Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Convictions lead us to action

            Proof, attestation, confirmation, pruweba… These are the words of someone who wants to establish authority that what he believes is true. Thomas in our gospel today is searching for such proof, “unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe”. After the insignificant event that happened to Jesus on the cross, Thomas’ faith has been shattered by confusion and pain. He was looking, for proof to bring back his conviction in following Jesus.
            Thomas was known as a doubter of Jesus’ resurrection. But for me, I think his doubt is not because of loss of faith but rather moved by strong desire to know and take hold of the truth about Jesus’ resurrection so that he may regain his conviction of offering his life for Jesus. He wants more assurance than enthusiastic words; assurance that will change every aspect of his life; assurance that will change his own convictions.
            The dramatic encounter of the Risen Lord change the doubtful state, and with great conviction utters his new found faith in the memorable words “my Lord and my God”. Thomas was seemingly a late believer of Jesus’ resurrection yet never too late to boldly pronounce the most profound and radical confession of faith.
Tradition holds that Thomas preached the gospel in India and eventually suffered martyrdom. That’s how conviction works, conviction that is founded on a close and personal encounter with Jesus. I think this also holds true to us who are called to respond this calling, to encounter the Risen Lord in a very special and intimate way that will eventually change our perspectives, convictions, priorities, our sense of mission, fulfillment and joy.
            Lastly, allow me to shift our gaze on Jesus. When he appeared to Thomas, he did not condemn him rather he accepted the kind or level of faith that Thomas had. Indeed, Jesus meets us where we are. He did not impose rather he purifies our convictions. Let us therefore turn to this God, who has a heart that patiently respects our own pace towards maturity and who knows how to understand our human frailties. As we continue to respond to this kind of life, to which we are called, let us focus our gaze on the Risen Christ and unite our convictions with Him that we may always grow in faith hopeful to hear him saying “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Memoir on the ‘Upper Room’

“Do this in remembrance of me” – meaningful words of farewell from a historical man who is about to face the road of uncertainty, fear and confusion. Yet such meaningful command of Jesus has been perpetually followed by the early Christians that eventually contribute to the missionary character of the Church to preach, to teach and to lead. The event that took place in that secluded room initiated a new way of making Christ presence alive through the prophetic, priestly and kingly role of the ministerial priesthood. 
The Ministry of the Word        
Priest is said to be the ambassador of Christ to his people.  As a ‘spokesperson’ of God to his people, the decree on the Ministry and life of Priests emphasizes that priests should be conscious of their responsibility not to teach their own wisdom but of God’s word (PO4). In making homilies, priest are encourage to make relevant the gospel message to the very situation of the people but it should not be self- centered. They should not expound the word of God in merely general and abstract terms, but must apply the perennial truth of the gospel to the concrete circumstances of life. Pope John Paul II, also stress that proclaiming the word, the priest must be conscious that his words, like those of Christ, are not his own but those of the One who has sent him. He proclaims the word in his capacity as a qualified minister - a sharer in the prophetic authority of Christ and the Church. In order to be sure of transmitting the gospel in its fullness, the priest must have a special sensitivity, love, and docility to the living tradition of the Church and to the magisterium as the authoritative interpreter of the word of God.
            I would like to highlight the important shift in the history of the Church since Vatican II on the new emphasis on evangelization. Pope Paul VI reiterated that to make the church ever better fitted in proclaiming the gospel to the people of the twentieth century, it should incline with the program of Vatican II on aggiornamento. Evangelization, the Pope goes on to say, is the grace and vocation proper to the Church. It exists in order to be missionary, to evangelize, which means, to preach and to teach, to proclaim with authority the word of God. This truth is expressed in an explicit manner in the Vatican II decree Ad Gentes: “The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature.
            Another element that I would like to emphasize is on the evangelization of Cultures. Evangelii Nuntiandi pointed out that although the gospel can never be identified with culture, cultures can be more or less compatible with the gospel. The gospel is capable of regenerating and permeating a culture without becoming disrespectful and exploitative to other cultures. The culture is important, because the church, in order to evangelize, must borrow elements from the culture. It is good to note that priest can proclaim the gospel in a manner that people can appreciate the richness of the message of Christ without disregarding ones culture. Here inculturation is seen as an important element to consider in the work of evangelization.
The Ministry of Worship
Every time I attend presbyterial ordination I always find myself spiritually high when I hear this familiar line from the ordaining prelate “buhata sa imong kinabuhi ang misterio nga imong isaulog”. I firmly believe that this is an important aspect in the life of a priest, that is, to live daily the mystery he celebrates. John Paul II in his 1980 Holy Thursday letter, Dominicae Cenae holds that the Eucharist is the principal and central raison d’ etre of the sacrament of the priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist. Furthermore, priest fulfills his principal mission when he celebrates the Eucharist and this would become more meaningful and complete when he himself allows the depth of that mystery to become visible in his life, so that the grace of the Eucharist will shine forth in people’s hearts and minds through his ministry. This is the supreme exercise of the priestly function – to celebrate the Eucharist as the source and summit of all Christian life.
          Another important aspect of priesthood is on liturgical celebration. It is said that all the sacraments are sacraments of the Church. In administering the sacraments, the celebrant exercises a properly sacred ministry of which he participate in the priestly power of Christ, as the sacrament of ordination has made him capable of doing. The priest does it on behalf of the Church and as its authorized agent.  Agent, in this context, does not mean “substitute”. The priest does not perform liturgical actions in place of the Church, but the church acts in and through him as its representative. Therefore, priest should act according to what the Church prescribes. The familiar phrase, which I learn in my early years of theological formation, “you do not own the liturgy”, keeps on lingering into my ears as a constant reminder to be always faithful to what the church prescribes.
            The expression in persona Christi fits well into the context of divine forgiveness.  Priest acts in the sacrament of penance in the person of Christ, in whose name he absolves the sinner. Pope John Paul II calls it the tribunal of mercy rather than of strict and rigorous justice. Moreover, he continued in stressing that, of all priestly ministries this is undoubtedly the most difficult and sensitive; the most exhausting and demanding but also one of the most beautiful and consoling function of the priest in the world.  It is a great task to hear the sins of the world but also a wonderful gift and privilege to be an instrumental means of reconciling the world with God. 
The Pastoral Ministry
          In my early years as a seminarian, I remember the words of my bishop quoting the opening statement of the encyclical Pastores dabo vobis, taken from the book of Jeremiah -“I will give you shepherds after my own heart”. There I began to realize the great mission a priest is carrying, that is, to be a shepherd. What makes it great is not the task of being a shepherd only but the qualifier that goes with it - ‘after my own heart’ which implies configuration to Christ. We can be an efficient pastor but the greater challenge would be to make real the presence of Christ in our priesthood.
          Lumen Gentium (20) describe the office of the bishop as a task of shepherding the flock of Christ. The ministerial priesthood belongs especially to bishops but also to presbyters as associates of bishops under Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd. It is on this regard that priests should bear in mind that they are extensions and representatives of the bishop within the parish. They did not stand as a single entity, but rather always in communion with the bishop. His role as a shepherd in the community of faithful is always link to the bishop, whom the fullness of the priesthood rest. 
            Shepherding here does not only mean leading the faithful in their spiritual journey. It also includes even to the secular affairs especially in moments of moral issues and social crises that endangers the welfare of all. Here priests function as a community leader. To further illustrate, Walter Kasper briefly pointed out that in the New Testament, the Christian leaders are designated not by sacral terms but rather by secular terms such as episcopos (supervisors), presbyteros (elder) and diakonos (servant). I would like to believe, especially in this present context that being a priest as a community leader does not mean practicing paternalistic method of leadership in which everything comes from him. Effective pastoral leader must be capable of recognizing the various charisms of the faithful so that communion, collaboration and mission within the community of believers may be facilitated.
            Another important aspect on the pastoral ministry is on mission. John Paul II in his encyclical Redemtoris Missio, profoundly declares that priests must be filled with special missionary zeal and commitment especially in those areas where Christians are in a minority so that this small fraction of the members of the Church would not be deprived by the spiritual goods they must enjoy. But in this new era of missionary task, it does not only limit its boundaries to those who belong to the Church but rather be extended to other ecclesial communities and even to non-Christians as we engaging into dialogue for peace, justice and integrity of creation. By that our missionary work would be more enriching and worthwhile especially in our context in Mindanao.   
            "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?”(Lk.24:32). The experience of recognizing the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus kindled the disciples to go back to Jerusalem and proclaim what they experienced. The encounter was so strong that their frustrated hearts turns-out to be burning with zeal to continue the task entrusted to them.  The same gift is needed in sustaining a life of ministerial priesthood - to encounter the risen Christ in a very personal way and to recognize Him in various pastoral works in the parish. Priest is called to establish enough level of holiness for a lifelong commitment of preaching and teaching, of presiding fruitfully over the worship of the community and of directing the people of God towards its appointed goal. Some would say ‘my work is my prayer’. This has become cliché among priest and I know that there can be no substitute to formal prayer but if this would be real in some sense, then this is a kind of spirituality which can also give meaning to what the priest celebrates. It is a moment wherein a priest may intimately encounter the One who called him and celebrates with him together the banquet of the Eucharist in the altar at the upper room.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The people in darkness have seen a great light.
        The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday of the 1st Week of Advent (C)

Ang tawo nga mapaubsanun malipayon nga mag-alagad sa Dios
Ang atong unang pagbasa karon, nagsaysay mahitungod sa pag-abot sa Mesiyas nga kaliwat ni David, nga sa dugay na nga panahon gipaabot ug gilauman sa katawhan sa Israel nga muluwas kanila gikan sa kaulipnan. Gipadayag ni Propeta Isaias nga ang pag-abot sa Mesiyas, pinaagi sa gahum sa Espiritu Santo, magdala ug dakong paglaum alang sa tanan. Maangkon nila ang kalinaw, kaangayan ug panaghiusa sa pag-abot sa Mesiyas. Kining gasa sa kaluwasan dili lamang alang sa mga kabus ug mga nipupigan kundili naglangkob kini sa kaluwasan sa tanang kabuhatan.
Ang mga hulagway nga gipadayang ni Propheta Isaias usa ka katingalahan o imposible sa atong mga panghuna-huna. “Magtipon ug puyo ang lobo ug nating karnero, magsalo ug pagkaon ang liyon ug mga nating baka, ang bata magdula diha sa buho sa halas nga malala ug ang batang nilutas mukuot sa lungib sa hagwason”. Kining maong hulagway sa panaghiusa ug kalinaw sa kalibutan usa ka timailhan sa pag abot sa Mesiyas
Si Jesus, nga mao ang Mesiyas, nagpadala sa 72 ka mga lalaki nga iyang mga sumusud aron pagsangyaw ngadto sa mga kasikbit nga mga lungsod. Ang mga gipadala sa maong tahas mibalik nga puno sa kalipay tungod sa daghang mga katingalahang butang nga ilang nasaksihan ug nasinati pinaagi sa paggamit sa Iyang ngalan. Mao nga sa atong ebanghelyo karon si Jesus sa iyang dakong kalipay mibungat sa mga pulong sa pasalamat “Amahan, Ginoo sa langit ug sa yuta, nagpasalamat ako kanimo tungod kay gipadayag mo man ngadto sa mga walay kahibalo ang imong gililong sa mga makinaadmanon ug sa mga may kahibalo”. Nahimong nagmabungahon sila sa pagbuhat sa ilang misyon dili tungod sa ilang katakus, kaalam ug mga talento kundili tungod sa ilang tinud-anay nga pag-ila ug dakong pagsalig kang Kristo. Ang pagka-walay kahibalo wala magpasabot sa kakulang sa kalantip sa pangisip kundili ang hiyas sa  pagdawat sa kamatuoran nga wala kitay mahimo kung ang atong kaugalingon lamang ang atong gisaligan. Nagkinahanglan kita sa panabang ug kaluoy sa Dios aron kita magmabungahon sa atong mga tahas.
In English, it is translated as “Childlike”. They are those who realize their own limitations that by themselves, they don’t have the power to do both simple and amazing things. But my accepting such nothingness, they become more receptive, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them. Kining maong grasya sa pagkamapaubsanun nga nadawat sa mga sumusunod ni Jesus nakapahimo kanila nga mga maayong magsasangyaw ug malipayon nga nag-alagad diha uban sa panabang sa Dios.
Niining bahina, kita nga naninguha sa pagsunod Kaniya, gi-awhag usab nga magpabilin nga mapaubsanon ug kanunay natong huna-hunaon nga ang atong pag-ambit niining maong tawag dili tungod sa atong mga kaantiguhan ug kahanas kundili tungod sa Ginoo nga nagtawag kanato. Gipili niya kadtong mga mahuyang aron ang grasya sa Ginoo maglig-on kaniya. Angkunon nato ang atong mga kakulangon bisan pa man ug kini sakit dawaton, ug sa hinay-hinay bag-ohon nato ang atong kaugalingon uban sa panabang sa Dios.  
Adunay usa seminarista samtang kami nangaon miingon, kuya nag-crisis man ko, murag lisod naman kaayo, daghan problema, daghan pa jud requirements, etc….mitubag ko, sulod sa imong kwarto bai, ug gusto ka-muhilak, hilak ug taman, ug pag-ampo… mulabay ra na!. Sa akong tan-aw mabaw ra kaayo ang akung tubag sa akong igsuon nga seminarista ug siguro dili makahupay sa iyang pagbati apan alang kanako mao man kini ang akong paagi sa akong pagdawat sa akong mga kalisdanan ug kakulangon atobangan sa Ginoo.
Tinood nga luyo sa atong mga katawa adunay daghang mga pagbati ug kalisdanan nga atong gihambin sulod sa atong kaugalingon. Apan ang Dios mipadayag sa Iyang presensya sa atong kinabuhi sa nagkalain-lain nga paagi aron paglig-on kanato nga mga mahuyang.
Niining unang semana sa Adbento, makita ug mailhan unta nato si Jesus dili tungod sa kalantip sa atong huna-huna diha sa atong pagtuon bahin Kaniya kundili diha usab sa atong yano ug hilum nga pagkighimamat ug pagpaminaw Kaniya diha sa nagkadaiya nato nga kasinatian, maayo man o dili. Mapasalamaton kita niining maong personal nga pagpakatawo sa Mesiyas sa atong kinabuhi tungod kay mao kini ang mahinungdanung butang nga makapa-sustiner kanato niining maong matang sa kinabuhi diin kita gitawag. Bulahan gayud kita nga nakasinati niini kay daghan ang buot mutanaw apan wala makakita, daghan ang buot mamati apan wala makabati.

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?