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MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT! MARY MATTERS!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1T26yw1Ltg
Solemnity of Mary Mother of God January 1, 2015
MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT! MARY MATTERS.

Although we begin the New Year in the Philippines with a bang, we also begin it with a dose of essential dogma, all at the service of what really matters most, on the last day of Christmas Octave.
Make no mistake about it. This solemnity is not about ushering in a new civil year. Neither is it about making Christmas veer off tangent by introducing someone who sort of “steals the show” from Christ, the Lord, the one and only Savior, the one and only Redeemer, the one and only Son of God.
As a counselor myself, I am familiar with the concept of “reframing.” Basically, it means (among others) that when one wants to highlight the image, one also needs to consider the frame. A very good image set in an ugly frame would render the image less than the worth it deserves in the eyes of the beholder. Change the frame and one heightens the beauty and worth the image deser…

LET ME COUNT THE WAYS: 1,2,3,4!

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Christmas Day December 25, 2014
LET ME COUNT THE WAYS: 1,2,3,4!
Something one does four times in a row must really be important. A celebration done fourfold must be meaningful, more than important. Something one repeats, not thrice but quatrice (if the word exists!) must be so important, meaningful and significant to the hilt.
I am reminded of Sonnet 43 that begins with the question: “How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways!”
How does God love us? Let us not give an answer by counting. You count things you want to manage and control. You measure things you want to manipulate towards a certain finality. You lose count when you lose all interest and capacity to even fully understand in a human way what is really beyond words, beyond description, although definitely not beyond belief.
Christmas is beyond words. This maybe the reason why we count four distinct celebrations, each with distinct readings, that all have each a different focus. So let us count … one at the vigil, one at midnight, …

THE DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS

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4th Sunday of Advent – B December 21, 2014
DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS
I borrow the title of Thomas Cahill’s lovely prose and well-written “history” of Jesus of Nazareth. I like the title, first and foremost, for he speaks about Jesus having definitely made a difference in the long history of humankind. Even if recorded history, apart from the Bible, has precious little about him and details about his life and lineage, his coming or irrupting into human history definitely made a dent, for many, not just a few.
We are among the many today whose lives were impacted by the one who was promised three thousand years ago by Nathan, the prophet: “I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm … Your house and your kingdom shall endure before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”
We are a people in waiting. We are a people, too, of the promise. We are filled with longing, wrapped up in an intense desire for something better, something higher,…

FROM DENIAL TO DECLARATION

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3rd Sunday of Advent-Year B GAUDETE SUNDAY December 14, 2014
FROM DENIAL TO DECLARATION
The Gospel passage of today reminds me of the unfortunate, dysfunctional politics that is in force in my country since time immemorial. Every big fish in government accused of so many things have one common response – deny, deflect, desist, and defame others!
This is a far cry from today’s humble approach shown by the focus of today’s gospel reading – St. John the Baptist. He could as well have been someone being interviewed by any of the warring giant networks’ team of overzealous reporters out to be make a scoop.“Who are you?” … “What are you then?” … “Are you Elijah?” … “Are you the prophet?” “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?” “What do you have to say about yourself?”
Hmmm! … the questions sound familiar. They all sound like people who ask not to find out the truth, but to insist on their own brand of preconceived truth. The pressure must have been too much for one who wa…

LORD, LET US SEE YOUR KINDNESS!

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2nd Sunday Advent – B December 7, 2014
LORD, LET US SEE YOUR KINDNESS!
Bible-based epic movies are usually shown right before or during Lent. The current hit “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is obviously an example, opening just around the 2nd Sunday of Advent. I agree with Christianity Today that the movie is somewhat “biblically irreverent,” something else, which is positive.
But my topic for second Sunday of Advent is not about Exodus, nor about the cinematographic masterpiece that it actually is, at least for me, but about a God whom the whole Philippines now addresses with a plaintive prayer and plea, besieged as it is now by a potentially catastrophic super-typhoon that is “Hagupit,” that comes just a little a year after “Haiyan” wrought death and destruction to a wide swath of Central Philippines.
Well over 19 million Filipinos, who will be directly affected by the typhoon, can well place themselves in the same footing as Moses, who wrestled with God in more senses than just one in prayer…

WATCH FOR THE LIGHT!

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--> November 30, 2014 1st Sunday of Advent Year B
WATCH FOR THE LIGHT!


I borrow my title from a book of readings for Advent and Christmas by Plough Publishing (2001). Where I am, Christmas lights are beginning to take center stage everywhere. Advent just happens to begin today, but we Filipinos have little appreciation for waiting when it comes to Christmas. We are, by and large, a very patient, and even, long-suffering people, but Christmas simply is not something we wait for … No … we celebrate it well in advance, with malls and music halls taking the lead. Why, Christmas has begun in the airlanes yet last September!


We may have one of the most expensive power rates in the world, but we sure know how to splurge when it comes to lights well before the Feast of Lights actually comes around. We very literally, and figuratively, watch for the light.


Drivers all over the country know what this means. Defensive driving means, among many others, the capacity to watch for the often …

RULING, LEADING, SHEPHERDING

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Solemnity of Christ the King November 23, 2014 RULING, LEADING, SHEPHERDING
We have rulers who govern and reign over us. We need them for we belong to a civilized society. Whether we like it or not, politics of the worst kind and Politics of the good kind color and impinge upon our everyday daily affairs, even if most of what we do have nothing to do with political, partisan affairs.
To be honest with you, I have had enough of the type of dysfunctional politics of the worst kind in my own beloved country. For decades, we have had to choose between evil people and less evil people; between the media-created popular characters and those whose passport to power is very simply put, money – that begets more money and more fame and even more fortune – for generation upon generation.
Today, the whole Church speaks about a ruler, a leader and a shepherd, too. He was not born into wealth and all that wealth could buy. He had no pedigree that remotely approximates power associated with the dirty pol…

VALUE BEYOND PEARLS

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A November 16, 2014
VALUE BEYOND PEARLS
We all want security. We all look for safeguards against an uncertain future. And so, people invest and put their money in security bonds and pre-need plans. Yes … even if the very same pre-need and security companies in the Philippines actually lack security and eventually fold up, owing to a multiplicity of factors, not excluding being involved in erratic and dysfunctional Philippine politics.
People invest because they believe in ultimate value, not necessarily of money now, but of emerging needs that would require tons of money later. But there are simple investors and wise investors. The former just think in terms of what they can get in return for what they place today, and mind you, what they mean is hefty returns in cash! But smart investors who see value beyond money and beyond pearls and precious metals and gems, invest in stuff that do not necessarily glitter … here and now.
They invest in persons! And a …

ONE FOR ALL; ALL FOR ONE!

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Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran November 9, 2014
ONE FOR ALL; ALL FOR ONE!
There are many ways to approach the readings of today. Two are readily available at hand. The first is to focus on the righteous anger of Christ, directed against those who have turned the temple into a marketplace. Indeed, one artist by the name of Alfonso Osorio depicts an “angry Christ” in the Church of St. Joseph the Worker in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. Another is to focus on the readings’ spiritual meaning for us here and now, and therefore, to see beyond the material temple that Jesus the Lord was speaking of, towards our self-understanding as collectively, the new “temple” that offers worship to the God Christ felt righteously angry for.
The first is enveloped in layers of hermeneutical nuances that would make this reflection more a Bible-study session than an exhortation. The second is what seems to be indicated by our needs for here, for now.
We all look for a rallying point, something, …

LOVE COSTS. LOVE HURTS. LOVE HEALS. LOVE SAVES

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30th Sunday Year A October 26, 2014
LOVE COSTS. LOVE HURTS. LOVE HEALS. LOVE SAVES
Social media has apparently made the world a more loving, and more connected world. Yes … not even PLDT with its watchword “keeping you in touch” has ever succeeded as well as facebook to keep people in touch. Facebook, Google+, Linked In, Twitter and other micro-blogging networks have all edged out the voice-call industry in connecting people in real time.
Why, facebook has even redefined “friendship.” Google+ has invented a wide array of relationships, from circles, to family, to acquaintances, to close friendship. We are connected and related in every way imaginable.
But we can also ignore posts, statuses, twits, - and, yes – even “missed calls.” We can pretend like we never saw them, and just quietly remain a “lurker” rather than an active “liker.”
It means being connected, without really being engaged and involved.
The love that the readings speak of today cannot be the kind of relationships shown in soc…