Saturday, July 12, 2014

Be Filled with Hope

MY PERSONAL REFLECTION:
“The Contradiction of Stewardship”
My reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1.     The first reading gives me the assurance that God’s Word and His promises are true.  One could imagine with the prophet Isaiah with the vision of dew drops coming from heaven and spreading themselves and nourishing a verdant earth.  So is the Word of God. The assurance is clear that what He promised He will do.  But will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He comes again?  Have we forgotten about the reality of the second coming and the truth about the resurrection?  Why is it that as if all our plans are directed on earthly concerns?  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto thee, says our Lord.  For the pagans seek for money and food, but we are reminded that God knows that we need of all of these.  Are we in doubt of God’s providence that we take into our own hands our lives and future?  We have to be reminded that our charitable work and even our social action is the product of a deep spirituality and not vice-versa.  We should not mistake “integral evangelization” so called, as emphasis on social justice and anti-poverty alleviation.  Some said, an empty stomach is not capable of receiving the gospel, so they say they have to fill the stomach first.  But I beg to disagree.  This is a wrong notion.  In the Bible we read that Christ first preached the gospel to the people and confirm it with miracles of healings.  It was only after the preaching that He multiplied the loaves of bread and the fishes. Let us make our Sunday worship the most beautiful.  Let the Church and her priests attend to the sacraments and the teaching of the Word of God.  Only after doing an excellent job on this can the feeding of the literal bodies is done.  For even the daily food that we eat is a token of God’s providence and not solely by our own effort.  For without Him we can do nothing.

2.     Reflecting on the second reading – I was impressed by the thought that the Sin of Humankind is so great that even the whole of creation was affected and was corrupted because of original sin.  The corruption of material things is a sign of our own struggle with sin and suffering.  These thoughts move us to come to the foot of the cross and behold what redemption it took to bring us to the door or paradise.  For we behold Him, the pledge of our redemption.  His grace sowed hope in our hearts.  Each time creation is renewed we are given hope that God will someday bring to a close the cycle of decay and bring us to the glorious redemption of our Bodies to be in God’s Kingdom.  Let us be filled with hopeful thoughts and trust in His grace all the time.  Let it be by prayer and supplications.

3.     In the gospel reading for today, I was initially confused when Our Lord said, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Does it look that the master was unmerciful to take away even the little things that remains with the least of these men?  I don’t think so.  I got the idea that perhaps our Lord was telling us that as Christians we are expected to be fruitful to abound with fruits.  The Lord emphasizes the gravity and the importance He places on stewardship.  Once he entrusts us with something good then we have to capitalize on it.  For anyone who hears the Word of God and keep it will have an abundant life in Christ.  Let us thank the Lord for giving us this grace to see and understand and let us ever pray that we will always have this grace.


Be filled with hopeful thoughts this Sunday!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

THE IMAGE OF THE TEACHER

“MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART: MY IMAGE OF THE TEACHER”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Reflecting and meditating on this Sunday’s gospel reading, I see in the face of my Lord, the face of a teacher.  As Pope Francis said...that indeed Jesus is more than a teacher, He is our friend.  No one indeed has seen the Father, but Jesus as the source of knowledge seeks to convey to us what the Will of God is.  Are we going to look somewhere else for the truth when the teacher of the truth is in our midst?

Unlike the Pharisees and the Jews who burdened their adherents with so many added laws and regulations, Jesus summed up the commandments into simple formula, to love God and to love one’s neighbour.  To say that we love God is easy but that love is manifested the way we love our neighbour.  How do we show love to our neighbour?  Jesus has illustrated this through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (the unpretentious and sincere love of others even to strangers and to those excluded by society risking one’s good standing and defying established values and assumptions), in the way Jesus conversed with the woman of Samaria (communicating and showing love for those despised by society), in the way Jesus forgave Mary of Magdala (unconditional forgiveness), in the way Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life (love for close friends), and many more examples.

Those who like the Pharisees seeks to be righteous by their own efforts are bound to be disappointed.  For it is futile to obtain righteousness by one’s effort.  But amidst this impossibility, Jesus offers Himself as the teacher who will teach us the way and to make learning easy.  Why is Jesus’ teaching easy compared to the Pharisees?  It is because the teachings of Jesus is the source of Love, unlike the Pharisees whose teachings are full of anathemas but they themselves do not lift a finger to obey and at the same time hinders others who are seeking the way to eternal life.

Jesus be our teacher, comfort our wounded and weary hearts and show us the way to the Father and we shall be saved.  Amen.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul


Did you ever wonder why in many Catholic Churches here in the Philippines you always find the images of St. Peter and St. Paul side by side in the facade? It is because St. Peter and St. Paul are considered the Patron saints or the founders of the Roman Church. That is why in Rome you have the St. Peters Basilica, the location where St. Peter was buried and also the Church of St. Paul outside of the walls, two prominent churches in Rome. If Constantinople claims St. Andrew and if Alexandria claims St. Mark, Rome claims St. Peter and St. Paul. An ominous sign that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ when before Simon, later Peter profess his faith in Caesaria Philippi. The Church of God founded on the ROCK (Peter), the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. On the SOLEMNITY OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL, may they intercede for us all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

THE BREAD THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN




A Personal Reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord


1.     The solemnity of Corpus Christi reminds us that the Eucharist is the summit of Christian life. It is the culmination of our religious experience and practice as revealed by the historical experience of the Church.  The two disciples on the road to Emmaus, felt that their hearts were burning while discussing with Him the events in Jerusalem and How the Lord, yet unrecognized by them, expounded to them the scriptures and how it should be fulfilled by the Son of Man.  The acts of the breaking of the bread finally opened their eyes.  Applying these thoughts to contemporary issues, it can be  observed  that our liturgy, the Mass, is arranged in such a way that the Word precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist, the proclamation of  the Word instructs but it is only in the Eucharist that Christ gives himself to us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Christ told the unbelieving Jews that unless they eat of this bread and drink of His Blood, they have no life in them. 

2.     The Church has grown steadily in the appreciation of this great mystery.  The richness of her rites and liturgies has demonstrated the love and adoration for the Eucharist.  There is however, an erroneous belief or perception which says that the bread of the Eucharist is supposed to be eaten and not to be looked at.  This erroneous belief led some to minimize if not neglect the adoration and exposition of the consecrated Host.  I would suppose that this erroneous belief is protestant in origin but sadly for a time it has had its influence on some segment of the Church especially after the confusion that ensued after the Second Vatican Council when the liberals had their free ride in the reforms being undertaken as if to legitimize their erroneous beliefs.  Akin to this erroneous belief is the practice of relegating the Blessed Sacrament on the side or hidden corner of the Church away from the altar.  As they said it was a confusion to put together in one place the repository of the Host and the place where the act of transubstantiation happens.  But I would opine that it is more confusing to place the Blessed Sacrament on the corner of the altar in full view of the faithful while the Mass is being held at the altar.  But I am glad that today in renovations and in many churches where the Blessed Sacrament is displayed; they have brought back the Blessed Sacrament at the center of the altar.  In some churches, I have observed that they have a place where they put the Bible on one side and the Blessed Sacrament on the other side.  I would think that it is illogical to create a repository for the Bible side by side with the blessed Sacrament because it creates confusion.  The Real Presence is a true presence of the whole person of Christ, while the presence of Christ in the proclamation of His word is not as the same as the Real Presence.  In the proclamation of the Word Christ is present because he is the origin of the Word, He is the logos.  It demonstrates His omnipresence.  But the Eucharist is indeed a Real Presence because it is Christ Himself offered as a sacrifice of Calvary but in unbloody manner.

3.     I refuse to take the idea that; the Bread is to be eaten and not to be looked at.  The practice of exposition of the Sacred Species for adoration is not an aberration, but rather the practice of doing so is the product of the long collective experience of the Church and her growing appreciation and love for the Holy Eucharist.  It is also an appreciation for the Most Holy Sacrament that produced such intimacy between the Lord and His Bride-the church.  This practice became popular during the time of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The angelic doctor has composed numerous prayers and hymns on the adoration of the Eucharist.  This practice also arose as the church’s affirmation of the real presence which at that time was being challenged by the heretics. 

4.     Imitating the two disciples at Emmaus, let us open our eyes that Christ may fill us with faith to believe and accept. Amen. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

MY THOUGHTS ON PENTECOST



PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: “My thoughts about Pentecost”

1.      The Holy Ghost is the proof of Christ presence in the church and the enduring promise of his Second Coming.  His presence proves to us that we have the foretaste of what it is to be in the life of God.  One of the greatest proof of his enduring presence is Love.  We saw that during Pentecost the infant church were filled with love, they shared everything.  They sold the things that they have, laid it down at the apostles feet to be distributed to the poor and be shared.  They were steadfast in the celebration of the Eucharist daily, which they called the breaking of the Bread.  Life is a journey through time.  The church as a human organization also journeys through time. Through this journey it is possible that somehow we can become lukewarm.  If we read in the Book of Revelation Chapter 1we read about the messages of Christ to the seven churches of Asia.  Some were faithful while others were not.  As we journey in this faith let us pray and be vigilant and listen and obey to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  The infant church of the New Testament is a living proof and is model picture of what the church should be.  IT IS NOT THE CHURCH THAT WE WOULD WANT TO SEE, BUT IT SHOUD BE A CHURCH THAT WHAT CHRIST WOULD WANT TO SEE.  I am amused to see some dioceses or even parishes formulate their own vision, mission and objectives (VMGO), as if the church is a corporation.  The church may be ahuman organization but it is divine in origin so it is not the human members that should formulate the VMGO, but it should be the gospel and the will of God.  Are we following ourselves or are we following Christ?

2.      In a special way I saw ecumenism as the work of the Holy Ghost.  We should however distinguish between false and genuine ecumenism.  When two groups of people seek to overcome their differences with sincerity and try to honestly communicate with each other to reach a level of understanding that is what we call ecumenism.  The prayer of Jesus was “that that they maybe one just as we are one”.  If we are animated by the Trinitarian love, we shall be move to seek ways to come to unity with our brothers and sisters.  The bitter division at the great schism in the eleventh century and the protestant reformation has rend the body of Christ.  As Christians we should listen to the voice of the Holy Ghost to heal and to mend the bitter division.  As Christians we must support our Pope in fulfilling the Petrine ministry of fostering unity in the church, in confirming the faithful in their faith and to be a tower of strength.  True ecumenism is not syncretism but it is a genuine desire to understand each other and to honestly work to overcome divisions.

3.      Pentecost also offers us the hope and the faith that with the help of the Holy Ghost, we can cleanse ourselves and that the church would be cleansed of the sin that plagued some of her members.  To overcome the issues of child abuse and financial mismanagement.  Far from being negative these are opportunities for us to cleanse the church with the blood of the Lamb.  The Holy Ghost will always be there to help and to renew the face of the earth.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Until the end of the Age"

My Personal Reflection for Ascension Day.
          In the pre-Vatican II Roman Liturgical Calendar, May 29 is supposed to be the Ascension Day counting forty days from the celebration of Easter.  But in the revised calendar Ascension Day is celebrated Sunday.  Whatever the reasons for such changes may not be as important for us now, but what is important is the eschatological significance of the Christ’s Ascension into heaven.  Allow me to share some of my personal reflections on this topic.
          The ascension of Christ into Heaven being the first fruit is of so much significance for us Christians.  Jesus of Nazareth the Christ was the new Adam prophesied in the Old Testament and by His testimony declared that He came to fulfil the Law and the prophets.  “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!” exclaimed John the Baptist.  On that morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene was about to touch Jesus.  But Jesus forbade her and told her “touch me not for I have not yet ascended unto my Father and your Father, but go tell my Brethren.”   Like the ancient Hebrews Christians believed in the resurrection of the body.  There is a tendency among the heretics of ancient times and even today to spiritualize the resurrection because of the incomprehensibility of the idea that a corrupted body can still be restored to life.  Here lays, the call of faith. Only the apostles and a few others witnessed the resurrection.  Why was this important event exclusively given to a few? Perhaps the most obvious reason is to make us inheritors of the Kingdom of God by faith.   St. Paul, in his theology gave a primary role to the resurrection of the body and even said that without this central tenet of the gospel, we are the most miserable of all men.  For why would we accept suffering and humiliation for the sake of the gospel if we are not going to be rewarded with what we seek for? –eternal life.  We carry the cross not for the sake of carrying it but as a means to obtain what we seek for. Sometimes there is a tendency to relegate this very important doctrine to oblivion.  As if after death men and women would simply become disembodied spirits.  But this is not the case.  St. Thomas Aquinas, that erudite Dominican borrowed the hylophomorphic theory of Aristotle to give us a glimpse as to why the resurrection of the body is necessary.  The being of man is like matter and form.  Every form has matter and every matter should take on form.  So is man.  Man cannot be a man without the body.  Hence, there is the necessity of the resurrection.  This is the reason why we pray for the dead because we believe in the resurrection of the body. 
          The ascension of our Lord into heaven defines the hope that we have.  Just as the angels said, that the way you see Jesus ascended and taken up into the clouds so will be the second coming.  Christian living is more contextualized when we see things in the light of Christian eschatology or in the light of the end times.  Our Lord said: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  These parting words define the way we should live.  How easy it is be waylaid by the trivialities of this world.  How easy it is to be waylaid by the concerns for social justice that we forget that this world has been judged and that Christ commands us to look forward to the coming Kingdom of which He will finally inaugurate at Hs second coming – a time when we shall sit at the banquet of the supper of the Lamb. Have we forgotten that whatever things we do for others, the charities, the fight for justice and the way we defend the poor are suppose to be the reflection of the values of the Kingdom of God implanted in us and which we are hoping for?  Today some people think that the end of everything is on this earth.  That if we could make this earth better then we have established God’s Kingdom.  This is the pitfall that held some Christians trapped in worldly ideology.  Imagining as if Christ came to establish an earthly Kingdom.
          If only we could see what is stored for us in the new heavens and the new earth.  But human as we are, we simply cannot comprehend these things until we reach the beatific vision.  God, however, in His goodness has not left us helpless.  But He gives us the faith to comprehend and to cling to this hope in the promise given by God through Christ.  For there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain.  Heaven was gained for us by Christ and that should be our goal.  May the Ascension of Lord remind us of the need to trust in Him, for He is with us till the end of the ages.  This promise is not in vain but a living promise that we affirm each time we partake of the Eucharist – Christ’s pledge of salvation for us.  Of which we are eternally grateful.


          

Sunday, May 11, 2014

REFLECTION FOR THE GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY



Reflecting upon the theme of the readings for this Sunday (Good Shepherd Sunday), St. Peter emphasized the message of our Lord, describing our Christian experience as an act of coming to Christ, who seeks the goodness and salvation of our souls.  The more the message of the readings become more meaningful at this time when the clergy sex scandals has received much attention.  Many thought that these scandals would overturn the faith of many.  I, for one as a layperson beholden to my pastors, I never doubted in my heart the Will and plan of God for His Church.  The scandals do not diminished my faith, because in my weakness I have set my eyes on Jesus, who is my shepherded.  Indeed Christ is the model and the prototype of the perfect pastor to whom the Bishops and the clergy must look up to as their perfect model of what a pastor should be.  But the recent problems involving some leaders should not discourage us but all the more we are reminded of the saying of St. Paul which says that in our weakness the power of God is made perfect.  God wanted to show to us that His grace and His mercy are very much in operation in the middle of situations where sin abounds.  For where sin abounds, the grace of God is much more bountiful as St. Paul says.  But let us be careful lest we presume that the grace of God is a licence to commit sin.  Far from it.  For where sin is there is also the grace of God.  This grace beckons us or summons us to be at the foot of the Cross.  Considering the great amount of price God paid for our redemption, are we not moved to repentance?

Aside from shepherding us, Christ our Lord is also our guardian.  He keeps us safe from error through His pure doctrine as made manifest to us by the Church.  Increasingly, the modernist idea of false ecumenism keeps us from convincing others of accepting Christ and joining His One True Church.  For Christ is the only door that leads to salvation.  Otherwise He would have not drunk the cup of crucifixion and Calvary.  In false ecumenism there are many voices, and there is a syncretism in the way the teachings of other religion are mixed with the Christian religion.  For Christ cannot sit in the table with Satan.  Thus in false ecumenism it is always Christ who is the first one to leave.   Jesus said I know my sheep and my sheep know my voice.  In the increasing crescendo of voices, one who belongs to Christ can never be mistaken; he will always hear the voice of the true Shepherd who laid down His Life for His Sheep.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

NUNS GROUP GETS REBUKE FROM THE CDF

"In the end, the point is this: The Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial life of the church," the cardinal said. Read more from CNS Story

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ's Wounds and Our Woundedness

MY PERSONAL SUNDAY REFLECTION
Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter

Today as we read in the gospel, we saw how our Lord confirmed the doubts of the doubting Thomas and coincidentally we also celebrate today the Divine Mercy Sunday as revealed to Sister Faustina but was accepted by the Church.   Both the gospel and the Divine Mercy devotion points us to the wounds of Christ.  It may be a bit off tangent to speak about wounds at Easter, but that is the reality, our woundedness is a present reality, the wounds of Christ are with Him to give us a window and a door to the infinite grace of God, the Father.

Perhaps as long as we are in this world or this mortal state of life, we can never truly phantom the mystery of sin. The wounds that we have are the product of our sinfulness.  The wounds we inflict on others is also the product of our sinfulness.  The wounds of Christ is also the product of sin, not of His for Christ can never sin, but a reflection of our sin whom He accepted on or behalf and to ransom us from the bondage of sin.


Let us not be doubting Thomases, but believe in the power of God and in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.  For as we touch His wounded side, and look into His wounds there we can find healing and solace.  Jesus, in a private revelation to Sis. Faustina said that those who are devoted to His passion are dear to His heart and that they will obtain great mercy in this life and on the Last Day.  On this Divine Mercy Sunday let us draw near to the heart of Christ through the Eucharist.  Let us consider the partaking of His Body and Blood a means of touching those wounds of Christ.  For as we touched those wounds we see Christ Himself, crucified and now glorified.  For eye have not seen nor ear heard of all the things that God has promised to those who love Him.  For we who seek immortality must seek to be good and to do good.  May the Blood and Water that gushed out from the side of Christ bring us to Eternal Life.  Amen. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

THE CORNERSTONE OF OUR FAITH


On one occasion I had the opportunity to talk to a group of young people about the resurrection.  I told them that as a Christian I believe in the physical and real resurrection.  I was surprise to see the disbelief in their faces.  Perhaps they still believe in heaven and the life after death, but they think that physical resurrection is impossibility.  But our Christian creed affirms the physical resurrection. That is why St. Paul in His apostolic labour said that the resurrection is a stumbling block among the Jews and was considered foolishness by the Greeks.  Even in Jesus’ time, Our Lord rebuked and corrected the errors of the Sadducees, the Jewish sect of which most of the Priestly class belong.  The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection of the body.  But Jesus rebukes their unbelief and told them that God is addressed as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  In the light of the resurrection of the dead Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not dead but they are alive in a futuristic sense. 

The resurrection of Our Lord also calls for faith.  The Scriptures tell us that Christ manifested Himself only to His disciples and to a few women who were witnesses of the resurrection.  What the others have seen was an empty tomb. The missing body of Jesus made commotions in Jerusalem in so much so that the leaders of the Jews were alarmed and instructed the soldiers who saw how the angels ministered to our Lord by rolling the stone, “... Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep.” (Matthew 28:13 Douay-Rheims).  I would opine that the reason why only the disciples and a few women have witnessed to the resurrection of our Lord was that to make us believe – to make us accept the Will of God in faith.  For by faith we are saved.  Jesus said, blessed are they who have not seen but have believed.  This was how our Lord rebuked St. Thomas for his unbelief... “Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27 Douay-Rheims)

The importance of the Resurrection of the Body as lived by Our Lord and as affirmed by our creed is that, this event demonstrates to us the completion of the redemptive act.  Of all the sting of sin, the last that must be defeated is death. Because death is the payment and the consequence of sin.  Sin has many side effects, it can cause sickness, it makes our lives miserable, it puts enmity between us and God, it leads us to do awful things, and ultimately it results in physical death.  “For the wages of sin is death.  But the grace of God is life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 Douay-Rheims).  Christ once and for all has demonstrated that death can be defeated.  And if Christ has defeated death, we too who believe will in the last day rise again.  This is our Christian hope, a blessed hope.  This hope is reinforced many times in our traditions.  This is the reason why we have cemeteries consecrated, this is also the reason why we do not believe in cremation of the dead because even in our burial practices we want to express that faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.  If our bodies die in such humiliation Christ will give us a glorious body. 

Our faith in the resurrection completes the theology of suffering.  We do penance and we endure all sorts of voluntary poverty, persecutions and all sorts of self-denying activity not for its own sake but because we believe that this will make us worthy for the resurrection of the dead.  St. Paul said: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 Douay-Rheims.)  That is why the resurrection of the Body is a cornerstone of our faith.  Without it there is no rational justification for our Christian belief.  If the dead do not rise again on the last day then our religion is a miserable religion.  But this hope of the resurrection impels us to persevere to the end.  For death is our last enemy and Christ gives us hope of final victory which He has won.

Today as we celebrate this feast of all feasts, perhaps some us are like Thomas, or the apostles, or perhaps we are like Mary Magdalene and the holy women who went to the sepulchre.  Christ invites us to have an encounter with Him.  Are we like Thomas who doubts?  Let us put our fingers on the hands of our Lord and see by faith the cost that it took Him to win back paradise for us.  Are we like the disciples full of fear...let us put our trust in the victorious Lord, are we like the women full of devotion and trust?  Let us persevere in that attitude of service, for the reward is at hand. 


Let this encounter with the Lord moved us to be the salt and light of the earth.  To be an Easter people means that we permeate with hope, love and forgiveness this temporal world corrupted by sin and decay.  In our service to others we will only be able to express our love for God.  May this Easter also help us gain a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist, the summit of our Christian life and the pledge of immortality.   Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (John 6:51 Douay-Rheims)