Feast of the Holy Family – C – December 26, 2021

The Family Heart Walk

Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) Adults with Chick ANTARCTICA

Some family values from the Penguins, some of the most devoted parents in the world. After the females have laid their eggs when winter temperatures drop to -50 degrees, the female penguins leave their eggs to the males and return to the sea. The devoted males take on the task of looking after the eggs. The male penguin carries the egg on its feet  to protect it from the ice. Its thick feathers protect the egg from the cold. If the egg falls to the ice, it will freeze at once. They go without food for four months. They remain on their feet the whole time  never putting the egg down even for a moment. The penguins huddle together for protection from the freezing wind. All they can do during the four months of winter is to be patient. Even after winter when the eggs have hatched since the layers of fat that will keep them from the cold have not yet formed, they are still on their fathers’ feet. The chick’s first food comes from meal from its father’s crop. Even though the male penguin has eaten nothing for four months it has made another sacrifice and kept is food in its crop for its chick to eat. At just that moment the females come back on land from the sea. They have been hunting and storing food in their crops for their newly hatched chicks. As soon as the females arrive the males who have gone hungry for the last four months rush to the sea  to begin hunting. As soon as the male penguins have eaten they return to their nest and continue to feed their young together with the females. That’s the Penguins’ Heart Walk!

Let’s Do The Heart Walk!

Once the great Roman Empire was the most powerful on earth. Yet it disintegrated and sank down. Historian Edward Gibbon in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire gives 5 reasons:  1)  Rapid increase of divorce; undermining the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society; 2) Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public funds; 3) The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming more exciting but bloody and brutal; 4) The building of massive armaments, when the real enemy was within: the decadence of the people; 5) The decay of religion – fading into mere form, losing touch with life and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.

New Year Wish List: Create a New Heart in me, O Lord

  • Humble & Patient Heart– a heart more humane, more humble. Resolve: say “I am sorry, please forgive me” more often and readily; go to confessions “more often”; daily examination of conscience; a HolyWhole heart is able to endure hardships and trials patiently.
  • Eucharistic Heart – marked with Endearment, Empathy & Gratitude Resolve: be faithful to Sunday Worship, Kinder towards everyone, esp. those unkind towards us, be more listening, understanding of another’s feelings, situations & motives; more counting of blessings. Seek for spiritual “pleasures
  • Affirming Heart –  huwag maging kuripot sa pagpuna sa kabutihan, kagandahan at pagpupunyagi ng lahat; sabihin ito sa kinauukulan.
  • Reparative & Responsible Heart – be more reconciliatory; on the look out for relationships that need to be repaired & serve as an agent. Use your resources responsibly for this!
  • Truthful Altruistic Heart– alisin na ang mga kasinungalingan sa buhay. Be aware of so-called white lies: little holes in your bucket of truthfulness through which the Prince of Lies may enter into your life. Altruism’s very essence is all-true-ism, living in the Truth, who is also the Way & Life.

Happy Family Day! God bless your Family!

4th Sunday of Advent – Year C- December 19, 2021

CALIBRATE TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

To calibrate: to check, adjust, focus or determine by comparison with a standard (the graduations of a quantitative measuring instrument).

To calibrate our hearts in order to meaningfully celebrate Christmas means, therefore, to check, adjust, and re-focus our hearts on Jesus.

It means keeping Him in Christmas. But more than just a day, calibrating is a day to day revealing of the character, love and spirit of Christ that dwells in us, allowing these traits to shine through our actions.

THREE STEPS TO CALIBRATE:

1º BE STILL.

“Be still and confess that I am God!” Ps 46:11

üPls. slow down and be still. Just allow God to address you in prayerful silence.

üPray. Meditate. Reflect. Still doing your Christmas shopping? That’s okay. But at the end of the day, please spend sometime being busy with God, in restful prayerful relationship with him.

2º FOCUS.

“Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us  and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.” Heb 12:1

Focusing entails these details:

a.  Rid yourself of Sins.

b.  Be patient. Endure trials.

c.  Keeping your heart fixed on God’s Love and Providence.

Some simple ways to keep Christ the central focus of your life this Christmas season:

1) Give God one very special personal gift. No one else needs to know about it. Let it be a sacrifice. Forgive someone? Spend time with God daily? Give up something? Make this your most important gift of the season.

2) Plan a project of good will this Christmas. “Adopt” a single mom, an orphan, a widow, an elderly, a child w/ disability this season?

3) Christmas carolling in a nursing home or a children’s hospital.

4) Give a surprise gift of service to each member of your family. Running an errand for your brother? Cleaning out a closet for your mother?

5) Set aside a time of family devotions on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Before opening the gifts, take a few minutes to gather together as a family in prayer and devotions.

6) Attend Christmas Mass service together with your family. Or invite a friend or a neighbor to join you.

7) Send Christmas cards /text that convey a personal spiritual message.

8) Write a Christmas letter of

affirmation to someone.

3º  CHOOSE KINDNESS, ALWAYS, IMMEDIATELY AND WITH JOY.

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! 5 Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:4-5

KINDNESS

What kindness is not.

Kindness does not necessarily mean being nice.

One can be kind and not nice. Nice is defined as being agreeable. In contrast, kindness is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do.

What Kindness is.

√ comes from Old High German: kind, child

√ comes from the Latin: benignitas (roots bene- = “well” and -genus = “born”)

√ comes from the Greek word chrestotes: which meant to be kind, mild, and benevolent, compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane, or gentle.

The apostle Paul uses this word to depict God’s incomprehensible kindness for people who are unsaved (Rom 11:22; Eph 2:7; Tit 3:4).

the kindness and generous love of God…saved us through the bath of rebirth  and renewal by the holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5

√ in inter-human relationships, being adaptable to others to the needs of others

√ doing something and not expecting anything in return

√ respecting and helping others without waiting for someone to help you back; you keep being kind no matter what

√ goodness in action

√ sweetness of disposition

Are you Kind enough toPass the Good-o-Meter of God?

3rd Sunday of Advent- December 12, 2021

REJOICE: CELEBRATE CHANGE

Zephaniah calls Jerusalem to celebration (v14). The Lord has taken away the judgments against us (v 15). The Lord is in our midst (verse 17). Isaiah exhorts us to sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievements while St. Paul calls us to rejoice! Meanwhile, we hear John’s preaching about the concrete demands of a sincere conversion, of true change. Joy is the theme of this 3rd Sunday of advent. It is a call to celebrate a genuine change of heart and mind of the Christian.

HOW DO WE CELEBRATE CHANGE?

 

1º CHOOSE HONESTY: ALLOW NEW GROWTH EVERYDAY

Sirach 29:3 Keep your promise, be honest with him, and you will always come by what you need.

Confront Dishonesty with the Prince of Truth! Remember that Christ is Truth Incarnate!

To the tax collectors: “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Lk 3:12-13

To the Soldiers: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Lk 3:14

“Integrity is telling myself the truth.  And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” – Spencer Johnson

“Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.” –  William Shakespeare

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” – Edward R. Murrow (American Journalist, 1908-1965)

2º CONFRONT HABITS: ANXIETY, NEGATIVITY, GREED & EGO (EASING GOD OUT)

Confront useless anxiety with God’s Love!

Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to cope with it. But when anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder!

“Do not be anxious about anything. (Phil 4:6).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Negativity

Confront negativism with Faith in God’s Promises!

Be glad and exult with all your heart… the Lord has removed the judgment against you… Fear not, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst! (Zeph 3:14-20)

Greed

Confront greed by giving and sharing. Our greedy, avaricious & selfish attitudes must change.

To the crowds: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Lk 3:10-11

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -Buddhist saying

Ego (Easing God Out)

Confront attitudes that make God ‘your last resort’.

“In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

3º CELEBRATE HOPE AND NAVIGATE BY GOD’S EXHORTATIONS

Celebrate Hope

Celebrate hope by thanksgiving.

Give thanks to the Lord,acclaim his name. (Is 12:4a)

Celebrate hope by making Him known.

Make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. (Is 12:4b)

Celebrate hope by proclaiming that 

“God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord. He has been my savior.” Is 12:2

Live by God’s Precepts.

Psalm 19:9 The precepts of theLORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Like John, let us also exhort others to navigate with God through our words and deeds.

Exhorting them in many other ways, John preached good news to the people. (Lk 3:18)

Are you ready to celebrate change this Christmas? ♥

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)

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“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