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Friday, October 30, 2015



        Once I had a wonderful conversation with an atheist-friend about heaven.  I told him a good news: heaven is also for atheists!  He said he is not a fan of heaven with images of souls wearing white, plucking harps and singing praises.  When I said it is a bit constricted view of heaven, he asked me to enlighten him of a correct one.  This was my response to him: Heaven is the greatest mystery that engulfs us; never a place! It is already here and now and yet still to be revealed in its fullness so we can bask in the highest Good ever in a timeless realm!

        There is a more wonderful and sublime reason in the celebration of life in the present and beyond death.  

       The Solemnity of All the Saints (November 1st) and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (November 2nd) are Christian celebrations to remind us of an important article of our faith which is the Communion of Saints. The Communion of Saints is the super-natural unity of all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ namely: The Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering and the Church Militant. 

       Heaven is our goal!  We believe that those who had been faithful to Christ until the end are rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven (the Church Triumphant); they are triumphant  because they are given the crown of glory by God.  There are those who are still expiating their sins in purgatory  (the Church Suffering);  they are being cleansed of the impurities caused by sin.  We the living belong to the Church Militant because we still continue to fight against our sinfulness as we strive to live holy lives.

        There is a wonderful exchange of spiritual goods among the members of the Church: the saints in heaven are praying for us here on earth and for the souls in purgatory.  We pray and offer sacrifices/masses for the souls in purgatory and in return they also pray and intercede for us.  All of us share in the “treasury of the Church” which are the inexhaustible merits of Christ and the prayers and good works of the saints.   This exchange of charity overflows to all the members of the Church so that at the end, free from sin, we are able to have our final communion with God. 

As we celebrate All Saints’ Day, let us reflect on the lyrics of the Disney song: 


“I have often dreamed of a far off place
Where a great warm welcome will be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer when they see my face
And a voice keeps saying this is where I'm meant to be

I will find my way, I can go the distance
I'll be there someday if I can be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while

I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong.”

Friday, October 23, 2015


Mark 10:46-52

         “Let there be light!”   In the book of Genesis, the very first thing that God created was light.  Because of light, we are able to see the world and its wonder and beauty.  Darkness symbolizes death, emptiness and evil.   Jesus said “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).   Our eyes are the windows of our souls.  What a sad thing if light is taken away from us so that we are not able to engage with life.  

       Bartimeus was blind and he was sitting on the side of the road!    The road was a symbol of dynamism of life and Bartimeus sitting on the side of road meant that he was not part of the movement of life.  His encounter with Jesus who is the “Light of the world” would change his life forever.

        When Bartimeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he knew it was the opportune moment that he had been waiting for and began to shout and cried out “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.”  There were two kinds of crowd in the story: the first one scolded him and told him to keep quiet, the second one encouraged him and brought him to Jesus.  Bartimeus caught the attention of Jesus.  Jesus a) stopped 2) asked the second crowd “call him here” 3) and asked Bartimeus: “What do you want me to do for you?”  Bartimeus’ cry could not be simply ignored by Jesus amidst the pushing crowd; when Jesus heard him, he stopped and gave him his full attention.  When we cry to God in our utter humility and desperation, our voice pierces the heart of God and he stops and listens to our pleas.  Jesus asked the assistance of the crowd to bring Bartimeus to him.  Our encounter with God, although personal, always involves the community which either hinders or assists us.  Are we a wall that obstructs people to encounter God or a bridge that brings others to God?   Jesus knew that Bartimeus was blind and he knew what he needed but he still asked him “What do you want me to do for you?”  Why?  Because Jesus did not want to impose what he wanted so he asked Bartimeus to express his freedom of the will.  Bartimeus knew what he wanted all his life and this was now the moment he had been waiting for; it would be very remiss of him not to say what he wanted: Rabbuni, let me see again.”  Jesus said “Go, your faith has saved you.”  Once he had his sight back, he followed Jesus along the road.

    We might not be physically blind like Bartimeus but we might experience spiritual blindness through our arrogance, self-centeredness, sensuality, addictions and sin. 

        Some time in our life, we may experience the darkest night of our souls. Like Bartimeus, we just have to admit in utter humility our need for God and we cry out: “Lord, I need you in my life.  Take me out of this darkness.  I want to see.”

         The most important thing is not just having our sight back, but to be able to walk again in the road and celebrate the dynamism of life.  The only way we can do this is to follow Jesus “The Way” who will lead us to life eternal.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Mark 10: 35-45

       What we want to become in the future gives us the innate urge towards a purpose-driven life!  Our dream to become the person we want to be gives us the power and determination to achieve something that will sustain us through life.  Achieving that goal defines our career and status in the community we live in.

         Our ultimate end is the highest goal that defines our being.  Our religion facilitates and directs us towards this ultimate end.  For us Christians, our ultimate end is heaven no wonder why the brothers James and John wanted to ask Jesus for the assurance of their place in heaven.  Jesus explained that the ticket to heaven is not a matter of “religious connections” but depends on personal effort and the grace of God.

        The apostles were no different from the other Jews who thought that authority is the way to greatness.  Jesus had to correct that wrong notion by showing it the way he lived: he came not to be served but to serve and offered his life as a ransom for humanity.  The way to greatness in the eyes of God is through service to others.

         This constricted and selfish way of understanding greatness is what defines worldly authority.  We have seen some world leaders like Hitler, Idi Amin, Marcos, Polpot (to name a few) who lord it over their countries through dictatorship by having their authority felt through whimsical caprices and abuses.  Leadership without charity is tyranny.  Christian leadership hinges on servanthood.  Authority is given to us in the context of service.   Our church leaders have authority over us only because they are our servants:  “It is not ourselves we preach but Christ Jesus our Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4-5).  One of the titles of the pope is "servus servorum Dei" (servant of the servants of God).
        Christian service is the giving of self to others because of one’s love to God and humanity.   We don’t have to think big to do something explosive in changing the world for the better.  One little act of goodness can change the world!  This belief in the basic goodness of mankind explodes beyond proportion if each person shares his kindness towards others.  Then it goes beyond religion, race or color which transforms the world when love is expressed in charity through service to others. Because goodness is inherent in each one of us we have the power to change the world for the better than we first found it.   

         Achieving our ultimate end is not a matter of amassing coupons like tickets that give us more points to enter heaven but celebrating goodness which makes heaven already present now.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Mark 10: 17-30

       The rich young man (RYM) ran up, knelt before Jesus and asked: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 
         Who was RYM? Why did he run, kneel and ask Jesus? Why was he rich?  RYM was spiritually rich:    “Master I have kept the laws since my earliest days.”  It means that RYM  was a very righteous man hence very pious in the eyes of the Jews! He was materially rich: because he had so many possessions, he was believed to be blessed by God. He was intellectually rich: because he was concerned about the seriousness of life and was asking about eternal life.  He was youthfully rich: he was young man!
         Here was a man who was at the top of the world.  When Jesus saw him, Jesus loved him because RYM was a very lovable person.  Jesus did not see the richness of RYM but rather the total emptiness in him so He said to him: “You need to do one more thing; 1) go and sell your possessions 2) give the money to the poor 3) come follow me.” Upon hearing this, RYM’s face fell because he was a man of great wealth.
         In the Jewish world, RYM was a symbol of grand success, a fulfillment of everybody’s dream, an idol.  But behind his perfection was a defect; behind his huge success was a complete failure; behind his happy face was his unspeakable sadness.
         When Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions, he could not let go of his material riches because those were his idols.  Therefore he could not follow Jesus who offered him the true riches in heaven.  
          Now who is RYM in our present time?  He is every young man and woman whose success defines one's existence and yet finds life empty!  RYM is the lost youth of today who longs for the higher purpose in life when his/her achievements and accomplishments cannot give the satisfaction of the inner self.  RYM is a symbol of pious yet constricted selfishness which defines success that glorifies the ego but without compassion to others!  It is the apex of a success story without a genuine spirituality and charity! 
           Material things in themselves are not evil; they are evil when they become our idols and we worship them either consciously or unconsciously as if our lives totally depend on them.   Jesus wants us to be free so that we can follow Him.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

MARRIAGE: complete, exclusive and forever!

Mark 10:2-16

     Is there a FOREVER in love? Some say “none”, our gospel says “there is”!
       Jesus in our gospel this Sunday teaches the meaning and purpose of marriage: it is a covenant between a MAN and WOMAN with GOD which is ordered toward the goodness of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. In a nutshell it is both UNITIVE and PROCREATIVE!  The teaching took place when the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce.
        God being the author of marriage intended it as a vocation which is intrinsic to the very nature of humanity. Because it is a vocation, it is fundamentally centered on love. This mutual love between a man and a woman is a reflection of God’s absolute and unfailing love for humanity. The book of Genesis in the first reading attests to the indissolubility of marriage from the very beginning of time: that man leaves his mother and father and becomes attached to his wife and the two become one flesh. Jesus affirms it when he said: "What God has united, human beings must not divide." Because of the permanence of marriage, Jesus in the gospel took a strong stand against divorce. It is not just based on a legalistic approach when the children suffer and it then jeopardizes their future happiness nor on the presence of a law that forbids or allows divorce. Rather as the author of marriage, God intended marriage to be a permanent and lasting relationship between a man and a woman.
        God saw in the beginning that man was not complete so He created the woman. It is through this marital union that one complements the other thereby completing each other’s incompleteness. In marital sex, one gives himself/herself to the other completely, exclusively and forever. When this happens they really become one flesh. Because of human failure, certain situations are far from ideal like re-marriage after separation and divorce which the Church deals with compassionately. 
       From this union based on love comes the secondary purpose of marriage which is the procreation and education of children. It is the fruit of love when given unselfishly. To safeguard this purpose, the Church is against the deliberate obstruction of life through artificial birth control and direct abortion which are contrary to the moral law. Children are not an intrusion on married life but rather the completion of its mission which is expressed in joy. For married couples who are unable to have children, their witness of love to each other can also be profoundly life-giving to the Church and to the community in many ways.  Adoption is always a welcomed option!
       Because marriage is a sacrament, it is geared towards the sanctification of man and woman through their married life. It is a life that is centered in God; in reality it is God who completes and blesses the union. That is why it is imperative that a man and a woman who love each other should be united by a sacred bond that can only be given through the Church. With this blessing, they will form a family, be it naturally or through adoption. This family is called the “domestic church” because it is the miniature version of the whole Church
      During this time when the family is under attack, let us safeguard the unity and sanctity of marriage as God intended it to be.