Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
Mk 1:21-28

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mk 1:14-20

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 
Mk 10:13-16

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Jn 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

This was how John the Baptist publicly identified Jesus as the Messiah which was why his two disciples went over to Jesus to become his new disciples.
·         There are two instances in the Mass where we call on Jesus as the Lamb of God. The first is at the breaking of the bread. We call on Jesus three times as Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The second immediately follows. The priest says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are they who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
·         There is another important event in the Gospel of John that is tied to the title of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Jesus was crucified and died on Calvary on a Friday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Now it is precisely at the time that the lambs are sacrificed in the Temple during the Passover feast. This is how St. John the Evangelist points to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”

It seems that the more natural question that Jesus would ask the two erstwhile disciples or John would be: “What do you want?” or “Why are you following me?”

·         This reminds me of Diogenes of Sinope. He was a philosopher. One day in broad daylight he went to the town square carrying a lighted lamp. People were intrigued. And they asked him, “Why are you carrying a lighted lamp in broad daylight?” And he answered them: “I am looking for an honest man and it’s so hard to find one.”
·         At one time in our life, we might be in search of something important: what course to take in college; a soul mate; the meaning of life; the reason why you were born in this world; why do bad things happen to good people; why did someone die young; why is there so much evil in the world and so on. If Jesus were to ask you, “what are you in search of at this time in your life?”, what would you say to him? If he were to ask you, “what do you want so badly in your life today?”, what would you tell him?

Then he (Andrew) brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

·         The giving of the name is a serious matter in the bible. In the Jewish culture a male child is circumcised on the 8th day. He now becomes an official member of the Jewish nation. On this occasion the father gives the child its name. By this action the father officially acknowledges that this child is his. Although Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, yet he (Joseph) acknowledges Mary’s baby as his own son by giving him his name, Jesus.·         In the bible, giving of a name signifies the giving of a mission or a special role. Simon’s name was changed to Cephas in Aramaic or Peter in Greek because he was to be the rock on which Jesus would build his Church. The son of Elizabeth and Zechariah was given the name John which means God is gracious. His birth was an act of graciousness on the part of God to Elizabeth and Zechariah for by giving them a child, God took away their shame at being childless. Jesus means “Yahweh saves”. Thus this was the name given to Mary’s child because he would save the people from their sins.·         When a new Pope is elected, he is first asked if he accepts the election. If he accepts, the next question that he is asked is what name does he wish to take. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio took the name Francis, the first Pope to do so. He is the 266th successor of St. Peter, the first Pope. At first they thought that Cardinal Bergoglio had Francis Xavier in mind because Cardinal Bergoglio was a Jesuit and Francis Xavier was also a Jesuit. But it turned out that he was thinking of Francis of Assisi. Why? Because he wanted to follow the simplicity of St. Francis of Assisi. Also he wanted to show his special concern for the poor, the suffering and the marginalized.
o    Cardinal Ratzinger took the name of Benedict because he wanted to work for the return of Europe to its Christian roots. Europe now is secularized. It no longer considers faith and religion as part of its identity. Thus, it is considered post-Christian. St. Benedict founded the order of monks who was responsible for keeping the Christian identity of Europe during the barbarian invasions. In fact, they were responsible for the Christianization of the barbarians.
o    Both Cardinal Albino Luciani and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla took the name of John Paul because they wanted to continue the reform of Vatican II. Now Pope John the XXIII opened Vatican II while Pope Paul VI brought it to conclusion. It is interesting to note that John Paul II visited the Philippines twice and his visits resulted in many boys being called John Paul.

Cardinal Sin, God bless his soul, often cracked jokes during his homilies. He shared the following story. He was baptizing three children. The first was the child of a soldier. He asked for the name of the child. And the father with a smile replied, “Baby. Baby Armalite.” The next baby was the son of a scientist. He asked the father what the name of the child was. “Skylab,” came the answer. Skylab at that time was the orbiting space laboratory of the Americans. And finally , he came to  the last baby. He asked the father what was the name of the baby girl. The father replied, “Iluminada.” “Oh, finally!” thought the Cardinal, “a more sensible name.” And the Cardinal asked the father, “And what is the family name?” And the father with a naught smile replied, “Bombilya. Iluminada Bombilya.”
o    The traditional practice is to give a child the name of a Saint. The reason is that the Saint becomes the patron and the model of the child. Patron means protector and intercessor of the child. Model means someone the child could imitiate.
o    What is your name? How did you get that name? What is the meaning of your name? If your name is that of a Saint, have you ever read the life of that Saint? Have you ever approached him to pray for you?

Finally, I remember many years ago a rivalry between the Noranians and the Vilmanians. They were the fans of Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. Some of the fans of Nora went so far as to put a mole on their face similar to the mole or Nora.
o    No one here today would perhaps identify herself or himself as a Noranian or a Vilmanian. But I am sure that all of us here would call himself a Christian, a follower of Christ. We should not take that name lightly. For Christians living in Syria and Iraq, it may mean beheading at the hands of Muslim extremists. It is not dangerous to be a Christian in the Philippines. And for that reason, it is easy to take our Christianity for granted. May the Pope’s visit re-enkindle our enthusiasm for our Christian faith. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
MK 1:7-11

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Monday, December 29, 2014


“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Mt 2:1-12

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
Lk 1:26-38

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014


A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light.
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

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We have in one of our schools a facility called “Joy Center”. It used to be the place where the students go during break time to play table games and board games such as ping pong, table football, pool, Games of the Generals and chess. It’s aptly called the “Joy Center” because the boys go there to have fun, to enjoy themselves.

In the same way the Third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joy Sunday” because with Christmas getting closer, we feel happy. And to highlight the joyful spirit of this Sunday, the color of the candle of the Advent wreath and of the vestment of the priest is pink. An alternative color for the vestment is rose.

Of course, this Sunday is not the only Sunday that is joyful. The whole mood of Advent is joyful. And it is because the spirit of Christmas itself is one of joy.

The joyful spirit of Christmas is expressed in the holiday character of the season. Schools, offices, buildings, parishes and streets are adorned with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, lanterns, and Santa Claus. Christmas songs are heard over the radio. We hold Christmas parties in schools, and in offices. We give and receive gifts and Christmas cards. We wear new clothes. The 13th month pay and Christmas bonus are awaited with eagerness.

All of these are good. But they are not enough to express the joy of Christmas. The joy of Christmas comes from giving. And this giving is to celebrate the giving that happened on that first Christmas: “God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son that those who believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life.”

A Grade Six pupil experienced for himself the joy that comes from giving. It is a practice to hold a Christmas party in schools. Following the suggestion of their teacher, the class decided that they will share the joy of Christmas with other kids. And so they invited some children from an orphanage to attend their Christmas party in school. It was after this party that I met this Grade Six pupil. He couldn’t contain his pride and happiness. He said, “Father, I never thought I would feel this happy.” I asked him why. And he replied, “Because I saw the orphaned children very happy. That made me very happy.”

What I am suggesting is that you make your Christmas joyful by giving. Just like that Grade Six pupil, make your Christmas joyful by making others happy. Let’s see the ways.

1. Why don’t you share some of your Noche Buena or Media Noche with your neighbors?

2. I have seen street children who cannot go to school because they have to make a living by rummaging through garbage. Why not prepare sandwiches for them? Or buy some hamburger, for example, and give it to them.

3. You can also go to an orphanage or an old people’s home or the jail and give them gift packs or food, like spaghetti and ice cream.