Showing posts from September, 2008


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
October 5, 2008

Readings: Is 5:1-7 / Phil 4:6-9 /Mt 21:33-43

I have been an educator (a teacher) for the past 31 years. Add to those years four more when I dabbled at religion teaching as a 4th Yr High School student, as a freshman in college, a sophomore, and a novice teaching catechism. They seem enough to enable me to make some simple generalizations and conclusions, don’t they?

One simple generalization I should like to make as I look back, is this… it is hard to deal with the indifferent, with the lazy, with those who are not properly or sufficiently motivated to learn. It is far easier to deal with those who are eager to learn, far easier even with those, who, while short in understanding, nevertheless are participative, who show effort, good will, and a lot of hard work. Students who have drive, who show interest, and who apply themselves to study are those who give meaning to the life of a teacher. They make mi…


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
September 28, 2008
Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection/Gospel Reflection

Readings: Ez 18:25-28 / Phil 2:1-11 / Mt 21:28-32

We all love people who mean what they say – people who do as they promise; who fulfill what they say they would do. As a child, I used to make tantrums when my parents or anybody older would make a little promise and then would forget about it. Disappointment would usually follow when that happens.

Today’s first reading seems no stranger to disappointment. The chosen people, disappointed that they are getting their just deserts after misbehaving, have the gall to complain: The Lord’s ways are not fair! Through Ezekiel, Yahweh tries to correct that misplaced disappointment. No, it is not God who is unfair, but us who do evil deeds in his sight.

Evil deeds… iniquity… and death as an aftereffect of that iniquity… sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? We reap what we sow. We get what we deserve. Tit for tat. Measure for measure. An eye for an eye… a…


25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
September 21, 2008
Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection

Readings: Is 55:6-9 / Phil 1:20c-24 / Mt 20: 1-16a

In these times of increasing unemployment and underemployment, when those who have jobs are underpaid (at least compared to the cost of living that continues to rise, along with the rise in prices of petrol), and when those who do have work are not doing the job he or she has trained for, there is apparently little good news in today’s gospel.

In these times when due to underemployment in many countries, coupled with rising living standards, - all taking place as logical offshoots of globalization – not a few quizzical eyebrows would be raised in the face of the apparent injustice committed by the landowner of the gospel parable for today.

Indeed, the world is mute witness to so much inequality. We have heard enough of CEOs of big corporations in America who retire – or are fired – with huge emoluments that are patently more than enough for them to li…


Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
Sept. 14, 2008

Readings: Nm 21:4b-9 / Phil 2:6-11 / Jn 3:13-17

It is easy enough to sound pious and serene during the good days. It costs nothing much to talk about braving the storm when the sun is up and shining, and it is no problem to talk about living life fully when one is healthy, when one is in the prime of life, and when everybody around you seems to be bubbling with the energy of relative health and youth.

But it is when we find ourselves wandering apparently aimlessly in the hot and sultry desert of uncertainty and monotony that all niceties and superficial piety evaporate faster than the manna of old could be desiccated by the merciless desert sun. In times such as these, when the reality of a difficult, nomadic life in the desert, far from one’s real home, far from the relative comforts of a life one has gotten used to, albeit in slavery in a foreign land, far from the much awaited “promised land,” one understands why the Israelites gave i…


Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 8, 2008

Readings: Mi 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30/ Mt 1:1-16, 18-23

There is delight every time we speak of birthdays. All over the world, the birthday of someone close to us is a red-letter day, in most cultures. A birthday celebration is an opportunity for others to take delight in the gift of personhood of someone loved. But a birthday also offers the celebrator to take delight in the riches of his or her personhood, including the possibility of celebrating the gift of people who love him or her.
A person’s birth is a day of delight and rejoicing. It is a day full of promise, full of hope, and a guarantee of the best that budding humanity can offer.

The Church’s calendar that commemorates the birth of our Lord on Christmas Day, is one such day par excellence – for reasons that go far beyond what I just wrote above. For Christ’s birth is not just promise. It does not merely bode well for humankind in a vague, simplistic way. It is …


Novena in Honor of the Most Sweet Name of Mary
Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica
Hagatna, Guam
9th Day: September 6, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 4:6b-15 / Lk 6:1-5

N.B. I am posting this ninth homily for the ninth and final day which coincides with the fiesta celebrations, although I will not be able to deliver it as I have to be at the airport at the time of the Mass. I take this opportunity to thank Archbishop Anthony Apuron, Msgr. Benavente, and all of my newfound friends on Guam! Hafa' Adai!

Suffering is not a very easy topic to talk about to a postmodern culture deeply steeped in the collective desire to get suffering out of the way, push it under the rug, or just something that one would simply wish would go away. George Weigel says that it is one of the hardest facts of life to face or understand.

I’ve got something to share with you … suffering is something that we all need to deal with. I don’t know whether that sounds to you like good news or bad news, or just plain reality chec…


Novena in Honor of the Most Sweet Name of Mary
Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica
Hagatna, Guam
8th Day: September 5, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 4:1-5 / Lk 5:33-39

We are, as you know, deep into the year-long celebration in honor of St. Paul on the occasion of his 2000th birthday. A few days ago, I spoke to you about a particular harbor he landed on in the year 58 AD, in the island of Rhodes, Greece. The sight of it led me to reflect on how empowered he felt, and how that power had led him to do what was seemingly impossible by any standard.

As I reflect on that empowerment, my thoughts also go to the woman, the first among the redeemed, Mary, who, on account of a direct intervention of the Spirit, conceived in her virginity and bore in her womb the Word made flesh. By her cooperation with God, she became for posterity, the Mother of grace, the Mother of God, both theotokos and Christotokos, God-bearer and Christ-bearer.

The account of the annunciation merits being revisited time and time aga…


Novena in Honor of the Sweet Name of Mary
Dulce Nombre Cathedral-Basilica
Hagatna, Guam
7th Day: September 4, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 3:18-23 / Lk 5:1-11

Yesterday, we spoke about something that sounds so earthly and at the same time so heavenly, literally and figuratively – Mary, the star of the sea, stella maris, a title so old and yet so new, so ancient and yet so relevant, as I tried to explain yesterday.

I would like to add a few more ideas related to this title of Mary, Star of the Sea. First and foremost, the gospel passage today refers to an incident right beside a body of water, the Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesareth. It is really a relatively small fresh water lake, but which the Jews back then called sea of Galilee, around which the daily lives of people then revolved, for the most part, and around which many incidents in the Lord’s life revolves, too, this gospel incident included.

My reading of this passage is rather simple. It is a confirmation of what we said in response after…


Novena in Honor of Dulce Nombre de Maria
Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica
Hagatna, Guam

6th Day: September 3, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 3:1-9 / Lk 4:38-44

A cute little book I read in 1999 is entitled Mary: The Star of the Third Millenium. Frankly, I don’t remember much of what I read. All I remember is the title intrigued me and captivated my curiosity. Why would another title among so many be added to our Lady? And what importance does it have for us all 7 years already into the much hyped third millennium?

In retrospect, I like the title. First of all, I am captivated by stars since I was a child. Growing up in the country side, with no street lighting whatsoever, dark nights afforded children that we were, so many hours of star gazing, and so much time solving the riddle of the stars on dark, starry nights. Secondly, I like what stars stand for – dreams and visions, goals that transcend time and space, dreams of distant and far flung places that I could only picture in the imaginat…


Novena in Honor of Dulce Nombre de Maria
Dulce Nombre Cathedral-Basilica, Guam, USA
5th Day: September 2, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 2:10b-16 / Lk 4:31-37

I would like to start by reading another poem, one that sounds a little irreverent in the context of a Mass in the Cathedral Church of Guam. Here it goes:

Our Lady of Vacation

Sweet Lady of Vacation Days
O hearken to my plea -
Where ever I roam in leisure's ways
Protect and shelter me !
May virtue's robe which now is mine
Unspotted ever remain;
Make of my heart a cloistered shrine,
And keep it free from stain.
May all my hours be filled with joy
As yours in ancient days
When visiting Elizabeth.
Your heart hymned songs of praise.

May each vacation be for me
As your own Visitation -
And each new one more holy be
Dear Lady of Vacation.
O Lady, good and true and kind
When pleasure's haunts I tread,
May I be deaf and dumb and blind
To sin and tempters dread -
To when at length life's day is done,
I too may hope to spend
My days with you and your Son -
A vac…


Novena in Honor of the Sweet Name of Mary
Dulce Nombre Cathedral-Basilica
Hagatna, Guam
4th Day: September 1, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 2:1-5 / Lk 4:16-30

I have just gone for a pilgrimage following some of the footsteps of St. Paul last May of this year in Greece, Turkey, and the Holy Land. Everything I saw, of course, was memorable, (even if I cannot remember the many details of what I saw and heard in those three places). Whilst everything was impressive and worth remembering, one seemingly insignificant detail remains etched in my memory and my thoughts. It is that little cove and port in Rhodes used by Paul in the year 58 AD that specially impressed me the most. From atop the acropolis of Rhodes, the port looked unimpressive at all. There was nothing that would make it stand out at first blush. But upon knowing what kind of port that was, then I kept mental tab of it, then – and now.

The port I refer to is a hidden one. It is like an inland cove, separated by a bluff that had a very narrow …