Follow Me on Facebook

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT! MARY MATTERS!



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 deserves.

The frame is not the image. The frame gives the image the centrality it deserves, and the frame’s function and role is considered essential to give the image the centrality and focus it should have.

Today, on the octave of Christmas, which is essentially a celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation, that is, when God’s Son took on flesh, we celebrate the central truth of the divine nature of Christ, Son of God. But we also celebrate the essential dogma that supports that central truth about Christ, which is the dogma of the Mother who rendered it possible for God to do what He did – effect the mystery of the Incarnation of His Son.

Make no mistake about it … Mary matters, but God remains the focus and center of all we celebrate in Church.

Make no mistake about it … Mary does not overshadow Christ, her  Son, but on the contrary, heightens who He is, by God’s design – divine, yet human … one Person (the 2nd Person of the Trinity), with two natures!

Make no mistake about it … We Catholics do not worship Mary. Neither do we deify a fellow mortal. Dogmas of faith when proclaimed by the Church, historically speaking, always came in the context of attempts at denial of the central tenets of Christian, Catholic faith. And when the dogma of Mary’s Divine Maternity was proclaimed officially, it was precisely to counteract the spreading rumors (read: heresies!) that said Jesus was only human, not Divine. (Does this sound very familiar to my Filipino readers?)

Make no mistake about it. Mary matters. For Christ matters most. Mary is important and the dogma about her divine motherhood is essential, for the prime reason that Christ, God’s Son and hers, is central to our faith. I can think of no other hymn to represent this than this one that I liberally would like to quote:

Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day; Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine; Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread; Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen. 


Make no mistake about it! Mary matters, if you consider Christ as center!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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



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, one at dawn, and another one for good measure, during the day! And the last one, mind you, does not top it off … No! … It just begins the 8-day period of splurging surpassed only by the Easter octave!

The angels must have splurged themselves, singing endless hosannas of praise, prodigally proclaiming praises for the even more prodigal God, who loves us in ways that man cannot keep track of, nor count.

The shepherds were co-opted into glorifying God. The stars, the animals in the stable, the wise men – all men and women of good will! Those who could see beyond what their eyes focused on … those who saw more than what their feeble senses could feast on … those who could count, and those who couldn’t even count their sheep, the learned and the unschooled, the proud and the humble, the mighty and the lowly, the rich and the poor, and those who, despite being rich, were wanting in every other way.

Christmas is the story of you and me and them … those who waited and those who were waited on … those who suffered and those who rejoiced … those who grieved and those who rejoiced … those who knew the Messiah was coming and those who chose to simply ignore their need for God. The desire of the everlasting hills has come!

We Filipinos just love to splurge on Christmas. Just look at the number of hours we spend in horrendous traffic! Just look at the number of times we bore the lines, trying to get back to the unmoving traffic faster than the others who are equally trying to come back home, harassed, half broke, tired, but happy all the same! We Filipinos don’t count anymore … at how much we lost trying to make hundreds of beggars happy with a few coins … at how much sleep time lost because we wanted to make the spiritual number 9 ( the number of days of simbang gabi).

The question on Christmas is not “how much do I love Thee,” but “how much does God love us?” And that question begins with doing something so repeatedly, without feeling bored, harassed, and half broke … 1,2,3, and 4! Four different liturgies on the day Christ the Lord was born!

Tonight (or this morning, or today) you have made it to one. Congratulations! But no! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

THE DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS


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, something nobler, something more beautiful and more fulfilling. We are a people of the longing. And yes, I take it from Fr. Rolheiser, too, that behind our desire, behind the earthly dreams and desires of every human being born of woman, is, at bottom, a deeply human and a deeply holy longing – a longing for God, ultimately the object of desire of the everlasting hills!

But Nathan’s promise was not an empty boast. Neither was it a shallow attempt at appeasing our dashed hopes and frustrated dreams. No … it was a promise. It was a prophecy … about God and His promises to His beloved people. This God is a God of promises, but He is even more a God of fulfillment.

The Gospel today dwells on that fulfillment of what was once promised – a full thousand years before it eventually took place.

Mary, the young woman through whom the promise was fulfilled, showed us what it means to be waiting, to be open to surprises, and open to challenges. Indeed, God surprised her with a visit of a messenger – Gabriel, who came with yet another promise: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

The dream beyond all dreams … the object of all our longings and the desire of the everlasting hills has come in our midst in history. He is still coming to us in mystery and grace. And he will yet come again in majesty and glory.

But there is one important question we need to answer … Have we allowed him to make a difference in our lives up till now?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

FROM DENIAL TO DECLARATION


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 was “sent from God,” and who “came for testimony, to testify to the light.”

Well, to be honest, John the Baptist, to me, passed with flying colors. He stood the test and held his ground. But for him to do so, he had to dispel some possible misconceptions from overzealous followers and uncritical hearers. He started out with denials: “I am not the Christ.” “I am not Elijah.” “I am not the Prophet.”

He might have stood his ground alright, but John knew his place! He knew the full truth about who he was, and what he was sent for. And, quite unlike our facebook statuses, and social media profiles, John knew his humble profile and held on to his lowly stature: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.”

A dirty politician, John definitely was not! A scheming and denying king, he was neither. For his denials, he was really leading his hearers to a monumental declaration: “I baptize with water; but there is one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

And this, my friends, is the reason why today, we need to rejoice. Gaudete! Rejoice in the Lord always!

And who should say that we should not rejoice? Take it from Isaiah, who knows his onions … “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.”

Rejoice not, because you got your bonus.  Rejoice not, because you have your new iPhone 6 (plus!). Rejoice not, because you have this or that. Be happy for them. Thank God for them. Be grateful for everything, but rejoice for something else, for some higher reason, for some more valuable gift.

Isaiah, again, shows us the way … Rejoice for he has announced “a year of favor from the Lord, and a vindication by our God!”

This, my friends, is good news! All others – bonus, gifts, gadgets and all – are nothing but add-ons and value added gifts. They don’t constitute the best and the highest of what we await – a new heaven and a new earth! For “the Lord God [will] make justice and praise spring up before all the nations!”

Come, Lord, come! Emmanuel be with us!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

LORD, LET US SEE YOUR KINDNESS!



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, pleading, and proactive leadership on behalf of his suffering people. My prayer, like everyone else right now is simply this: “Lord, let us see your kindness!”

I am one with so many who post hopeful and faith-filled prayers in social media who basically ask for the same thing Moses asked God on behalf of his people – deliverance and liberation from slavery, both real and figurative.

The movie subtly suggests that miracles that were wrought were all actually natural and naturally explainable events. But the movie also makes it clear, as the Bible actually does, that those same natural events happened because of perfect supernatural timing, due to a Divine intervention that cannot be explained away by facetious and pseudo-scientific argumentation.

I am no scientist. I find it hard even to understand how come there are three conflicting forecasts about the trajectory of Hagupit all coming from international reputable weather experts the world over. On that area, I cannot be of much help to anyone.

But I am a believer. I believe that even if the miracles wrought in Moses’ times were attributable to mere natural events, I also believe that the God of nature, the God of creation, and the same God of redemption can so cause precisely those natural events to happen at the right time, at the right place, for the right people,  and that such supernatural timing is something that no scientist, no Pharaoh or King, can do on his own.

I call on fellow believers who also belong and who are on the way to becoming what God has intended us to be, to join the rest of the community of believers in prayer, and I would like to repeat: “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” Moses, like Isaiah, was called and sent by God to give “comfort to [His] people.” Through them, “the glory of the Lord [had been] revealed.” Through chosen individuals, God has impressed upon us all, that for “a thousand years are just like one day,” for He, too, is the God of history.

But, more importantly, the story of Moses and the event of the Exodus, teach us one thing … There is a time for reckoning … There is an end to suffering, to pain, to earthly happiness and well-being as we know them, for the “world and all its pleasures, are fast drifting away.” There is an end to tyrants like Rameses, and definitely an end to political parties whose only achievement is to fool and hoodwink everyone to believing they are merely working for the common good, while doing nothing but steal from the very people they claim to serve.

The movie that is “Exodus: Gods and Kings” teach us valuable lessons. But the ongoing event that is the unfinished “history of salvation” teaches us even more … that what we believe and await and long for will come … And someone like Moses has come who told us that important lesson we need to take to heart: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”

His message was good then; his message is good now: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

WATCH FOR THE LIGHT!

-->
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 non-existing tail lights of cars and rickety buses and trucks – for sheer survival! Driving at night especially in the countryside is almost like playing Russian roulette, when stalled vehicles without tail lights or the required EWD (early warning device) abound on the road itself or by the road side.



One needs to watch for the light (or the sheer absence of light!) if you want to arrive at your destination whole and entire.



Today, first Sunday of Advent (which means “coming”), we watch for the light. Light here means a number of things. Let us unpack each of them.



The first reading from Isaiah refers, I would like to believe, to the “light” of self-awareness and self-acceptance. Isaiah shows us the way to self-understanding … “We are like polluted rags,” he says. But having said that, he also claims with certainty: “Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter.” How’s that for a basis for an enlightened existence? Guilty beyond reasonable doubt though we may be, we are loved by God beyond imagination!



Paul’s letter to the Corinthians sheds further encouraging light. We are awash in grace, he says … “enriched in every way,” and “called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”



The Gospel, for its part, issues a spiritual EWD, an evangelical early warning device … “Be watchful! Be alert!” he counsels us.



I don’t go out too often in our hopelessly clogged roads at night. But there are times the call of duty forces me to drive through the city even if I have no intention to. Driving around Metro Manila and all over the country for that matter is exactly like what Advent season is partially about. Advent is all about watching and waiting, and one cannot do much active watching and waiting without paying attention to the presence (or sheer absence) of light!



I know in my heart that Christ is coming back at the end of time. I know by faith that the world as we know it, along with its glories, are fast drifting away. I know that there is an end of this world as we know it and that there will be a final judgment for both the living and the dead, and that there will be a time when the dead shall rise again precisely to face the ultimate judgment.



But we people tend to forget, as always, as ever. We see all the material lights around us and take notice of all the glitter and the glamor beside us, but miss the spiritual lights of self-introspection and the free and conscious decision to change our ways. We see the material lights exploding in our face, but not the light of conversion and repentance that are both essential needs and realities that stare us in the face. “We have become like unclean people and all our good deeds are like polluted rags.”



We need to take in earnest what we prayed for after the second reading: “Show us, Lord, your love; and grant us your salvation!”



A wise counsel from Isaiah, Paul, and the good Lord Himself for today … Look out for that EWD! Watch for the light! “You do not know when the time will come.”




Friday, November 21, 2014

RULING, LEADING, SHEPHERDING


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 politics of the worst kind that my country is notorious for. He was born of a working-class family – skilled, no doubt – but nevertheless a lowly trade that was carpentry.

But his leadership came not as an accident of history. No … it was actually prophesied centuries in advance: “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”  From the words of Ezekiel, we learn how God, in His infinite wisdom, would work gradually towards the fulfillment of a vision proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel.

But caring shepherd that he was meant to be, the ruler was not “programmed” to be a wimp. He was also raised to be a judge: “I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.” Again, leader that he was called to be, his lordship was not one characterized by brute strength and power, but by the mysterious power of self-donation – the ultimate point of which was his self-immolation – his death on the cross. By so doing, he showed who really had the goods that mattered more than anything else: “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead came also through a man … The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Today’s solemnity, for all the frustrations and hopelessness that I see in a country so torn and battered by the nation’s biggest criminal syndicate that is government, gives me unsurpassed hope for the undefined and uncertain future, from a purely human point of view. From the earthly viewpoint, the future is uncertain, and definitely, dark. And only those deep in denial will continue to hold on to the romantic dream that somehow, things will get better while the big-time honorable crooks continue laughing their way to the banks!

But wait! There is something more to our lives as believers than just the reality of the culture of sin of which we all are part, “for we all have fallen short of the glory of God.”

And this is what we continue to hold on and pin our best and brightest hopes in! … Not in an ideology … not on  another wistful and romantic dream … neither on a political strategy no matter how bright and cogent and convincing.

Today, I choose to pin my hopes on a ruler, leader, and shepherd who, according to God’s plan and will, will be the ultimate victor … Christ! Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, after he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.”

The grass withers, the flower fades, so says the Holy Book, but the will of the Lord remains forever. Rulers come; despots go. Honorable criminals may abound now, but only the Lord shall reign forever and ever. And talking about earthly rulers, there is definitely a time for reckoning … when sheep shall be separated from goats. God’s justice shall definitely prevail in God’s own good time, that is, when He comes again, at the end of the ages!

Are you still worried sick that things seem so utterly hopeless? Chin up, my friends! “The Lord is my shepherd (and ruler and leader); there is nothing I shall want!”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

VALUE BEYOND PEARLS

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 wise man who marries a worthy wife knows deep inside that he is worth more than one who won the jackpot in the lottery. “Entrusting his heart to her, [he] has an unfailing prize.”

We Christian believers who deeply also belong to a community called the Church know in our hearts that the value of things goes beyond its usefulness here and now. For one, we know that life as we know it, is fast drifting away. We know, too, that for all our efforts at trying to corner “peace and security,” the same cannot be had in this mortal, fickle world. We know better, for “we are not of the night or of darkness,” but “we are children of the light and children of the day.”

Yes, we believers do appreciate REAL VALUE and attach it to where it matters most. Yes, we do believe in investing, too! And there is nothing sinful about putting some money tucked some place for a rainy day, even as there is nothing sinful about creating legitimate wealth for oneself, one’s family, and for others.

And since we are in the topic of healthy and legitimate investing, let us pursue the issue further. The Gospel actually rewards those who used the talents they received to produce even more! And the same gospel parable actually finds it reprehensible that the one who got one talent simply buried it and returned it as it was – a lone, miserable talent that produced no usufruct for himself and for his lender.

We all want peace and security. We all want to invest properly and legitimately. And there is nothing wrong with wishing to gain something from both. But we Christian believers want more – real value that goes beyond compounded interest in cash! And so, we train our sights and use all that we have – our talents – as capital to work for and attain that whose value goes far beyond pearls, far beyond earthly material wealth! What is that pearl of great price you might ask? No less than He who surpasses all as creator of all – God Himself and His gift of salvation. That, my friend, is the ultimate peace and security!

“Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me bears much fruit.”

Lawa-an, Talisay City, Cebu

November 15, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

ONE FOR ALL; ALL FOR ONE!


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, some place or someone we can all identify with, for us to have meaning in all we do and who we are. For serious mountaineers all over the world, the ultimate rallying point, of course, is Everest. For all serious climbers, their motto could as well be: “Never rest, till Everest.”

We Catholics also have a similar rallying and reference point. We have Churches all over the world now, but tradition and early Christian history continue to offer the Church of St. John Lateran as the “mother of all Churches,” the original and still actual Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome.

But that piece of Christian trivia is hardly worth celebrating and gushing for. A historical datum, no matter how important, will be good only to know and remember, not to celebrate for.

We celebrate something more. And for us to know why, we need to look at the spiritual symbolisms and their respective meanings that jut out of the readings. Ezekiel talks about “life giving waters” coming from the temple. The second reading speaks about us becoming and being “God’s building” – nay, even the “temple of God” where the “Spirit dwells.” And the Gospel passage, more than reporting about the controversial “angry Christ” really refers more to the temple of his body. He actually used the anger as a stepping stone to teaching his followers about Him being the promised and awaited Redeemer, who has come to fulfill what Scriptures of old prophesied.

The burden now, is on us … Do we remain in our superficial and meaningless anger about many things, or do we use our anger to energize us to do the right things and to do them rightly, for God’s sake, not ours? Are we to remain like the dry Arabah desert that is lifeless, or are we to bear fruit in plenty for the life of the world, like Christ did? Are we, for that matter, to remain in our fractiousness and divisiveness instead of becoming one Body, one Bread, one People, one Church, and one Community of believers?

The Church of St. John Lateran stands as eloquent symbol of what we are called to be – to Oneness in Faith and in life. St. John Lateran, “mother of all Churches,” is one for all. And we are called to rally behind her, behind our Mother Church, and become All for one … one faith, one baptism, one Church, with one God and Father of all.

Friday, October 24, 2014

LOVE COSTS. LOVE HURTS. LOVE HEALS. LOVE SAVES

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 social media. For many reasons.

First, one does not choose whom to consider “friend.” No one among us in his right mind would befriend an “alien,” an “orphan,” or a “widow” just so he or she can keep connected. But the kind of relationship that the first reading talks of is one of care and responsibility, and an involvement that is not just a business relationship. In fact there is no business here, as one does not stand to gain from such an involvement.

Second, it is not optional. It is a commandment. It is actually the greatest commandment of all.

And third, it costs. Anything important and of value, definitely costs, and this is true of love. For God. For neighbor. For family. For enemy.

The world makes it appear all too easy nowadays. To be a close friend (while being physically far) is as easy as clicking a button. But not all relationships click in real life. Not everyone could get that close to others, for reasons as many as there are people. I cannot please everyone I know, whether her or she is close to me or not. Even great friends I had once upon a time at some point become distant and uncaring, again, for reasons that one may not easily fathom. And not everyone approves of everything I do, or purport to do. In fact, there may actually be some people who, not only disapprove of me, but also do things to spite me, to hurt me, to and to put me down, for reasons best known to themselves.

The world, as we know it, is not as cozy as the world painted by social media, where likes dominate your wall, after you post an “impression managed” picture chosen from a batch of selfies that were taken a few minutes earlier (which, like “spare embryos” are willfully and casually relegated to the trash bin). The world can actually be a cruel place, and life can actually be unfair.

But this is the time when the great command takes center stage. This, too, is the time the same command becomes really costly. And the command demands a lot from me and you. Love costs. Love hurts. Love wounds.

But ultimately, love heals and love saves!

“Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face.”
Tagaytay City

October 24, 2014