Showing posts from August, 2008


Novena in Honor of El Dulce Nombre de Maria
Third Day, August 31, 2008

Popular belief has it that when the statue of Santa Marian Camalen landed on the shores of Guam, it came floating upright and surrounded by candleholders. On this belief is based a whole lot of our popular devotion and love for the Blessed Mother under that title.

We do well to keep not so much that story alive, as the meaning behind that story which has to do with our growing sense of attachment and healthy love for whom Scripture passes on to us, as a woman blessed among all women.

Yesterday, I talked to a mostly young crowd about a sense of homecoming. Home, according to popular reckoning, is wherever mother is. We would consider home any place where we see the imprints of our own mother’s care and solicitude. Home is where we experience directly or vicariously, our mother’s cooking, our mother’s care, and our mother’s presence in some way, real or symbolic.

I spoke yesterday about our homecoming to mother Mary whose…


Novena in Honor of El Dulce Nombre de Maria
Hagatna, Guam
2nd Day: August 30, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 1:26-31 / Mt 25:14-30

The moral theologian Thomas Shannon offers an interesting paradigm to illustrate what it means to go into two extremes with regard to technological interventions in our human, bodily lives and what we do to our own bodies. On the one hand, we can “play human” and, in its extreme pole, refuse to do anything or to take resort to anything in order to improve our physical, bodily existence, and to simply allow God and his grace to lead us to a certain level of well-being. This first approach means utter dependence on God and God alone. It refers to being totally on the receiving end in reference to God’s help and God’s gift of salvation. One of its concrete effects would be to take refuge in the false belief that technology has nothing whatsoever to do with Christian faith and that to take resort to what technology can offer is tantamount to being faithless, and being unabl…


Novena in Honor of El Dulce Nombre de Maria
Dulce Nombre Cathedral-Basilica, Guam, USA
1st Day, August 29, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 1:17-25 / Mk 6:17-29

N.B. I am posting on a daily basis the series of homilies I am currently preaching at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica at Hagatna, Guam.

We start out our novena with a story of seeming failure and defeat. The story that the liturgy presents us sounds almost like a telenovela, replete with individuals scheming and taking resort to manipulative tactics, hushed whispers behind curtains, and conjuring up sinister plans that end up in utter failure for one man who was acclaimed as a man greater than whom no one else born of woman had ever been.

Let us not mince words this time. John the Baptist, from the human plane, was an utter failure, a story of defeat along with a side story of worldly wisdom gone wrong.

Not much of a piece of good news, you would rather say perhaps? Hardly something worthy of the start of our novena in honor of a Lad…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
23rd Sunday Year A
September 7, 2008

Readings: Ez 33:7-9 / Rom 13:8-10 / Mk 18:15-20

N.B. I am advancing this post for the 23rd Sunday as I am leaving tonight for Guam and I am not sure whether I can have access to the web.

The postmodern, globalized world that prizes individualism, personal success and achievement above most everything else, causes many people to drift apart from one another. As a priest, having been exposed to a relative variety of situations in different places, one thing I realize is the fact that even in very small externally tightly packed enclaves within subdivisions and posh villages, or simple barrios all over the country, there is a growing phenomenon of communities becoming gradually estranged from each other. Gone are the days of communities whose members know exactly what is going on with each other’s families, when everybody’s concern is everybody’s business, when there is a lot of “feeling for” others in a lot of ways.

I cer…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
22nd Sunday - Year A
August 31, 2008Readings: Jer 20:7-9 / Rom 12:1-2 / Mt 16:21-27

The language of today’s liturgy could be a little too graphic and straightforward for comfort. There is a whole lot of passion and emotion jutting out of every line, particularly in the first and third readings. The choice of words, particularly of Jeremiah, evokes the idea of paradox – two seemingly contradictory things put side by side and still capable of putting forth a meaning that goes beyond both elements of the paradox. Jeremiah’s words remind me of what we do when things do not go our way: we complain profusely. We cry out in protest. We make noise and we clamor for redress. Jeremiah’s language today is definitely one of complaint – and I have it on the authority of those who know Hebrew – rather coarse and brash. “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day, I am an object of laughter; everyone mock…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflections
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
August 24, 2008

Readings: Isaiah 22: 19-23 / Romans 11:33-36 / Mt 16:13-20

We all love a firm leader… one with clear directions, steadfast in resolve, willing to go the extra mile to meet common goals, unflinching in his commitment, unwavering in his resolve, yet solidly grounded in the human reality of failure and weakness. And precisely because such leader is in touch with the human possibility of failure, he also has compassion, patience and gentleness with the erring, the wayward, the lost, and perhaps, the least promising.

Unfortunately, such leaders are few and far between, if not downright unavailable, in most places all over the world. Societies think they can raise them. Schools of leadership abound everywhere. The Kennedy Institute for political leaders is a much-coveted place to be for any aspiring and ambitious politician, for example.

But alas, leaders are born, not made!

I would like to add to this. Leaders…


Catholic Homily/ Marian Reflection
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2008

In these days, the whole world is focused on seeing stars, gold, stripes, honor, and reward … in Beijing, for the much-awaited summer olympics. For the more than 200 countries and territories that sent contingents big or small, the ultimate goal is that much coveted place under the golden sun, preferably replete with gold medals galore as testimony to their achievement, prowess, skills, and abilities in the various sports that the whole world tries to excel in … citius, fortius, altius … all goaded on by the mythical more in every sense of the term … faster, stronger, and higher!

The Olympics, for centuries, have always represented the best and the highest human aspirations of the family of humankind. Not a bad alternative to a world so marred and tarred also by the worst that humankind is also capable of … terrorism, war, murder and mayhem. (In the Philippines, and many other third w…


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
August 17, 2008

Man is, at heart, a social being. He pines for company, for relationships, for togetherness. Joy is never full, never complete, never true unless it is joy that is shared, partaken of by others, and – ultimately – enjoyed together. Joy shared is joy increased.

This is true even for societies like the Jews of old who were very jealous of their common identity. Outsiders, foreigners, gentiles (the worst of the lot) just did not fit in. They were outcasts. They deserved no attention. They were considered far from the circle of concern of the average Jew, whose utmost priority was to maintain the purity of the faith and tradition.

But the good news of the Lord is as much good for the ancient Jews as it is for us right now. The Lord was gradually leading his people to a less narrow understanding of salvation, a less ‘selfish’ outlook towards what was in store for those who believed in the Lord. This is what …


Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
August 10, 2008

We live in a stormy world. There is no doubt about that. Everywhere we go, there is strife, uncertainty, instability. In politics, in economics, in religion… why, even in the Church we so love, in not a few places rocked by waves of disappointment upon disappointment, born out of sacred trusts betrayed by the very keepers and guardians of that trust. There is pain and anguish in the hearts of many, most of all in those who have been victimized, in the hearts too, of the innocent who are unjustly lumped together with those who have been less than exemplary.

We are not too sure anymore whom to trust and whom to get courage from!

And the all-too-common tendency we have is to run away in fear, to hide and go far from all that is behind our fear. Like Elijah, we flee from anyone, anything that can inflict on us further confirmation of our fears. Elijah was fleeing vindictive Jezebel, out to kill him for sha…


Feast of the Lord's Transfiguration
August 6, 2008

Readings: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-`4; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9

This is the age of “extreme makeovers,” “dramatic transformations,” and super-heroesque, surgical military interventions via so-called “smart” and “precision” bombs. Everywhere we go, the cult of “Superman” (or its equivalent in Philippine local setting, Captain Barbell, and the like) is pretty much in place. We adore rapid and dramatic changes and transformations in every aspect of our earthly lives. Plastic surgeons simply have their hands full all over the world trying to save literal and figurative “damsels in distress,” rendered unhappy by a less than ideal face, or figure, or bodily form.

We want transformation. We clamor for change. We demand newness and freshness, not only in the produce we buy daily in our traditional “wet markets” or the spick-and-span “hypermarkets,” but also in our governments, in our society, in our nation, and in all our leaders. We want ch…