homilies

Deja vu

Here’s my homily yesterday, 6 April 2018, Friday in the Octave of Easter, on the occasion of the Thanksgiving Mass for our Batch 2018 Completers.

“Deja vu” is a French expression which literally means “already seen.”

It is used to label that strange feeling you get, when you are in a situation that eerily reminds you of a similar scenario which you already saw before.

I have a couple of examples:

  • Our Bosconians’ fixing their hair and uniform every single day, just before they report for the line formation.
  • Studying and reading notes up until the last second before they receive the test questionnaire.
  • At kahit na bawal ang cellphone sa classroom, they will snap a class photo–and, at times, together with their teachers–just so they have something to post in FB or IG.

And we see these “deja vus” year after year after year.

The Gospel reading we heard earlier also gives us a deja vu: Our newly risen Christ shows Himself to Peter, by the Sea of Galilee.

This reminds us of their very first meeting in that same place, where Jesus called Peter to be a “fisher of men.”

It was the Lord who chose Peter to be the leader of His disciples.
Jesus would build His Church on this very rock.
He would be hailed to be the first ever Pope.

Make no mistake about it, Jesus chose Peter neither because the former was the most brilliant, nor the most eloquent, nor he had sterling qualifications.

We’re just fresh from celebrating the Holy Week. And we will remember that Peter betrayed Jesus, not just once, nor twice –but three times over!

In other words, it was not Peter’s qualification that got for him the job.

The answer lies in Jesus. It is because of Jesus. It is because of the Lord!

Dear completers, you’re moving up to the next level.

By a happy confidence, we mark this thanksgiving Mass on this first Friday after the Easter Sunday, we look on the heart of Jesus, which symbolizes His great love for us.

Here in Don Bosco, we instilled in you to frequently visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament once you arrived in the campus, during your break times, and even before you go home. Because we want you to develop a profound friendship with Jesus.

Dito sa Don Bosco, adik din tayo sa Misa. We are not just contented to celebrate Mass once a month, but we do it every week. And so is the sacrament of confessions.

This tells us how you have grown in your friendship with Jesus through these sacraments which are very dear to St. John Bosco.

During my priestly ordination, the bishop reminded me in his homily that the Lord has chosen me to be His priest, not because I am the most intelligent, nor the holiest in our batch–but because it was Jesus’s mercy.

And, in this homily, I wish to pass on to you that gentle reminder, “Pinasa lang kayo ng Diyos dahil sa awa Niya!”

May kasabihan tayong “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.”

In the first reading, we heard how Peter was pushed back, harassed, and intimidated for having invoked the name of Jesus.

However, he stood firm. And this very effort, coupled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, resulted to the conversion of many.

Our dear Bosconians, we are challenged to follow his example of standing firm for Jesus, especially in these times when the truth appears to depend on popularity, or on the number of likes.

As you move up to the next level, you bring with you the light of Christ, ignited by your respective families, and guarded jealously by your family here in Don Bosco Makati.

Don Bosco, the saint, I am certain, looks forward to another deja vu. That is, for him to see each of us in heaven.

In a place he fondly calls the “Salesian Garden.”

And if that happens, we can say that, we have ultimately moved up.

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San Lorenzo: Martir, Diyakono

lawrenceGinagawa natin ang lahat ng bagay para mabuhay tayo. Hindi para mamatay tayo.

Pero ang sinasabi ng Panginoon sa atin sa pamamagitan ng Ebanghelyo natin ngayon, kailangan nating mamatay para tayo’y mabuhay.

Ang trahedya para sa atin, sa mata ng Diyos ay isang tagumpay.

Ito ang piniling kapalaran ng santong ginugunita natin ngayon–si San Lorenzo, diyakono at martir.

Isa siyang diyakonong katulong ni Papa Sixto noong ika-3 siglo. Noong panahong iyon, kapag ikaw ay isang Kristiyano, mayroon ka nang death sentence.

‘Yun nga ang kinahinatnan ni Papa Sixto kasama ng iba pang mga diyakonong kasama ni San Lorenzo. Pero dahil siya ang tagapag-ingat yaman ng Simbahan, binigyan siya ng pagkakataong mabuhay kung ibibigay niya sa Imperyong Romano ang kayamanan ng simbahan.

Binigyan siya ng tatlong araw upang ipunin ang ari-arian ng Simbahan.

Nang dumating ang takdang araw, pumunta siya sa pinuno ng mga kawal. Kasama niya ang napakaraming mahihirap, gayundin yung mga maysakit.

Sabay sabi niya: “Narito na ang kayamanan ng Simbahan.”

Tila naisahan ang pinuno ng hukbo. Bad trip siya. Kaya naman binigyan niya ng ispesyal na parusa si Lorenzo–nilitson siya ng buhay!

Siguro, wala naman siyang kagat kagat na mansanan. Kaya naman nakapagsalita pa siya, “Luto na yung kanan ko. Yung kaliwa ko naman.”

Ang trahedya para sa atin, sa mata ng Diyos ay isang tagumpay.

Sa unang pagbasa, pina-alalahanan tayo ni Pablo na dakila sa mata ng Diyos ang mga mapagbigay. Pero ang bawat totoong pagbibigay ay may sakit na kaakibat. Doon mo lng masasabi na nagbigay ka talaga.

Ang pag-aalay ni Lorenzo ng buhay ay sinuklian ng buhay na hindi lamang pansamantala, pero isang buhay na walang hanggan kasama ng Ama.

On St. James, Apostle

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Ipinagdiriwang natin ngayon ang kapistahan ni St. James.

May ilang mga bagay tayong alam sa kanya dahil mababasa natin ang mga ito sa Bibliya.

Kapatid siya ni St. John na isa ring apostle. At tulad ni St. Peter, isa rin siyang mangingisda. 

Lagi siyang kasama sa mahahalagang pangyayari sa buhay ni Jesus—tulad ng Transfiguration at Agony in the Garden.  Kaya nga masasabing sa 12 apostles, isa siya sa tatlong BFF ni Jesus.

Sa Gospel ngayong araw, narinig natin ang tanong ni Jesus sa magkapatid na si Sts. James at John kung kaya ba nilang inumin ang basong iinuman ng Panginoon. 

Madalas, hindi tayo umiinom sa isang basong gamit na.

Ako, kung kailangang kailangang maki-inom sa baso ng may baso, sisiguruduhin kong hindi lang dapat kilala ko ang uminom dito, pero dapat, kahit papaano, ka-close ko ang taong gumamit nito.

Ito ang kahulugan ng pagsasabi ni James at ni John na kaya nilang tumagay sa mismong basong iinuman ng Panginoon. 

We celebrate today the life of the apostle James—and except for Judas—all the apostles are given much importance by the Church. The Mass that we are celebrating today is not just a mere commemoration, but a feast. Hence, we had the Gloria earlier.

You see, the apostles are not simply holy men, they walked side-by-side with our Lord Jesus. They witnessed to His life and teachings. They were His collaborators, and as such, we consider them pillars of our Church.

Let me highlight three qualities of James as an apostle: Prayerful, Courageous and Humble.

Prayerful

James’ first quality is his being prayerful.

When we speak of the prayerfulness of James, we do not merely speak of his strategy, or his skill, or his technique in praying. Ang pagdarasal kasi ay tumutukoy sa relasyong mayroon tayo sa Panginoon. At makikita natin kung gaano siya katinding magdasal sa pamamagitan ng pagtitiwala niya sa Diyos.

In the first reading, we heard from the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians a long list of difficulties which someone who belongs to Christ needs to undergo: trials, questions, and persecution.

James survived all of these. Not because of his own capacity, but because God provides.

By this time, you must have heard of the passing on of Br. Elmer Rodriguez. He’s that Salesian who was quiet, but had always that warm ready smile.

I remember that Br. Elmer also exhibited this trust in the Divine Providence. For almost 20 years, he took care of admitting poor young people to Don Bosco schools where he would be assigned. And because they were poor, he also would have to take care of looking for a roof over their heads.

Yesterday, a lay mission partner proved this to me, as he confirmed that Br. Elmer would sometimes borrow money from him so that he could support his poor scholars.

No wonder, many Salesians would hear Br. Elmer constantly repeating his favorite expression: God Provides.

If you pass by Bosco Hall, you will see his coffin. And you will realize that never for a moment it is alone. There are always people inside the Bosco Hall to see him off. In fact, countless people have been flocking there since the early morning of Saturday in order to see him for the last time.

Hindi natin masusukat kung paano natulungan ng Diyos ang hindi na natin mabilang na mga kabataan at ang kani-kanilang mga pamilya dahil nabigyan sila ng oportunidad na makapag-aral sa Don Bosco at makapaghanap-buhay ng marangal. At ito’y dahil sa isang simpleng Salesian brother na hindi mangiming magtiwala sa kabaitan ng Diyos.

When we speak of prayerfulness, we speak of trust. That’s the genuine way to pray. That’s how James—and Br. Elmer—showed their trust in Jesus.

Courageous

The second quality of James is courage.

Because James prayed fervently, he was ready to gulp down whatever was inside the cup of Jesus. His willingness to drink the cup which Jesus drank from was not just a mere issue of hygiene, trust or closeness.  It meant something else. It meant that he was ready to share in the destiny of Jesus.

And his courage to drink the same cup was such a real expression of his willingness to be with Jesus no matter what. He didn’t know what’s inside the cup. But when Christ had asked him if he could drink from the same cup he would drink from, he didn’t think twice. He immediately said yes. And when his Master Jesus was crucified, he must have an inkling that he would suffer the same fate.

Last year, I know of one of our teachers who braved the traffic and the distance just to drive to Don Bosco Batulao to visit his students who were having their retreat even if he was not given such a task. As the Christian Living teacher of the whole grade 10, he must have felt that he had to do it.

And as he drove to Batulao, he would tag along the respective advisers of the students. He covered all seven sections of them.

Last month, some of our lay mission partners were recognized for their perfect attendance. After the assembly, I asked him why he did not get the award. He reminded me, that at some point, he had to leave Makati for Batulao so that he could catch his students, effectively disqualifying himself from being considered for the award.

If James is dauntless in the face of death, Sir Alfie Rogel is courageous enough to spend some more on gas and toll, sacrifice the time which he could have devoted to his family and work and forego the possibility of receiving any recognition and cash reward given to our lay mission partners who register perfect attendance—solely for the reason to be with his students.

Humble

 The last quality of James is humility.

James showed us how the Kingdom of Heaven is far different from our world. That it is not given to the powerful, rich or those who are in control, but to a lowly fisherman who would be willing to humble himself, follow the instructions of the Lord, and serve others.

With his readiness to drink the chalice of Jesus, James gave his yes to the Lord whatever might come, as long as he was in His company.
But in the crucifixion scene, we learnt that out of the 12 apostles, only one stayed with Jesus at the cross—John! James also fled along with the rest. Hence, he failed.

However, James showed his love for Jesus by offering his life for Him. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read the account of His death, making him the first apostle who offered his life on account of his being a follower of Christ.

Ang pagpapakumbaba ay ang pagkilala na sa harap ng Diyos, ang talino natin, ang ating kakayahan—maging ang ating buhay—ay galing sa Kanya. At magkakaroon ito ng higit na kahulugan kung ipagkakaloob natin sa Kanya.

The apostles were imperfect men. Matthew was a public sinner. Thomas doubted that Jesus really was alive. Peter, the head of the apostles, denied Jesus three times. But because they were humble enough to recognize this, Jesus made wonders in their lives.

Today, we celebrate the feast of James. He is an apostle. An apostle is someone who is sent. As me reflect on these qualities, we also remember that we, too, are sent.

We are sent to live the Gospel, to embody Christ, to become a witness to the Kingdom that is to come.

Perhaps, Jesus is not asking us to follow the footsteps of James to offer our lives for His sake.

Perhaps, Jesus is asking us to just spend some more time in being with Him in prayer.

Perhaps, Jesus is asking us to just stand by Him, by choosing the right thing, even if it is not the easiest.

Perhaps, Jesus is asking us just to be humble in forgiving those individuals who have caused us so much pain.

The greatest form of devotion is by imitation.

Let us be like this apostle in his prayerfulness, in his courage, and in his humility.

Let us ask Jesus for such grace.

Aso

​Mayroon bang matutuwa pag sinabihang “Aso ka!?” Kahit na may mga magagandang katangian ang aso–aso pa rin yun! 

At tao tayo. Kahit na may mga katangian tayong hindi man kapuri-puri–ikararangal pa rin nating tawaging “tao” at hindi “aso.”

Kaya nga mantakin nyo, kung makarating sa isang taong may tumawag sa kanyang aso, sa palagay ninyo ba, matutuwa siya?

Sa ating Mabuting Balita ngayong araw (Lucas 3:31-35), hindi lang basta isang tao ang tinawag na “aso.” Hari ito. At nang huling maiulat sa Bibliyang hindi na siya natutuwa sa pananaway sa kanya ni Juan Bautista dahil nangangalunya siya, pinapugutan niya lang naman ito ng ulo.

Kaya nga maiisip nating tila hindi ma-ingat ang Panginoon sa kanyang pananalita. Hindi din siya tactless. Hindi lang naman kasi ang sarili niya ang dala niya. May mga tagasunod na siyang maaaring maapektuhan sa mga pinagsasabi niya. 

Pero kung tutuusin, sa isang banda, sigurado siya sa kapangyarihan ng Amang nagsugo sa Kanya. Kaya nga, kahit tawagin pa niyang ipis, daga, o langaw ang hari, wala siyang dapat na ikatakot. Hindi Siya dapat mangamba. 

Marahil, ito rin ang hamon para sa bawat isa sa atin. Na maging sigurado sa kapangyarihang taglay ng ating Panginoon. 

Hindi naman sa pagtawag na lang ng kung anu-ano sa kung sino-sino. Pero dapat, mas maging tiyak tayo sa pag-ibig na dulot ng ating Panginoon. Na sana, ito ang ating panghahawakan. Ito ang ating masasandigan. Ito ang unang-unang bagay na maaari nating pagkunan ng lakas ng loob sakaling dadaan man tayo sa mga pagsubok.

Ito ang mismong hamon sa atin ni San Pablo sa panimula ng kanyang liham sa ating unang pagbasa ngayon (Efeso 6:10-20), maging matatag tayo sa Panginoon.

Pinatunayan niya ito sa pamamagitan ng kanyang patuloy na pagpapalaganap ng aral ng Diyos kahit na nakakulong na siya sa piitan. Sige lang–para sa Diyos!

Hilingin natin sa Panginoong bigyan tayo ng tapang upang magampanan natin ang ating tungkulin bilang isang Kristiyano. 

‘Yun bang hindi tayo maduduwag, hindi maninino, hindi mahihiyang ipakilala na Kristiyano tayo sa ating pag-iisip, sa ating pananalita, at sa ating pinag-gagawa.

Ina ng Santo Rosaryo

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Litrato mula sa ihradio.com

Narinig natin sa ating unang pagbasa (Gawa 1 : 12-14) na nang nilisan ng Panginon ang ating mundo upang umakyat sa kalangitan, hindi Niya tayo talagang iniwan. Sapagkat naroroon ang mga apostol na kumakatawan sa bagong tatag Niyang Simbahan.

At siyempre, nandoon din kasama nila ang Mahal na Ina.

Patunay lang ito na habang buhay tayo, hindi tayo makaka-graduate talaga sa problema, pero sinisigurado sa ating hinding hinding hindi tayo mag-iisa.

Makakaasa tayo sa tulong ng ating Mahal na Ina. Dahil “napupuno siya ng grasya.” Kaya nga sa Mabuting Balita (Lucas 1:26-38), nagulumihanan man siya, hindi man niya naintindihan ang binalita sa kanya ng Anghel, pero nanalig pa rin siya.

Ngayon, ginugunita natin ang Ina ng Santo Rosaryo, at inaanyayahan tayong huwag mag-alinlangang magtiwala sa pag-ibig ng Panginoon.

Nakita natin ang taglay Niyang kapangyarihan hindi lamang sa buhay ng ating Mahal na Ina, kung hindi, maging sa kasaysayan din ng ating Simbahan.

Noong ika-labing anim na siglo sa mismong araw din na ito, nagkaroon ng labanan sa karagatan sa pagitan ng mga Kristiyano at Muslim. Dehado tayo sa laban. Mas madaming ‘di hamak ang bilang ng  barko ng kalaban. Ganun din ang bilang ng kanilang mga sundalo. Naitala din na masama ang lagay ng panahon noong mga araw na iyon.

Ngunit dahil sa pag-gabay ng ating Panginoon sa pamamagitan ng ating Mahal na Ina, nanaig ang puwersa ng mga Kristiyano.

Sa pamamagitan ng aral na ito na hatid ng kasayasayan, inaanyayahan din tayong magtiwala—tumaya sa walang hanggang pag-ibig ng Diyos.

Patuloy nating hingin natin ang tulong ng ating Mahal na Inang patuloy niya tayong akayin patungo sa Anak Niyang si Hesus.

Padre Pio

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David Herbert Lawrence, widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, beautifully conjures this line, “Death is the only pure, beautiful conclusion of a great passion.”

We see the concrete reality of this on how the first Pope of the Catholic Church breathed his last: he was crucified upside-down.

But that’s already how the life of Peter ended. Equally interesting is his reason of how he managed to offer his life for the sake of following Jesus.

In our Gospel passage today (Luke 9:18-22), we heard how St. Peter was able to identify who Jesus really is: the Messiah of God.

Of course, the Holy Spirit, must have revealed this truth to Peter. But we could also say that Peter also invested his time to know Jesus a lot deeper. His friendship with Jesus made him capable of identifying how Jesus is different from his other friends.

To speak of friendship with Jesus can sound so cozy and warm and harmless, as if God doesn’t do anything but to give all of us a group hug.

However, Paul Wadell, one of my favorite authors, warns us that it is dangerous to be a friend of God. This is so, because friends have expectations of each other and because every friendship changes us.

There may be grace and glory in being a friend of God, but there is also clearly a cost. Peter paid the price of his friendship with Jesus by his life.

Today, we commemorate St. Padre Pio. He was born in 1887, a year before Don Bosco had to leave for heaven. Padre Pio, too, had to pay a dear price because of his friendship with Jesus. When he was still alive, he had to bear the wounds of Jesus on his hands. Technically called stigmata, St Francis of Assiss and other saints also endured these wounds.

But more than the pain inflicted by his stigmata, it is the cruelty and harassment he received from unbelievers caused him to suffer more.

No less than the Church authorities forbade him to celebrate Mass publicly since he had started to attract the attention of many.

But when they found out that all his claims were truthful, he was given the signal to return to the public ministry.

We, too, are called to nurture our friendship with Jesus. Isn’t it one element of our Salesian spirituality Friendship with Jesus?  But, let me remind you, there is a price we have to pay.

Perhaps, it’s far from being crucified upside-down, nor be given a gift of stigmata, but we are expected to behave like our friend Jesus behaves: patient with one another, kind to others, merciful, polite, gentlemanly, and compassionate.

Let the oft quoted reminder of Don Bosco “Do your ordinary duties, extraordinarily well” become our life principle.

May this Eucharistic celebration remind us that Jesus Himself paid such a costly price so that He could keep us beside Him. So that we could enjoy His friendship.

May our thoughts, words and deeds today show that we value our friendship with Jesus.

Ang Hamon ng ating Pagiging Kristiyano

Ika-25 Linggo sa Karaniwang Panahon–K

18 Setyembre 2016


​Nang bininyagan tayo, hindi lang tayo naging bahagi ng Simbahan. Tinanggap din natin ang responsibilidad na tularan ang ating Panginoon. Ipinagkatiwala sa bawat isa sa atin ang hamong itatag ang Kaharian ng Langit kahit na nandito pa lang tayo sa lupa. 

Bnibigyang diin ng ating liturhiya ngayong Linggo ang misyon nating ito bilang mga Kristiyano.  

Sa unang pagbasa (Amos 8:4-7), pumapaimbabaw ang tinig ni Propeta Amos sa pagpapa-alala sa ating huwag maging ganid sa salapi. Bagamat nakatuon ang kanyang atensyon sa mga mangangalakal na nandaraya sa kanilang paninda sa pamamagitan ng pag-gamit ng maling takalan at pandaraya sa timbang sa mga mamimili, ang paalalang ito ay tumimo rin sa ating puso. 

Baka naman, kahit na hindi kailangan, nagta-trabaho pa rin tayo sa araw ng Linggo, at lalo na kung dahil sa trabaho ay hindi natin nahaharap ang ating tungkuling magsimba sa Linggo. 

Huwag naman sana.

Hindi lang ang mga dukha at api sa lipunan ang dapat nating abutan ng katarungan, ng justice—ang katarungan din ay ang pagtutuon ng panahon sa pag-samba sa Diyos na makapangyarihan.    

Sa ating pagsamba sa Panginoon, ipinapaalala sa atin ni San Pablo sa ating ikalawang pagbasa (1 Timoteo 2:1-8), na dalhin natin ang intensyon ng ating mga pinuno. Kalugod-lugod ito sa Panginoon. Marami ang bumabatikos sa pangkasalukuyang pamumuno ng ating pamahalaan. At sa siping ito ng liham ni San Pablo, inaanyayahan tayong ipanalangin ang ating mga pinuno, hindi lamang “upang makapamuhay tayo nang tahimik at payapa, marangal,” higit sa lahat, upang makapamuhay tayo nang “may kabanalan.”

Nang naparito sa ating bansa ang Santo Papa noon lang nakaraang taon, muli niya tayong hinimok na magsilbing ilaw ng pananampalataya para sa kontinente ng Asya na hindi pa kumikilala kay Kristo. 

Sana, sa halimbawa natin bilang isang bayan, maging tunay tayong tagapagtaguyod ng Ebanghelyo. 

Sa kuwento ni Hesus sa ating mabuting balita ngayong Linggo (Lucas 16:1-13), mayroon din Siyang tila ini-endorsong isang mabuting halimbawa. Pero magtataka tayo marahil, kasi para atang bad example ang napili Niyang halimbawa.  Sa kuwento kasi, hindi ito tapat, walang honesty, mandaraya!

Ngunit hindi ang pandaraya ang tinutukoy ng Panginoon, kung hindi, ang kanyang pagiging creative, pagiging malikhain, sa pagsasalba ng kanyang sarili sa panganib na sasalubong sa kanya sakaling matanggal siya sa puwesto. 

Ito ang aspetong binibigyang diin ng Panginoon—na kung sana, magiging ganito rin tayo ka-‘creative’ sa pagbuhay ng ating pananampalataya upang ma-ganyak ang ibang tularan tayo. 

Maraming taon na ang nakakaraan, may kasama akong kaibigan sa isang malaking mall. Napadako kami sa shelf kung saan nandoon naka-posisyon ang mga condoms. Tila inagaw ng atensyon ng kaibigan ko ang pagkaganda-gandang wrappers ng mga ito. Parang candy. Napakakukulay. Magaganyak pati ang mga musmos na batang kunin at bilhin ito. 

Tapos, naibulalas ng kaibigan ko, sana ganito rin tayo ka-creative pagdating sa pagpapakalat ng Ebanghelyo.   

Sa ating pagdalo sa Misa ngayong Linggo, sana ay hilingin natin sa Diyos ang tanging inspirasyon na magpapatibay sa ating pananampalataya sa Diyos upang lalo itong maging kaakit-akit para sa iba. Nang sa gayon, tunay tayong makakatupad sa ating tungkuling ipalaganap ito sa iba.