5th Sunday of Easter –May 15, 2022

SYNDROME

✔ By syndrome (as in agape syndrome) we generally refer to a pattern of symptoms that characterize or indicate a particular social condition. In pathology and psychiatry (as in Williams syndrome), a syndrome is understood as a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder, disease.

WILLIAMS SYNDROME

✔ Williams syndrome (WS or WMS; also Williams–Beuren syndrome or WBS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a deletion of about 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7. It is characterized by a distinctive, “elfin” facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge; an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with unusual (for persons who are diagnosed as developmentally delayed) language skills; and cardiovascular problems, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis and transient hypercalcaemia. The syndrome was first identified in 1961 by Dr. J. C. P. Williams of New Zealand.

(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_syndrome)

Isabelle’s Fearless Love

✔ Meet Isabelle, eight years old.  Isabelle can’t stop loving you, or anyone else for that matter. She has a rare genetic disorder called Williams’ Syndrome that makes her fearless with other people

✔ By fearless we mean that she has no fear of strangers and is incapable  of discerning potentially dangerous  people and situations. She will walk up to a complete stranger, one that a normal person would avoid  and be cautious around, and ask to sit  in his lap and tell him that she loves him!

✔ Children with Williams’ are often physically small and frequently have developmental delays. But also, kids and adults with Williams love people, and they are literally pathologically trusting. They have no social fear. Researchers  theorize that this is probably because  of a problem in their limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates  emotion. There appears to be a dysregulation in one of the chemicals called oxytocin, that signals when to trust and when to distrust.

✔ This means that it is essentially biologically impossible for kids like Isabelle to distrust. “They don’t have that kind of evolutionary thing that other kids have, that little twinge of anxiety like ‘Who is this person?,  What should I do here?'”, Jessica, Isabelle’s mother, explains. “They just don’t have it. She just doesn’t have that, an early-warning system of sorts.”

✔ For instance, when Isabelle was younger, she was chronically happy. She smiled at anything. She loved everyone: family, friends, strangers. She reached for them all, and, in return, everyone loved her.  Strangers would stop Jessica to tell about how adorably loving Isabelle was.

✔ But as Isabelle got older, the  negative side of her trusting  nature began to play a larger role.  Jessica and her husband had to rethink even the most basic   elements of Isabelle’s day-to-day life as she was always in danger being too overly trusting and “loving”.

✔ It’s not just Jessica and her family who must be vigilant. Every teacher at Isabelle’s public school has been warned. Isabelle is not allowed to tell them that she loves them. Isabelle is not supposed to tell other schoolchildren that she loves them. And these are just some of the minor restrictions.

✔While Williams’ Syndrome focuses on what Isabelle lacks in her brain,  let us for a moment shift to what  Isabelle possesses due to this lack:  a trusting and loving spirit.

✔Think about it. A new heaven and a  new earth where every individual possesses what Isabelle has. Isn’t that the ideal?

(with texts from: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126224885&ps=cprs; http://bryanleemartin.com/)

AGAPE SYNDROME

✔In the gospel of John 13: 34, Jesus issues the Great Command to “love one another.” He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

✔Indeed, at first glance, this kind of loving has “pathological” features similar to William’s Syndrome.

Some would say that it goes  beyond what is “normal”  for human beings!

✔But Jesus was aware of what we considered “normal” when he said, “You have heard that it was said. ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ That was normal!

“You have heard that it was said.  ‘You shall love your neighbor  and hate your enemy.’ (Mt 5:38, 43.)  That, too, was normal, in the old mind-set!

But then He drops the bomb, when He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6). In other words, Jesus was saying, “I give you a new norm!  I am re-defining what ‘normal’ is  all about for my followers.” Jesus explicitates this new norm, when he said, “But I say to you, offer no resistance  to one who is evil. When someone  strikes you on your right cheek,  turn the other one to him as well.” -Mt 5:39 

“But I say to you, love your enemies,  and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of  your heavenly Father. -Mt 5: 44-45

That is the reason why Jesus  refers to Agape as a new commandment (Jn 13:34).   Agape is the new norm of  Being, Doing, Relating and  Living for Christians. That is what we refer to as the Agape Syndrome.

SYMPTOMS OF AGAPE SYNDROME

What are some symptoms of Agape Love?

✔Are you NOT greedy, not covetous, not lazy, not gluttonous, not envious, not jealous, not boastful, not proud,  not rude,  not self-seeking, not easily angered, not keeping a record of wrongs, not evil, not lustful?

✔Do you rejoice in truth, protect others from evil? Do you trust? Are you hopeful? Do you persevere? Are you faithful? Do you forgive? Are you humble enough to ask forgiveness from others?

If you said YES to all these, Congratulations, you have the Agape Syndrome. By God’s standards, You are the most normal Christian around. Keep it that way. But please, don’t talk to others about it, or you lose one of the signs.

✔ So, let our life time project be: Normalize! Be an Agape Person!

Let us reclaim the lost innocence, the loving and trusting spirit we originally had if we want to hasten the realization of the new heaven and the new earth God had planned for us all!

Loving is Being and Doing

° Mga Magandang Mungkahi:

 > Feeding program. Kahit once a week or once every two weeks – may garahe ka, magpakain ka man lang ng ilang mga batang lansangan. Kahit lugaw ni Aleng Leni! Teach them to pray before and after meals.     

> BEC & Parish Renewal Experience. Maki-alam. Sumali. Lumapit. Magtanong. Take the initiative.

> Education Sponsorship. Mag-sponsor ka man lang kahit isang batang walang wala ang mga magulang para makatungtong man lang sa elementary ang kanilang anak. Pls. no alibis & excuses: e baka hindi ko rin naman matustusan yan hanggang grade 12, e sayang naman.

Friend, it’s time to act out our Love di ba? Long overdue na! Matagal-tagal na rin naman ikaw bini-bless ni Lord. Let the love flow!  ♥

4th Sunday of Easter – C-  May 8, 2022

Good Shepherd Sunday: Shepherding 101

THE PETER PRINCIPLE

Have you heard of the Peter Principle? The Peter principle states that a person who is competent at their job will earn a promotion to a position that requires different skills. If the promoted person lacks the skills required for the new role, they will be incompetent at the new level, and will not be promoted again. Haha a strange principle, right? No, it is not named after St. Peter; St Peter was promoted to the papacy and had proven himself very very competent by offering his life to the Lord. Rather, the Peter principle is named after  Laurence J. Peter, a Canadian educator.

Laurence J. Peter observed this, for example, usually, in technical industries, where skilled employees are naturally promoted to managerial roles. It happens despite the fact that the competence of such workers is based on their technical prowess rather than their ability to manage or lead. The end result is always devastating for the entire indutry. Not to mince words here, our point is, especially as we face national and local elections tomorrow, do not dare promote people into public office who are skilled at manipulation, trickery and deception. This will be a great loss for the nation, for each of us and our children. Please, you must promote good public servants who have proven track records of Good Shepherding.  But, let’s leave the polls to God’s mighty hands for now. Laurence J. Peter, author of Peter’s Principle, incidentally  also stated something like this:

“The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of bulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep.”  I agree. So, for us to appreciate who the Good Shepherd is, let us hear what a good shepherd has to say about himself.

PART 1: THE AGAPE SHEPHERD

Who is a Shepherd?

♥ I guide my sheep in many ways.  They always need a rest on their  journey. But sometimes they will not. They won’t rest when they’re hungry. So I always provide for them. They won’t rest when they’re afraid.

So I protect them. And they won’t rest when they’re  fighting or witnessing fighting among others at the flock.

♥ So I use my staff to direct them away from strife. When they know all is well they will lie down in the pastures I lead them to and take the deep rest they require to restore their strength. I am a good shepherd.

I always find  them a least some sweet grass whatever season we are in.

♥ I’ve led them through tall grass using the rod to sweep a clear path and frighten away any enemies. I am armed against all the enemies of my flock: snakes, wolves, coyotes, even a mountain lion that roams looking for my sheep wanting to tear them limb from limb  and devour them. My sheep know the side of this cudgel and they trust it.

♥ I also carry a staff. With it I climb ahead and make sure that crevices and caves on our  path are clear of rocks and other potentially harmful things. I also use it to reach the sheep farthest from me.

♥ So I gather them close around me and we cross through  the dark places together. I know each of my sheep even when they’re running from me. It may sound odd to one who’s not familiar with this life… but I love my sheep. I would search to the edge of the desert to find one lost.  …I have always  been an Agape Shepherd.

PART 2: THE SHEEP SENSE

After knowing who the shepherd is, let us get to know ourselves, the sheep and flock that we are. Here are some characteristics of sheep.

 1º FLOCKING BEHAVIOR. Sheep are best known for their strong flocking, herding and following instinct. They will run from what frightens them and band together in large groups for protection. This is the only protection they have from predators aside from the protection of their shepherd.  üBeing a member of Christ’s flock, do you have this strong bond with your Church?

2º BEHAVIOR OF FOLLOWING THE LEADER. When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, even if it is not a good idea. The flocking and following instinct of sheep is so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in 2006 in eastern Turkey. The sheep plunged to their death after one of the sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine, and the rest of the flock followed.

That is why, even despite the bonding instinct, we are enjoined to be more discerning in choosing the teachers we learn from, the teachings they offer and the Spirit-led life the lead. If you are a Catholic who is not well formed in and informed about your faith, have second thoughts about saying yes to invitations to attend in non-Catholic gatherings where there are teachings and indoctrinations.

3º SOCIAL BEHAVIOR. Sheep are a very social animal. In a grazing situation, they need to see other sheep. According to animal behaviorists, a sheep will become highly agitated if it is separated from the rest of the flock. üThis explains why you as a family should be affected when a member of your family starts attending a non-Catholic church. Because that means a major shift in your social behavior as a whole family unit.

4º SENSES

Sense of Sight. Sheep depend heavily upon their vision. Behavior scientists speculate that the placement and structure of the sheep’s eyes are due to nature’s designation of sheep as a prey animal. Sheep have a very large pupil that is somewhat rectangular in shape.  With only slight head movement, sheep are able to scan their surroundings. Their field of vision ranges from 191 to 306 degrees, depending upon the amount of wool on their face. However, sheep have poor depth perception, doing poorly in three dimensional vision, especially if they are moving with their heads up. This is why they will often stop to examine something more closely. Sheep have difficulty picking out small details, such as an open space created by a partially opened gate. They tend to avoid shadows and sharp contrasts between light and dark. They are reluctant to go where they can’t see.

Sense of Hearing. To compensate for this poor perception, Sheep have excellent hearing. They can amplify and pinpoint sound with their ears. In fact, sound arrives at each ear at a different time. Sheep are frightened by sudden loud noises, such as yelling or barking. In response to loud noises and other unnatural sounds, sheep become nervous and more difficult to handle. To minimize stress, the handler should speak in a quiet, calm voice. Sheep should not be worked in the presence of barking dogs.

PART 3: PECUS & PECCATUM

Pecus means sheep  and peccatum means sin. Both share two common characteristics.

1º Short-Sightedness. üAs we have seen, due to the sheep’s  poor eyesight, the shepherd has to call  the sheep with a gentle voice  and often, when possible, by name. The sheep literally depends only on the shepherd’s voice for direction.

♥ Similarly, sin, is the effect of short-sightedness.  It is the effect of enjoying gratification  in the here and now  and forgetting everything good we’ve already known and seen before.

2º The Cure: Listening. Their second common characteristic is that both the short-sightedness of  the sheep and sin, can be cured by  listening to a voice.

♥ Just as the shepherd’s voice is  a cure for the sheep’s short-sightedness, so too, the short-sightedness of man  leading him to sin may be prevented  by his listening to the  voice of the Good Shepherd. ©Yes, we all suffer from some  form of spiritual short-sightedness  from time to time. Some even suffer from spiritual  blindness the rest of one’s life. But the good news is that this blindness,  this short-sightedness,   can be cured, can be helped,  can be healed, by listening. No wonder, Jesus assures us, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them,  and they follow me. I give them eternal  life, and they shall never perish.”- Jn 10:27

PART 4: MAY 9, 2022 CHALLENGE:

♥ Take care of your vote. Do not sell it. It is sacred. Your vote is not only your right. Your vote is also your power; your power to change our society. No matter how poor you are, your vote has the same value with that of the richest and most powerful person in the country. And BY YOUR VOTE, YOU WILL TELL PEOPLE WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOUREALLY ARE. -Most Rev. Raul B. Dael, DD, Bishop of Tandag♥

♥ Para sa Mga Botanteng Kristyano ♥

Ang issue ng pag boto sa araw ng halalan 2022 ay hindi lang tungkol sa political issues at personal na opinion. Ito ay, higit sa lahat, isang moral na issue, na mas malalim, mas mataas at mas malawak kaysa sa political at personal na opinion mo. Kaya, totoo: YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.

Totoo, we respect every political and personal opinion. Pero pag dating sa moral na aspeto, ang Diyos lamang ang ating standard. Kung hindi naka ayon sa standard ng Diyos ang political at personal na opinion natin, sa Diyos ng Katotohan lang tayo mananagot; PERO buong bayan ang pagdurusahin ng ating maling boto. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.

“Respect my opinion” kamo? Oo naman. PERO, respect God’s moral standards muna. Hindi ka naman diyos eh. We respect you naman, pero, sorry ha, super baba ang respeto ng mabubuting puso sa mga taong pumipili at bumuboto sa kasamaan, kasinungalingan, kamanhiran, kabastusan, at pangloloko. Ang maliit na respetong natitira sa puso ng mabubuti ay ipahahayag na lang sa pagdalangin para huwag kang (at ang mga mahal mo sa buhay) USIGIN at PESTEHIN ng masasamang espiritu habang buhay. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.

At, hindi naman kagulat-gulat kung ang ating mga anak at ang susunod na henerasyon ay lalaki tulad ng mga iboboto natin na maging pastol ng bayan. Kaya bumoto ka naman para sa susunod na salinlahi. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.♥

FR BROSH♥

3rd Sunday of Lent – C – March 20, 2022

GOD’S GOODNESS and THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

A. STATEMENTS

Please Choose the Right Statement:

S1:  Ang isang bagay ay mabuti dahil niloloob ng Diyos.

       (Something is good because God wills it.)

S2: Ang isang bagay ay mabuti kaya niloloob ng Diyos.

      (Something is good that is why God wills it.)

1st Discussion

S1: says that something is good because God wants it to be good. This implies that the goodness of a thing or an act depends on God’s fiat – His judgment of it to be good. Seems like nothing is wrong here. He’s God anyway. Thus, as in OT times, killing is sometimes wrong (cf. punishment of Cain in Gen 4:8-12) and is sometimes right (e.g. killing your enemies like the Philistines in 1 Chron 14:10ff), “depende sa will ni Lord” (depending on the will of God).

S2: says that some things are already good from the beginning and that goodness is the reason why God wills them. It also implies that God only wills what is good. 

2nd Discussion

It is easy to accept S1. It respects the power of God who decides which is good or bad. S2 is a bit complicated – it begs the questions: Who created these good things in the first place, ‘di ba si God din? God also created evil, ‘di ba? Is this why He can allow evil things to happen to good people? Hmm…now it’s more complicated.

3rd Discussion

S1 is a very common position. After a tragic experience, we are often consoled by friends: “Hindi ka naman bibigyan ni Lord ng pag-subok na hindi mo kaya eh. Tignan mo na lang kung ano’ng message ni Lord para sa iyo sa kabila ng trahedyang ito. Baka parusa yan sa iyong mga kasalanan!” Consoling naman na malaman na galing pala kay Lord ang snatcher ng cell phone mo. At may blessing pala ni Lord ang lasenggong driver na sumagasa sa anak mo? Consoling din na you deserve what you got from the hands of God nevertheless. Hmmm Ganun nga ba? If you are an S1 person, ganun nga. Pero maling mali! You are very wrong!

B.WHY IS S1 VERY WRONG?

1. The end does not justify the means. Besides, it is wrong to look for consolation in the lie that evils are willed by God simply to tell you “I love you my child.” An oxymoronic idea of God you have!

2. There are moral absolutes. Killing, robbing, etc. are evils. No God (who is the Absolute Good) will arbitrarily decide otherwise.

3. God’s gift of responsible use of freedom is irrevocable. He just doesn’t strike dead a criminal before, during or after a heist. Only in that sense of respecting human freedom that He allows evil to co-exist with the good.

4. It is wrong to presume that your “cross” comes from God. Even Christ’s cross didn’t. It’s okay, though, if you think you are as holy as Job or better than Jesus Christ. Mabuti ka pa!

5. While sin causes tragedies, it is not always the immediate cause of the calamities in our lives! And Jesus tells us that what happens to people is not something sent by God for his purposes.

√ The Gospel (Lk 13:1-9) affirms that things (good or bad) can indeed happen at random to any one. Bad things do happen to good people while bad people are beneficiaries of good things too! Indeed, randomness governs the distribution of events in our lives – a good reply to those who ask “Why me?” BUT, is this a good response, really? Is it enough to say, “Talagang ganyan ang buhay, swerte swerte lang” and expect to find consolation?Nope, I say. So, why do bad things happen at all? Let’s see.

C. QUESTIONS

The Question

In 1978, Harold Kushner, a rabbi, published When Bad Things Happen to Good People, where he attempted to answer the ancient query: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Excerpts of his responses follow:  “There is no reason for those particular people to be afflicted rather than the others. These events do not reflect God’s choices. They happen at random…”(p.53). Our lesson to learn is to “accept the idea that some things happen for no reason, that there is randomness in the universe” (p.46). (These excerpts are cited from A critique of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold Kushner” by Dr. Norman Geisler).  

Kushner cites randomness of events too just like our Gospel lesson. However, a further reading will reveal Kushner’s wrong premises, as one critic observes:  God wants the righteous to live peaceful, happy lives, but sometimes “even He can’t bring that about” (p. 43). Why? Because God Himself “is not perfect…” (p. 148). If God were all-perfect the world would not be so imperfect as it obviously is. An imperfect world indicates an imperfect God. As a matter of fact, “There are some things God does not control…” (p. 45). Thus, the world is out of whack because it is out of control.

The Wrong Question

An imperfect God? Certainly, such audacious position is unacceptable. Besides to believe in an imperfect God is to deny the very existence of the God you believe in! But how did Kushner arrive at such a fallacious answer? Quite simple. By asking the wrong question.

Instead of asking“Why do bad things happen to good people?”  we should be asking insteadWhy should anything good happen to people at all?”Or to be more specific,After all that we have done – proving ourselves unworthy of His calling to be His children – what merits do we possess in order to deserve God’s blessings?” Putting the question this way makes us realize, “Aba, oo nga naman. We are all imperfect creatures. Iba’t-iba nga lang ang levels and degrees of sinfulness natin.” So when we ask“Why me, Lord, mabuti naman akong tao?”we really presume we’re perfectly good – a bold thing to do. Besides, if we claim we are perfect, then we prove we are not. The hard fact is we aren’t. Is this pessimism? No. It is just an acceptance that we are born into this world in need of God, a perfect God.

Jesus twice reminds us to balance this principle of randomness of events with personal atonement and moral responsibility. He says: “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”(vv 3,5) – referring to the victimized Galileans and the victims of the Siloam tower tragedy respectively. In other words, what Jesus seem to tell his disciples is this: “Oo nga, mabait kayo o hindi pwede kayong makaranas ng kasamaan. Kung gayon, mas mainam pang magsisi na kayo at magbagong buhay ngayong mas may alam na kayo kaysa kanila na inabutan ng kamatayan nang hindi naka-handa.”

This is a reminder too of yet another principle: “You reap what you sow.”You sow spiritual unpreparedness, you reap eternal destruction. Jesus does not remove personal responsibility in the person who experiences either the good or the bad.

D. CONCLUSION

Let us go back to our S1 / S2 choice at the beginning of this lecturette. The common wrong choice is S1, the idea that good and evil depend on God’s willing it. So that when evil happens, God is the culprit. The consolation is that He uses evil to love us more. Of course, this is wrong! Beware: if you further pursue this thinking, you will end up embracing Kushner’s positions too!

The Catholic position is in S2: Something is good that is why God wills it. The concept therein is that God is Good all the time and all of God’s creation is good! The Good is out there objectively and not arbitrarily determined by God as S1 implies. S2 means that you believe that no evil can come from Him. He can only will good things to happen to you! S2 means that you also affirm the existence of evil; that evil is man’s abuse of the gift of freedom.

So, how do we treat the evils happening to us?

St. Paul gives the answer: “All things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). With Love for God, nothing in impossible in the face of tribulations!

In the face of moral evil, let us remember what Pope Francis reminds us when he says: “The only war that we must all fight is the one against (moral) evil. We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.”

2nd Sunday-Lent-C March 13, 2022

Radiating Light from Within

Malcolm Muggeridge and a British TV crew were making a documentary film on Mother Teresa. They wanted to film her and her sisters at work at the Home for the Dying in Calcutta. But the cameramen said it would be impossible to get a picture because the light was too dim. They decided to try anyway. To their surprise the footage was spectacular. It was bathed in a mysterious, warm light. Muggeridge, who was not Christian at the time, is “absolutely convinced” the light came from the loving people in the home. He said, “This love is luminous, like the haloes artists have seen and made visible round the heads of the saints. I find it not at all surprising that the luminosity should register on a photographic film.”

A similar light must have radiated from Jesus during his transfiguration. Something like this happens to Jesus in today’s gospel. During his transfiguration, Jesuses disciples saw him in a whole new way. For the first time, they saw from the outside what he is on the inside: the glorious, beautiful Son of God. The disciples saw the glory of who Jesus really was. And the transfiguration was a promise of glory to Jesus by the Father. Because Jesus was and has always been obedient and faithful to the will of the Father.

10 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TRANSFIGURATION

1. What does the word “transfiguration” mean?

The word “transfiguration” comes from the Latin roots trans*- (“across”) and figura**(“form, shape”). It thus signifies a change of form or appearance.

This is what happened to Jesus in the event known as the Transfiguration: His appearance changed and became glorious.

Before looking at the Transfiguration itself, it’s important that we look at what happened immediately before it in Luke’s Gospel.

2. What happened right before the Transfiguration?

In Luke 9:27, at the end of a speech to the twelve apostles, Jesus adds, enigmatically: “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” This has often been taken as a prophecy that the end of the world would occur before the first generation of Christians died out. The phrase “kingdom of God” can also refer to other things, though, including the Church–the outward expression of God’s invisible kingdom. The kingdom is embodied in Christ himself and thus might be “seen” if Christ were to manifest it in an unusual way, even in his own earthly life.

3. Did such a manifestation occur?

Yes, and it is the very next thing that Luke relates: the Transfiguration. Pope Benedict states that it has been convincingly argued that the placing of this saying immediately before the Transfiguration clearly relates it to this event.

Some—that is to say, the three disciples who accompany Jesus up the mountain—are promised that they will personally witness the coming of the Kingdom of God ‘in power.’

On the mountain the three of them see the glory of God’s Kingdom shining out of Jesus. On the mountain they are overshadowed by God’s holy cloud. On the mountain—in the conversation of the transfigured Jesus with the Law and the Prophets—they realize that the true Feast of Tabernacles has come. On the mountain they learn that Jesus himself is the living Torah, the complete Word of God. On the mountain they see the ‘power’ (dynamis) of the Kingdom that is coming in Christ” (Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, p. 317).

We thus may have the key to understanding Jesus’ mysterious statement just before the Transfiguration. He wasn’t talking about the end of the world. He was talking about this. In fact, Luke notes that the Transfiguration took place “about eight days after these sayings,” thus stressing its proximity to them and suggesting that it was the fulfillment of this *saying, concerning the fact that some of them would see the kingdom of God. Mark gives a different number of days, saying it was “after six days” (Mk. 9:2), but these both approximate a week.

4. Who witnessed the Transfiguration?

The three who are privileged to witness the event are Peter, James, and John, the three core disciples. (Andrew was not there or not included.)

The fact that Jesus only allowed three of his disciples to witness the event may have sparked the discussion which swiftly ensued about which of the disciples was the greatest (Luke 9:46).

Click here to watch a video about how Jesus answered this question.

5. Where did the Transfiguration take place?

Luke states that Jesus took the three “on the mountain to pray.”

This mountain is often thought to be Mt. Tabor in Israel, but none of the gospels identify it precisely.

Click here to learn more about Mt. Tabor*(though be aware that the gospels do not actually say which mountain it was).

6. Why did the Transfiguration take place?

The Catechism explains it this way:

Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles’ faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent onto the ‘high mountain’ prepares for the ascent to Calvary.

Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what his Body contains and radiates in the sacraments: ‘the hope of glory’ [CCC 568].

7. What does Luke–in particular–tell us about this event?

Luke mentions several details about the event that the other evangelists do not: a) He notes that this happened while Jesus was praying. b) He mentions that Peter and his companions “were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.” c)He mentions that Peter made his suggestion to put up booths as Moses and Elijah were departing.

8. Why do Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain?

Moses and Elijah represent the two principal components of the Old Testament: the Law and the Prophets. Moses was the giver of the Law, and Elijah was considered the greatest of the prophets. The fact that these two figures “spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” illustrates that the Law and the Prophets point forward to the Messiah and his sufferings. This foreshadows Jesus’ own explanation, on the road to Emmaus, of the Scriptures pointing to himself (cf. Lk. 24:27, 32).

9. Why was Peter’s suggestion misguided?

The fact that Peter’s suggestion occurs when Moses and Elijah are preparing to depart reveals a desire to prolong the experience of glory. This means Peter is focusing on the wrong thing.

The experience of the Transfiguration is meant to point forward to the sufferings Jesus is about to experience. It is meant to strengthen the disciples faith, revealing to them in a powerful way the divine hand that is at work in the events Jesus will undergo. This is why Moses and Elijah have been speaking “about his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Peter misses the point and wants to stay on the mountain, contrary to the message the two heavenly visitors have been expounding. As a seeming rebuke of this, a theophany occurs: “A cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”

10. What can we learn from this event?

The Transfiguration was a special event in which God allowed certain apostles to have a privileged spiritual experience that was meant to strengthen their faith for the challenges they would later endure. But it was only a temporary event. It was not meant to be permanent.

In the same way, at certain times in this life, God may give certain members of the faithful (not all of the faithful, all the time), special experiences of his grace that strengthen their faith.

We should welcome these experiences for the graces they are, but we should not expect them to continue indefinitely, nor should we be afraid or resentful when they cease. They may have been meant only as momentary glimpses of the joy of heaven to sustain us as we face the challenges of this life, to help strengthen us on the road that will–ultimately–bring us into the infinite and endless joy of heaven.

X

This foretaste of Christ’s glory gave hope to the dis­ciples when their Teacher and Master died on the cross. It was this transfiguration which brought strength to them when it was their time to suffer and die. It is with that same hope that we should carry on our own struggles and our crosses. Under the guidance of Christ’s Spirit, we will not only overcome, but we will one day shine in glory as he did. Let us pray that we can help in sharing that hope, the light on Mount Tabor, in this world of tears and pain. Let it shine among us and in the men around us. By the lives we live, let us proclaim that Christ’s death was not useless.♥

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT 

SEVEN STEPS TO FIGHT TEMPTATIONS

Dt 26:4-10; Ps 91; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13

1º Know & Love the Word of God. Today’s Gospel speaks of the temptation of Jesus after his forty days’ fast in the desert. After you go to Mass, discuss this reading with your children, emphasizing that temptation itself is not a sin, but we must use the Word of God to combat it, as Christ did. Believe it or not, demons step away from a person shielded by God’s Word.

2º Beware of the Prince of Lies. Satan’s lies are traps designed to “steal, kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10). Lahat ng kasalanan ay nagsisimula sa kasinungalingan. (All sins start with lies.) Beware even of so-called innocent lies or so-called white lies. A lie is a lie is a lie no matter what color it is.

3º Beware of Satan’s Arena: Split-second thoughts. Satan is impatient. Why? Because he knows his days are numbered. God’s gift of eternity/ timelessness of time is Satan’s cause of envy. So, he tries to steal away this gift by manipulating man through idle time and split-second thoughts. Bantayan ang pag-gamit ng iyong panahon. Ang favorite ni Satan? Yung medaling mataranta and the procrastinators! So, guard your thoughts, especially your split-second thoughts.”Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”(2 Cor 10:5).

4º Pray. I know, this sounds like spiritualizing a very real thing as temptation. Good news! It IS spiritual! It’s a spiritual battle we need to win through spiritual training and practice. If split-second thoughts and human impulses are the arenas of demons, prayer is the Christian’s arena of victory. If you are losing ground in your thoughts, the temptations will find greater resistance when you take them before God in prayer.

5º Develop accountability in your life. Do not be anonymous in your Church and Community. The Spirit of God works powerfully through others to help us. Talk and pray with others about the areas where you struggle.

6º Control Your Impulses. Aside from having a Godly disposition, i.e., a deep awareness of God’s presence in one’s life, a very practical way to fight temptations is through “impulse control.” But this needs practice. Some personality types (like those with artisan temperament – “spring loaded” to act on impulse) may need more time for practice.  To master this, you will need to use a time piece or just a simple common sense of time for practice. Train your mind to wait longer before you do something – like before deciding on something or just before your impulses & negative feelings push you to react negatively or sinfully against a person, an event, on a thought, due to fear or any negative emotion. During this micro pause, guess, preview, anticipate and take into account the consequences of your perceived action, behavior, word, etc.

7º   Okay, practice na tayo!

7th Sunday in OT-C-February 20, 2022

ECHOING GOD’S FORGIVENESS:

A SECOND LOOK AT LOVE OF ENEMIES

Forgiveness

Research # 1

According to a 2001 study of 1,423 adults by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research:

52 percent of those surveyed have forgiven others for past transgressions

75 percent believe they have been forgiven by God for their mistakes

43 percent have asked others to forgive them of past offenses

63 percent have let themselves off the hook

women are more forgiving than men

middle-agers and older adults are more likely to forgive others than younger adults are

forgiveness may be an antidote to anger, but asking for forgiveness can raise stress levels*

Research # 2

 Marcia Hootman and Patt Perkins’ book How to Forgive Your Ex-Husband mentions a research on the anger of divorced women. Two conclusions of the research were: a ) phenomenal energy and money are wasted by women trying to get even with their ex-husbands; and b) these women are hurt far more by their anger than they were by their ex-spouses.

It would seem from the foregoing that you can’t win whether you forgive or pursue anger, i.e., you either raise your stress levels or be more hurting.

An understanding and appreciation of Christian forgiving hopefully will make us see that forgiving is the only win-win step to take. A Christian forgiver is a winner because he/she is a Lover. Forgiving is not just one of the options: it is the Fundamental Option.

WHAT CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS IS NOT

√ Excusing (explaining a fault or offense)

    A father explained to his young children why he has been unfaithful to their mother: “She has not taken care of me. Although she has been a good mother, she was not a good wife.” And that was the closest he could get to asking forgiveness – explaining his fault. He quips years after the breakup, “They understood me. They’re now grown-ups. They have forgiven me.”

Yes, forgiveness may come easy with understanding. But it is not just understanding.  In fact, heroic Christian forgiveness will often forego understanding . Jesus demonstrated this when He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

√ Pardoning (releasing a person from punishment)  JP II went to his assailant’s cell to communicate God’s healing and forgiveness. But it would be foolish to think that the

criminal, soon after being forgiven, could plead for a release from the punishment of imprisonment. No sir, I may be freed from eternal punishment  but not from the temporal effects of my sins, for example, the inevitability of contracting AIDS due my past promiscuous lifestyle. A good understanding of this aspect of Divine Mercy can prevent many souls from doubting God’ forgiveness as soon as they experience the “temporal punishment” effected by their past sins. They should remember that God’s Divine Mercy also gives them strength to face these “temporary” sufferings and turn them into “eternal” sacrifices for the salvation of oneself and others.

√ Similar to Trusting again

“Akala ko ba pinatawad mo na ako? Bakit hindi ka pa rin nagtitiwala sa akin?” An oft-repeated post-forgiveness refrain indeed. Remember that forgiveness is grace; it is freely given. Trust is something earned. I may have forgiven you for stealing money from my office but that does not mean that I will have to entrust my money again to you as my cashier!

√ Simply Forgetting the Misdeeds

“Forgive and Forget, ” says one song.Sorry, guys; that’s magical thinking. It just doesn’t work in real life. Forget? Hello? Our brains do not even possess a tiny bit of gland created for that purpose, I think. Forgetting is even a disease of the brain. So why forget? The opposite is true: Forgive and Remember! Remember how, on your own capacity, you yourself  are unable to forgive; that it is God who forgives the other through you! Syempre, ang presupposition ‘dyan ay tumatanggap ka rin ng forgiveness of God. And don’t forget that! St. Peter reminds us to put on virtues in order to remember! He says, “Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.” (2 Pt 1:9) So to forget is not virtuous really, because no fruitful effort could be involved here; you are just at the mercy of the passing time! Malilimutan mo rin yun!  But “not to remember” is something else!  It is wilful and deliberate. Remembering is a particular motif in the scriptures appearing 162 times. Not to remember something is to remember instead some other thing; it means to re-focus attention. That is what we mean by forgive and remember. Forgive and re-focus your attention on how God forgives you and others!

√ Indifference Towards the Offense nor the Offender

“Huwag n’yo na lang pansinin ang tatay n’yo para walang gulo,” advises a battered wife and mother to her kids. Again, a wrong notion that by simply being indifferent to the offense, an atmosphere of peace will be magically achieved. This is borne from the previous myth of “forgive and forget.” The sooner you ignore the offenses the easier the forgetting comes. The more you forget, the more forgiveness comes by easily. Then, there is peace. We can live happily ever after! S’ya nga ba?

      Shalom is not just the absence of conflict. It is the presence of wholeness and strong relationships too. It is the presence of healing!

      At alam ba ninyo na kaya nagwawagi ang kasamaan sa mundo ay dahil sa mga taong indifferent sa kasamaan!

√ A One-Act Play.

“O sige, bati na kayo ni kuya. Kiss and make up na kayo ha!” a temporary ceasefire agreement among siblings for the sake of the grown-ups; something we were asked to do when we were kids just so to please our parents. Forgiveness is not a rite. It is not a show or “palabas.” In fact, it is a “paloob.” It demands introspection; it demands our “kalooban.” After all, if forgiveness is grace (kaloob) it deserves nothing less than our “kalooban.”

WHAT CHRISTIAN FORGIVENESS IS

A Choice, a Decision of Faith 

It is impossible to have the virtue of faith without the grace of forgiveness.

A Conscious act of Will

It is  a free and wilful  act  and not just passive waiting for “time to heal” till one forgets.

√ Being Responsible For My Responses/ Reactions It is borne of a proactive mind-set and attitude reflecting one’s being a child

of God. Forgiveness stops the blaming game. Only mature people can truly forgive as God does.

√ Giving up the right to hurt someone back

√ Choosing instead to do what’s best for that person

√ Overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12:21) & Reversing the Law of  Revenge.

√ Always in the context of Christian love, if it were to be genuine and lasting.

Therefore, it goes without saying that the highest thing love can do is to forgive everyone, even one’s enemies. For a Christian, any love short of forgiveness is only a noisy gong.

Can I recall a time when I did something loving toward an enemy or prayed for someone who mistreated me?

Remember, “Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.” (Joseph Joubert)


*Source: Van Morris, “Research about Forgiveness,” PreachingToday.com (emphases mine).

6th Sunday OT-C February 13, 2022

Blessed Are the Poor

Theme Blessed are they who realize they can’t depend on material things for happiness and, as a result, put all their trust in God.

Years ago, there was a movie called Quo Vadis. It starred Deborah Kerr and dealt with the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome. One day, after a dangerous filming session, a newspaper reporter asked Deborah Kerr, “Weren’t you frightened when the lions rushed toward you in the arena?” Deborah replied, “Not at all! I’d read the script, and I knew I’d be rescued!”

Deborah Kerr’s childlike trust in the stunt men assigned to protect her is a good illustration of the childlike trust that poor people had in God in biblical times.

To understand why Jesus dared to call these “poor” people blessed, we need to understand who Jesus had in mind when he referred to the “poor” in his Sermon on the Mount.

When ancient Jews used the word poor, they used it in a variety of ways and, hence, in different senses than we use it today.

We use it to refer to someone who is destitute. We use it to refer to someone who has no material wealth.

This kind of poverty—material poverty— is not a good thing. It’s an evil thing. It’s the kind of thing that every Christian ought to be trying to eradicate from our midst.

Jesus never intended to call material poverty blessed. He never intended to approve of the poverty that we see in the slums of our cities, and that he also saw in the cities of his time.

Who and what did Jesus have in mind, then, when he said, “Blessed are you who are poor”?

The Hebrew word for “poor” that Jesus used was the word ani. This word had an interesting history. It went through four stages of development before reaching the meaning that Jesus had in mind when he used it in the Sermon on the Mount.

In other words, the word poor in biblical times could be used in four different ways.

First, the word could be used as we use it: to refer to those people who were without material wealth.

Second, because these people were without material wealth, they were also without influence and power. They were without clout. And this gave rise to a second way that the word could be used. It could be used to refer to those people who were helpless and without influence.

Third, because these people were helpless, they were often oppressed and exploited. This led to a third meaning of the word poor. It could also be used to refer to the exploited people.

Fourth, because these people were without wealth, without help, and without protection, many of them put all their trust in God. This gave rise to the fourth and final meaning of the word poor. It described those persons who put their total trust in God.

And this is what Jesus meant in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.”

In other words, Jesus was referring to those people without wealth, without influence, and without protection, who put all their hope and trust in God.

Thus, the poor whom Jesus called blessed were those people who had come to realize that they couldn’t depend on the things of this world for happiness.

So, they sought their happiness in God alone. God meant everything to them. Material things meant next to nothing to them. These people, as Jesus said, were truly blessed.

And so, to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are you who are poor,” we might reword his statement this way: “Blessed are they who realize that they can’t depend on the things of this world for happiness and put all their trust in God.”

In other words, they are the people who find themselves in the same position in which Deborah Kerr found herself during the shooting of the dangerous scene in the movie Quo Vadis.

She knew that she was totally helpless. She knew that she couldn’t protect herself. So, she stopped worrying and simply placed all her trust in the stunt men assigned to rescue her.

In the same way, many of the poor in Jesus’ day stopped worrying and simply placed all their trust in God.

The childlike trust that these helpless people placed in God is like the trust that Jesus held out as a model to his disciples when he said:

“Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?

“If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? …’

“Your Father knows that you need [these things]. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides … For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Luke 12:25-26, 30-31, 34

Let’s close with a story. It illustrates in a down-to-earth, concrete way what today’s gospel invites each one of us to do.

Lois Olson contracted polio at the age of ten. The entire lower part of her body was in a cast.

One night a tornado struck. She felt the bed and the entire house tremble. A feeling of utter helplessness swept over her. All she could do was lie there.

Just then her father appeared at the door. He took her in his arms, heavy cast and all, and carried her down the steps to the basement.

She said she can still see the beads of sweat form on his forehead and the blood vessels bulge out of his temples as he struggled under the heavy burden.

God is like that. He is always ready to help us, especially when we are powerless to help ourselves.

St Augustine expressed the trust we should have in God in these words:

“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to his love, and the future to his providence.”♥

(Source: Mark Link, SJ)

5th Sunday in OT-C February 6, 2022

GO FISH!

Part 1: Into the Deep

In his Apostolic Letter “Novo Millennio Inuente,” JP II in recalling the gospel coined a clarion call for this new stage of journey for the church: “Duc in altum!” “Put out into the deep for a catch! “(Lk 5:4). Let us, for a while, dive into the deep and see for ourselves what we could catch. Then see for ourselves what we could learn from these precious creatures.

    Our catch will come from about 4 kms deep. You will be encountering the fish you are about to see for the first time: legendary fish never appearing on the surface.

Grenadier Fish

The Grenadier Fish. It is about 50 cms long. It travels long distances on the sea bed.

    Its aim is to collect dead fish or dead products sinking down from the surface. In this way, it meets its food needs but also keeps the ocean floor clean. From it we learn Industry and Productive Work.

Tripod Fish

The Tripod Fish. It appears to stand on three legs, hence, a tripod. It stands for hours on the sea bed, patiently waiting for something to eat to pass by. Why? Because it has tiny eyes that are almost completely blind. Because of this blindness, it has two antennas that make it very sensitive to its surroundings. From it we learn Patience and Sensitivity.

Flying Octopus Dumbo

The Flying Octopus Dumbo. The fins on either side of its head resemble elephant ears. It floats through the deep so gently and gracefully like a flying elephant. Even amidst turbulent currents, it consistently exhibits its serene calculated movements. From it we learn Gentleness and Grace.

Angler Fish

The Angler Fish. A light emitting rod protrude above the head of this clever fisher of fish. This light looks like a tiny fish that attracts its prey like a fisherman’s bait. From it we learn Creative Ingenuity.

Malacosteid Fish

The Malacosteid Fish. Beneath its eyes come forth red lights which other fish do not see. An invisible light, as it were, that the Malacosteid Fish puts into good use as its night vision. From it we learn Resourcefulness: using the invisible spiritual graces we already possess into good use.

Part 2: Go F.I.S.H. Cycle

Here is the cycle of Dynamic Love Relationships. While we apply this in our own Relationship with God, let us examine our human relationships too using these guide. The cycle also follows the different stages/ types of love.

I. PAGHAHANGAD: Paghahanap-Paglapit-Pakikisama.

Eros: Need Love – Companionship

All relationships start in this stage.

1º First I Seek Him.

This first stage is PAG-LAPIT. Why is this important?

because He first seeks for me. This is the heart of His Incarnation, His Passion, Death and Resurrection: He is God-with-us because He is God-seeking-for-us.

Do you desire for God, at least, in the way you desire to be with your loved one?

Do you thirst for His Love and Mercy?

Lumalapit ka ba sa simbahan? O naghihintay kang lapitan ng simbahan o ng pari?

II. PAG-MAMAHAL: Pag-tingin-Pag-kilala-Pag-papahalaga.

Philia: Common Friendship

While pag-mamahal is generally used to refer to love, the Tagalog word conveys the nuance of putting value (mahal-aga, matimbang, precious) on the person and the values or virtues the person stands for.

It is in this context when we say Mahal Ko ang Diyos. What He values, I value. Simon was in this stage yet, in the gospel we heard (Lk 5:1-11). He cast his nets because he valued Jesus’ words.

2º Find the “I” in the Savior’s Heart.

After getting close to the Beloved one is invited into Friendship.

√One does not only need; one values the Beloved. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:2-3) 

√It is important to find our true value hidden in the very heart of God. God reminds us in Isaiah, See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; – Is 49:16  Here we regard, favour and observe the values and virtues of our ideal. A student studying to be a doctor is making real his/ her ideal. Then as he/ she progresses in the studies he/ she learns to appraise and observe the essential virtues attached to the ideal doctor. We say, unti-unti niyang pinahahalagahan ang mabubuting katangian ng isang ganap na doctor.

Finding the “I” in the Savior’s Heart you cannot but catch the Forgiveness In the Savior’s Heart!

Have you received this empowerment that comes from God’s mercy?

Have you gone to the Sacrament of Confession lately?

III. PAG-IBIG: Pag-ako – Pag-tugon – Pag-babago.

Pre-Agape: Sacramental Friendship

3º Foster Integrity, Seek Holiness.

Here, you say,I don’t only value your virtues and goodness, I also make them my own! This Friendship heals me, makes me holy.” Remember that integrity is unity, purity, virtue, honesty, innocence, soundness, completeness, wholeness.

√We take on a new personality. Finding ourselves in God, we cannot but become new persons with a new attitude, new behaviours, new likes, and dislikes.

√As soon as Simon was confronted with his inadequacy / unworthiness he begs, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” ButJesus did not depart from him nor was he rebuked. He was instead forgiven, healed and empowered, “Do not be afraid; from now on, you will be catching men.” So was Isaiah treated likewise before being called to the prophetic ministry, purified and empowered.

√The mandate to seek holiness: But, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct. – 1 Pt 1:15

√ May pag-ako ka ba sa Pag-ibig ng Diyos sa iyo?

√Ina-ako mo ba ang kaniyang kabanalan?

IV. PAKIKI-ISA: Pakikipag-kapwa – Pag-aalay.

Agape: Communion & Mission

There is communion:

√when friends decide to walk down the aisle and tie the knot in matrimony

√when even in anonymity one is faithful

√ when one achieves his/her ideals

√ when human will embraces God’s will

4º Fellowship In Search of Him

St. Paul beautifully expresses this Agape Communion love for God when he says, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me”  – Gal 2:20.

Agape stage is when the “I” become conformed to the Image of Christ in morality: we must be in a right (i.e., moral) relationship with God and with other humans, using our authority to serve God and our fellow humans.

This leads us back to the first stage of paghahangad, this time the fellowship seeking Him, then, ever deepening pag-mamahal and pag-big in the relationship.Do you ever wonder why some teenage kids love to be together than be with their parents and siblings at home?

Go figure! Go fish! ♥

4th Sunday in OT-C – January 30, 2022

COMMITMENT DESPITE FAILURES AND REJECTION

REJECTED PEOPLE

  1. Chester Carlson: Xerox. “ Who wants to copy a document on plain paper?” This was included in one of the 20 rejection letters Chester Carlson received for his invention—the Xerox machine. After six years of rejections, the Haloid Company bought his idea in 1944. The first copier was sold in 1950, and Carlson made over $150 million in his lifetime.
  2. Debbie Fields: Mrs. Fields. “A cookie store is a bad idea. America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” Debbi Fields ignored this investor’s advice and started Mrs. Fields’ Cookies in 1977. There are now more than 400 of her cookie stands around the world.
  3. The Beatles. “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” Dick Rowe of the British music label Decca Records said this in 1962 to a young rock group. The group signed with EMI Records instead. The band?
  4. Anne Frank: The Diary. “The girl doesn’t have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” A book editor said that about The Diary of Anne Frank. Since 1952, the book has sold 25 million copies and has been trans­lated into 60 languages.
  5. Felix Hoffman: Bayer Aspirin. “The product is worthless.” Bayer pharmaceuticals’ 1897 rejection of Felix Hoffman‘s formula for aspirin. (They eventually accepted it in 1899.)
  6. Dr. Seuss. “Too different from other juvenile titles on the market to warrant its selling.” One book publisher said this in 1937 about And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, the first children’s book by Dr. Seuss. In fact, 27 publishers rejected it before Vanguard Press accepted. Dr. Seuss went on to write over 40 children’s books that sold nearly half a billion copies.
  7. W. Shakespeare. “The most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life.” Member of Parliament Samuel Pepys wrote this diary entry after seeing William Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1662.
  8. Stephen King. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative Utopias. They do not sell.” This was said to Stephen King in the early 1970s about his first novel, Carrie. The book went on to become the first of dozens of bestsellers for King, the top-selling horror author of all time.
  9. Fred Astaire. “Balding, skinny, can dance a little.” Paramount Pictures made this assessment after an early audi­tion by Fred Astaire. He signed with RKO Studios instead.
  10. Ludwig van Beethoven.”Hopeless.” A music teacher’s opinion of his student’s composing ability. The student: Beethoven.
  11. Michael Jordan. “Cut from the high school basketball team…” He went home, locked himself in his room, and cried.
  12. Thomas Edison. “Too stupid to learn anything” a teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything, and he should go into a field where he might succeed, by virtue of his pleasant personality.
  13. Walt Disney. “Lacking imagination” Fired from a news paper because he lacked imagination and had no original ideas.

If you gave up every time you failed, you’d never succeed. These people got rejected, but they didn’t give up—and the rest of us benefited.

COMMITMENT TRUTHS

1. Commitment Starts in the Heart.* It is said that in Kentucky Derby, the winning horse effectively runs out of oxygen after the first half mile, and he goes the rest of the way on heart. Christians who make a difference in other people’s lives have committed hearts, hearts entirely dedicated to God and His will. (The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States.)

2.  Commitment Is Tested by Action. It’s one thing to talk about commitment. It’s another to do something about it. The only real measure of  commitment is action. Arthur Gordon acknowledged, “Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.”

3.  Commitment Opens the Door to Empowerment. As a Christian, you will face plenty of obstacles and opposition—if you don’t already. And there will be times when commitment is the only thing that carries you forward. Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down.

(*Excerpts from The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John C. Maxwell)

COMMITMENT STEPS vs. FAILURES/REJECTIONS

1. Know: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” (Jer 1:5) You are not a loser! God assures  His children, “They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” (Jer 1:19)

2. Strive for Love: “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts”. – 1 Cor 12:31 Strive to put love in your heart.

3. Stand Up For What You Believe In: “Stand up and tell them all that I command you.” – Jer 1: 17

4. Remember: a) “Love never fails.” – 1 Cor 13:8 God never fails. He is faithful. b) “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” – Lk 4:24 Even Jesus was rejected. No matter who you are or were, all face rejection sometime. You may not even want to admit that you were rejected, yet you were. Even Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah was rejected. Joseph in the O. T. was rejected by his brothers. He acknowledged that and kept going. c) Find security in God’s Acceptance. Others may reject us, yet God is faithful to love and accept us. Acceptance comes primarily from God’s mercy. Christians who experience rejection have the opportunity to experience God’s indescribable acceptance. The psalmist acclaims, “You are my hope, Lord; my trust, GOD, from my youth.” – Ps 71:5 6.

5. Walk Away. Decide to put what happened behind you and look forward to the future. For St. Paul this means “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 3:13b-14

6. Keep Going: “But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” – Lk 4:30 Jesus kept going. If we are rejected in our employment, rejected by friends or family, overcome the tough and bear the situation by moving ahead. Head toward the goals in life that God set before you. Rejection is a lesson in learning how to be strong and keep going. Know that rejections come repeatedly in life. So keep going. Stand up for what you believe in despite the rejection.

God bless you! ♥

3rd Sunday in OT-C- January 23, 2022

The Power of Words

Lessons  in Motion to Understand the Power of God’s Word

    Within our words an unseen power is set in motion. The tongue is a small thing but like a tiny spark  can set a great forest on fire. Once spoken our words begin  blazing in trail to the hearts and lives of those around us.

    One kind word can demolish guilt. It can inspire hope. But the same words  have also embraced hatred and executed innocence.

    Once spoken, our words scorch with feelings and emotions on a level that only  they can produce.

Your words set up a train of events beyond your control and which you will never have.  One word can destroy beliefs, harden hearts or cultivate hatred. 

     But they can also demonstrate FAITH, display FORGIVENESS and nurture LOVE.

    The Power of Life and Death lies in a single Word.

And WE, the Image of God, have this Power in ONE WORD.

Let us submit ourselves to the Power of this Word.

PART 1: THE POWER OF THOUGHTS & WORDS

Masaru Emoto (江本勝, Emoto Masaru, born July 22, 1943) is a Japanese author known for his claim that if human speech or thoughts are directed at water droplets before they are frozen, images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the words or thoughts were positive or negative. Emoto claims this can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

    Based on his work, he has published a collection of photographs, entitled “Messages from Water”.

    He says, “I learned that no two snowflakes were identical. So, I thought, Oh, snowflakes. Snow is water. If snow has crystals, then water should have too, when it’s frozen.”

    Some of the water they examined in the institute showed no crystal formation whatsoever. One such example was tap water.

    From what was observed, beautiful crystals were a rarity when it came to tap waters of Japan. This was also the case in certain cities outside of Japan. Unlike tap water, water from natural sources, produces a variety of beautiful crystal structures captivating our eyes. This is water – revealing another side of its self.

    Dr. Emoto observes, “Everything in existence vibrates. Physics cannot deny this. Vibration is just another word for energy. So how does vibration travel? Through water, I believe. And the hexagonal crystals represent the life force of Mother Nature. Therefore, the absence of hexagonal crystals can be seen as a sign that the life forces in that area have been compromised energetically.”

    Water & Music

After exposing water to beautiful music, like Mozart’s, Emoto discovered that beautiful crystalline formations emerged from the frozen water.

    Water & Thoughts

Emoto conducted another experiment, one that involved projecting thoughts on to water. Four groups of parents and their children participated. In this experiment we used 2 glasses of tap water taken from Tokyo. We should note here that crystal formation has always eluded the waters of Tokyo. To one glass, all of the participants expressed Gratitude, first, out loud, then with their eyes closed.

Water in bottle labeled with name Mother Teresa revealed this beautiful crystal formation!

Three hours later, the frozen water  is ready for observation. It was observed that there was a total lack of beautiful crystal formation in the tap water from Tokyo. But the water that received Gratitude showed sudden emersions of a single crystal, clear and simple – as if to epitomize the thoughts of the people who have gathered. In response to the words and thoughts of the participants, the tap water from Tokyo produced a beautifully balanced crystal.

     Criticism& Publication

    Cautionary note: Commentators have criticized Emoto for insufficient experimental controls, and for not sharing enough details of his approach with the scientific community. In addition, Emoto has been criticized for designing his experiments in ways that leave them open to human error influencing his findings.

    In 2006, Emoto published a paper together with Dean Radin and others in the peer-reviewed Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (of which Radin was co-editor-in-chief). They describe that in a double blind test approximately 2000 people in Tokyo could increase the aesthetic appeal of water stored in a room in California, compared to water in another room, solely through their positive intentions.

I agree. But I present these so that you also know about these and be the judge of the truth beyond these expositions, the spiritual truth beyond these experiments.

PART 2: DO-IT-YOURSELF:  EMOTO RICE EXPERIMENT

Place cooked rice in 3 jars. Label the 1st jar “I Love You.” Label the 2nd jar “You FOOL!”Do not label the third jar. Cover the jars tightly. Take pictures of the jars. Everyday for 30 days say the words on the jars to each one. Totally ignore the one without the label. Record what you did, the date you did it, and take pictures once a week.

PART 3:  BE SHAPED BY GOD’S WORD

The power of the word is real whether or not you are conscious of it. Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Behind every word flows energy.

If thoughts expressed in words or other media can do that to water, just imagine what your thoughts & words can do to yourself, others and to the world! Remember, up to 70 % of our body is water! Muscle:  75 % water; Fat: 50 % water; Bones: 50 % water.

These amazing lessons should encourage us:

1) Read the Word of God! Expose ourselves to God’s Powerful Word. If good affirming words already have a tremendous effect on matter such as water, how much more the Powerful Word of God on our Souls/ Spirits!

2) Watch our Thoughts & Words. Let us be sensitive from now on to the possible effects of the words we utter, especially those that come with strong negative emotions like anger and frustrations. Be proactive and be affirming!

3) and mean the Blessings we call upon on ourselves and others. Remember, behind every prayer you say flows grace/ energy. So please Pray! Pray daily as much as you can!

Let us submit ourselves always, immediately & with joy to the Power of The Word Made Flesh.♥