Saturday, December 15, 2018

Late Post - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time B: Hunger for God


18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PEOPLE
AUGUST 5, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The people of Israel have witnessed how with a powerful arm, the Lord liberated them from the slavery of Egypt. They saw how the Red Sea was divided so that they can cross it on dry ground with walls of water to their left and right. They saw how the soldiers of Egypt who pursued them were drowned at sea when the waters collapsed on them. Very impressive signs they saw and yet, as they walked to freedom, they could not forget how they sat by their fleshpots and ate their fill of bread when they were still in Egypt. They even complained to the Lord: “You had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

So also did the people who came to Capernaum in search of Jesus. They looked for him because they ate their fill when Jesus multiplied bread and fish. The Lord knew their hearts and so he said: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” Basically, we are always hungry for food and never do we become satisfied. This “craving for food eventually expands to include other things – clothes, cars, gadgets, houses, and wealth in all its forms. The irony is that the more we accumulate these things, the hungrier we become.” (Fr. Virgilio Ojoy, OP)

Seeing our insatiable hunger, the Lord tells us: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” “It is foolish to think that perishable material things can give us the happiness and the satisfaction that we seek.” (Ojoy, OP) Jesus reminds us that there is a concern greater than what to eat and what to wear. We are meant for eternal life. Material things give us temporary satisfaction. Only God can satisfy the deepest cravings of the human heart. Since the cravings of the human heart are endless, only the One who is eternal can satisfy it. “To make us appreciate more keenly the necessity to turn our eyes to eternal blessings, God has filled our hearts with desires so vast and so magnificent that nothing in creation is capable of satisfying them.” (St. John Vianney) Only in the Lord will we be happy for all eternity. “Do you want to be happy? Fix your eyes on Heaven; it is there that your hearts will find that which will satisfy them completely.”

The earthly food that we eat can sustain us only from one meal to the next. The only food that can help us endure to eternal life is the food that Jesus gives us. He gives us Himself. “The Bread of God is that which comes down from heaven. I am the Bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst again.”  For us to crave for this heavenly food, we must “believe in the one (God) sent.” We must believe in Jesus. “You must no longer live as Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds…” Learn Christ as truth is in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to be renewed in the spirit of our minds: to see beyond the limits of this material world into the invisible and eternal world that Christ reveals to us. It is only when we believe in Jesus that we will beg Him: “Give us this bread always.” To hunger for God is to crave for the Eucharist. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Taste him. Eat this bread from heaven and you will hunger no more. Believe in Jesus and you will thirst no more.

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

Immaculate Conception: Original Holiness, Justice, and Beauty


SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION 2018
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 8, 2018

JESUS, I trust in you!

The greeting of the angel Gabriel to Blessed Mary reveals the Immaculate Conception: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you!” it was an appropriate description of Mary’s soul which was “full of grace” from the very beginning of her existence. Hers was a soul unlike all of us who were conceived and born deprived of God’s abiding presence: “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” By the disobedience of Adam, sin entered the world. This sin, which we call “original sin,” is a deprivation of holiness and justice. God created man in a state of original holiness and justice. St. Paul tells us we were “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). God created Adam and Eve in a state of original justice and original holiness (CCC 375). According to the Catechism, original justice means Adam and Eve were in a right relationship with themselves, each other, and all of creation (CCC 376). Original holiness means Adam and Eve shared in God’s own life through sanctifying grace, so they were adopted children of God (CCC 375). After the fall, our first parents transmitted to all of us a human nature deprived of this right relationship with God, with one another, with ourselves, and with all creation. Ours is an inherited nature that is deprived of God’s own life, God’s indwelling which is called sanctifying grace.

But not so for Mary: she was full of grace from the very beginning of her mortal existence. This is because she was “chosen before the creation began.” In the world, people are chosen for certain positions according to their achievements and track record. But this is not the case with Mary. Even before she was created, she was chosen to be the Mother of God. Or better yet, when God created the Virgin Mary, he already intended her to be the Mother of his only begotten Son. Therefore, he infused into that little fetus a soul that is full of grace. From the very beginning, the Lord was with her and has never left her. Hers was a human nature that was endowed with original justice and holiness. She was the most beautiful creature that God has ever created. None will be lovelier than her. She is the loveliest of all God’s creation: Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula non est in te.

This is why Mary is our fallen nature’s solitary boast. Mary shows us the original beauty of our human nature. Hers was the beauty of the human being before the fall. Hers is the beauty of human nature redeemed. In her, we see how God wondrously created man and how he even more wondrously redeemed him. Take away all the corruption, all the ugliness of sin, and you will find man as God originally intended us to be. We look at Mary and we see the original plan of God for creation: wonderfully sharing in his Divine Life.

And this is what we ask our Redeemer to make of us: transform us according to the pattern of Mary’s beauty! Save us from sin! Save us from our own selves!  Restore in us the beauty of your Divine likeness. O loveliest of all God’s creation, preserve us in the Baptismal grace. 

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

2nd Sunday of Advent: Returning Home


2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT C
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 9, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!
Many of us think that Advent is simply a preparation for Christmas. However, last Sunday’s gospel reading tells us that Advent means something more. It points us towards the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of time.

St John the Baptist
Today, St. John the Baptist enters the picture. He will be our Advent guide. We often associate him with Christmas because he is the precursor of the Lord. He goes before the Lord to prepare his way. He is shown to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah: “A voice crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths…and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” However, we should pay attention to the end of the reading: “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” When did it happen that all people saw the salvation of God? Was it when Jesus was born? Definitely not! When the Lord was born, only shepherds and magi saw and visited him. On that blessed night of the Lord’s birth, Bethlehem was fast asleep, unaware that God was born among them. In fact, later on, Jesus would weep over the ancient city of Jerusalem, soon to be destroyed because she did not recognize the time of her visitation. In fact, even until today, not everybody can see the Lord. Only those who have faith in him can see him.

And so, when will all flesh see the salvation of God? It will be at the end of the world. Remember last Sunday’s gospel reading? Jesus said: “And then they (all nations) will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” All people, whether they are believers or not, will  see Christ coming back in glory. That is why, the Lord told us to stand erect with heads held up high because we know that our redemption is at hand. The Prophet said: “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

And no one can escape the Lord’s inevitable coming. “That day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” The Lord’s coming is something we can neither prevent nor avoid. And so, we might as well prepare for it. How can we prepare for the Lord’s coming? St. John the Baptist tells us the way: “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” John preached a baptism of repentance. Our preparation for the Lord’s coming should be by way of repentance. Our crooked ways must be made straight. We must make up for our shortcomings as valleys are to be filled. We must temper our excesses as mountains are to be made low. In society, we must also strive to bring about social justice. Many live in want because a few live in plenty. Preparing for Christ’s coming also means that the rich must temper their opulence so that by charity, those who are in want may have their necessities satisfied.

As Isaiah said in his prophecy: “Jerusalem, look and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One,” we realize that listening to the Word of God leads us to this gathering of the Church. “Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you.” Sin led us away from the Church and now, God brings us back to be reconciled with him and with the Church. Incidentally, the President tells us not to go to the Church and simply stay home. In doing so, he has done the work of the enemy who led the children of Jerusalem to leave her. Repentance means coming home to God. Repentance means coming home to the Church. During Advent, there is a better place to go than shopping malls. That place is the confession box. Return home to God. Return home to the Church.

As we joyfully await the glorious coming of Christ, we light today the candle of peace. This peace can only be received if we are reconciled to the Lord and to his Church. St. Paul said: “This is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Narito ang aking idinadalangin: na ang inyong pag-ibig ay yumaman ng yumaman sa ganap na kaalaman at sa lahat ng pagkukuro. Makilala sana ninyo kung ano ang lalong mabuti at maging malinis kayo at walang pagkukulang hanggang araw ni Kristo, na puspos ng bunga ng kabanalan na nakakamit sa pamamagitan ni Jesukristo, sa ikaluluwalhati at ikararangal ng Diyos.)

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

First Sunday of Advent C: Looking towards the end


1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT C
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
December 2, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you.

Every time we begin a new year, we are filled with hope. To many of us, a new year is an opportunity to erase mistakes done during the past year. A new leaf turns and so hopefully, things would get better. This hope is expressed by the word “sana”: “Sana maging masagana ang bagong taon”; “Sana matupad ang pangarap ko”; “Sana magbago na ang lahat.” Perhaps this is the reason why we light a candle of hope on the first Sunday of Advent. Inasmuch as the first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year, we light the candle of hope which expresses our longing for something (or someone) in the future.
The Last Judgment

But why is it that the Gospel about the end of the world? The signs in the sun, moon, and the stars, the shaking of the powers of the heavens and the roaring of the sea and of its waves will cause all people to be perplexed and afraid in anticipation of what is coming upon the world. This fear will come from the fact that they do not know why these things are happening. But we Christians are told by the Lord that when these things happen, we should stand erect and raise our heads because we know that our redemption is at hand. We know that the Lord Jesus will descend in a cloud with power and great glory. We are so sure that this will happen because our Lord promised that he will return and he will keep his promise: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” We should raise our heads as if we are telling the world: “The Lord comes with vindication. Just wait and see…I told you that this will happen. The Lord will return to judge the living and the dead.”

There is no use for distress because our worrying will not keep the Lord from fulfilling his promise. Our worry will not stop the signs from taking place. “That day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” The day of his return is already set and nothing can we do to delay it. Every Advent season brings us closer to that appointed end. Time is running out.

Therefore, what must we do? St Paul tells us we should spend our remaining time in striving to increase in love for one another and for all. We must strive to be blameless in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus. As we received apostolic instructions on how to conduct ourselves to please God, we should do even more because we are closer to that day and time is running out. The anxieties of daily life and the corruption of the world must not allow us to be caught by surprise on that day. We know that the Lord will surely come. Therefore we must be vigilant in prayer and in charity so that we may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

Look at the overseas contract worker. Every day he works and toils and endures the pain of being separated from his loved ones. What sustains him is a date that he keeps in mind: the date of the end of the contract when he could return to his family. And as that day draws near, he saves his earnings so that he may bring something home to offer his family.

Let us keep in mind that we are strangers in this world. Every day, we work and toil as time brings us closer to the end. This hope should console us. We are going home at last and our true home is in heaven. Now that the end of our earthly journey is coming to an end, we should think of what to bring home to offer the Lord at his return. What harvest will I offer him? What good work? What offering of holiness will I give him? We shall soon be reunited with the Lord. That day will not be far away. Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The First Fruits of the Resurrection


17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
JULY 29, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

A man offered to Elisha 20 barley (sebada) loaves made from the first fruits which the prophet ordered to be given to feed 100 people. Elisha was the successor of Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, who multiplied the flour and made it enough to sustain a woman and her child until the end of the famine. Jesus was offered 5 barley loaves and 2 fish which he multiplied to feed 5,000 men. Both the offerings given to Elisha and Jesus were held when the feast of the Passover was near. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread was the time when Barley was offered as first fruits of spring.
Clearly, the story of the multiplication of the loaves is a Eucharistic story. Here we see Jesus who is greater than the prophets Elijah and Elisha because he fed more people with less number of loaves than the 2 prophets previously did. Thus, the people who were fed by the Lord would acclaim him: “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Greater than the prophets, Jesus is The Prophet, the one who comes to fulfill all the prophets of all said.

In this miracle, Jesus is also shown as the Good Shepherd who brings and feeds his flock in verdant pastures. He lets the people recline on the grass in order to feed them. They ate as much as they wanted with leftovers to be gathered into 12 baskets. “You have prepared a table for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil and my cup is overflowing.”

A man brought to Elisha 20 barley loaves. A boy offered to Jesus 5 barley loaves. The barley is the first grain to be harvested in spring. It is the first fruit offered to God in the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread is a 7 day feast immediately after the Passover. As the barley is the first fruit offered to God on the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, so is Christ the first fruits of the Resurrection (1 Cor 15:23). Christ offered himself on the Cross at the very hour when the lambs were offered in the temple in preparation for the Passover. Christ resurrected from the dead on the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. He is the first fruits of the Resurrection. On the Feast of the unleavened bread, all yeast (which is the symbol of sin) is cast away. Therefore, Jesus who is the first fruits of the Resurrection offers us himself, the Unleavened Bread so that we might partake of his new life. However, we are also to cast away the leaven of sin so as to share most fully in the eternal life which he offers us at our own resurrection from the dead. “Just as in Adam, all die, so in Christ all will come to life. But each in his own turn: Christ the first fruits, and at his coming, all those who belong to him. And then will come the end when Christ will hand over his kingdom to God the Father.” “Therefore, let us cast out the old leaven, that you may be a new unleavened batch as you really are. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the festival not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:7-8) It is only by renouncing the leaven of sin that we can repose in the verdant pastures of the Good Shepherd where he will prepare a table for us, anoint us with oil, and make our cup overflow.

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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Anak, ba't ka nagkaganyan?


14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
JULY 8, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you.

The Selfie of God
“Rebels who rebelled against me,” so did God speak about the Israelites when he sent the prophet Ezekiel to them. From the beginning, the Lord never kept the difficulty of the challenge a secret to the prophet: “Hard of face and obstinate of heart (matigas ang ulo at walang pitagan) are they to whom I am sending you.” Even Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. They always have a reason to refuse to believe in what the prophet has to say. Instead of listening intently to the Word of God, they are on the look-out for some flaw in argument or in the person of the prophet. In the case of Jesus, they complained: Is he not the carpenter, the Son of Mary? They could not find fault in what the Lord said: What kind of wisdom has been given him? They could not deny the greatness of his work: What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! They could not even find fault in his person so that they found fault in the fact that they knew his family and his origins. They simply had to find fault in something in order to justify their unbelief. (The president who called God “stupid” is now asking for a selfie as proof that God exists.) There can only be one reason for their unbelief and that would be their hardness of face and obstinacy of heart. Knowing the number and gravity of their sins, they would rather choose not to believe than choose to repent and change their ways. (Even if we produce that selfie, still he will not believe.) “For the believer, no proof is necessary. For the unbeliever, no proof will be sufficient.” So said St. Thomas Aquinas.

If this were so, then why does God still insist on sending prophets to a rebellious house? If Jesus knew that no prophet is accepted in his own native place, then why did he still insist to go there? The stubbornness of God’s love can be the only answer. The stubbornness of God’s love is his response to the stubbornness of the human heart. While God’s love remains constant, man’s obstinacy of heart may change. That is why again and again he sends prophets to that rebellious house. “Whether they heed or resist – for they are a rebellious house – they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” (Sa making sila o hindi – dahil matigas nga ang kanilang ulo – malalaman nilang may isang propeta sa gitna nila.)

Hindi siya nagkulang ng paalala. Isn’t this so typical of a loving father? The parent does not tire of advising his children because he wants to keep them from danger. But if his child is obstinate, no amount of parental advice can protect him from danger. Whatever happens to him is not the fault of his parents but it is the result of his own doing. I remember Freddie Aguilar’s song. He sang of how parents love their child so much: “Minamasdan pati pagtulog mo.” But in spite of such love and care, the child goes wayward: “Nagdaan pa ang mga araw at ang landas mo’y naligaw. Ikaw ay nalulong sa masamang bisyo.” And the parents could do nothing but ask: “Anak, ba’t ka nagkaganyan?”

God keeps sending prophets because he does not tire of warning his children of the dire consequences of their wayward ways. Remember the Book of Wisdom from last Sunday’s Mass? The Word of God said: “God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living.” Therefore, let us heed the prophets whom God sends us. Let us not detest what they say.  If ever we discover that our lives are not in accordance to the ways of the Lord, let us not hesitate to repent and change our ways. Instead of calling God “stupid,” let us abandon our own stupidity. Let us not wait for God to ask us, “Anak, ba’t ka nagkaganyan.” “For out of compassion for the waywardness that is ours, he humbled himself…by the passion of the Cross, he freed us from unending death, and by rising from the dead, he gave us eternal life.” Let us not be obstinate of heart. If today, you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Answering the President's Blasphemy


13th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PEOPLE
JULY 1, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The President blasphemed the Lord by calling God “stupid.” He gave this statement when he tried to show the “absurdity” of the biblical story of creation. According to him, God created a perfect world and placed Adam and Eve in it. Then, he sent a serpent to test Eve and therefore he destroyed the perfect creation that he made. This absurdity made him remark that the God we worship is stupid.

I think it is my obligation to preach about this in order to correct false notions that the president was trying to insinuate. First of all, God did not desire to destroy what he created. The Book of Wisdom today tells us: “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are WHOLESOME…God formed man to be imperishable, the image of his own nature he made him.” Death did not have a place in the original plan of God for creation. Man was meant to be imperishable.

If this were so, then why is there death? Did death come from God? Is it true that God desired to destroy what he created? The Book of Wisdom tells us that death did not come from God. Rather, “by the envy of the devil, death entered the world and they who belong to his company experience it.” God created all the angels but some of them chose to rebel against God. These fallen angels refused to serve God and therefore, they appointed themselves as enemies of God. Because man was made in the image of God, the devil envied him. The devil hated the fact that God created man in his image and likeness and therefore, he sought to destroy man by seducing him to sin. Contrary to the claim of the president, God did not send the serpent to destroy man. But rather, the devil took the form of a serpent and on his own accord, he went to Adam and Eve in order to tempt them. Temptation is a seduction to sin. By successfully seducing them to disobey God, the devil destroyed man by bringing death into the world. The author of sin is the devil. The same devil is the author of death.

In fact, sickness and death are all the effects of sin. Man, whom God intended to be imperishable, became vulnerable to sickness and death because he fell into the devil’s trap. “Death entered the world and they who belong to (the devil’s) company experience it. God did not bring sickness and death to man. It was the devil who authored these.

Look at the Gospel. Jairus went to the Lord to ask him to heal his daughter. The woman who was afflicted with hemorrhage for 12 years sought to touch the cloak of Jesus in order to be healed. Jesus raised up the dead daughter of Jairus. Before Jesus came, both Jairus’ daughter and woman were sick. The Lord did not bring them illness. People went to him to have themselves delivered from sickness and from death. God is not the destroyer but the healer. Death did not come from God. It came from the envy of the devil. God raises us from illness. He rescues us from death. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. He did this by dying on the Cross. Indeed, he defeated the devil in his own game. He defeated the devil in his own home court. Death was the devil’s domain. Jesus entered it to defeat the devil in his own domain.

And so, God is not stupid because he does not destroy what he created. Instead, he saves those who call on him. He rescues us from death that came from the envy of the devil. It is the devil who is stupid because he dares to challenge the One whom he cannot defeat. The devil fighting God is like a fool who rams his head against a concrete wall. The devil destroys himself by rejecting the God who gives life. Those who chose to belong to the devil’s company will also experience the devil’s self-destruction. The self-exclusion from the communion of the saints with God is what we call hell. Hell is the ultimate self-destruction.

This is why it is wiser to hold on to this God whom they consider stupid. The seeming foolishness of God is even greater than the wisdom of men. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed… The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath.” (Psalm 2: 1-5) Have confidence: ‘Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” (2 Tim 1: 10)

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter: Life with the Vine


5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED LIFE
APRIL 29, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Easter Season celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Here, we honor Christ, the Lamb who was slain but now, who lives forever. The risen Jesus is the Lord of life. He is not just living. He is Life itself.

This is what he means when he says: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.” He is the source of the life of all those who are in communion with him. A branch, as long as it is attached to the vine, is alive. It grows and bears fruit. But a branch that is severed from the vine is dead. It withers and is thrown into the fire. The Lord said: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

And so, each of us must ask himself: Am I alive or dead? The sign of the death of the body is the cessation of the lung and heart function (that is, breathing and beating of the heart). On the other hand, the death of the soul is the cessation of communion with God. That is why we should ask: Am I attached to the vine or am I severed from it? St. John Climacus said: “A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.” It may seem to be too simple for a complicated matter but it is really true. Father, hindi lang nagsisimba, patay na agad ang kaluluwa? Hindi ba pwedeng tinatamad lang o busy lang? How is the avoidance of church services related to the dying of the soul?
The Lord Jesus said: “Remain in me as I remain in you.” How do we remain in the Lord? We remain in him by communion in mind, will, and body. Communion of mind means that I believe in Christ and in his teachings. Faith is the assent of the mind to the revelation of God. Communion of the will means that I obey the teachings and commandments of Christ. St. John said in the 2nd reading: “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandment remain in him, and he in them,” Communion of the body means that I receive regularly the sacraments of Christ which are visible signs of his invisible grace. Sacraments are related to the body because we cannot perceive what does not pass through the senses. The Holy Spirit is invisible. Grace is invisible. Therefore, the coming of grace has to be done through the perceptible or sensible signs of the sacraments. Through the sacraments, Christ continues to bestow on us the Holy Spirit. The sacraments help us remain in Christ and in his grace. We receive these sacraments when we attend church services. This is why by attending Church services, we continue to receive life from the Lord. Can the mind say something and the body do the opposite? Can the heart say something and the body do differently? How can you say, “I believe in Christ and I obey his will” if my body avoids going to Mass? Surely, the body will do what the mind and the heart dictate.

The life of Christ in us will definitely show in the fruits that we bear. Charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, and chastity are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are the signs that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. They are signs of life of the soul. We will bear such fruits only if we remain in communion with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in Christ. It is only in Christ that we can do all things. Only in Christ are we alive!

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

4th Sunday of Easter: Christ lays down his life


4th SUNDAY OF EASTER B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
APRIL 22, 2017

Jesus, I trust in you!

I saw this very disturbing picture on the internet last night. It was a picture that won the award of photo of the decade. It was a photograph of a doe (a female deer) that was surrounded by 3 Cheetas. The cheetas were chasing this doe and her 2 fawns (baby deers). The mother deer could easily outrun the cheetas but she offered herself as their prey so that her fawns could run to safety. In the picture, the mother deer is shown looking at her babies running to safety as she is about to be torn to pieces.
I was so disturbed by that photograph that until now I cannot take it off my mind. I could just imagine how the doe was cruelly torn to pieces by the savage beasts. What savagery! What noble sacrifice! The doe stood looking at her babies running to safety. It was probably the last thing she saw before she died. She must have thought that the safety of her fawns was worth dying for.

Looking at this picture, I remembered our Lord who said today, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” The Lord spoke of the hired man who sees danger and abandons the flock. And then he spoke of the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. What spells the difference between a hired man and a shepherd? The word is “concern” (malasakit). This concern comes from the fact that the sheep the shepherd dies for are his own, just as the doe was willing to die because the fawns she protected were her own: “I know my sheep and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” The Lord Jesus died for me because he knows me and considers me his own. Because of this, Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” Thus, St. John said in the 2nd reading: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.” To belong to Jesus means that we are children of God. We became God’s children at the cost of such great sacrifice. He knows us but do we know him? We should know him because he reveals himself to us. The world does not know Jesus but we know him. This much we know: Christ loved us and gave up his life for us! As the doe could easily outrun the cheetas but refused to do so in order to save her fawns, so also is this true with Jesus. As he hung on the Cross, the high priests were taunting him: Come down from that Cross and save yourself! Jesus could have easily done this because he is God. Nothing is impossible for him. But he remained on the Cross until he died. He remained there to save us. He remained on the Cross because he knows that nobody can save us but him. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved.”

Knowing what he did for us increases our love for him. Loving him more increases our desire to serve him. This is the only motive for genuine priestly and religious vocations. Every priest, every consecrated person wishes to serve the Lord because he knows the Lord and loves him. At least this is the way I see it. The moment I realized how much I am loved by Jesus and how he suffered and died for me, I felt compelled to love him and serve him in return. The only reason why I decided to follow Jesus is his love for me. He loves me and died for me. And this is my prayer: that we may know him more so that we may love him and serve him more. I will never forget that doe who died for her fawns. I will never forget the Lord who willingly died for me and now is risen from the dead.

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


The devotion to the Sacred Heart

If we have devotion to the Sacred Heart, we will wish to find It, to adore It, to love It, and where shall we look for It but in the Blessed Eucharist where It is found, eternally living?...The devotion to the Divine Heart infallibly brings souls to the Blessed Eucharist; and faith in and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist necessarily lead souls to discover the mysteries of Infinite love of which the Divine Heart is the organ and the symbol.

extract from the Book of Inifinite Love
by Mother Louise Margaret

The Sacred Heart and the Blessed Sacrament

The devotion to the Blessed Eucharist and the devotion to the Sacred Heart are not only two sister devotions. In reality, they are only one and the same devotion. They complete each other and develop each other; they blend so perfectly together that one cannot go on without the other and their union is absolute. Not only can one of these devotions not be prejudicial to the other, but because they complete each other and perfect each other, they also reciprocally increase each other.

Fr. John Croiset, SJ
Spiritual Director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

"By the devotion to the Sacred Heart, we mean the ardent love which we conceive for Jesus Christ at the remembrance of all the marvels which he has wrought to show His tender love for us, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the miracle of His love; we mean the keen regret which we feel at the sight of the numerous outrages which men commit against Jesus Christ in this adorable Mystery; we mean the ardent desire which presses us to leave nothing undone to make reparation for these outrages by every possible means. That is what we mean by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that is what it consists in. It cannot be reduced to merely loving and honoring by special worship this Heart of flesh like ours, which forms part of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ."

Fr. John Croiset, SJ
Spiritual Director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Risen in the Body


3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER B
YEAR OF CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
APRIL 15, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

When the Lord appeared to his disciples on the evening of Easter Sunday, they were terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. However, the Lord quickly assured them: “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and blood as you can see I have.” In order to prove that he was no ghost, he ate fish in front of them.
Perhaps you may ask: Why this obsession that Jesus was resurrected in the flesh? It is because the resurrection of the body is the novelty of the Christian Gospel. As we all know, the continued existence of the human soul even beyond the death of the body is something acknowledged by everybody. The body, which is subject to the corruption of the material world, dies. However, the soul continues to live on. This is why the apparition of the Risen Christ was mistaken for a ghostly apparition. A ghost is a disembodied spirit. But the Risen Jesus is no ghost. His body, which died on the Cross, has risen from the dead. The wounds on his hands, feet and side proved to them that the body which was crucified and died is the very same body standing before them. “The Author of life you put to death but God raised him from the dead.”

And this resurrection of Jesus in the flesh is important. The resurrection of the body of Jesus tells us that the death of Jesus was real. It was not an illusion as heretics wanted to suppose. The death of Jesus was real because the Incarnation was real. The 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Son, assumed a real human nature at the Incarnation. This means that Jesus is not just a Divine Person who “appeared” to have flesh and blood so that he can impart to us the secret knowledge we need for spiritual enlightenment. This was what Gnosticism is all about. It is a heresy that appeared some 120 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord. It presupposes that the entire material universe is evil. Because it is evil, it was impossible that God should take flesh for how could a holy God cover himself with something that is evil? He simply appeared, which means Jesus was not human. He appeared like a human being but he is not human. Therefore, the crucifixion never happened. It was simply like a final act of a play that was needed so that he could resume his proper angelic mode of existence, free from any entanglement with our gross, material world. Gnostics believe that the greed and lust all around us are simply due to our material bodies. Therefore, salvation consists of the escape of the soul from the prison of the body so that it can fly back to its heavenly home.

But Jesus said: “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Therefore, He rose in his flesh. The flesh is not some gross, evil matter as if it were the only one to blame for all the sins of the world. God created the material world and he made it good. Man and woman were all created good. Sin was not caused by the body. It was caused by the disobedience of the soul that dwelt in the body. Sin was a decision of the soul which was acted out in the body. Therefore, redemption was to be also a spiritual decision that also had to be acted out in the body. The Son of God decided to obey the Father, and he was obedient unto death, death on a cross. Therefore, the sacrifice of the body of Jesus on the Cross was necessary to atone for sin and renew all creation. It was not enough for the Savior to teach. He had to suffer and die. “Jesus is the expiation for our sins…and for those of the whole world.” If Christ had to die in the flesh, therefore, his resurrection was also in the flesh. God, who was pleased to accept the sacrifice of his Son, raised Jesus from the dead. “God has brought to fulfillment what he had announced through the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.”

Therefore, the “gospel of Salvation has a name and a human face: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” (Placuit Deo, 8.) “Christ is Savior inasmuch as He assumed the entirety of our humanity and lived a fully human life in communion with his Father and with others. Salvation, then, consists in our incorporation into his life, receiving his Spirit (cf. 1 Jn 4:13). He became, ‘in a particular way, the origin of all grace according to his humanity.’ He is at the same time Savior and Salvation.” (PD, 11)
“In as much as we are saved ‘by means of offering the body of Jesus Christ’ (Heb 10:10; cf. Col 1:22), true salvation, contrary to being a liberation from the body, also includes its sanctification (cf. Rom 12:1).” (PD, 14) And this sanctification of the entire man, both body and soul, is brought about by our Lord’s Incarnation and Paschal Mystery through the sacraments. The sacraments have visible signs because the Lord sanctifies not only the soul but also the body. Jesus showed his disciples his wounded hands and feet because they needed to see. In like manner, the Lord left us the visible signs of the sacraments because of our need to see and touch. Seeing and touching the sacraments, our bodies are sanctified as do our souls. In order to reach out to our soul, he must address the senses. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” He has to enter under the roof of our human flesh, his word has to be heard by our ears, so that our soul may be healed.

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

The Priest as Custodian of the Divine Mercy


2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER B (DIVINE MERCY)
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
APRIL 8, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina: “No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My mercy, and this is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable mercy.” (Diary, 570) The Feast of Mercy that we celebrate today in the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated persons, gives us the opportunity to speak about priests as proclaimers of the mercy of God.

On the evening of Easter Sunday, the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them: “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven.” Having offered himself upon the Cross as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins, the Lord Jesus, at his resurrection, gave priests the power to absolve sins. The Lord’s death on the cross made this possible. Having risen from the dead, he sends his disciples on a mission of mercy: In my name, repentance shall be preached from Jerusalem until the ends of the earth. The Lord sends his priests to preach repentance. This mandate comes from the Lord’s desire to forgive and to bestow mercy: “I am Love and Mercy itself. There is no misery that could be a match for my mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is granted – it increases. The soul that trusts in my mercy is most fortunate because I myself will take care of it.” (Diary 1273) If the Lord is not willing to forgive, then he would not send his disciples to preach repentance. He desires to forgive. All we have to do is to trust his mercy and never underestimate his goodness. “Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am holy and just, but does not believe that I am mercy and does not trust in my goodness. Even the devils glorify my justice but do not believe in my goodness. My heart rejoices in this title of Mercy.” (Diary, 300)

Together with the mandate to proclaim his mercy, the Lord gave his priests the power to absolve sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament makes the Lord’s mercy accessible to us. No sin is too grave that it could not be forgiven at confession. We should trust that the Lord has given priests this great power to absolve sins. “Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy. There the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of my representative (the priest) and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.” (Diary, 1448)

Therefore, the priest proclaims the Mercy of God by preaching about it and even more so, by absolving sins in the sacrament of Confession. As the Father sent his Son to the world so that all who believe in him might be saved, so the Risen Christ sends his priests to declare forgiveness in his name. Let us avail of Christ’s Easter gift. Let us confess our sins and trust in his mercy!

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Case of the Missing Body


EASTER SUNDAY B
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
APRIL 1, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

When the Magdalene told them about the missing body of Jesus, Peter and John ran to the tomb. They both saw nothing but the burial cloths and the cloth that had covered the head of the corpse rolled up in a separate place. The burial garments were neatly folded but the body was not there.
The grave clothes of Jesus were neatly folded. This tells us that the missing body of Jesus could not have been the work of grave robbers. Remember that robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body. None ever took away the body and left the clothes, especially when it was fine linen and new. Anyone would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than carry a naked corpse while leaving the grave clothes behind. Besides, what tomb robber would find leisure to fold up the linen?

The folded up burial cloths tell us that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and he will never die again. Unlike ghosts who supposedly appear wearing their grave clothes or Lazarus who came out of the tomb with his grave clothes on, the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and laid the grave clothes aside. He rose to immortal life. He will never die again. He came out free of the encumbrances of the burial cloths. He set them aside because he was clothed with the robes of glory. As the prophet Elijah dropped his mantle as he ascended to heaven on a flaming chariot, so also the Lord Jesus left behind his earthly burial clothes because he will no longer need them in heaven where death is no more.

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said that we should clear out the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, so that we may celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. When we arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, we must leave our grave-clothes behind us…we must put off our corruptions. We have gone through the difficult discipline of Lent. Having confessed our sins, we have made reparation for them through our acts of mortification. Holy Week has witnessed the intensity of our penance. Now that it ends with the feast of the Resurrection, it is not right to go back to our former ways. The end of Holy Week does not mean back to regular programming. Rather, we should strive to rise from where we have fallen and follow Christ more resolutely. “If you have been raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above and not of what is on earth.”

Our Lenten journey culminates with our personal and collective renunciation of Satan, his works and his empty promises. This means that we have to really leave our grave clothes behind. The renunciation will be followed by the renewal of our faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This entails a serious commitment from us to strive to be better disciples, more resolute followers of Jesus. Let us rise from the tomb together with Jesus today. Let us leave behind our grave clothes and put on our wedding garments for we shall attend a feast. Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

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

Dying and Rising with Christ


EASTER VIGIL 2018
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
MARCH 31, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Last Palm Sunday, we heard the passion narrative of St. Mark. We saw how our Lord was left alone by his disciples who betrayed, abandoned, and denied him during that moment when darkness reigned supreme. There was one detail of the narrative that is found only in the Gospel according to Mark: it is the detail of a young man who followed Jesus in the garden. He had nothing on but a loin cloth. During the commotion at the arrest of the Lord, some men tried to catch also the young man by holding on to his loincloth. He escaped naked, leaving behind his garment.
This mysterious young man is the symbol of the catechumens who have been preparing themselves for baptism by studying the Sacred Scriptures and by learning the teachings of the Lord. Like every human being born of Adam and Eve, these catechumens are born in the misery of the human nature we have inherited from them. “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” After their fall into sin, our first parents realized that they were naked and so they hid themselves in shame. As our first parents, stripped of sanctifying grace, were driven out of the garden of Eden, so also the young man ran away naked from the garden.

Today, when the sun had risen, the women entered the tomb and there the young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe. They saw him in the tomb because the catechumen was baptized and as St. Paul said: “we who were baptized into his death. We were indeed buried with him through baptism into his death.” As Christ was buried in the tomb, every catechumen, at his baptism, is buried together with Jesus. As Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also live in newness of life. And so, the neophyte is no longer naked but now clothed in a white robe. The white robe is the sign of belonging to heaven. At the transfiguration, the Lord was clothed in dazzling white because he is the Son of Man who came down from heaven. The baptismal garment is white because the one who was baptized no longer belongs to the world. He now belongs to heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. Baptism consecrates us to God. We belong no longer to this earth. We belong to heaven.

And the newly baptized man became the bearer of the Good News of the Resurrection: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.” As Christ was sent to bring the Gospel to the poor, so also every baptized Christian is sent by Christ “to bring the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” The newly baptized Christian becomes a herald of reconciliation to all of us who have fallen from our fidelity to the Lord…to all of us who have denied, abandoned, and betrayed him. He tells us: Go and tell his disciples and Peter: He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him as he told you.” He goes before us to Galilee, to where the disciples first met and were called by Jesus. He goes before us to Galilee where we first met him. Is it not true that when an intimate relationship is strained and broken, we go to the place of the first meeting in the hope that we would find our lost loved one there? There, broken relationships are mended and so is found the chance to start all over again. He goes before us to Galilee so that we may start following again.

After the baptism of our three catechumens, we shall all renew our baptismal promises. Having confessed our failures and sins, we again profess the faith of our baptism. Through baptism, our catechumens will enter the tomb and be buried together with Christ. They shall be clothed with the graces of the Holy Spirit. Clothed in white, they will tell us to go to Galilee and there meet the Risen Jesus who goes before us. He will not shame us nor reprimand us for our betrayals, abandonments, and denials. Rather, he will restore to our repentant hearts the graces of the Holy Spirit. The Lord will make us belong to him once again. He will invite us to rise from where we have fallen and invite us to follow him once more. Let us go to meet him in Galilee with the firm resolve never to betray, nor abandon, nor deny him. We must think of ourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

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

Christ: Priest and Victim


GOOD FRIDAY 2018
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
MARCH 30, 2018

Jesus I trust in you!

Good Friday in the Year of Priests gives us the occasion to meditate on the High Priesthood of Jesus because the mystery of our Lord’s suffering and death on the Cross gives light to the reason why we always speak of the Priesthood of Christ. First of all, we should ask: Who is the Priest and what does he do? The concept of the priesthood is not exclusive to the Catholic religion. The priesthood is found in all religions because religion seeks to offer God the worship that rightfully befits him. The virtue of religion is the virtue that inclines the human heart to offer God worship that is his due. And in every religion, the highest act of worship is always the sacrifice in which an animal or a human being is killed in order to profess the dominion of the deity over life and death. Of all acts of worship, the sacrifice is the highest and the costliest because it involves the snuffing out of a victim’s life. This death is brought about by the separation of the blood from the flesh or the body of the victim. And the one who offers the victim, the one who kills the victim is called a “priest.” And so, the chief work of a priest is to offer the sacrifice to the deity in the highest act of worship of that religion.

And it is on Good Friday that we see Jesus in the very act of performing his duty as the High Priest of the New Covenant. In the Old Testament priesthood, the high priest on the Day of Atonement, kills a bull and a goat. And taking the blood of the animals, he enters the Holy of Holies and there, sprinkles the blood on the atonement cover for his own sins and for the people’s. Today, as Jesus expires, he enters into the Holy of Holies, “passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by human hands (not belonging to creation). He entered, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, and achieved eternal redemption.” Jesus is the only one who is priest and victim at the same time. All other priests have to kill a victim other than himself because if they killed themselves, that would be the end of their service to God. Jesus is the only one who could offer himself because he is the Lamb who once was slain but now he lives forever.”

Jesus offered the most perfect sacrifice which man can ever offer to God. This is because his obedience to the Father’s will is perfect. Worship can only be perfect and acceptable if it comes from an absolutely obedient heart. Thus, the blood of this perfectly obedient Son of God is even more greatly powerful than the blood of animals or of any other human being. “If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God!”

“This is why Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant…Christ entered heaven itself that he might appear before God on our behalf…He has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sins once for all by his sacrifice…Christ was offered up once to take away the sins of many; he will appear a second time…to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”

It was on the Cross on this day when Jesus exercised his priestly ministry. The Lord Jesus was hung upon the Cross as both priest and victim. He offered the Father his obedience and in so doing, he is the priest. He died and in so doing he is the victim. This priestly ministry of Jesus is made present in every celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. In the Liturgy and through the ministry of the priest, Jesus offers to his Father the perfect worship and in doing so, he brings about the sanctification of his people. This is the highest and the only sacrifice that is acceptable to the Father. Nothing can ever rival this sacrifice in its perfection. “The price of (our) redemption was not something of fleeting value like gold or silver, but the costly shedding of the blood of Christ, the lamb without blemish…The blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our sins.”

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

He humbled himself


HOLY THURSDAY 2018
YEAR OF THE CLERGY AND CONSECRATED PERSONS
MARCH 29, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

This year’s celebration of Holy Thursday takes a special significance for me not only because it is the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons but also because I am journeying this year towards my silver jubilee as a priest on November 30, 2018. I think added to this is the wonderful news announced at Chrism Mass this morning that I am retained to my assignment here as Parish priest for the next 3 years.

In the Holy Gospel today, we were told that “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end…(He) was fully aware that the Father had given everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” The Lord Jesus knew who he really is…He is God the Son, the Lord and Master: “You call me Lord and Master and rightly so for indeed I am.” He makes no pretenses about this. He does not deny his greatness in an attitude of false humility. He knew who he was: he is the one to whose power the Father had given everything. And this knowledge of his own greatness makes what he did even so remarkable: “He rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist.” To me, St. Paul gives the appropriate interpretation of what Jesus did: “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God, something that was within his grasp. But rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” Do you remember the Transfiguration of Jesus? Jesus’ face shone like the sun and his garments because excessively brilliant. This brilliance, this external glory was what Jesus took off at his incarnation. The outer garments which he took off stood for the external glory of his Divinity which Jesus took off when he became man. This is what we call the Kenosis of Jesus. Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a slave, which is our human likeness. That towel which he tied around his waist was the human nature he assumed for himself. He was clad in the garments of a slave. He who is so great, so much like God his Father, humbled himself and became a slave. But the Incarnation was not the end of his humiliation. He humbled himself even further by obediently accepting death on a Cross. He poured water into a basin and washed the feet of his disciples. Feet washing is an act of courtesy shown by Jews to visitors considering the fact that the roads in Israel are either dusty or muddy. However, feet washing is a very menial task. It is an act so low…so demeaning a task that it is never assigned to a Jewish slave on account of his dignity as part of the chosen people of God. And so there he is…God the Son to whom everything has been given by the Father…he now washes the feet of his disciples. He performs the low and menial task of washing our feet. He washes us through the blood and water that will gush out of his wounded side. He gives us the bath of spiritual birth called Baptism and washes our feet with the absolution obtained from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is how he shows us his love. He loves us by going down so low as to wash our feet. I remember Florante of the work of Francisco Balagtas. He said: “O pag-ibig kapag ika’y pumasok sa puso nino man, hahamakin ang lahat, masunod ka lamang.” Jesus loved us and in that love, hinamak niya ang lahat, pati ang kanyang sarili.

And so he tells us: “If I, your Lord and Master, washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” With this, we begin to ask ourselves: “Ano ang kaya kong gawin upang maipakita ko ang pag-ibig ko kay Hesus? Hinamak niya ang lahat, maging ang kanyang sarili, upang ipakita niya ang pagmamahal niya sa akin. Ano ang kaya kong hamakin para sa kanya?” What am I willing to do? How low am I willing to go, in order to prove my love for him? The bishop this morning reminded us priests: “that there is no assignment too poor, no task too menial, no service too low for us. We must be willing to bend so low if we are to be who we should be: ministers of Christ. Remember that no servant is greater than his master, no student is greater than his teacher. We are all servants. We go to wherever we are sent. We leave when we are dismissed.”

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