31 October 2010

Barangay Jericho

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – 31 October 2010

Readings: Wis 11:22-12:2; Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 Thess 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10

Imagine a barangay named Jericho. It was big and prosperous, and has just received news that the Lord Jesus was set to pass through its main road. The barangay chairman was one named Zaccheus, a man of small stature in more ways than one, with a reputation for being corrupt and greedy. He was not generally well-liked but he always won the election because he simply bribed the voters more than his rivals.

Corrupting our Minors, Corrupting the Future

PASTORAL BULLETIN NO. 03, Series of 2010

To: Clergy, Religious, Lay Faithful
Re: Corrupting our Minors, Corrupting the Future

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt 18,16)

Reports coming from all over leave no doubt as to the scope and magnitude of corruption and cheating in the recent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. During our Clergy General Assembly held last Tuesday, every priest present said that vote-buying and selling were rampant in their respective places of assignment and home towns. Radyo Veritas Legazpi and other local radio stations, as well as our local PPCRV units also confirmed this widespread terrible state of affairs.

24 October 2010

Are We Self-Righteous?

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 24 October 2010

Readings: Sirach 35:12-14; Ps 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

The Gospel parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector begins and ends with the lesson clearly articulated. It begins with the purpose of the parable: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” And ends with the saying: “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

It is a commentary against self-righteousness. However, to label the Pharisees as a bunch of self-righteous zealots and tax collectors as misunderstood sinners would be to miss the point.

20 October 2010

Aggiornamento et Ressourcement

Once again, Fr. Robert Barron writes an article as insightful in identifying the Church's problems as in suggesting directions for the Church's future.

Vatican II, has occasioned both a culture of ressourcement, a rediscovery and renewed appreciation and usage of Sacred Scriptures, patristic traditions, and historical research; and aggiornamento, a bringing up to date, a greater sensitivity to the call of the times. However, perhaps a reaction to the stifling conservatism of the past, the council's aftermath has tilted more towards the latter, spawning a culture of too much accomodation with the world and too dogged a pursuit of modernity. The renewed appreciation of our rich cultural and intellectual heritage has been engulfed in the tide of accomodation.

Now there are calls for a return to traditionalism, a tough reform of the reform. While I am all for reform, I am also for caution with this reactionary-looking return to conservatism, which in many cases expresses a heavily glossed-over nostalgia for the eras of Vatican 1 and Modern Roman Catholicism. For reform to be truly reflective, and not merely cause a tilt from one side to the other, a careful balancing act must be exercised. Our Church needs the graced balance between ressourcement and aggiornamento, for this state of things provides the Church both the stability and dynamism she needs to effectively pursue her mission to the world.

18 October 2010

God is a Vending Machine

God is not like a vending machine, 
promptly dispensing blessings 
as soon as we asked for them, 
in the way we expect them to be. 
That is, unless if vending machines were all like these one.

God's blessings may not always come 
the way we expect them to be, 
rather they are more like surprises 
from a loved one who knows more about us 
than we know ourselves.

17 October 2010

The Case for Unceasing Prayer

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – C – 17 October 2010

Readings: Ex 17:8-13; Ps 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8

The moral lesson of this Sunday’s Gospel parable is quite clear from the start. “Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.”

1. Pray always and without ceasing.

Here is a judge who couldn’t care less about God or other human beings, basically a bad person. Then here is a widow, penniless, powerless but for her persistence to get a fair judgment from the judge. Eventually, the judge relented and gave her what she asked for.

If bad people can be influenced to grant favors to less privileged supplicants, how much more will it be with God? “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?”

Parable said, moral lesson delivered, thus end of the story? Not quite. For at the end of the passage, Jesus gave a thought-provoking question: “but when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” What does this mean? Clue: Prayer is not just about getting what we want.

12 October 2010

Talking Points on the Reproductive Health Bill

At long last, a saner, more nuanced approach to the RH bill issue. To be clear, its position is not a middleground between pro-life and pro-RH/death/quality of life camps. Rather, it provides talking points, identifying both the good intentions of the bill and its contentious provisions. It is a position that is decidedly pro-life and Catholic -- and Jesuit.

05 October 2010

Standing by the Catholic Church

Finally, an article that speaks my sentiments on the issue. Except perhaps on the facts surounding the supposed excommunication threat on President Aquino. Recently released transcript of that interview with CBCP President Bishop Odchimar has him saying: "excommunication is not a proximate possibility". There has been no intention to threaten P-Noy with excommunication, as previously written, but still is being bandied about in many media outlets and the net.

I won't also be surprised if pro-RH groups won't be too happy with his dialogue issue # 5: "working together to build prosperous, just and sustainable communities so that it does not matter even if our population, as expected sometime in the next five years, exceeds 100 million people..."