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Showing posts from 2016

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD - WORLD PEACE DAY (Year A) | 1st January 2017 (English)

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Feast of the Holy Family (Year A) | 30th December 2016 (English)

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CHRISTMAS (Year A) | 25th December 2016 (English)

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Merry Christmas eveyone!

CONCEIVE, BEAR, NAME! B4th Sunday of Advent (Year A) | 18th December 2016 (English)

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4th Sunday of Advent (A)
December 18, 2016

CONCEIVE, BEAR, NAME!

We all know of at least one or two cases of well planned crimes. We just heard of one such that happened recently in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa where one suspected drug lord was killed. Till now, no one knows the real story that transpired, despite the many hours spend in the notorious Senate or Congressional investigations.

Planned for, plotted, and perpetrated ... It apparently took months of planning for, with a lot of help from those who stood to gain from it all. The event is a shuddering piece of news, and a sobering thought for each one of us, myself included, who now realizes, like everyone of us, that the drug problem is not just an isolated one.

Being no spring chicken anymore, I know a little about plans being hatched, and projects eventually seeing the light of day. I know from experience, and can speak a little about dreams and visions coming to full bloom, when one has, not only the blueprint …

Gaudete Sunday. 3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A) | 11th December 2016 (English)

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Year A) | 8th of December 2016 (...

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2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) | 4th December 2016 (English)

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IT IS NOW THE HOUR! 1st Sunday of Advent (Year A) | 27th November 2016 (English)

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1st Sunday of Advent - Year A
November 27, 2016

IT IS NOW THE HOUR!

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 attachment to being occupied and busy with something. People rush out of their work places, only to kill time in front of the TV screen, watching and getting involve…

SHEPHERD, SERVANT & KING Solemnity of Christ the King (Year C) | 20th November 2016

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SHEPHERD, SERVANT, KING

Another typhoon has visited us recently. Even now, as I talk, so many still have to pick up the scattered pieces of their lives, both literally and figuratively, to get up and face life anew, despite so much loss.

I have experienced helping the very helpless after devastating storms a number of times in my life. I remember the feeling of being like those I was trying to help - helpless and dazed in apparent hopelessness.

It felt so humbling ... being literally so helpless - in the face of so many needs, all urgent and all important. The magnitude of the destruction, in many cases, was unfathomable. Money doesn't grow on trees, and no one plucks it out of nowhere just when one needs it, no matter how urgent, no matter how important, no matter how noble.

But at the same time, it felt so encouraging. The little that was available for everyone to do was precisely what the suffering millions needed. The power that was not anyone's innate resource was the ve…

UPSET OR RESET? 33rd Sunday (Year C) | November 13, 2016 (English)

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OF SET-UPS, UPSETS, AND RESETS
Last week, we alluded to the importance and necessity of having perspective. To have perspective is to have a frame on which to set a picture, a ground on which to locate a seemingly smaller reality. To have perspective is to be endowed with a point of view, to see the bigger picture, as it were, and not to miss the bigger forest for just a few trees.
The seven brothers and their heroic mother of last week’s first reading, definitely had perspective. That perspective of faith in the resurrection was what gave them the courage, the strength, and the endurance to withstand a painful and cruel – grisly – death. On that score, the Sadducees, disbelieving as they were, of the resurrection, lacked the necessary perspective to see beyond earthly existence. Their ridiculous – if, impossible – scenario in the impertinent question posed to the Lord, betrayed their utter lack of perspective.
This Sunday, we get to understand the concept a little more – and with a lot…

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) | November 6, 2016 (English)

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All Saint's Day (Year C) | 1st November 2016 (English)

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THE GOD OF REVERSALS! 31st Sunday (Year C) | October 30, 2016 (English)

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BOASTING HUMBLY? 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) | October 23, 2016 (English)

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ALL DAYS, ALL WAYS & FOR ALWAYS! 29th Sunday (Year C) | October 16, 2016 (English)

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

October 16, 2016



ALL DAYS, ALL WAYS, & FOR ALWAYS!



Today's readings remind me of people who know what they want, who know that what they want is good for them, and who also know that what they want as something ultimately good for them, is worth waiting patiently for, praying fervently for, and working feverishly for.



Where I come from, people have the utmost respect and reverence for farmers. I am one of those who look up to them with awe. My father was an accountant by profession, but a farmer by vocation. He loved to plant. He loved to till the soil and be close to nature. He began planting coffee trees at age 11, together with his even younger brother who eventually died as a boy of something that, by today's medical standards, could easily have been cured. He knew what he wanted. He knew that what he wanted was good for his future (and ours!). And he worked for what he wanted with utmost dedication, commitment, and perseverance.



F…

SEPARATED, SAVED & SENT 28th Sunday (Year C) | October 9, 2016 (English)

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SEPARATED, SAVED, & SENT

Today, the readings speak about something totally unexpected, something unpredictable, and utterly surprising from all points of view. Naaman, a foreigner, a non-Jew, and a non-believer, is healed of his dermatological problems of depressing and alienating proportions (1st Reading). What makes it surprising is that a foreigner is deigned worthy of being healed by God. What makes the story unexpected is that he, a man of means and a man of influence "went down and plunged himself into the Jordan seven times," - a possible allusion both to embracing humility, and doing as he is instructed by Elisha, that is, physically going down the waters of the Jordan. What makes it unpredictable is the total and complete turn-around of somebody who was not expected to believe and embrace the faith of Elisha and all those the prophet stood for.

Naaman's story is a story of reversals par excellence.

The Gospel story, too, is one whose element of surprise is …

GOOGLE OR GOGGLES? 27th Sunday (Year C) | October 2, 2016 (English)

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26th Sunday (Year C) | September 25, 2016 (English)

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WHEN WISDOM GOES WRONG - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) | September 18, 2016 (English)

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time -Year C
Sept.18, 2016

WHEN "WISDOM" GOES WRONG


There is a contemporary "ring" to all the scenarios described by the first and third readings today. They sound so real and current they could as well be said of what goes on in people's lives, all over the world - the references to cheating on the side, to dishonesty, to a little manipulation with the figures, a minute adjustment with the scales, and putting to use one's foresight, practical wisdom, and abilities to get maximum advantage for oneself.

They sound so realistic and so contemporary that one is tempted to ask ... so what's wrong with being smart and using one's talents to gain personal advantage? One even feels affirmed when one realizes that in the gospel parable, the Lord recounts how the master even "commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently." One initially gets the impression that, for so long as one "prudently" thinks and plans a…

LOSSES, FINDINGS & REJOICING - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
September 11, 2016
LOSSES, FINDINGS, & REJOICING
All three readings today refer to one salient theme: God's forgiveness. God is portrayed clearly for what He is - a compassionate Father, a God who is ready and willing to relent, for as long as sinful man repents and thinks better of his/her sins. 
The first reading from Exodus reminds me of a carabao (Philippine water buffalo used as a beast of burden) that we had in our bucolic College-seminary in the first few years of my priesthood as a teacher and formator. The strong and self-willed carabao suffered from a torn nose right where the noose ought to have been  --- all for one reason. He hemmed and hawed and protested continuously against his masters. At some point, the nose tissue that tethered him to the ground gave way. A gaping, open wound thus made it impossible to keep the animal on leash, making it impossible to further train him as a beast of burden to help us till the soil and plow t…

BORN TO BE FREE - 23rd Sunday (Year C) | September 4, 2016 (English)

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
September 4, 2016

BORN TO BE FREE!

There is something heartwarming in today's readings, particularly in Paul's letter to Philemon (2nd reading). Paul, by then an old man in prison, waxes paternal and solicitous for the welfare of both Philemon and the runaway slave Onesimus. As the law would prescribe, Paul sends him right back to Philemon, but not before liberating both the master and the slave. Philemon may well have been a slave to the prevailing culture of that time that considered slavery normal. Onesimus, may well have been, not only a physical slave, but also - and more importantly - a slave to his own misconceptions about himself and his relationship with the rest of the world, including his master, Philemon.

Paul, an old man shackled in prison, bound by the dictates of an earthly law that he has spent so much time and effort enlightening people about, gives Philemon, Onesimus, and the whole believing world for posterity, a great lesson on …

AMICE, ASCENDE SUPERIUS! 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) | August 28, 2016 (English)

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time -Year C
August 28, 2016

Readings: Sir 3:17-18,20,28-29 / Heb 12:18-19,22-24a / Lk 14:1,7-14

GETTING BEYOND, NOT ABOVE, ONESELF

Today is a Sunday of highs and lows. Sirach counsels us to find meaning in being "low," a trait which he says, should be inversely proportional to our being "high" up there. "Humble yourself the more, the greater you are" (1st Reading). The letter to the Hebrews takes as a given our having "approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God." In and through Jesus, "the mediator of a new covenant," we have received the singular grace of being in the presence of the "ecclesia" - the gathering of "countless angels in heaven" (2nd reading).

At first blush, there seems to be something incongruous, if not contradictory, in the first two readings. The first extols lowliness and humility. The second proclaims the singular grace of Christians being able to go up the mountai…

ROBUR AB ASTRIS ... 21st Sunday (Year C) | August 21, 2016

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
August 21, 2016

Readings: Is 66:18-21 / Heb 12:5-7, 11-13 / Lk 13:22-30

ROBUR AB ASTRIS (STRENGTH FROM THE STARS)!

Last week, I wrote about the difficult struggle of a climb I did with friends at Mt. Ugu in Northern Philippines 26 years back. The support of my own little version of my "cloud of witnesses" kept me going, until we all safely made it to the destination, where we were able to celebrate Mass. One thing beautiful about trekking up heights is the difference that is made when one keeps the goal in sight, when one sees the ultimate destination in the looming, but beckoning distance. The sight of the summit, as much forbidding as inviting, keeps one focused on the goal. The view of one's destination, though seemingly unreachable, keeps one pining for more, walking some more, putting in just a little bit more effort each time, at least to put one foot before the other, "one step at a time."

The big difference is made by …

HEART-SIGHT MORE THAN IN-SIGHT (19th Sunday (Year C) | August 7, 2016 (English)

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C


HEART-SIGHT, MORE THAN JUST IN-SIGHT!

Perspective was what we reflected on last week. It meant having clear eyes to see the
difference between what lasts and what doesn't last ... like the dew that with the early
morning sun passes away. Qoheleth reminded us last week: "transitoriness of
transitoriness!" ... "Vanity of vanities!" ... Jesus, too, would have us set our sights
beyond earthly greed, beyond working for mere accumulation of material things. "Take
care that your heart is not overtaken by greed."

Given the right perspective, we know that man ought to work for his keeps, not for his
greed. Merely working for one's keep means one gets to a point when he has to say
"enough." People who work on account of greed never will have enough, for the pull of
the more, the better, and the greater simply does not reach a point of satiety.

This Sunday, another perspectival concept juts out of all three readings…

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI 18th Sunday (Year C) | July 31, 2016 (English)

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gone toSIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI!

All of us mortals long for the more, the better, the greater, and the ultimate! The history
of the world, and our own personal histories reflect this timeless and ageless truth - we
look
for fulfillment, for what satisfies, for everything that gives lasting
meaning to our existence. We even pine for immortality, for the
proverbial fountain of youth, physical prowess, and beauty. We hanker
for everything that lasts, and all things that lend perfection and
lasting dignity to our person.

All that we long for, and all that we look for are not bad in themselves. They are
legitimate ends for men and women created by God with the natural tendency towards
"self-transcendence." This includes our legitimate desire for material wealth and
prosperity.

Today's
liturgy, though, offers some kind of a warning. Today's readings would
have us take a second look at what we consider as the "ultimate." The
Lord, today, would have us reflect…

A FEW GOOD MEN! 17th Sunday (Year C)

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
July 24, 2016

A FEW GOOD MEN!


      The little, the seemingly insignificant, the few, and the powerless ... those who don't seem to count; the perpetual underdogs; those whose lives don't make waves: the widows, the orphans, the poor, and the lowly ... these are those who can make a difference, those whose presence - and persistence - can mean life, fullness of life both
for themselves and others, or the utter lack of it for everyone.

      I refer to the "power of one." I speak of the riches behind the widow's mite, the force of puny David's stone that spelled defeat of the mighty Goliath. I point to the authority of the twelve - the Lord's "few, good men" whose conviction and faith, despite the onrush and crushing weight of the worldly power of kings, emperors, and tyrants over the past two thousand years.

      The faith that we celebrate today is a testimony of the power of these "few good men" - and wom…