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Light of the Spirit

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Pentecost icon written by Francisco “Kiko” Arguello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way.

A post-Pentecost reflection

“And he (Jesus) said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.’… After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:21-22 NJB)

It’s almost a week since we concluded the Easter Season with the Solemnity of Pentecost (the 50th after Pascha). Nevertheless it is opportune to still reflect on the liturgy of this holy day.

The Paschal Candle is displayed and lit in churches from the Easter Vigil up to Pentecost. The purpose is not only to mark Eastertide’s timeline of fifty (50) days. Rather it is also to tell us that the same light which emanated from the Risen Christ on that first Easter Sunday is the same light of the Holy Spirit, poured forth in its fullness fifty days later.

On the first Easter Sunday, Jesus showed himself to the apostles (minus Judas Iscariot) and disciples who locked themselves in the upper room for fear of the Jews (cf. Jn 20:19b). He greeted them: “Peace be with you.” He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:22) Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit descended on this same band gathered on that first Easter Sunday, proceeded from the Father and the Son (cf. Nicene Creed). And, as the Acts of the Apostles narrates, a strong wind blew and tongues of fire appeared in their heads. They were fortified by the Breath of God and illumined by the Light of the Spirit.

It is sad to note that, in some churches, the Paschal Candle is already set aside as early as Ascension. They are missing the point. That same light of the Risen Christ is the same light given to the apostles and disciples fifty days later.

In this day and age, the world needs light – we need the Light of the Holy Spirit more than ever!

We need the Light of Peace in the midst of various conflicts in our families, in our society and in the world.

We need the Light of Truth in a world bombarded by error particularly of confusion in doctrine, morals, and the defamation campaign of fake news in social media and the internet.

We need the Light of Love in a world full of hatred in the hearts of men and women, in a world in need of God’s mercy more than ever, in a world in need of God’s mercy which transforms lives.

Let this be our prayer, taught by St. Arnold Jansen to his religious family and Christians of goodwill:

May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of Grace. And may the Heart of Jesus live in every heart and in the hearts of all.

Amen! Alleluia!

Celebrate Hope

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The Resurrection of Jesus

“The Resurrection of Jesus” by Fr. Emmanuel Del Rosario. From the Stations of the Cross panels enshrined in Holy Cross Parish, Krus na Ligas, Quezon City.

“… and he saw and believed.” (John 20:8b)

A notable line in the Easter Sequence (a.k.a. “extended Gospel Acclamation”) Victimæ Paschali Laudes says: SURREXIT CHRISTUS SPES MEAM (Christ my hope has arisen). It may be very timely to reflect on this line on this Easter Sunday:

Sa panahon ng tila namamayaning kawalan ng pag-asa, ang Kristyano ay hinahamong tumanaw sa mas maaliwalas na bahagi ng buhay. Bagamat may mga suliraning kinahaharap ang bawat isa sa atin at ng lipunan, hinahamon tayo ng ating pananampalataya upang magnilay sa Krus at Banal na Libingang Walang Laman. Sa gayon, tinuturuan tayong magkaroon ng totohanang pag-asa sa Diyos nating wagas magmahal.

On that first Easter Sunday, the Lord Jesus Christ renewed the faith of his holy Apostles and disciples. St Peter himself saw and believed the ever great miracle and reality of the Divine Master’s resurrection.

We too can both see and believe that there is still hope for ourselves, our families and society, and the world at large. Thanks to people of good will who strive, by their example and living, to be just and humane in a world that lacks justice and kindness – in a world in need of experiencing the Divine Mercy.

On this most holy day of days, let us CELEBRATE HOPE! This hope comes from the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ who is ever sensitive of everyone of us. He is alive! The goodwill we received from him and which we pay forward is a sign of hope for others in their want and suffering. Let us also pray that we who witness and experience goodwill may truly see and believe that there is still hope in this troubled world in need of God’s mercy – that there is still mercy in man. And this mercy in man is God’s gift of Divine Mercy.

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen! There is hope. There is Christian hope! And God’s good will gives us the hope of his glory and his mercy. Furthermore, we are made to pay forward this God-given good will. Hence we will be true witnesses of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

Amen. Alleluia!

Coming Home

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And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Lk 2:4-5 RNAB)

HINDI LINGID sa atin ang paguwi ng mga kamag-anak at mga kaibigan sa kani-kanilang mga kinalakhang mga lugar upang ipagdiwang ang Kapaskuhan. Kadalasan, tuwing buwan ng Disyembre, marami ang dumarayo sa mga terminal ng bus, mga aeroporto, mga pier, at iba pang pampublikong mga sasakyan upang makauwi at makapagdiwang ng Pasko kasama ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.

Ang iba ay mga balikbayan mula sa ibang bansa. At, kadalasan, catching-up moment ang nangyayari: Sinasariwa ng mga magkakamag-anak at mga kaibigan ang kanilang mga magaganda gayun din ang mga karanasang nagdulot sa kanila ng mga ginintuang aral sa buhay.

Gayun din ang karanasan ng sambayanang Kristyano: sinasariwa natin sa ating mga alaala at pamumuhay ang pagkakatawang-tao ng Anak ng Diyos, si Hesukristong ating Panginoon. Ang pagsasariwang ito ay isinalaysay sa mga unang kabanata ng mga Ebanghelyo ayon kay San Mateo at (lalo na) kay San Lucas. May komentarista pa akong napakinggan na malamang daw kuwinento ng Birheng Maria kay San Lucas ang salaysay ng pagpasok ni Hesus sa kasaysayan ng tao.

Higit sa lahat, sariwa sa alaala ng Simbahan ang gawaing pagliligtas ni Hesus paglaki niya – ang kanyang pagaalay ng buhay sa Krus at ang kanyang muling pagkabuhay. Ito ay ating sinasariwa at nararanasan tuwing tayo ay nagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa. Kaya may Christmas ay dahil sa Mass/Misa. Kaya may Pasko dahil ang kahahantungan nito ay ang Paskuwa.

Christmas is about coming home: Joseph went home to Bethlehem – the city of his ancestry – with the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus about to be born then. As Christians, we too are called this Christmas season TO COME HOME to the heart of God.

Let us come home to Bethlehem, the house of bread. Let us come home to the Eucharist where the Lord Jesus, poor and humble in the Sacrament, gives himself totally.

No wonder, the Philippines, this season is called Pasko (ng Pagsilang/- the Pasch/Passover of Birth) in reference to Pasch/Pascua. Where as the English Christmas is to Mass. The contemplation of the Incarnation of the Son of God should lead us to the Cross and the Holy Sepulchre.

Kapatid, kung matagal ka nang hindi nagsisimba, ito na ang panahon upang panibaguhin/sariwain ang iyong pangunawa at pagmamahal sa Panginoong Hesus sa Eukaristya.

Dahil ang Pasko ay dahil sa Paskuwa. At ang Christmas ay dahil sa Mass/Misa.

Binigay ng Diyos Ama ang kanyang bugtong na Anak nang buong-buo dahil sa pagmamahal. Hari nawa’y makilahok tayo sa pagmamahal na ito – sa naguumapaw na mga awa ng Diyos na patuloy nating nararanasan sa Liturhiya lalo na sa Eukaristiya.

Makilahok tayo nang ganap, mulat at aktibo sa Eukaristiya (cf. SC). Sapagkat doon natin nasisilayan at nararanasan ang pagliligtas ng Diyos. At mula sa pagdiriwang at panalangin, ating ibahagi ang kagandahang-loob ng Diyos sa ating mga kapwa at mag-anak.

MALIGAYANG PASKO SA INYONG LAHAT! Kaawaan kayo ng Batang Hesus at kalingain ng kanyang Birheng Inang Maria. Amen.

Why Do We Hurt People?

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A post-Christ the King reflection.

One of the criminals hanging there abused him: ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He answered him, ‘In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23:39-43 NJB)

AT THE CONCLUSION if the Extraordinary Jubilee of mercy, there is this one question that is worth asking yet seldom asked: WHY DO WE HURT PEOPLE?

There is one answer to this: BECAUSE WE FEEL (some point in our lives) THAT WE ARE NOT LOVED AND CARED FOR AT ALL.

Why are there bully children, bully classmates, bully adults, bully parents, bully neighbors, bully boses, bully officemates, etc.? It’s all because they never felt they were loved and cared for at all. They hurt inside. They groan in deep pain…

I myself had badly hurt people in the past. I still regret them. And as I examined myself, I concluded that I felt I was never loved and cared for at all. On the other hand, I am also challenged to understand those people in my life who had hurt me badly in the past: Kung alam ko lang ang mga pinagdadaanan ng mga taong nangapi sa akin noon, baka maawa pa ako sa kanila (If only I knew what things the people who had hurt me went through, I might had pity on them)…

Jesus on the Cross was hurt – BADLY HURT – by the people he came to save. Nevertheless his response was love – MERCY.

The two thieves crucified with the Lord may have felt, in some point in their lives, that they we’re unloved and uncared by the people very dear to them. One responded negatively. However, the one who asked for mercy from the Savior in his moment of agony recognized the blessed hope offered by God’s Suffering Servant.

Like the repentant thief, may we recognize the loving and caring God who continued to be merciful and compassionate. And like Jesus, who continued to love despite being hurt, may we be merciful to others who need most God’s mercy.

-25 November 2016

Real Presence, Real Service

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“Jesus and the Multiplication of Bread and Fish” Mosaic from the Church of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy

Give them some food yourselves. (Luke 9:13a NABRE)

TRADITIONALLY, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (most known as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini) is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. In Rome and in other parts of the world it is celebrated on this day. However, in places where it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, this is transferred on the following Sunday. Nevertheless, whether it is celebrated on a Thursday (the day Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist) or on a Sunday (the day he rose from the dead), we celebrate the fact that our blessed Lord Jesus is truly, really, and substantially present in this Most Blessed Sacrament. As his Holy Church, we proclaim his death – his good will offering of himself as a saving sacrifice on the cross – until he comes again (cf. I Cor 11:26).

On this year’s Gospel passage for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Year C), we are neither given the narrative of the Bread of Life discourse (John chapter 6) nor of the Last Supper. Rather we are given the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand (Lk 9:11b-17). Why is this so? What does Holy Mother Church have in mind of opening this Biblical passage to us as our point of reflection?

As Catholic Christians we have a strong belief in the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Many catechists and theologians have explained this doctrine through the centuries. In simple terms, we believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist BECAUSE HE SAID SO.

Now, what is the relevance of Transubstantiation in our daily lives as Christians?

Transubstantiation must lead us to TRANSFORMATION. If the ordinary unleavened wheat bread and grape wine turn into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, then we who receive this Most Blessed Sacrament must be transformed into true Christians provided we are in the state of grace. And as we become what we eat, we love and serve as the Divine Master Christ did. He bids us: “You give them food yourselves.” (cf Lk 9:13)

One priest in our diocese has this point stressed each time he reflects about the Eucharist: THE MOLDING POWER OF CONSTANT COMPANIONSHIP. Constant reception and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament leads the Christian to become what he adores. Hence the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus leads the Christian to REAL SERVICE.

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist leads us to Real Service. We may be branded as the “most hypocritical institution” by some of our critics due to the weakness of each and everyone of us especially of the “bad eggs” among us. However, the Church Militant on earth is on a constant learning process of being Christ-like. All of us need the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

God gives the sacraments through the ministry of his Holy Church. We do not go to church every Sunday or everyday because we are good and holy people with halos on our head. Rather we go to church simply because we are in great need of God.

So let us pray in today’s Mass (and in the Divine Office) the grace for the Real Presence of Jesus to make us live lives of Real Service. And as the offering of Melchizedek, the tithes of Abram/Abraham, and the young boy’s five loaves and two fish became beneficial to many, so may our acts of kindness and good will be signs of God’s mercy, compassion and goodwill to all.

05-29-2016

God’s Lovelife To Emulate

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Jesus said: But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. (Jn 16:13a RNAB)

MANY SAINTS AND THEOLOGIANS have tried to explain what the Holy Trinity is. However, one saying goes on like this: The Trinity is not a mystery to be solved but a mystery to be lived.

To believe in the Trinity means to live the very lovelife of God. But to know who this loving and living God is, we need the guidance of his Holy Spirit. Jesus said in the night of the Last Supper: But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. (Jn 16:13a RNAB) We also need a renewed awareness of the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. (cf. Rm 5:5)

The truth of God the Holy Trinity reminds us that Christian life is about community, communication and communion. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is a loving community. This one God communicates with us, mankind, through ages past up to the present. This one God shares his life of sanctifying grace to us through sacramental and ecclesial communion.

Yes, the world is a vale of tears with interpersonal and ideological struggles here and there. But as a Church – as a family of saints and sinners – we ask God’s help to live his very life of community, communication, and communion – TO LIVE THE VERY LOVELIFE OF GOD.

We need great humility to understand (even we cannot fully comprehend) and live the lovelife of the Holy Trinity. There is also this saying that the person who worships becomes who he worships. As Christians, we worship the One Triune God and begin to emulate his mercy, compassion and good will.

* 05-23-2016, A post-Sunday reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (Year C)

Change is Coming! (Our Change in the Spirit)

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“Descent of the Holy Spirit”, stained glass window, National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, New Manila, Quezon City. Photo by CBB.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:21-23 RNAB)

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

RECENTLY a candidate for presidency (who is now leading in the counting) in the Philippines made this phrase one of his campaign slogans: CHANGE IS COMING.

I am no supporter of this particular candidate. However, we can use this phrase in the spiritual sense of the word: Change is coming!

From being cowards, the Apostles (Judas Iscariot replaced by Matthias) received the Holy Spirit in the form of a strong wind and through tongues of fire. And they began to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with greater courage than ever. Fifty days prior to it – on the first Easter Sunday – the Risen Christ appeared to his then cowardly Apostles locked up for fear of the Jews, greeted them peace, breathed on them and commanded them to forgive sins.

Change is coming! In light of the New Evangelization, Catholic Christians are more invigorated in their Baptismal calling as contemplatives and missionaries. As Pope Francis told the youth gathered in South Korea last August 2014: “Wake up! Wake up!” Lethargy has no place in the hearts of contemporary missionaries – they try to emulate the courageous Apostles and the great missionaries who spread the Gospel and the extension of God’s Holy Church throughout the world.

Change is coming! Hardened hearts are forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our priests are doing all their best to be the best priests and ministers of God’s mercy. Furthermore, they receive the Holy Eucharist and are molded by constant companionship with the Crucified and Risen Lord.

Change is coming! Closed hearts are beginning to open themselves to the promptings of the Holy Spirit calling them to constant conversion, renewal, prayer and service. And these converted hearts strive to proclaim and live God’s message of peace, mercy, compassion and good will in world in dire need of them.

As we end the Easter Season today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth: Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Christians, CHANGE IS COMING! And it is brought by the Father’s love, the saving work of Jesus his Son, and the powerful promptings of the Holy Spirit. Amen! Alleluia!

05-15-2016 Pentecost Sunday

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