Just a thought for the week’s top trending issues (Philippines)

This week is made interesting, if not sad by two events that made it to the top trends of the week, first Nora Aunor being denied for the National Artist award and the priest castigating a single mom.
Concerned people’s attention were called because of the overwhelming public opinion.Nora was denied for the sole reason that she has some drug issues in the past. While the priest garnered public condemnation for such rude acts.
Nora has served the penalty for her past issue, while the priest has issued his public apology, accepting his fault, likewise his congregation has suspended him as a punishment while in depth investigation is being conducted. What I am sure now is that, these two persons have received already the penalty more than what the proper authority can impose on them.
Now in fairness to them, I guess it wont be fair if we define them as a person based on this particular failure which they committed, and true to anybody else.

For Nora, I guess, the National Artist award should not be denied to her if she deserves it based on her artistic credentials. I guess national artist award has different criteria than that for outstanding mother or for sainthood wherein strict values/moral credentials must be observed, in fact as the famous saying states “all saints have a past and every sinner has a future.” If President Aquino thinks that it is unwise to recognize an artist’s contribution to the industry because of past drug issues, he may consider that there are several famous and well commemorated individuals who have dark pasts as well, Robert F. Kennedy went for a brief rehab for drug use, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Allan Poe, both famous writers were known alcoholics, Diana Rose, considered by many African-American women as role model likewise was an alcoholic, the famous activist Martin Luther King was said to be with a mistress, and Nelson Mandela was considered for a long time by western countries as terrorist, yet their past failures were put aside, and proper acknowledgement for their contributions on their respective fields were given.
As to the priest, I guess aside from the improper parting of lesson/counseling, I am sure he made some good contributions in the past to the lives of his former parishioners and that he may still amend his ways and do what is expected of him in the future. This failure/mistake of him should not be our basis of defining what he is in totality or much as a basis to condemn the Church as a whole. While exacting standards are expected of priests, we must not forget that they are just humans. The first apostles made same mistakes as well. St. Peter denied Jesus thrice, yet Jesus still chose him to lead his flock. When persecution of Christians in Rome was in its height he attempted to flee, but he met Jesus along the way who told him “I am going to Rome to be crucified”, it was at this point that he realized his mistake and went back to fulfill his mission to bear witness to Christ by dying on the cross. St. Paul was a staunch persecutor of Christians until his encounter with Jesus in the road to Damascus. Thomas the apostle doubted that Jesus truly resurrected. Jesus chose weak and former sinners to be his messengers and witnesses, so that the glory of God may be revealed in them as the Holy Spirit provides them the necessary strength to fulfill their missions after submitting themselves to the will of God. They were weak and sinners, yet upon realizing their mistake they made amends and stood as true witnesses of Jesus and sealed it with their blood. Give then this priest a chance to make amends and be a true witness of Jesus.

What is important is that these people accepted their mistakes and faced the consequences and humbly asked for forgiveness. True for all of us, we must do the same, and not fall into the same mistake of Judas Iscariot who doubted the grace of God to forgive. Much more we should not commit Lucifer’s mistake who never had the humility to accept his sin and ask for forgiveness.
As to all of us, truly it is proper that we should all work together to seek justice for those who are disadvantaged/abused. While I am not a Noranian, at some point I understand the sentiment of her supporters, us to all of us who sympathized with the single mom, we should, and we should act as such every time we see abuses around us.Yet on the other hand we should not end only in seeking justice and making sure that justice is served. But we must complete the cycle. After justice is served, we must proceed to the next step that is forgiveness, and then to the final stage which is reconciliation.It is a common failure that we often stop with the stage when justice is served. The reason why many people return to their past sins is that because we condemn them to eternal damnation without any opportunity for making amends. Many ex-convicts fully rehabilitated wishing to leave their dark past and start a new life, end up forced to commit another crime for the very reason that they are left with no choice; society has forever condemned them, we make them feel that they no longer have place in our society. Nobody wants to help them, for many of us the idea is once criminal/sinner, forever criminal/sinner. It is easy to condemn, but hard to forgive, much more to reconcile.

We must not forget the very example that God has shown to us. He punished our first parent by driving them out of paradise after committing what was prohibited. Yet God did not end by rendering the punishment, He forgave humanity, by sending His only begotten Son, to die for our salvation, so that thru His coming humanity will once again be reconciled to God. God punished humanity, but sent His Son to save us-an ultimate sacrifice made by a forgiving Father and an obedient Son, thru this Humanity was reconciled to God-this is the true cycle of justice and love. God did not wait for humanity, but He extended His hands to offer forgiveness and reconciliation; we too must imitate this example, seek justice, let justice be serve, but forget not to forgive and initiate reconciliation. After all, to err is human, but to forgive is divine.


Lenten Reflection 4

My heart rejoices knowing that I was saved through the sacrifice of my Lord Jesus, but my heart aches, knowing how You died for me, yet in many times I let You suffer again and again because of my repeated commission of sins. I refuse to heal Your wounds when everytime I commit sins, sins that separates me from Your grace. I was a slave of sin and You came to free me, but I was used to bear the shackles of sins, that often times I prefer to be a slave of sin rather than embrace the freedom You purchased with Your blood. I prefer to stay in that dark prison cell of sin rather than walk through the door which You opened and search the light that You have brought with You.

Lord, give me the strength, to follow You, even though it may mean carrying my own cross as well. For I rather die with You now and be crucified with You, if in the end i will see You in Your glory, than stay forever chained in that dark prison cell which the slaver sin has kept me for long…



photo taken from google

Lenten Reflection 3

And so Jesus went to John who was baptizing in the river of Jordan and asked John to baptize Him as well, John was reluctant for baptism is to wash away sin and how could he baptize the One who precedes him, One who has no sin, yet Jesus insisted…

Jesus opened His ministry with HUMILITY having John baptize Him who even personally declared that he is not worthy even to remove the sandals of the Messiah. Still Jesus, just like the other human beings who are plagued with sins received the water baptism of John. He descended into the water, as He descended from heaven to earth, and rose up from the water as he rose to his glory to be revealed for all men so that they may believe and be saved. Jesus never boasted before John, but humbly asked the lowly John to baptize Him…

In our lives pride and arrogance plague us. We refuse to believe or to receive the help of others not because we can do it on our own but because we are too proud of ourselves and cannot accept that at some point the person we think is lower than us is the very person now offering help to us…

Lord, forgive me, if in many times my pride blinded me, not to see to goodness in other people. Lord forgive me if when many times I looked down on some people thinking I am better and higher in stature than they are. Lord, forgive me, when in many times I was arrogant in not realizing that in everything, I need Your assistance. I trusted my personal capabilities neglecting the fact that if I humbly accept Your divine guidance all that I am doing will be a success. Lord help me to always, put humility before me, so that in everything I do, I will put it under your care, and humbly consider others counsel. Image

photo from this site: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/gregory-nazianzen-baptism-of-christ.htm

Lenten Reflection 2

We often ask, why is the blessed Mother so important in our Christian faith… it is because, out of her humility, obedience to the will of God and total trust and faith in the saving power of God, through her the promise of the coming of the savior was fulfilled. She opened the door of Salvation when she said to angel Gabriel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me”... In our lives how many times did God call upon us to be of service to HIM in several ways… but have we responded as the Blessed Mary did… have we answered “I am the servant of the Lord, let His will be done upon me”… or have we preferred to answer, “I am intelligent and smart, I know what I am doing and I will do it my way”… Forgive me Lord when in several times I prefer to do things my way, not Yours, but in Your mercy help me that I may always persevere to do Your will and to say the words with humility and with great faith, “I am Your servant, let Your will be done upon me”…
photo from this site: http://catholicladyblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-annunciation-why-mary-said-yes-to.html

Lenten Reflection 1

In times of trials, disasters and great sufferings we often ask the question “where is God?”… but then in times of good times, the better question is, “where is God in our lives in times of good times?” we got too many excuses why we need not make this Holy week, indeed a week for the Lord, instead we go out for some fun activities, yet we never try to make excuses when we celebrate our birthday, anniversary etc., If we can set aside a day to celebrate our other occasions isn’t it good also to set aside these days and make them the holiest of all the days devoted to God, to remember, commemorate, meditate and contemplate on the sacrifices of our Lord for us, and how far have we tried in our Christian walk… We all are tired and stressed, needing relaxation… yet never forget that Jesus was exhausted too, yet with all His remaining strength, He walked up-hill and offered His life for all of us…He was tired and weak, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head….Image

photo taken from this site: http://hdw.eweb4.com/search/christian+cross/

No more Strangers…

When we were kids we were told not to talk to strangers, or to stay away from strangers. Later on, I realized, we must take care of strangers. Because time will come we find our selves strangers in another place and we have no option but to entrust our life to some strangers. Therefore, it is hard, but seek Jesus in the depth of the strangers and you will realize there are no longer strangers but brothers and sisters.

And so we were made into HIS likeness…

When we were kids we were told not to talk to strangers, or to stay away from strangers. Later on, I realized, we must take care of strangers. Because time will come we find our selves strangers in another place and we have no option but to entrust our life to some strangers. Therefore, it is hard, but seek Jesus in the depth of the strangers and you will realize there are no longer strangers but brothers and sisters.

Return to Basics, The Catholic Church

<excerpts of this article was published in the February issue of the World Mission Magazine >
The January 2012 issue of the World Mission Magazine really took my attention, it speaks of many factors and reasons why the church seems to have gain little success in Asia with the exception of Philippines and Timor Leste. Truly I agree on all the key points presented to answer the basic question why Christianity is not so successful is Asia. I hope our leaders in the church would view it the same way like the many contributors of the magazine issue and start to make some reforms that would not hurt the church but would make it truly a Christ led church, which is caring towards the poor, hungry, naked, and victims of injustice.

I hope our leader would truly take this seriously so that the church may gain more acceptance in other Asian countries and at the same time halt the dechristianization of many Filipinos and other people from around the world. For so many times the church seems to be far fetched and is irrelevant in many situations for some reasons. I hope we could once again refine our Catholic religion, which is always a true channel of faith and revelation, that is a church within us, not beyond nor behind us.

In addition I would like to add my own observation why many Filipinos are leaving the church. Our church today, many times seems to be so far away. Many people no longer feel it as a church for poor and the oppressed, but rather has become the church of the wealthy and the powerful. We often see our priests and some bishops living in exclusive subdivisions, partying and feasting with well-to-do people while on the other side of the subdivision’s high walls are their flocks living in a sub-human condition. As we could recall Jesus himself opted to live with the poor and the sinners. When the rights of our lowly brothers are oppressed we could see some clergy man behind this politician and powerful people, trying to provide moral justification for such oppression, they would even offer mass for the intention and blessing of that very same person who causes the suffering of the poor. Many times the church was so silent amidst the wailing of our people. Moreover, often time we see clergy men riding luxurious cars, while their flocks walk in barefoot, we should not forget that when Jesus entered Jerusalem he did not rode the most expensive horse as king would usually use, or a camel such as the merchants would utilize but he used a colt which the lowly farmers would use in their daily works. Lastly, in terms of money collection. I find it unpleasant that many churches has fixed the fee for every sacrament. They said it is only a donation, but i cannot consider it as a donation since the amount is already fixed. What is given for free must be shared for free as we all believe. Many parents cannot afford to have their children baptized because they cannot pay the so-called donation. Our church leaders should not forget that 100 pesos for a daily wage earner means there would be food on the table today. Second, where to perform marriage is now a matter of defining social status, if one gets married in such church it is well known that they are wealthy because they have to pay such price, while the lowly would have to find smaller churches or would opt to be married by judges or mayors. According to many, civil marriage is cheaper. Finally, many times i would hear the priests or the commentator say ‘this mass is offered for the intentions of …” many of whom are well to do people who can afford to insert a couple of money in an envelop or to pay such amount in the office of the parish. I still believe in my little understanding that the feast of the Eucharist was given by Christ for all, and that the mass is to be offered not for the intention of few but for the intention of all. Our priest in our parish would always start the mass by saying “this mass is offered for the intention of all the believers as well as non believers that they may find Christ in their lives”.
For the past years, many of our parishes and religious congregations has accumulated so much wealth, that some of its institutions has appeared to become business/profit oriented instead of being service oriented. As we keep on building big and expensive churches, let us not forget that the true meaning of evangelization as earlier pointed out in this January issue is by living or emerging with the poor and the lowly as Christ himself did. Christ never cared to build a church made out of stone but he build a church made out of people, loving and caring for each other.

I have been critical with such observation since I grew up in the small town where our priest Rev. Fr. Domingo Denniz O.P. had shown us what it means to be a true shepherd of Christ. He administers the sacraments for free, he lived a life of poverty and in communion with the entire community.

May the great and loving God bless more the countless clergy and missionaries who had lived truly a Christ inspired life, being not just teachers or preachers but witnesses of Christ, a true channel of divine revelation in this modern times.