Monday, October 17, 2016

Solo Dios basta


The above saying is attributed to the famous bookmark of St. Teresa of Jesus (St. Teresa of Avila) which assures us that ‘everything will be alright’ in the light of faith: “Let nothing trouble you, let nothing scare you.  All things are passing; God alone is changeless. Patience gains all things. Who has God wants nothing. God alone suffices.”  The bookmark acknowledges the transiency of things and the gentle force, so to say, of positively viewing and accepting the problematic, unwanted, negative-laden events and outlooks in life, and transforming these to realistic judgment and energy-laden actions for improvement of relationships and total living—all these with the power of Faith, of an intimate relationship with God.

Even the great Spanish saint and first woman Doctor of the Church would fearlessly challenge herself to “All or Nothing” (Todo o Nada) in accomplishing what she saw as God’s will for her as founder and reformer of the Discalced Carmelites.  She’d leave no stone unturned in focusing on and going about ‘God’s business’ towards right re-direction of the Carmel spirituality. Guided by the Spirit, any man or woman of God would willingly and radically leave behind worldly values to attend to the “Father’s business” and gain access to the lasting riches of the Spirit.  “If you love your life, you will lose it.  If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life” (Jn. 12:25).

Jesus further advises those who desire to seek and follow Him: “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom” (Lk. 9:62).  The grace of conversion will be given those who do not turn back and the grateful heart will acclaim: “You, Lord, are all I want!  You are my choice, and you keep me safe.  I praise you, Lord, for being my guide.  Even in the darkest night, your teachings fill my mind.  I will always look to you, as you stand beside me and protect me from fear.  You have shown me the path to life, and you make me glad by being near to me.  Sitting at your right side, I will always be joyful” (Ps. 16: 5, 7-8, 11).

Monday, October 10, 2016


Modern society has called for new structures that develop women’s potential to care, encourage and give life.  Such a horizontal structure of relationship entails paradigms that strengthen mutual trust, harmony, cooperation, networking, and community building.  These are characteristics of the servant leadership shown by Mary in the scriptures: her attentive listening, prayer pondering, sensitivity to the needs of others, desire for peace and resistance to injustice, and endurance in suffering with people and with her Redeemer Son on the Cross.

Mary was a woman of courage and strength in living out clearly her identity and mission.  Her belief that “Nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk. 1:37) as “the handmaid of the Lord” enabled her to carry out her mission as mother of Jesus and to follow Him all throughout, to his paschal mystery—suffering, death, and resurrection.

Mary as the ‘mother of life’ sustains our respect for the dignity of human life in a world where a culture of death threatens both young and old.  It is imperative to proclaim that all life comes from God and one’s value stems from God above all material and social honor or success.  This perspective awakens the spirit of unity and peace in multi-cultural circumstances where ‘one God called by different names’ challenges all regardless of religion to a common mission to co-exist with other peoples and beliefs.

May Mary, mother of God and of all humanity inspire us to shape a community of relational servant leaders espousing peace and justice, nourishing life, keeping the order of creation, showing preferential love for the poor, and allowing the priests, religious and laity to work together, with an enhanced awareness of the gender ratio through a pastoral ministry for women and active equal participation of men and women in various group movements. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Set apart for the truth

THE faithful follower of Jesus cannot but walk in the way of the Master and live out His words of life.  Anyone searching for  the truth in life must end up with the Truth in Person: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus is the Truth and following Him means evading the darkness of falsehood and coming out to the light of the Son of God.  
St. Paul narrated to the Galatians his “former way of life in Judaism…in persecuting the church of God and tried to destroy it…Bbut the time came when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favor chose to reveal his Son to me, that I might spread among the Gentiles the good things concerning him…and the communities of Christ in Judea gave glory to God on my accord” (Gal. 1:13, 15-16, 24).
Before his conversion, Paul was working with “excess of zeal” to do what he wrongly thought was the Lord’s will.  Looking back at the grace he had received, he rejoiced that the Lord had shown him such great favor and dedicated the rest of his life to preaching the faith that he tried so hard to destroy.
European history tells how a daring playwright Vaclav Havel and his fellow writers decided boldly  to tell the truth despite the threats of arrest and political persecution.  Even behind bars, they stood by the truth in exposing the lies of the Czech society, until gradually more and more ’awakened’ people were enlightened to join them till the lure of lies lost its savor among the generations.  This and other events in current and apostolic times simply challenge us to uncover the real undisguised Truth through humble prayer, attentive discernment and vigilant collaboration. 


The angel Gabriel venerates Mary by declaring to her, “Hail, Full of Grace” (Lk. 1:28). The heavenly angel honors the human Mary, for her perfection of grace exceeds that of the angels; the greeting reveals the “immaculate state” of Mother Mary.  The angelic salutation is different from the angelic greetings in the Old Testament  that speak only about a woman conceiving and bearing a son, as in the case of the birth of Samson (Judges 13:3-4; 13:7; 13:13-14). 

In the New Testament,  the traditional translation “full of grace” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.”  Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek ‘Charitoo’ implies more than that and it never mentions the word for “daughter”.  The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind.  The term in the perfect tense means that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present.  So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit; she was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence. 

The English translation, “Hail, Full of Grace,” is based on the original Greek of Luke 1:28, Chaire kecharitomene, a phrase which can literally be translated: “Rejoice, you who have been graced.”  The perfect meaning of this passge is that the subject (Mary) was graced fully and completely at some time in the past, and continued in that fully graced state.  The angel’s salutation does not refer to the incarnation of Christ in Mary’s womb, as he proceeds to say: “you shall conceive in your womb…” (Lk. 1:31). She was graced in view of the merits gained by her divine Son, the Savior of humankind.

In the early centuries of the Christian tradition, there was a common acceptance that Mother Mary is pure and sinless, though this was officially declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception later on 8 December 1854 by Pope Pius IX in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus.  In 1858 Mary appeared in a grotto at Lourdes, France to Bernadette Soubirous and proclaimed: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”   

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The absolute priority

The Word of God rings with stories of God’s fidelity to His people, leading them to a land of freedom from slavery in Egypt to Israel, and in the New Testament, salvation in the Cross of our Savior, Jesus the Lamb of Sacrifice. God never abandons us to die to sin or leaves us without hope, especially in our “desert suffering.”  Like the people of Israel we have sinned and need to rise again that death may not stifle eternal life in our souls.  For the consequence of sin is death ( Rom. 6:23). Jesus on the Cross also lifts us away from the deadly poison of sin so we may share in His glory as true disciples living and witnessing to His mission of love, mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus radically transforms our life direction by challenging us to mind rise above our nature and enter into the mind and heart of God our Father with Him as our “big” Brother.  St. Paul admonishes us: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). God created us for eternal glory and nothing else can satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts.  We must not forget that this world with all its pleasures and allurements will pass and as Our Lady said to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I do not promise you happiness in this world, but in the next.”

Our absolute priority must be to follow Jesus’ way of selfless love and refuse to let any person or thing interfere with our love of God and neighbor and self-sacrifice for the Kingdom.  We meet Christ most intimately at the Cross and the self-same act of love at the Eucharist, where we too learn to make an offering of ourselves in love.  “And my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and look at me, and turn from their wicked ways then I myself will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and  restore their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). “ “Set your hearts first on the kingdom and justice of God and all these things will also be given to you” (Mt. 6:33).