Hail to Christ the King!

Today marks the end of the Liturgical Calendar, and what a better way to commemorate this by honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.

The Gospel reading brings us to St. Luke (Lk. 23: 35-43), at the scene of the crucifixion. While Jesus was hanging at the cross, the people and the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out,

If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read,
This is the King of the Jews.”

Imagine the humiliation that Jesus had to undergo. Even one of the criminals challenged the Lord by saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” Yet the other criminal said to the other in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”

What happened in the biblical times is still happening now. The mockery that the Savior underwent in the Cross is repeated over and over again by people who also claim to be His followers. It is the greatest humility that the King had to endure in order to save us all. He went through all the sufferings we can ever imagine under the Roman soldiers; Rome as an empire became powerful because of the strength of its army. It was one of the most powerful armies at that time. It was advanced, the best trained, had the best weapons and the best armor at its zenith. And the Lord suffered at the hands of these soldiers!

Yet Jesus offered forgiveness and didn’t point everything to himself. While Pilate thought of Jesus as a political or military ruler, Christ said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world” (Jn. 18, 36). Pilate missed the point, that Christ’s kingdom does not de­pend on worldly power, might, and strength. This is a heavenly and spiritual kingdom that depends on faith, prayer, and its fruit: good works. Even on the way to His gruesome death, Jesus was concerned of others as he told the many women who mourned and lamented him, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, (Lk. 23: 27-28).

The insight of the good thief is a viable alternative presented to us, other than the sounding echoes of the big hypocritical crowd present at that time. Here, was a lone voice heard over the noise of the shouts and mockery in the hills of Golgotha. His deep humility is something worth reflecting,

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Savior showed the highest level of humility in suffering during His Passion, Death and Resurrection. He showed us that the way to greatness is not through arrogance, pride and power, but in humility, faith and living a life of prayer and submission to the will of the Father.

He humbled himself,becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.(Phil. 2: 8)

It isn’t the way that the world knows, but is something deeper and more meaningful. That is why,

“…God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2: 9-11)

Today let us humble ourselves before the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.

To Him be all the Honor, Glory, Power and Strength, now and forever! Amen.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” (Mk. 11: 9, 10)

The Lord Will Bring Us Through

Just last week, I was talking with one of my previous staff based in Davao. She was sharing about the latest earthquake and was describing her fears and anxieties. At the time when the magnitude 6.4 quake shook the earth, she described what happened as the earth moved, how they could hear the sound of the structures swaying, the trees rustling and sounds from people shouting. She thought it was the “end of the world.” She described how colleagues had to abandon their condominium units for safer places. They were practically sleepless at night trying to be sensitive if ever the next one happens.  

As we are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year, the latest readings are mostly focused on the “End of Days”. In today’s Sunday Gospel (Lk. 21: 5-19), Jesus said, “All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”

He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ andThe time has come.’ Do not follow themWhen you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified
; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”

Even in those times more than 2,000 years ago, the disciples were already forewarned about what it will be in the end. The Lord have to console them, but more importantly preparing them for what is more important: how they will be persecuted in His name. He admonished them that suffering in the hands of men, kings and governors, will happen before the end comes. They will be interrogated but the Lord instructed them not to prepare their defense beforehand, for

I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

What the Lord told His closest friends applies to us as well. We have to look beyond all these events in order not to get distracted from our missions. These are all temporal and passing. While these happenings are more than enough to scare us, let us take the Lord’s promise that for as long as we believe and persevere, we will survive these tests and there will be justice! (First Reading Mal. 3: 19-20a). By His amazing grace we will be blessed with Eternal Life someday.

Today let us continue praying for peace, freedom from persecution, and absence of fear. May we be strengthened with the thought that the Lord will bring us through in the end of days.

Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Lk. 21: 28)

Heaven is Real!

Many years ago, someone I know was of the belief that life ends here on earth. He’d tell me, “You don’t need to attend Mass because heaven is here and not after death”. I was very young then and so it was normal to entertain some doubts and confusion. Years after that, however; he complained of severe headaches and was found to have a tumor in the brain that has already swelled in size. The cancer had spread fast and he eventually died several months after. It was sad, but the good thing was that he actually repented and for the first time in his life proclaimed that he will spend the remaining days in contrition and prayer. He asked for supplications and joined the dawn Rosary every time it passes his home.

After his passing, I realized how he was loved by God such that he was allowed to experience pain and suffering that led to repentance and hope that strengthened his faith. With his family around to support till the end, it allowed him to see beyond this ordeal and suffering. It was a gift that saved his soul from eternal damnation.

In the Gospel (Lk. 20: 27-38), some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally, the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called outLord, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 

Presently there are still people who live as if it ends here and that there’s no eternity. They live a life that is inconsiderate to others. They do not fear God in that they commit crimes that make people suffer. They display arrogance and pride aside from showing off what earthly wealth they have, contrary to the Lord’s teachings of humility and meekness.

Today let us pray for strength to endure earthly sufferings and persevere in the faith. May we find inspiration from one of the brothers mentioned in the First Reading (2 Mc. 7: 1-2, 9-14) who said to his torturers at the point of death: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.  It is for his laws that we are dying.”

Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead; to him be glory and power, forever and ever.” (Rv. 1: 5a, 6b)

Sharing One’s Wealth

The fruit of humility is when one’s heart possesses the ability to share one’s possessions with the poor without thinking about returns, coming from a deeper understanding of God’s love in its purest form.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Lk. 19: 1-10) tells of a man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, who was seeking to see who Jesus was; but could not see him because of the crowd for he was short in stature. Despite physical limitation, Zacchaeus humbled himself by climbing a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received Jesus at his home with joy. Despite what he heard from others who grumbled about Jesus staying “at the house of a sinner”, it didn’t deter him from remaining firm and proclaimed to the Lord that he shall give to the poor “half of his possessions” and promised that if he has extorted anything from anyone he “shall repay it four times over.”

One of the difficulties in becoming a disciple of Christ is in sharing one’s wealth with others. It often becomes a “thorn in the neck”, and obstacle that hinders one from embracing Jesus fully.

Our Lord knew it so well such that Jesus’ reaction to him was expressed in a delightful manner,

Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. 
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost

The Lord was so pleased with Zacchaeus’ action such that the ultimate reward of salvation was pronounced on him and his household. When one gives up one’s self in the form of giving up material wealth for others, one is exercising the virtue of charity and selflessness. In the case of Zacchaeus, his faith in Jesus was such that he embraced what the Lord was teaching throughout the days of His ministry, by obedience to the teaching of sharing one’s wealth with the least in Jewish society. It should be the of gaining the values of honesty, cautiousness, faith, gratitude, perseverance and humility. Arguably, sharing one’s wealth with the poor can make turn one’s obedience in the opposite way.

Today let us pray for wisdom and be warned of the danger of riches and how it can destroy our souls. May we be mindful of St. Paul’s exhortation in the Second Reading (2 Thes. 1:11 – 2:2), that we may be,

worthy of His calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Sharing what we have with others will hopefully make us worthy of being called God’s sons and daughters.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.” (Ps. 145: 1)