Monday, November 7, 2016

An alternative way of living


The modern world embraces multi-cultures yet the varied creeds and outlooks clamor for decent and dignified living for the deprived or poorer sectors.  Amidst the situations of poverty, the call remains to  work hard, earn one’s living, live simply and not be dominated by possessions.  Too much wealth used for one’s exclusive comfort may alienate a person from being “Good News” to the poor. To follow Jesus of Nazareth is to be a counter witness to the spirit of the world that puts greed over sharing.

Living a life of sharing what we have and accompanying people in their crises is witnessing God’s love to others. This is enhanced by an attitude of dependence on the providence of God than on worldly security.  We gratefully accept God’s gifts and are responsible for what God has entrusted to us. We also learn the difference between need and greed. God invites us to heed the cry of the poor and to accompany them in a mutual journey to retrieve equal human rights.

Whatever it is that we have, we can always share, be it a smile, an encouraging word, a material good.  It has been said that the more we share the more we grow.  A rich person may have abundant food and clothing but lacks knowledge, so we share our knowledge.  A poor person may have experienced love and understanding but not have good food, so we share food with that person.  Too much excess, it is believed, leaves a person unhealthy.  And we need to see our giving not so much as charity but as something we owe.

In response to Pope Francis’ Jubilee call for Mercy and Compassion, have we shown our true witnessing by attentively reaching out to our less fortunate neighbors?  We too can “wake up the world!” by being counter witnesses to the ungodly way of doing things, and instead go the alternative way of heroes and saints, the way of Jesus’ selfless loving and total self-giving.  “Give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over.  For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back” (Luke 6:38).

Friday, October 21, 2016

Called to heavenly glory



The air is jubilantly triumphant when we recall and celebrate the feast of All Saints. It is as if the whole creation as one Communion of Saints is grandly assembled before the throne of victory of the Lamb who saved all humankind by His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection—and Jesus the Lamb of God leads us all—in heaven, on earth, and in Purgatory—in the Celebration of the Eucharist, a glorious celebration of Thanksgiving without end, “ang pagsasalong walang hanggan” (the eternal banquet), as sung in “Tinapay ng Buhay” (Bread of Life). 

We are the thirsting, struggling pilgrims in this “valley of tears,” with the angels waiting to protect us if we ask them, while we look with anticipatory joy to our heavenly reward, for the God of holiness has made us to share His glory in the kingdom of heaven. “For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord.  He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like his own body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is his to submit everything to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). “You will show me the path of life, in your presence the fullness of joy, at your right hand happiness forever” (Ps. 16:11).

In union with Jesus the High Priest, we bring with us our heart’s thanksgiving for all those who nurtured us in the faith, including our families and communities, and our beloved departed from this world, expressing our firm commitment to remain faithful in following the footprints of the Divine Master and Mary and the saints in the practice of fraternal charity and zealous service of humankind, especially the less fortunate ones.  We praise God for the heroic example of our Bless-ed in heaven, while we pray the Spirit to guide our steps day by day to the Beatific Vision. “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face” (Ps. 24:6); “To him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end” (Eph. 3:21).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beyond appearances


To truly live the faith is to be strongly rooted in the love of God, over and above obeying His law and following external observances.  As we live out our faith, we must be careful that it is not reduced to mere external  expressions or appearances.  Jesus warned His disciples against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees: “So then,  you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil…A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge.  You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering” (Lk. 11:39; 52).

Where the “law of appearances” matters more than reality, it becomes easy to confuse the priorities. Or where people obey all rules and attend Mass regularly, they may think this suffices for the standard of goodness.  While the external observances are good, they are not the sole measure of one’s goodness, especially if the underlying motive is pride or vanity, or to pretend to be what one is not.  A saying goes, “Better to be than to impress.”  God looks at the inner motive to please Him above self in the service of others, especially those in need.  Thus the caution of Jesus to beware of the self-righteous path of the Pharisees.

The path of Jesus in self-sacrifice for others leads to self-purification and inner freedom.  When one is preoccupied with impressing or surpassing others, one forgets the real source of any power or talent and to whom all glory belongs.  The way to the kingdom goes beyond superficial appearances and points to an inner journey of the heart with Jesus, praying, reflecting, and discerning God’s will in our sinful lives.  Let us listen to St. Paul’s plea: “I plead with you as a prisoner of the Lord, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another lovingly” (Eph. 4:1).  As we go about our works of charity and mercy, may the external activity further deepen our quest for God and communion with His loving will.  “May God strengthen you inwardly through the workings of His Spirit... so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself” (Eph. 3:16;18).

Monday, October 17, 2016

Solo Dios basta


(GOD ALONE SUFFICES)

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

MARY’S LEADERSHIP PARADIGM




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.