us.

Faith and Patience

Among faith’s many elements, patience must be the most important and the most demanding. This Sunday’s Gospel talks about a very different Jesus that we know, who ignored a Canaanite woman who begged for healing: “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is terribly troubled by a demon.” Even his disciples asked Him to send her away. Jesus said “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman persisted, and Jesus further rejected, “It is not right to take the food of the sons and daughters and throw it to the dogs.” Her great faith however showed when she said, “even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”. Then the Lord that we know came and answered her, “O woman, you have great faith! Your wish will come to pass. That very moment her daughter got better.” (Mt. 15: 21–28).

The woman’s persistent faith bore fruit. When our Lord seems to ignore our prayers or even adds to our frustrations, these are moments of grace for us to be more patient, more persevering. This is a time for our faith to be built and strengthened some more. In this story, Jesus’ response is still fast and instantaneous. However, there are times that God will answer much later as in the case of Abraham. It took many years before God gave him a son in his old age. While Abraham’s case was completely hopeless, he believed that God would fulfill His promises. If we hold on to God’s promises, we will receive our reward just as the Canaanite woman did, just as Abraham did.

These are inspiring and encouraging stories to those of us who have to endure long periods of waiting before we experience the fulfillment of our prayers.

Today, if you are not feeling hopeful that God’s promises will come to realization, hold on to your faith. Rely on His words “Do not then surrender your confidence; it will have great reward. You need patience to do God’s will and receive what He has promised” (Heb. 10:35 – 36).

So let us therefore come repeatedly to the Lord’s Table and pray for more patience and strength as we wait for the best to come. Not only will we be rewarded, but God will be glorified through us. Let us lift our hands and offer thanksgiving and praise to the Lord, who always keeps His promises.

Entering into his Glory

A priest was walking a dark and smelly street when he saw a poor man lying in the gutter. At once his faith in God was shaken, and in a dark moment of the soul he cried out, “Oh God, do you exist? Are you there? Do you care? And if you do, why don’t you do something about that pathetic soul?” Then God spoke to Him in his heart. Authoritative! Strong! “I am. I see. I care. I am doing something about it. I just brought him to your attention!”

Is our relationship with God working? Are we listening to His leading? In the first place, do we really believe in Him? It’s not that we don’t believe in God, but we just have too many things and ideas in our minds. Distractions. No doubt that’s the issue.

  • We have mails to read and delete. A colleague mentioned that his Yahoo account is already 10,000+ unread mails and counting.
  • Bills to pay
  • Invitations to events we don’t want to miss
  • A bar visit with friends
  • A food trip down Kapitolyo
  • Deadlines of monthly reports
  • Etc.

Then there’s the mobile phone. It doesn’t have manners! It just rings and buzzes when we’re having dinner, in the middle of a meeting, or when walking towards the podium. Some of us have young kids, plus pets. Combine these two and this equates to “busy”. And there’s need to add in the “to do” list:

  • Help the kid with assignments
  • Bring the pet to vet
  • Find a pet sitter so the planned weekend holiday can be fulfilled

Yet in all these distractions, even if we don’t “believe”, God believes in us. God fully believes in us. We ask, “Does God care?” He does. But why the pain and suffering? “There is so much selfishness”, Mother Teresa once said. “Humans create the pain and suffering, not God”. At times He did allow bad things to happen, but all these were with various reasons, just like the defeat of the Jews and their exile to Babylon (600 B.C.):

Because of your great guilt, numerous sins, I have done this to you” (Jer. 30: 15).

In God’s great love, God vowed to bring them back home and renew their covenant, “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” This simply means that if they will be faithful to Him, He will be their God who provides and protects. Likewise with us, if we will be faithful to Him, this will allow God’s provision and protection to flow to us as if like rain.

In the Transfiguration, whose feast we celebrated the past week, the Divinity of Jesus blazed forth in might and splendor. The Father Himself testified, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him”, giving Jesus the supreme authority over all nations of all time:

His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7: 14).

Moses and Elijah appeared, in what Fr. Armand confirmed symbolized the Law and the Prophets: Moses to testify that Jesus’ way of Love is the heart of the Ten Commandments, and Elijah to testify that Jesus is the Savior foretold by all the ancient prophets. In the presence of His inner circle of Apostles Peter, James and John, who Jesus established as His New Church leaders and their witnessing of this majestic event to prove that Jesus is not just a myth (2 Pt. 1: 17). This Transfiguration event gives us a peek of what entering into His Glory means. It gives us the inspiration and courage to pursue our faith with more vigor knowing that all our efforts won’t be in vain. Heaven will be too hard to resist. But there will be trials and tests along the way. This will bring out the best or the worst in us. As in the times of Jesus there will always be persecutions against the Church. We can’t be comfortable with our faith. Our faith will always be tried.

Fr. Armand succinctly said: “As we grow in faith, there is transfiguration. From long and specific, our prayers become simpler, become quieter”. We become more trusting, knowing that we have an all-knowing, all-powerful God who is ever in control of our lives.

Are we fully convinced of Jesus Christ power and dominion over us all? Are we growing to be more patient, humble and loving to our neighbor? Do our prayers transfigure us?


Victory Over Rejection

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house. And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith” (Mt. 13: 54 – 58).

In the past week we learned the Gospel about Jesus being rejected in his native Nazareth. Being rejected can be very painful. It can happen to us when we live our faith. Our friends and loved ones sometimes can’t understand our commitment and devotion to God. Last Saturday’s Gospel spoke of another rejection, now on John the Baptist, resulting to his beheading. John is a classic example of prophets who stood by what they think is right. He didn’t fear Herod, he strove for the truth even to his death and so was “Christ’s martyr before Christ’s passion”. He was also an example of humility, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt. 3: 11).

The death of John must have saddened our Lord so much such that “he withdrew by boat away from there to a deserted place by himself.” (Mt. 14: 13). Jesus is sad and is feeling the pain of another rejection. He knew that people weren’t impressed with John’s ministry such that people thought he must be out of his mind. Of course we know that Jesus himself was also rejected because people misunderstood His great devotion to the Father and the work that the Father has given Him. Why should we be surprised when our friends don’t understand our commitment to God? The Apostle Paul was often misunderstood. He said, “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God” (2 Cor. 5: 13). It seems then that when others think we have lost our minds because of our love for God, then we are in great company of Jesus and the Saints!

When we decide to love God, others can’t always understand or respect us for it. “The natural man does not accept what is taught by God. For him, that is absurdity. He cannot come to know such teaching because it must be appraised in a spiritual way” (1 Cor. 2: 14). When we have the Spirit of God within us, we’ll be able to glimpse at how to look at things from God’s perspective. In this case more often than not, the way we look at things will become more radically different than others do and in effect, our priorities may become different. Have you done something wonderful for God, and yet experienced indifference from your friends and loved ones? It can turn our happiness into hurt and frustration very quickly. Have you realized that if the news of your involvement in God’s word were in another popular event, say, a victory in a competition, they would be more thrilled? But since it’s something spiritually related, others hold no esteem for such accomplishments. It’s a painful realization indeed.

But then, our decision to serve God should be such that we continue to serve, even if nobody cares. I’m inspired by what St. Paul said in his Epistles “My entire attention is on the finish line as I run toward the prize to which God calls me — life on high in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3: 14). Yes, what is important is that we are devoting energy to please God and not man.

A word of caution: this idea of living our lives pleasing to the Lord shouldn’t get into our heads and egos. It shouldn’t make us more proud and boastful. Instead, it should drive us to be more humble. We shouldn’t look at ourselves as having that extra edge in our spiritual journey. I think that as the more we focus on God, our behaviors and attitudes become more like Him. We become more caring individuals especially to those who have wronged us. Our pilgrimage will not always be a “pleasant ride on a quiet lake.” Sooner or later, we will encounter storms and rough waters. Unpleasant these may be these serve to “wake us up from complacency and drifting into deadly hurricanes.” In calmness, it is easy to believe that our indiscretions are harmless, but watch out for the storm building up on the horizon. When we encounter these trials, we shouldn’t despair as these are all part of the journey.

As people reject us, let us be comforted in the fact that our Lord, who was also rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law; will be with us throughout. We just have to focus and offer ourselves to Him, with our sinfulness, shortcomings and all. Our God is a gracious and loving God who’d be more than willing to nurture and help us grow in Him. Let’s keep going on this faith journey. He promised victory for us in the end, for as long as we embrace our cross and share in the cross of others too. It is a victory that’s surely ours for the taking.