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Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Lord says ... John 20:19-31


*SUNDAY GOSPEL


19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 24Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, 


“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? 
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” 

30Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.



Believe It or Not

I have four children. I never prayed so hard in my entire life before. I never had been so much a seeker to ask God about this kind of petition because I never did it with my first three children. When I learned that I was pregnant with my youngest one, I decided to be more prayerful, especially during the mass. I was told by a friend that the most effective way to pray is during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist. So since then, every time the priest will raise the Holy Eucharist, I lifted up my petition. I hold on to that hope that my petition would be granted and even made a promise that I will have this child serve Him in the future. I believe that nothing is impossible with Him. So for eight months I did that kind of praying and had kept myself from knowing the sex identity of my child. Till one day, when I went to my obstetrician-gynecologist for my regular pre-natal checkup, she told me that I have to undergo an ultrasound already. I really didn’t want to because I wanted to keep that excitement, till I see my child be born on due date. But there was no choice. My doctor had to know the position of my baby, in case, whether I would have a caesarian section or normal delivery. Surprise, surprise, surprise -- the greatest joy I had felt for my prayer was granted. Believe it or not --- after having three daughters, finally I have a son! Though the promise I made to my Lord has not yet been a fulfillment as of now, my prayer is still on-going. It takes time when the Lord will call him or not, for my heart still believes -- nothing is impossible with Him. 

Believing is not just seeing what you are seeing right now, but continue believing what you can’t still grasp now until the day it will come forth. Believing is hoping and hoping is believing. Trusting on the Lord is both virtues of hoping and believing combined that He will grant our heart’s desire according to His will… according to His plans… according to His purpose… and according to His own time. That’s why I still believe …

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"I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."

Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

My Lord says ... John 20:1-9


*SUNDAY GOSPEL


1On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 3So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. 4They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; 5he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. 6When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 7and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. 8Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. 9For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.


DYING TO ONESELF
My mother became a widow at the age of 27.  She was four months pregnant with me when my father died.  She had a glorious day when my father was still alive.  She was complete with household helpers to do the house work and a nanny to take care of my eldest siblings.  She was a full-time housewife and a mother and never gone to work.  She was provided with materials things she never had before.  With material blessings, she shared it with her parents (my grandparents) to help them provide for her other siblings’ needs.  But it was short lived because my father was killed by someone who was in argument with him in business.  She was left with nothing because the business that my father used to manage was taken over by his eldest brother.  As usual, she had to rely on him for financial support.  Traditionally, grieving as a widow would take two years before she could be allowed to take the risk of getting married again.  But she didn’t take that kind of risk; instead, she took the risk of providing for our needs by herself alone.


Metaphorically speaking, raising four children is like a "calvary" of parenthood and a "dying to oneself," especially if one is a single parent. It’s a hard task wherein a parent doesn’t think anymore of herself or himself, but only the goodness of her or his own children. Food, clothes, shelter, and education are basic necessities that are hard to provide for.  Heart-breaking sacrifices that can’t be fully compensated by any material wealth only, but by our sense of appreciation, gratitude, service, and respect that should be given to one’s parent, especially in their old age. 

Before, I never realized the sacrifices and concern of my own mother for me, till I became a mother myself.  I made wrong decisions in my life because I disregarded her love and concern for me when I was still young.  But literally, I don’t need to wait for a family member to die before I open up my eyes to the truth and reality of a mother’s love.  Though it was too late before I realized my mistake, but it’s never too late to make up for my own mistakes and shortcomings.  Whatever forms, healing takes time, but I need to take actions to prove my sincerity as a daughter and as a mother also to my children.  Gone the "old self" and comes the "new self" to make everything possible with God's help.

Happy Easter to all!!!



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"I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."


Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a



Sunday, April 9, 2017

My Lord says ... Matthew 27:11-54


*SUNDAY GOSPEL

11Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus answered,  “You say so.”  12The chief priests and the elders of the people  accused Him, but He made no answer.  13Pilate said to Him, “Do you hear all the charges they bring against you?”  14But He did not answer even one question, so that the governor wondered greatly.

15At Passover, it was customary for the governor to release any prisoner the people asked for.  16Now, there was a well-known prisoner called Barabbas.  17When the people had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Whom do you want me to set free: Barabbas or Jesus called the Messiah?”  18for he knew that Jesus had been handed over to him out of envy.  19While Pilate was sitting in court, his wife sent him this message, “Have nothing to do with that holy man.  Because of Him, I had a dream last night that disturbed me greatly.”

20But the chief priests and elders of the people stirred up the crowds, to ask for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus.  21When the governor asked them again, “Which of the two do you want me to set free?” they answered, “Barabbas!”  22Pilate said to them,  “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”  They all said,  “Crucify Him!” 23Pilate asked, “Why? What evil has He done?” But they shouted louder, “Crucify Him!”

24Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, and that there could be a riot.  He asked for water, washed his hands before the people, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.  Do what you want!”  25And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  26Then Pilate set Barabbas free, but had Jesus scourged, and handed over to be crucified. 

27Then the Roman soldiers took Jesus into the palace of the governor and the whole troop gathered around Him.  28They stripped Him and dressed Him in a purple cloak.  29 Then, weaving a crown of thorns, they forced it onto His head, and place a reed in His right hand.  They knelt before Jesus and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  30They spat on Him, took the reed from His hand and kept struck Him on the head with it.

31When they had finished mocking Him, they pulled off the purple cloak, and dressed Him in His own clothes, and led Him out to crucify Him.  32On the way they met a man from Cyrene called Simon, and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus.  33When they reached the place called Golgotha, which means the Skull, 34they offered Him wine mixed with gall.  He tasted it, but would not drink it.  35There they crucified Him, and divided His clothes among themselves, casting lots to decide what each one should take.  36Then they sat down to guard Him.  37The statement of His offense was displayed above His head, and it read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  38They also crucified two thieves with Him, one on His right hand and one on His left.

39The people passing by shook their heads and insulted Him, saying,  40“Aha!” You, who destroy the temple and in three days rebuild it, save yourself – if You are God’s Son – and come down from the cross!”  41In the same way the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law mocked Him.  42They said, “The man who saved others cannot save Himself.  Let the king of Israel come down from His cross and we will believe in Him.  43He trusted in God; let God rescue Him if God wants to, for He Himself said, “I am the Son of God.” 44Even the thieves who were crucified with Him insulted Him.  

45From midday, darkness fell over all the land until mid-afternoon.  46At about three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,  
 
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47As soon as they heard this, some of the bystanders said,  “He is calling for Elijah.”  48And one of them ran,  took a sponge and soaked it in vinegar and putting it on reed, gave it to Him to drink.  49Others said, “Leave Him alone, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”  Then Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 

51At that very moment, the curtain of the temple Sanctuary was in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, rocks were split,  52tombs were opened, and many holy people who had died were raised to life.  53They came out of the tombs, after the Resurrection of Jesus, entered the Holy City, and appeared to many.   54The captain and the soldiers who were guarding Jesus, having seen the earthquake and everything else that had happened, were terribly afraid, and said, “Truly, this was God’s Son.”  



“She turned her back on me”
My friend was really crying out her heart to me when we met one time.  She told me this devastating statement, “She turned her back on me.”  After all those years of providing for her only daughter’s education and giving her all the support she needed in order to be able to go and find a job abroad, she didn’t care anymore what happens to her afterward.  She made a lot of sacrifices for her just to help her achieve her goal. She borrowed the money from a lender even at a high interest rate. Her daughter promised her that she would pay her back once she becomes stable in her job and would petition her to live with her also.  There was so much happiness in her  and her daughter when her application was approved.

While in abroad,  there was a constant communication either through phone or emails. Then a year had passed, seldom has she called her anymore.  She got hospitalized and her finances got tight due to business losses.  She even tried to ask the help of her cousin to contact her daughter, but to no avail.  Until one day,  she got a call from her daughter that she got married and couldn’t afford anymore to give her the money she owed her.  The saddest part was when she said that her daughter would stop communicating with her because  her husband doesn’t like it.   


She asked, "What have I done to deserve this?" Emotionally and financially devastated, she was left with empty promises and has to shoulder the financial burden by herself.   She said there was a glory in her heart that she was able to provide everything for her only daughter.  But there will be more glory for her, if her daughter will be able to realize what she had done to her.  Only God can be the judge, no one knows, but only in His own time....

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" I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."


Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a 



Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Lord says ... John 11:1-45


*SUNDAY GOSPEL

1Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” 4When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” 12So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” 13But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. 14So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. 15And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” 17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. 19And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” 24Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus told her, 

“I am the resurrection and the life; 
whoever believes in me, 
even if he dies, will live, 
26and everyone who lives and believes in me 
will never die.

Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” 28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” 29As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. 30For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. 31So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, 34and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” 35And Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” 37But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” 38So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. 42I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” 45Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.



EXPERIENCING DEATH
Probably you have  read and heard from others’ stories that they had experienced death either caused by accident or illnesses. They said their spirit went to another dimension where they didn’t know where that place was. They all have one common experience -- seeing magnificent colorful lights.  As they walked through that long straight endless tunnel, they heard a majestic voice telling them to return because it wasn’t their time yet.  After experiencing death and went back to their physical bodies, it made them realized that death is not something to be afraid of. 

When I told my friend about this story, she told me that she had her own kind of experience about death.  One morning at 7 o'clock, she woke up to bottle feed her more than one year old baby.  She stood up and went to the side table where all the feeding bottles were. While she was preparing the milk, the next thing happened was total blackout.  She didn’t even know what really happened, till she heard her husband’s voice calling her name. He told her that he was awakened by a sudden noise and saw her lying already on the floor.  The milk powder and hot water were spilled on the table and floor.  He said her body was straight and heavy, but he tried to put her back on bed.  He said he couldn’t feel her breathing anymore and even no pulse at all. She regained her consciousness  only after 10 minutes of her husband’s calling her name and shaking her body.  He was terrified for he doesn’t know how to conduct a CPR.  She said she has no health problems or even had been hospitalized due to an illness or had past experiences of collapsing in just an instance like that. So she believed  she didn’t have to go to a doctor for consultation.  She also said that she felt nothing afterwards, never saw any colorful lights, and never heard a majestic voice telling her to return to her body, except her husband’s.  Until now, it never occurred to her again and that experience has been a puzzle to her.   


Different stories of life to cite, but one thing is common -- each one of us has his or her own "timeline." Life is full of challenges and struggles. When one is confronted with a problem and doesn’t know how to deal with it, he or she either tries to commit suicide or face the challenge.   Either way, death occurs to everybody and can be viewed in two different ways—physical and spiritual.  Physically alive, but spiritually dead.  Physically dead, but spiritually alive.  For whoever believes in Jesus, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in Him, will never die.  God is truly amazing!!! 

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"I will sing of your salvation. In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. For you are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God from my youth. On you I depend my birth; from my mother's womb, you are my strength. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds."


Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a