Saturday, October 27, 2012


        In this gospel reading we hear the story of Blind Batimaeus begging for Jesus’ attention and mercy so that he would be healed from his blindness. It is good to be mindful of the situation of this lowly beggar. He was sitting at the roadside…jaon ra tawon sa kilid nan dayan nagpungko. Mura kabahin sa mga tawo na tagtawag na “marginalized person”. Sauna sa gagmay pa kita, tagtudloan kita na kun magsuyat gani jaon gajod ton margin. An margin bagan way labot na sa tibuok na papel, art-art ra kibali dakan plastado ato pagsuyat sanan gana tan-awon. Dili na nato suyatan an margin kay jaon naman sa kilid, waya nay labot kibali hampan dili sab maradjaw na jaon na sa kilid an suyat. 
          We could somehow imagine how Bartimaeus lived his life. A person who is marginalized, insignificant, less important… May I allow you to hear the deafening shouts of Batimaues. Sa kahamuk na tawo, nadunggan pa gajod sija ni Jesus. It is mentioned in the gospel that people scolded him to make him keep silent… but he shouted all the more… “Jesus, Son of David… have pity on me!!!...” waya sija manumbaling sa mga tawo, nagpadajon sija nan suminggit… we could somehow understand him because for all his life, his was always silent at the corner. Nobody cared for him. He was no ‘voice’ in his own community. 
        But what caught my attention on this gospel pericope is Jesus’ act of mercy. Ang Ginoo nga nanumbaling niining tawo nga walay bili atubangan sa mga mata sa katawhan. (Here I remember the words of Mary… My soul proclaims the greatness of the LORD… for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant.) The God who cares so much for this lowly, rejected and insignificant creature and ask… What do you want me to do for YOU?... What a very personal and intimate gesture of Jesus… God loves us so much that even how ‘ordinary’ we are he continuously shows his mercy on us. Andam Siya kanunay nga mulinggi ug mutanaw kanato sa bisan unsa nga sitwasyon sa kinabuhi.

               God meets us where we are… 

               Is it not good news for all of us?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Wemmicks Story

          The Wemmicks were small wooden people. These little wooden people were carved by a woodworker named "Eli." Eli's workshop sat on a hill overlooking the Wemmick Village. Every one of the Wemmicks were different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the same village.
          All day long, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing. They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of dull gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people could be seen sticking gold stars or gray dots onto each other. The pretty ones, those with smooth wood and fine paint, always got shiny gold stars! But if the wood was rough or the paint was chipped, the Wemmicks gave dull gray dots. The talented ones got stars, too. Some could lift big sticks high above their heads or jump over tall boxes. Still others knew big words or could sing very pretty songs. Everyone gave them shiny gold stars! Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good that they did something else and got another star.
           There were many other Wemmicks though that could do very little. They got dull gray dots! There was one little Wemmick and his name was "Punchinello." He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather 'round and give him dull gray dots. Sometimes when he fell, it would scar his wood, so the people would give him more gray dots. He would try to explain why he fell and, in doing so, he would say something really silly. Then the Wemmicks would give him some more dots!!!
After a while, Punchinello had so many dots that he didn't want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him more dull gray dots. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and just give him one without any reason! "He deserves lots of dots," they would say. The wooden people would agree with one another. "He's not a good wooden person," they would say. After a while Punchinello believed them. "I am not a good Wemmick!" he would say. The few times he went outside, he hung around other Wemmicks who had a lot of gray dots. At least he felt better around them.
            One day, Punchinello met a Wemmick who was unlike any he'd ever met. She had no dull gray dots and did not have any shiny golden stars either. She was a wooden Wemmick and her name was "Lucia." It wasn't that people didn't try to give her stickers; it's just that the stickers didn't stick to her!!! Some admired Lucia for having no dots, so they would run up and give her a star. But it would fall off. Some would look down on her for having no stars, so they would give her a dot. But they would not stick either!!!
"That's the way I want to be!" thought Punchinello. "I don't want anyone's marks!" So he asked the "stickerless" Wemmick how she did it. "It's easy," Lucia replied. "Every day I go see Eli." Punchinello asked,"Eli? Who is Eli?" She replied "Yes, Eli, He is the woodcarver. I sit in His workshop and spend time with Him." He asked Lucia,"Why do you do that?" Lucia told him, "Why don't you find out for yourself? Go up the hill and visit with Him. He's there!" And with that, the sweet little Wemmick named Lucia turned and skipped away.
"But He won't want to see me!" Punchinello cried out to her. Lucia didn't hear him, as she was too far away. So Punchinello went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around giving each other gold stars and gray dots. "It's just not right," he muttered to himself. Then he resolved to go see Eli after all. Punchinello walked up the narrow path to the top of the hill and stepped into the big Woodcarver Shop. His little wooden eyes widened at the size of everything. The stool was as tall as he was. He had to stretch on his tippy-toes to see the top of the workbench. A hammer was as long as his arm. Punchinello swallowed hard and thought to himself, "I'm not staying here!" and he turned to leave. Then he heard his name. "Punchinello?" said this voice, so deep and strong. Just then Punchinello stopped. The voice said, "Punchinello, oh how good it is of you to come! Let me have a look at you."
            Punchinello slowly turned around and looked at the large bearded craftsman and said, "Sir, you know my name?" "Of course I do. I made you," Eli said. All of a sudden, Eli stooped down and picked little Punchinello up and set him on the workbench. "Hmmmmm," the Maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles all over him, "Looks like you've been given some bad marks." Punchinello explained,"Oh, Eli, I didn't mean to; really I didn't!!! I really tried hard not to." The Maker said, "Oh, you don't have to defend yourself to me, my child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think." Punchinello asked, "Really? You don't?" Then Eli said, "No and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They are Wemmicks just like you. What they think really doesn't matter at all, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special." Punchinello laughed, "Oh, me special? How can I be special? I can't walk fast. I can't jump. My paint is peeling. I make silly mistakes all the time and I am not a beautiful Wemmick like some of the others. How could I matter to you?" Eli looked at Punchinello and put his hands on those little wooden shoulders of his and spoke very slowly, "Because Punchinello... you are mine. That's why you matter to me." Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this before or say anything so nice, much less his Maker! He didn't know what to say!
        "Punchinello, every day I've been waiting and hoping you would come to see me," Eli explained. Punchinello looked up at him and said, "I came because I met a sweet Wemmick girl who had no marks." Eli said, "I know. Lucia told me about you." So Punchinello asked, "Why don't the stickers stay on Lucia?" Eli said, "Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what anyone else thinks. The stickers only stick if you let them." Punchinello looked puzzled and said, "What?" Eli said, "Yes, the stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust My love, the less you will care about those stickers." But Punchinello said, "I'm not sure I really understand. What you are saying?" The maker said, "You will, but it will take some time. You've got a lot of marks. So for now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care about you." Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the floor. "Now remember," Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. "You ARE special because I made you, and I don't make mistakes."
         Punchinello didn't stop, but in his heart he thought, "I think He really means it." And each time he remembered what Eli told him and each time he went to visit and talk with Eli, one of Punchinello's dots would fall off. They kept falling off and soon they were all gone!!!
           So like Punchinello, we must remember one thing: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." (I Samuel 16:7) 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sacramental Life

‘Neither the planter nor the waterer matters; only God, who makes things grow’
            While Bp. David was delivering his talk to the Alumni, I was quite busy roaming around preparing for the Eucharistic celebration. I wish I was one of those persons sitting there to listen to the bishop’s talk but even then, I was able to grasp inspiring thoughts from that conference. One point that stirred me was his honest confession ‘matagal na akong nag-hohomily pero para bang may kaba pa rin akong nararamdaman, and I don’t know where is it coming from… then one day I realized, that the fear that I feel comes from the thought that my preaching is not about me but God’s own message’
            In today’s reading we hear this community in Corinth, gifted with faith yet seemed to be a divided community that struggles to achieve spiritual maturity. Their immaturity bridged occasions of jealousy and quarrel that even reached the point of rivalry. They always compared themselves with the other group – they who belonged to Paul and they who were followers of Apollos. St. Paul reminded this community that the minister is not the determinant of fruitfulness in the Lord; they are all ministers, mere representatives and that each of them is simply doing what the Lord has willed them to do.
            Jesus, in our gospel today, experienced the same attitude that was shown by the believing community of Corinth. People looked for Him and when they found him, they prevented Him from leaving. The people wanted to own Jesus for they found hope in Him. It created in them the feeling of confidence for having the change to belong to this kind of leader. Perhaps this is a normal tendency of a believing community who finds a rare and extraordinary kind of minister. Yet for us future ministers, this situation is going to be tricky when people will try to ‘own’ or ‘take hold’ of us.  What makes it more complicated is when we find ourselves becoming very comfortable where we are and with the people entrusted to our care. The tendency to stay in a place of comfort is so strong especially when our needs are fueled by the kind of treatment that the people are showing.
            Today, we are reminded to gaze at this man we long to follow and to listen carefully to him whose burning desire was to follow the will of His father “To the other town I must announce the good news because that is why I was sent”. Bp. David in his talk on Priesthood as Sacramental leadership emphasized that, priesthood is an outward sign of the unseen leader. Ang pari usa ka-representante sa dili makita nga pagkapari ni Kristo. Presbyters should be mindful that they are not made for themselves but rather sent in the service of the Kingdom. For us, priests to be, I think we need to put this in our hearts and minds, that whatever we do always points to Christ, the one we are following. We should not forget that our presence and actions must point to Him whom we dare to imitate.
In our apostolate areas we usually gain new acquaintances, new friends, and a new community. There, we may experience that the people confidently connect to us, perhaps not because of our greatness and physical attributes but maybe because of our unique identity, that is, being called to be a future minister of Christ standing in behalf of God in their midst. Priests do not own their parishioners, they do not own the liturgy, and they do not own their priesthood. They are sent to represent the priesthood of Christ. With Paul we ask, who then is Apollos, who then is Paul, who then are our priests? Who then are we – seminarians? We are ‘simply ministers’ or plant waterers’ and only God causes the growth.  
But our consolation is that we are not just representatives. We also participate in the mission of Christ in our own limited way. We are God’s co-worker. The moment we leave our own boundaries and comfort zones to be in touch with the people in our apostolate areas - when students feel delighted by our presence in schools, when we visit the cold, difficult world of our brethren in prison cells and other rehabilitation centers, when we listen attentively to a teary-eyed Sendong survivor who gradually find new meaning in life because of our presence. These and many more, are our little share of Christ’s sacramental leadership, our privilege, our mission.
As we participate in the mission of Christ, may we also feel the kind of fear that Bp.David felt in his heart. I believe this is a healthy fear, knowing in the depths of our hearts, that who we are and what we do points to Christ, the One we represent. It should never point to us. Our priestly vocation is not about us. Our mission does not stop with us. As we live each day, may our lives be transformed into a sacramental presence, a sacramental life patterned after the Lord’s own life.