Sunday, November 25, 2012

Caesar Belongs to Christ

Jesus, I trust in you!

The feast of Christ the King celebrates the dominion of Christ over all the affairs of man. In our times, many civil governments undermine the kingship of the Lord by invoking the separation of Church and State. In the modern times, we have taken this principle as gospel truth. However, it might surprise you to know that this principle of separation of Church and State was among the modern errors condemned by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1852. It is wrong to think that “the State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limit” (1862). Yes, there are 2 recognizable earthly powers: “one of natural origins which provides for secular affairs and the tranquility of human society and the other of supernatural origin…which has been instituted for the sake of souls and of eternal salvation” (Pius IX, Etsi Multa, 21 November 1873). On account of this, we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. However, it should not be forgotten that Caesar “is smaller than heaven.” Pope Leo XIII taught that “justice…and reason forbid the State to be godless” (Leo XIII, Libertas). The State is always subject to the authority of Christ because “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The prophet Daniel speaks of Christ as the Son of Man who “received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away and his kingship shall not be destroyed.”

It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ as Pilate did in the gospel. When he asked: “I am not a Jew, am I?” he must have thought of himself as beyond the jurisdiction of Christ’s kingship. After all, “your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me,” he said to Jesus. It is easy for the civil governments to undermine the authority of Christ and of his Church. In fact, civil governments have time and again stripped the Church of her temporal powers. Today, laws that openly oppose the teachings of the gospel are being enacted. Of the candidates running for the presidency, how many of them are actually willing to submit to the authority of Christ and the Church? It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ because he himself said: “My kingdom does not belong to the world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” But let not civil governments bask in their power for one day, Christ’s kingdom shall manifest itself in its full glory. Christ’s kingdom is already here. The Church is the beginning of Christ’s kingdom. But one day, it will come in its fullness: “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.” This is the truth which he invites all to recognize. To listen to the Church is to listen to his voice. To listen to his voice is to belong to his kingdom. “States and nations are called to acknowledge the right of the Catholic Church …to decide what favors or hinders our most real life…It belongs to the Church as the sole divinely-appointed Guardian of the whole Moral law, natural and revealed.” (Leo XIII, Immortale Dei) “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

His Kingdom of Truth

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

It seemed that Christ was being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. After all, he was brought by the priests before the Roman governor to be tried for rebellion. Jesus was accused of claiming a kingship that did not belong to him. This is why the Lord was asked if he was a king. Jesus responded by saying that his Kingdom is not of this world and his purpose in coming into the world is to testify to the truth. “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice,” so said the Lord.

The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of Truth…and this kingdom is not of the world. Does this mean that whatever is of this world is a lie? It seems so. After all, sin has corrupted this world and sin is the work of Satan who from the beginning is a liar, a deceiver. On the other hand, God always says the Truth: “The Old Testament attests that God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His Law is truth. His ‘faithfulness endures to all generations.’ Since God is ‘true,’ the members of his people are called to live in the truth.” (CCC, 2465) “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world,’ he is the Truth. ‘Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’ The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know ‘the truth [that] will make you free’ and that sanctifies. To follow Jesus is to live in ‘the Spirit of truth,’ whom the Father sends in his name and who leads ‘into all the truth.’ To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: ‘Let what you say be simply 'Yes or No.'” (CCC, 2466)

We, who follow Jesus, must live in truth. But what does it mean to “live in truth”? A moral theologian said that truth consists in the conformity of my words and actions with my thoughts and feelings. But before this could take place, I must make sure that my mind must conform to the revelation of God. God’s word is truth. This is faith: conformity of our mind with the revelation of God. Our faith should influence the way we live. “The disciple of Christ consents to ‘live in the truth,’ that is, in the simplicity of a life in conformity with the Lord's example, abiding in his truth. ‘If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.’” (CCC, 2470) Living in truth is living in conformity with the Lord’s example. It means abiding in his truth.

It is unfortunate that today, we are more inclined to listen to the world than to the Word of God. We accept without even validating whatever is endorsed to us be so-called “experts” and celebrities. But the Word of God, we accept with caution, if not with suspicion. And yet, we fail to understand that the world deceives because it also was deceived. God alone is truth. He alone does not deceive because he himself is never deceived. He alone is worthy of our faith.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Just will rejoice in the end

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The readings today are rather frightening for they speak of a reality which most people do not like to think of – and that would be about the end of all things. The prophet Daniel speaks of “a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time.” The Lord Jesus speaks of tribulation after which “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” The word of God tells us that all things should come to an end. The world is passing away. 

But this is bad news only for those who have set their hearts on the things of the world. But those who love the Lord, that is, “everyone who found written in the book (of life)” will find the readings as a source of great consolation. It is because the end of time will mark the end of tribulation that will bring about the resurrection of the dead and the return of the Lord Jesus who will come “in the clouds, with great glory and power”. The elect will be gathered by the angels from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. This elect “will live forever” and “will shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament.” “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed: the Church…will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself…will be perfectly established in Christ.” (CCC, 1042) “Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, ‘new heavens and a new earth.’ It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head ‘all things in (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth.” (CCC, 1043) “In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men. ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (CCC 1044) “Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, ‘the holy city’ of God, ‘the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.” (CCC 1045) 

 As for the cosmos, it will be transformed by Christ: “The visible world is itself destined to be transformed, ‘so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just’, sharing in their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.” (CCC 1047) We do not know “the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men.” (CCC 1048)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Extraordinary Form Featured in Evening News

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Greatest Commandment

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

People oftentimes accept Whitney Houston’s song as Gospel truth: “I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve…learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Of course, our time greatly values self-esteem, which is basically founded on self love. There is much emphasis on the self to the point that we have become narcissistic.

There is no question that the Lord commanded us to love our own selves. If it were not so, then how could he command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”? It seems that for a healthy relationship with others to take place, you must first have a healthy relationship with yourself. In other words, self-acceptance is the pre requisite to accepting and loving others.

But saying this is to miss the whole point of today’s reading. Remember that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is only the second commandment. The first is this: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The Lord shows us the primacy of love for God. This is the first and the greatest of all commandments. Learning to love yourself is not the greatest love of all. Before we can learn to love our neighbor or even love ourselves, we have to love God with the totality of our being – with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Why is this so? It is because I am not the center of the universe – God is! “The Lord our God is Lord alone!” God does not owe me anything but I owe Him everything. Everything I have and everything I am comes from Him. Why do I have to love Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength? It is because of all me came from Him and belongs to Him. “In Him we live, in Him we move, in Him we have our being” (Acts 17: 28). Without Him, I am nothing.

Because God is the origin, the first, the center, and the end of everything, He is the only one I must love for His own sake. This means that I should love God for the simple reason that He is who He is: God. Everything else and everyone else I should love only in reference to God…only for the sake of God. This is the essence of Charity as a theological virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC, 1822). Charity, according to St. Paul, is the greatest virtue of all (1 Cor. 13:13). “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’ (Col 3:14); it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love” (CCC, 1827).

Let us love with the right priorities. Let us allow Charity to purify our ability to love. The Christian “no longer stands before God as a slave in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who ‘first loved us’” (CCC, 1828). St. Basil said: “If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages…we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands…we are in the position of children.” (Ibid.)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Give God What Is Right


The Lord should have been impressed by the large sums of money given by rich people to the Temple treasury. After all, we ourselves are immediately (and gladly) impressed by huge donations. But such is not the case with the Lord. Sitting by the treasury of the temple, our Lord praised the poor widow over the rich donors on account of the fact that the rich, in spite of the huge donations, gave only from their surplus wealth while the widow, from her poverty, contributed all she had – her whole livelihood.

An important point to consider would be the first and the greatest commandment which was taught to us by the Lord in last Sunday’s gospel: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength!” God first of all, God above all – this is the gist of the greatest commandment. Everything I am and everything I have comes from Him and belongs to Him. Therefore, I must love the Lord with everything that I am and everything that I have. This high ideal inspired our famous offertory song: “Lahat ng hawak ko, lahat ng loob ko, lahat ay aking alay sa Iyo. Mula sa iyo ang lahat ng ito, muli kong handog sa iyo…” Very ideal, is it not? But do we really mean what we say? The truth comes out in the value of our offering. Do we give in proportion to what we have received from the Lord…or do we give only from our surplus? Can I really say that my offering is indeed “lahat ng hawak ko”? Do we imitate the poor widow who, even in her poverty, contributed all she had? Or do we follow the steps of the rich who gave only from their surplus wealth?

The quality of our offering manifests how we look at God. If it is true that we say that God is everything to us, then we should put our money where our mouth is! No, I am not telling you to give more at offertory. I am simply asking you to give God what he rightfully deserves! Give God what rightfully belongs to Him. We do not give to the Lord in order to receive blessings later on. We give to the Lord because we have already received from Him. Our offering is our act of gratitude to the Lord because he has always been kind to us. Therefore, our offering should be proportionate to the blessings that we have received from Him. To give God from our surplus, to give God what we no longer need, is to treat Him as a beggar because in effect, we give Him our loose change. Let us not treat God like a beggar for the simple reason that He is not one – the Lord our God is Lord alone. He is Lord! He is Sovereign! Let us treat God as Lord and Sovereign. Let us offer to Him the best of what we can give, whether it be our time, or our talent, or our wealth and resources. Let us give God what is right and not what is left.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Widow's Mite

In the tagalog translation of the story of the widow's mite, the 2 coins donated by the widow into the temple treasury is translated as "dalawang kusing na halaga ng isang pera." I always wondered how much a "kusing" is. Looking for answers, I found out that "kusing" refers to the smallest denominated Philippine coin, which today would probably be five Philippine centavos. When the Central Bank minted one centavo coins, "kusing" used to refer to this amount. And so, the widow donated ten centavos to the temple treasury and she was lauded by the Lord for doing so because the rich gave from their surplus wealth but the poor widow gave everything she lived on. She was the one who truly loved the Lord with all her heart, her soul, her mind, and her strength.

For more information about "Kusing", follow the link: “Kusing”