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Monday, December 30, 2013


                             Luke 2:16-21

             Virginity and motherhood are the crowning glories of Mary.
         Being a virgin and mother at the same time, 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. The Church 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 even without the intervention of a human father. Being the Mother of God, Mary did not just give herself to be the bearer of the Word but made it possible that the Word should become flesh.   Her motherhood continued beyond her relationship with Jesus when she became the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ beneath the cross: “Woman behold your son… behold your mother….” (John 19:26-27).  She was there in the birthing of the Church as its icon, model and most eminent member  (Acts 1:14).  She will always give birth to the new children of God until the end of time (Revelation 12).
          When we were baptized, the Church gave birth to us that is why the She is our mother.   Because Mary is the icon of the Church, she also gave birth to us and we also call her our mother.   That made us adopted children of God and brothers and sisters with the rest of humanity.
             As children of God, we were all grafted unto the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ.  Having received the "Seed of the Word" (semen logou), like Mary, each one of us provides a fertile womb for the  birthing of the Word in the world.  It is in our spiritual fecundity that the Word in our hearts once again speaks in the soul of humanity re-creating it once again like a new Genesis.  When this happens, we share in the dignity of Mary's motherhood as the bearers of the Word made flesh....   

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Matthew 2:13-15.19-23

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”.  

  Like any other ordinary family, the family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus also experienced the hardships, anxieties, rejection, suffering, tragedies, and other problems that we experience within our families.  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.  It was through our family that we first encountered God and felt His presence through the people around us 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.  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.   One day we will all be gathered as one Family of God when we see each other together in the womb of God.

Monday, December 23, 2013


            And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, come let us adore Him… 

           Today we commemorate the birth of Jesus; today we adore him in the Eucharistic crib; today we rejoice at his birth in the heart of humanity; today we celebrate his birth in the soul of the cosmos.
         He chose to be born in Bethlehem, in a stable, laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. 
          Why in Bethlehem?  Because Bethlehem means “house of bread.”  Jesus’ life from the very beginning of His earthly existence until the end was meant to be the Bread of life, nourishing the hunger of humanity.   In Bethlehem being the city of king David, Jesus would become the New David shepherding the New People of God.  This universal King did not come through a conquest but through the radical simplicity of being a tiny baby.  He chose to be born in a stable, a place fit for the humble king. Whilst the people did not recognize Him, yet the animals did: “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Is. 1:3).  He was laid in a manger where the animals fed because one day He would become food to feed the hungry.  That manger would serve as God’s cradle of the New Humanity.  The creator of the universe was wrapped  in swaddling clothes which represented the vulnerability of God as a newborn.  
          Who were God’s first guests? The poorest of the poor: Mary and Joseph and the shepherds.  They were the very first ones who saw the face of God because they were simple, pure and humble. 
          There was the star which represented the cosmos paying homage to its creator and leading the wise men to encounter the divine.
          These are the most powerful symbols of the first Christmas that continue to remind us of the radical meaning of God becoming a man. God’s magnificent design is both overpoweringly attractive and awe-inspiring that leads us to silence and adoration.
          In Christmas God became a human pilgrim to journey with humanity in an attempt to bring men and women back home to God.  Today God has become a child so that all of us may become children of God!

Friday, December 20, 2013


Matthew 1:18-24

In 1989 John Paul II wrote the encyclical “Redemptoris Custos” (Guardian of the Redeemer) which is a reflection on the person and mission of Joseph in the life of Christ and the Church.   For the first three Sundays of Advent we have been reflecting on the message of John the Baptist and Mary being the two pillars of Advent.  On this fourth Sunday of Advent we reflect on the message of Joseph.

While the message of the Incarnation was announced to Mary in the gospel of Luke, Matthew complimented the announcement of the Good News in his gospel through Joseph.  Luke and Matthew traced back the genealogy of Jesus in the lineage of David through Joseph.  This is a very important consideration because the true messiah should be the son of David.  Being the legal father of Jesus, Joseph provided such connection in the Davidic line otherwise Jesus would not be the Messiah; without such connection, He would be an impostor. 

In the Annunciation according to Matthew, the message was given to Joseph through a dream wherein the angel Gabriel explained to Joseph the extraordinary situation of Mary.  Without speaking a single word, Joseph accepted the message as well as his role in such an overwhelming mystery.   In accepting his role in the birth of the Messiah, Joseph would also accept Mary to be his wife.  This, too, was very important because without such marriage, Mary would be forever disgraced in the sight of their people.

Just like any other Jewish father, Joseph would have provided the following roles to Jesus, being his legal son 1) give the name to Jesus 2) circumscise Him 3) teach Him the Scriptures 4) teach Him a trade.  Although it was usually the father who would look for a wife for his son, for obvious reasons Joseph did not go this far.  After the Infancy narratives, nothing was written more on Joseph until his death, providing now the full stage to Jesus in His public ministry.

Joseph was entrusted by God a very special role in the mystery of the Incarnation and subsequently in the history of salvation.  In fulfilling such huge and important task, he faithfully accepted, reared and guarded the Son of God as if his son and Mary as his wife.   In the present time, being the patron of the Universal Church, Joseph continues to watch and protect the Mystical Body of Christ.

We, being part in the continuation of the unfolding of the mystery of the  Incarnation, have also been given our roles in the history of salvation.    We can only discover it through prayer, silence and discernment.  Each one has been entrusted, like Mary and Joseph, “the seed of the Word” who continues to speak in the silence of our hearts and in our dreams.  As stewards of the Incarnation, like Mary we try to give birth to it joyfully and like Joseph we nurture it in silence everyday in the ordinariness of our lives.   This includes all the hardships, pains and sacrifices which are all part of the gift as well as the surprises of great happiness  and joyful excitement where Jesus would lead us as we follow him unreservedly and faithfully….

Friday, December 13, 2013


Matthew 11:2-11

Today is Gaudete Sunday! Whilst the color purple of Advent symbolizes the penitential spirit of the expectant waiting for the Lord, today we use the color rose to symbolize joy and gladness because the coming of the Lord is near:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).         
John the Baptist’s voice broke the messianic longing not just of the Jews but of all humanity who are need of a Saviour!  The question of John the Baptist: “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” was asked not because John was unsure if Jesus was indeed the Messiah.  John wanted his disciples to believe not because he told them but because he wanted them to be convinced by Jesus himself.   The response of Jesus was not a Yes or No but rather he qualified it by pointing to his deeds: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are bought back to life and the good news is preached to the poor.  In short, it should be the disciples who would testify that Jesus was the Messiah after they had witnessed the works he had done. 
‘No man born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” says Jesus of John, “and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”    John’s greatness lies in the mission entrusted to him by God and he fulfilled it with such passion that eventually led him to his death.  True greatness lies in the heart of the mission entrusted to us by God, no matter how big or small it is.  As Christians, we are not just the bearers of the name of Christ.  Just like John, we are the voice announcing to the world the coming of Christ; our life is the message that he has indeed come.  That is why we just don’t endeavour to put back Christ in the word CHRISTmas but more so to put back Christ in every CHRISTian.  All of us are given the opportunity to shine before God; all of us can be great before God!
The tragedy that devastated 9 million people in the Philippines because of the super-typhoon Haiyan brought a new light in the journey not just among the Filipinos but among the peoples around the world.   After a month of suffering those who lost homes, loved ones, properties and many others are now able to smile because of their strong faith in God.  In the midst of such unspeakable destruction and distress, they are able to rejoice because of their unwavering faith in God.   Some of the moving pictures are those of children kneeling down in prayer in the midst of the rubbles inside a ruined church; women carrying the statues of Mary and the Infant Jesus in procession with the massive destruction at the background; a woman giving birth in the midst of ruins.  These are truly pictures of hope and joy!  The United Nations and the international community who sent humanitarian aid to the typhoon victims and those who continue to help re-build their lives are truly a powerful testament of humanity’s triumph in time of catastrophes.  God performs miracles through the hands of those who are willing to help especially the poorest of the poor.
The people who survived the tragedy and those of us watching from the outside may ask: “What is God doing now in this time of pain or in other moments of disasters?”  In the silence of our hearts, we will hear the voice of God saying “I have created you to make a difference.”   Happy are those who helped in one way or another and are continuing to help because they have become the hands, feet and voice of God in bringing comfort and blessings to others.  They are the modern-day John the Baptists who announce that God has indeed come even in the midst of such intense suffering.  They are not just heroes in the hearts of our people, they are the greatest in the heart of God….

Friday, December 6, 2013

2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT: The Voice of John the Baptist

Matthew 3:1-12

 John the Baptist has always been the “Voice of Advent”.     Because Advent is a time of waiting, the Church once again calls our attention to listen to the words of John the Baptist and embrace his message with expectant joy. 

         His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”  The core of John’s prophetic cry was metanoia or conversion! The word metanoia comes from Greek words meta (beyond) and nous (mind).   Metanoia is not just the complete turnabout of one’s mind but going beyond one’s self in its desire to meet God.   It is the breaking away from the imposed self-enclosure in order to welcome new life.  True conversion is turning away from false existence to true way of living, from selfishness to selflessness, from emptiness to fullness, from separateness to communion.   It is the experience of total make-over of oneself  both in the preparation before and after encountering Christ.  We all have the tendency to draw the world to ourselves and to make the world revolve around our selfishness in celebration of egoism.   Before, during and after the world has heard the voice of John the Baptist, the messianic longing remains not just among the Jews but in the heart of humanity.  But only those who are willing to break away from the slavery of selfishness are able to encounter Christ in his many creative comings.   If we really want this to happen, then the words of St. John the Baptist pose a real challenge.  That is why if we take to heart seriously his message, it demands a dying to one’s self. It may mean breaking away from a particular addiction that continuous to enslave us or getting away from a sinful lifestyle that stifles us.   When we are able to do it, we clothe ourselves with purple during this time of waiting.  We don’t just see purple as a liturgical colour in our churches, it is something we put on to symbolise a deeper reality that is waiting to emerge.

          Beneath the repentant purple of Advent is the white Christmas awaiting to be born only if we endure the angst of separation and the pain of birthing. What we are awaiting for is not just the celebration of Christ’s birth but also our emergence into the children of God.  The voice of John the Baptist shatters that false identity towards our eternal generation together with the Son, making us adopted children of the Father.  Let his message shatter the chains of our hearts so that we might breathe again with fresh hope and celebrate life always with joyful expectancy.