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Showing posts from December, 2009

BLESSINGS THAT MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVING: STARTING AFRESH WITH CHRIST AND MARY BY OUR SIDE

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Catholic Homily / Liturgical Reflection
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God(C)January 1, 2009
There is something absolutely heartwarming in the first reading we hear year after year, supposedly one of the oldest poetic pieces in the Bible, uttered by Moses to Aaron and his sons. It warms the heart not only because in it we find a threefold blessing, but also because the name of the “Lord” (Yahweh) is mentioned directly in as many times.
Here we are face to face with an image of God as nurturing, caring, life-enabling, intimate, protective, warm, gracious, kind and solicitous … in short, an image of God, not only as Father, but also as Mother.
Not too often do we get to hear reflections revolving around the idea of God as both paternal and maternal. In this world that emphasizes a whole lot of distinctions between black and white, east and west, north and south, rich and poor, women and men, old and young, the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless, male and female, Jew and G…

RESPONSIBILITY, NOT PRIVILEGE

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Catholic Homily / Reflection
FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY (C)
December 27, 2009


The Feast of the Holy Family stands in stark contrast to what the current craze of the TV “infotainment” world offers what one program calls the “six continents” – REALITY TV! At a time when shows portray what media practitioners and purveyors of entertainment refer to as “reality as it is,” when slogans like “no holds barred” refer to more than just a carefully choreographed wrestling match, shows like “Survivor” now appear so tame compared to the new shows that continue to titillate the curiosity of viewers, shows that veritably leave nothing more to the imagination of patrons.

In a “socially constructionist” inspired world, where reality is not so much what we perceive, as what we create or construct together, one wonders whether the usual excuse that purveyors limply say (we-just- create-shows-that-people-want-to-see kind of thinking), really holds water.

But this is beside the point of this reflection for tod…

CHRISTMAS PLAIN AND SIMPLE: On How Best to Celebrate Christmas

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Catholic Homily
Christmas Day (C)December 25, 2009
Preaching on Christmas day has always posed a big challenge to us preachers (well, at least to me, over my past 27 Christmases, including this one, as a priest). The problem is compounded for pastors in parishes who, being alone, could rely on no one else but themselves to celebrate all four Christmas liturgies: Vigil Mass, at Midnight (which officially begins the Christmas season), at Dawn, and the Mass during the day itself. Even a cursory glance at the readings for all four celebrations is enough to convince anyone that there is a developing, unfolding character to the themes espoused by the readings and the prayers.
The better read among us who are a bit more theologically literate would see in the different liturgical celebrations a gradually deepening presentation of the whole mystery that Christmas stands for- the coming of the Savior, the Christ.
From a rather factual “narration” of the events leading to the birth of Jesus (Midni…

NOT TO US, LORD, NOT TO US, BUT TO YOU!

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9th Day of Simbang Gabi / Misa de GalloDecember 24, 2009Readings: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a-16 / Lk 1:67-79
The power and position and authority of David were all getting a little bit into his head. Well-meaning definitely, he thought he ought to God a favor. Feeling sorry for the ark of the covenant that was reposed in a tent, while he wassafely ensconced ina house of cedar, he thought of constructing a house for the Lord.
But Nathan the prophet, who initially thought it was a good idea and supported him, later pounced on this initial sign of hubris, after a dream, and put David right back in his place. No … it is not for you to build a house for God, for God Himself will build a house. God reminded David that it was Him who took him from pasture, who made him ruler, who entrusted to him a great responsibility. God made known to David who was calling the shots. And it was not David, powerful though he was then, who should decide on such an important cause.
But of course, the house that Dav…

REFINED, THAT WE MAY OFFER DUE SACRIFICE

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8th Day of Simbang Gabi / Misa de GalloDecember 23,2009
Readings: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24 / Lk 1:57-66
We are almost at the end of our nine-day novena in preparation for Christmas. Our last minute preparations are reaching fever pitch, and excitement hangs heavy in the air, even as Mayon volcano’s ashes hang heavy in Albay, where the heavier air of uncertainty looms larger. Everywhere else, most specially in Metro Manila, the traffic flow in most cases has come to a halt, and tempers are rising, much faster than the nippy cool morning air goes lower
Two days before Christmas, it does not seem appropriate to speak of suffering, of purification, of cleansing. But I am sorry… we must preach in season and out of season, and the very first reading of today’s liturgy culled from Malachi, although it speaks about the certainty of the coming of Him “whom we seek,”poses a question and asks all of us now awaiting him, whether we can “endure the day of his coming.” Yes … one tradition of the Old Testament…

A MOTHER’S PLEA; A MOTHER’S GIFT

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7th Day of Simbang Gabi/Misa de GalloDecember 22, 2009Readings: 1 Sm 1:24-28 / Lk 1:46-56
Hannah is not unlike any other mother in this world. She is her own son’s best admirer, benefactor, and protector. Every mother has it by instinct to worry about,and work for her son’s welfare and best interest. Any mother would go to any lengths just to be able secure a safe and sound, and prosperous future for the fruit of her womb.
Hannah knew where to go and whom to approach. She brought her son Samuel to the temple, near where the prophet was, near where the gatekeeper of heaven’s favors stood – near where Eli stood. But she did not go there alone. She tagged her son Samuel along. She came to the temple laden with offerings, with gifts that a poor woman could ill afford – a three year old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine.

ARISE MY BELOVED, AND COME!

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6th Day of Simbang Gabi / Misa de Gallo
Monday of the 4th Week of Advent – Year C
December 21, 2009

Readings: Sg 2:8-14 / Lk 1:39-45


Love is pure energy. It flames. It burns. It energizes even as it consumes. It purifies even as it cauterizes.

Such is the tenor of one of the Bible’s more intriguing books – the Song of Solomon! It sounds almost like soft porn. It is actually a paean to God’s love couched in words, symbols, and images that would speak to anyone whose heart has ever beaten like mad in the exhilarating experience of first love.

There is palpable excitement in the language – a deep sense of wide-eyed anticipation and runaway expectation … “Hark, my lover – here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills!” The poetry and the pulsating rhythm are both unmistakable. The image and rhythm build to a climax … they almost make the image of the gamboling gazelle come out alive in the page we are reading. I can’t help as I write, but hum in my head Carey Landry’s …

BY THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD

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4th Sunday of Advent(C)
5th Day of Simbang Gabi / Misa de Gallo
December 20, 2009

Readings: Mi 5:1-4a / Hebrews 10:5-10 / Lk 1:39-45


The word “bayani” (hero in Tagalog) has become a by-word in the Philippines of late. We got two this year, from no less than internationally renowned entities. CNN hailed my youthful “kababayan” (province-mate) Efren Penaflorida as hero of the year. Muelmar Magallanes was hailed as hero of the year by Time International magazine after saving the lives of 30 others but lost his own during the worst floodings the Phillippines have had in decades. We had a number of unsung and unknown heroes during the height of the twin typhoons that ravaged a big portion of Northern Philippines. Whilst people pleaded for help, about to be overtaken by rampaging floods, young Filipinos who were techno-savvy were busy providing equally unknown individuals orchestrating help for them – help that the government was ill prepared to give … to thousands who needed it, all at the sa…