26th Sunday in OT-B- September 26, 2021

SUSTAINABILITY & CHRISTIAN T. A. C. T.

Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19; Jas 5:1-6;  Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48

Tact – acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending. We already talked about Christian correction.

Connected with it is the virtue of Christian Tact.  Farmer’s Almanac gives a description of tact as “rubbing out another’s mistake instead of rubbing it in”. In a funny way, someone said that tact is the ability to tell a man he has an open mind when he has a hole in his head! In today’s Gospel (Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48) Jesus taught his disciples to be broad-minded and generous, responsible and wise in their choices, for no good will be left unrewarded, no evil will be left unpunished. The Gospel pericope thus gives us a teaching on tact, Christian tact. And this virtue has four marks.

FOUR MARKS OF CHRISTIAN TACT

Tolerance

Tolerance of those with whom we may disagree. Tolerance is the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

   “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”(Mk 9:39)

¨ Each one has a right to his/ her own thoughts. Respect this right. Truth is bigger than anyone’s grasp of it.

¨ Tolerance is not a lazy acceptance of anything; is not a feeling that there can’t be assurance anywhere.

¨ Tolerance is reverence for all the possibilities of truth.

¨ It is charity greater than faith and hope. Intolerance is a sign of arrogance and ignorance: believing that there is no truth beyond the truth one sees.

¨ Any doctrine or belief must finally be judged by the kind of people it produces. Life proves doctrine or belief. No man can entirely condemn beliefs that make a man good. However, tolerance is not relativism: a theory that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.

Acceptance

Acceptance of those who do good. “For whoever is not against us is for us.” Acceptance here deals with positive welcome of  persons due the simple reason that they are persons and thus are God’s “children” .

¨ Be accepting of those who do God’s work. Doing good to them will not go unnoticed, unknown and unrewarded by God. Of course those we disagree with may have unacceptable positions, ideas or views. Let that be!

¨Agree to disagree agreeably. But these disagreements do not excuse you to be rude and not be accepting of their person. Remember, acceptance of all persons unconditionally is the least measure of God’s commandment to “love as you love yourself.”

¨Each one has a right to speak his/ her own thoughts. Freedom of speech is a basic democratic right. Personhood is defined by “sounding through.” But there are limits: doctrines that destroy morality and remove the foundations of civilized and Christian society must be combated without acceptance. Voltaire once said, “I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it.”

¨We may hate a man’s beliefs, but we must never hate the man. We may wish to eliminate what he teaches, especially those which destroy absolute visions and values, but we must never wish to eliminate him.

Compassion

Compassion on those in need  – deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. ”Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”

¨The blessings we receive in this life are not meant for our selfish enjoyment, but to enable us to do good to those in need.

¨Failure to do so, as St. James reminds us in the second reading (Jas 5:1-6), is the sign of a hardened heart which will be judged very severely by God.

¨A reminder regarding being rewarded in this life for the compassion we show to those in need is in order though. In this life, in the temporal order of things, a bit of sacrifice may be demanded of us.

Tenacity

Christian tenacity is the quality of tending to hold persistently to Christian teaching and moral principles.

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And if your foot  causes you to sin, cut it off.”

¨What comes to mind here is St. Paul’s metaphor of the Church as a body. It would be good to examine our relationships in general, and even our church relationships in particular.

¨Should there be relationships that oppress us, that leads us away from becoming a better person and a better Christian, or that causes us to “mortally” sin against God, the Gospel prescription is to tactfully sever from these relationships. Why tenacity? Because when you hold on dearly to your Christian teachings and moral principles, that is, to your faith and morals, you’d be demanded to let go of your hold on or “be cut off from” the mundane concerns that  only serve to lead you away from God.  

Tenacity to Christian Principles is the foundation of Christian Sustainability. Without these faith principles, we are only as good as a pagan diplomat.♥

25th Sunday OT-B-September 19, 2021 Creation Season

HUMILITY BREEDING & HUMBLY CARING FOR THE EARTH

Wis 2:12.17-20; Ps 54; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

It All Begins With Humility

             “Many people ask me who my mentors are. One thing in common that they all have is humility. They, knowing that we’re all in the same boat; everyone has challenges; everyone has different gifts; and we’re in this together.

              I have learned that if I ever become a person who feels like I’m better than someone else, is when I start putting barriers up, when I stop becoming less transparent, when I’m not as compassionate, when I’m not as loving and giving.

              You know, more than the goal that I achieve or the success that I have, is who I affect along the way. And to love and impart encouragement to people around me – that always begins with humility.

              To care for someone means you’re not thinking about yourself, you’re thinking about them. The greatest thing to start with when you’re planning for success is to be humble!” – Nick Vujicic

Just what is humility? What does it mean to be humble? Does it mean to put ourselves down? Does it mean to think little of ourselves? Does it mean to deny our true worth, or to belittle it?

Not at all! Humility is something far more profound and far more beautiful than that.

Humility isn’t thinking little of ourselves. It’s not thinking of ourselves at all.

In its most profound and most beautiful sense humility means to be like Jesus, who said, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Matthew 11:29

It means to be like Jesus, who said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:45

Humility means to live as Jesus lived—not for ourselves, but for others. It means to use our talents as Jesus used his—not for ourselves and our own glory, but for others and their needs.

Let me illustrate with an example: Charlie Brown

Charles Schulz made the Peanuts character Charlie Brown a household word. Few people know, however, that Charlie Brown is based on a real person. The real Charlie Brown worked with Schulz in the Bureau of Engraving in Minneapolis.

Eventually both men quit the Bureau. Schulz became a cartoonist. Charlie Brown became a counsellor for convicted juvenile delinquents, often housing them in his own home. Charlie died of cancer in December 1983. After his death a coworker wrote:

“Charlie was my boss for three years at the Detention Centre…. After the kids were in bed, we passed the remaining hours of the evening shift in long conversations.

“Charlie was a devout Roman Catholic…. He saw his own life . .. as the doing of daily works of charity in imitation of Christ and the saints.”[1]

              The coworker went on to say that often the doorbell and the phone at the Detention Centre rang late at night. It was usually some boy asking, “Is Charlie Brown there?”

              The coworker also said that during his stay at the Detention Centre not one young man who lived with Charlie ever returned to prison. And this was one of the reasons why Charlie was frequently asked to give workshops for professions and to lecture on penology and social work at the University of Minnesota.

              Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz remained close friends to the end. Schulz occasionally offered Charlie a share in the profits from some Charlie Brown spin-off, like T-shirts or toys. But Charlie never accepted a dollar. Nor did Charlie ever volunteer to anyone that he was the real Charlie Brown.

              And so to this day, many of the kids who rang the doorbell of the Detention Centre late at night, asking “Is Charlie Brown there?” had no idea whom they were asking for.

              That story is a living example of what Jesus means when he says, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”

              It is a living example of what Jesus means when he says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”

It is a living example of the power and the beauty of the virtue of humility when lived out courageously in a truly Christian life.

              It is a living example of Jesus’ teaching on humble service of the lost, the last and the least, like serving a little child.

Our Earth-saving Mission Reminds us of Humble Service

In Amazonia, researchers have discovered 2,000 year old yet extremely fertile earth. It takes hundreds of years to create the thin fertile layer of earth that sustains us all. Now, this is all at stake. Hidden away in the life beneath our feet is the last chance for our climate. We need to understand the life inside if we are to rescue life outside.

Humus generation is becoming a race against time. Will we grasp humus generation as our climate’s last chance? “And it has been demonstrated that it is really is possible for over 10-15 years to raise carbon levels significantly.” (Dr. Klaus-Kurt Hulsbergen. Technical Univ. of Munich)

“And the entire excess will be outside and our climate problem will be solved.” (Dr. August Raggam, Ecologist)

“Negotiations are going on for the post-2012 period. It would be great if soil management, grassland and cropland management was included.” (David Neil Bird, Researcher)

EPILOGUE: POPE FRANCIS’ LAUDATO SI LETTER

Pope Francis has written a letter addressed to every person on this planet,  asking us all to protect our common home… The Earth.
In the letter he says: “The earth is God’s gift to us,
full of beauty and wonder. And it belongs to everyone.”
But what we see today is that our common home has never been so hurt and mistreated.
We have developed at a greater speed than we could have ever imagined and have treated the earth like it has an unlimited supply of resources.
We have taken more than our fair share from most people on the planet, as well as future generations.
We have cut down the earth’s natural forests, polluted the earth’s waters, its land and its air.
The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.
We are using more and more polluting fossil fuels which is contributing to climate change.
Climate change one of the biggest challenges we face today. Climate change will affect us all, but it will be the poorest communities who will suffer the most.
And despite these problems, we are not slowing down on how much we consume and throw away; leaving a trail of waste and destruction.
We cannot continue like this.
We can change, and we can make a new start.
The whole human family needs to work together to care for our planet earth so that we sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
So let’s put love for the world and love for our neighbours, into action, by living together in harmony, and caring for nature.
Can you take simple everyday eco-actions to care for the earth, like turning off lights, reducing water waste and recycling?
And will you live more simply, reducing the amount of things we buy and throw away, so that we don’t take more than our fair share?
The world can’t wait! So let’s make that start today.
Play your part to protect our common home.
Laudato Si’ – A letter from Pope Francis on Care for our Common Home


[1]   Larry Rasmussen, “The Real Charlie Brown”, The Christian Century (March 21-28, 1984).

24th Sunday OT-B September 12, 2021

CREATION TIME: SUSTAINABILITY & IDENTITY IN CHRIST

I.  KATOLIKONG PINOY IDENTITY

When Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” (cf. Mk 8:27-35) Jesus expected Peter to be above average in his knowledge of Him, i.e., in his determination, faith and in love.

Mas Determinado. More determined.

Just be an ordinary Catholic with extraordinary determination.

Be more determined not to quit and learn to deny oneself some privileges and rights.

“A man is a hero not because he is braver than anyone else, but because he is brave for ten minutes longer.” –R.W. Emerson

Mas Nananalig. More faith.

“The person with extra faith in God, others and oneself will certainly rise above the crowd.”-J.C. Maxwell

Taking up one’s cross is not for those with average faith. A person with average faith thinks not as God does, but as human beings do (Mk 8:33).

Having an above-average faith, you are not only empowered to take up your cross, you will also be light to the path of those who stumble, encouragement to those who faint, relief for those who are heavily laden. Kung ganito ka na, angat ka na sa iba!

Mas Umiibig. More Loving.

Do ordinary things with extraordinary love! St. Francis Xavier said, “Be great in little things.”

This is the final and beginning step to this cycle of excellence: after denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, we follow Christ. Doing so, we grow more in determination, faith and love, and the cycle continues unto perfection.

II. SUSTAINABILITY  CHALLENGE:

SIMPLE LIFESTYLE

Sustainability is recognizing  who we are by recognizing who our master is: Lord, our Life. It is recognizing that what we have does not bring us life.

As His Stewards, nothing really belongs to us by right. We have been set free to live a radical lifestyle.

The Challenge we all face in this age of ecological crisis is to have a commitment to live a simple lifestyle. The next section tells us why a simple lifestyle is preferred now.

 III. SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE:

CO2, OUR LIFESTYLE AND THE EARTH

Carbon is fount in all living things. It is also found in sediments, rocks, the ocean and the air we breathe.

Carbon is exchanged between the oceans, solid earth, biosphere and atmosphere through various natural processes.

The largest exchanges occur between the biosphere and the atmosphere through photosynthesis and decomposition.

Living plants grow by absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. When plants die, bacteria decompose them and return carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

For thousands of years, the processes that added and subtracted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere were in balance.

Since the industrial revolution, however, human society has become increasingly dependent upon machines that release carbon into the atmosphere.

Fossil fuel such as coal, gasoline, oil and natural gas contain high concentrations of carbon that hade been stored in the solid earth for hundreds of millions of years.

When we burn fossil fuel for heat, transportation and electricity, large quantities of carbon that would otherwise remain stored in the solid earth are released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide.

The dependence of human society on fossil fuels leads to a build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

IV.  SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE SOLUTION:

Humus would be a powerful means of carbon storage. Why don’t we talk about the fact that: “The ground stores around twice as much carbon as the entire amounts in the atmosphere.”  (Florian Amlinger, Ecologist)

HUMUS GENERATION

Humus: The Forgotten Climate Aid

The world’s climate does have a chance and it’s right under our feet and yet we’re still destroying it.

In the past, natural processes simply always converts excess CO2 into biomass. Today, that no longer works. Why?

We’re heading for a global catastrophe. What forces stand in the way of the right measures? Agricultural machinery has an enormous influence on soil organisms. Have we followed the wrong path only to incur ever higher costs? “The solution is acutally to be found in a new ecological form of agriculture that creates humus.” (Dr. August Raggam, Ecologist) Could it be that until now we have failed to notice the most important factor for climate: organisms in the soil? What secrets are known to the pre-Columbian farmers? Does this soil actually contain the key to solving world-wide problems?

In Amazonia, researchers have discovered 2,000 year old yet extremely fertile earth. It takes hundreds of years to create the thin fertile layer of earth that sustains us all. Now, this is all at stake. Hidden away in the life beneath our feet is the last chance for our climate. We need to understand the life inside if we are to rescue life outside.

Humus generation is becoming a race against time. Will we grasp humus generation as our climate’s last chance? “And it has been demonstrated that it is really is possible for over 10-15 years to raise carbon levels significantly.” (Dr. Klaus-Kurt Hulsbergen. Technical Univ. of Munich)

“And the entire excess will be outside and our climate problem will be solved.” (Dr. August Raggam, Ecologist)

“Negotiations are going on for the post-2012 period. It would be great if soil management, grassland and cropland management was included.” (David Neil Bird, Researcher)

EPILOGUE: SUSTAINABILITY KEY:

HUMAN IDENTITY AND HUMILITY

Human: “man” related to humus “earth,” on notion of “earthly beings,” as opposed to the gods (cf. Heb. adam “man,” from adamah “ground”).

The key to saving the Earth is our Identity. The key to our Identity is our humanity.  The key to human and divine sustainability is HUMILITY.

Humus Generation is not enough to save the world. Generating a more humane simple lifestyle based on our Identify as God’s Children and Stewards of this Earth is the first step. Humus generation should be a reminder that we are the first humus into whom God breathed His own Spirit of Life and Love. This Identity is the Key to Sustainability.

God Bless You!

23rd Sunday OT B Sept 5, 2021

CREATION TIME: SUSTAINABILITY AND RESTORATION

Restoring the Earth & God’s Handprints

I. RESTORING THE EARTH:

LISTENING TO GOD THROUGH HUMANITY

Sins against Mother Earth

We live on a magnificent planet that provides us with air, water, food and energy.

All that is needed for life to flourish. Yet, vast areas of the planet’s land surface are being deforested or degraded.

Meanwhile, we struggle to reduce our impact on the climate. With the man made  erosion, pollution, and the diminishment of natural resources  by most unnatural means,  we are slowly waking up to the reality of the injustice we  have been doing to the world. We are reaping what we have sown. The garden we were given to live  in as a people, we have failed to tend.  The solemn commitment we made as  a species to steward the fruits of the  earth, we have failed to honor.

Earth Listens: We Reap what we Sow

And yes, the earth listens. She has been listening all her life till she has nothing more to give. Yet, we continue to take her for granted, even while she is  being plundered right in front  of our eyes. And now, many people are in desperate need of food,  water and decent productive livelihoods.

Our Foolish Solution: Depopulation?

But instead of correcting our ways, who do we now blame?  The population? We are poor because the earth cannot sustain us anymore, and because we are so many. Now, instead of re-education, we tend to resort to self-elimination. Instead of choosing restoration, we tend to opt for further destruction, in the hope that our errors may be hidden in the rubbles.

The consequences of our uneducated choices only bring us more devastation. Wendell Berry, a farmer, claims that  “our destruction of nature is not just  bad stewardship, or stupid economics,  or a betrayal of family responsibility;  it is the most horrid blasphemy.”

Restoration of Human Dignity is Restoration of the Earth

√ 1st Reading. Restoration is the theme of the first reading from Isaiah 35, where the promise of restoration  includes the promise of human redemption and healing  that encompasses the whole of  the natural world restored to its original colours.

√ Letter of James. The way to this restoration is hinted by James in the second reading. We need to work for genuine solutions  to the environmental crisis out of love  for the poor. And these solutions do not include any evil depopulation programs. The call to love our  neighbour, indeed, has an environmental dimension.

√ Gospel of Healing Deafness. One key to the way of restoration  is found in the gospel where we hear of Jesus restoring hearing  and speech, by leaving his handprints as it were, on the ears of a deaf man.

√ The key is listening. Yes, the earth listens and cries out in pain through the many people who suffer from the greed of those who call themselves wise. Yes, indeed, the earth listens. But do we listen?

Let us first ask God to touch our hearts and leave his handprints there. Only then can we restore and retrieve the lost beauty of this earth.

II. RESTORING OUR LISTENING SKILLS

OBSTACLES TO LISTENING (Being DEAF / BINGI)

√ Dapat-mentality (Biases)

Many times misunderstandings arise from the different views of what each considers as truth, what is proper, more important, and what “must” be: “Yung dapat.” Letting go of our biases before we enter into dialogue is the first step to Empathic listening.

√ Ego-frame of mind (“I”-biography)

Empathic listening entails listening to another‘s life story or biography not our own. Often, a parent would  say to a son/ daughter: “Pinag-daanan ko rin yan ah. Makinig ka na lang sa akin. I don’t want you to go through what I’ve gone through!” Well-meaning words but not a good welcome to start the listening process! Let go of the “I” and be absorbed by what the “You” has to share.

√ Asar-ka-talaga feeling (Negative feelings)

It’s obviously difficult to listen when you are irritated, angry, or simply in a bad mood. Give your-self  some time. Pa-hupain ang negative feelings. Don’t deny them. Admit them, then let go. In dialogue, they might come back; so, check on them.

Final-na-‘to attitude (Generalizations & Indifference)

Never use threats even if you are in authority. Subtle forms come in generalizations like:“Lagi kang ganyan..”, “You always…”,“You never…”Judgments like these only start the other thinking of a way to defend oneself. Better still, shut up, listen first, then be understood, without judgments. Leave room for imperfections! Avoid when you can ultimatums like “last time na ‘to ha!” Threats and generalizations are subtle forms of indifference: kawalan ng paki-alam sa kabutihan (innate goodness) at kahinaan (weakness) ng iba. Even if you are a parent or a spouse who truly knows the “other”, you still have a “blind” spot. The “other” definitely has a “mystery” spot only God and the “other” know so well. Respect this sacred space if you want to listen.

Don’t even be concerned about listening to the earth when you cannot even listen  to the most important earth-dweller: Human Beings.

Remember, where a human person is, there God is, also. Because human beings are but the environment of God here on earth.

III. RESTORING GOD’S HANDPRINTS

Who are You?

√ Let us check Freddy Footprints’ Garden.  Freddy works with his feet. Feet are clumsy. The flowers are trodden…the trees are bare and the branches are broken. The air is dirty and the pond is full of rubbish.

Now let us check Harry Handprints’ Garden. Seeds had been sown, trees planted…oxygen pumped in for water.

We know about reducing our negative carbon footprint. Do you know the power you hold in your positive handprint?

Sow some seeds, plant a tree, turn a patio into a flower bed…better still, get involved in an eco-restoration project…or start your own!

Give the earth a chance! And watch her grow!  Freddy Footprint or Harry Handprint: WHO ARE YOU? Your clue is this:  Remember, it is your task to restore God’s handprint in His Creation, in your heart and in the world you live in. God bless you!

22nd Sunday Year B – August 29, 2021

Dt 4:1-2.6-8; Ps 15; Jas 1:17- 18.21-22.27; Mk 7:1-8.14-15.21-23

CREATED FOR TRUE WORSHIP

PART 1: CONTACT POINT: WORSHIP

              What is Worship?  Video Clip gives us what worship is to some people. Ikaw, what is Worship for you? Sample responses: “Worship is  breathing  …a lifestyle …anything we do that says to God: You are God!” Here’s a sentence completion test:

Worship for me is….

When I worship, I …

God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and Truth – Jn 4:24

Worship [from Middle English worshipe, worthiness, honor, homage] paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.

There are several DEGREES of HOMAGE:

Latria if homage is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, or worship of adoration, or, according to the consecrated theological term, a worship of latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.

Dulia When homage is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent on the first, and relative, in so far as it honours the creatures of God for their peculiar relations with Him; it is designated by theologians as the worship of dulia, a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our worship of distinguished servants of God, that their service to Him is their title to our veneration (cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and Bouquillon, Tractatus de virtute religionis, I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.).

Hyperdulia As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely super eminent rank among the saints, the honor paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus, 1728).

¨ And then there is SIMPLE HONOR which must be given to all those in honorable positions  as the Pope, the Vicar of Christ (His Holiness), the dignitaries in the Church (Eminences),  the dignitaries in the civil order as kings, governors, judges, police and the like (Excellency, Honorable, etc.)

¨ ABSOLUTE AND RELATIVE HONORS.  When honor is given directly to the person involved, the honor is called absolute.  When it is directed to an image of the person it is called relative honor. To demonstrate this: What is the difference between a Crucifix and the Holy Eucharist?  Answer: On the Crucifix we see Jesus, but he is not there.  In the Eucharist we do not see Jesus, but He is there.  In short, Christ is present relatively on the wood of the crucifix, and in the Eucharist He is present absolutely.  Thus, to images we give relative honor, and to the persons we give absolute honor.

¨A point in order: We give relative adoration (latria) to the images of God.  We give relative super veneration (hyperdulia) to images of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We give relative veneration (dulia) to the images of the angels and Saints (other than the Blessed Virgin Mary). 

PART 2: CONNECTED: WORSHIP AND MISSION

Religion that is pure and undefiled before [our] God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Jas 1:27

Worship when it’s connected to mission. Clearly, worship without Mission does not make sense.

St. James (Jas 1:17- 18.21-22.27) gives us a threefold approach to pure worship.

¨ First and most important is to help the helpless.

Caring for the hurting and hungry, the helpless in the world is pure worship. Mother Teresa, aiding the poorest of-the poor, modeled this category.

We extend our hands in worship when we reach out to the profoundly retarded, the acutely depressed, those burned out or drowned out by drugs and alcohol.

Contact your local Church for  programs for these and many other needy people. As part of the Church we support and share in this special worship.

¨ The second way to worship is to care for widows in their distress.

Widows are not as helpless as orphans, and they’re not all in distress — but many are and need our help. Many widows and widowers need encouragement, advice, and temporary financial assistance.

They need transportation to the store, doctor or to church. Widows have not only lost a spouse; they have lost youthful strength, clear eyesight, hearing, sharpness of mind and mobility of body. They might survive on their own but our out­stretched hands can bring them many beautiful blessings. In doing so, we worship God.

¨ Thirdly, we are to walk through life carefully so that we do not become entangled in the evils of the world

Here a warning is in order: Don’t become so concerned about keeping yourself unspotted by the world that you forget about the orphans and the widows. Whoever and wherever we are, there’s opportunity to put the worship of good works into effect in our own neighborhood.

We should never minimize the profound value of formal worship at church and private prayers at home. But according to St. James, our prayers will get a hearing before God only after we have tried to help the orphans and widows in their distress.

PART 3:  DIALOGUE: WORSHIP AND RELATIONSHIPS

This a Greek short film made in 2007. Father and son are sitting on a bench. Suddenly a sparrow lands across them.

It is very tempting to love Liturgical Worship and forget the Object of our Worship: God. In fact, if God can be taken for granted, how much more can rituals blind us to our neighbours and their needs!

If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 Jn 4:20

Worship is not just reading from the good book! True Worship is not just the Liturgy of the Word! True worship is reading, listening to, and living the Word of God! Worship challenges us to live His Word and apply it in our Relationships. If our Worship does not make us better Christians, does not improve our Interpersonal Relationships, then our Worship, perhaps, does not make sense!

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 ♥

21st Sunday OT-B – August 22, 2021

COMMITMENTS

Jos 24:1-2.15- 17.18; Ps 34; Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6:60-69

You don’t have to understand all the implications of your decision when you choose to follow Jesus. You simply need to respond to his invitation, to make a commitment to follow Christ. Your commitments shape your life more than anything else. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you’re committed to and I’ll tell you what you’ll be in twenty years. We become whatever we’re committed to.

– Rick Warren

KASASIGATAN

Kung titignan po ninyo sa Tagalog-English dictionary o sa Google translate, ang Filipino daw ng Commitment ay pangako. Hmm hindi ako masaya sa ganyang translation kasi there are those who make promises pero wala namang commitment, ‘di ba? Ang nakikitang matingkad na elemento ng commitment ay ang kamalayan (consciousness), sarili (self), ang sigasig (passion) at katapatan (faithfulness).  Kaya gumawa na lang ako ng Filipinong salita para sa commitment: “ka” for kamalayan, “sa” for sarili, “sig” for sigasig and “tan” ang hulapi for katapatan. Ang salita ay kasasigatan for commitment.  To commit oneself sa Filipino ay ikasasigat ang sarili. Ang state of commitment ay kasasigatan.

There are many issues about commitment we can cover but let us just focus on three: The Commitment to Affirm, to Forgive and Love in Anonymity. The heart of today’s readings speaks of committing oneself to serve the Lord (1st reading Jos 24:1-2.15- 17.18), to love as Christ loves ( 2nd reading Eph 5:21-32) and to be an unshakeable witness of Christ, who has the words of eternal life (Gospel Jn 6:60-69).

COMMITMENT means:

Giving all that you have, not more than you have. Being committed does not mean giving what you don’t have. Love as you can, not as you can’t. Commitment requires that you give 100% – not more, certainly not less.

Working with determination, not waiting on destiny. Committed people don’t rely on luck, fate or destiny for their success. They know that trying times are no time to quit trying!

Quitting when the job is done, not when you’re tired. When wrestling a gorilla, you don’t quit when you are tired-you quit when the gorilla is tired! If you want your mission work to succeed, among all other things, you have to keep pushing beyond what you think you can do. It’s not the first but the last step in the relay race, the last shot in the basketball game, the last mile in the cycle race into the finish line that makes the difference, for that is where the game is won.

Remembering that true success is first measured by faithfulness even in anonymity.

THE COMMITMENT TO AFFIRM

We probably are not used to it. I am not very used to it myself. Conversing with people, with friends, with colleagues – sometimes, I realize it after the quick chat. No affirmations ever transpired. That’s okay, I think. Normal. But what is exactly the “norm” or the “rule”? Hmmm Being a person – the norm is to “sound (sonare) through (per) ” – to express, to communicate (to cum +uno, be one with). Kailangan bang maging bolero? (Do you have to be a flatterer?) Of course not. You just have to be fully alive! An affirming person doesn’t even have to open his/ her mouth to affirm. Just being around one, other people get strengthened by their presence! I was so affirmed the moment I touched and kissed the hand of Mother Teresa of Calcutta years ago when she visited us in the Seminary! Such an affirming presence! When I kiss the children and give them a bear hug after every mass, I hope to be an affirming presence too. Affirmation is lived and learned; not necessarily spoken. A smile. An embrace. A pat on the shoulder. A touch of the hand. When kids ask your hand to bless them, that is an opportunity to affirm! You can at least utter, “May God bless you!” Even the deaf affirm by signing “Thank You!” That is the Christian norm I suppose. Where is its source? The Eucharist! Jesus! Who needs to hear you say “I LOVE YOU” today?

THE COMMITMENT TO FORGIVE

I drive an automatic vehicle. Even if I first learned to drive a stick-shift from a driving school, I totally forgot how to drive a stick-shift vehicle. I’d be uncomfortable with it na. Ganun din tayo siguro when it comes to forgiving others.

Our automatic response is not to think about forgiveness at all. Kung darating man doon, medyo later na sa kwento, pag medyo rock-bottom na ang relationship and we can’t handle the reactions anymore, kaya we turn to God. hmmm Normal? Again, not so. The rule is to forgive always, immediately and with joy. Mahirap? Sinabi mo. Siguro kaya tayo nahihirapan kasi hindi natin na re-realize how much God loves and forgives us. Siguro lang naman. Kasi some people still have difficulty forgiving others kahit pinatawad na siya ni Lord sa marami niyang kasalanan. Stubborn? Maybe. One thing is sure, forgiving takes a lot of practice. We are not born with it. Even as we talk about it now, maya-maya, mayroon na namang opportunity to forgive then we shift to automatic mode of lashing back at the person and, worst, kinda getting even, accompanying it even with the “sanest” excuses we can find: like “e papaano siya matututo?” “dapat lang sa kaniya yun, hindi naman ako nagkasala e, siya.” Looking at my high school graduation picture, I had chosen this wonderful quotation for publication in our annual book: “A spoonful of honey catches more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.” hmmm Rings true for always! Gusto mo palang matuto siya? Be the honey of forgiveness. Di ka sanay? You feel like a sissy? Think about it, baka di tayo talaga normal after all.

♥ Let us pray that God may continue to touch hearts to avail of God’s mercy through the sacrament of confession and that priests may be truly approachable and available to dispense of this great grace of Divine Mercy.

THE COMMITMENT TO LOVE

The true test of commitment to love is to love in even in anonymity. Hindi naman pwedeng palaging anonymous yan. Exceptional cases sometimes demand that we remain committed even when no one is looking but God and your angels. Tama rin naman si Rick Warren, we become whatever we’re committed to. You are committed only to work and earning a living? You become functional. You are only committed to mundane activities like building buildings and edifices, kahit ba simbahan pa yan, then you become a stonewall marker. hehehe lapida ba kaya.

Or your commitment is to the Person of God. Then, you become a fully human and fully alive human person! That’s our Omega!

May we be more committed to the Person of Love than just to the idea or concept of love. That we may not end up being epitaphs of greatness through our projects and activities alone, but real human sacraments of a Loving Embracing God. That we may genuinely be committed to love even in anonymity.

♥ Let us pray that all Catholics may be Affirming Presences to others. Syempre, kasama sa prayers na ito, let us also beg the Lord to grant us Full Responsibility for our Words. Let everything we say be reflective of the affirming love of God for us. Hindi ridiculously impossible yun! Just think Teresa of Calcutta or John Paul II!

O paano ba? Kape muna tayo!

Some New Words introduced:

Rehabitation – a prayerful desire to come home to God to be renewed and re-created into a being fully human and live, at peace with one’s own humanity. It is coming home to one’s vision and purpose in life.

Inxsology (in-excess-ology)- the study of God’s excesses and abundance. It looks at Creation under different scientific disciplines:Primatology, Ichthyology, Ornithology,Entomology, Botany and Astronomy.

Pharisitism– is the hypocritical observance of the letter of religious or moral law without regard for the spirit (religious but not spiritual); it is a manipulative behavior that is usually evident in pseudo-“religious” people to compensate for varying degrees of non-acceptance by others.

Eleiosarium– a garden of mercies; may be a flower garden or any garden where one goes to pray for the mercy of God, or where one goes to pray to forgive others; a prayer garden.

Kasasigatan -“ka” for “kamalayan” (consciousness), “sa” for “sarili” (self), “sig” for “sigasig” (passion) and “tan”, the last syllable of “katapatan” (fidelity). Kasasigatan is the Filipino word for commitment.

Solemnity of the Assumption Aug 15, 2021

Assumption

♥ Belief that Mary has been taken up and is now in heaven with   both her body and her soul has been part of the teaching of the Catholic Church since the earliest centuries of Christianity.

♥ By the end of the Middle Ages, belief in Mary’s Assumption into heaven was well established theologically and part of the devotional expressions of the people.

♥ The word Assumption comes from  the Latin verb assumere, meaning  “to take to oneself.” Our Lord Jesus Christ took Mary  home to himself where he is. In the light of a long history of Christian belief since patristic times, in 1950, Pope Pius XII defined Mary’s Assumption into Heaven as a dogma[1] of Roman Catholicism. “The Immaculate Mother of God,  the ever Virgin Mary, having completed  the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.” 

♥ Today, the belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is universal in the East and in the West; according to Benedict XIV (De Festis B.V.M., I, viii, 18) it is a probable opinion, which to deny were impious and blasphemous.[2]

Mother of Life: Guide And Protector Of Life

♥ While the human remains and final resting places of key figures like St Peter or St Paul would become shrines and centres of pilgrimage,  in the case of the Blessed Mother of Jesus –  the most honoured figure of all besides  Our Lord Himself – there is no known final  resting place, no relics to venerate.

♥ But for many Catholics, the most telling verification of the Assumption can be found, not so much in learned theological treatises or definitive doctrinal statements, however necessary these are, but per medium of Mary’s many apparitions which the Church has declared worthy of belief, like Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, and others. [3]

♥ These appearances of Our Lady in a glorified body themselves have lent strong, if indirect, support to the reality of the Assumption. Let us examine, for instance, one of Mary’s apparitions as our Lady of Guadalupe.


[1] Dogma (Gr. dogma from dokein) is a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful. It might be described briefly as a revealed truth defined by the Church. Retrieved July 21, 2007 from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htm

[2] Retrieved July 22, 2007 from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02006b.htm

[3] Retrieved August 2, 2007 from http://secaucusimmaculateconception.com/sacraments-2/messages

19th Sunday OT – B – Aug 8, 2021

The Bread of Life: The Golden Measure

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio is a unique number, approximately 1.618033989. It is also known as the Divine Ratio, the Golden Mean, the Golden Number, Divine Proportion and the Golden Section.

The Fibonacci Sequence of Numbers

The Fibonacci numbers are a unique sequence of integers, starting with 1 (twice), each succeeding number the sequence is the sum of the two preceding ones. So the sequence goes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc. For some mysterious reasons, this sequence of numbers seems to appear in a wide variety of places in the natural world.

The Fibonacci Sequence is an infinite sequence, which means it goes on forever, and as it develops, the ratio of the consecutive terms converges (becomes closer) to the Golden Ratio, ~1.618. For example, to find the ratio of any two successive numbers, take the latter number and divide by the former. So, we will have: 1/1=1, 2/1=2, 3/2=1.5, 5/3=1.66, 8/5=1.6, 13/8=1.625, 21/13=1.615.

In the Arts

Prevalent in the major works of Leonardo Da Vinci and underlying many of his design compositions, is the Golden Ratio. Another artist who deliberately used the golden ratio is the surrealist Salvador Dali.

In nature and the Human Body

The ancients believe these numbers were sacred. And that might have been because the same proportions can be found in nature.

One of nature’s most exquisite forms is the simple curved shell of the Nautilus. Like so much of nature, the beauty of this shape can also be explained with an equation. If you take a series of squares whose sides correspond to numbers in the Fibonacci sequence, you can construct a logarithmic spiral. A curve that corresponds to the shape of the Nautilus shell.

At an average of 100,000 light years across, even the spirals of the galaxies above us are formed with the exact design that the tiny shells form.

The human body proportioned according to the Golden Ratio is also taken as the basis in the Neufert, one of the most important reference books of modern day architects. The ideal proportional relations that are suggested as existing among various parts of the average human body and that approximately meet the Golden ratio values can be set out in a general plan. The first example of the Golden Ratio in the average human body is that when the distance between the navel and the foot is taken as one unit the height of the human being is equivalent to 1.618. Other examples are shown in the clip.

However, it may not always be possible to use a ruler and find this ratio all over people’s faces because it applies to the idealized human form on which scientists and artists agree.

The DNA molecule in which all the physical features of living things are stored. DNA consists of two intertwined perpendicular helixes. The length of the curve in each of these helixes is 34 angstroms and the width, 21 angstroms. 21 and 34 are  two consecutive Fibonacci numbers.

God’s Fingerprint

This sequence appears to be the trademark of a designer – a proof of a Creator – something left behind, indicating the One who was there- a fingerprint, if you may, of God. Even Michelangelo’s “Creation” falls within this so-called “Divine Proportions”- a good nexus for us.

This golden measure in the sciences and the arts brings us to the core of life: rational relationships. Ratio after all is reason and relationship.

The Divine Ratio (1:1)

♥ Let us consider Psalm 34 of today’s readings. I will bless the Lord at all times; let my soul glory in the Lord; I sought the Lord, and he answered me; Taste and see how good the Lord is. Blessed the man who takes refuge in Him.

♥ This is a thanksgiving psalm spoken in the 1st person point of view. It speaks from: I, me, my, and the singular man. And it speaks of the very personal senses of seeing and tasting.

Then we consider Jesus’ proclamation in today’s Gospel (Jn 6:41-51) Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. ( Jn 6:47 )

♥ Again, Jesus’ invitation is directed to whoever, singular and personal, albeit universal and general.

♥ The golden ratio formulated in numbers found in all of nature, albeit a fascinating and astonishing trivia, if at all true, is nothing compared to this Divine Ratio or Relationship that is certainly real.

The divine ratio, the divine ratio of Christian life, the divine measure is: one is to one (1:1).

♥ Just as we are all connected through the golden ratio in the material world, so must we be truly connected to God – not through material numbers and formulas, not through impersonal means and functions, but through Personal Relationship.

♥ The simple point of this lesson is:

Let each of us have, for every human person, a personal relationship with a loving personal eternal God – a One to One Relationship with God.

Q: How Do We Start Living By This Golden Divine Measure?  A: By Imitation

♥ The first step to living up to this measure is given by Paul in today’s 2nd reading (Eph 4:30-5:2): by imitation.

Eph 5:1-2 – So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love…

Just survey Paul’s theology of imitation:

✠1 Cor 4:16 Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me…

✠1 Cor 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ…

✠Phil 3:17 Join with others in being imitators of me…

✠1 Thes 1:6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…

✠1 Thes 2:14 For you have become imitators of the churches…

✠2 Thes 3:7 For you know how one must imitate us.

✠2 Thes 3:9 we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.

♥ And other scripture passages too:

✠ Heb 6:12  so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

✠ Heb 13:7 Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

✠ 3  Jn 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.

The Bread of Life is the True Golden Measure

♥ Eucharist: Love without Measure.

What more could Jesus have done for us? Truly, in the Eucharist, He shows us a love which goes “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1), a love which knows no measure. (JPII, Ecclesia de Eucharistia,6)

Eucharist: Measure of Faith.

The measure of our Faith is our belief that Jesus Christ is now on earth in the Holy Eucharist. In the measure that we believe in His Real Presence, He will teach us the truth, and work miracles in our favor. Our relationship to Jesus in the Eucharist is the measure of the validity of our Catholic faith.

Eucharist: the Measure of Hope.

The measure of our Hope is in how we live the teachings of Christ (kerygma) and the shared life (koinonia) to be instruments of hope to others.

Challenges:

1) Do you have a One to One Relationship with God that goes beyond the math of how many times you received holy communion?

2) Are all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling removed from you, along with all malice (Eph 4:31)?

3)  Are you kind, compassionate, forgiving as God has forgiven you in Christ (Eph 4:32)?

God bless you!

Anima Christi (Arboleda)

18th Sunday, Ord. Time – B, August 1, 2021

BREAD OF LIFE: JESUS’ CONTENTMENT DARE

Ex 16:2-4.12-15; Ps 78;Eph 4:17. 20-24; Jn 6:24-35

A FABLE ON CONTENTMENT

I would like to share with you a popular Hindu parable which I learned when I was still new in the seminary. This parable is about a stone-cutter who was working on a piece of stone in the fields and he was sweating it out, trying to get a piece of stone from a big boulder.  And then a king passed by. The stone cutter thought to himself, “Oh how I wish I were a King!” The Lord answered His prayers. And from being a stone­cutter this man was transformed into a King!

He was soon dressed like a King. And as he was moving around his kingdom, it was very warm because the sun was scorching hot. He realized that even if he was already a powerful king, he could not do anything about the sun! So he told God, “Lord, I don’t want to be King anymore! It seems the sun is more powerful than a King, I want to be a sun!” So he became the sun. Very Hot! And he was making everybody perspire! Until one day, clouds passed by and overpowered the heat of the sun.

              So this man said, “Lord, I don’t want to be a sun anymore; make me into clouds, because it seems that the clouds are more powerful than the sun!” So the clouds were sailing theskies very gracefully, and beautifully; until they became very heavy. The clouds became water; and the clouds became rain! So he thought that he was still very powerful because there was a big flood on earth. Until he saw that there was still something that was left unmoved in spite of the great floods he has caused! And it was a piece of stone.

              Then he said, “It seems that the stone is more powerful than the rain, the water, and the flood! Lord, I want to be a big stone.” And after he became a big stone, he saw that there was a stone cutter who was more powerful than the stone. So he said, “Lord, I don’t want to be a stone anymore, I just want to be a stone-cutter.”

We can have plenty of reasons to be discontented. We can have plenty of reasons to complain. We will not run out of reasons to complain. But let me tell you, if we have ten ‘ reasons to complain, there are certainly more than a hundred reasons to be grateful. And yet we are people who love to complain. And yet we are a people who always tend to neglect appreciating the good in each other.

The Jews were not very far from that. The Jews were fed, five thousand men of them, by the Lord. And they admired the Lord for performing such a wonderful miracle. And then, they were starting to recognize that there was something special about this Jesus! Their typical Jewish rabbis, teachers and preachers were not doing the things Jesus was doing. And so they told Jesus, “You know, if you are really the Messiah, Moses gave us mannah in the desert. If you are the Messiah, you should give us mannah also; because that is the sign of the messiah!”

The Lord said, “I am the bread come down from heaven. I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me shall not thirst.” But what did the Jews say, “NO! We know your family; we know where you come from. You cannot be the messiah! We don’t believe in you!”

The Jews chose to be discontented rather than see the wonderful signs the Lord has done for them. Would it not be true that we complain too much. We see faults in each other too much. We see faults in our friends too much, that we forget that we have been blessed that, we forget that we have more reasons to be grateful, to be thankful to God for.

Have you ever seen a carabao? In the Philippines, many of our farmers still use carabaos for their farming. Of course we don’t see carabaos in the city. I grew up in a city so I don’t know much about carabaos. But a priest friend who has spent his childhood in the rural fields, his father being a farmer, told me something special about their carabaos. They  had two carabaos which they kept at the back of their farm­house. To keep their carabaos within the limits of their property, his father set up barbed-wire fences around. The carabaos had more than enough green grasses to eat within their back yard. This friend of mine told me that every morning he would always see these two carabaos sticking their head out between the barbed-wire fences. Trying to eat the grass outside the yard. The grass looks always greener at the other side of the fence.

There is always a temptation even for us human beings to think that “others are better than I am;” “others are more fortunate than I am;” that “God loves them more than He loves me;” “they have all the blessings in the world while I have all the reasons to complain.”

We have a strong message from St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians in the second reading. He says: “I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that the pagans live. You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self which gets corrupted by following illusory desires.” What St. Paul is trying to tell us is that: it is our illusory desires that make us want to complain. And again, all these illusions are but caused by our short-sightedness. The closer we are to being blind, the greater is our desire for visual, material, physical signs.

And the good news is that God recognizes this short-sigh­tedness. You want a more visible sign? You want a more physical sign? I give you my son, in flesh and blood! BUT like the Jews in the time of Jesus, all our illusory desires have kept us blind to the very person of Jesus Himself!

Jesus repeats the good news for us in the gospel this Sunday: “Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures.” And what Jesus is saying can be summed up in a single sentence: The human heart has a hunger and thirst that nothing on earth can satisfy.

It’s a lesson that we must learn, if we are ever to find true happiness. Fame and fortune, all the wealth in this material world, promise to fill the void, the hole, the emptiness in the human heart.  But in the end they leave the heart more hungry, more thirsty, more short-sighted, and ever more complaining, than it was before!

Let us pray for the grace to overcome our persistence in complaining, in fault-finding, in being unhappy with our situation. At the same time let us ask the Lord for the grace to think positively, for the grace to see the reasons why we should be happy and why we should be grateful, let us ask God to open our eyes to the blessings we have received and to the blessings we still fail to see because we are a people who love to grumble, we are a people who love to complain.

Jesus dares us to live in contentment –  content with the fact the we have Him, the Bread of Life. He alone suffices!

GOD BLESS YOU WITH CONTENTMENT!

♥ NOW AVAILABLE! Catholic Manual & Handbook on Liberation & Exorcism (Vols. 1 & 2) in Filipino-Fr. Nonnette Legaspi

Alamin kung paano ka matutulungan ng mga dalangin ng Simbahang Katoliko upang makalaya sa paniniil ng mga masasamang espiritu. Ang Manual ay gabay sa pagkilatis ng mga nangbubuyong espiritu sa buhay ng tao. Ang Handbook ay koleksyon ng mga dalanging maaaring dasalin ng mga Layko, Obispo at Pari. Every Catholic home & institution should have this set!