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Saturday, January 9, 2016



Luke 3:15-16.21-22

        The Lord’s baptism is revelatory in nature.  It revealed who Jesus was through the manifestation of the Father and the Holy Spirit which we call “Trinitarian theophany”. It happened before Jesus embarked on his public ministry. The same manifestation would occur again towards the end of the public ministry of Jesus in the Transfiguration.  Between these two theophanies was Jesus’ proclamation of God’s Kingdom through his words and works.

        During his baptism before his public ministry, Jesus was affirmed by the Father of his identity: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”  As we enter into the simplicity of this season, we are also reminded of the profound reality of our true identity  given to us when we were baptized: an adopted child of God.   During our baptism the Father was saying to us personally “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” 

It was important to Jesus to accept his identity which would be the reservoir of his power during his public ministry.  During his intimate moments with his Father in prayer, Jesus would go back again and again to that special moment when he heard his Father’s voice.  In fact he needed to hear the same voice again during the Transfiguration before he could carry on the most painful days of his earthly life.

During this ordinary season, like Jesus we carry in our hearts the Father’s voice so that whatever happens to us this year, we believe that the Father will always be there for us the way he was with Jesus all the time.  It means that we are ready to accept the different theophanies of God in our life.  We welcome him as he manifests himself to us in life or in death, in pain or in joy, in the sunshine or in the rain, in light or in darkness, in good times and in bad.  These are the many facets of life which reveal to us the many faces of God.   We just have to be ready to accept  his creative surprises in our life.

Our baptism is both a gift and a responsibility.  As a gift, we have become adopted children of God!  We call him our Father and we are heirs of the Kingdom! As a responsibility, we witness a Christian life, a life which is patterned after  Jesus, his Son. 

As a child of God, I am God’s beloved!  It is my greatest identity!

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Epiphany is the unfolding of God’s presence; it is the manifestation or the unveiling of the face of God!

God first made manifest his presence through creation which we call the vestiges or the imprints of the Trinity.  It was God’s first epiphany! It was the outpouring of God's charity!

When Jesus was born, God made manifest not just his imprints but his very face when he showed himself again to save creation by becoming a creature himself.  Through this epiphany, Jesus showed that his was the face of mercy! This time it was the outpouring of God’s mercy!

God offered Himself as a gift.  How did people respond to such a magnificent gift?  The Israelites sneered and rejected the gift; they would not even give him a room! Like the Israelites, Herod did not just reject the gift but he did all he could to destroy it. The magi who represented the Gentiles left their homes in search of “something greater than themselves”.  The star guided them in their journey.  (Those who honestly search for the meaning of life will always be guided by the disguised presence of God be it through the persons they meet on the way or through simple objects or even through insignificant events.  Some of the stars in our lives fade away in oblivion, we may even forget their names but they continuously shine brightly in our hearts.)  The magi offered the baby their gifts; they searched for Jesus not to ask but to give gifts to him!

The next persons who saw first the face of God were the shepherds because they were simple and pure of heart.  Like the magi, they were the first ones to proclaim the Word made flesh.  In the simplicity of their wisdom, they became the first prophets of the Incarnation.  Those who encounter God can not but become “evangelizers of the Word” not only by preaching but in the witnessing of their ordinary lives. 

But the very first receivers of God’s gift were Mary and Joseph; they were given the singular gift of gazing for the very first time the face of God.  One day, it would break Mary’s heart to see that face again covered with blood.   Mary would have to  give that gift to others as a supreme offering for to withhold the gift is to perish.  She teaches us that the supreme joy of receiving will lead to the excruciating pain in giving.  That is the true essence of a gift.

God’s greatest gift is himself! He gives it through many creative and unexpected ways, often in great surprises! 

Friday, January 1, 2016


Today, the very first day of the New Year, we honor  Mary as the Theotokos, the Mother of God! 

    Her motherhood defines her whole being: she is the mother of Jesus, mother of the New Humanity, mother of the Church and mother of us all. Vatican II affirms the place of Mary in the history of salvation: "truly the mother of God and mother of the redeemer, in subordination to Christ along with him, by the grace of almighty God she served the mystery of redemption" (Lumen Gentium #56).
The motherhood of Mary to Jesus which started with the Annunciation reached its peak when she stood beneath the cross (Jn 19:25-26).  In his dying moment, she was called "woman" by Jesus which was the fulfillment of Gen. 3:15 ("I will put enmity between you and the woman…") and in reference to the woman during the wedding at Cana: "Woman what concern is that to you and to me?" (Jn. 2:4).   The same woman now clothed with the sun will be mentioned in the later part of the book of Revelation (Rev. 12).  After addressing her "woman", Jesus now turned to John and entrusted his mother to him: “Behold your mother”.  From that time on, Mary became the New Eve who is mother of the new humanity.  This will become her new role as the Vatican II puts it: "By her maternal charity Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their happy fatherland' (Lumen Gentium #61). 

Mary who is the most distinguished member of the Church, is personified as the icon of the Church, hence we also call her the "Mother of the Church".  Consequently all those born in the Church by the virtue of baptism is also born of Mary, hence we also call her our own mother.  Because Mary personifies the virgin-Church (who is the "bride" of Christ), Mary remains a virgin and because the Church gives spiritual birth to all the children of God, Mary is also a mother.  This is the reason why we call her the Virgin Mother!

    It is because of the Church and Mary that we participate in the divine sonship of Jesus hence we have all become adopted children of God: "Then God sent his Son born of a woman that we should become adopted sons" (Gal. 4:4).  The proof that we are sons is the fact that God sent into our hearts the spirit of his Son which cries out 'Abba Father'! (Gal. 4:6).

    Here are the very words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego during the earliest Marian apparition: "Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
     Let us entrust ourselves unto Mary, the Mother of Mercy!