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


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.