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)

Have Faith!

Many years back when I was a young engineer, there were instances that the things we’re doing at work didn’t turn out the way it was designed to be. Some incidents happened: like an equipment failure, an instrument unable to respond to design instructions, or  a computer processor getting a bug in its program making it unable to detect a deficiency it was supposed to prevent. Failures beyond our control can happen to machines such that in the midst of it, in your desire to have  smooth operations; you tried to pull all the skills (and tricks) you’ve learned and yet nothing seemed to work. You felt the world about to crumble. The problem at hand seemed to get bigger and bigger, and when the chance of success is getting dimmer with each passing second, you felt the hopelessness and the desperation sinking in. Meantime, you felt people waiting for you making some decisions to contain the seemingly inevitable problem. Then suddenly from out of the blue, you remembered that there is a force out there that’s much bigger than all of these combined; the One Name that you whispered to yourself, “Jesus, please help me!”

In the Gospel today (Mk. 5: 21-43), Jesus showed the crowd how He loved others even in the face of doubt. The raising to life of Jarius’ daughter was a case in point, 

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

The crowd thought there’s no more point disturbing the Lord since the girl of twelve has died. But Jesus called for faith even when all seemed lost. In between this story, a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years came behind Jesus in the crowd and touched His cloak. She had actually spent all that she had, yet her situation only grew worse. In other words, she was in a state of despair and hopelessness! But she trusted the Lord and in her despair, she found her only hope in Christ. She fell down before the Lord and told him the whole truth. 

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

These stories of Jesus’ compassion for the hopeless also tell us not to give up when all seem lost. He reassures that He is with us in our journey. In the First Reading (Wis. 1: 13-15; 2:23-24), the Book of Wisdom tells us, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” He did not make hatred, wars, climate change, racism, or immorality. He did not make selfishness, disrespect, pride nor does He sugarcoat lies into truth. He does not want all the suffering that is in the world today. “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” Yes, God created us in His own image and likeness, but He also gave us free will to choose between good and evil. Then when Adam and Eve fell, it was like, “But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

Back to my story: In those experiences, God always intervened. He always gave me answers and never allowed my work to be compromised. His Spirit is always there to whisper the answers to my questions. He never fails me even to this day!

All the trials and challenges we face are not the ends in itself. These are meant to make us stronger, better, and wiser in the important matters of life. We should look at these with the fervent hope that something good will come out, if not in this life, in the great beyond. Even should it result to failure or even death (just like in terminal sickness), we should rejoice that it will give us eternal life. Thus, we should be more thankful if given the opportunity to dedicate our lives to God.

Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, always like to remind that, 

In order to be truly happy, you should inspire others. When others become inspired, you make them happy. When you see others becoming happy because of what you’re doing, you actually become happier. So, it really means that, being happy is not really about you, but is about inspiring, sharing and giving of yourself to Jesus and to others.’  

This Sunday, we are presented with the challenge: Is our faith in God strong enough to fully submit to His will? 

Let us trust that God will create good from evil and will turn any misfortune into a blessing beyond our imagination. We just need to fully trust Him. Our faith will tell us not to rationalize what’s happening, we just need to cling to Him, hold on, and need not be afraid. 

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.” (Ps. 30: 2a)

Facing the Storms

Many years ago, I met a friend* who became successful in his career. Early on he rose the ranks in one of the biggest multinational companies in the country. Throughout the time he was around, he was always obsessed with earning higher and getting wealthier. In our conversations, it was always about material success, earning more money and there was hardly any mention of his family. He was unreachable, indifferent and cold to them. Also, we observed he wasn’t keen in building up his spirituality and hardly mentioned God whenever I brought up the matter in our discussions. He was focused elsewhere and it seemed to me that God didn’t have a place in his heart. 

When life is good, it is easy to forget the Lord. You go on with your daily living and ignore His presence such that He just “sleeps” patiently waiting for you to call on Him. These are times when you don’t care to involve Him in your celebrations, decisions, and conversations. You think you can do it by yourself and thus forget Him. Then when problems arise, when you don’t have anyone to turn to, you look for God as the ‘last resort’. This is sad because it shouldn’t be the case. The Lord shouldn’t be relegated to the background. If you want your life to be in order, you should put Him in the driver’s seat.

In the Gospel (Mk. 4: 35-41), 

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

The call of the Apostles is similar to what we do when experiencing problems. It tells us that the Lord is just there, waiting for our call. He has the power to quiet the winds and calm the storms raging around us. 

This summer while the world is fighting the pandemic, I made the difficult decision of allowing my wife Alma and my daughter Alexa (she’s a doctor of medicine) to travel to the US and then to the UK for Alexa’s medical examinations in Edinburgh, Scotland. While I was hesitant and fearful of making that, eventually my faith and trust in the Lord prevailed for them to pursue the journey. There were so many challenges, like the quarantine periods in every place that they enter, the swab tests that they have to undergo and pass, and just a few weeks before leaving, the Philippines was placed in the red zone (a traveler cannot enter the United Kingdom when the last ten days prior to entry were from a red zone country). That is why we had to decide for them to travel via the US and stay there ten days before entering Great Britain. Aside from making it more expensive, more critical to consider are the risks associated with traveling and all the requirements mentioned earlier. At the time of their departure, Alexa was vaccinated with the first dose, while Alma was still waiting for her schedule.

On the other hand, we thought that if they didn’t pursue the journey, given the state of the pandemic; they will have to do the processing of applications and documents all over again and the next chance of going to London may be possible only after a year’s time. 

The risks were very high indeed, but we believe that God is mightier and more powerful than any of these combined together. Our faith in God gave us the courage and the confidence for them to go on. Also, we have to plan well considering that there’s no Alma at home for the next six weeks. We prayed harder than we used to do before we started booking the flights and their places abroad. (It’s a blessing that Alma’s brothers are based in New Jersey.) We agreed that we have to pray more and get God involved in whatever we are doing at all times. I believe that the Lord will protect us all from the virus and the risks associated with it. I think that all that’s happening around are nothing compared to the power of Jesus. These are storms that were thrown at us to test our faith.

In all, they were able to pursue the journey and return successfully after about a month and a half abroad. While there were challenges at home, we were generally happy with the outcomes. Just a day before fulfilling the mandatory hotel quarantine in Clark, Pampanga, Alexa received a SMS from our city that her second dose is scheduled on the day they were to check out of the hotel! I believe that that wasn’t coincidence but God’s way of telling us, “Hey family, I’m always in control!”

It is essential that we always travel our life journey with Jesus. We shouldn’t ignore but allow Him to guide us in our decisions. He is our silent companion, listening friend, and the go-to-guy in all the events of our life, happy and sad. We should always recognize that He is around, unlike the friend I mentioned earlier, who seem to ignore God’s presence. It is the height of ingratitude to the Creator if you behave like that.

Today, let us reflect on the awesome power of God. There is no storm too big for Him, no challenge too difficult for Him, no problem that He cannot handle.  Let us pray for humility, that whatever we do, we submit to His plans.

Give thanks to the Lord, His love is everlasting.” (Ps. 107: 1b)

God’s Kingdom

During this pandemic, we can see in social media many pictures of plants grown by people engaged in raising these colorful flowers and beautiful plants in their home gardens. You can even see photos of those plants that are yet to bloom with a caption of how the gardener will feel if one plant doesn’t flower well or is late in blooming. Patience, care and hard work are among the traits needed to raise seeds into bountiful plants.

In the Gospel today, the Lord speaks about the kingdom of God,

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mk. 4: 26-34)

The farmer plants the seed and slowly it sprouts, grows and yet “knows not how”. We understand that planting and raising plants and trees is a slow process and there are no shortcuts. Starting from a tiny seed, great potential is realized after much watering, caring and shielding from the threats to its existence. This passage reveals that like plants, God’s Kingdom will slowly and gently come into our lives. 

Each of us can grow into somebody much larger than we can ever imagine. Look at your own self, how you have done a great job so far, considering the difficulties and challenges that you’ve went through. This has nothing to do with the degree you’ve achieved, but it’s more on what you do with what you have or what is given to you. More often than not, people who feel that they are part of the least actually end up with accomplishing some of the greatest achievements. Just like the mustard seed. What we have to realize and accept is that the most important element in what we call “success” is not of our own making, but God’s will in making it happen for us. When we let go of our own selfish desires and leave all to God’s care and protection, we can become the majestic tree that He meant us to be. As the prophet Ezekiel said in the First Reading (Ez. 17: 22-24) 

It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.”

Once in a while the Master Gardner will trim us of our pride and selfishness just as even the biggest trees in the world need to be cut of its leaves from time to time. Trees with the most abundant foliage even have to lose their leaves during winter so that they can bloom brighter in spring. At times we need to go through different challenges and trials in order to gain new mindsets about life. The Lord is telling us that it’s not really about how tall and lush or pretty the tree is that defines whether it is a good one, but it is about its roots and how deep these go down the earth. It is about what they are capable of doing and surviving future storms and weather challenges.

Similarly, it’s not about how important we think we are – it’s about our intentions and reasons behind everything we do. It is about how deeply we are rooted in our faith in Christ so much so we can handle those challenges that come to us. It is also about how we handle success and material wealth. The Lord can endow us with abundant wealth to test how we handle life’s good moments. Sadly, not all of us can handle wealth in the way that God wants us to.

Our own spiritual growth is the ultimate determinant of what defines us, because it brings us closer in intimacy with the Lord.

Moving forward, we can choose the paths to take. With the right spiritual preparation, we can discern what Jesus will do in any situation we are in. At its best, we all have so much God-given potential that we just need to yield to God’s plans in order to let the seeds grow fully. As St. Paul affirmed in the Second Reading,

Therefore, we aspire to please Him, whether we are at home or away.”

Today, reflect on the following:

What is my life purpose? 

Am I obedient to God’s will for my life? 

Am I humble, grateful and thankful in all circumstances? 

Pray that you keep your heart fertile for God to establish His Kingdom and help you become an instrument of His power.  

The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower. All who come to Him will live forever.” 

Our Only Communion

People attend the Eucharistic Celebration for different reasons: one attends the Holy Mass to pray for the granting of his “petitions and requests”, another due to his “devotion for holiness”, while a third attends “to fulfill Sunday requirements”. While these are also valid in one way or the other as we are anyway before the Holy Presence of God, our main reason to attend the Holy Mass should be,    

To celebrate God’s love for us. We are here to praise and to give thanks to God”, said Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB in his homily today. “Maybe we just have to focus our prayers while attending Mass to express thanks and to honor God. We honor Him because we put our hope in Him. We trust everything to Him, we just put our hope in Him. ‘You are all-powerful, that’s why we honor and worship You’. We are here to celebrate the greatness of God. And we celebrate it through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

(Ang Misa ay pagdiriwang ng pagmamahal ng Diyos sa atin. Narito tayo upang purihin, pasalamatan ang DiyosI-focus mo ngayon yung dasal mo pag ikaw ay nagsisimba, na magpasalamat, at magpugay. Tapos magpupugay tayo sapagkat umaasa tayo sa Kanya. Siya ang bahala, asa lang tayo sa Kanya. ‘Makapangyarihan Ka, kaya nagpupugay kami sa Iyo.’ Narito tayo para magdiwang ng kadakilaan ng Diyos. At ipinagdiriwang natin sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Misa.)

In the Gospel (Mk. 14: 12-16, 22-26), Jesus, 

“…took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take itthis is My Body.” Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is My Blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

At Holy Mass, during the consecration of the bread and wine, we know that God the Son is present in veiled form. Our eyes do not see, our senses do not perceive, but we believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is present in the Holy Eucharist. This is not only symbolical but indeed “the real Body and Blood of Christ”. Therefore, every time we receive the Lord in Holy Communion, we should do it in total awe and reverence of God’s presence. We should approach it like we did in our first Communion, as if it’s “our last Communion, our only Communion” (Catholic Mom)

Today, let us reflect on this awesome and wonderful privilege that God gave us in the Holy Eucharist. Let this reflection allow the deepening of our faith to grow in love and respect of the Son of God, who is present in the Tabernacles of countless churches. “I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (Jn.6: 51)

The Significance of the Most Holy Trinity

Today we are being invited to reflect on what we believe about God, who has revealed Himself to us in the Most Holy Trinity, one God in Three Divine Persons. We are taught that each one is distinct from the other. Each Divine Person has a perfect intellect and free will.  Since each one is God, each one is capable of knowing and loving the others to a perfect degree. It is this perfect ability to know and love that makes them One and united perfectly. This unity amongst themselves is so deep that they become One God. This is so profound that if we try to explain this mystery, it may take us more than Eternity to do it. Suffice it to say that it is a mystery that is not for us to define but for us to grow in love and intimacy of each Divine Person. We are called to a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While it may be futile to fathom this mystery even to the slightest degree, God will bring us into a more intimate knowledge of Him, if we open our hearts to Him.

This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinityreminds us how close, how near God is to usThe impact of the truth is thisthat God is very close to us, is near to us.” Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, said in his homily today.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt. 28: 16-20) talks about the Lord’s commissioning of the Eleven. This time it was intended for “all nations”, unlike before when the Twelve were just confined to look for “the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Now, the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be taken to all peoples, and the task is to baptize and to teach. When we baptize, we are to baptize them “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This reference to the Most Holy Trinity is one of the testaments of Baptism,  

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age
.” (Mt. 28: 16-20)

However, prior to these verses, we read that “… they worshiped, but they doubted.” Just like the Apostles, many of us say we are His followers but despite the faith we profess in Christ, we still doubt. We still fear and underestimate God’s promise and unlimited power. We know deep inside us that Jesus walked the earth and that He is God, Who was, Who is and Who will be. Despite knowing all these, we still doubt and we cast anxieties on our own souls.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are reminded that this central mystery of our faith is meant to be lived and given flesh and blood. By the faith we profess in our own Baptism, we share in the life of the blessed Trinity and is commissioned to invite others to share in God’s love as well. 

Let us pray for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God. Let us bow down in humility before Him so that we allow Him to open our minds and hearts. 

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come.”  (Rev. 1: 8)

Come Holy Spirit!

The Season of Easter concludes with the Solemnity of Pentecost when the Church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. As this event marks the beginning of the Church, we can also say, it is the birthday of Holy Mother Church. 

During these times, the challenges and difficulties that people face every day instill fear, apprehension and anxiety. This pandemic is not only about public health, it is also about mental health, its effects on livelihood, jobs, and food security. Many are feeling the crunch after months of limited mobility and work. 

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20: 19-23), the disciples were feeling fearful, very similar to what most are experiencing now. Despite their faith, the disciples were afraid; there was no peace in their hearts.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

In those moments, the disciples “needed the assurance of the Resurrection”, to quote Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB. Before the disciples can become effective messengers of the Good News to the world, they’d need peace to calm down their fears and worries.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 

It is time for the Lord to pass on the mission to His disciples. But He knew that they would need an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. They would need to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to set the world “on fire”.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

In the same way, we need a transformation in our faith, believing that the Holy Spirit is real and wants to enter our lives in the same way the disciples experienced in that First Pentecost. 

What’s happening around us can often lead to spiritual dryness as we are caught in the anxieties, concerns and distractions. Worry and fear overshadow us and our love for Jesus can die down. To revive our faith and our zeal for the Lord, we need to put another log into the fire to spark the dying embers of our spirits. God is reaching out to us with His love, grace and strength so that we can effectively live holy lives pleasing to Him. 

Have you experienced going through this, and suddenly things became better, you feel that the “sun’s finally coming out?” The Lord Jesus has come through the closed doors of the room, stood with us saying,  “Peace be with you.” Behold, despite the limitations in visiting the physical church, the fire of Pentecost is bright again! Rest assured that for as long as we remain steadfast, the Holy Spirit will grant us the wisdom to understand God’s purpose for all that we are experiencing now.

Today, let us be reminded of the Lord’s promise of fullness, the living Spirit of God, where grace is like living water, flowing steadily so we’ll never thirst again. Pentecost transforms us into powerful instruments of God’s grace. Let us then go forth to spread the holiness of God to the world.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” 

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