News From Father
My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today’s first reading is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians 1: 1-11. The letter to the Philippians is Paul’s personal letter to them and was not intended for general circulation. Paul wrote the letter to thank Christian believers for helping him when he had a need. He expressed deep sense of joy amid suffering because he was in prison awaiting his trial when he wrote this letter. In the letter which is very uplifting, Paul counseled the Philippian brethren about humility and unity and warned them about potential problems. Paul reminded the Philippian believers that the God who began a good work in us will continue it throughout our lifetime and will finish it when we meet Him face-to-face in His Kingdom. This work of God in us began when Jesus Christ died in our place on the Cross of Calvary. His work in us began when we first believed and were baptized. Now the Holy Spirit lives in us and enables us to be more like Christ every day.
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 14: 1-6. In this gospel passage, we read about Jesus’ miraculous healing of a man with dropsy. A prominent Pharisee invited Jesus to his home for dinner. There is no doubt that this invitation was not quite a friendly one. The man invited Jesus specially to trap Him to say or do something for which He could be arrested and handed over to the Roman government. You might wonder why Jesus went to eat at the house of a leading Pharisee after denouncing and proclaiming woes upon woes on them on various occasions. Jesus was courageous enough to confront them in their deceit and He knew for certain their evil plots to trick Him into breaking their laws so they can condemn Him to death and silence that voice that challenge their abuse of power and authority. The evangelist Luke was a physician and in this gospel passage, he demonstrated a perfect description of the man’s illness. He was suffering from dropsy—an abnormal accumulation of fluid in bodily tissues and cavities. Jesus knew perfectly well what was going on in their minds, but He went ahead and healed the man. He based His argument for doing this on their own law and practice: “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" Jesus argues that if it is possible; if the law does not prosecute them for pulling out their animals from the cistern on a Sabbath day, it is far more important to heal and free a child of God who is sick and is laboring under the burden of illness and ailment. In their ignorance and hate, they offered no reasonable answers to Jesus as He proceeded to set free the man suffering from dropsy.
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, we must remember that the act of doing good should be a continuous act. We must emulate Jesus’ lifestyle and way of doing things. Even when confronted with circumstances and situations which could have broken most people’s spirit, Jesus remained calm and serene. If we utterly understand Him, He can make us more like Himself. Jesus does not give up on people especially those considered sinners in the eyes of others. He knew beforehand what was in their minds. He knew He was invited to this leading Pharisees house to mock Him, ridicule Him, and set traps to get rid of Him. But He still honored the invitation. There is no other way we can make our enemies our friends if we refuse to meet and dialogue with them. Let nothing, no obstacle or fear, no amount of hate and animosity should keep you from doing the right thing always. Take some time today and read again the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Reflect on the important issues raised in that letter. Do you sometimes feel as though you are not making progress in your spiritual life? Be courageous. Because, when God starts a project, He continues it until it is brought to perfection. God will always help you grow in grace until He has completed His work in your life. So, when you feel discouraged or your faith is threatened, remember that God will never give up on you. His promises are everlasting, and He will bring the work He has initiated in you to a fruitful completion. Do not allow any condition or whatever life throws at you to rob you of the joy of knowing Jesus Christ or keep you from growing closer to Him day by day.
God loves you and so do I
Daily Reflection: October 31, 2020
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE: Some missionaries were back in the United States gaining support for their ministry. As they visited different Churches, they would stay in the homes of gracious Church members. One night they were staying in the home of a couple with young children. Their six-year-old was entertaining everyone by reading her favorite books aloud. She was just finishing her story when she noticed the family Bible on the mantel. “What book is that?” the little girl asked her mother. “That is God’s book, honey!” her mother responded with a nervous laugh. “You know that right!” “Well, no one around here ever reads it,” the girl said. “Don’t you think we ought to give it back to Him?”
Today’s first reading is taken from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians 1: 18-26. Here, we read one of the powerful statements of Paul which should be in the mind of every Christian believer. “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” Paul was in prison awaiting trial, but he knew he could either be released or executed. However, he trusted Christ to work it out for his deliverance. His prayer was that when he stood trial, he would speak courageously for Christ and not be timid or ashamed. Alive or dead, his ultimate goal was to exalt Christ crucified, who rose from the death and who is now seated at the right hand of God. Only faith in Christ could sustain Paul in such adversity. This should be an interesting passage for Christian believers for in Paul’s understanding, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. To those who do not believe in God, life on earth is all there is and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values—money, popularity, fame, power, pleasure, prestige, and beauty.
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 14: 1, 7-11. In this gospel passage Jesus teaches His followers and would-be followers about not seeking for places of honor when invited to an occasion. When Jesus noticed how people who were invited to a party were picking the places of honor, He told them the parable we read in today’s gospel. From ancient times till this day, a lot of people are just eager to raise their social status, whether by trying to be with the ‘right people’, ‘dressing for success’, or ‘driving the right car’ and living in the ‘right houses.’ Jesus is teaching us through this parable to do our best to be humble by choosing wisely. Who do you try to impress? Rather than aiming to please people or aiming for some prestige, look for a place where you can serve and put your service to work. And if along the way God wants you to serve on a wider scale, He will invite you to take a higher position. Jesus taught His audience two important lessons using this parable. First to the guests, Jesus instructed them not to take positions of honor. Humble service and servant leaders are more important in the Kingdom of God than status. Secondly, he instructed the host not to be exclusive about whom he invites to his party. God’s Kingdom is open to everyone.
Dear friends, as you face God this day, take some time and read and reflect on this section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve by devoting your life to what really counts. What is your purpose for living? Who can you serve or help? Jesus wants us to be like Him—meek and humble of heart. Some people today even some Christian believers try to give the impression or appearance of humility to manipulate others. Some others think that means putting themselves down. On the contrary, truly humble people compare themselves only with Christ, realize their sinfulness, and understand their limitations. They also recognize their gifts and strengths and are willing to use them as Christ directs. Humility is not self-degradation; it is realistic assessment and commitment to serve.
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto yours.
God loves you and so do I
Daily Relfeciton: November 1, 2020
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE: A Pumpkin Story:" What is it like to be a Christian saint?" "It is like being a Halloween pumpkin. God picks you from the field, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you by inviting you to confess your sins and seek reconciliation. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out the yucky stuff. He removes the pulp of impurity and injustice and seeds of doubt, hate, and greed from you. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light of holiness or Holy Spirit inside you to shine for the entire world to see by your serving and sharing love, mercy and forgiveness." This is the Christian idea behind the carved pumpkins during the Halloween season.
Today is the 31stSunday in the Ordinary Time. And today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. There are countless number of saints in heaven that are not known to us and who are not assigned any particular feast day in the Church’s liturgical calendar: men, women, adults, children, infants, people of every race, color, creed, language etc. All Saints Day is therefore designated by the Catholic Church to celebrate these countless men and women: warriors of faith whose outstanding lifestyle and exemplary Christian life gives us courage, strength, and zeal as we fight the battles against the evil one in this life. The lives of the saints that we celebrate today remind us in a special way God’s universal call to holiness. We are to live out this call for holiness in our daily life by making His love, mercy, and goodness, known to those around us.
Today’s first reading is taken from the Book of Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14. In this reading, we hear about the vision of the saints by John in their heavenly glory. “…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands”(7: 9). John reminds us that God places His own seal on His followers, identifying them as His own and guaranteeing His protection over their souls. This means that God’s children are of true value to Him. Even though our physical bodies may be beaten, maimed, or even destroyed, nothing will harm our souls when we have been sealed by God. This seal of God is placed on the foreheads of God’s children. The multitude in heaven as mentioned in this reading is composed of all those who remained faithful to God through all generations. We are all called through baptism to be part of this great multitude of holy ones when our earthly life is over. Are you ready and willing to be part of this great multitude by preparing yourself for the great eternal banquet of heaven?
And today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 5: 12. In this gospel passage, we read Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes as given by Jesus Christ on the mountain. Jesus began His sermon with words that seem to contradict each other. But God’s way of living usually contradicts the worlds. There are at least four ways to understand the beatitudes. 1) They are code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers. 2) They contrast kingdom values which are eternal with worldly values which are temporal. 3)They contrast the superficial faith of the Pharisees with the real faith Christ expects from His followers. 4) They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the new kingdom. These beatitudes are not multiple choices: pick what you like and leave the rest like the cafeteria Christians do. They are meant to be taken as a whole. They are God’s commandments expressed in positive terms. The beatitudes do not promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. For Jesus, blessed means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus today no matter what it might cost you.
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us celebrate this important Solemnity of All Saints with joy knowing full well that our loved ones, relatives, and friends are numbered among the saints in heaven. And as we celebrate them, let us imitate their lives and seek for their powerful intercession for us before God’s throne of mercy. The saints we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the beatitudes and are today seated at the banquet table of the eternal feast Jesus promised His true followers. We can be like them if we are willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. To accomplish this, we must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. We must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By giving up our rights in order to serve others, we will one day receive everything God has promised to all who believe in Him and who serve Him in serving others.
God loves you and so do I
Daily Reflection: November 2, 2020
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE:A man died and arrived at the pearly gates. The Lord himself came out to greet him. The man asked the Lord about the nature of heaven and hell, to which the Lord replied, "Come, I will show you hell." Together they entered a large room where a group of people sat around a huge pot of stew. Everyone there in hell was starving and desperate. Each person held a spoon that could reach the pot; but each spoon had a handle that was too long, making it impossible to feed themselves. So, the suffering was terrible. "Come, now I will show you heaven," the Lord said.
They then entered another large room which was identical to the first: the pot of stew, a group of people around it, and the same long-handled spoons. But there everyone was happy and well-feed.
"I don't understand," the man said. "Why are these people happy and well-feed when the people in hell were so miserable?" The Lord smiled, "Ah, it is simple," he replied. "Here in heaven, they have learned to feed each other."
The Church celebrates today the Feast of All Souls. The Church in her wisdom designated this day as a day to pray and remember the souls of our loved ones who have gone before us to eternal life and are now being purified and cleansed. As part of our annual celebration of the Christian doctrine of the Communion of Saints, (as we believe and profess in the creed) yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints—the Church Triumphant. Today is the feast of All Souls —the Church Suffering. Tomorrow should be All of Us—the Church Militant, thus completing the Communion of Saints. Faith makes a Christian. Life proves a Christian. Trial confirms a Christian and death crowns a Christian.
The Church teaches about a place or state of purification called Purgatory. Here, souls undergoing purification are helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). In Lumen Gentium (50-52), Purgatory is described as the broader context of salvation and heaven. It is one of the greatest and most merciful aspect of God’s love and very consoling indeed to the human heart. Purgatory is the vestibule of heaven. In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Vatican Council II Document we read, “This Sacred Council accepts loyally the venerable Faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicaea, of the Council of Florence, and of the Council of Trent” (No. 51). The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Purgatory as the “final purification of the elect, which in entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC#1031).“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death, they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven”(CCC#1030). This is our belief, and this is our hope. And hope as St. Paul says in today’s second reading does not disappoint. Purgatory is both good-news and bad-news for those who are there already. The good-news is that: they are on their way to salvation—eternal life. The bad news is that: they have to suffer temporarily as they prepare to behold God’s presence. Purgatory is suffering, but not torment. Purgatory is an invention of our God of great mercy, who never wants to give up on us. “And this is the will of the One who sent me,” says Jesus in the Gospel, “that I should not lose anything of what He gave me, but that I should raise it on the Last Day” (John 6: 39-40). God is Almighty, all knowing, all powerful, all Holy, all Righteous, and all perfect. In Him there is no sin, there is no alteration, and there is no change. Because God is all holy, nothing unclean can see Him or behold His presence (Revelation 21: 27). “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish to be dead…but they are in peace…because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself”(Wisdom 3: 1-5). Find time today to read 1 Corinthians 3: 11-15 and 2 Maccabees 12: 40, 42, 44, 46 for further clarification on why we should always pray for the souls of the faithful departed.
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, we must remember that we have a duty to pray for the souls of the faithful departed especially those of them in purgatory, that through the prayers and intercession of Christian believers here on earth and the saints already in heaven, the mercy of God may be shown to them and admittance into God’s kingdom be granted to them. We can as well help them when we assist others through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy—through almsgiving, indulgencies, and other works of penance undertaken on their behalf. We can pay for Masses for them especially during this month of November, visit their graves, light candles for them, and make other sacrifices for the happy repose of their souls. As we pray for the repose of the faithful departed especially those of our relatives and loved ones, let us also remember to pray for those of them who have no one to remember them in Prayers.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen
God loves you and so do I