homilies

St. Jerome

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For the entire week, the first reading has been taken from the Book of Job.  Even if we rarely open our Bibles, this name, undoubtedly, has an instant recall.

It is a common knowledge that Job practically lost all his possessions: his cattle were either destroyed by plague or carried of by robbers, his children were all killed in a tragedy, and even his wife left him when he refused to turn his back on the Lord in the midst of these misfortunes.

Over the past days, those who came for Mass or read the daily Mass readings learnt about his sufferings.  And for the past days, God has remained silent so far.

Today, we heard about God’s answer!  And boy, God did prepare His homework! His answers though were not declarations, but a series of interrogations.

Like a machine gun, He issued his questions one after the other.

To these, Job was able to mutter, “How can I answer you? I will put my hand over my mouth.” He was reduced to silence.

If God spoke in a series of questions in the first reading, we heard Him throwing exclamations in the Gospel. We could not immediately recognize that it was Him; it’s as if we’re listening to the President talking.

But our Lord Jesus here was talking  to the apostles. He was preparing them  for the worse. There are people  who are obstinate, hardheaded,  completely attached to their sinful way,
and we could not do anything to convince them to change.

Make no mistake about it, we are all sinners. The only difference is that some sinners keep fighting and some others have given up.

All of you have finished your retreat. In Batulao, you experienced the warm hands of God caressing you, comforting you, embracing you. Do we let this presence of God in our lives bear fruit? Will we respond to Him with love?

You strove to make good confessions, and attempted to firmly hold on to your resolutions. But weeks and months after you encountered the Lord in Batulao, are you still in touch with Him?

If there is one thing the devil excels at, it is to discourage us. The enemy spends his energy trying to convince us to give up: “You will never get rid of these sins” he suggests in your ear, “This is too hard for you,”

“There is no point in going to confession: you will need to confess the same sin again in no time…”

Do these sound familiar?

When we are tempted to commit sin, how do we attend to the temptation?

St. Jerome, the saint we honor today, is known for his terrible temper.  But he is also known, too, for having  a splendid way of not cooperating  with the devil. If he is feeling tempted, he would be up all night to continue to translate the books of the Bible to Latin.

His propensity to sin has given led him to the opportunity of becoming a saint.

St. Jerome found God in the Bible, and he cherished Him there. For most of you, in your last retreat.

Because we have encountered God, life will never be the same again.

It should never be the same again.

 

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.

The Cross of Jesus

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We heard from the commentator that our celebration of the Mass today is called the “Exaltation of the Cross.”

Exaltation. A quick check from an online dictionary tells us that “it is a feeling or state of extreme happiness.” With this definition come some synonyms: elation, ecstasy, delight.

Exaltation—we don’t have a problem with this word, do we? After all, shouldn’t we all feel happy and delighted every time we celebrate the Mass?

But the next word after “exaltation” appears to be quite problematic—the Cross!

We know that the cross is where our Lord Jesus died. During the time of Jesus, the cross was the most terrifying instrument to kill the thieves, slaves and criminals.

Jesus was sentenced to death because He was considered a criminal.

We heard from the Bible stories that before He was nailed on the cross, He was ordered to carry it first. The cross was heavy. And the parade going up to that mountain, where He would be crucified was not a walk in the park!

You see, to be killed using the cross was and, still is, the most frightful form of death.

That’s why, it’s just normal to ask “what’s the point of our celebration today?” “Why should we be happy about the Cross?” “Why even have a feast dedicated for it?”

To answer these questions, let us go through the readings.

The Gospel gives us the reason why: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Jesus died on the cross because of you and me. God wanted us to be with Him in heaven. But this will not be possible because of our sins. Through the cross, Jesus gave His life freely, for all of us.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, reminds us that Christ Jesus, though He is God, chose to be lowly, and became obedient to the point of death–even death on a cross.

We don’t ask you to nail yourself on the cross. Jesus has done it for us once and for all.

You have your assignments, you have your tests. At times, you have very naughty classmates you need to face. These are your crosses. Let us not run away from them.

The cross is a reminder that God loves us so much even if we do not deserve this love.

In this celebration of the Eucharist, let us beg Jesus for the strength and courage to love others as well, even if it is not the easiest thing to do. Christ has shown the way, let us follow His example.

 

Naligaw, Nawala, at Nagwala

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Graphics courtesy of PCIJ.org

Tatlong kuwento ang matutunghayan natin sa ating Mabuting Balita (Lucas 15:1-10) ngayong Linggo. Ngunit ang bawat isa’y tumutukoy lang sa isang mensahe: Pinakatatangi ng Diyos ang mga naliligaw (salaping pilak), ang mga nawawala (tupa), at maging ang mga nagwawala (ang alibuhgang anak).

Ang tatlong ito’y sumisimbolo sa bawat isa sa ating patuloy na hinahanap at hinihintay ng Panginoong manumbalik sa Kanya.

Ang puso ng Diyos ay puno ng awa at habag. Ito ang mensahe ng ating unang pagbasa (Exodo 32:7- 11.13-14). Mayroon Siyang dahilan upang kamuhian tayo. Madalas kasi, lagi natin Siyang kinakalimutan. Ngunit paulit-ulit Niyang ipinaparanas sa atin ang Kanyang pagpapatawad at pagmamahal.

Si San Pablo, sa ating ikalawang pagbasa (1 Timoteo 1:12- 17), ay maaaring magsilbing isang halimbawa kung paano naging mapagpatawad ang Panginoon. Naging instrumento siya ng kalupitan sa mga tagasunod ng Panginoon, ngunit hindi lamang siya pinatawad nito. Higit pa dito, tinawag siya upang maging alagad ng Panginoon.

Sa pasimula ng liham niya kay Timoteo, inilahad niyang ang Panginoon ang patuloy na nagbibigay sa kanya ng lakas upang magpatuloy sa kanyang gawain.

Hindi naman kasi madali ang magpatawad, ‘di ba? Nais nating iparamdam sa mga taong nakapanakit sa atin ang galit natin. At kung tayo lang ang masusunod, lintik lang ang walang ganti! Ngunit hindi ito ang paraan ng Diyos.

Lahat tayo ay mayroong pagkukulang sa Ama. Isinugo Niya ang Kanyang Anak na si Hesus upang lahat tayo’y Kanyang tipuning muli. Kay Hesus, mababanaag natin ang mukha ng Amang mapagkalinga, mapagpatawad at mapagmahal.

Nawa’y mapaalala sa atin nito na kapootan ang kasalanan, h’wag ang may sala! At ang kumakalat na ideya na ang mga kapatid nating nalulong sa ipinagbabawal na droga ay “hindi na dapat ituring na tao” ay isang tahasang pagsalungat sa mensaheng ito ng Ebanghelyo. Ginagamot ang mga katulad nila, hindi pinapatay.

Kung tunay tayong mga tagasunod ni Kristo, ang misyon natin ay tularan ang Kanyang halimbawa: Hanapin ang mga nawawala, ibalik sa daan ang mga naliligaw at mahirap man itong intindihin, amuin ang mga nagwawala!

 

Change

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Graphics lifted from http://www.selfstairway.com

The #changeiscoming became one of the hottest trending items in Twitter on June 30, with the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte.

Heraclitus, one of the philosophers of the Greek antiquity, was convinced that the only constant thing in the world is change.

But there seems to be a controversy in today’s Gospel (Luke 5:33-39). Apparently, not everyone is happy with change—some are obviously resisting it.

We heard that some people went to Jesus to tell Him that they observed the disciples
of John the Baptist, and even of the pharisees—fast often, but the disciples of Jesus does not.

To answer this question, Jesus proposes a double analogy of the new cloth and new skins which refers to the newness of the Gospel. In the time of Jesus, they did not store wine in bottles. They used containers made of animal skin instead, which is more portable.

However, wine skins had to be treated with care, since the leather became worn over time and could easily break, especially if filled with new wine.

Jesus is the new wine. His teachings are revolutionary at that time—and even up to now! Let’s have a quick review of His teachings: Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, do not judge, and if you want to become a leader, learn to serve!

In the first reading (1 Corinthians 4:1-5), we heard from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians a reminder to heed these teachings. We are challenged to become visual aids of the love of God by becoming servants of Jesus.

‘Yun bang hindi mo na kailangang buksan ang bibig mo para madinig nila sa iyo ang pangalan ni Kristo. Pero sa pamamagitan ng iyong halimbawa, nakikilala nila ang galaw ng Diyos sa buhay mo.

Our dear grade 10 students, you are on this stage of your life in which change is very much felt. Some of you now are the leaders of the clubs, not only a few are given heavier responsibilities. At the end of the school year, you will feel it more because you will realize that some of the members of your batch will have to look for other schools where they will continue their schooling.

I pray that you will have an ever open attitude for change. People acknowledge that one great trait of Bosconians is their flexibility—in sports, in technical matters, even in winning the attention of the girls. But I hope that this flexibility is extended to the realm of your soul so that you could welcome Christ there. So that He could create wonders in you and through you.

In this first Friday of the new month, as we honor the Most Sacred Hart of Jesus, and as we continue with our Eucharist, let us beg the Lord to grant us a greater love for Him so that we could become true Bosconians in the mind of St. John Bosco: good Christians, upright citizens.

 

Huwag #Feelingero!

Ika-22 inggo sa Karaniwang Panahon–K
28 Agosto 2016

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Graphics by Asp. Paul Lopez, Don Bosco Seminary

Huwag feelingero.

Ito ang diwa ng payo ng ating Panginoon sa Kanyang talinghaga sa ating Mabuting Balita ngayong Linggo (Lucas 14:1.7-14).

Kapag may handaan, huwag pakahanapin ang natatanging posisyong. Sa halip, makuntento sa pinaka-hamak.

Ang lawak ng sakop ng payong ito ng Panginoon—at hindi lang para sa handaan. Makikita kasi ang epekto ng pagmamagaling sa iba’t-ibang aspeto ng ating pang-araw-araw na buhay—sa eskwelahan, sa basketball courts, at maging sa social media!

Sa biglang tingin, iisipin natin na kailangan tayong magpakababa para sa iba para mas kalugud-lugod tayo sa paningin ng Diyos. Pero kung tutuusin, ang payong ito ng Panginoon ay para rin sa ating kapakanan. Hindi ba’t ayaw natin ng mga taong saksakan ng yabang, ‘yung ang tingin sa sarili ay “Gods gift to mankind?”

Sa ating unang pagbasa (Ecclesiastes 3:17-18.20.28-29), binibigyang diin ang kahalagahan ng kababaang-loob na sumisimbolo sa pananabik sa tunay na karunungan. Alam ng mga may mabababang loob kung saan sila lulugar. At katulad ng winika ng Panginoon sa Mabuting Balita, ganito rin ang mensahe ng aklat na ito para sa lahat, “Habang ikaw’y dumadakila, lalo ka namang magpakumbaba; sa gayo’y kalulugdan ka ng Panginoon.”

Kapag mataas kasi ang tingin natin sa ating sarili, hindi pwedeng hindi natin tingnan ang iba na kasing kapantay din natin. Ngunit ayon sa diwa ng liturhiya ngayong Linggo, inaanyayahan tayong baguhin ang ganitong gawi. Dahil may masamang epekto ito sa ating buhay. Kapag mataas ang tingin natin sa sarili natin, hindi malayong magkaroon tayo ng self-entitlement. ‘Yun bang pag-iisip na dahil magaling ako, dapat nirerespeto ako ng tao, walang tanong tanong, bow lang sila sa gusto kong mangyari.

Ang halimbawa natin ng kadakilaan ay ang ating Panginoong Hesus. At ang mga pinunong katulad Niya ay hinding hindi natin pagsasawaang dikitan dahil sa kababaan ng Kanyang loob. Sa ikalawang pagbasa (Heb 12:18-19.22-24), binibigyang diin na ang Panginoong Hesus ang tagapamagitan sa Bagong Tipan.

Siya ay Diyos na nagkatawang-tao. Hinubad Niya ang Kanyang kapangyarihan. Nagpakababa. Naging aba. At dahil sa Kanyang pagkakatawang-tao, nagkaroon tayo ng pagkakataong masilayan ang kadakilaan ng Ama. Si Hesus ang ating huwaran ng kababaang-loob, ‘yun bang hindi nangingiming makisalo sa atin, hindi upang magmagaling at ipamukha sa ating makasalanan tayo, ngunit upang iparamdam sa ating mayroong kadakilaan sa bawat isa sa atin, kung matututo lang tayong magpakababa.

At hindi Niya ito inihayag sa atin sa pamamagitan ng salita, naging katulad Niya tayo. At hinding hindi natin mapapantayan ang ginawa Niyang ito. Diyos kasi Siya e.

Kaya naman ang hamon Niya sa atin “pay it forward.” Gumawa ng kabutihan sa iba. Dun sa mga taong hindi natin inaasahang matutumbasan ang kabutihan natin sa kanila.

Kaya kung ikaw ay maghahanda ng isang malaking salu-salo, ang mga pulubi, mga pingkaw, mga pilay, at mga bulag ang anyayahan mo. Hindi sila makagaganti sa iyo at sa gayo’y magiging mapalad ka. Gagantihan ka ng Diyos sa muling pagkabuhay ng mga banal.

Tularan natin ang Kanyang halimbawa.

Kanino Ka ba Humuhugot?

Ika-19 Linggo sa Karaniwang panahon—Taon K
07 Agosto 2016

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  • What’s the difference between this car and our relationship? This car is going somewhere.
  • Di pa nga kayo, umiiyak ka na kaagad. Ano yan, rehearsal?
  • Yung “bahala daw ay” 30% ita-try ko pa. Pero 70% nun ay ayaw ko na talaga.

Usong-uso ang hugot lines ngayon. Sa text, sa FB, maging sa mga diskusyon sa klase. Ngayong Linggo, maging sa ating mga pagbasa, may mga hugot lines din! Ngunit kaiba sa karaniwang tema ng mg hugot lines, iba ang pinaghuhugutan ng mga ito: Ang pananampalataya sa Panginoong nagpapalaya at nagbibigay ng kagalakan sa kanila.

Sa unang pagbasa (Karunungan 18:6-9), nagbabalik-tanaw tayo sa isa sa mga tampok na pangyayari sa kasaysayan ng Israel: Ang pagpapalaya sa kanila ng Panginoon mula sa pagkaalipin sa disyerto ng mga Egipcio.

Madilim man ang ‘gabing’ nabanggit sa pagbasa, ngunit dahil sa liwanag na taglay ng kanilang pananampalataya sa Panginoon, napalitan ng kaligtasan at kagalakan ang dapat sana’y lagim na mamamayani sa gabing iyon. Anupa’t naging isang bayan sila sa ilalim ng pamamatnubay ng ating Panginoon.

Ilan nga ba sa atin ang kapag may problemang kinakaharap ay ‘di makatulog, o kaya nama’y ‘di na rin makakain sa kakaisip ng solusyon dito. Ngunit pag nalusutan na natin ito,  at lilingunin natin ang tagpong iyon ng ating buhay, mapapagtanto nating “Hindi naman pala ganun kahirap iyon! Salamat sa Diyos!”

Sa ikalawang pagbasa (Hebreo 11:1-2.8-19), nagpapatuloy ang tema ng pananalig sa Panginoon. Sa liham na ito, pinapaalala sa atin ng may akda ang pambihirang halimbawa ng ating mga magulang sa pagtalima sa kalooban ng Panginoon.

Nakasentro ang atensyon nito kay Abraham, ang tinaguriang “Ama ng Pananampalataya.” Nagtiwala siya sa Diyos kahit na wala namang katiyakan kung saan siya dadalhin ng Panginoon, at kung ano ang maaaring kahihinatnan niya.

Kung ang dalawang naunang pagbasa ay humugot sa nakaraan, ang paksa naman ng ating Mabuting Balita (Lucas 12:32-48) ngayong Linggo ay nag-uusisa kung anong mayroon ang ating pangkasalukuyan, at ang epektong maaaring idulot nito sa kung ano ang mangyayari sa hinaharap, “Kung saan naroon ang inyong kayamanan ay naroon din naman ang inyong puso.”

Ang bahaging ito ng ating Mabuting Balita ay karugtong ng Mabuting Balitang ipinahayag noong nakaraang Linggo. Tinatalakay nito ang tungkol sa ating pag-aari. May materyal na bagay ba na umaagaw ng ating atensyon upang makapag-lingkod ng buong puso sa Panginoon? O ‘di kaya naman ay kapangyarihan, gawain, o taong umaagaw ng atensyon mula sa Diyos?

Hindi naman masama ang mag-hangad ng materyal na bagay, o umasam ng tagumpay sa pamamagitan ng ating pagsisikap. Pero dapat lang na ilagay natin sa tamang lugar ang mga bagay. Dapat lang na may lugar ang Diyos sa ating buhay. Kung mawawala Siya sa buhay natin, sandali lang, wala atang halaga ang ating pagpapagal, dahil namumuhunan tayo para lamang sa isang bagay na naluluma, nalalaos at nabubulok.   Nakalulungkot, dahil marami sa atin ang hindi na magawang makapagsimba tuwing Linggo dahil marami pang mas mahahalagang gawin sa araw na ito.

Sa SWS survey na isinagawa noong 2013, 37 % lang ang mga Katolikong regular na nagsisimba tuwing Linggo. Sa parehong survey din na iyon, napag-alaman na tayong mga Katoliko ang pinakamababa ang attendance kumpara sa ibang relihiyong dumadalo sa lingguhang pagtitipong pagsamba.

Tama lang na tanungin kung tunay nga bang mayroon tayong pagtitiwala sa Diyos, bakit tila hindi naman Siya mahalaga sa atin.

Narinig nating sinabi ng ating Panginoon sa pasimula ng ating Mabuting Balitang huwag tayong matakot, sapagkat, ikinalulugod ng Ama na ibigay sa atin ang Kanyang kaharian. Magtiwala tayong ang kaharian ng Diyos ay sapat na! Ang una at ikalawang pagbasa ay magpapa-alala sa atin na tapat ang Panginoon sa mga taong nagtitiwala sa Kanya. Hinahamon tayo ng ating liturhiya ngayong Linggong huwag matakot magtiwala sa Panginoon. Sa piling Niya, tiyak na may patutunguhan ang buhay natin.