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Friday, September 27, 2013



Luke 16:19-31

This parable is not a social commentary against  material wealth nor the canonization of poverty; otherwise the rich will all go to hell while the poor will all go to heaven, which is not the case.  In the reversal of social roles at the end of the parable, the rich man was not condemned because of his wealth nor Lazarus was rewarded because he was poor.   In the context of the hospitality of God, how do we use our resources to make a difference in the lives of others particular the poor?

We see the contrast between the rich man and Lazarus both when they were alive and after death.   The rich man was dressed in fine linen and feasted everyday while Lazarus was covered with sores and begged for scraps falling from the rich man’s table, with dogs licking his sores.  After death, the rich man was buried and was tormented in hell while Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham.  Now the rich man was the one begging Abraham for a little water from Lazarus and pleaded for his five brothers not to suffer the torments he was in.

The parable did not say that the rich man defrauded anyone nor his wealth was ill-gotten. Definitely the rich man saw and knew Lazarus laying at his gate but it was not mentioned that the rich man was mean to Lazarus.  So what was the rich man’s crime against Lazarus that he deserved to be punished with such horrendous fate in hell?   He was punished not because he did something evil against Lazarus but because he failed to do something good to him  We call it the sin of omission.  In contrast to the parable last Sunday, the dishonest manager made use of his master’s wealth to practice charity even though it was unlawful.  The rich man kept everything unto himself and was forgetful about the needs of Lazarus.

This parable is a reminder not just to the rich but to all of us who might be enjoying the status of our comfort zones and yet indifferent to the needs of the poor.  We might not be doing evil against others but we might not be doing good either.  During judgment day, we will be judged not by the prayers we have said nor the acts of piety we have practiced but by the charity we have done or failed to do to others:  “Lord when did we do this to you?”  “As long as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it unto me.”  “Lord when did we not do this to you?”  “As long as you did not do this to the least of my brethren, you did not do it unto me” (Mt. 25:31-46).

     This parable speaks to any corrupt government in the world or institutions and individuals that capitalize on the poverty of people.  In this crime against humanity, the cry of justice by the poor pierces the heart of God!

We have to recognize that Jesus is the Lazarus who gives us opportunities to be truly rich otherwise we fail to encounter God in the many surprised divine visitations in our lives. The only things we can bring with us after we die are not those we keep unto ourselves but rather those we have given away to the Lazarus in our doors.  

Friday, September 20, 2013



Luke 16:1-13

         The manager in the parable this Sunday is probably one of the most crooked characters in the all the parables of Jesus:  selfish, dishonest, shrewd, forger, unjust and most especially devious. It is most unlikely that Jesus would ever praise such a character which is the complete opposite of goodness, nevertheless it gives us a lesson in handling an unexpected crisis most especially when eternity is at stake.

         The employer upon knowing the manager had wasted away his wealth decided to fire him outright.  But because of the employer’s goodness, he did not file a case against the manager nor did he do anything to exact justice against him, which  in this case is most extraordinary.  The manager thought that he was old and proud to take on other forms of living and facing such a huge crisis being his future at stake, he did not waste time to sentimentalize but instead thought of using his employer’s generosity to secure his future, although through illegal means. Before his unemployment was made public, his dealings on behalf of his employer would still be valid and legal.   It could have been possible that he had taken out his commissions hence lessening the debts of the debtors.  By doing this, he definitely would have made a very good impression to the debtors who would be indebted to him as to do him good in the future in return for his generosity.  The twist and surprise of the parable is that the employer even praised the deceitful skill of the manager.  The lesson of the parable is more than that.

         Since we were little children, we were taught that “honesty is the best policy” and in whatever we do, “God is watching us”.  The manager was not praised because of his dishonesty but rather in his quick  and creative ways of dealing with the crisis he was facing.   The word crisis comes from the Greek word krisis which means decision.  When we are in crisis, we always think of difficulty because we face a turning point that calls for a decision.  If the worldly people could be as astute like the manager to secure their future in using even ill-gotten wealth, how much more with us Christians when our eternity is at stake?   Eternity is our ultimate crisis.  It is the absolute turning point of our life which we have to decide on not during the last minute when we are gasping our last breath but in the here and now of our existence.  

         We are given all the means such as time, talents and treasure.  Some have more, others less depending on the mission entrusted to us. It is up to us how we use them as tickets in securing our entrance to eternity.   The gospel concludes with a warning not to turn them into idols as to take us away from the goal for which it was given us.  Not just money but anything that we idolize to the point of complete dependence becomes a mammon.   The deification of such a person, a thing or ideology is a form of idolatry which eventually leads us towards worshiping them as our “little gods” and away from God.


Saturday, September 14, 2013



Luke 15: 1-10  (Short form)

If you imagine yourself standing on the globe together with the other 7 billions of peoples, do you think God is still looking at you and loving you personally?  

The parable of the lost sheep and coin tells us the value and the power of one: a shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to look for the lost sheep; a woman searches for one lost silver coin.  When they find them, there is joy and informing their friends and neighbours, they will call for a celebration.

God is almighty, omnipotent, omniscient and immutable.  These are just but few of the attributes or characteristics we know about God.   Theology tells us that God is the ultimate mystery and the only way of knowing or understanding Him is through the negative way, that is by affirming what He is not.   So how do we approach God who is a mystery?  By encountering Him in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus who revealed God to us in his life, death and resurrection.   

In the Paschal Mystery God enters into a personal relationship with humanity.  He is not just one god among many!   In this unique revelation, God opened the doors of the sacred to each one and calls us His child.  In this remarkable association, we find our worth as individual human beings.   In all the perfections of God, He finds pleasure when He relates to us as a Father as was shown to us by Jesus.  In relation with Jesus, fatherhood was everything to God.  As adopted children of God through Jesus, we share in this filial relationship with God as our Father.   But a father is not a father without his child.  It is the child who defines the fatherhood of his father.  In this context, each one of us defines the fatherhood of God.   Although we owe our existence to Him as God our creator but we hold the key to His greatest attribute which is fatherhood.  Unless we accept Him as our Father He cannot celebrate His fatherhood; on the other hand if He does not accept us as His children, we are nothing but merely creatures.  It takes one to accept and acknowledge the other to complete this filial joy!  It defines our worth as children of God!

The parable of the lost sheep and coin became real in the life of Jesus in His public ministry when He healed the woman suffering from hemorrhage and the daughter of Jairus, gave sight to Bartimeus and the man born blind, raised Lazarus and the son of a widow from the dead, called Zaccheus and Matthew, and many others.  These are testimonies that  Jesus was concerned with individuals; He related Himself with individual human beings with special kinds of needs.   He is like the shepherd who would look for the lost sheep that completes his being a shepherd.  He is like the woman whose one single silver coin completes her womanhood.

From among the billions living on earth at this time, do I matter to God?  Yes, I do!  Because He loves me as if I am the only one in the whole world who deserves His love and attention.  That’s where I get my value as a human being:  I am my Father’s joy!

Friday, September 6, 2013



Luke 14:25-33

       We all became disciples of Jesus when we were baptized, mostly when we were yet tiny babies.  It was the deliberate decision of our parents knowing it was for our own good as it was for them.  The Christian community surrounding us represented by our family circle, the parish and the religious environment helped in raising us as good members of the Church.  As we come to the right age, we have to take up the faith handed down to us with our own personal conviction.  We found out that being Christians is not just being baptized, going to church on Sundays, saying prayers and attending novenas.  There is a lot more most especially if we want to live out our discipleship more seriously. 

         No one lives without goals in life.  As Christians our ultimate goal is to be with God for the rest of our life in eternity.  We believe that Jesus, being the Way, the Truth and Life, is the only one who can lead us in achieving that goal.  This is the reason why we follow Him.  But this discipleship is not just an ordinary venture because it permeates the core of our being. Although it is God’s gift to us nevertheless we have to pay the cost and fulfill the requirements towards the full blossoming of that gift.    If we have set our goal, any person, things or situation that come in between in achieving that goal should be eliminated.    Jesus’ teaching on renunciation is just like that.  We are not to hate our spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, children nor hate own selves because as Christians we love those whom God loves.    But if a person becomes a hindrance in our following of Jesus, we have to make a sacrifice in our preference to Jesus.  This is also true to all material goods which in themselves are a means to live good Christian lives.   But nothing, even our most expensive possessions, is absolute hence the call for detachment. 

         I have a friend who comes from a very Catholic family, went to Catholic schools, served as an altar server and is a good man.  But when his younger sister got sick of cancer and died, he could not understand why such a loving God let that tragedy befell their family.   He became depressed, stopped going to mass and eventually left the Church.   He loved his sister very dearly so much so that he stopped following Jesus because he could not be detached to his sister even in her death.  This might  also be true to those who have lost their loved ones, are not able to move on and cannot get away from grieving for a number of reasons.

         No one and nothing in this world has absolute value that should define our existence; we may be privileged to possess them for a time because they are God’s gifts to us as His children.  Jesus’ call for renunciation is to put our value system in the right perspective in terms of the ultimate goal He set for us.  Because Jesus is the absolute standard by which we measure up everything in life, all things become relative in Jesus.    Loved ones, material possessions, power, authority even kingdoms and powerful empires are all passing away.

         There are those who are called to renounce totally everything for the sake of the Kingdom.  They leave families, homelands, careers, some even go for perpetual seclusion; all for the love of Jesus.   They take the vow of poverty because they believe that Jesus suffices hence the renunciation of everything.  It may sound crazy for the materialistic world but in reality it is the wisest thing to do.  They have found the true treasure and joy even while still on earth. 

         To those who follow Jesus in the ordinariness of their lives, St. Paul reminds us:  “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as My Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
      At the end we will find that those we have given up for the sake of Jesus are given back to us but now restored, transformed and renewed.