Category Archives: Other

Increasing Our Faith

When one aims for higher office or position, the more difficult the challenges will be. You will have to give up something for another. Time will have to be reallocated while priorities change. Sometimes, there will be compromises that may be done, all for the end goal that one wants to achieve.

This is the same with our journey with the Lord. The deeper we are in our relationship with Him, there will be seemingly more difficult aspects that we will go through. While others look at it as such, it’ll be more joyful and easier because you know the prize is worth all the difficulties and struggles. You sacrifice material wealth and worldly honor because you know that Eternal Life is priceless and more important.

In the Gospel (Mt. 15: 21-28), Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon, when a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of DavidMy daughter is tormented by a demon.” Even Jesus’ silence, the disciples request to send her away and the “rude” reply that the Lord said could stop her from saying, “Lord, help me.” The sharp response of Jesus saying, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” didn’t discourage her pleading further, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Jesus granted her prayer because of her “great faith”.

This Canaanite woman, a pagan mother, proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of David, a faith which stands clearly apart from the lack of faith that the Lord sees among the people of Israel, their elders and even his home town of Nazareth. 

Last night, I called my Aunt Diony to listen and talk to her about dealing with life’s challenges. With limited mobility brought about by community quarantine restrictions, we sometimes think that the Lord is silent and ignoring our prayers. We discussed that there are times when the Lord is allowing events to happen to test our faith, knowing He has equipped us with the strength to overcome it. The most difficult part is when you succumb to the temptation, especially when you lose your faith feeling that God isn’t answering your prayers. When this happens, you actually lose faith and trust in God, showing that your faith is easily shaken. A better response would be to think that this is actually a test, an invitation to turn to Him on a deeper level of faith and trust. God wants to move our faith from something that is wavering to one that is firm and stable, fostered by trust in His providence and mercy. He wants to sharpen our faith some more, so that we can withstand the more difficult challenges that we’ll encounter.

Today, let us reflect on the faith we have for Jesus: is it deeper enough for us to withstand the moments when He is silent? 

Let us pray that we put more trust in Him and allow our faith to stand firm despite the challenges we face.

O God, let all the nations praise you!” (cf. Ps. 67: 4)

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)

Be A Light

Many years ago when I was being sent on an errand by my Lola, I found a one-peso coin along the way. Upon returning home I told her about it and she said, “This is not ours, let’s give it to Church when we go to Mass.” Young and immature I was then, I felt dismayed that something that I found and could buy some candies is to be given elsewhere. But later, that lesson struck me about the values of being honest and trustworthy. Do not get what is not yours. Values that should be at the core of our being. Being endowed with honesty and trustworthiness stem from a deeply-seated humility and nobility of character. Not many are given that gift though, as it comes from a purposive and well-thought of behavior brought out by many years of learning and submission to authority. My Lola is a prime example as she has nurtured these values in her children and grandchildren (who have the blessing and opportunity to be guided and taught by her in our growing up years). She never took for granted the chance to teach us whenever situations were presented. And we are grateful to her for it.

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 3: 15-16, 21-22), we can see one of the perfect models of trustworthiness and humility in Scriptures, St. John the Baptist. When the time came that he was asked if Jesus is the Messiah, his classic reply is one filled with obedience and humility:

“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

St. John lived his calling faithfully and without any selfish interest whatsoever. True he was popular and had many followers that’s why many were filled “with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”

There are many cases wherein people who have been entrusted betrayed their friends and benefactors. People like Judas Iscariot, spies, corrupt politicians and officials, come to mind as among these kind of people. When we sin, we become like them. It’s not about education nor about being with a certain religion. There are many professed Catholics who betray their faith by being unfaithful in their positions. Nobody is perfect, but what makes it more serious is when you don’t acknowledge, repent and mend your ways. Thus, it is something that is drawn from natural and moral laws that is almost always common sense. It takes strength of character, wisdom, and fear of the Lord to overcome the temptations to abuse power and wealth. When you fail, have the humility to accept it and repent before God and Church. When one has these virtues, it’s almost always automatic that that person is endowed with integrity. Sad to say, this is lacking today.

When you are a person obedient to faith, without blinking an eye you can present God to others without fear and worry. You know yourself and as well as the source of your power and strength. You don’t derive it from people and earthly power. It’s something powerful and out-of-this-world. You know that God is with you and won’t fail you.

After Jesus’ Baptism, God the Father affirmed “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Just like Our Lord, due to grace received at our baptism we are acknowledged by God as His sons and daughters. Thus considering most of us received Baptism when we were still infants, we have this obligation to learn, nurture and spread the faith. As parents, ask yourselves, “Have you done your obligation to teach your children what our faith is all about?” Have you taught them morality and in building principles and values in their lives? If you failed these roles, most probably these are the reasons why the world today is filled with dysfunctional men and women who persist in their ways.

Lately, Netflix released the movie “Noah” as an ambitious portrayal of the Biblical character descending from our first parents Adam and Eve. As the film portrayed, building the ark from “out of nothing” and a literally barren earth, Noah’s faith in the Creator (as the film calls God) was strong and unfailing. Despite threats from other men and to family unity, his obedience to the Creator prevailed and didn’t waver. His faith was strong and he was obedient.    

In this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, may we be obedient and faithful to our calling. May we have the strength to persevere and just like St. John the Baptist, offer everything that we have to God, whose honor, glory and power must “increase” while we “decrease” in faithful submission to Him. May we be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” (First Reading, Is. 42: 1-4, 6-7).

The Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Ps. 29: 11b)

Victorious, Focused and Obedient

What is the first thing you do upon waking up in the morning? Some of us would say, “I drink water”, others “I fix my bed”, still some would say, “I’ll go to the comfort room”, while some pious among us would say, “I pray first”. However, our guest priest said that the first thing that is actually done, before all the others would be to “open our eyes”. Then the next things like praying, fixing the bed, etc. follows.

This question is relevant because this is connected to the last thing we do before laying our heads to sleep the night before. Before we end the day, and prior to sleeping, it is best practice to pray to God for a good night’s rest. We have to consider that because when at sleep, except for the fact that there is breathing, we are actually unconscious, even approximating death. It feels scary but that is the reality. Dreadful especially when one is not ready to face death. Even when one is “ready”, it is still a frightening thought of leaving this world to a still uncertain destination. It is appropriate then for us to be prepared when the time comes. Our day’s end prayer would approximate that of offering our body and soul to God so that we would be able to wake up to a new day. Not only to that but also the readiness to face death, if ever we are called in our sleep.

This Sunday, the Gospel tells us of the blind beggar Bartimaeus who asked our Lord to be given the chance to “see again”. Jesus said in reply, “Be on your way. Your faith has healed you.” (Mk. 10: 46-52)

The beggar actually didn’t waste time and even shouted louder when he was being asked to keep quiet. Blessings sometimes come to us when we least expect it, and even in quite difficult conditions requiring us to compete with others. Bartimaeus desperate conditions made him shout in order to catch Jesus’ attention, who was passing by unexpectedly. He made the immediate decision to call on Jesus, because it is his only way to catch the attention of the Lord.

Today, we are reminded to be thoughtful in the prayers we make. Our attention is called to the quality of our intentions and to whom and what we pray for. We are encouraged to pray for things that matter and not on things that are mere desires and earthly. Just like Bartimaeus, we should be able to discern the most important things in our lives that need instantaneous correction. Immediate because we don’t know the hour or circumstance when we are called back. Oftentimes in these areas of our lives Jesus’ healing is needed.

We are called to reflect on our own lives, how and what are we praying for. Are the intentions we are praying the things that really matter? Are we focused on aspects of our lives that need God’s healing touch?

The Gospels in the coming Sundays will speak of the end of days. Just like when we are about to sleep, let us make sure we pray for the most relevant intentions. We need to offer ourselves to Jesus, who is the only one who can heal us of our deepest infirmities. We need to do this because firstly, we need to ensure we are in a state of grace when we pass on. Secondly, we need to look into ourselves, whether we have lived the purpose for which God created us. And thirdly, whether we have lived a life to serving God and others.

It is therefore a compelling thing for us to ask Jesus to make us “see again”. Just like the blind beggar, our prayer should be on the things that matter most, and not on the things which are irrelevant and unimportant. Let us take note that when it is God who open our eyes, the first thing we see is God. Let us therefore shout out to our Lord to make us “see again”, so that we see Him and know what He wants us to do.

This way, we can be confident that we are directed to things that matter most to God. In doing so, we can be sure of being victorious and focused. We can be confident of always prioritizing the Spirit. For obedience to His will is what matters above all else.

Happy & Balanced Life

A happy and balanced person lives a busy schedule but not a cluttered lifestyle. Clutter is action without passion, an existence with no purpose. It may give us some excitement temporarily but it does not have a purpose, it is just that– an endless path with no purpose. Let us move away from the clutter. Life should be a holistic experience of personal motivation igniting passionate action.