What Should We Do?

Third Sunday of Advent (C)

The crowd, the tax collectors, and the soldiers came to John the Baptist. The crowd was the ordinary people; the tax collectors were the life blood of the government; the soldiers were those who protected the powers that be and, supposedly, the whole nation. They all had one question to the Baptizer: What should we do? Others also had another question: could he be the Messiah? John had simple answers: give to those who have none, do not be selfish; do not exact what is more than necessary; do not extort, defend the poor, the weak and the voiceless. Despite the respect accorded to him, he proclaimed that he was much lower than a slave, and his role was to be a voice, to prepare the way for the Word.

If we were to ask John the Baptist the same question, what would he say?

– To many he would have the same answers: you have resources, do not be selfish; do not exact more than what is necessary; do not extort, do not be addicted to power, defend the poor and the weak;

– To others he would say: do not waste food, water and electricity, for there are many who are needy; or forgive your father, mother, brothers, sisters and neighbors; or go to confession to seek the mercy of God; or cut your TV time and use it to pray; or spend less money, and spend more time with your family;

– Still to others, he would say: talk less and listen more; read the Scriptures, rather than read the minds of others and judge them rashly;

– And still to others, he would say: be faithful to your family and to the society instituted by God; do not kill the innocent and the defenseless; and be faithful to your jobs and responsibilities.

John the Baptist is teaching us practical virtues to live by:

  1. Charity. In this world, there will always be situations of need, and we have to respond to them. Every need that we respond to is a way to holiness and to eternal life, and we respond to Him who Himself is the way and who asked us to be holy as He is holy.
  2. Justice. As the basis of charity, each one is obliged, not only to give what is due to others, but also to return to God what is due to Him. To serve God in His creatures and one’s legitimate superiors, and to live upright and moral lives, rather than selfishly enriching oneself, are acts worthy of God Himself.
  3. Compassion. When Jesus said, “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate, He meant that we should look to Himself, and learn from Him, for He is meek and humble of heart. We cannot use and abuse authority and influence to make ourselves superior to others, for we are all brothers in Jesus. It is a gift Jesus gives so we can protect the weak and the needy. It is also a gift that we can bring peace to troubled relationships and to the troubled world. It is as well a gift from Jesus that we can see life rising from situations of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Moreover, St. Paul, in the second reading, teaches us that, as we prepare for the coming of the Lord now and at the end of time, we also celebrate this joyful hope in our families:

  1. Life is worth living only in the Lord, and we should rejoice in the Lord always. Joy is the mark of Christians who live in charity, justice and compassion, for our kindness and joy should be known to all. Joy drives away the devil because the devil wants us to be sad, which is a way to perdition. Life is too short to be sad and to be unkind.
  2. Life is short and it is the Lord’s. Paul is exhorting us to have no anxiety at all, for it clouds the mind with what is temporal and temporary, and usually with what is not real.
  3. Yes, life is short, and we do not have anything that we can really claim as ours. And so, we ask the Lord for everything that we need. St. Paul tells us to do everything in gratitude: asking for anything, living life in good and difficult times, serving others and bearing hardships. Gratitude can make life happy, meaningful and bearable.

We see a beautiful example in Mary. She was a simple woman, and always sought the Will of God. At Bethlehem, She stooped down to Her Baby and Her King. At the foot of the cross, She carried in Her arms the weight of our salvation, and accepted the role to be the Mother of us all only to bring us back to Jesus.

So, we celebrate our life in Him as He gives Himself to us in the form of a little Bread, so that He can live in us and lead us back to His Father. Despite our weaknesses, He invites us to receive Him and strengthens our hope that leads us to crave for Him all the more.

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Anticipating The Banquet In His Kingdom

Second Sunday of Advent (C)

I like to mention three Filipinos who made a difference in the life of many (though there are many more):

1. Corazon Aquino. She became the President of the Philippines during the country’s dark times in the ‘80’s. She was liked by many not because she excelled in her political career, in fact there were several coup attempts against her government, but because she practiced virtues, especially moral virtues and the love of the Virgin Mary.

2. Efren Penaflorida. He was chosen by Cable News Network (CNN) as hero of the year for his “pushcart classroom.” (In the country a pushcart is a sign of poverty, and a person, who moves around with it may have all that he has to live on in the pushcart, as he goes around the city gathering paper, plastic, cans and other things that he can sell or use, and most of the time just get into the shade of his pushcart when evening falls.) Efren was also given awards by different organizations in the country, including a presidential award. With his small pushcart, Efren goes around his province teaching children basic education, especially moral values and love of God. He also started his mobile canteen and clinic along with it. Efren involves children themselves to help him teach, feed and do first aid on other children. He not only makes a difference with children and their families today, he is also a wakeup call to government officials to do their jobs well, especially in the field of education.

3. A friend. She is not a national figure. She lives in a small village. She is not rich, but has some resources. She goes to Church every day and loves our Mother Mary very dearly; and generous. Once she promised to give a hundred individual plastic chairs for use in a village chapel. Thinking that the chapel was not being used every day, I made a comment that those chairs would walk away one by one. She responded: Father, that’s the last thing that I would think about. I blushed from head to feet.

Today St. Paul is teaching us the following:

1. “The one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). In one of his homilies (Nov 29, 2009), the Holy Father declared: The contemporary world needs above all hope: It is needed by developing peoples, but also by those economically developed…. Above all, seeing so many false securities crumble, we realize that we need a trustworthy hope, and this is found only in Christ, who, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, ‘is the same yesterday, today and always’” (13:8). His good work will have its completion in us only as a society.

2. “…. that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.” (Phil 1:9-10). Among the more important things in the world are the practice of virtues, faith, love, good health, education, family, service to fellow men, law-abiding citizenry and others. In his encyclical Deus Caritas est, Benedict XVI also wrote: “The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility…. because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love” (#29).

3. “…. 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” (Phil 1:10-11). The fruits of righteousness or justice always come from the love of God. Without God’s love, man will not learn how to love. He will always be selfish. In the same encyclical Deus Caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society…. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable” (#28).

Despite the hardships we experience, Scriptures propose a hopeful situation, but only in God. To exiled Israel, Baruch proclaims the fulfillment of a promise of peace. To those who persevere in faith, St. Paul proclaims hope that the Lord Jesus will complete His work until the end. John the Baptist announces that peace will reign through our openness to God, conversion from sinful ways and repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Let us now ask the Lord Jesus to give us the grace to grow in our love for Him and in our affection towards Mary, and for the grace to develop the virtues of generosity and compassion that do not expect compensation. Let us approach the Eucharist in anticipation of the coming of Jesus now and in the end of time, when we all will eat at the banquet in His Kingdom.

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Live Your Life With The End In Mind

First Sunday of Advent (C)

Does it strike you that on the very first day of the Liturgical Year, the readings talk about the end of time? One reason can be that a person who does not keep his end in mind is aimless. Or a person who does not see the end of his life can be ruthless and insensitive, if not persistently overbearing. And a person who does not have a vision or goal in life can be very sad and have lousy relationships. For some people the end of time is the sad and cruel termination of their existence. But for us Christians, the end is the joyful fulfillment of the promise that we will at last be with our Father, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom. So we pray daily: Our Father…. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

A point that we may state in our consideration of the end is time. For people who are engrossed in worldly affairs, time is only a chronological order of minutes, hours, days, months and years. For people who are engrossed in one another in loving relationship, time is non-existent. For others, time is relative; it depends on how a person sets himself on what he has to do. For us Christians, time is not a mere chronology of moments in numerical figures, but a reference to and a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. For us chronological time is a gift from God that we have to transform into our relationship with Him and with His people. Without this transformation from numerical figure into a relationship of obedience to and love for Him, time becomes a wasteful passage of moments. The gift of time makes us aware that even from dust as well as from the shameful situation of sin, God in His mercy and love can raise up children for Himself.

One of the common ways that people show they are alive is to be busy or become busy bodies. “Busy” may mean that a person is fully occupied with work or play or with various activities, at times to the detriment of relationships. It may also mean that a person does not want to make time for a particular person or group of persons or does not want to do certain things. To be busy according to the world’s standards though, to the detriment of personal and social development, is to move farther away from God, who gives eternal life.

Our readings today teach us the following:

1. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” (Lk 21:34). Carousing and drunkenness take away your inhibitions, and therefore, can lead you to do things that you wouldn’t do or even think about when you’re sober. To be taken up by the anxieties of life can drag you to a life of emptiness. The life of a Christian is a life full of hope and joy.

2. “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36). Do not just be watchful against difficulties – for they are opportunities – but be watchful against errors of faith and charity. Strength comes from constant awareness of the presence of God in all situations, including hardships and inconveniences.

3. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…. so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness…. at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones” (1 Thes 3:12-13). Remember that the end/purpose of life is love, the way/process of living is love, and life is a gift of love. Only God is the reason for our life, for God is love.

Several ways that we can keep the end of time our way of life in Jesus:

1. Always recall and live the episode of the Last Judgment: “the King will say to those on his right…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…. And the king will say to…. those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…. what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (cf Mt 25:31-45). Your relationship with your neighbor and your family is the key to eternal life. Without them life is a state of self-centeredness.

2. Go to confession and seek the mercy of God, and be nourished in the celebration of the Eucharist. Also, daily and regular prayer time will get you rooted in Jesus Christ. Your time is not your time. It is God’s gift. So, use it purposefully and give back some of it to Him in prayer and reflection of His Word, Jesus Christ Himself.

3. Be open/ready for any apostolate of the Church. Your presence and your service to others will give you and others the strength until the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.

In this celebration of the Eucharist, let us open ourselves to the work of Jesus to sanctify the world through us, and with the strength Mary, our Mother, gives us, we proclaim: your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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The Kingdom

The Solemnity of Christ the King (B)

Pilate could only conceive of a kingdom in terms of a throne, a palace, a strong army, unlimited wealth, subjects, innumerable servants and vast territory. For him these earthly things made the king, and made him powerful. But Jesus knew that His Kingdom was, is and will always be one of relationship in love and forgiveness, of life in truth and of magnanimity, a kingdom of obedient followers and men of good will.

The characteristics of the Kingship and Kingdom of Christ

  1. His Kingdom is not of this world, but it is in the world, for it is a kingdom in the Spirit. Jesus said: “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews” (Jn 18:36). St. Paul proclaims, a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit” (Gal 6:7-8).
  2. His Kingdom is one of truth and love. Christ is King and also makes His followers participate in His Kingship. His followers also live in truth and in love for Him and for mankind.
  3. His army is not one with soldiers who carry arms to kill, but one with followers/soldiers who are armed with His Spirit to conquer the powers of evil and who are equipped with truth and love to bring life to all.
  4. His Kingdom will not be destroyed and will have no end, because He is King and He rules by the power of mercy and love. Despite the fact the there is suffering and pain, they are also redeeming. Despite the fact that there is sin in the world, His power of forgiveness heals. His truth conquers the lies and deceptions of the world, and His love conquers all sin and division. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37), says the Lord.

Why do people live with the deceptions of the world? Many live in the darkness of the culture of death through abortion, artificial contraception, and elimination of people through wars, genocide, homicide and other means. Many believe that they are better off in this world in their pursuit of absolute power, unlimited wealth and extensive fame for personal aggrandizement. Many people are even hindered from exercising their rights to life, to religious freedom, to dignified work and other human rights. Why? Because they take the Lord Jesus for granted. They do not allow Jesus, the Universal King, to reign in their hearts. The Kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom of truth and He who does not live in truth lives in darkness.

Why is there so much bickering and quarreling among neighbors, division in our families, wars in the world? Because we do not take the Lord seriously. We receive Him in Holy Communion, but we want to subjugate others, be masters of our affairs and reign over relationships. We do not allow Jesus to be King because we are proud, so we do not understand what is to be kind and generous, meek and gentle, and loving and devoted to our families and our community. We lose our humanity and our relationship with the Divinity of Christ because we give up caring for one another. What is the use of our religiosity if we nurture a world of deception? The Kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom of Light, a kingdom of love, a kingdom where He reigns.

Every Sunday (and for some, every day) we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, and we ask the Lord to reign in our hearts, in our families and in our country. Do we really mean what we ask of Him? If we do, then, we can and should be one in mind and heart and one in faith, as He is the one Lord and King of the Universe, who manifests Himself to the Church. He manifests Himself through our Holy Father, the bishops and priests, who bring Him down to our Altar of sacrifice, around which we gather to celebrate and partake of Him. This Altar of Sacrifice is Jesus Himself. He manifests Himself to each one of us, as we live moral and upright lives. The Book of Revelation tells us that “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…. made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father” (Rv 1:5-6).

As we allow Jesus to reign in our hearts, our families and our country, we can be joyful like Mary, who, in Her humility, accepted the will of God to be the Mother of Jesus. She joyfully exclaimed, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47). The saints accepted Jesus in their hearts, and even in their suffering did not abandon their faith. Now they are joyfully proclaiming God’s praises and glory in His Kingdom.

Let us allow Jesus to reign in our hearts, so that He can make us holy. Let us seek His mercy and love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be nourished in the celebration of the Eucharist. And let us bring the life of the King of the universe to our families and to the whole world, as we follow His command to go and teach all nations to be His disciples.

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Jesus Is Near

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The Gospel today starts with a rather disturbing note. First, it shows us that Jesus could see the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in 70 AD, when the Romans occupied the city, ravaged it and left “no stone over another stone.” Many died during that occupation, and for the Jews it seemed to be the end of their world. The world did not end. Second, Jesus also tells us that the end of the world is real and will come at an hour nobody knows. The end of the world will happen not because God does not like the world, but because He wants it to be whole and perfect, and He wants us to be like Him in His Kingdom. He encourages us then to keep watch and be faithful to Him and to the Church.

Many people and some religious cults have predicted that the world would already end. As a child I remembered having heard people say that the end would come on a certain date. After a few years I heard it again; and again; and again. But our world is still here, and it doesn’t seem to see its end despite all the problems, wars, calamities and destructions. Jesus confirms this when He said: But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mk 13:32). Certainly, in the end, no one will remain in this world to tell the story. Only the faithful will see the Words of Jesus accomplished in His Kingdom.

So Jesus keeps us thinking about the end in our time, to keep our focus on Him all the time. Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates” (Mk13:28-29). What a sweet note to hear that despite all the difficulties, trials and trouble in the world, Jesus is near.

  • When your heart breaks because you realize your own sinfulness and the hurt you caused your neighbor and the Church, Jesus is near.
  • When you feel sad because of the plight of the needy, the oppression of the poor and the persecution of the weak, Jesus is near.
  • When war rages some place, and you feel the pain the victims experience, and all you can do is pray that somehow perpetrators and world leaders will be guided to talk about peace and work together to attain it, Jesus is near.
  • When calamities happen somewhere, and you can only get in touch with the victims through prayers and assistance that you can extend, Jesus is near.
  • When you feel you like to take a little more sleep on Sunday, and the bells in your heart are ringing calling you to Church, Jesus is near.
  • When relationships are hurting, and you want to give up, but hang in there because you believe that hope is sure in God, Jesus is near.
  • When somebody dies in the family, and sadness is great, and you realize that life is fragile and it is not yours, but God’s, Jesus is near.
  • When a baby is born, and inconveniences in the family emerge, yet you realize that life is a gift for mankind, Jesus is near.
  • When sickness, death or unemployment comes to the family and you like to give up, but realize that it is not the end, Jesus is near.

Yes, Jesus is near, and we are not alone. We just have to get in touch with ourselves, with others and with God. And can we not thank the Lord for the bad times as we thank Him for good ones? Job would proclaim, “God gave, God has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21). And he was blessed a hundredfold. Can we not exert a little more effort on things and relationships that we seem to dislike, only for the good of others, as we do for the things and relationships that we like for our own good?

For those who are faithful, who allow God to work in them in their responsibilities and relationships, the end will be a happy one. The Church gives us many ways to be close to God, and for Jesus to be close to us: opportunities to serve others, time to pray and time to be with our families, and time to work and be one with our Creator in His continuing work of creation. The Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist that we celebrate regularly, are ways of salvation that are effective for the present life and for the life to come. In fact, at Mass, after the consecration, we joyfully proclaim: When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again. We keep the end in mind so that we can bear fruit according to the Will of God.

Let us remember that we just don’t wait for His Kingdom. Jesus, Mary our Mother and all the Angels and Saints, are eagerly awaiting us, as we strive to grow in holiness, in our relationships and in our responsibilities. And so, we always pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Let us put our trust in the Lord in all things, and celebrate our life and our faith, as we proclaim His death and resurrection, until He comes again.

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The Abundance of the Poor

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

In countries where there is seeming abundance of food and benefits, where things are seemingly in place, where different kinds of insurances and life plans are set up, and where the pace of life is fast, the stories of the widow of Zarephath who entertained Elijah with what she thought was her last meal, and the widow who put two copper coins in the treasury of the Temple, may just be taken as mere events of the past. However, they showed unconditional trust in God and a generosity beyond compare. They certainly reflected the generosity of God who gave His Son to us and the trust of Jesus who willed to die on the cross for the salvation of all. Jesus did this for people who were and are not even lovable because of their sins.

John Maxwell, in his book Think on These Things, noted that there are two types of people when it comes to the matter of giving: Some give to live, while others live to give.

  1. Those who give to live expect rewards. When they give, they give “just enough.” They strongly desire recognition. This is what the Levite and the priest manifested on their way to Jericho. They did not extend a helping hand to the man left dead by bandits because no one would see them; there was no audience. While the Samaritan, who was also travelling alone, took care of him, gave his time for him and brought him to an inn. Those who give to live are selfish and lonely people.
  2. Those who live to give make their decision and action on account of the need of the other person or the cause in need. They respond to the need so that the problem is solved or the need is met. They do not need recognition, as they know that they have received much and fully realize that they should also share much. They do not need an audience. Jesus could not emphasize it more when He said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

Yet today we see people racing to the top of the economic ladder and social power. They hoard riches, cling to power and display their fame despite the call to aid needy nations and to respond to crises throughout the world.

Being a widow was associated with poverty. The widow of Zarephath gave her last meal to the prophet and she received a prophet’s reward. The widow at the Temple gave all that she had to live on and was immediately recognized by Jesus. Both mighty widows had the attitude of openness to a need and the disposition of generosity to others, as well as the awareness of their need to give. They did not need an audience. They did not care whether what they gave was big or small. They just gave. Their reference for giving was not themselves nor the need to be recognized, but the need of the stranger (Elijah) and the obligation to give to the temple, to God.

We will notice in the Scriptures, that the “other” that is being helped is not just the person/s being served, but God Himself.  And the source of this gift of generosity comes from Jesus Himself who accepted the will of the Father to be born and to live among us, and to die on the cross for our redemption.

Some characteristics and significance of selfless giving are the following:

  1. You alter and improve the situation of the other, the people involved or the cause in need, spiritual, psychological or temporal.
  2. You give joy to the other person or people involved as you help uplift their intellectual, psychological, spiritual and/or social condition.
  3. Because it is selfless, you give glory to the greater Other, God, who is the source of all generosity and the reason for relationships that lead to unity and peace among brothers and nations.

Generosity is a virtue and a situation where no one stands alone. Everybody is happy. It is a ground for development and peace where no one is too poor to suffer need and no one has so much to over-indulge in surplus and greed. It is also a foretaste of that glory in the company of God, the source of life.

Let us then exercise this gift of generosity from God by being open to the Holy Spirit who leads us to spend time in prayer so that we can gain more wisdom in responding to God in the needy. Let us keep our minds and hearts open to respond to needs in rather difficult times so that we don’t lose our strength despite all odds. Then the Lord will fill us with love for the Eucharist and the Sacraments, as we realize that His act of self-giving was more than all the acts of giving and sacrifice that we make. With Mary our Mother, who generously gave Her life to bear the Savior of the world, we commit ourselves again to Jesus, so that He can strengthen us as we share our time, treasure and talent for the total human development of peoples. Let our generosity grow in our love for the Eucharist, and let the abundance of the blessings of God overflow in our life and in others.

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Faith: Jesus’ Energy In Us

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

We celebrated the opening of the Year of faith on October 11, 2012 and also the canonization of 7 more Saints on October 21st. In his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, the Holy Father shows us that the “door of faith” is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church…. and to enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism, through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory” (#1). He also mentions that the renewal of the Church can be achieved in the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world as they radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us (#6).

For this temporal world of ours, faith or trust means that someone has something that others do not have or has leverage that others cannot attain without them. So we hear the words popularized in movies: “trust me”!  Faith is also attributed to belief that a person can attain anything that he wants and get anything that he desires. Thus also the popular words: say it and you’ll get it, and think of it and you can do it. This kind of faith or trust has become too common because people simply want to be nice, to please others or to get attention or recognition; and certainly that is temporary.

However, the faith that we want to live out is one that is based only in Him who has given it to us as a gift, and we can see this gift expressed in creation, in the incarnation, death, resurrection and His ascension of Jesus into heaven, where, because of His promise, we hope to be with Him, and His promise is trustworthy. We seek not simply to be nice but to be truthful in our endeavors and relationships – the truth that comes from God and the truth that is God Himself – thus be able to proclaim His life in every aspect of life.

This is the faith we want to live, the faith in Jesus who is the source of life. He is the energy of our life. Many times though we try to seek energy from vitamins, sugar-filled drinks or other energy related drugs and at times from overwhelming technological activities. However, without our vision for life and our focus on the origin of our faith, life can be listless and exhausting, for only in relation with the person of Jesus, the source of this gift of faith can we grow in our relationship with God who calls us to His Kingdom.

Our Gospel today leads us to the very action of faith. It is the action that God wants us to do and to become, so that faith will not be lifeless. It is the expression of our trust in God, for “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Ja 2:17); and as one of the scribes responded to Jesus: “to love him with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mk 12:33).

Again in his Apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, the Holy Father says, We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; … and also the source from which all its power flows.” At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year (#9).

We were baptized and most of us have received the sacrament of confirmation, and to live this faith, St. Paul invites us to live out the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and against which there is no law (Gal 22-23). Faith is not just an idea. It is life in action, a life full of love for God and neighbor, and a life of anticipation to cross that threshold to the Kingdom promised us by the Lord Jesus.

As we celebrate the Eucharist we proclaim that Jesus did not just tell us to live life fully, but He gave His life for us. Let us make our conviction ring throughout the world that our faith in God is the only way to peace in this world, and it leads to eternal life.

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