Month: July 2018

Fixing, Mending, Restoring

Here is the homily I delivered this morning at the National Shrine of Mt. Carmel as we begin the first day of the novena in her honor.

Celebrating this Mass on the first day of the novena in honor of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, in her national shrine, is such a great honor for us children of St. John Bosco.

And our being here is a testament to Don Bosco’s love of Mama Mary. I am certain that he is smiling at us from up above.

The theme of fixing, mending, restoring strings the three readings as one.

In the first reading, we heard about Prophet Amos’ announcement that God will rebuild the house of Israel.

Israel committed grave sin against God and this led to its destruction. Ang bunga ng kasalanan ay kapahamakan. At kung nakamamatay ang pagtawid sa EDSA, mas higit pa dito ang dulot ng kasalanan. Ang kaluluwa nating hindi namamatay ay pagbabagain sa apoy ng impyerno, magpasawalang hanggan.  

But despite its sins, Israel is called back to return to the Lord. This is also our experience.

How many times we have offended God when we hurt the people we love? Sinasaksak natin ang puso ng Diyos kapag sinasaktan natin ang ating kapwa. Pinaliliit natin ang Diyos sa buhay natin kapag ang sarili natin ang pinipili nating paglingkuran. At laging nariyan ang tuksong isipin lagi ang sarili, kahit na mapabayaan ang iba. Kapag minumura natin ang kapwa natin, hindi lang sila ang ibinababa natin ang dignidad, pati na rin ang Diyos na may likha sa kanila.  

But similar with the experience of Israel, God continues to call us to return to His embrace. Siya na nga ang nasaktan, Siya pa rin ang nagmamaka-awang bumalik tayo sa Kanyang piling.

Our being here, in this first Saturday of the month, a day we set aside to show our devotion to the Mother of our Lord, is a beautiful way of heeding the Lord’s call to return to Him. Nandito tayo, kasi, gusto rin nating sabihin sa Diyos na gusto nating ayusin ang relasyon natin sa kapwa natin. Na napapagod na tayong maging makasarili, at nais na nating bumalik sa Kanya.

At ang disposisyon naman ng Diyos, parang isang meme sa FB, nagsasabi sa ating, “Uwi ka na… Hindi na ako galit.”

At Peace

We can tell if we are really in the presence of God. There is peace, there is serenity. There are still problems that come. There are members of our families who are sick. There are problems at work. There may be reasons to feel sad, and yet, we are surprised because we are still in peace.  

We are in peace, because we know that we don’t have anything to be worried about. He is present in our lives. He is in command.  

In the Gospel, we heard that the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus. That time, their master must have been in prison. And perhaps, they wanted to see Jesus because they needed to be clarified something. Gusto nilang linawin kay Hesus kung bakit parang hindi nangingilin ang Kanyang mga disipulo.

Sa relihiyon kasi ng mga Hudyo, ang pangingilin ay bahagi ng kanilang buhay pananampalataya. Isa itong palatandaan na mabuting tao ang kaharap nila kapag alam nilang ito ay nangingilin.

And for them, the disciples of Jesus appear different. Maybe because they are always seen eating everywhere.

To this question, Jesus responded with three metaphors:

First, He used the imagery of a wedding feast, second, the metaphor not putting a piece of new cloth on an old garment, and finally, a new wine is not to be placed into old wineskins.

These three metaphors direct us to put some orders in our life. Ang buhay Kristiyano ay hindi isang buhay na bara bara, mema at walwalan 24/7.

Our Christian life ought to observe a sense of balance. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle puts it this way, a virtue is such because it stands in the middle. Hindi dapat sobra, hindi rin dapat kulang.

Mahalaga ang kaayusan sa ating buhay, kasi, ang Diyos mismo ang nagpakita ng halimbawang tulad nito.

Nang nilikha Niya ang sanlibutan, mayroon Siyang kaayusang sinundan. Nilikha Niya muna ang liwanag, tapos, ang titirhan ng tao, tapos nilikha din niya muna ang mga hayop na tutulong sa tao, at nang handa na ang lahat, nilikha Niya ang tao.

Kapag walang ayos ang buhay natin, magkakagulo. Ilang gabi lang ang nakalipas nang ang pinapanuod nating basketball ay nagmistulang wrestling na.

Nakakatawa…pero nakakalungkot, hindi ba?

Kapag hindi natin iginagalang ang batas na gumagabay sa atin upang maging maayos ang lipunan, nagiging magulo ang bayan. Nagiging napakamura lang ng halaga ng buhay ng tao. At pati ang katotohanan ay nagmimistulang pana-panahon na lang. Pabago-bago.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, hindi tayo nawawalan ng pag-asa. Kasama natin ang ating Mahal na Ina ng Carmel. Kapag hindi na natin kaya ang ingay at gulo at problema sa buhay, mayroon tayong Nanay na laging naglalakbay kasama natin.

Mamaya, susuotan tayo ng mga iskapularyo ng Mahal na Ina, kalakip ang pangakong hinding hindi tayo maiiwang ulila.

Sa kabila ng kaguluhan ng mundo, ang iskapularyo ay mabisang tanda na may nakalaang plano ang Diyos upang iligtas tayo sa anumang panganib–at maging, sa apoy man ng impyerno.

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Homily
July 7, 2018
Readings: Amos 9:11-15;  Matthew 9:14-17

I thank Fr. Favie for giving me this privilege to jumpstart this Journey of Faith series in our community.

I anchored my sharing on the readings. And the readings of today’s liturgy speak of repairs.

This is quite obvious, particularly in the first reading. Despite the many big sins of Israel to God, God promised to rebuild it. He beckoned Israel to return to Him in His desire to patch up the broken relationship brought about by her past infidelities.

In the Matthean Gospel episode we just heard, we could infer into the purpose of the disciples of John the Baptist, as they went to Jesus to seek clarification about the reason why His disciples were not fasting. I see in this move an honest desire, not to nitpick, but to get into the bottom of things, to dialogue. To which, Jesus responded favorably, finding in this opportunity with the disciples of St. John a teachable moment, and a favorable time to forestall any perceived differences from his cousin’s end.

Allow me to share with you in this Journey of Faith some recent mending, fixing, and repairing God has been accomplishing in me.

SD Workshop

Last summer, I asked Fr. Favie if I could attend the workshop on spiritual direction. In my mind, this would be a good opportunity to learn the practice in keeping with this year’s strenna of Listening and Accompaniment.

The length of the Spiritual Direction workshop lasted for two weeks. But before the workshop proper on Spiritual Direction, we had one week of going through a module they call Ushering in Encounters with God, which exposed the participants to various prayer methods. This is anchored on the presupposition that Spiritual Direction capitalizes on a life of prayer.

Halfway through the module, the spiritual exercises helped me realize how I have been at the crest of experiencing  the proverbial dryness in the prayer life. How I gave priority to quantifiable outputs, and praying has been relegated to the peripheries.   

I see that my being there in that workshop is God’s way of calling me back to return to Him and experience once more His intimate way of caring for His own.

Serenity

In one of the prayer sessions, we were asked to go out of the hall and pray with nature. I sat before a pond. Marveling at the white lotus plants on its surface, I became aware of the ripples on the water caused by spider-looking insects that can suspend themselves on its surface. With the rhythm of the ripples on the water, I became mindful how this pond is like a mini universe pulsating with life, how it mirrors God’s work of creation that unfolds before my very eyes.

That realization brought deep consolation in me. God has been real before me with that first hand experience of His creation.    

In the prayer exercises we carried out in the prayer workshop, the sense of serenity secures me, confident that the quality of this remarkable gift can only originate from God. I note how peace has become a consistent fruit of my prayers during those days, which echoes our response to the  psalm today: The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

SD Session

The dynamics of the workshop on Spiritual Direction required us to have our own spiritual guide, whom we met once every week. I was assigned to a 70-something lady who had worked as administrator at the Ateneo, and has a Jesuit priest son.

Her demeanor speaks of the God she aimed to represent, and she is an epitome of how a spiritual guide ought to listen to and accompany another soul desiring to encounter God. She reminded me of Tita Wilma Militante in her eagerness to listen to my experience of God and her gentleness in prompting me to search for answers.  

In one of our sessions, she shared with me a book entitled Why Priests are Happy? written by Stephen Rosetti. One common answer of the priests interviewed was (1) They know who they are, and (2) they know whose they are, which refers to their primary central relationship.     

She proceeded in sharing with me how she witnessed the fall of talented and gifted religious because they did not give priority to their prayer life.    

After the workshop, I promised that my friendship with Jesus will be sustained by an intense, heart-to-heart prayer. A kind of prayer that has the power to radically change me.   

This has been a big help for me to renew my commitment to God as His priest. That before I go out and accompany other people fix their spiritual lives, God needed first to do some necessary repairs in me.

God is not done with His repairing me. Last month, my mama had a stroke. And the MRI result showed that there is a clog in her spine. She might need a surgery to remove it. Otherwise, she might fall into a paralysis.

I ask for your prayers that this repair in the life of our family may take place neatly and swiftly–according to His holy plan.