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Monday, December 31, 2012



Luke 2:16-21

To listen at the Australian Catholic Radio Online: 

         Virginity and motherhood are the crowning glory of womanhood which also define the whole being of Mary. 
         When a young girl from a primary state school asked me how could Mary be a virgin and mother at the same time, I tried to answer it through the image of the Church since Mary is the model and icon of the Church.  The Church being the bride of Christ is and will always be a virgin: pure and undefiled; She is also a mother who continuously gives birth to the children of God.  Mary remained a virgin by the grace of God who at the same time became a mother to Jesus, to the New Humanity, the Church and a mother to us all.
         Mary’s motherhood started when She said her Fiat to the message of the incarnation by the angel Gabriel, but the wonder of wonders without the intervention of a human father.  But still another wonder when God preserved her purity through her undefiled virginity.  The peak of Mary’s motherhood was when She ended her being the mother of Jesus and became the Mother of the Church beneath the cross: “Woman behold your son… behold your mother….” (John 19:26-27).  She was with the Church in prayer (Acts 1:14) and will always give birth to the new children of God until the end of time (Revelation 12).   Because of Her virginity She was and will always be a mother:  that defines Her role in the history of salvation.  Because it defies human reason, we will always stand in awe before its wonder which can only be conceived by the Wisdom of God.
         Maybe the word “beautiful” which has been used so many times to describe the grandeur and wonder of Mary, really pales in comparison to Her extraordinary life.   In our limited perception, we can only have a little glimpse of the splendor of Mary’s beauty which is just but a reflection of  Beauty made Man!
         If we have to look deep inside our hearts, there is a “spark” of Mary’s purity and fertility in each one of us.  It is the dwelling place of God in the depth of our being, as if the innermost chamber of a castle only known to God.  It may  may have been covered up or hidden by our sinfulness, but in the midst of the darkness of our souls, God's grace makes it possible to shine once again.  It is there that we encounter God.  This is the reason of the basic goodness in us: the presence of the divine which continues to glow as long as we live.   At the end of our earthly life, this “spark” will finally be united with the grand Light which is the source of Life. Mary is now at the centre of that Light drawing all of us Her children until She brings us together where we will shine forever.  We call it eternity!

Friday, December 28, 2012




Luke 2:41-52

         Before time began, the Trinity was the primordial family in perfect love.  From the outpouring of their charity with one another the first human family was born.  Far from being perfect because of human frailty, infidelity, greed and anger the once happy family was destroyed and fell.   But God did not give up and promised to re-create a new family that would mirror the family of the Trinity once again.  God conceived this “dream family” for a long time through a people He had chosen to be His own.  This came about when the Church was born out of the pain and suffering of Jesus beneath the cross.  The Church becomes the new family of God with Jesus as our head.  It is through the Church that God continues to give birth to His children on earth in the context of the Christian family which is called the “domestic church”.  

The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is the ideal family;  they are called the Holy Family not just because they were good people but because Jesus was the centre of their lives.  Like any other ordinary family, they also experienced the hardships, anxieties, rejection, suffering, tragedies, loss of loved ones and other problems that we experience within our families.  Their lives were not at all roses in bed;  humans as they were, most of the times they did not even understand why strange things were happening to them.  They were as ordinary as we are now but because of the presence of Jesus in their midst, they had a different way of looking at things.

Under normal circumstances, each one of us was born in a family hence belonging to a household.  It is through this family that we experience love by loving and being loved.  Since I was a young boy and being the youngest in the family, I felt tremendously loved by my parents and my siblings.  Later on, I realized that God was loving me through the love I experienced at home  It was through my family that I first encountered God and felt His presence through the people around me at home.

Because of our human weaknesses, our families are far from the ideal.   Just like the first family of Adam and Eve, our families have our own share of frailties that make us vulnerable to faults and inadequacies.   Some of us come from broken homes, others are victims of misfortunes that continue to beset our families; we also have skeletons in the closets and dark secrets of our parents and ancestors.   But in the midst of all these grim realities is the hope that out from the ashes we rise to face life with its bright promises and our eagerness to find happiness.  Our faith makes the difference, knowing that life is beautiful because of the silent presence of Jesus in our lives in spite of our gloomy past.  He is the beacon light of our families when tragedies strike us and everything is dark…

It is through the Church that we manifest the reality of the family of the Trinity in our world today.  When we come together as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist, we gather in the altar of the flesh and blood of Jesus just as we gather as a family to partake our meal in our homes.  To those who do not  believe in God or have lost their faith in God or question the presence of God, we say that God is alive and kicking within us when we love Him, our family and each other. 

One day we will all be gathered as one Family of God when we see each other together in the womb of God.

Friday, December 21, 2012




Luke 1:39-45

Mary and Elizabeth are iconic representations of the New Testament and the Old Testament respectively:  Mary, being young and fertile while Elizabeth was old and barren.  Representing the People of God, they were agents of the Incarnation.  The Visitation was the coming together of the two eras in human history represented  by the two women soon to be mothers.  It was also the meeting for the very first time of the two human beings who would soon change the course of history: John the Baptist and Jesus!

The pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth were out of this world: a very young lady of fourteen conceiving without a human father and a woman maybe in her seventies who used to be barren.  Both of them perplexed and confused needed more understanding to the very unusual events that were happening to them.   Mary needed the wisdom of a mother older than her and Elizabeth who hid herself out of shame also needed the physical help of someone younger than her.  

Mary upon receiving the message from the angel Gabriel that her cousin was conceiving did not waste a single minute, went as quickly as she could to lend her a hand.  She being the first evangelized became the first evangelizer. She did not just bask in the glory that was announced unto her by the angel but went out of her way to translate the message into concrete service.  This is the  greatness of Mary! 

In the Old Testament, the two tablets of the Ten Commandments were kept in a wooden box called the Ark of the Covenant which represented the physical presence of God among the Isrealites.  When the Ark of the Covenant was being carried to Jerusalem, David danced in front of the presence of God (2 Samuel 6).   In the New Testament, the Word who became flesh was kept in the New Ark of the Covenant which was the womb of Mary.   John the Baptist like David leapt for joy in the presence of God being carried by Mary.  John the Baptist acknowledged the new presence of God among his people in the person of Jesus.

The Visitation was not just an historical event between Mary and Elizabeth or Jesus and John the Baptist, it is the continuous manifestation of God among us in the present time.  We are the new agents of the Incarnation.  Like Elizabeth during our most trying and difficult moments we also hid in confusion and shame and yet God comes to us through Mary.  God also sends us people to extend us a helping hand in our darkest moments. God may also send us to help other people  like Mary to Elizabeth.   Sometimes we are not aware when God uses us to touch other people; at other times, God also uses other people to touch us, too.  

During tragedies or moments of destruction and suffering, many accidental heroes are born without them wanting or knowing it.  They are the people who go out of their way to lend a helping hand to those who are in pain and in darkness.  Like Mary, we are also privileged to be “arks of the covenant” in our own little ways when we act as agents of the Incarnation through our service to others.  Through us, God’s presence shines once more and the world like David and John the Baptist dances with joy…..



Saturday, December 15, 2012



Luke 3:10-18

         Today is GAUDETE SUNDAY, a day of rejoicing!
After listening to St. John the Baptist who speaks to us “heart to heart”, like his listeners from the different strata of life during his time, we also ask WHAT SHALL WE DO?
First of all, the call to holiness is universal as Vatican II teaches us; it permeates the different strata of our society.  Our following of Jesus does not always mean leaving the world, our families or careers in order to enter into a more spiritual walk of life like entering the convent, seminary or a monastery.   Discipleship is the call to holiness within the secular lives that we have chosen as long as we follow the gospel value of Jesus.
Secondly, the voice of John the Baptist is not only heard during Advent although it becomes more relevant during this season when we stop in our life’s journey like a spiritual retreat in order to evaluate our value system before we step further on. Because conversion is a continuous call, like a journey, it will always be an on-going process of transcending the old self towards a better way of living.  It is like a pulsating energy that draws us closer to perfection.   If this is true, then conversion is not just about feeling good, not even being “spiritually high” but something that we work on even after having done something good before. 
Listening to the voice of John the Baptist in the present time, if I am a soldier or a lawyer then I have to defend the weak, the innocent and the helpless; if I am a mother or father then I have to nourish and educate my children; if I am a teacher then I have to pass on the knowledge and wisdom to my students; if I am a politician then I have to serve unselfishly  my constituents; the examples go on and on….  Our profession is not just about getting our bread and butter for our survival but a way of doing justice and charity to others.  Our career is not just about self-aggrandizement but giving back to others what they deserve through service.

Holiness is not just limited in the confines of the church, it  permeates through the ordinariness of our secular lives beyond religion.  Because of this, we can all be saints in the eyes of God only if we are able to live the way God wants us to be.
Later on Jesus would be praising John Baptist by saying “No man born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist…”  and yet the greatness of John the Baptist did not get into his head.   He knew his place and would not grab the opportunity of self-canonization towards egotism: “I am not worthy to untie his sandals…”   John the Baptist is the perfect example of Christian humility, not of self-abasement.  He acknowledges his prophetic mission but he puts Jesus in the centre of things.  He gives a lesson most especially to people who are given more opportunities in life: the higher we go up in the ladder, the smaller we become for those who are below us.  We may call this as “diminutive spirituality.”  We do not become bigger than others just because we are higher in the ladder.  On the other hand we do not falsely accuse ourselves of being close to nothing simply because we are at the base of the ladder.  The self should never be the standard to measure up things.   Jesus should be the centre which is the ultimate criterion by which someone or something is judged or recognized.  If we are able to do this, we can truly rejoice because we are gradually molding ourselves into the resemblance of Christ.

Friday, December 7, 2012




Luke 3:1-6

         Like the Israelites who journeyed in the desert for forty years towards the Promised Land, the Church is also journeying in the desert in this Season of Advent towards Christmas which prefigures the coming of Jesus in Parousia.   Inasmuch as God prepared the Israelites for the journey by sending them guides and prophets, the Church is also being guided by St. John the Baptist who is the greatest prophet of all times during this Advent journey,  This Sunday we listen to St. John’s message.

         During the olden times in the Mediterranean region, the visit of a king necessitated the paving of the way for the king’s entourage.  The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied a “voice” that will cry out in the wilderness who would prepare the People of God for the coming of their King.  This “voice” was no other than St. John the Baptist.  His message was “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!  Make his paths straight, every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be leveled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth!”

         In this journey, the desert now is not anymore the physical harsh realities of sand and dunes but our very own hearts.  It is through the heart that we listen to John’s message as we journey with the Church. Year after year as long as we can remember we had gone through many Advents and Christmases, so what’s  new this year?    Have you seen an old bark of a tree peeling off to give way to the new trunk?  Or an empty shell in the shore abandoned by a crab?  Or some dried skin of a snake in the woods?  They are just some few examples found in nature where the old reality gives way to the birthing of the new for to withhold means death.  It’s more than just the process of ageing which is inevitable in life.   Science sees life as continuously evolving; our faith tells us that God is continuously re-creating.  We just do not grow one year older during our next birthday;  should we not become better persons than the year before?  Like the tree, crab or snake, we shed off the old traces of our skin because we deserve a much better life than we had before.   This is what the Church offers us in our journeying through Advent: A NEW HEART! But it comes with a price!  If our heart is not anymore functioning normally as it should, it may require some medical procedures like surgery otherwise it will lead to other complications.  If not given the proper attention it will stop breathing which will lead to death.  Think of those unhealthy energies which we have been keeping all these years in our hearts:  pride, anger, unforgiveness, hatred, addictions, egotism, vices, indifference, etc.  Consider them as blockages which are responsible for our heart problems not just in the physical sense but more so with our relationship with God.   They are the mountains, hills, rough roads and valleys spoken by John the Baptist: they block the coming of Jesus in our lives.  Like a cardiologist, John the Baptist speaks to us telling us what’s blocking in our encounter with Jesus our King. Let us give our hearts a break!   It may require some spiritual procedures, just like an open heart surgery with the physical heart, to make it alive once again.  We have to endure the pain for to refuse such an opportunity is to withhold something great that we deserve: a new heart from God.    When we are able to do it, then our hearts will breathe again in welcoming Jesus, ready to love and be loved….