28 November 2010

Advent for Our Local Church

1st Sunday of Advent - A – 28 November 2010

Readings: Is 2:1-5; Ps 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Preparing for Christmas. The season of Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare for the season of Christmas, the birth of our Lord. Because of the secular influences and commercialism that pervade the season nowadays, we need to be reminded that it is a religious celebration. That is why we call Christmas, a holy day, though secularism has reduced it to the ambivalent "holidays". Advent is our spiritual preparation to ready ourselves for the grace of the Christmas celebration.

27 November 2010

Litany for Life

Lord, have mercy - Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy - Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy - Lord, have mercy
Christ hear us - Christ, graciously hear us

22 November 2010

Prayer for a Church Renewing


Loving Father, we thank you for the gift of faith
handed down by the Apostles to generations.
We thank you for the gift of the community of the faithful
that nourishes our growth in Christian life.

As we prepare for our First Diocesan Pastoral Assembly,

The Way of the King

Solemnity of Christ the King – C – 21 November 2010

Readings: 2 Sam 5:1-3; Ps 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 ; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43

On the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. The timing brings to the fore the message of Rev 1,8: “He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.” He is the Lord of time and eternity, He is King of all.

1. Christ is the King of the Universe

Col 1,16-20 describes Christ’s dominion and kingship: “All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

15 November 2010

On turning 32

A friend asked recently: "So, how are you? Are you happy with being a priest?" I gave her this roundabout answer about this video on Youtube I recently watched. This one was about what motivates people and gives them self-satisfaction.

Dan Pink, the speaker, proposes three factors: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy is our desire to be self-directed. Mastery is our urge to get better at stuff. Purpose is about making a contribution in a trascendent way. I have the good fortune of having those three in my line of work. So, short answer: Yes, I am happy. Thank God for that.

This doesn't mean that everything is perfect or that ministry is easy. In fact, these past few years, I have been made quite painfully aware of the flawed realities of the Church, and my own frailties as well. To be able to recognize them is both a humbling and liberating experience. For in spite of our weakness, God still chooses us to carry His mission in the world, or in our little corner of the earth.

Here is one more thing that keeps me happy: being able to take part in the great enterprise that is Church-building. I spent my birthday this year on the very first day of our annual retreat in Cebu. This year, the priests of our diocese reflected on the theme of the Church as "communion-in-mission". For me, it means dreaming of a Church that builds itself into a community of witnesses, one that reaches out to the depths of each one, and to all -- especially the poor and those in the margins. The hard and exciting part of the job is turning those dreams and plans into reality. I am just glad to be part of it.

What does it mean to be a priest at 32? Without ambition or agenda in mind, I like to think I found the best answer from among the birthday greetings and well-wishes of friends on Facebook, one of them posted: "I'm certain that your best years are still ahead". To which I replied: "May your certainty be proven true, may our best years be laid down for the Lord and His Church."

A big thanks to all those who sent their greetings and well-wishes. May the Lord grant you twice the share of what you prayed for me. Oremus pro invicem!

How to Identify False Prophets

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – C- 14 November 2010

Readings: Mal 3:19-20a; Ps 98:5-6, 7-8, 9; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19

The Gospel passage this Sunday was a message of reassurance to the persecuted members of the early Christian communities. Jesus' prediction of wars, insurrection and persecution was already a real life experience for them. Even the prophesied destruction of the magnificent Temple of Jerusalem might be taken literally for it did happen in 70 AD during the seige of Jerusalem by the Romans.

Yet there is also a timeless relevance to its message, especially for us today. After making a reference to the passing nature of worldly things, Jesus was asked by the disciples to give them a sign. Instead He prophesied various events that would happen before the end comes. The end here apparently refers not just to the seige of Jerusalem but to a universal end times.

However, amidst the gloom and doom, comes the assurance: God is with us. Be not afraid. He will even take care of our defense. He also puts a word of caution: beware of false prophets. "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,’ and 'The time has come.’ Do not follow them!"

09 November 2010

Life, Death, and Life to the Full

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – C – 7 November 2010

Readings: 2 Mac 7:1-2, 9-14; Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38

As we come nearer to Advent, the readings talk about the “last things”, eschaton in Greek: death, after life, heaven, hell, purgatory, judgment day, the resurrection. Both the first and Gospel readings teach about the promise of the resurrection.

But before we come to that, let us first reflect on realities closer to home…

1. Life and Death

The two different stories in the first and Gospel readings start with the theme of life, especially a blessed life, as symbolically underscored by the number 7, the number of God, the perfect number. Both stories feature seven brothers. The mother in 2 Maccabees would be considered in those times to be blessed for having seven boys, her pride and joy, and her life support later in life. The first brother in the Sadducees‘ story, though dying early and childless, could count on the next eligible brother among his six siblings to take his widow as wife and “raise descendants in his name”. In the tradition of the Jews, having one’s lineage grow to generations counts as fullness of life.