2nd Sunday of Advent- December 5, 2021

GOD’S CHISEL: WE ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE

♥ The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh produced 2,000 paintings and drawings before he died in 1890. He sold only one of them, “The Red Vineyard,”which he painted in 1888. And he sold it for 40 Francs, or roughly $85. Van Gogh died, believing he was a failure.

♥Yet, recently, one of his paintings sold for 134.6 million U.S. dollars. This most expensive painting is the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” (1890). Van Gogh never knew what a great artist he really was. He suffered from anxiety, and increasingly, frequent bouts of mental illness, throughout his life & died largely unknown at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

♥ What is true of Van Gogh is also true of many of us Christians. Few of us really appreciate in this life the greatness of our calling. Few of us really appreciate that each of us is  a work in progress in the very hands of God.

♥That is why the apostle Paul expresses in his letter to the Philippians, “I am confident of this, that the One Who began a good work in you will continue to complete it, until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

You and I, are God’s masterpieces. It is up to us, to help God’s hands in smoothing, chiselling and making straight the paths of imperfections we have often chosen.

♥Remember, we have been called by God out of darkness, into his own wonderful light. How well do we appreciate the great gift that God has lavished upon us? You are more than a Van Gogh. You are God’s Masterpiece.

FIVE STEPS TO ALLOW GOD’S CHISEL UNTO THE MASTERPIECE THAT WE ARE

1. CHOOSE

Choose Relationship areas in your life where there are the most presence of rough edges. (Jesus-Others-Yourself)

2. IDENTIFY

Identify particular attitudes, emotions, reactions that need to be addressed.

3. STRATEGIZE

Strategize (draw up a plan of action) about concretely smoothing these rough edges.

4. ENVISION

Envision (picture in your mind and heart WHO you SHOULD BE guided by your Strategy.

5. LIFT & LIVE.

Lift these master plan of action up to the Hands of God in Prayer & LIVE IT!

YOU ARE GODS MASTERPIECE

(ABRIDGED) SKIT GUYS

Text:

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship, in essence His masterpiece. Now I don’t know about you, but when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror I don’t see a masterpiece. Maybe a Picasso. 

But I want to be a masterpiece.I want to  be everything that God has created me to be. And so I go to Him and I say, “God, do whatever it takes to get things out of my life that don’t need to be there. Mold me into the image of your Son so that I can be your masterpiece.”

God: “Hi!”

Tommy: Whoa. Who are you?

I’m God.

Tommy: No you’re not.

Yeah, I am. You said the prayer so here I am. That’s how it works. Step right up. (He prepares to begin chiseling)

Tommy: Hey, what’s this about? (referring to the hammer and chisel)

These are the tools I’m going to use to make you to my original masterpiece.

Tommy: Oh. Okay. Hang on! Yeah?

Tommy: I thought you were a carpenter.

That’s my son. Step right up. Here we go.

Tommy: Whoa, whoa, whoa. How do you know what to chisel and what to leave?

I take out all the things in your life that aren’t of me…kind of like dead weight.

Here we go. You have a lot of ANGER and some PRIDE, you COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS instead of Me…you’re LAZY but you PRETEND like you’re really, really busy… you have a problem with LUST…you’ve been holding on this for a long time.

Tommy: It hurts!

It hurts Me more than it hurts you!

Tommy: Ow…i don’t think you understand this pain!

Don’t talk to me about pain and all about pain. I sent my Son to die on the cross for pain, for sin. But i also did it for another reason: to give you freedom.

Do you know what insanity is? Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over and over again and expecting different results. And they are the things in your life, when you think back to high school, that you’ve been doing that do not work in your life but you go into these empty wells…whenever you’re hurting, angry, lonely and tired…but they DO NOT WORK…

Tommy: Okay…chisel away…just be prepared for what you’re gonna find in there…‘cause I know who’s inside there… ‘cause, God, I get up every morning and look him in the mirror. And it is this…this scared little kid who gets up every day and tries to dress like and adult and act like an adult but CAN’T! So, just be prepared for what you’re gonna find in there!

You’ve listened to so many voices for far too long that are not of Me. You think you’re JUNK, don’t you? You really, really, really think you’re junk! Listen to Me. I don’t make junk. What does that say about Me? Don’t compare yourself to someone else because that just trivial nonsense. You are My ORIGINAL MASTERPIECE. You are one of my workmanship. In you I find favour. This, don’t look at this as a prison. But look at this as a Father disciplining His child. A Father disciplines the ones He loves.

Tommy: I know, but it’s gonna be tough.

Yes, it will be tough. But you bought into the lie by thinking everything’s gonna be easy when you said YES to Me. That’s not how it works. I want you to do something…I want you to look out there and I want you to say, “Tommy is God’s Original Masterpiece.”

“Tommy….” No, no, no. The WAY I SEE YOU!

“TOMMY IS GOD’S ORIGINAL MASTERPIECE.”

YES YOU ARE!

So are YOU! GOD does not make junk. YOU ARE AN ORIGINAL MASTERPIECE.

God bless you!

1st Sunday-Advent-C-November 28, 2021

AN ADVENT CAMPAIGN

In New South Wales, Australia, there is a long running road safety campaign called STOP, REVIVE, SURVIVE.

The campaign urges drivers who have a long journey ahead of them to stop every 2 hours for a short break – whether it’s to have a coffee and something to eat or to walk about and stretch their legs. The awareness campaign gives info on microsleep. 

MICRO SLEEP

A micro sleep is an episode of sleep which may last for a fraction of a second or up to thirty seconds. Often, it is the result of sleep deprivation, mental fatigue, sleep apnea, hypoxia, narcolepsy, or hypersomnia. Micro sleeps can occur at any time, typically without significant warning.

♥The point of the road campaign is to reduce incidences of road drivers slipping into micro sleeps & the number of deaths on the road, particularly during major holiday periods when just about everyone packs up and jumps in the car to go somewhere.

♥The point of this advent campaign, is to reduce the number of spiritual deaths, on the road to holiness, particularly, during the Christmas season, when just about everyone, would be tempted to be concerned about the least of Christmas concerns, material things.

Let us adapt this Campaign, Stop, Revive, Survive, and call it an Advent Campaign. This campaign is based on today’s Gospel from Luke.

STOP.

But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28)

♥Some department stores even pray the angelus at noon time and in the evening, putting a halt, to all business and worldly transactions, to simply say “Thank you, Lord!”

That is what it means to stop. Sometimes, when stopping is not physically possible, slowing down is already a big help.

♥Is this not possible, too, for us Christians? To slow down or to stop every two hours, to simply “raise our heads” by bowing down to the Author of life and of time?

REVIVE.

♥This condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness or E.D.S.,  in which a person, experiences extreme fatigue, and possibly falls asleep, at inappropriate times, such as while at work, or at school.

♥Physical and mental fatigue are doors that lead to microsleeps. Yes, they can affect our spirits, too. Tell tale signs of spiritual micro slips into microsleeps may include,

√little outbursts of sarcasm toward another person,

√fleeting bad thoughts & wishes for persons we dislike

√mentally cursing a person

√non-verbal indifference

√many other symptoms we can identify within our consciences.

♥Do you have these signs of spiritual microsleeps? Don’t worry, we all have them. Let us Rest a while.

Jesus reminds us, Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)

He exhorts us, Beware that your hearts, do not become drowsy, from the anxieties of daily life. (Luke 21:34)

Remember Hachiko’s story? Hachiko was an Akita dog  who had gained the honor of the Japanese people because for close to 10 yrs. He waited faithfully for his master, Prof Eizaburo at the train station, as he was in the habit of doing.

♥Indeed, to revive is to re-commit ourselves, to faithfulness, despite the anxieties of daily life. Faithfully and productively, watching and awaiting the Master’s return, without slipping into any spiritual microsleeps.

♥But having died from a stroke while in the University, the master never arrived. Hachiko waited and waited faithfully till he died.

SURVIVE.

♥ through PRAYER.

In today’s gospel, Jesus exhorts us, to Be vigilant at all times, and pray that you have the strength, to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man. (Lk 21:36)

In other words, Jesus gives us a formula for surviving through our widowing time: PRAYER.

He reminds us now, that if only we can stop at different moments during the day, and revive our drooping spirits, through connectedness to Him in prayer, we will survive all our trials and tribulations.

A famous saying goes: He who has the WHY to live for, can survive almost any HOW. (adapted)

BLESSING OF ADVENT WREATH

Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples. He is the wisdom, that teaches and guides us. He is the Savior, of every nation.

   Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light, be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.

   May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

34th Sunday OT-B  Nov. 21, 2021

SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING:

TESTIFYING TO THE TRUTH

PART 1: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Celebration of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Pius XI and the rest of the  Christian world witnessed  the rise of dictatorships in Europe and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. The Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and  the Church was diminishing. These problems have not vanished but instead have worsened. Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. These effects include:

1. That nations would see that the Church  has the right to freedom  and immunity from the state.

2. That leaders and nations would see that  they are bound to give respect to Christ.

3. That the faithful would gain strength  and courage from the celebration of the feast & be reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and body.

PART 2: TESTIFYING TO THE TRUTH

“ For this I was born, and for this, I came into the world, to testify to the truth, Everyone who belongs to the truth, listens to my voice.” Jn 18:37

Jesus tells us what it means to belong to the truth, that is, to listen to His voice. This means that we are to become instruments of:

1. TRUST.

This is about Faith. Jesus invites us to be instruments of trust. Trust is one component of faith. Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov 3:5).

One who trusts the Lord from the heart should

♥ detest false testimonies and misconduct,

♥ should live in the truth and not hide in hypocrisy, 

♥ should prove oneself as worthy of trust  in small and big things.

Jesus is our security, promising peace to those who put their trust Him. In other words, God promises peace to those who embrace a truthful life.

2. RECONCILIATION.

This is about Relationships and Healing. Jesus invites us to be instruments of forgiveness and healing.

“whoever is in Christ, is a new creation. He says that this gift of being created anew is from God, who has reconciled us to himself, through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-18)

♥ Let us bring to others the forgiving love of God.

♥ Let us be forgiving.

♥ Let us also encourage others to be forgiving.

♥ Let us remember that only love renews all things.

3. UNIVERSALITY.  

This is about Vision.

♥ The word Catholic is derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal”. It was used as early as the time of Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 a.d.), a contemporary of the apostle John, and was later used in 325 a.d. as  a binding term within the Nicene Creed, which has been recognized by all Christian churches throughout the world and throughout history.

♥ Thus, a Christian Catholic is guided by Godly principles that apply to all, at all times.

♥ Universality is also about seeing and living the Big Picture. It is thinking globally, and acting locally.

♥ And, as we already know, the first condition needed to see the big picture is Light of God.It will not be possible to see the whole picture of God’s universal role in our lives if we continue to live in the darkness of sin.

♥ Expose these dark areas to the Divine Light of God’s Mercy through remembering, repentance and reconciliation.

♥ For unless we see the big picture, we will be unable to see where there’s a missing piece, and the roles that God and our attitude play in the big game of life.

♥ Do you see the Catholic picture? Do you see the Whole Universal picture of your place in God’s plan? Are you really still catholic in your faith, hope and love?

4. TOUCH OF GOD.

This is about Love.

Jesus invites us to be His very own hands and heart.

We can only be the instruments of the Master’s touch if we have allowed ourselves to be touched by His love. 

♥ Jesus, after his tassel on his cloak was touched by a sick woman, asked, “Who touched me?” (LK 8:45)

Jesus still asks us the same question, Who among you has ever touched me with so much faith and love?

We also become instruments of His Touch when we think of the people who have moved us to deeper faith and more genuine love. Love them back and pray for them.

♥ Is there anyone we know whom God has touched positively in an emotional, intellectual and spiritual way recently through you? Let us Pray for them.

5. HEAVEN.

This is about Hope.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John, In my Father’s house there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. (Jn 14:2).

Jesus invites us to be instruments of Hope to this world, now going through its widowing time.

WAYS OF BEING BRINGERS OF HOPE

CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY

1. Feed the hungry

2. Give drink to the thirsty

3. Clothe the naked

4. Shelter the homeless

5. Visit the sick

6. Visit those in prison

7. Bury the dead

SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY

1. Convert the sinner

2. Instruct the ignorant

3. Counsel the doubtful

4. Comfort the sorrowful

5. Bear wrongs patiently

6. Forgive injuries

7. Pray for the living and the dead

These are based on the teaching of Christ and on Church practice since apostolic times. There are, indeed, many roads to being a sacrament of hope to others.

EPILOGUE

In summary, how do we testify or live the Truth?

By being instruments of:

TRUST ( FAITH)

RECONCILIATION(RELATIONSHIPS AND HEALING)

UNIVERSALITY (GOD’S VISION FOR HUMANITY)

TOUCH OF GOD (GODLY LOVE AND SERVICE)

HEAVEN (HOPE)

HAPPY FEAST DAY!♥

33rd Sunday in OT –B,  Nov. 14, 2021

YOUR GRAB-BAG FOR THE BIG ONE

How do you think the world will end?

One World with So Many Endings?

Did you know? The earliest prediction of the end of the world at least after the Resurrection of Christ (33 A.D.) was in 66-70AD by Simon bar Giora, an Essene sect member who saw the Jewish revolt vs. the Romans as the end-time battle before the arrival of the Messiah. Of course, it’s 2,015 years after that first prediction, the Jews are still waiting for their Messiah. Now, for the mean time,  in between 70-2015 A.D., there had been 155 dates predicted as the end of the world by 169 false prophets each one having some committed followers and believers. The most prominent of these false predictions was from the ancient Mayan calendar predicting the Earth’s end on December 21, 2012 – made famous by a movie. But, did you know that the latest prediction was last October 7, 2015? This was made by Chris McCann of the eBible fellowship group. The date was chosen because it is 1600 days after Harold Camping’s (another false prophet) date of May 21, 2011. McCann said that there was “a strong likelihood that this will happen” and “an unlikely possibility that it will not.”  Obviously a false one, since you are reading this. But there are more future predictions of the end of the world, the soonest will be in 2020 by the seer Jeane Dixon. Next in line will be in 2021 by F. Kenton Beshore who places the Second Coming of Jesus between 2018 and 2028 and the Rapture by 2021  at the latest. By the way, the prophesying passion is not exclusive to Christians. Various Muslim prophets predict 2120, 2129 & 2228 as ends of the world. These dates and data are from Wikipedia.

But it’s interesting to note that in the Library of Date Setters of The End of the World, an internet site, there are more than 200 predictions, of the actual years and days of the end of the world documented. And then, there is science prophesying too!

The Science Story

What does science tell us about December 21, 2012, for example, as the End of the World? Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, debunked this science fiction hype and says it’s Hollywood science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “It turns out if you go to Dec. 21 and look at the star charts it’s true! The center of the galaxy, the sun & the earth, will come into perfect alignment. It will! It’s true. It’s true! What the site does not tell you is that happens every year on Dec. 21st. They left that out of the account! So, it’s a fun work of fiction. Earth will be here before, during and after 2012.” In fact, various scientists prophesy that the earth will still be around for the next 5 billion years.

There you have it. After hearing that view, though, I hope it does not encourage us to be lax and less mindful of the truth about earthly life, that is, that it is temporary. And we must always be ready.

Our Journey Story

On a happier and more spiritual perspective, let us reflect on our lives as we journey toward the end times.

We have spoken about our lunch boxes, we have referred to the contents of our backpacks. Let us now talk about our survival kit for the end times.

This is a kind of “object lesson” for all us so we can easily relate the spiritual lessons to real day-to-day present objects, and not to some ancient concepts or futuristic hypothetical situations.

What should be in our SURVIVAL KIT, our GRAB BAG,  to face the real end times. Here are the Items we need:

1. TOOTHPICK. This is to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others. “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

2. RUBBER BAND. This is to remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it will work out. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

3. BAND AID. This strip is to remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else’s. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. (Col. 3:12-14)

4. PENCIL. This is to remind you to list your blessings everyday. (Eph.1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.

5.  ERASER. This is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to make mistakes. Also, to remind you to come to confessions, to receive God loving mercy.

6. CHEWING GUM.

Chewing_Gum1.jpgThis is to remind you to stick with God always, immediately and with joy and you can accomplish anything. (Phil 4:13) I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

7. RING.  This is to remind you that you are a Godly committed person!   (Jn 3:16-17) For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

8. GUMMY BEAR KISS CANDY.  This is to remind you that everyone needs a kiss or a hug everyday. (1 John 4:7) Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

9. TEA BAG.  This is to remind you to relax daily and go over that list of blessings. (1 Thes 5:18) In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

10.  MP3 PLAYER. Meditation and Prayer to the 3rinity. “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Ps 119:97

11. e-CHARGERIf you haven’t known yet: another Pinoy creativity! The Solar Rattan Day-Pack. It’s a solar powered indigenous rattan backpack, called “pasiking,” to charge your phones, ipad and other gadgets and light your path! The solar e-charger pack is hand made in the ancestral traditions of Barlig and Sagada, Coordilleras, Philippines.

Don’t forget!! Our e-Charger is the Eucharist! The Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission from the Eucharist. (cf 22, Ecclesia De Eucharistia, JPII)

—————————–

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Mt 13:32

Remember, let us keep our grab-bag survival kits ready as we journey to our end times. You’ll never know when the Big One would come!

God bless you!♥

32nd Sunday in OT-B, Nov 7, 2021

THE HEART OF GIVING

Part I. WHAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT

♥ NOT about the WHAT, the HOW MUCH, & the FROM WHOM of the Gift.

1.  This is not about the Widow’s example of giving “all she had, her whole livelihood.” The widow, giving her last penny, is not our model of giving.

2. This is not about the amounts of the gift given. This is not about the large sums given by the wealthy versus the two small coins or the “two cents worth” of donation given by the widow. God is not concerned about the amounts given.

This is not about the issue of where the gifts come from,  that is, from the surplus of the rich versus the gifts from the poor. God is not concerned whether the gifts come from those who have or from those who have not or those who have little.

Part II.  WHAT THIS IS ABOUT

1. It is about The WHY and the WHEN of the giving.

♥On WHY or the intention of the giving, we should note that the gospel episode is a condemnation of the givers, who believe they can give lengthy prayers or material donations to God, to please Him even if they devour the houses of “the widows,” that is, even if they continue to do evil. It is a subtle yet pointed attack, on the hypocrisy of worshipping God, despite evil and unjust behavior.

♥As to the WHEN of the giving, note that the woman gave at a time in her life when she was a widow – that is, at a time when she was of great want. And having lost her husband, this was not just material want, it was also social, emotional and spiritual in nature.

2. It is also ABOUT OUR LIVING &  GIVING.

Having said these, who among us is not in need? Who among us have not gone through our personal “widowing time”? Who among us has not experienced the loss of a loved one, the need for material means to live from day to day for our family, the need for social justice, and the need for God’s love and blessings.

♥ Indeed, we all go through what we may call the widow’s time. Man or woman, boy or girl, we all share this widow’s time, so to speak. And it is in this widowing time of our lives when our giving can truly glorify God.

Part III. HEART OF GIVING:

STEPS TO GLORIFY GOD BY GIVING

1. GIVE GROUND to God. Yield to God’s power. Let God be God in your life. A saying goes, “Keep things in your hands and lose them all. Surrender them to God’s hands and possess all.”

2. GIVE OVER your sins to God. Entrust yourself to God’s loving mercy. Let go of selfishness & pride. Do you reconcile with God through the Sacrament of Confession? Please do. Do this giving frequently.

3. GIVE UP old attitudes and habits that give opportunities to evil.  Remember, God judges what we give by what we keep. We can’t give to God and keep our sinful ways at the same time.

4. GIVE IN to inclinations to do good. Recognize, listen and amplify your  good promptings. There’s a heroic giver inside you, yes, even though you are going through your widowing phase in life.

FORGIVE. Let go of stumbling blocks to healing & joy.

 6. GIVE OF YOURSELF to the service of God and others. Devote your time, talents & treasures to bettering your relations with God through a life of service. Mother Teresa of Calcutta reminds us. If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving at all.

7. GIVE A GOOD ACCOUNT of yourself. Behave creditably as a Christian Catholic. Witness to your noble identity.

8. GIVE BACK your blessings to God. Be a responsible steward.

9. GIVE THANKS. Be the Eucharist to the world. Be thankful. Be a cause of thanksgiving to God for others.

Remember, when you glorify God by giving, a miracle happens.

God bless you! ♥

31st  Sunday -OT-B October 31, 2021

EMPATHIC LISTENING

5 LEVELS OF LISTENING

1. Ignoring Level. Often a problem because of lack of concentration, attention, compounded by the presence of real or imagined distractions. Usually, the eye movements give this away with the listener glancing somewhere else not because one is listening but because one is not paying attention. A funny t-shirt print says it loudly: I am not deaf. I am ignoring you!

2. Pretending to Listen Level. In this instance, we are giving  eye contact. Our non-verbal signals say we are listening, but we’re really not. Often, we blame our “failing memory”  as the culprit. True, sometimes. But also, it may be good to check whether we’re listening or simply pretending to listen.

3. Selective Listening Level. In this level, you pick out only what is pleasant or what you agree with, or the opposite, depending on what you need, and therefore what you pay attention to. In the context of working relationships, for example, you may receive affirmations and corrections from your caring boss. While the affirmations are spoken, you are very attentive. But the moment the “corrections” come up, that’s when you do your selective listening. So you  are not nearly as attentive and you are not nearly as attuned to what your boss is saying. Such that in the end of the meeting, all that matters to you are the “corrections.” You see examples of this in many of those who did not make it in the American idol auditions. Usual reactions of those turned down highlight the “criticisms” they received and not the “affirmations.”

4. Attentive Listening. It’s giving the person our attention. It’s trying to catch what they say.

5. Empathic/ Active Listening. This means that you go beyond the words that are spoken. We try to get the feelings. Peter Drucker said, “Real communication is when we learn to find the meaning between the words.  This is the toughest form of listening, because it demands a lot of discipline.

Where are you in this scale of listening? We are invited by God to move towards empathic listening, because this is the first condition of genuine loving.

EMPATHIC / ACTIVE LISTENING

This is the Chinese symbol for ‘to listen’. The left side of the symbol represents an ear. The right side represents the eyes and undivided attention and underneath this there is the heart. The Chinese believe that you need to use your eyes, ears and heart, and give undivided attention to really listen to what is being said to you.

This symbol tells us that to listen we must use both ears, watch and maintain eye contact, give undivided attention, and finally be empathetic.  In other words we must engage in active listening!

  Active listening is a skill taught to teachers and police officers, counselors, ministers, rabbis and priests. It is a skill we would all do better having learned, practiced. To begin being an active listener we must first understand the four rules of active listening.

Dan Wilkins,  a person with disability and a disabilities advocate explains the Chinese kanji, termed as Ting. He says, 

“What does it mean to listen? In our fast-paced ‘drive-thru’ cost-cutting downsizing gameboy world, the Chinese kanji, ‘Ting’, representing the verb ‘to listen’, is significant in that it explains the difference between simply hearing and truly listening. By integrating representations of not only our ears but of our eyes, our heart, and the selfless act of undivided attention, the Chinese have truly captured the essence of listening.”

THE FOUR RULES OF ACTIVE LISTENING

♥ 1. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE SEEKING TO BE UNDERSTOOD.

When we seek to understand rather than be understood, our modus operandi will be to listen. Often, when we enter into conversation, our goal is to be better understood.

We can be better understood, if first we better understand.

We have to listen to the other from the frame of reference of the other – not our own. BUT we need to be emotionally strongto do this.

♥ 2. BE NON JUDGMENTAL.

Empathetic listening demonstrates a high degree of emotional intelligence. There is a reason kids do not usually speak with adults about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The kids already know what the adults have to say. Once a child knows your judgment, there is little reason to ask the question unless the intention is to argue.

  If we would speak to anyone about issues important to them, we need to avoid sharing our judgment until we have learned their judgment. This empathetic behavior is an indicator of emotional intelligence.

3. GIVE YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION TO THE SPEAKER.

Remember how Jesus gave undivided attention to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); Jesus listened to him, causing Him to stop in front of him; Jesus looked up at him and invited Himself into Zacchaeus’ home!

Remember, too, that the minimum of Love is Justice. Justice is giving rightly what is one’s due. We determine what all persons are basically due by their simply being persons by looking into the nature of the term person: per + sonare, i.e., “to sound through” – to communicate.

Giving undivided attention to a person is allowing the person to realize his / her personhood. That is somehow the sense of what we say:  “The first responsibility of love is to listen.”

♥ 4. USE SILENCE EFFECTIVELY.

The final rule for active or empathic listening is to effectively use silence. Too often a truly revealing moment is never brought to fruition because of an untimely interruption. Some of the finest police interrogators, counselors, teachers, confessors and parents learn more by maintaining silence than by asking questions.

As an active or empathic listener, silence is a very valuable tool. DO NOT interrupt unless absolutely necessary. Silence is indeed golden especially when used to gather information as a listener.

Of course, this rule of empathic listening is foundational in our Life of Prayer! Huwag makalimot manalangin, magnilay at tumahimik.

God speaks in the silence of the heart.  Listening is the beginning of prayer.”

– Mother Teresa

30th Sunday OT- B – Oct. 24, 2021

Healing of the Blind Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46-52)

Answered Prayer: Dispositions of the Heart

Anthony “Tony” Campolo is an American sociologist, pastor, author, public speaker and former spiritual advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. When he was in a church in Oregon, he prayed for a man who had cancer. In the middle of the week, he received a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” I said, “Had?” Whoa, he thought, it’s happened.

She said, “He died.” Campolo felt terrible.

“Don’t feel bad,” the woman said. “When he came into church that Sunday, he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was fifty-eight years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up.

“He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew toward God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.

“After you prayed for him, a peace came over him and a joy came into him. The last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We’ve prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”

Then she said something incredibly profound: “He wasn’t cured, but he was healed.” (Tony Campolo, “Year of Jubilee,”
Preaching Today Audio, no. 212)

Bartimaean Dispositions

  • Persistence. Bartimaeus was makulit. His need was to come face to face with Jesus. More than a sentimental wish, we should have a desperate desire for an encounter with Jesus. This desperate desire is what gets things done.
  • Response: immediate and eager. Bartimaeus ”threw aside his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.” He came like a shot at Jesus’ call. No excuses, no dilly-dallying. Certain chances happen only once. The key: acting on His call on the moment.
  • Knowing what you want. Bartimaeus knew precisely what he wanted – his sight. Indeed, our persistence may come only from a vague attraction to and admiration of Jesus & his wonders. Preparing for this encounter demands self-examination/ knowledge. Going to Jesus as persistent and desperate with a definite need as Bartimaeus, miracles are bound to happen!
  • Consistent Faith. Bartimaeus’ address of Jesus as Son of David speaks of his inadequate conception of Jesus. Despite this inadequacy, he had faith, which made up a hundredfold for the inadequacy of his theology. The demand is not that we fully understand Jesus. We can never do that. But the demand is for faith, “that can move mountains.”
  • Loving & Grateful heart. Pero, “if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2), says St. Paul. Bartimaeus may have been a beggar by the wayside but he was a man of gratitude, for he followed Jesus. He did not selfishly go on his way when his need was met. Similarly, the mother-in-law of Peter, after her cure, started to serve her guests.

Remember how Bartimaeus began with a 1) need, went on to 2) gratitude, and finished with 3) loyalty – indeed, a perfect summary of the stages of discipleship.

May God bless your life with miracles!♥

Prayer for Physical Healing

Jesus, You are the wounded healer, heal me through Your wounds. You are the God, the Ultimate, who alone can heal me. You are Divine Medicine. O Lord!  Just say one word, and I shall be healed.  Jesus, forgive all my sins and iniquities through Your shed blood. Have mercy on all my ancestors. O Jesus! Send Your Holy Spirit upon me and liberate me  from all bondage. Jesus, my only Savior, deliver me from all my sins and sickness. Mother Mary, Mother of Good Health, I cry out to You for Your prayers for the mercy of Your Son to heal me right now! Thank you Mother Mary. Thank you Jesus, Thank you Abba, Father, and Thank You Holy Spirit.

Deliverance Prayer

Lord, almighty, merciful, and omnipotent God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, drive out from (name) all influence of evil spirits. Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I plead you to break any chain that the Devil has on him (her).

Pour upon (name) the most Precious Blood of your Son. May his immaculate and redeeming Blood break all bonds of his (her) body or mind. I ask you this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archangel St. Michael, intercede and come to his (her) help. In the Name of  Jesus, I command all demons that could have any influence over (name) to leave him (her) forever. By his scourging, his crown of thorns, his cross, by his blood and resurrection, I command all evil spirits to leave him (her).

By the true God, by the Holy God, by God who can do all, in the Name of Jesus my Savior and Lord, leave him (her). Amen.

29th Sunday in OT- B, October 17, 2021

THE ART OF LIVING IN CONTENTMENT

In today’s gospel (Mark 10:35-45), the disciples of Jesus, James and John, were not content with what they were. They said to Jesus, “See to it that we sit, one at your right and the other at your left, when you come into your glory.” Oddly, for the apostles James and John, contentment meant sitting on the right and the on the left of Jesus. Contentment was a position near the throne of political power. So, what is Christian Contentment? How do you live a life of contentment?

WHAT CONTENTMENT IS NOT

is not something that comes naturally.

is not about possessions or circumstances.

is not being stoic, numb to suffering.

is not necessarily liking our present circumstances.

is not being complacent, settling for things that are less than they should be.

WHAT CONTENTMENT IS

1. Contentment  is a learned state. So often we pursue so many things in this world that cause unnecessary discontentment in our lives. We must learn to be content. This will not happen immediately.

 2. Contentment is an attitude. It is not obtaining something from outside us that will bring us contentment; rather it is a removal of something within us. Namely, the removal  of a false and negative way of thinking.

Contentment is an attitude of defeating negativism. St. Paul is more direct in his letter to the Philippians,  “Think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, worthy of praise.” (Phil 4:8). Contentment, hence, is a way of seeing things.

  For, indeed, DISCONTENTMENT

blinds us to others’ true needs. We do not see what they don’t have.

blinds us to our own blessings. We do  not see what we already have.

And discontentment blinds us to the great riches of being united to Jesus Christ and his inheritance which is to be received by all those who love him.

3.   Contentment is knowing you have ALL you need for your  circumstances because Christ gives sufficient strength to handle what you face. (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6; 2 Corinthians 9:8) .

4.  Contentment comes through the resources that God provides through union with Christ (Phil. 4:13), through prayer (Phil. 4:6-7), through thought control (Phil. 4:8), through a supportive fellowship (Phil. 4:10,14).  Contentment is, therefore, found  in the Grace and Providence of God. That is, if we truly realize the value of grace in our lives, then we find contentment. If we truly realize that God is in charge, that He is the provider, the Good Shepherd and the Sower, then we find contentment.

5.   Contentment is found  in the Promises of God, namely,

that there is a place in Heaven he is preparing for us. This world is not all there is.

that He will never leave us or forsake us, we never have to face a battle alone.

that He will provide for our needs. We are never without the resources we need.

that He will guide us into the truth. When we need guidance we know that God will lead the way.

♥ that He will do in our life exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.

that He will protect, defend, guide, strengthen everyone who is willing to follow Him.

In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. (Phil 4: 12-13)

THE ABC’S OF LIVING IN CONTENTMENT

A. Affirm. Affirm your Blessings and Thank God in Prayer.

B. Believe. Believe in Jesus Christ and His Promises.  Let His Loving Promises Lift you up!

C. Carpe diem. Seize the Day! Seize the Moment! Live the Present Moment with God! Enjoy every bit of blessing that God gives you, in good times and bad times!

D. Discard. Discard your Emotional Cancers, that is, the  4 Big C’s of  in your heart, namely, 

√your COMPARING,

√ your COMPLAINING,

√ your CRITICIZING attitude,

√and your COMPETING behavior.

E. Embrace. Embrace Abundance Mentality. Have a  KAYA-NATIN-‘TO-LORD mindset.

 

ST. TERESA’S BOOKMARK

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing dismay you.

All things are passing:

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.

The one who has God

lacks nothing

God alone suffices.

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.

And the greatest gift we all already have,

is the Gift of God’s Love through Jesus, His Son and our Savior .♥

28th Sunday OT-B- October 10, 2021

THE DISCIPLE’S HEALTH

Definitions

Disciple. “Disciple” and “Discipline” are words formed from the Latin, “dicere”, that is, to learn. Obviously, true discipleship is marked by discipline.

Discipline is doing what you really don’t want to do, so that you can do what you really want to do. Discipline is paying the price in the little things, so that you can buy the bigger thing. Discipline is being faithful to the little things in order to be given far greater things. It is detaching from small things to prepare for attachment to greater things that matter the most.

Health. Health is the state of being sound in body or mind. Health is from the Old English word hal, meaning ”whole”. Interestingly, the word “holy” is also rooted in the same Old English word haul. Thus, health and holiness, in reality, refer to wholeness

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus stresses the importance of keeping ourselves healthy, that is, free from any form of enslavement. Jesus also emphasizes God’s generosity toward those who make Him their highest value. Because God, the Most Holy, is the key to a disciple’s wholeness or holiness.  The gospel narrates a man who wanted to follow Jesus but who went away sad for “he had many possessions”. Notice how Jesus “looked at him with love”. Why? Because, like many of us, this man was in need of healing, in need of wholeness. More than just observing the commandments, he needed to put God first in his life so he may be restored to health.

Three Areas of a Disciple’s Health

  1. A Disciplined Head. 

  • Keeping your mind active and regularly taking on mental challenges will help you develop the kind of disciplined thinking that will help you with life’s endeavors. 
  • Don’t stop reading. Don’t stop learning.
  • Have your personal bible. You may already have a personal cell phone but not a personal bible.
  • Read the Bible. Start with a few verses every day. Then dedicate time, say, 5 minutes during pryaer time to read and reflect on the word of God.
  • It is good enough if you have your own bible diary where the readings for the day’s mass are printed.
  • Read our lecturettes.
  • Be interested in the new words you encounter in your readings or conversations. Having a handy dictionary in Filipino and English is highly recommended.
  • Keep on discovering and re-discovering your faith  through the right sources.  Should you start to have doubts about certain doctrines of the Catholic church, please question first your scholarship. Doubt first about whether you know fully well what is being taught. Do your faith homework.
  • Beware. Do not just swallow the words of tele-evangelists who attack the Catholic faith with the Bible alone principle.
  • Desire to share what you know. Keep on teaching. Don’t ever say that you are too old, too busy or lacking in intelligence to learn new things or re-learn new ways of relating, speaking and thinking. Holiness is only possible through contact with the Holy One through prayer.
  • Prayer is the language of a Disciplined mind, a disciple’s mind. Give importance and time to your daily prayer with the same or even greater time and importance than you give in meals, chatting with friends, exercising your body or recreating.
  • St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (12:2): “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
  • Wholeness can be achieved with a balanced prioritiy of values in your mind.

2. A Disciplined Heart.

  • You have two choices when it comes to your emotions. You can master them or be mastered by them. It is unfortunate to see people enslaved by their emotions into their old age.  You should not let your feelings prevent you from doing what you should do,  nor drive you to do things you should not.
  • Remember, being too emotional makes you a number one candidate for the devil’s deception.
  • Be proactive. Be responsible for your own feelings. Don’t allow the weaknesses of others become your weaknesses too.  You have enough of your own weaknesses. Don’t add more, unnecessarily.
  • You don’t feel guilty for feeling hungry when your stomach is really empty. So, don’t feel guilty for being angry at something or someone that provokes anger. Remember, that feelings do not have morality in themselves. Morality is in what and how you respond to your emotions. so, don’t be scrupulous.
  • That is not healthy; that is not holy.
  • Also, don’t control your emotions. It’s useless doing that. Rather, control your reactions to your emotions. That is discipline.

3. Disciplined Hands.

Sharpening your mind and controlling your reactions to your emotions are important, but discipleship does not stop there! The rich young man went away sad on account of it.

Action is what separates the winners from the losers. Your actions always reflect the degree of discipline and discipleship you possess.

The final command of Jesus to a real disciple is to “give to the poor”! Remember, the measure of discipleship is to love without measure.

Epilogue: Your Spiritual Check-up

The author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “No creature is concealed from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.” (Heb 4: 13)

The weaknesses of our heads, hearts and hands, like the rich young man, may have caused us to go away from God with sadness. But Jesus continues to look at each of us with love, awaiting our restoration to health, to wholeness, to spiritual healing and holiness. When was you last general spiritual check-up. When was your last Confession? You say that priests are also human beings and are sinners, and therefore, you should only confess directly to God. Think again.

✠Jesus had himself baptized by John, a mere human being. Indeed, a recognition that God uses human beings to prove our humility in front of the loving Father.

✠To prove the urgency of humble service, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles.

✠To affirm humanity’s need for humility as a pre-requisite of healing and forgiveness, Jesus allowed the woman to wash and anoint His feet.

✠Even priests go to confessions. Remember, the door to all spiritual well-being is the door of humility. Please be mindful of the spiritual health of your soul. It’s the only one you’ve got.

God bless you!♥