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Saturday, September 26, 2015

GOD'S ALL-INCLUSIVE LOVE

[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
September 27, 2015
26th Sunday OT_B

GOD’S ALL INCLUSIVE LOVE

Signs there are everywhere of exclusivity and self-righteousness. Fundamentalists everywhere, of all persuasions, shapes, sizes and guises abound. They are people who lay claim to being the exclusively saved, the most beloved, the chosen, outside of whose group or denomination no one is worthy enough of God’s solicitous care and compassion.

A number of them are even violent about it and in defense of the selfish doctrine. There are those who even kill, in God’s name, in the name of their self-centered faith in a god who, at bottom, is intolerant of all those who oppose him even in the shallowest way.

Nothing new here … Even during the time of Moses, Eldad and Medad were looked at with disdain, for they were “phophesying in the camp.” They had to be stopped forthwith, at least according to those who were zealously guarding their god-given tasks.

Moses, we are told, would not hear any of it … “Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”

But we humans are geniuses when it comes to shutting off other people from our midst. We find ways and means to be different, and to be heads and shoulders above everyone else. The snotty rich who look down on the dirt poor … doesn’t this sound all too familiar? The powerful few against the ignorant hoi polloi … does this not ring a bell in your ears? The ruling party against everyone else who does not belong … Isn’t this the story of even countries who call themselves champions of the proletariat and the powerless?

Hmmm… What did George Orwell say in “Animal Farm?” … All animals are equal, except, of course, those who are on top!

The Pope is just making the rounds of the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let us see … Lunch with elite and political bigwigs? No … lunch with the homeless and the outcasts? Yes …

No fire and brimstone threats against those who do not share his faith … No haranguing and harassing sermons against those who do not share his convictions … But he told them like it is … that unborn children have rights, too, not just adults who make it to the real world. He told them like it should be told, that families are under threats by the forces of secularization …

He has not come to shore up people’s religious fanatical beliefs and rally them against those who “will never be saved,” and those “who do not belong.”


He has come to talk from the heart to people of good will, in a country where pluralism is at the centerpiece of their table of values and concerns, but at the same time, a place where people, at bottom, are deeply hungry for God and His love.

I need to shed off my proud and mighty stance time and time again. I need to look less disapprovingly at others who “drive out demons in Christ’s name.” I need to revel in the lovely truth that God wants all men and women to be saved. And for me to shed off this attitude, I need to cut off attachment to sin and sinfulness – to sin that binds me hand and foot.

The Church I belong to … the God who has called me to belong … the faith that seeks to be rooted in the hearts and minds of people of good will is not a selfish and self-centered Church. She is God’s people, all together in journey towards fullness of life and salvation.


Here comes everybody! Welcome everybody! “Your word O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth!”

Saturday, September 19, 2015

AMPLITUDE, APTITUDE, ATTITUDE

[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
25th Sunday OT_B
September 20, 2015

AMPLITUDE, APTITUDE, ATTITUDE

Allow me to go philological for today. Let us go by way of linguistics …

I would like to think that amplitude comes from the root word “ample” which means enough. It refers to the state of something being sufficient, being adequate, or simply put, the state of fullness of something.

Aptitude, as the root word states, is being the right fit for something, the state or condition of aptness, suitability or being good enough for something. An apt image of aptitude is that of a key that perfectly fits a keyhole and opens the locked door.

Attitude is what one draws from within the self in reference to everything external to one’s self. It is that frame of mind or mold of heart that makes one either favorable or otherwise to anything and everything.

Now, let us apply all three words to the three readings today. In classical Catholic imagination, my task as preacher is to find connections and resonances between the readings of Scripture, and the reality on the ground, in my (our) world – and beyond! A big word for this is the so-called “fusion of horizons” – God’s horizon, and our human, finite horizon.

And the daunting task for preachers like us is to make sense of our limited, finite human horizon when pitted against God’s horizon … God’s will … God’s subtle but compelling messages … God’s dream for us to find meaning even in seemingly meaningless human existence.

Let me be straightforward with you. The first reading tells us we are adequate enough for God to “defend us and deliver from the hand of [our] foes.” The “just one” – or whoever acts in God’s name and acts godly, too, is not one to be abandoned by God, even if the world finds him “obnoxious” and odious.

But the second reading drives home a related message. Being adequate as a person or being fit enough for God is not a given, but a task – an ongoing task. We were born selfish. We were born whimpering and whining and crying for attention. We started out in life as a bundle of needs, no matter how adults found us cute and cuddly. But some of us went beyond needs. We graduated to being jealous, selfish and ambitious.

We grew up with an attitude. Starting from the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we learned the ropes of sin, born as we all were stained by original sin. We gave in to passions and those passions engendered all forms and types of conflict – between and among ourselves.

Amplitude and attitude-wise, we all can agree on one thing. We fall short. We don’t make the cut. We are not good enough.

But we do have a lot of desires. We grew up conjuring up big dreams.
We hurtled along the timeline of earthly life wanting this, and wanting that … desiring this and that … wanting to be great here and there; sitting one on the throne’s left and one on the throne’s right, never mind if we didn’t have neither the amplitude nor the aptitude.

But Eucharist is all about being what God dreams for us … all about being what God wants for us and wants of us … all about being gifted with the best, with the unbelievably greatest gift – Himself in and through Christ His Son!

And Gospel is all about good news – the Good News that you and I need to hear today.

And yes, I do have bad news for you! This bad news will pave the way for the really good news hiding behind the rafters.

And what is this, you might ask? God doesn’t care much for aptitude and amplitude. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He makes ample the inefficient and the insufficient. He makes wonders out of brokenness and sinfulness. Ooopps! That is me right there … sinful, broken, unqualified, not good enough … ugly as sin.

But whilst there is nothing we can do about aptitude and amplitude, there is a whole lot we can do about attitude. And here is the sure-fire formula to ace it …

Become like a little child. Be last, not first. Serve others, and don’t expect others to dish out greatness to you like a birth right. No room for big egos here. No space for even bigger senses of entitlement. Not here. Not there. Not anywhere. Don’t act like a little demigod. Allow God to be God. Lord. Creator. Father. Provident God.

And yes, before I forget … shed off attitude, and God will equip you with the needed amplitude and aptitude!




Saturday, September 5, 2015

OPEN ME UP, LORD, TO WHOLENESS!

[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
23rd Sunday OT-B
September 6, 2015

OPEN ME UP, LORD, TO WHOLENESS!

Many, many years ago, as a young first-time traveler, I was introduced to the fad of “whole wheat bread.” For the life of me, I didn’t know the difference between what we youngsters back home called “bread” and “whole wheat” bread. But since I was healthier than a mule then, neither did I care if there was, indeed, a difference.

Now, I think I know better. At the very least, I know that being broken is not exactly being whole, and that being whole is being healthy, and being healthy means every part of you is working in tiptop condition.

I am sure you all have experiences of being in fear or overcome with anxiety. Being fearful could make one do either of two things: run furiously away or being paralyzed to inaction. One does not feel whole. One does not feel “sane” – and I use the word in the Latin sense, meaning in a state of well-being.

I am sure, too, that you have experienced being a little biased against certain individuals or groups of people. I grew up hating “Vietcongs” even if I didn’t know who they were. I heard about them on radio, growing up as a child. I thought they were monsters ready to pounce on innocent people. They sounded to me like they were cruel people out to rob everyone of their freedom.

I wasn’t sane. I wasn’t whole. Some part of me nurtured hatred against the unknown – a group of people who were demonized by mainstream media then.

I am a man of little patience. I am almost sure that when I get even older than I am now, if God lends me a little more time, I will most likely suffer from difficulty of hearing. And yet, I must confess, I have little patience for people who make me repeat what I say two or three times.

Even if I am not, by any means, deaf yet, I am not sane. I am not whole. No one who is unable to tolerate others in their disability cannot be totally whole, or at least, trying to be holy, though long-suffering patience and tolerance.

I look up to the Lord today begging for his mercy and compassion. He shows Himself today precisely as one who can heal me … as one who can make me whole … as the only one who merits to be called the healer par excellence.

I would like to share to my readers that I lay claim today to his Divine utterance: “Ephphatha!” “Be opened!”

Open me up, Lord, to total healing. Break me open to tolerance and patience. For while I still am impatient to those who cannot fully hear me, I, too am in more need of healing than they are.

I am deaf. I am mute. I pretend so often not to hear the cries of the suffering and the lonely and the weary. I do not use my talents and powers to do my part and proclaim the saving truths about you, O Saving and healing Lord!


Open my ears, Lord, that I may hear. Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see. Open my mouth Lord, that I may proclaim what needs to be proclaimed: “Praise the Lord, my soul!”