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Friday, November 25, 2011

DOORKEEPERS

1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – B
(Mk. 13:33-37)


To listen to the Australian Catholic Radio Online:         
http://cradio.org.au/index.php/resources/homilies/first-sunday-of-advent/

               There are three kinds of time: CHRONOS, COSMOS and KAIROS.  Chronos refers to historical time which is determined by the units of second, minutes, hours, day, months, years, etc which are unrepeatable.  Cosmic time refers to events or cycle that may be celebrated like birthdays, anniversaries or foundation days hence repeatable.  Kairos is a spiritual time; it is a time of grace when we encounter God through special events in our lives.  Advent is both cosmic because it is part of a cycle that we celebrate year after year and also kairos because it is special season in the Church which brings about grace and blessing.
          As we enter Advent, we open the new liturgical calendar in the Church.  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which is the coming of a very special person.  So we are not waiting for an event nor a date but God Himself who is about to come.  The Church offers us this season in preparation for such coming.
          The parable this Sunday is about the Doorkeeper.  In Palestine, the doorkeeper is in charge of watching the property most especially at night to secure the household against robbery or theft and to open the door should the master arrive home late.   Therefore the main characters of the doorkeeper are watchfulness and vigilance. 
          Jesus is the master of the house who is on a long journey and his “prolonged absence” will end with a glorious and sudden return which is the Parousia.  Every Christian is a doorkeeper who awaits the return of Christ.  Just as a doorkeeper must watch and be vigilant because he does not know the time of his master’s return, so also Christians must be watchful because they do not know the time when Christ will come again.
          To be spiritually awake is to be conscious of our personal encounter with Christ in all the events of our lives, great or simple they may be.  How can we remain spiritually awake?  Firstly we have to be attuned to the task given to us just like the doorkeeper is attuned to the task of guarding the security of the house and being watchful for the possible return of his master.  Secondly, we turn our attention to the future, that is, the final goal of our life which is our destiny. 
          Our whole existence is a waiting for God who is our future and our destiny.   Sad to say that some people live as if there is no God either in the present nor in the future so their lives are determined by their own personal belief without spirituality.  They are like tourists who  are busy preparing their luggage but they do not know where to go because they do not have a destination.
As doorkeepers, we are also pilgrims who are aware that the end of our life’s journey, the time of our death, will be the moment of Christ’s Parousia for us. As we await for our definitive and personal encounter with Christ, our attitude is not of fear but of expectant joy and full of hope just like when we await the coming of a long expected beloved.
     
You can also read the poetograph "The Banquet" in  http://frvladpoetographer.blogspot.com/   
                 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE WAY OF THE GOAT, THE WAY OF THE SHEEP

CHRIST THE KING – A
(Matthew 25:31-46)


To listen:
http://cradio.org.au/index.php/resources/homilies/feast-of-christ-the-king-3/

          We have now come to the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar of the Church which is the celebration of Christ the King.  At the end of time, Christ will come again as the King of heaven and earth.  Although a King, He is still the Good Shepherd and being a shepherd, He will also be our judge.
          Most of us live in a democratic society but to those who still have monarchies, their king is a symbol of unity.   David was a shepherd before he was made a king and was the greatest of all the kings Israel had.  The other kings were bad because they were not good shepherds and so God promised that He Himself would their King.  Jesus Christ who was the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10) was the fulfillment of that promise.
          The gospel this Sunday is a simile which forms the end of the teaching of Jesus in the book of Matthew.   The Second Coming of Christ (Parousia) is judgment day!  According to the gospel, He will judge like a shepherd who at the end of the day separates the sheep from the goats.  Although during the day both the sheep and goats are pasturing together but in the evening the sheep prefer the open air so the goats have to be brought inside.  Because most of the sheep are white they became a symbol for goodness and are placed on the right; while the blackness of the goats symbolized badness and are placed on the left.  Just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goat at the end of the day, Christ as a shepherd and king will also separate the good from the bad at the end of time.  The sheep are the good people who gave food to the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked and visited the sick and the prisoner.   On the other hand, the goats are those people who have not done this. In surprise, Christ revealed his presence in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and prisoner.    St. Paul before his conversion was persecuting the Church.  Jesus told him that persecuting the Christians was also persecuting Christ.
          How will God judge us? Certainly not by the standard of the world.   The way of the world is success which is measured in the amassment of wealth and power in the glorification of the ego.  We can call it the “way of the goat”!   On the other hand “the way of the sheep” is going out of the self in serving the Anawim of God who are the unwanted, the marginalized, the oppressed and the poor. Jesus incarnates himself again through them in the most unexpected ways.  In fact divinity is camouflaged by the most unlikely persons whom we ignore and abhor. That is why oftentimes we missed many precious moments of potential encounter with the divine.
          At the end we will be judged not by our faith but how we are able to translate that faith into concrete acts of good works in fostering the dignity of those who may not look like Christ.   Our love of God should find its channel through practical acts of charity done to the least, the last and the lowest.  Then we will hear God telling us “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you…”
         
         

         

Friday, November 11, 2011

VISIONARIES AND REVOLUTIONARIES

33RD SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME - A
         (Matthew 25:14-30)


          The parable this Sunday speaks about stewardship.  There were three stewards in the story who were given five, two and one talents respectively by the master who went on a journey.  When the reckoning time came, the stewards who had five and two doubled up their talents.  They were given more talents equal to their gain as a reward for their faithfulness.  The steward with one talent hid it because of fear for his master.  At the end his talent was taken away from him and he was cast out.
          God in his super-generosity has given each one of us with different talents, some are given more, some are given less depending on the mission of the individual.  Recently, the world mourned the loss of Steve Jobs, the i-genius behind the revolution of Apple who gave the world the imac, ipod, iphone and ipad.   In the Virtual Revolution of the internet, there are other geniuses who changed the world through their contributions: Tim Berners-Lee who founded the world wide web (www), Mark Zuckerberg who founded the Facebook, Sergey Brin and Larry Page who founded Google, Peter Thiel who founded Paypal, to name a few.  They have become icons of technology most especially for the Homo Interniticus (Man of the Internet).  These people did not just change the world but most especially they changed the way we live now.  Certainly they took up their talents and with their innovations and creativity, they gave them back to the world so that we can have free access to information, connect with other people and make life easier.  Although they have become billionaires as payoff for their contributions, we are still grateful to them. 
 We do not discredit those outstanding people in other fields like science, medicine, literature, politics, etc. who gave us a better world to live in.  An example of this is Efren Peñaflorinda, the Filipino educator and social worker who was the CNN Hero of the Year 2009.  He made a difference in the lives of street children by giving them education using a pushcart.
          But we don’t need to be like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs to give our own contribution to the world in the grand scale of things.  First we have to acknowledge the talents we’ve got. Secondly, we develop them through diligent practice and hone them with the aid of tools like education and proper training.   That is why, we give the best education to our children because they hold in their hands the surprises of the future of unknown possibilities.  Through their career, they are able to shape a better world than the one we first found.  Thirdly, we offer them to the world in form of service so that others may live well and better.
          Steve Jobs died at the age of 56.  Not even his billions of dollars could add another second to his lifespan but history will honor him as an icon who gave his talents for a better world.   How do we want the world to remember us when we are gone?  Or is it better to ask: How much of our talents have we shared to the world?
          When we listen to the parable, we are reminded to be grateful for everything that we have: our being, our doing and our having.  These all came as gifts to us being God’s stewards in the forms of time, talents and treasures.  Because they are gifts, they are meant to be shared.  True wealth is not the material things that we acquire and keep but rather those which we have given and shared to enrich other people. We may not have the brilliant minds of Einstein and Shakespeare, nor the political power of Obama, nor the holiness of Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II, but we can be visionaries and silent revolutionaries through our own little ways in making this world a better place to live in.


You can view my poetograph THE STEWARD at http://frvladpoetographer.blogspot.com/2011/11/steward.html        
       

Friday, November 4, 2011

SACRAMENTAL WAITING

32ND SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – A
         (Matthew 25:1-13)


          We have now come to the last three Sundays of the year and the readings prepare the Church towards the Second Coming of Christ which we call the Parousia.
          The gospel this Sunday is the parable of the ten virgins who were bridesmaids in a wedding. The covenant relationship between God and Israel has always been depicted through a wedding.  Let us now take a look at the Jewish wedding as shown in the parable.  The wedding takes place after dawn so it was normally dark.  The bride usually awaits for the groom to fetch her and bring her to his house through a procession.  There are usually ten bridesmaids who are the closest friends of the bride and are assigned to bring lamps to guide the procession of the families of the bride and the groom together with the guests.  It was during this procession that those invited to the wedding would bring their gifts usually things in the kitchen and food.  When they reach the house of the groom, the wedding starts which is followed by a banquet until late evening. (You can see more details of a Jewish wedding scene in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”.)
          In the parable, five of the bridesmaids were wise because they prepared enough oil for their lamps while the other five were foolish by not bringing enough oil.  The coming of the groom was delayed with an unknown reason.  When the foolish bridesmaids ran out of oil they tried to ask from the wise bridesmaids who refused because their oil was just enough for them.  When the foolish ones went to buy oil, the groom came and it was too late for them to join the wedding procession.  When the door of the groom’s house was shut off, they were not allowed to enter simply because they were not prepared to do their task.
          In the allegory, the ten bridesmaids represent the Christians who responded positively to the invitation in the wedding between Christ who was the groom and the Church which was the bride.  The time of waiting is the lifespan of each Christian before the Second Coming of Christ.  The lamp represents faith and the oil is the work of charity.  The delay of the bridegroom and his coming late in the evening suggest that he is the one in charge of time.   When the door is closed, there will be people not allowed entrance to the heavenly banquet as a consequence of their personal choice.
          To be a Christian is both a gift and responsibility.  It is not enough to say “Yes” to God as we profess our belief, as it is an easy thing to do.  But to live the faith through concrete acts of good works is the challenge of faith.  We all are living under a borrowed time; the present is a precious gift from God.  It is when God becomes manifest in the “eternal now”. It is called sacramental waiting wherein each moment is an opportunity to do good to others rather than just passively waiting for the last tick of the clock without doing anything.
          We do not need a wake up call from God like an horrible accident or sickness like cancer just to realize that we don’t have all the time to ourselves.  There are people who think that they have all the time in the world just because they are young and able.  They are those who take life as if they are in control and live the way they want it without the norms of religion and morality. 
As time is running out, it is good to ask ourselves “How much oil do I have?”   

Note: You can visit my other blog to read the poetograph WAITING