God Provides

This pandemic has brought a lot of disruptions in the plans of everyone: rich or poor, young or old. Family events and affairs, travels, careers, businesses, and the like didn’t happen as planned when COVID-19 came into the picture. I have seen families affected by the pain of not being able to pay their last respects to a loved one who passed away, a school graduation not happening in the real venue (my daughter, a doctor of medicine being a part of the Class of 2020 didn’t have a graduation live on stage), OFWs not able to go home to the country; all because of health and safety protocols and restrictions. For now, while there are indications that herd immunity is in the horizon, the threats of new and more potent variants are again bringing in uncertainties in the plans of many. Truly we are in times when people can get worried and anxious.

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 6: 1-15), we hear the situation wherein Jesus was asking Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going  to do. It seemed an impossible situation such that Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” 

There are situations in life that we encounter similar difficult circumstances. We feel these are impossible to solve and even to imagine. Yet God provides whenever necessary, for as long as we act what we are supposed to do. 

We knew what happened next, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.”  In the end, they were even able to collect and fill “twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” 

Theologians tell us that there may not really be only five barley loaves and two fish; but when people saw the boy sharing his meal with them, they started sharing what they have too. You see, it is not only God who should do something, we are expected to likewise act on the situation at hand. I recall hearing our elders say that when we pray and if it’s good for us, God will surely answer our petitions. The problem is that we are focused on one particular thing such that we don’t recognize the miracle that is already going on.

Sometimes we pray for physical healing, the solution of our problems, to get out of a tight spot, and we don’t realize God is already giving us a lot of healing, a lot of blessings. (Tayo lang yung manhid.Only we are insensitive because we keep on focusing on one particular gift, blessing or healing. In His wisdom, in His great love, He has given us what we truly need for that moment, which we sometimes don’t realizeGod is not a stingy God. God is generous”, Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB said in his homily today.

Indeed, what is important is for us to realize the blessings that God has given us. We have to be sensitive to what’s happening around so that we only ask one particular question: What is God expecting me to do now?

Today, reflect on what’s going on in your life: What are those that bother you? What keeps you anxious? What makes you worry? 

Do what God wants you to do, then surrender the rest to Him. At the end of the day, it is not what we want that is important, what is important is we let God’s will prevail.

The hand of the Lord feeds usHe answers all our needs.” Ps.145:16

I Will Give You Rest

I always embrace the weekend break. It is a time to fulfill God’s command to make holy the Lord’s Day. A welcome respite from the previous week’s challenges, it is a good opportune time to prepare for the coming work, driving through traffic, and the demands that are associated with the coming week. It is indeed the time to refresh, rejuvenate and recharge. 

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 6: 30-34) proclamation, after receiving the reports of His hard-working Apostles, Jesus said to them,

Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 

The Master recognized the needs of the Apostles, and didn’t want them to get burned out in a time when those words aren’t even used yet. He perfectly knew how they felt after toiling hard in preaching the Good News. Before these verses on the return of the Twelve, many events were mentioned in this chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel: The rejection at Nazareth, the mission of the Twelve, Herod’s opinion of Jesus, and the death of John the Baptist, thus, the Lord understood that the Apostles need to take a rest for a while. It needn’t be a long rest but just enough for them to get the tiredness away.

Likewise, it is offered for us today and every weekend thereafter. This invitation of communing with the Lord in a deserted, quiet place, is indeed a welcome change in a world characterized by deadlines, a hectic pace and busyness. Christ is telling us that it is important to recharge in order to sustain our health and our work. You shouldn’t wait for your body to force you to rest in a hospital bed. Being human, you have physical limitations and should learn to trust God to protect the work while you’re away. In last Thursday’s Gospel, Jesus said,

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28

For as long as you accept this invitation to rest with and in Him, the Lord will give the needed rest, as in today’s verses in Psalm 23: 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose; beside restful waters He leads me; He refreshes my soul.” Ps. 23: 1-3

Today, let us reflect on the Lord’s invitation to come and rest in Him. Create the time to spend time with Jesus. Hear and feel God in the silence and solitude. You will find it worthwhile to do over and over again. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” Ps.23:1

God Provides

As an active Boy Scout during my school days, I’ve been trained to be ready at all times. This readiness requires us to have enough preparation in order to be able to tide over when unpredictable events happen. These earthly proactiveness also requires us to think well so that our preparations are sufficient. The downside to this though is that I observe many people tend to overthink. This tendency progresses into worries and anxieties, such that it becomes counterproductive. You lose time otherwise spent on doing more productive activities.

To a certain extent being proactive is good, though this isn’t complete; something is missing. Doing this without mindfulness will unconsciously make you so dependent on your own strength and talents. This isn’t what the Lord wants to happen. You start forgetting God and pride gets in the way. You become ineffective and there will come a point that you surrender to fatigue and weariness. 

In the Gospel (Mk. 6: 7-13), we learn that when He sent out the Twelve, Jesus instructed them “to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” 

Our calling differs from one person to another as we are gifted distinctly. Some of us are great teachers, skilled engineers and technicians, expert sales persons, etc. and because of these we are sent by the Lord to different missions. While diverse, these aren’t strange environments as these are our families, officemates, and anyone we meet. Our homes, offices and shop floors are the marketplaces in this mission. This isn’t all about speaking or talking, it’s also more about our actions day in and day out. We have to work diligently and with humility, aiming to please God more than people.

If you do these with more consciousness of the Lord working in your life, you become more effective and efficient. When confronted with challenges, you don’t get affected easily as you become more confident trusting that God is in full control. Jesus tells us to have complete faith in Him and not rely on our strength and capability in order to be successful in what we do. With humility and gratitude, we accept His will, trusting that He provides for all our needs. 

Today, let us pray for discernment and wisdom; that we may realize that while we extend effort and energy in our work, ultimately it is God who takes care of us and looks at our every need.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.” Eph.1:17-18

Believing in God’s Messengers

One of my friends way back in childhood became a priest, and is currently involved teaching and training seminarians to the priesthood. He is a faithful servant of God, articulate, and a caring person. He belonged to a good-looking family way back but then sadly later on, the parents walked separate ways. One of his parents left the Church and joined another congregation. It’s a hard thing because they used to be active in Church and yet, despite having a son or family member in the service of God, they abandoned it for other sects.

In the Gospel today (Mk. 6: 1-6), we hear that Jesus went to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When He taught in the synagogue, many who heard him were astonished but in a negative way, “and they took offense at him.”  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” As a result, Christ “wasn’t able to perform any miracles there, apart from curing a few sick people. The Lord was amazed at their lack of faith.”

It’s a sad reality indeed because what they didn’t realize is that the blessing that they have was unknowingly rejected by their lack of faith. There would have been many blessings and miracles there, if only they listened and accepted God in their midst.

If you want miracles to happen in your own home and community, you should build it with a solid faith and foundation in the Lord. When you lead your family to Jesus,  it becomes a happy, blessed, and bountiful home. Prayer occupies a major role in family life and everyone strives to remain faithful to God. When family members love, care, and trust each other, the problems and challenges that they face are easily resolved. Yes, there may be challenges that happen along the way, but with humility and patience in your relationships, there is ease and comfort in addressing misunderstandings. There is harmony in the home and with that strong intimacy with Christ, there are countless miracles that happen every single day.

When there is lack of faith and its resultant acts of love, the atmosphere in the house is dry, lifeless, and stunted. You can’t call it a home. How can you expect good things to happen when God the Almighty isn’t welcome there?

This Sunday, we are invited to reflect on how we treat our family members who work in the service of the Lord. We should see Christ in them and abandon all pride and prejudice when they share their faith with us. Despite their limitations, let us strive to appreciate their participation in God’s work.

Let us pray for those who work in God’s vineyard, that they may have the joy and strength to persevere, despite encountering rejections in their mission. Amen.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” 

(Lk. 4: 18)