Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 23, 2013



     We were all created in the image and likeness of God.  Sharing in God’s image, we carry in ourselves the reflection of God’s essence and beauty; sharing His likeness, we were gifted with the qualities of God.  All of these were destroyed by sin.  Adam and Eve realized that they were naked after they sinned.  Right after the Fall, God promised to send the Saviour who will clothe once more the nakedness of humanity with dignity as children of God. 
Last Sunday, we saw the Temptations of Jesus which were three shortcuts to glory, as  if the devil was tempting Him not to go through the cross.   After Jesus announced His Passion to the Apostles, they could not believe and Peter even rebuked Him.  Like a tempter, Jesus called Peter ‘Satan’.  Because they were slow to understand the meaning of His impending death, Jesus was transfigured to prepare the apostles for the scandal of the cross.   In as much as the Trinity manifested themselves before the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, the same manifestation happened in the Transfiguration before the beginning of His passion.  The Father’s voice was heard confirming that Jesus was His beloved Son and this time addressed Himself to the apostles “Listen to Him.” The Father’s voice ushered in a new way of “listening” not anymore to the Decalogue (The Torah) of Old Testament but to Jesus the Living Word.

          From the beginning of creation up to this day, everything around us keeps on changing and moving.  Science calls it Evolution. Inanimate objects and living things are in continuous flux because molecules are in constant motion.  From the first moment of our conception, we never stop growing and transforming.  But our personal transfiguration has already begun at the moment of our baptism.  When we were baptized, we were con-figured to the image of Christ and are constantly being transfigured moment after moment until we reach the fullness of our being in Christ.  St. Paul reminds us of this beautiful movement: “We all grow brighter and brighter as we are transfigured into the image that we reflect; this is the work of God who is Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

         Whenever we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, the Transfiguration that happened on Mt. Thabor is happening once again here and now.  If Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the prophets of the OT and the three apostles Peter James and John represented the NT, each one of us represents the present time.  We do not just become mere spectators of this spectacular event but we actively participate in it as if we are there.  This is why, we are also transfigured together with the Christian community and the Church when we participate in the Transfiguration of Jesus in the Eucharist.    

When I saw with my eyes the marble masterpieces of Michaelangelo like the Pieta or David, I imagined God as a sculptor.  Like Michaelangelo, God does not just see us as a piece of marble but rather as masterpieces in becoming if only we let Him chisel away the unnecessary in us so that He can transform us unto His very own image.  At the end we will realize that we are the masterpieces of God.


Friday, February 15, 2013




            After the baptism of Jesus, He was ready to inaugurate the Kingdom of God through His public ministry.  But He needed to prepare His strategy for the next three years so He went into the desert for a 40-day retreat.   It was important for Jesus to be in communion with His Father before He embarked on His public ministry.
         During this time of prayer and discernment, the Devil tempted Jesus by offering Him shortcuts to glory.  The three temptations in the desert would represent all the temptations and trials throughout the life of Jesus as well as our own temptations in the present time.  They were in a way instant solutions promising redemption without going through the cross.  And what else can best appeal to the senses than the appetites which every human being craves for: survival, security and social acceptance.

         Lent is the translation of the Latin term quadragesima (Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma) which means forty days. This is the season in the Church when her members enter into a forty day spiritual retreat just like what Jesus did in the desert. 

For a hungry person, nothing matters but food.  The way of the world is survival of the fittest!    When the resources are scarce, one has to result to violence even to the point of killing most especially when the other person becomes a threat to one’s survival.   For some, crimes become the norms to get that food into one’s mouth or into the belly of their dependents.    Others may justify saying ‘Never mind if it’s illegal or immoral as long as we live.’   These and many other modus operandi are the present day temptations to us when we are hungry and all around us are stones of opportunities that promise survival.

         Next to survival is the basic need of security.  We work hard to secure our future and the future of our loved ones.   Though many of us live by the day from the fruit of our daily labour, some are more fortunate than us by having more than what they need.   The world has always measured success by the fortune or wealth one has accumulated.  Because “fortune favours the brave”, we tend to take the risk to be successful.  These risks are the many forms of temptations in our lives to take in anything that glitters or everything that give us pleasure.  Like the temptation of survival, it does not matter if we live immoral lives or go through illegal means just to possess that blanket of security.

         The third temptation was about social acceptance.  Isn’t it true that we resort in doing many tricks to be accepted by others?  Because of pressure, incoming members of a fraternity/sorority are asked to do impossible things in the process of initiation towards the spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood.    Some may tend to grab attention from others because it is good to be noticed, affirmed and applauded.

         Temptation in itself is not bad because it is part of our human nature.  It becomes sinful when we give in to the temptation.  Jesus as a man was tempted but did not sin because He did not give in to the Devil.   Oftentimes when we are able to overcome temptations, we just do not become triumphant but we become better persons.  It is because in times of trials, our values are tested and if we are victorious it is not because we are that strong but because we depended on the strength provided by God.

Friday, February 8, 2013




       The liturgy this Sunday is about Vocation.  It tells us the calling of Isaiah, Paul and Peter.  The three of them have different background: Isaiah probably a member of the royal court, Paul a highly educated Pharisee, Peter a simple fisherman.  They all felt their unworthiness in receiving the call:  Isaiah was unclean, Paul used to kill Christians, Peter considered himself a sinful man.   God gave them grace:  Isaiah’s lips were touched by a burning coal, Paul encountered Christ and became converted, Peter saw the miraculous catch of fish.  They were called for a mission:  Isaiah became one of the major prophets, Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles, Peter became the first pope of the Church.


In the light of the universal call to holiness according to Vatican II, each one of us has a vocation story which is inter-connected with the rest of humanity.  Each one responded the call by embracing the different states of life we are in.   I was seventeen years old when I responded to God’s call to the priesthood  and since then my vocation has affected my family, friends, strangers and the rest of the world.

Let us reflect on the calling of Peter in our gospel.  After Jesus preached in the boat owned by Peter, He asked Peter to put out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch.  Here a carpenter who had never been to fishing all his life was telling a master fisherman how to catch fish and during the time of the day when a catch would be more impossible.  The command seemed ridiculous and may even sounded pretty stupid.  All night long, Peter failed to catch a single fish but in obedience he said “If you say so, I lower the nets.”   The result was the incredible miraculous catch of fish.   In the sight of such extraordinary incident, Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and felt his unworthiness saying “Leave me, Lord I am a sinful man.”  Jesus assured Peter: “Do not be afraid” and pronounced the new vocation of Peter: “From now on you will be catching people.”  Together with James and John, they left everything and followed Jesus.


Like Peter, we are masters in our own right through our career, trade, skills and craft.   It will be very hard for us to accept the advice of other people coming from other orientation most especially if we are challenged in performing our skills.   Like Peter, sometimes we also experience our own inadequacy and fruitlessness despite our effort and dexterity.   These are times when we simply want to give up most especially when everything seems to fail and we become hopeless.   Those who find difficult to cope may even enter into depression and withdraw from the reality of life.  Worst are those who find life meaningless and some even commit suicide because of despair.


Indeed life is futile without Christ.   Like Peter, we may be masters in many different ways and even if we want to control our life the way we want it, fullness of life does not depend in our proficiency and accomplishments.    By all means, we need God. The difficulty lies in our dependence on our own self-sufficiency most especially when we think we can live on our own without depending on God.     This is  true to those who refuse to believe in God because they do not see the need of God.   Since these people continue to exist without believing in God, they fall into self-deification (making the self a god) which is one the greatest pitfalls of secularization. 

There comes a time when God asks us to do something which may sound ridiculous and illogical according to our judgment.    It takes our gut to step outside our comfort zones to venture into the unknown but our obedience to God will always be rewarded with amazing results beyond our imagination such as the miraculous catch of Peter.   If ever we are rewarded with a good fortune in life, it is not all because of our effort or self-mastery.  Like Peter, we should be humbled by the thought that God in His mysterious ways will always lead us towards the great surprises  of  life.   In the light of our faith, we call it grace.

After the miraculous catch of fish, Peter, James and John followed Jesus and left their boats to become fishers of men.    We are always called to follow Jesus but our following of Him is expressed in the ordinary lives we live in.   Some follow Jesus more radically than others by embracing the religious life, entering the convent, seminary or monastery.   They continue to be the living icons of life which may not be fashionable in the eyes of the world but nevertheless they are signs that life is worth living for the sake of God.

Friday, February 1, 2013



Luke 4:21-30

    We always say “We cannot please everybody”.  Those who do not like us will always find something negative even amongst the best of us.  As long as we live there will always be people who will love and hate us, that is why we have friends and enemies as well.  Jesus as a man was loved by some but hated by many.  In fact in His lifetime, He had more enemies than friends so that from the moment He was born until His last breath, and all the years in between and even to this day, many hated Him.

    The Israelites had been longing for the Messiah whom they thought would free them from their bondage against the Romans.  A strong and political messiah!  Even now, they are still waiting for the Messiah to come.  Jesus could never fit into the standard of the messiahship in their mind.  Yes a prophet, but never the Messiah!  They did not just fail to recognize Jesus as the Messiah but they hated Him.

When He read the passage in the synagogue at first He was well received but suddenly the people were enraged.   Why?  Because He was too much for them!  How can He be better when He was just ordinary like them?  The people of Nazareth could have been proud that one from their ranks had risen to such high status.  But the people could not accept Jesus because what they saw in Him was the carpenter they knew.   For them He could never be Divine.  How can He claim to be God when they believed in the One God since the beginning of time?  Even the relatives of Jesus believed He was out of His mind.  If we place ourselves into their shoes, can we blame them?  It is easier for us to believe because our consciousness has been formed by those believers who were ahead of us.  But for sinners it is different and their hatred and disbelief had been carried on until this day.  That is why Jesus’ followers during His time really took a leap of faith literally by believing in Jesus when the “consciousness of faith” was in the earliest stage of its development.   Maybe some of us may ask “But how can they not believe after seeing the miracles that He performed?”  Until when should peoples recognize Jesus as the Messiah?  If Jesus comes again in the present age, will the world accept Him this time?  Or would history repeat itself?  It is the same question that we ask of other faiths:  “Two thousand years after Christianity was born, why are there still many religions?  If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, what difference does it make to the rest of the world who do not know and do not believe in Him?  These are tough questions to ponder on.

What is this gospel to us today?  How do we respond to those people who cannot accept us and who hate us?   When the people of Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus down from the cliff, He walked away from them.  Flight!  If possible, like Jesus we avoid those people who want nothing but to harm us.  But if we cannot avoid them, we just have to accept them as they are and be at peace.   In the spirit of non-violence, if we cannot like or love other people, at least let us not harm them.

At the end, Jesus showed us that it is possible for us to love those who hate us even to the point of giving ourselves to them just like what He did to the Jews.  When we are able to do this, then we experience what God has been doing to us:  loving us despite our sinfulness.