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Friday, December 25, 2015


Luke 2:41-52

        The Trinity is the primordial family in perfect love.  From the outpouring of  God's charity the first human family of Adam and Eve was born.  It was meant to mirror the Divine communion and love.  Yet far from being perfect, human frailty, infidelity, greed and anger destroyed the once happy human family.   But God did not give up and promised to re-create a new community 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.  Jesus gave birth to the Church out of his pain and suffering on the cross.  The Church became the God’s new family.  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 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 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 our family that we experience God's love by loving and being loved by our parents, brothers, sisters and kins.  

     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 failures.   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 the grace of God will triumph.  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.  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. 

        One day we will all be gathered as one Family of God when we see each other together back in the womb of God.  This is the Father's dream!

Thursday, December 24, 2015




Today Jesus was born as a man; 
today we are born as a child of God!

.... we adore at his birth in the Eucharistic crib; 
.... we rejoice at his birth in the heart of humanity; 
.... we celebrate his birth in the soul of the cosmos. 

For the full homily:

Friday, December 18, 2015


Luke 1:39-45

      Mary, upon receiving the message from the angel Gabriel that her cousin Elizabeth was conceiving, did not waste her time and  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! 

        Mary and Elizabeth are iconic representations of the New Testament and the Old Testament:  Mary, being young and fertile represented the New Testament while Elizabeth was old and barren represented the Old Testament.  Both 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 men 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 in her seventies who used to be barren.  Both of them perplexed and confused needed each other to understand the very unusual events that were happening to them.   Mary needed the wisdom of  an older mother and Elizabeth needed the physical help of someone younger than her.  

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 amongst us in the present time.  We are the new agents of the Incarnation.  God sends us people to extend us a helping hand in our darkest moments. God may also send us to help other people  just 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 human tragedies, 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 need.  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 to the poorest of the poor.  Through us, God’s presence shines once more in the world; like David and John the Baptist, in the coming of Jesus ,creation dances with joy…..

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Luke 3:10-18

         Today is GAUDETE SUNDAY, a day of rejoicing!

There are many creative ways to spend the time while waiting for a person or an event.  We can be romantic and enjoy daydreaming while anticipating the arrival of a special someone.  It is the interior aspect that caters to the emotions and feelings of the person in waiting.  We can also be busy in external preparations like physical arrangements and decorations.   It is the exterior aspect that occupies our attention most of the time.

Advent is a different waiting!  It is sacramental!  It is more than a cosmic time when we commemorate a past even like birthdays or anniversaries.  It is rather a liturgical season that opens a holy door that beckons us to enter into kairos, a sacred time of grace.  After entering this door, like the people asking John the Baptist in the gospel this Sunday, 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.  Discipleship is the call to holiness within the secular or religious 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. 

Holiness is not just limited in the confines of the church, it  permeates through the ordinariness of our secular lives beyond piety.  It is the “holiness of the gutter” hardly found in the forgotten peripheries of life!   We tend to forget it because it is too ordinary!  What shall we do while waiting?  We do things right and just in all the strata of our being.  Goodness is diffusive because it is a vestige of the pulsating Ultimate Good that seeks expression in the holiness of the ordinary.  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: “I am not worthy to untie his sandals…”   John the Baptist is the perfect example of Christian humility.  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 have more in life.  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 things right and just, we can truly rejoice because we are emerging ourselves into the resemblance of Christ.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Inauguration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act, so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28).
The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, faith and abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan.  Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.
This Extraordinary Holy Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.
Today, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Luke 3:1-6

      John the Baptist has always been the “Voice of Advent”.     The Church once again calls our attention to listen to his words and embrace his message with expectant joy:

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 

Before, during and after the world had heard the voice of John the Baptist, the messianic longing remains not just among the Jews but in the very heart of humanity.  There is an emergence of an incomprehensible mystery which draws the desire of every man and woman into an unspeakable realm beyond himself/herself.  It is because the Absolute One which used to be a transcendent reality far beyond our reach has become immanent in an almost scandalizing manner of the Incarnation.  In short, God finally revealed his face to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

        Yet this mind-blowing revelation in Jesus entails a radical response on our part if we want to truly encounter God.   If God experienced eternal kenosis in becoming man in order to give us fullness of life, we are also challenged to break away from our 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.   We all have the tendency to draw the world to ourselves and to make the world revolve around our selfishness for the sake of egoism.    But only those who are willing to break away from the constricted slavery of selfishness are able to encounter Christ in his many creative comings.   The message of St. John the Baptist poses a real challenge to take it into our hearts and make it our own.  If we take to heart seriously his message, it demands not just a dying to one’s self but by becoming prophets ourselves like him in our present generation.  But we don’t need to shout like him because we shall be preaching the same message, sometimes in silence, through our lifestyle.  Then we join the other prophets in breaking away from a particular addiction that continuous to enslave us or by getting away from  sinful circumstances that stifle us.   When we are able to do it, we clothe ourselves and the world with purple during this time of waiting.  Purple is not merely a liturgical color in our churches, it is something we put on to symbolize 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 pain of birthing. The voice of John the Baptist becomes our voice in shattering our false identity as we share our birthing together in the eternal generation the Son, making us adopted children of the Father.  What we are awaiting for is not just the celebration of Christ’s birth but also our emergence as children of God. 

Our life is the medium and the message of Christian hope!