Wednesday, March 27, 2019


MARCH 24, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Tragedies, whether they be natural or man-made, are usually deemed as punishments from God. I remember when “Yolanda” struck Samar, an insensitive post came out in the social media. It said that tragedy befell them because the people living there were all sinners. I suppose that the Lord was referring to this same mentality when he referred to the Galileans executed by Pontius Pilate and those 18 persons who perished at the collapse of the tower of Siloam. He asked: “Were they more guilty than anyone else in Jerusalem?” Were the victims of calamities more sinful than all of us? And the answer of the Lord was: “By no means!” And indeed, he is right. They cannot be regarded as greater sinners because all of us are sinners. All of us are guilty. That is why “if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

In the 2nd reading, St. Paul gives us a clear explanation. He spoke of the Israelites who perished in the desert. He said: “These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things as they did…These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”

The Lord teaches us of the deadly effects of sin. Many of us take sin lightly because they are ignorant of what it can do to us. Sin is deadly. When sin entered the world, together with it came death. What happened to the executed Galileans and to the victims of the fallen tower of Siloam were the natural consequences of sin. If we were spared of such catastrophe, it was simply because our time has not yet come and we should not wait for it to happen. We must repent as soon as possible.

Sin is deadly and all of us are enslaved by it. Our afflictions are caused by sin. They do not come from God. They are the effects of sin. When we sin, we turn away from the Lord who is Life, Love, and Good. That is why we are afflicted by death, violence, and evil. Evil cannot come from God because He is holy. From the burning bush, God told Moses to come no nearer and to take off his sandals because the place where he stood was holy ground. “I have witnessed the affliction of my people and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well that they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them…and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

The venerable Senyor of Pakil, Laguna
As we saw last time, God does not delight in our affliction. He does not delight in the death of the sinner. He is kind and merciful. That is why he came to save us. “He pardons all (our) iniquities, heals all (our) ills. He redeems (our) life from destruction, crowns (us) with kindness and compassion. He desires nothing but our salvation. Thus, he descended from heaven and took flesh from the Virgin’s womb. He took upon himself our affliction. Like the Galileans executed by Pilate as they offered sacrifice, he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. And in dying, Christ offered God the most perfect sacrifice. His Blood did not mingle with his sacrifice. His Blood was The Sacrifice itself. Like all men who were afflicted by death’s serious blow, he descended into hell. The sinless One shared the lot (kapalaran) of sinners. And he did this to take us out of hell. He resurrected from the dead and “when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive. And he bestowed gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8) Now, we eat the same spiritual food and drink from the spiritual rock who is Christ himself.

Therefore, let us repent while we can. Let us not wait for disaster to fall on us. He gives us a chance to bear fruits. He cultivates the ground around us and fertilizes us with the Eucharist, our spiritual food and drink. Let us turn from our evil ways and turn to Him who is kind and merciful. “For if (we) do not repent, (we) will all perish as they did!”

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

2nd Sunday of Lent C: Our Sins and His Curse

March 17, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Walking between animal carcasses at the sealing of a covenant was supposed to be a curse and a warning. The gesture was supposed to warn both parties that the misfortune that befell these dead animals would be the lot of anyone of them who would violate the stipulations of the covenant. And so both God and Abraham passed between the carcasses. In this way, they signed the covenant in the way of the ancients.

And yet we know who violated the covenant. The people of Israel were not faithful to God. Like a harlot wife, Israel committed adultery against God. She worshiped other gods. She violated her marriage with God.

However, the tragedy of the slaughtered animals did not fall on her nor on us. Instead, it was God who suffered the animals’ fate. He was born amidst animals in Bethlehem. As he fasted in the desert, he lived amidst wild beasts. Like sheep led to the slaughter, the incarnate Son of God was slain at the very hour the sheep were sacrificed in the temple.

We will not appreciate what Christ has done if we do not consider the Transfiguration. The Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to the mountain where he was transfigured before them: his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. He allowed them to see his glory as God’s only begotten Son. So beautiful was that sight that Peter exclaimed: “Master, it is good that we are here…” Jesus showed them the beauty of his glory in order to prepare them for his “exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” In that exodus, Jesus will be seen treated like an animal: scourged, beaten up, and crucified. That glorified beauty of his Divine Face will be marred by the cruelty of men. His face shall be defiled by our sin…in the very way the Divine likeness in Adam was destroyed by original sin. Yes, God made man in his image and likeness, patterned after the beauty of the face of God’s only begotten Son. But at his crucifixion, Christ’s face will be marred, patterned after the hideous face of sin. God gave us his beauty when he created us but when we crucified him, we gave him the ugliness of our sinful nature.  “There is no beauty in him nor comeliness, and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him.” (Is. 53: 2)  

It is in this way that he shall restore to us the beauty of the Divine likeness which was destroyed by sin. The exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem will be our exodus as well. That deformed face of the Crucified One will be glorified at the Resurrection. Through the discipline of self-restraint, the saints have rejected the luxury and the comforts of this world in order to join Christ in his exodus from this world. By restraining their bodies, they were nourished inwardly by God’s Word and their spiritual sight was purified. This enabled them to keep their eyes fixed on the glory of Jesus. They have died to the world and now they rest and live in the light of the Lord. If we listen to him as the Father commanded us to do, then we will also follow him in his exodus from this world to the Father. Heaven shall be our home and “he will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.”

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

1st Sunday of Lent C: Christ's Battle

March 10, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we beg the Father: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Today, we hear the exact opposite in our Gospel reading. After his baptism at the River Jordan, the Lord Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert “to be tempted by the devil.” The Holy Spirit did not lead Jesus away from temptation but led him into it. It was as if the Holy Spirit fortified Jesus for a battle – a battle that the Lord decided to engage in because the Lord “heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression” brought about by his enemy, the devil. As the Egyptians maltreated the Israelites, so did the devil maltreat and oppressed by imposing the hard labor of suffering, illness, and death upon us.  The Lord knew that we were powerless against this oppression that is why he himself came down to this earthly desert of our exile in order to engage the devil in a fight so that he can bring us out of our Egypt “with his strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders.” In leading us out of this enslaving world, he intends to bring us to heaven, the land overflowing with milk and honey.

The weapon the devil used against Jesus was the same weapon he used against Adam and Eve: temptation. He used temptation to seduce our first parents away from the path of holiness which the Lord intended for them. The devil has his way of doing it. In a temptation, the devil could make something so horrible look attractive. The devil made the forbidden fruit look delicious to eat. Adam and Eve were so enticed by the assurance that eating the forbidden fruit would not kill them. Rather, it would make them like God. Our first parents fell into this trap. They ate the forbidden fruit. They disobeyed the Lord and so sin entered the world and together with sin came suffering, illness, and death.

The devil tried using the same temptation on Jesus. Capitalizing on our Lord’s hunger from fasting, the devil attempted to make the stones look like bread: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”  It is as if the devil was saying: “You are the Son of God. You do not even have to go hungry because you have the power to do the impossible. Change stone to bread and help yourself. Use your power to indulge yourself.”

The devil seduced Adam and Eve with an empty promise: they will become gods if they disobeyed the Lord. He now seduced Jesus with the promise of earthly power and glory in exchange for a renunciation of his Divinity. He must have thought the Jesus was no different from Esau who sold away his birthright in exchange for a bowl of soup to satisfy his hunger. It was as if the devil told Jesus: “You do not have to suffer and die in order to receive power and glory. Simply relinquish your Divinity and worship me and then, power and glory will be yours with the least effort.”

The devil tried to instill in Christ doubt in the Father’s love for him: “Go and jump from the parapet of the temple and test the Father’s love for you. If he loves you, he will send his angels to catch you and keep you from harming yourself.” After 3 years, the devil will reiterate this temptation on Calvary. The devil would speak to Jesus as he hanged on the Cross: “Where is your Father now? Where are your angels now? Did they not defend you from this cruelty? Why are you all alone now?” The devil would speak through the jeering crowd: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross and we will believe in you.”

But Jesus would not jump. He will not test the Father. He will not come down from the Cross. He will stay on the side of his Father. He will be obedient until death. He will stay on the Cross because the Cross will be his weapon against the devil. The outstretched arm he will use to lead us out of the slavery of sin will be that arm which he will stretch out upon the wood of the Cross. The terrifying power of Christ will be that of his unconditional obedience to the Father. His signs and wonders will be his Cross and his Resurrection. Indeed, the Lord will win this battle by his fasting, by his suffering, by his unwavering obedience, by his Cross, and by his Resurrection.

And he empowers us with the same weapons in our spiritual battle against the devil. This Lenten season, he invites us to join him in his fast. Strengthen your soul by the weakness of your body. Fast and pray. Arm yourself with the Word of God. Obey his word. Restrain yourself. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. Let us arm ourselves with the weapon of self-restraint as we take up battle against spiritual evils (Collect of Ash Wednesday). Do not be afraid. Christ has gone before us in this battle. He has engaged the enemy in a battle. He fought and he won. He has conquered the world.

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday: Let the Priests weep before the Altar

March 6, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

“Between the porch and the altar, let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say: ‘Spare, O Lord, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach…’”

The prophet Joel wrote at a time when the southern kingdom of Judah was devastated by a plague of locusts. The land was laid barren and the people suffered heavy losses. And so, the prophet calls for a time of penance: a time of fasting and sacred assembly: “Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly…” This call to penance was done because the Lord said to the people: “Even now, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning…Return to the Lord. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” The time of penance was necessitated by the plague. But such an occasion can only be called because of the mercy of God. The people can return to the Lord because the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness. He is relenting in punishment. If the Lord were not so, then penance would have been useless. If the Lord is unmoved by acts of mortification, then why engage in penance?
Ash Wednesday this year finds the Church in a difficult situation. The crisis of clerical sins has brought about a severe beating for the Church. The scandal has risen to the highest offices of the Church. We have been brought low in the sight of people on account of the sins of our spiritual fathers.

In such crisis, the Lord tells us to return to him. And he seeks genuine conversion: Rend your hearts and not your garments. Tearing one’s garment looks dramatic enough but it would amount to putting up a show. But the Lord does not want a show. He wants conversion to be sincere. He wants this conversion to come from the heart. To rend one’s heart means to radically cut off ourselves from the roots of our sins. Repentance cannot be sincere if there is no desire to reform. Repentance involves a severing of ties and attachment to sin.

Our sorrow for sins must come from the heart. We are sorry that we have offended God. We are sorry for hurting others. In this crisis of clerical abuse, people kept talking about how victims were traumatized and rightly should we say so. But we will miss the point if we do not realize how such sins have offended the Lord. We will miss the point if we do not realize how such sins have defiled consecrations to the Lord. The sins of clerical abuse are so offensive because they violate the clergy’s consecration to God. That is why priests have to weep before the altar, before the altar where they must stand undefiled in order to worthily offer sacrifice. Priests have to weep before the altar because the altar makes the offering sacred. Priests have to weep before the altar because they place on the altar the spotless Victim who is Christ and therefore, by their lives of self-abnegation, they must lay down their lives together with Christ.

Dearly beloved, as we enter into this time of penance, may I humbly ask you to remember us, your priests, in your prayers. Many of us have fallen. We have fallen to sin. We have defiled our consecration. We have become unworthy ministers of the Lord. Like the public sinners of old who stand at the doorsteps of the Church to beg for the prayers of the faithful, we priests beg you to pray for us. Pray that we may acknowledge our sins and take responsibility for them. Pray that we may sincerely be sorrowful for our sins. Pray that we may make amends for them. Pray that we may rise and return to the Lord. “For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: ‘Against you alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.’”

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

Sunday, March 3, 2019


March 3, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

“Sa bibig nahuhuli ang isda,” so our elders tell us. There is truth in this saying and the Word of God teaches us about it. “When a sieve (panala) is shaken, the husks appear, so do one’s faults when one speaks…The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had, so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then how people are tested.”

The Lord uses the same image in today’s Gospel reading: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit…A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Lord, your words reveal the secrets of your Heart. You have the words of eternal life!
Ex abundantia cordis – “From the abundance of the heart” – so we are told. The heart is considered to be the center of hidden emotional-intellectual-moral activity. Because of the inaccessibility of the physical heart, it has been considered as the symbol of anything remote or inaccessible in man. The heart of a person is inaccessible to others but it is searched by God: “Man looks at outward appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

The Lord Jesus tells us today that the secrets of the human heart are betrayed by the mouth. As the fruit reveals the upbringing of the tree, so also a man’s words reveal who he is. The mouth expresses the contents of the heart. It reveals the obsessions, preoccupations, concerns, desires of the person. The mouth confesses what the heart trusts.

And this is the reason why the Lord cautions us about our pronouncements. A man who sees the splinter in another person’s eye would most probably reveal the wooden beam in his eye. It is easy for him to see the splinter because he has a store of wooden beams in his heart. He is not aware of it because he is blind to his own faults but that blindness is betrayed by the pronouncements he makes about others.

This is why we constantly need to examine our own hearts. And one easy way of doing this is by asking ourselves: What are the words that I usually say? Ano ba ang bukambibig ko? Remember the saying: Buka ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib. Being aware of what we usually say, we will see the signs of the condition of our hearts. And keeping in mind what we spontaneously say, we become aware of our desires. We become aware of our trusts. Our words will show where we put our trust.

The mouth reveals what the heart contains and the ear determines what goes into it. The heart will contain what the ear chooses to listen to. This is why we should educate the heart by listening to the right voice. “Come children and hear me and I will teach you the ways of the Lord.” (Ps. 34:11) The heart needs to be educated by filling it with God’s word. “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.” (Proverbs 22:17-18) The reason why so much evil comes from our heart is because we deprive it of the wisdom the God’s words. As we care for the physical heart by eating healthy food, so must we care for our moral hearts by feeding it with God’s word.

St. Paul tells us that we will clothe the corruptible with incorruptibility. He spoke of the human flesh as being clothed by Divine glory at the resurrection. But we should start preparing for this by weeding out the corruption of the heart through listening to the word of God. Be careful of what you listen to. If you listen to garbage, your mouth will emit garbage. If you listen to what is sublime, your mouth will speak of what is sublime. The mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart.

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

7TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME C: Becoming truly the Children of God

FEBRUARY 24, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

The people we love are those who are good to us. The people we lend money to are those from whom we can expect repayment. And these are most likely to be expected from everybody. Goodness begets goodness. We are naturally attracted to what is pleasant. Jesus says: “Even sinners do the same.”

The Lord in today’s gospel pushes us more to the extremes of love. He tells us: “Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back.” The Lord challenges us to do more than what is naturally expected of us. He tells us to go to the very extreme limits of loving. He tells us: “You can do more than just loving those who are good to you. You can do more than lend money to those from whom you can expect payment. You can do more because you are greater than the ordinary. You are more than what is just natural…You are children of the Most High who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” The Lord reminds us of who we are: We are children of God. Therefore, we must strive to imitate God: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” The kindness of God extends even to those who do not deserve it.

2 Sundays ago, we heard of the vision of God’s holiness which was given to the prophet Isaiah. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts,” the cherubim sang unceasingly. We said that the holiness of God means that he is unlike any of his creatures. His excellence consists in absolute goodness. Here is where God’s goodness exceeds that of all his creatures: his kindness goes beyond the limits of pleasantness. It extends even to the ingrates and to the wicked. The Lord loves not only those who love him. He loves even those who despise him. This we know is true for if he did not love the wicked, then they would cease to exist. He allows the sun to shine on both the good and the bad. He allows the rain to fall on both the saint and the sinner.

And so, our duty as children of God is to love as God loves. Jesus has proven that he is truly the Son of God. When he was crucified, Jesus prayed to his Father: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” To the repentant thief, he gave the assurance: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus is merciful as his Father is merciful. Now, he tells us to do the same: I give you a new commandment “Love one another as I have loved you.” He loved us even though we are unworthy and ungrateful. Therefore, our love becomes truly like that of the Father when we forgive and when we do good to those who hate us. Love is our response to their hatred.

St. Paul says in the 2nd reading that the natural comes first, then the spiritual. Therefore, our love as Christians must progress from the natural to the spiritual. We begin from loving what is naturally appealing. Then, little by little, we strive to become like Jesus. At first, we might feel it to be naturally repulsive to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us. But we try to defeat this repulsion by our self denial: “Lord, help me deny myself by loving those who hate me.” Slowly, we become like Jesus. We learn to forgive those who have offended us. We learn to love those who hate us. Eventually, “we shall bear the image of the heavenly one.” To err is human, to forgive is divine. We are called to that divinity for we are children of the Father who is good even to the ungrateful and to the wicked.

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


FEBRUARY 17, 2019

JESUS, I trust in you!

It is difficult to believe in Jesus because he opposes the teachings which we grew up believing in. We have always thought that becoming rich is something to aspire for. All of us want to be rich and this is manifested by the long lines in lotto outlets when the prize amounts to millions of pesos. Of course no one wants to go hungry. Isn’t the food industry one of the largest in the world? We love to eat. We value laughter and so Show time rates highly because people patronize comedy and entertainment. And everybody wants to be highly regarded by others. High esteem goes by a new name: Popularity. And so, if you are rich, filled, laughing, and popular, then you are envied and most probably, people will come to you and ask: “How to be you po?”

But Jesus says exactly the opposite. He says: “Woe to you who are rich. Woe to you who are filled now. Woe to you who laugh now. Woe to you when all speak well of you. Opposed to this, the Lord extolls those whom we consider as losers: Blessed are you who are poor. Blessed are you who are hungry now. Blessed are you who are weeping now. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

Listening to Jesus, we might be tempted to say: “Baliktad na ang mundo!” And we would be right in saying so. Baliktad na ang mundo not because Jesus opposed what we have always taken for granted as true but rather it is because the world has gone the opposite direction of the will of God. Remember that everything was created through Jesus and for him. Therefore, the teachings of our Lord reveal the real values according to original intent of God. He tells us that joy does not come from material wealth, food, entertainment and popularity. Joy comes from God and from God alone. That is why the Lord said through Jeremiah: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord…” The Lord is the only genuine source of our fulfillment. He is the only source of joy and blessedness.

“Sometimes you are unsatisfied with your life, while many in this world are dreaming of living your life…A child on a farm sees an airplane flying overhead and dreams of flying. But the pilot on that plane sees the farmhouse and dreams of returning home.

If wealth is the secret to happiness, then the rich should be dancing in the streets. But only poor kids do that.

If power ensures security, then officials should walk unguarded. But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships, then celebrities should have the best relationships.

Live simply, walk humbly, and love genuinely…All good will come to you.”

Yes, the world has been lying to us. The Lord tells the truth.

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


FEBRUARY 10, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

The prophet Isaiah saw God in a vision. He was seated on a high and lofty throne and the seraphim unceasingly praise him: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory.” What does it mean when the angels say that God is holy? The holiness of God means that God is unlike any of his creatures. He is supreme in his perfection and dominion. The word holy is the opposite of the word “profane” which means “common,” “vulgar,” “secular,” “not worthy of reverence,” and “not consecrated.” God is above all creation. In his being, God possesses an absolute purity and dignity which is necessarily infinitely above every creature. In his will, God possesses an absolute rectitude or goodness.

The strange thing about our holy God is that he calls and sends forth sinners. Isaiah was deeply troubled by the vision because he was a man of unclean lips and he came from a people with unclean lips. When God became man, he chose Peter as fisher of men. Peter said to him, “Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.” Jesus also appeared to Paul who was a self-confessed persecutor of the faith. Sinners like Isaiah, Peter and Paul were chosen by God to be the bearers of his message to the world. He does not call the qualified (for nobody is qualified) but rather, he qualifies those he called. He commanded the seraphim to take an ember from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips with it: “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” The Lord Jesus assured Peter, James and John: “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.” Jesus sent Ananias to Paul to baptize him. Ananias said to Paul, “The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice: for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.” This made St. Paul later on write: “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, not of us.” (2 Cor 4:7)

We often hesitate to accept the mission to bring the Gospel to others. Our usual excuse is that we feel unqualified for the job. “I am not prepared.” “I know nothing.” “I am a sinner.” “I am unqualified.” But who is qualified? No one is. The reason for the choices God makes will always be the mystery of his wisdom. He chooses to send not the qualified but the willing. All we have to do is to say: “Here I am, Lord, send me.” All we have to do is to leave everything and follow him. Once you do this, you will be surprised to find out how his grace will work in you and through you. He will transform you and make you like himself. He will use you to transform others. All you have to do is abandon your fear and say: “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”

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


FEBRUARY 3, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown. It was there where he grew up from the time he returned from Egypt until the time he began his public ministry. This is why his own townsfolk thought they knew him well. In Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood was quite ordinary. He played and studied like any other kid, with neither spectacle nor fanfare. He did not perform miracles as a child. He was no celebrity. He was not a child-star. He grew up as the son of a carpenter. He was obedient to Mary and Joseph.

That is why when they were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth when he preached in the synagogue, the first question they asked was “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” This was the mark of ordinariness: Jesus was called the son of Joseph. Jesus’ divinity was a well-kept secret. Remember that it was only at the River Jordan where Jesus’ divinity was revealed by the Father who publicly called him “his beloved Son.” The people of Nazareth did not know that Jesus was the Son of God. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was simply the son of Joseph.

Here, we see how Jesus valued the ordinary life. For 30 years, he was a nobody. He was simply the son of Joseph. He was like us in all things except in sin. We often forget this reality. We claim that we find difficulty in imitating him because we keep on looking at his celebrity status during his public ministry when crowds followed him who performed signs and wonders. We keep forgetting that the public ministry of Jesus comprised only the last 3 years of his life. We keep forgetting that for 30 long years, the Son of God was simply known as the son of Joseph. We keep forgetting that he was like us in every way…yes, in every way except in sin.

St. Paul explains this excellence of the ordinary in the 2nd reading. He said: “Love is not pompous. It is not inflated. It is not rude. It does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered. It does not brood over injuries. It does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Inasmuch as God is love, we must understand St. Paul’s hymn to love as referring to Jesus himself. Jesus is not pompous. He is not inflated. In other words, Jesus prefers the ordinary.

The ordinariness of Jesus’ youth became the hindrance to the faith of the Nazarenes. They failed to believe in him because they could not understand how someone so ordinary could speak words of great wisdom. Yesterday, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Simeon spoke of the Child Jesus as becoming a sign that will be contradicted. Indeed, the words of the prophet came to pass in Nazareth. The people of Nazareth rejected him because they found it difficult to believe that someone so ordinary could be someone Divine. The place where Jesus grew in age and wisdom became the place where he would be rejected.

And oftentimes, our preference for spectacle becomes the hindrance to our faith. Waiting for big miracles, we fail to see the action of God in the ordinary things in life. Also, we wait for big opportunities to shine. And so we forget of the heroism of the ordinary. We are so engrossed with the celebrity mentality that we forget that love shines in the ordinary and in the forgotten. Let us not reject the ordinary for it is there where God manifests his presence. It is in the seeming weakness of the ordinary that God manifests his strength. It is in the ordinary where God manifests his constancy.

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


JANUARY 27, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Temple of the Lord which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar was rebuilt during the time of Artaxerxes. In the course of the reconstruction, the scrolls of the Law were found amidst the ruins. These scrolls were presented by Ezra to the people. He assembled them and read to them the contents of the scrolls which they thought have been lost during the siege of Jerusalem. And as he read to them, the people were weeping because they have heard at last, after their long exile in Babylon, the contents of the scrolls. They wept because they were listening again to the word of the Lord. God, through the reading, was once again speaking to his people.

Led by the Holy Spirit who descended on him in the River Jordan, Jesus returned to Nazareth and stood up in the synagogue to read from the prophet Isaiah. He opened the scroll and read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings 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. “ After reading, the Lord makes this bold proclamation: “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

After the public testimony of the Father on behalf of Jesus when he was baptized, he now receives the testimony of Sacred Scriptures. The Scripture passage is fulfilled in their hearing because he who speaks to them is the Christ, the One Anointed by the Holy Spirit. He brings the Gospel to the poor because he himself is the Gospel. He is the Word of God made flesh. God reveals himself to them through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s self-revelation to all people. He comes to liberate the captives of sin. He is the Light who dispels the blindness of those who live in darkness. He frees those who are oppressed by sin. He announces that the time of salvation has at last come. The Law and the prophets all point to him. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Jesus said: “Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life, and they testify to me.” (John 5:39)

The Jews wept when Ezra read the Scriptures to them. They understood that God has broken his silence. At last he was speaking to them. We should likewise weep when Scriptures are read to us because when they are proclaimed to us, God speaks to us through his Son. “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through the Son.” (Hebrews 1:1) And that Son is Jesus. On the River Jordan, the Father publicly declared: “This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” The Word of God is not a book. He is a living Person. He is Jesus, the Son of God. We should rejoice because in Jesus, we have received the fullness of Divine Revelation. The Word of God has come to us. He speaks to us. He is Mary’s Son. Let us listen to him: He has the words of eternal life.

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