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Love: our real joy this Christmas

5th day within the octave of Christmas Luke 2:22-35 Blessed are those whose Christmas did not end on December 25; rather, is just starting as of December 25 till today and forever.

In the First Reading, St. John reminded the Christians to make their faith tangible and practical instead of being profound and abstract.  The one who knows God keeps his commandments.

We are presented with two sets of commandments, the old and the new.  The old command are practical norms of serving God and others.  The new commandment is declared by Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you."

In the Gospel, Simeon was waiting all his life for the consolation of Israel through the coming of the Messiah.  The Jews are generally expecting a temporal Messiah; but Jesus brings much more.  He brings about the total redemption of men and women from sin.

This Christmas Season, its truly lasting effects are found in the hearts of men and women.  We may be following all commands, but if we don't h…

Christ, our real consolation

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The Holy Innocents, Martyrs Matthew 2:13-18  Today, we commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents who, despite their state of helplessness, already offered their lives to Christ.

Matthew's gospel gave reference to Jeremiah 31:15, about Rachel who could not in any way be consoled because her children were "no more."

In this reading, God speaks as the source of real consolation.  All others, material or any other thing in this world could not console us.

This Christmas Season, let us offer this day for children, especially those aborted, who at their innocence become the victims of sin, darkness, and violence. 

On the other hand, this day is an invitation for us to rely solely on God who consoles us no end.  Remember the Beatitudes, "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4). Let our Christmas not be a feast about food and gifts.  Knowing that these are temporary, the real Christmas is Christ who is our true source of consolation.

Final…

Witnessing: the first fruit of Christmas

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Saint Stephen, the first Martyr Matthew 10:17-22 Stephen became the first martyr after the ascension of Jesus.  The sea of martyrs started growing.

In the gospel, Jesus assures us not to worry because it is his spirit guiding us as we give witness amidst the trials and adversities of life.

A day after Christmas and we heard the Christians such as Stephen sacrificing their lives for Christ.  How do we celebrate the Christmas season?

Christmas is simply giving witness to the words and actions of Jesus as he saves us.  This involves an on-going process of getting to know him and how he carries out his plan of salvation.  Being born in a stable is part of that plan.  Jesus wishes to save not only in a spiritual way, but encompassing every human reality, including the ugliest, the most dreadful, and acceptable.

Second is how Christmas affects our lives.  It should affect us in the same way Stephen was affected by the power of the gospel of Jesus.  When the Jews were uttering words against …

Purifying ourselves before Christmas

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23 December
Luke 1:57-66 The Christmas story moves on with Elizabeth naming her child "John".  Zechariah was able to speak again.

The Book of Malachi is one of the last books that give reference to the immediate coming of the Messiah. One very noticeable theme it gives is on the area of purification: "For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made." He shall restore Israel to its former glory.
Two days to go and we shall celebrate Christmas.  But the Lord wants us to purify all our intentions to its pristine form, like John the Baptism and how he lived in righteousness.  Let us enter into our purification process:

First, the Lord wants pure offerings - "He will purify the sons of Levi ..." If in the case of the priests of the Lord, they are demanded purit…

The secret to receiving Christ this Christmas

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22 December Luke 1:46-56 Continuing from yesterday's Gospel, Mary sang her "Magnificat", a song-prayer filled with love and joy for God, our Savior.

In the First Reading, Hannah presented her new-born son Samuel humbly to Eli in the temple.  From the very start, she acknowledged that her son was already made, destined to serve in the temple.

In these two personages, Hannah and Mary, is reflected utmost humility as condition experiencing the true meaning of Christmas.

As we await the immediate coming of the Lord this Christmas, today's readings inspire us to respond through the words of Magnificat or even Hannah's generosity of offering her son, Samuel.  How should we respond to the Lord's gift of himself this Christmas?

First, adore the Lord.  Mary adored the Lord, even though she was regarded as "blessed among all women", she said, "My spirit finds joy in God, my Savior, for he has looked kindly on his lowly servant; all generations will call …

Jump for joy this Christmas!

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21 December
Luke 1:39-45 Mary, after having learned that Elizabeth would bear a child, proceeded in haste to assist her in her home which was about 120 miles from Nazareth.  When Elizabeth saw her, the baby in her womb leapt for joy.

In the book of the prophet Zephaniah, he called out on the people to rejoice with incomparable gladness because the Lord repealed his sentence, his kingship will dwell again in Israel, and he would drive its enemies away.

After the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Mother, what are the conditions of us jumping for joy given this Christmas?  Christmas is truly a time to jump for joy when we learn these three realities:

First, "Emmanuel".  God is with us every moment of our lives to the minute detail.  Let's rejoice because our deliverer is always with us.  We experience eternal security in the presence of the Lord.  He is truly a loving God who dwells with us forever.

Second, conversion.  We shall experience the change in our way …

Incarnating Jesus in us this Christmas

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20 December Luke 1:26-38 Today's readings tell the story of Ahaz as he was given a prophecy of being sent a king born of a virgin whom she will call "Emmanuel" which means "God-is-with-us."

In today's gospel, that virgin is Mary who consented to bring forth her son Jesus, the savior of the world.

As we prepare for the blessed Christmas, we beg the Lord the grace so that we, like Mary, may incarnate Jesus in our lives and share him to others.  Let us learn from the personages presented to us in the readings:

1. Ahaz and the Fear of the Lord - Even if Ahaz, the king of Israel was notorious in worshiping false gods, still he knew when not to put the Lord God to the test. Let us be imbued with the Holy Fear of the Lord.  This is not to say that because we fear his majesty, we veer far away from him; nor practice the exact opposite - that we are not ashamed of committing sin against him.  Let us learn the two meanings of Fear of the Lord in the Act of Contritio…

Stop doubting!

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19 December Luke 1:5-25 Today's story brings us to the precursor or forerunner of the Savior. In the Old Testament, we see the story of Manoah and his wife; from them came forth Samson, who was also the forerunner of the Lord.

But in the gospel, though John's birth had been foretold, Zechariah had to come face to face with his doubts.  Not that he doubted God, but he doubted the angel for saying such things since both Zechariah and his wife were advanced in age.  But the Angel, standing as representative of the Lord in such a holy part of the temple could not accept such excuse; thus, he made Zechariah dumb.

As Christmas approaches, let us learn the hard lesson Zechariah learned:

1. Stop doubting.  We have doubted before the Lord and relied on material things for our security.  We have sacrificed spirituality for practicality.  We have lost sight of God.  We don't know what Church means as the body of Christ.  Christ would still be born, but we need to realize how dumb we …

Maging malinaw sa atin kung bakit may Pasko

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Ikatlong Biyernes ng Adbiyento, Unang araw ng Simbang Gabi Jn. 5: 33 - 36 Ipaghanda natin ang Kapaskuhang dumarating nang may tamang disposisyon.  Magagawa lamang natin ito kung malinaw sa atin ang tunay nitong kahulugan - hindi konsepto ng Pasko, hindi mga regalo't palamuti, kundi si Hesus mismo.

Maging malinaw nawa sa atin ang Pasko Sa unang pagbasa kay Isaias, pinanunumbalik sa ating alaala ang mga kahanga-hangang gawa ng Diyos.  Titipunin ninyang muli ang kanyang bayan; mamumuno ang katarungan at habag; at mawawala ang mga balakid na nakapaghihiwalay sa atin sa isa't isa't sa Diyos.

Nililinaw sa atin ang pamumuno ng Diyos at ang kanyang papel na mag-ugnay, maghilom, at mamuno sa katarungan at habag.  Ang papel natin?  Maging saksi sa kahanga-hangang ginawa ng Diyos.

Ikalawa, linawin natin ang papel ni Juan Bautista sa Pasko.  Ang buhay niya'y isang paghahanda sa daraanan ng Panginoon.  Handa ba ang mga pari't magulang na maging tagapaghanda ng daraanan ng Pangi…

Restore everything in Christ!

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Saturday of the 2nd week of Advent Matthew 17:10-13 Let us start the Simbang Gabi with the proper disposition.  The First Reading reflects the power of the Lord to bring famine on the people as well as to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and restore the tribes of Jacob.

In today's Gospel Jesus talks about Elijah coming to see that everything is restored as it should be.

Simbang Gabi is about a direct encounter with the Lord through the different accounts leading to the Christmas night.  We need to restore some things in our lives so that we can authentically encounter the birth of Jesus, molding the way we view life itself.

We need to restore the grace lost by sin and sinful orientation.  It means rekindling paradise, the state of mankind's total unity with God.  It is also our state in the womb of our mothers, untainted and waiting to be born in the world.  We can restore it through the sacraments of forgiveness and the Eucharist.

Second, we need to restore G…

Don't be sidetracked this Christmas!

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Friday of the 2nd week of Advent Matthew 11:16-19  Christmas is always a time to renew ourselves to know who the Child in the manger is and how we can consider his offer of salvation.

Unfortunately, when people are too preoccupied with worldly things, this offer of salvation is cast aside till later date, perhaps at the time of death.  This is the message of the Lord to hard-headed children, "We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges,
and you wouldn’t be mourners.”  
Let us resolve to use each day to know, love, adore, and serve the Lord.  Knowing the Lord does not commence at the end of life, but now.

Doing the Lord's commands is not an end-of-life task but entails listening each day for his word.

Loving the Lord through others entails utilizing each day to offer oneself to bring life to others. 

Then we shall not be sidetracked with the materialistic concerns of preparing for Christmas; rather, our house will be ready for the Lord's coming, alw…

Abundance from God

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Saturday of the 1st week of Advent
Matthew 9:35-10:1,5,6-8 The readings present to us a state of abundance that God supplies for us.  Unfortunately, when we see pictures of poverty around us, we tend to doubt, saying, "Where is the abundance of God?"

For abundance to be possible, every person needs to engage in paradigm shift in the way of thinking from  surviving to sharing one's life for others.

Our lives are filled to the brim with the abundance of God.  It's time for us to give ourselves to the Lord and to others.  Imagine a world where all people are givers.  The world will surely dwell in abundance.

Abundance can also be realized if people are not too concerned with building their own kingdoms; rather, be more concerned with propagating God's kingship on earth.  Analyze each motive, action, and decision: are we building God's kingdom or our little kingdoms?  Remember, only God can produce abundance.  Our abundance accounts to nothing.

Third, abundance …

Be a Giving Church

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Wednesday of the 1st week of Advent Matthew 15:29-37 Perhaps you might have heard about the story of the giving tree: ""Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave..."

God we know has always been a giving God who gives what is best for his children.  He causes us to have life.

Can we also be a giving Church?  As God is, as children of the Lord, we are called to be such.What are the marks of a giving Church?

First, Jesus cared for his flock.  Everywhere, he cured them of their infirmities.  We can also partake of this gift by being genuinely concerned with one another the moment we see them.

Second, J…

Steadfast faith

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Saturday of week 34 in Ordinary Time Luke 21:34-36  After Daniel was revealed the meaning of the four animals as signifying the powers during those times - Greeks, Persians, Romans, and Chaldeans, he was specially drawn to
the fourth animal that is truly worse, hideous, and powerful enough to kill.  There is something in this animal that has 10 horns which symbolizes evil.  What he does is entirely opposite the compassion of Christ yet he declares himself as God.  We should do well to take care not to be subjected to his destructive reign.

How do we guard ourselves so that our hearts remain pure, steadfastly waiting for the Son of Man to come?

First, we need to equip ourselves with the proper arsenal - prayer, faith, and sacraments, never wallowing in a lax show of faith;

Second, we need to constantly live our our faith - practice, practice, practice that faith to perfection.  Practice makes perfect.  There's no short cut to perfection except through practice.

Third, let our moti…

The Lord's tears

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Thursday of week 33 in Ordinary Time Luke 19:41-44 The first reading tells the story of how Mattathias was  steadfast in his faith.

It's the opposite in the gospel when
Jesus wept because the people of Israel was so hard-heartened they couldn't even detect the Messiah in the midst.

I would like to reflect more on the tears that Jesus might also have for us.  What are the various tears of Jesus?

A commentary states that Jesus wept six times in the course of his life.  Through these types of tears we could detect what kind of tears Jesus has for us and if we could also feel the same tears.

First is the tears of joy.  Jesus cried when he was born.  This truly is a cry of joy of being born and of being one with humankind.

The second occasion when Jesus cried was when he was presented to the temple.  Even though the baby Jesus cried because of the process, still we could consider it tears of joy because Jesus accepted wholeheartedly his role as a Savior of humankind.

The second ty…

Just Share!

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Matthew 25:14-30 Described in first reading is the image of a pious, perfect wife, excelling in virtues and good works.  She truly becomes the joy of her husband.

Today's gospel, the parable of the talents, calls us to be the same for our Lord, who is our bridegroom.  He gives us ample time till his second coming for us to maximize the use of our gifts at his pleasure and for the good of others.

The useless one who buried the talent to the ground symbolizes a person who despite God's gifts is not interested in sharing and even investing it for the future.  Thinking that the talent is mainly to benefit himself, he will not do anything to benefit others, thus, hiding the talent on the ground.

As in the readings, what then constitutes a fruitful life?

First, a life that is focused on pleasing the beloved Remember the industrious wife and her relationship to her husband.  How true it is when a man and woman becomes one; when his visions and goals coinc…

Deeper and trusting faith

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Saturday of week 32, I Lk. 18: 1 - 18 The book of Wisdom talks about a a night of silence and the leaping of the Word.  This is likened to the Christmas night, when in its silence, the Savior is born into the world for all to see.  He will bring us salvation; his reign is one of justice and peace.  He is Jesus who already came to our world to heal us.

In today's gospel, Jesus told a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.  He described a powerful judge whose image projects the overwhelming authority of God but who, at the same time, is also filled with mercy and generosity.

In these two accounts, the power of God is unquestionable; we just need to affirm his power in our lives as he provides for us each day.

This calls us to deeper and trusting faith.  He may not answer in the way we expect; but expect that his response would always be better.

May we also be instrumental in realizing the almost desperate prayers of our needy brothers and sisters and be in…

We are the living Church

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Dedication of the Lateran Basilica John 2:13-22 Undoubtedly, the picture of the prophecy in Ezekiel is one of fullness and abundance.  Things are fully restored and teeming with life.  It is the Lord's doing.
In the Gospel, Jesus expelled the money changers inside the temple, shouting, "Don't make my Father's house a marketplace."  In another gospel, Jesus said, "You have made it a den of thieves!"
I'm referring to the respect that is due to a church for being the house of God.  But this Gospel can also refer to the people entering the church.  There are those who simply enter and receive communion while being in a state of sin; others simply receive communion without committing themselves to adore, love, and follow Jesus nor serve the church.
When we reflect about fullness of life and blessings, it is imperative that we cling to God first of all and give what is due him - all respect, adoration, and service.  Only then can we think about our welfar…

Hope in the midst of death

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All Souls Matthew 11:25-30 The main difference between today and yesterday is not just because yesterday was the Feast of all Saints and this day, we are commemorating all the departed; rather, yesterday, we celebrate our triumph in heaven while today, we are celebrating our healing from the world of sin and our hope in the Risen Lord.

This day is not just for our departed brothers and sisters, although we are prepared to offer the whole month of November to pray for the eternal repose of their souls.  It is for all of us, both living and dead as we are confronted with a reality that we all have to face squarely at the appointed time - the reality of death.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Cor 15: 55).  St. Paul challenged its power over people;  Christ, in his resurrection, emerged triumphant over death; he will surely save us from our own deaths.

How do we face the reality of death?

First, we are confronted with the reality that life on…

The fruits of justification

Friday of week 28 in Ordinary Time Luke 12:1-7 St. Paul expounded on justification in the case of Abraham, who was justified, that is, made clean, not by his own action, but by his faith in God.  Faith or "pananampalataya" is a fruit of justification.

Second, another fruit of justification is conversion or "pagbabalik-loob".  A person changes simply because of God's goodness.

Third fruit of justification is righteousness or "pagiging matuwid".  It is a state when a person lives out the righteousness of God.

All these run counter with hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy defies faith; it is to give merit to oneself as the source of goodness.

Hypocrisy runs counter with conversion.  A hypocrite sees no need of conversion because he / she treats himself or herself as self-righteous.

Finally, his concept of righteousness is self-righteousness, a form of spiritual pride which is one of the seven capital sins.

Let our every thought, word, and action result from the faith…

How we are justified

Thursday of week 28 in Ordinary Time Luke 11:47-54 St Paul dwells on the reality of justification: a way man is justified, not by his own actions or merits, but by the redeeming action of Jesus Christ.

There are three things I would like to reflect about justification:

First, it God is the one who justifies; not us.

Second, as we are justified, we separate from sin and enter into God's righteousness.

Third, our lives become pure grace in Jesus.

Let us nourish the gift given to us by Jesus, the gift of redemption brought about by His passion, death, and resurrection.

Faith in the level of "Kalooban"

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Tuesday of week 28 in Ordinary Time  Luke 11:37-41
There's one Tagalog reality that's truly amazing; it's called "kalooban".
Translated in English as "will", the definition of kalooban is not fully captured.
It has its root word in "loob" or "inside"; it refers to the innermost being of a person, what lies in his heart or center of his being.  God is in the center of his being.
Second, it also brings forth the word "kaloob" or "gift", a present or an offering.  But kaloob connotes a deeper meaning.  It's a gift coming from the innermost being, with the self as a present to the other.  And when the heart is a gift, it entails the offering of the whole self.  We become "kaloob" to God as God is to us in Jesus.
Third, we now reach the state "kalooban" which means"will"; connoting a strongly held desire or wish with a commitment to live out what one strongly desires.  "Kalooban&…

Be created in the image of God

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Feast of the Archangels
John 1:47-51 The first reading from the Book of Daniel obviously shows the grandeur and power of God with all else serving Him.  It also mentions the Son of Man possessing the same power, kingship, and magnificence.  This is the true picture of heaven.

As we celebrate the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, it is our firm belief that the description of the Book of Daniel is true; and that heaven, God, and that angels are real. 

Pushing our faith further, pray that we may also see heaven here on earth.  Every family, every community, and the Church itself could be a picture of heaven.  What does it take for us to see heaven in the midst?

First, let us enliven our faith by learning about it and staying close to Jesus, the way to the Father.  Allot time, talent and treasure to invest in heavenly things.

The angels are the representations of God.  Michael (who is like God), Raphael (medicine of God), and Gabriel (the courage of God) fulfill their…

Be a modern-day apostle!

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Can a Catholic not be a disciple?  The true essence of a Catholic is precisely in being a disciple.

As we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew, let us learn how to live the life and ways of an apostle or disciple.

In the gospel, Jesus to him, "Follow me" and immediately he followed him.  A disciple is a follower of Jesus.  May we have the courage and the eagerness to be Jesus' disciples.

A disciple is formed according to Jesus' heart in the course of following him.  He is filled with love; the same united love of the Triune God.

A disciple is a good steward for the gifts God has given him and he uses them to lead others to Christ. Whether the gifts be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastors, or teacher, he uses use all these to build up the body of Christ.

Finally, a disciple is a healer.  By proclaiming Jesus' Good News
, this world wounded by sin becomes an instrument of grace for all.

Be God's joy to others

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Tuesday of week 24 in Ordinary Time, I Luke 7:11-17 A good servant is a joy to others.

This is the mark of a true Christian.  Everywhere he goes, whatever he does, he is a joy to the Lord and to others.

Paul's letter to Timothy narrated the various qualities of a good leader and deacon.  They should be of impeccable character, a model of family life, and an example to the community.

The Christian should also have the same qualities - godly, caring, and sharing.  He or she should be a joy to others and much more to the Lord.

In the gospel, Jesus returned the boy's life back to the mother.  He must have known that the son is the only life of the widow.  And now that he's gone, who would take care of the mother?  Jesus felt strongly for the mother.  He is that loving son who gives joy to the mother.  He is the loving Lord who takes care of us.

Let us imitate Jesus and devote all of ourselves to be a source of joy to others and to Him.


Mary, the new Eve

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The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary Matthew 1:1-16,18-23 Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Celebrating birthdays are always magical moments for us.  When we were children we couldn't do away with balloons, birthday hats and cakes, and gifts.  It's a time of new beginnings us who go to church to thank the Lord for granting another year in our lives.  When our birthday comes, it's a time to renew ourselves to become better persons.

Celebrating Mary's birthday is a time of new beginnings in the Church and in our faith.  When Mary was conceived, it signaled the time of renewal for humanity and the call to be "new creation in Christ."

As St. Paul said in Rom 5: 17, "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!"

Church tradition tells us that Mary is the new Eve, the recipient …

Attaining Christian maturity

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Thursday of week 22 in Ordinary Time Luke 5:1-11 St. Paul addresses the situation of Colossian Church.  The main issue is the faithfuls' ability to carry anything with the strength of the Lord after being instructed about the faith.  It means having the capacity to bear all things in Christ.

This is the process leading to Christian maturity.  It's also the story of St. Peter, who was initially called Simon, a fisherman.  Although he was hard-headed there is a space for listening.  And he got a lot of fish after listening to Jesus.  His life of conversion started.

For Christian maturity to happen we need three things:

First, the capacity to see and aim for what is good.  "You shall be a fisher of man" was the aim Jesus gave Peter.  What is our life's goal?  It should transcend our lives on earth.  It should enable heaven to open.

Second, the capacity to start from where we are.  Salvation starts with Peter's humble admittance of his sinfulness and Jesus' p…

Be the light of Christ

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Tuesday of week 22 in Ordinary Time Luke 4:31-37 This day, Jesus manifested his authority over the evil one.  In the first reading, St. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to live in the light.  What does "light" mean?

Light, in contrast with darkness, simply gives us the power to see.  Light is an array of color while darkness implies the absence of it.

Light is attributed to God who is the only source of light; while any absence of it is from the evil one who destroys anything that comes to be.  Anyone who treats things as light other than God is not worthy of His love.

Light is reflected in the conduct of Christians, both inwardly and outwardly.  Inwardly, it entails purity of heart patterned after the very heart of God.  Outwardly, they manifest God's power and majesty.  Our Christian dispositions are reflected in what lies in our hearts and manifests and in our actions.


Be open to heavenly realities

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Tuesday of week 20 in Ordinary Time  Matthew 19:23-30 The world today might be turning too secular, i.e., to engrossed with the world's affairs.  Would we still be sensitive to have a spiritual experience like Gideon?

In the gospel, Jesus explained another spiritual reality, heaven.  With people's preoccupation with worldly affairs, heaven seems to go farther away.

He offers a possibility for opening our world to heaven:

First, faith - faith opens us to invisible realities, the reality that God exists, and our reliance on him for our lives;

Second, offering - offering is of great importance to the world of faith, knowing that our material things come from God and when we offer, we think solely of Him;

Third, service - serving God cannot be a waster of time; rather, the times we spend our lives serving God may be our ticket to heaven.

Faith, offering, and service are added components in opening our world to God.

Strong faith

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Saturday of week 18 in Ordinary Time Matthew 17:14-20 The Lord commanded, "Love with all your hearts and minds.  He further reminded them, "I gave you everything you did not plant."  It is God who is all powerful.

The reason why our prayers are not answered is because we haven't loved the Lord enough.  We are more interested in the gifts, not the giver.  And when the Lord doesn't grant the things that we ask for, we doubt him.

In the gospel, Jesus reprimanded his disciples.  "‘Faithless and perverse generation!’ Jesus said in reply ‘How much longer must I be with you? ... ‘Because you have little faith. I tell you solemnly, if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move; nothing would be impossible for you.’"

What does it mean to have faith?

First, it means to rely totally on God.  There a quote that says, "When you pray, treat as if everything depended on God."  Tot…

Generous giving

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Saint Laurence, Deacon, Martyr John 12:24-26 The readings reflect generous giving.  Taking off from Jesus Christ who can never be outdone in generosity, how do we imitate God's generosity?

First, we reap what we sow.  Thin sowing means thing reaping.  The more we sow, the more we reap.  It is better for the God's word to be sown everywhere instead of being thinly sown.  We get what we deserve.  What we give comes back to us.

Second, the heart of generous giving is cheerfulness of a heart that gives itself to God.
So, let us be cheerful givers, gratuitous in nature, patterning our lives after God who generously gives to us.   We shall earn his abundant reward.

Third, the fruits of giving is saving his life for eternity.
The abundance is eternal life for us and for those whom we have planted God's good seed.  This is born out of following the Lord even in this life till the next.

Friday of week 17 in Ordinary Time, 1

The priest of God Matthew 13:54-58  Moses in the the book of Leviticus gave  prescriptions to Israel so that they could express liturgically their covenant with the Lord.  They are to celebrate regularly a feast, by recalling the saving works of God and render offerings that symbolize oblation, sacrifices, and libations to the Lord.  This is still celebrated by the Jews to this very day.

In the gospel, Jesus was rejected by Jews.  Questioning his roots, they belittled all the miracles he did and his powerful words.  He did not work miracles because of their lack of faith.

As we celebrate the memorial of St. John Marie Vianney, patron of parish priests, we also renew our commitment to the Holy Eucharist, celebrated by priests who are entrusted to offer sacrifices and convert bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

They are the living signs of God's covenant.  Though fully human and are prone to sinfulness, they are still chosen from among many, to offer the Eucharist as …

Friday of week 14 in Ordinary Time, 1

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At the end of the day  Matthew 10:16-23 Movies are crafted so we may enjoy the story and in the ending, we may all be satisfied.  This is also our prayer for life - that we may end up seeing God.
In the gospel, Jesus gives a grim picture of what is to come - a sea of violence everywhere and the apostles and disciples being persecuted.  Such is the world of sin.  A person with a dark mind will naturalize sin such that he would also hate to the core all those struggling to do good.  That's why martyrs are created.
It's the end that really matters.  It is the core of the entire story.  That story is salvation itself and the Good News being preached.
Let's be inspired to take up that challenge to make Good News the theme of our lives.  At the end of our lives the following will be accounted of us:
First, have we remained faithful to God?  This is the core of the Good News who is Jesus and our relationship with him.
Second, have we exhibited compassion and mercy to the others?…

Thursday of week 13 in Ordinary Time, 1

The kind of faith God wantsMatthew 9:1-8 Abraham's faith was tested severly.  God commanded him to kill Isaac.  In the end, God did not allow it.  He further blessed Abraham for his faith.

In the gospel, people brought a paralytic to Jesus.  He saw their faith and cured the paralytic.

Let's reflect on the kind of faith given to us.

First, it is a trusting faith that relies heavily on God.  In the end, let's trust the Lord because his will is absolutely right.

Second, it is a communal faith that relies on the support of the community.  This is how the Church is born.  It is a community of faith.

Third, it is a concrete faith, seen through action and not just prayer.

Reflect:  What kind of faith have I manifested in my life - a trusting faith, a communal faith, or a concrete faith?

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Eradicating evil Matthew 10:26-33  In the first reading, evil seems to be found in the very hearts of people who despise the good and wish their end.  But they will reach their own ends while God will emerge triumphant.

In our situation today, it seems that evil is all around us, in Marawi, and in our own hearts.  It seeks to nullify every good we have done.  But in reality, it is leading to its own destruction.  In Tagalog, the word "nagwawala" typifies what evil is: towards destruction, even of itself.

In the Gospel, Jesus underscores the need to have courage: "Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear."  He commands us to be steadfast in faith, not compromise it; rather, to side with the truth.

How then do we eradicate evil?
First, be faithful to God.   He creates; he reconciles; he makes whole.  He forgives; he satisfies; he heals.  "To whom shall we go?  You have the words of everl…

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Love! Matthew 11:25-30  As we celebrate the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus we are confronted with a heart that is overflowing with love that we need to cherish, meditate, and contemplate each moment of our lives.  It also reflects the process of our intimacy with Jesus, thus, inculcating his very own heart.

The readings teach us the the various facets of God's love.

First, that in the First Reading, Moses reminds the people on the very reason of God as he choose Israel as his son - it is simply because he loves.

May this remind us to be moved in constant humility in this world; that we have nothing to brag about except being loved by God.

Second, from the Gospel, let us choose Jesus' yoke, for his "yoke is easy and his burden is light."  His yoke is truly incomparable with the yoke of sin.

Third, let us live out God's love in our bodies and souls by loving God above all things and loving our neighbors as Jesus loved us.

God's love truly transforms us; we become …

Goodnews at your Fingertips Blogspot: Saturday of the 6th week of Eastertide

Goodnews at your Fingertips Blogspot: Saturday of the 6th week of Eastertide: What to ask our Lord John 16:23-28 In the first reading, the Church further progressed with Apollos being taught "the Way"; i....

6th Sunday of Easter

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Doing the works of Jesus John 14:15-21 We reflect on the development of the resurrection experience in the sixth Sunday of Easter.

In this Sunday, we hear Philip and the apostles doing exactly the works of Jesus like curing the sick and expelling demons.  Easter shifted from the resurrected body of Jesus to the Church where all its members are doing the exact works of Jesus.  The Church now becomes the body of Christ, doing his work everywhere.

This is possible because of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised, "I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever," giving the apostles and us that assurance that he will stay with us forever.

This is our challenge in the 21st century, to do the exact works of Jesus as in the time of the apostles, instead of limiting our Christian responsibility to simply attending 1 hour weekly masses.  In order to be converted to Christ, we need to use up time as long as the one given to us, talents that we have de…

Saturday of the 5th week of Eastertide

An authentic Church John 15:18-21 The Easter experience continues with the expansion of the Church as Timothy and the other disciples proclaim the Good News even to Macedonia and to the rest of the world.

In this experience, the resurrection of Jesus now resides in people being resurrected from the world to new life in God, including us in the present moment.  This privilege is not given only the Jews, but offered to the rest of the world.  And the institution carrying this is ecclesia, the Church.

Let us deepen the gift given to us when we were baptized and incorporated into the Church, which is universal in nature, "Catholic", reaching to the ends of the earth.

The qualities of this Church are:

First, it is born of the Spirit.  We may be in the world but not of this world, because our life's meaning is now founded on Jesus crucified and resurrected.  We then incorporate ourselves with others who were also drawn from the earth to be with God forever.

Second, because it…

Easter Friday

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Recognize Jesus in daily life John 21:1-14  It would be nice if we connect the Resurrection experiences of the apostles with our daily life experiences.  These are the usual things that we do, like the usual things the apostles did like fishing.  We are also confronted with the daily challenges like the confrontation of the apostles with the reactive pharisees.  
In the midst of these daily experiences let us strive to do the following:

First, always give witness to Jesus - never lose sight of giving witness to Jesus in a world that tends to forget him;

Second, offer every action to Jesus - whether this be fishing or office work, or school work, never lose sight of Jesus in daily life;

Third, always recognize Jesus in the midst - the apostles recognized Jesus in the catch of fish; the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, defended the faith from those who wish its death.

Let's strive always to give witness to Jesus even in the ordinariness of life.

Easter Thursday

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The Church, a sign of the resurrection of Jesus Luke 24:35-48 The resurrection stories are marked by a movement from disbelief to belief, confusion to clarity, and sorrow to joy.  This is the message of Jesus.  But there are profound teachings underneath the miracle of the resurrection:

First, that Jesus is the Christ foretold in the Old Testament We are called to challenge even the little faith we have in Jesus instead of the things of this world; nourish it and make it grow.

Second, that Jesus makes possible the forgiveness of sins Jesus would not allow men and women to die in their sins.  This is the central message of the resurrection.  Death and sin have no power over him.

Third, we are called to be witness to the resurrection of Jesus This marks the very mission of the Church; it is the very reason of its existence - to tell the story of the resurrection and cause the resurrection of people.

In a world geared to gloom and despair, the Church rises with the power of the risen Lo…

Easter Tuesday

Called to announce the Good News John 20:11-18 Fresh from the Easter experiences, like Mary Magdalene and Peter, we are called to be proclaimers of the resurrection of Jesus.  What particular aspect of the resurrection do we proclaim about?
First, always proclaim the forgiveness of sins.  Sin leads to death; forgiveness leads to life.  We who are condemned to punishment are made clean through the forgiveness of Jesus.  Let us focus on forgiveness rather than condemning people to death.  We just don't have the right mind to do it.
Second, always proclaim hope, life, and joy.  Proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus.  The Holy Father and the entire Church and all its members transmit no other news except this one; St. Paul said, "If Christ didn't rise from the dead, our faith is useless."  Our existence as Church does not depend on human efforts but simply on the grace of Jesus resurrected.  That's why we practice our faith with joy.
There is no other …

Wednesday of Holy Week

Disciples or betrayers? Matthew 26:14-25 With a day away from the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the sin of betrayal is planted in Judas' heart.  He now fulfills his role as a traitor.

In the first reading from Isaiah, "The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue."  We now are confronted with this question: Who are we - disciples or betrayers?

The disciple's identity springs from his relationship with God himself.  As God is Lord, he is a follower.  He is not the owner.  Judas started owning his own plan of salvation apart from Jesus.

Second, the disciple is molded to perfection by the master himself.  In Isaiah, we witnessed a meek disciple who let the violent hurt him.  But he stayed meek and humble.  On the other hand, Judas seeks more power; he just received thirty pieces of silver.

Finally, a disciple is fruitful because everything is God's work and he is witness of God's blessings.  the traitor on the other hand leads …

Tuesday of Holy Week

Restoration John 13:21-33,36-38 Let's reflect about restoring things.  God already has his plan of restoring things: in and through Jesus.

We have been torn by division and destruction caused by sin.  A restored world consists of the following:

God is glorified above all.  The moment Satan entered in Judas, he ceased glorifying God.  Our lives should be filled with God's presence and all our efforts be geared at glorifying him and no other.

Jesus glorifies the Father and is himself glorified.  He glorifies the Father through his obedience of his will as well as his actions of passion, death, and resurrection.  Let us travel through life's road through the salvific actions of Jesus.

God's children will be reunited with him.  A happy reunion, all God's children will be restored to life and their relationships become whole again.  This is what we should look forward to in God's world where everyone experiences life in God and are one with one another.

Monday of Holy Week

What is right John 12:1-11 How do we know what is right and what is not?

From the gospel, even though Judas seemingly had good intentions, Jesus reprimanded him not to stop what Mary was doing for him, "For my burial"; he added, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me."

This Holy Week, we are challenged to be more discerning of God's ways rather than men's.  The first requisite is of course total adherence to God.  Follow God rather than men.  As Jesus is a direct reflection of God himself, so we as Catholics are called to reflect God in our own life, thought, word, and deed.

We can know God's ways through his teachings, in scriptures, and in the Tradition of the Church.

The second one is our respect and value for life and for the good of all, not just the desirable, selected few.  History is infected with all sorts of biases with people claiming they have the power to choose whom to accept or reject.  Enter into the h…

Friday of the 5th week of Lent

Godly person John 10:31-42 We are dwelling on the Godliness of God, offered to us in Jesus.
Godliness is brought about by one's communion with the Father.  Jesus becomes the sacrament of the Father.  The Church is the sacrament of Jesus.  This marks our identity in God.

A godly person is a disciple; he or she is consecrated to God; and all his or her actions are God's actions in the world, redeeming, healing.

Remember the fruitfulness of a godly act - filled with mercy and compassion, not revenge or death.

Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent

Lifting Jesus up John 8:21-30 Glorifying Jesus at this stage in our Lenten preparation means knowing Jesus most deeply and believing totally in him.

Today's gospel underscores the following:

1. that without him, people will die in their sins unless they believe in him.  Here we recognize the urgency to follow Jesus as disciples would.
2. that he is directly united with the Father as the Son of God; Jesus being the very image of the Father, all powerful but all-loving.  One's life need to reflect the image of the Father in the world.
3. that he will be lifted up in the Resurrection; Jesus is to be glorified by his passion, death, and resurrection.

Let our lives be a constant experience of suffering, dying, and rising up with Christ then we shall see the full meaning of life in glorifying Jesus.

Friday of the 4th week of Lent

Know Jesus John 7:1-2,10,25-30 The essence of the today's Gospel is knowing.  "Knowing" in the scriptures implies total intimacy as in "knowing a man or a woman" or in Mary's case, "I know not man."

Knowing means knowing God's saving action, "Know the righteous acts of God" (Micah 6:5)

Knowing in Jesus' case means, it is knowing him as the Son of God and the Messiah, "Who you say that I am?"

Knowing more deeply implies that the person knowing becomes totally one with the person being known.  It means entering in the very mystery of Jesus.

This Lent, the only way to know Jesus is to change one's life in total unity with him, i.e., knowing his will and sharing in his salvific action.

Tuesday of the 4th week of Lent

Witnessing the Messiah John 5:1-3,5-16 WITNESSING is born forth from a concrete encounter with someone or something - a family member, a friend, or even an enemy.

It is also true with witnessing God's presence - it is borne out of a myriad of experiences of God's loving presence and how he brings life to us and others.

We need to purify our senses before we can give witness to God.  From belief that he can be cured by the waters, Jesus brought him to a deeper realization that Jesus himself can cure the man as the Messiah.  Who is the Messiah for us?

The Messiah brings change to our hearts and lives.  We experience concrete conversion.  We cannot live double lives.  We can subdue one over the other.  We need to rue sin so we can experience change in our lives brought about by our faith in Jesus.

Third, witnessing to the Messiah always leads us to the truth.  Truth frees us from darkness and commits us to doing what is right.  God leads us and corrects our notions of life.

In …

Monday of the 4th week of Lent

Witness to joy, life, abundance John 4:43-54 In the book of Isaiah, God creates a new heaven and a new earth where there is joy, long life, and fruitfulness.

Alas, in our world today there is sadness, people grow weary and get sick, and fruitfulness is gauged only by personal abundance while others suffer from poverty.

We would need witnesses in a deeper level; witnesses serving as hope for the suffering people of God.

In becoming witnesses, faithfulness to the Lord is absolute requisite.  Prayer integrated with life manifests an intimate union with Christ.

Second, witnesses recognize and form other witnesses.  The Church where we belong is composed of witnesses strengthening each other.

Finally, to be authentic witnesses, faith needs concrete action leading to life offered to all.  The sick became well, there is an abundance of homes and harvests mentioned in Isaiah's prophecy.  But the real fruitfulness is found in people's hearts as they cooperate with God's graces and…

Friday of the 2nd week of Lent

Uprooting sin Matthew 21:33-43,45-46  The challenge for the Lenten Season is to align one's life with Jesus and to make a stand on what he stood for as against those who harbor hatred, vengeance, and self - destruction.

We need to uproot selfishness, greed, hatred, and violence by knowing the core of sin and have the courage to rue it:

First, sin does not create; it destroys creation. We need to be stewards of God and help create and build all for the service of others.

Second, sin does not give; it simply receives.  We need an attitude and a lifestyle of giving.  "It is in giving that we receive."

and third, sin exults self rather than God.  "Let us kill so we can claim inheritance for ourselves" is a sure formula for eternal punishment.  There is no space for us at the center of things; give everything to God.


Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent

How to be eternally happy Luke 16:19-31 We are called in this Lenten season not just to say sorry for all our offenses but to root ourselves in Christ.  In Jeremiah, a selfish person is like a dry scrub in the wasteland while the person who puts his trust in the Lord is like a tree by the waterside.

God can see right through our hearts if we are the dry scrub or the flourishing tree; or whether we are the poor man Lazarus or the rich man in the gospel.

In the Holy Father Pope Francis' Lenten message, he dwelt exactly on this parable to help us really prepare for our conversion in Christ and attain happiness.

First, he reminds us that people are gifts, most especially the poor.  It's an opportunity for us to recognize God's gifts and serve Him through them.

Second, he warns us of the blindness of sin that hinders us from becoming truly happy.

Third, he encourages us to listen to God's word as our path to holiness and happiness.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

JESUS' OFFER OF SALVATION - TO SUFFER FOR OTHERS Luke 9:22-25 In the first reading God offered man a choice - to follow his command or not; to be his people or not.  The people consented.  This is a covenant based on free will.

Where and how do we use our freedom?  To kill or to build?  To unify or to separate?  We would know that our freedom could also lead us to slavery.  It can also lead us to true freedom to be God's people.

Jesus offers us the same thing - to suffer for others; to take up one's cross.  What actions lead us to freedom - our selfishness?  Those who save their lives will lose them.  But those who lose their lives for the sake of Jesus will save it.

Let us review all the times we brought freedom or slavery to ourselves and others.  It is not yet late to choose. The more we offer ourselves for others, the more we live.

Saturday of week 7 in Ordinary Time

An embracing God Mark 10:13-16 The basic architecture of the St. Peter's Basilica looks like a mother embracing all her children - not only Catholics but people of all races, creeds, and colors.  This is also the image of the Church that includes the whole of humanity, the very essence of the word "Catholic".

In God's world, no one is cast aside.  In man's world, people are fond of compartmentalizing people. There is no such reality in heaven.  We will see a God who truly cares for all his children.

We have witnessed the embracing image of God to all of us.  Though we are weak, small, insignificant human beings, he gave three huge things to us:
He gave us creation He admonishes us to take care of them;

He gave us free wills let us use them wisely to follow the Lord.

He gave us love  that we might love him back as well as love one another, especially the unlovable.

These are the effects of a God who embraces his children unconditionally.   Let us respond by offeri…

Friday of week 7 in Ordinary Time, 1

A true friend Mark 10:1-12 "Tell me your friends and I'll tell you who you are" is a common norm for evaluating our real selves.  People who take the worldly as their friends will reap worldly fruits, including the death of self.
If we consider God as our first, best, and ultimate friend, we shall be perfect in him.
Jesus reiterated the sanctity of marriage because it is a mirror of God's friendship with man - eternal, merciful, and all forgiving.  If we follow this path, we shall truly be like him, a true friend:
A loyal friend God's unending faithfulness can only be manifested by a true friend who will stay with us through thick and thin; 
A friend who leads us to the truth A true friend molds our consciences and leads us to truth and freedom;
A friend with a perfect love God's friendship makes us perfect in love and offering.
It is true, one who finds a friend finds a real treasure.  "For friendship is the elixir of life,"according to Ecclesiastes…

Thursday of week 7 in Ordinary Time, 1

Effects of God's presence Mark 9:41-50
We may contemplate on God's mercy and justice, but the gospel points out the effects of living in mercy - perfection.

Our experience of God's mercy leads us to a kind of perfection in holiness brought about by the living out of God's love.  God's presence in us causes us that deep change, among them are the following:

First, mercy God's mercy planted in our hearts causes us to live in mercy, to give water to the thirsty, to consider others' welfare before our own.

Second, perfection  God's mercy cannot be lackadaisical, tepid, or lacking in enthusiasm.  Things are non-negotiable as in the gospel, "If your eye causes you to sin, cut it off..."

Third, usefulness Ecclesiastes reminds us, "Do not set your heart on ill-gotten gains, they will be of no use to you on the day of disaster." (Ecc. 5, 10)  God has no need of us.  We are to remind ourselves that God gives us the flavor of salt to share our…

Tuesday of week 6 in Ordinary Time

Hardness of mind and heart Mark 8:14-21 The readings point out not the God who punishes but the One who saves.  It's because of the people' hardness of mind and heart that caused their doom.  They could have joined Noah's ark or better yet, they could have averted the destruction of the world via the flood.

In the gospel, Jesus gave the stern warning against the "yeast" of the pharisees.  Again, the hardness of mind and heart is there in the apostles.  Thus, Jesus said, "Do Not imitate them."

Let us be wary against closing our minds and hearts to the Lord because of these things:

First, let us rid ourselves of pride Pride makes us closed-minded, only seeing things from our point of view.  Pride attributes everything to self, not to God.

Second, let us rid ourselves of greed We do not own this world; we do not own our lives.  God owns us; and through his love we experience true life.

Third, let us rid ourselves of corrupt power. Let us be servants of the…

Thursday of week 5 in Ordinary Time, 1

Restoring communion Mark 7:24-30 The first reading talks of the unity between man and woman, "You are the bone of my bone, the flesh of my flesh.

Remember that in this state man is still united with God in an unbreakable bond of love and being. Though sin destroyed all these, let us take time to enrich ourselves with this thought about being one with one another and with God.  Isn't this heaven?

This unity is brought to completion by Jesus who finally destroyed sin.  He brought us back to God.  Thus, our challenge is to bring back all things to unity with God.

Thus, communion entails that we desire for the ultimate good  Let us desire to be united with him, God, and live out the ultimate goodness.  We want to be guided, to breathe the ultimate good, and let him be a part of us; we also desire to be united with others and lead others to God..

Second, communion needs perseverance This is the seed of faith.  Real faith does not give in to sin even though we are sinners.  God wo…

Message to San Guillermo Parish

It seems to me that the urgent message you want to give to the parishioners of San Guillermo as you are to celebrate 25 years of being a parish is about faith: "masiglang nagkakaisa sa pananampalataya"

Our readings for today reflect a responsible steward.  A man of faith knows how to take care of his faith to make it fruitful.

In the gospel, Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for being too overzealous with rules that they forgot the roots of the law: it is in God.  Same is true with a man with a responsible faith should be deeply rooted in God.

As we celebrate the Year of the Parish and as you celebrate the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the parish, let us check the following:

First, as responsible stewards of faith Without God there is no faith.  God is the source of a lively faith.  Faith comes in our sincere efforts to get to know God and live out his ways.  Is there a deep commitment to root oneself in God as a parish?

Second, as instruments of communion It is hard to reco…