Showing posts from December, 2008


The Greek Inscription Says "Mother of God"

Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflections
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 1, 2009

We all have our own storehouse of what we consider precious in our lives. I remember my maternal grandmother had a wicker chest (baul) full of a great many and varied stuff, from pieces of cloths (retazos) to old clothes, and a number of old little boxes containing more trinkets. It dawned on me only when I was already an adult that that chest was grandma’s storehouse of memories of times gone by.

Up until quite recently, I, too, had my own version of this chest. It contained a whole lot of memorabilia from my first assignment as a practical trainee in a small start-up parish that was no more than 3 years old then, as a student of theology, as a young priest, of my various travels in the U.S. and in Europe. Everything precious…everything memorable…everything worth reminiscing…we keep them for posterity. We treat them as some kind o…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Gospel ReflectionsFeast of the Holy FamilyDecember 28, 2008

Our reflections on the family reach a high point today as the liturgy focuses on the Holy Family. Two families are offered to us for reflection by the readings today: that of Abraham and Sarah and that of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The first reading starts out with a reminder from Yahweh to Abram: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” Initial unbelief was Abram’s response. But “Abram put faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.” The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews rightly extols the faith of Abraham and echoes the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham about his “descendants becoming as numerous as the stars and as countless as the sands on the seashore.”The Gospel recounts the Holy Family making a trip to the temple to present the child Jesus as prescribed by the Law. Joseph, Mary and Jesus wended their way dutifully to th…


Festive Well-Lit Lanterns Epitomize Christmas Joys in the Philippines

Solemnity of Christmas
December 25, 2008

The fulfillment of something so long-awaited and expected is bound to engender joy aplenty. A promise makes one expectant; gives him or her a lot of excitement and anticipation. But fulfillment suffuses one with overflowing JOY.

Such is the spirit of the Christmas liturgy! It is so full of JOY that traditionally, the Church has four different sets of Masses to do justice to the occasion: Vigil Mass, Mass at Night, Dawn Mass, and the Mass of the Day. Something so richly meaningful, something so effusive of joy deserves no doubt four different celebrations, each with its own emphasis, focus, and set of readings that are bound by a common theme.

The Vigil Mass looks forward to the hour of celebration. It has come because the promises of old are fulfilled in Jesus. Quiet waiting gives way to a cry of joy: “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!” Anticipation is the key to und…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflections
Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year B
December 21, 2008

Prophecy and fulfillment stand out in the liturgy of today. God promised and what he promised, He fulfilled… in due time.

The promise, however, came on the heels of a flat refusal on the part of God, no doubt for a worthy, though worldly plan hatched by no less than God’s very own anointed, King David. Comfort and relative peace then enjoyed by David, led him to personally take up what he believed was God ‘s cause, and offer to build a house worthy of the Lord, or at the very least, something better than his own palace. With passion in his heart, David expressed his sadness: “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” But despite Nathan’s nod of assent, David’s plan was not meant to be.

Man proposes, but God disposes! In a series of statements dotted with the first person singular pronoun, “I”, God takes full initiative and control, turns the tables, as it were, on Davi…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
3rd Sunday of Advent - Cycle B
December 14,2008

A whole lot of joy pervades the Liturgy today. Traditionally, the Church has, for so long, set aside this third Sunday of Advent as a reflection on, an exhortation to, and as a paean to joy. Thus, the reason for its being known as Gaudete Sunday, from the word used by St. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians in today’s second reading, right from the first sentence of the passage.

This, we all know by now. We have heard this so often, year after year. But perhaps, what we have not heard as often is what should be behind all that joy; what should go together with that joy, and what one who is joyful ought to be doing, or in fact, really does in effect.

If we are to go by that old scholastic philosophical dictum, bonum diffusivum sui, goodness is self-diffusive; the tendency of good is to spread itself, then today’s exhortation to joy is a clear and convincing example. Goodness comes in clusters, and a…




Catholic Homily/Sunday Gospel Reflection
2nd Sunday of Advent (B)
December 7, 2008

There is comfort in the words of Isaiah the prophet today. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” Isaiah, as we know, was writing to a people – God’s people – who have lost everything they valued more than anything else, everything that would give meaning to the appellation “people of God” … no temple, no land, no permanent abode they could call their own. Isaiah, speaking in God’s name, was giving comfort to a people who were far from comfortable and at ease in a land that was not theirs, sans place of worship, sans country, sans political power…sans everything. He spoke to a people whose suffering was … nonpareil … if you will … sans rival!

Isaiah prophesied to a people who could hardly be said to be at peace. What type of peace is there for one who has been violently uprooted from one’s homeland? What sort of peace does one enjoy, far from the typical scenes of one’s birthplace, away from f…