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VIRGO PRAEDICANDA, MULIER VENERANDA, MATER AMATA!

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Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God January 1, 2011
Readings: Nm 6:22-27 / Gal 4:4-7 / Lk 2:16-21
You got to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. You got to take seriously what Scripture says. You got to be non-selective for once, and take to heart what the Archangel himself says to this woman, blessed among all women: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Maria … virgo praedicanda! Mary, the virgin who shocked the world by giving birth, has to be proclaimed. This is news that made it to the headlines of the world at that time that sent shock waves all over Jerusalem! 
This is the news that sent shivers down the spine of the evil one, long foretold in Genesis as the woman who will strike the serpent with her heels! This is the virgin that defied all worldly logic and, contrary to her feelings of fear and trepidation, threw all caution to the winds and replied with a resounding “FIAT!”
This virgin defied not only earthly, worldly logic. She defied what now everybody seem…

AS ONE WHO GATHERS TREASURES FOR HEAVEN!

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Feast of the Holy Family(A) December 26, 2010
Readings: Si 3:2-6.12-14 / Col 3:12-21 / Mt 2:13-15.19-23

Yesterday, Christmas Day, I spoke about an eclipse much like the lunar eclipse that people stayed up late for last week, mostly under the North American skies. I referred to what spiritual writers spoke of a whole lot over the last decade – the eclipse of God in the mainstream culture of postmodernity. God is effectively shunted aside by popular culture, the voice of His Church effectively muffled by the onrush of the postmodern forces of individualism, hedonism, and minimalism that Matthew Kelly wrote about so well in his book “Rediscovering Catholicism.”
All three forces are formidable, to be sure. All three are real threats to a culture that was once a mainstay of people’s social and individual lives. For what was once Christian Europe, for example, the liturgical year was what shaped people’s lives, what gave it rhythm, and what directed the daily events of people for centuries.
But…

CERTAINTY, SURETY, PAGEANTRY, & MYSTERY

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Christmas Day Year A December 25, 2010
Midnight Mass: Is 9:1-6 / Titus 2:11-14 / Lk 2:1-14    Day Mass:  Is 52:7-10 / Heb 1:1-6 / Jn 1:1-5.9-14

Preaching on Christmas day is doubly difficult, at least in the culture I am most familiar with, Philippine culture. Although I have spent more than enough Christmas seasons outside of my home country to know the difference, preaching is a little more challenging in my home country for a variety of reasons. For one, most people who are in front of me right now have been at it for nine days – attending Mass and doing the Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) either at early dawn or late evening – everywhere in the world, where there are Filipinos! Secondly, with so many last minute Christmas parties galore everywhere there is a semblance of a group or club, or clan, or work-related associations and assemblages, (not to mention hordes of balikbayan relatives to do family reunions with!), people are generally tired, weary, and sleepy on Christmas day itself.…

CONCEIVE, BEAR, NAME!

This reflection obliquely touches on St. John Bosco, Father and Teacher of Youth, whose relics are now making a tour of the Salesian world. I would like to share the official MTV and official song to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event for the young, for the world, for us who are willing to dream and ready to pay the price for that dream.

4th Sunday of Advent (A) December 19, 2010

You all have probably heard about it, read it, or got to know about it somehow … the grisly, gruesome deed … the cold-blooded murder of a 28 year-old husband and father of four young children, apparently planned and plotted and perpetrated by someone so close, so unexpected, so unbelievably on intimate footing with him, for years!
Planned for, plotted, and perpetrated … It apparently took her only a few months to plan for, with a little help from someone who stood to gain from it all. The news of the cold-blooded – if, so shoddily planned – murder of this young man out in Las Vegas, is a shuddering piece …

FEEBLE HANDS + WEAK KNEES = FEARLESS HEARTS!

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3rd Sunday of Advent Year A December 12, 2010

They simply don’t seem to add up! Problems today … challenges here …  obstacles there … worries here, there, and everywhere … they don’t add up. No … if you think otherwise, you’re not odd. You are just one of us lesser mortals … at times cautious, many times afraid … and most times worried sick.
At 55, I am worried about getting sick and unable to do what I mostly enjoy doing everyday. At any age, people everywhere worry about the future. Everywhere, people now, who know enough and are observant enough to take notice, do wax worrisome over the fast degradation of the only place we call home – mother earth!
Take the case of people in the Marshall islands – the Mashallese – whose tiny island atolls are predicted to be the first to disappear with the rapid onset of global warming. Already now, shorelines are being reclaimed by the ocean, rocks and solid land are crumbling before the eyes of residents who now worry about their legal status, shou…

MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE, POSSIBLE!

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2nd Sunday of Advent(A) December 5, 2010

Two things I like most about Advent season are: first, it is real short … just four short weeks and Christmas comes around without further ado! The second is, it brings in a whole lot of reasons that fit in nicely with the season!
Let us go straight to the point … Advent is all about coming, and coming points to waiting, and this is the whole point … Advent is all about waiting that goes beyond merely twiddling thumbs expecting for something to happen!
Today, the readings sound like things are happening right here, right now!Isaiah talks glowingly about the coming Messianic times. He speaks in terms of images, graphic symbols that only serve to whet the appetite for what is to come … surely, definitely, without fail.
The first reading’s images remind me of a farm, a farmer, and his menagerie. It speaks about what pass for strange bedfellows. Isaiah speaks of sprouts from lifeless stumps, wolves living alongside lambs, lions lounging with carefree ca…

IT IS NOW THE HOUR!

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Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
1st Sunday of Advent Year A
November 28, 2010

I am reposting what I posted as alternative reflection for the First Sunday of Advent three years ago as I am too busy these days to even think of writing a new one.


The second and third readings’ insistence, not without a tone of urgency, to “rise and shine” and “conduct ourselves properly as in the day,” is striking. There is no mistaking it. It is urgent. It is important. And it is imperative that one gets to realize that, while waiting for something imminent and sure, one really has no time to lose, no moment to spare, no opportunity to waste and let go.

The insistence can be summarized simply thus: it is now the hour!

It is now the hour! Whilst it is true and obvious that in our days, people are hard pressed for time, and are quite incapable of waiting, it is also true that for many people in a mad rush towards something undefined, the sense of urgency can often be more a sign of neurotic attac…

FIT TO SHARE THE INHERITANCE OF THE HOLY ONES IN LIGHT!

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Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection Solemnity of Christ the King – Year C November 21, 2010


We started the month of November filling ourselves with hope-giving memories of the saints – “the holy ones in light!” The second day of this same month saw us all filling ourselves with fond and hope-filled memories of those, who, like us, once tried and struggled in this valley of tears, to be hopefully numbered among the same “holy ones in light.” We prayed for all our departed brothers and sisters, that “eternal light might shine upon them,” and that “perpetual rest” be given them.
This month is a month so given in to life-enabling memories. All of it, traditionally, is dedicated to prayerful mementoes for all those who have gone ahead of us. This month revels in memorial, and is inundated with what memorial ultimately leads to – thoughts of endings, ideas of finality, intimations of glory, and clues of immortality that await those who are considered by God, “fit to share the inheritance of th…

EARNING ONE’S KEEP; WORKING FOR KEEPS

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Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C November 14, 2010

Last week, we were actually reintroduced to a topic which Christian tradition has always considered integral to faith – our belief in the end times, or what systematic theology of yore, has referred to as the study of the so-called “last things,” (ta eschata) or eschatology. Our reflection last week led us to reflect on how, as Christian followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are, in a very real sense, citizens of two worlds – earth and heaven, and that whilst Jesus’ “kingdom of God” has not fully come to fulfillment, we Christians believe that the Kingdom of God has irrupted into human history, and that we are already immersed in the “already” and the “not yet” dimensions of what Malachi and other prophets were speaking about. We are basically living in a frontier world; with eyes set solidly on heaven, but with feet fully grounded on terra firma.
It is important for us, however, not to fall naive…

LIVING IN THE FRONTIERS

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Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C November 7, 2010

The very pastoral and ministerial Paul continues to keep in mind his fellow believers, as today, in his letter to the Thessalonians, we once more hear him pray for them. Paul, the apostle of the Lord who, two weeks ago we heard taking leave, and almost like saying good-bye to Timothy, now prays for his disciples, and asks them to pray for him in return. Paul, who has spent his time “running the race and fighting the good fight” for the Lord, now has one foot in eternity. Whilst still living in this world, he knows full well that he is really called to live a transformed life together with the God he served so well.
Paul was in effect living in the frontiers. He was, to use the words of Countryman, “living on the border of the holy” (1999). He was straddling time and eternity. He was immersed, at one and the same time, on the “already” and the “not yet” of Christian faith.
I would like to share someth…

SHORT IN STATURE, A GIANT IN GENEROSITY

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Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection on the Liturty 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C October 31, 2010
Reversals and paradoxes are a fixture in Scripture. We saw an example of this just last week, when we saw the great paradox of humble prayer that was answered, and the proud prayer that was no prayer at all, and therefore, remained unanswered. The tax collector, we are told, “went home justified,” while the Pharisee was left with an empty bag, along with his equally empty boast.
Today, the liturgy presents us with another interesting figure of a tax collector… No … a “chief tax collector,” in fact … a big shot of sorts (pun intended) – Zacchaeus, whose height was the opposite of his “weight” – in GOLD! (For the sake of my Philippine readers, I am tempted to compare Zacchaeus with some equally interesting personages among the top brass of our men in uniform, but I thought this was unfair to Zacchaeus). Zacchaeus, for all his wealth and stature (no pun intended, this time), was really a…