Good Friday 2017
A fable is a very short story meant to illustrate a point or teach a lesson. Usually, but not always, fables are stories about animals that talk like people.
They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog’s survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.
This story is used to illustrate how people might get themselves into terrible trouble. It illustrates how humans have to watch the slowly changing trends in the environment, not just the sudden changes. It’s a warning to keep us attentive not just to obvious threats but to more slowly developing ones. http://allaboutfrogs.org/stories/fables.html
I mention this on this Good Friday so that we just do not reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus, which is obviously why we are here in church, (is it really that obvious?), but more regularly and constantly to reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus, and His promise to give us the Holy Spirit. So, we just don’t wait till the jug of oil is already empty, but be able to observe and plan when to fill up, so that we don’t run out of oil and be out of supply. Don’t wait till the last hour of your life.
So, we just don’t wait till next year to come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation just because the Church tells us to come at least once a year during this season, or for the reason that we don’t feel like going, or just because we don’t think we have mortal sins. Come regularly anyway. We just don’t wait to be obliged to come to formation sessions just because we have to receive a sacrament or a direction. Study constantly. We just don’t come to church just because our parents or other people tell us to go, but because it is the desire and command of the Lord so that we can be one with Him in community and as family. We just do not tell everybody that we have a bible at home though we do not read it, but be able to regularly read it and reflect on it and share it with others as God’s Word for us, for our growth and for the life of the world. We just don’t fast and abstain from food as required by the Church. That, I believe, is easy. Do something more: share with the needy what you have fasted on and abstained; spend a little more time in silence and prayer rather than on television and social media; do a work of mercy; visit a sick or an invalid friend or relative; forgive, if you need to forgive; be grateful and be kind to everyone and do not gossip. In other words, walk an extra mile with Jesus, with others, and with the church.
Going back to the frog in hot water: don’t wait till it’s too late. Don’t wait till judgment day. You can also eat the frog if you want. In fact, you should, as one writer would encourage us not to procrastinate in doing what we have to do.
So, this Good Friday, we talk to the Lord and walk with Him, to grow in holiness with our families, with others and with the church. Jesus calls us to live with Him, to suffer and die with Him, and joyfully to rise with Him on resurrection day, and to be His instrument of His love and mercy in this world.
Be a living story today for the years and generations to come, that on this Good Friday, you have decided to jump out immediately from the pot of trouble and sinfulness, and walk on that trail that Jesus walked, fell, and got up again, towards Calvary. Amidst the difficulties and suffering in the world, you still are witnesses to His life, His love and His resurrection.
Celebrating this Good Friday in our humble capacity with Jesus, we can also joyfully celebrate Easter with people who, in their difficult situations or disbelief or busy settings or ignorance of the faith, want to know or get in contact with the Lord.
God bless you all.
Fr. Tito Ayo April 14, 2017
WORDS ON THE CROSS
1st: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
At this time, Jesus looks down from the cross. He sees the soldiers who tortured him and nailed him to the cross, and now are mocking Him. He sees many of those who have been following Him and wanted to listen to Him. He sees Mary, His mother, and John, his apostle, and other women who became faithful to Him.
He certainly remembers Caiaphas and the priests of the Sanhedrin. By now, Pilate must have realized already that he was used by the Jews who were envious of Jesus’ wisdom, and wanted to eliminate Him from the Jewish community. Jesus would also be thinking of his Apostles and companions who deserted him, Peter who denied him three times, the crowd, who exulted Him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and days later chose to free Barabbas, and crucify Him?
By then, I believe, from the cross He would already be thinking of us. He knows that we easily forget His protection, His blessings, His presence, His love. He knows that we can easily betray Him by our sins, by our negligence, by our indifference to the situations of those who are poor and in need, by our pride and arrogance. He knows we can easily abandon Him amidst the cares of our livelihood, attachment to pleasures of the world and to technological gadgets, aggression against humanity, or simply ignoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Church, in persons and in the whole of creation, ignoring totally His call to silence and prayer.
Yet, He doesn’t react in anger or resentment or threat. Forgiveness prevails; His love stays. He asks for forgiveness, not because He did something wrong, but to bring the good out of the situation and because He wants to save the world. He wants to save us from the evil one.
So, we hear Jesus crying to His Father: Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.
We also here Jesus teaching forgiveness as He prays with us the very prayer He taught us: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” When asked by Peter how often he would forgive, Jesus says seventy times seven. At the last supper, Jesus would say: take this all of you; this is my blood which will be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. He forgave many: including the paralytic, the man by the pool, the adulterous woman; and even after the resurrection, He did not confront his disciples for abandoning Him when He was apprehended, but lovingly and authoritatively commissioned them: “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20: 22-23).
The life of Jesus is a life of forgiving. Today is the time to open our hearts to Him and with Him. He already prayed for us, He has forgiven us, He will continue to pray for us. In fact, Jesus already said to Peter, and surely He is saying this to us: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:31-32).
So, pray, and pray hard. Perform the works of mercy. Visit the Blessed Sacrament more often; pray there with Mary, His mother, and with the whole Church. Pray for an end to violence of any kind in any situation. Seek strength in silence, not in arrogance and from this noisy world. Be faithful to your responsibilities and to your families. Pursue truth; avoid lies. Say only the good things your neighbor needs to hear, and stay away from gossip and disrespect of any kind. Trust in God, and be God’s strength that your brothers and sisters need.
Then, the prayer for mercy, forgiveness and peace of Jesus, will remain in you now till He takes you to Paradise.
Fr. Tito Ayo March 25, 2016
3rd. “Woman, behold your son.” To the disciple, “Behold your mother.” (Lk 19:26-27)
In his Lenten message for this year 2017, Pope Francis, in reference to the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man at the former’s gate, alluded that other persons are gifts. Looking at this in our reflection today, Jesus gave Mary, His Mother, and John, His disciple, gift to one another.
Society today has always declared that a person has his/her life to live, that he/she is an independent entity, and has to assert himself/herself as an individual bound for success and fame.
In the Jewish culture, giving Mary to John could mean that as a widow, Mary would be taken care of by Her son, John. However, in the language and culture of God, giving one to the other is the life of relationship that Mary and the disciple would have, and the implication that would be proclaimed later after His resurrection: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28:19-20). Jesus, as the Word of the Father, is the salvific Word for all people, and that relationship of Mary, the Mother, and John, the disciple, would have to come alive in the relationship of Mother Church and the disciple-believers, and move out to the whole world, making them disciples, baptizing and bringing them together in the Blessed Trinity, and teaching them all that Jesus taught. Thus, all the world will know that we are witnesses to the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.
On and from the cross, Jesus was not only dying, but was entrusting to us salvific gifts of trusting Him and trusting one another that would give us life; and the gifts that He was giving us were Himself, the Church, and Her Mother to be our Mother too. When we have expressed our trust in Him and in one another, it is no longer about ourselves, nor about everything that we want to revolve around us; it is only about Jesus, others and the Church.
On this note, we recognize and utilize the abilities and capabilities of many of our brothers and sisters in our community, so we can unite ourselves with people around the world who are suffering from sickness, from fear and the effects of wars, from the pressures from organized and institutionalized crime and abuse of power and authority, from the forces of the evil of abortion, euthanasia, use of prohibited substance, from abuse of women, children and the vulnerable, from animosity, greed and idolatry of work, possessions and money, and from indifference of those who do not suffer these pressures. We strive to bring others to God not only through spiritual activities, which are most important, but also through temporal and family activities that would reach the less fortunate and the less informed in the faith, that can lead to greater involvement in spiritual activities. These and many other situations may have lost the influence of loving mothers. We implore our loving Mother Mary to plead with Her Son to bring to these and many other situations the redemptive effects of His suffering and death.
Christ’s mission of serving, caring for, and bringing His Church to the whole world is already given to us; and with gratitude in His guidance and presence we pray about it, proclaim it, share it, and live it out.
We also pray that, as Jesus was formed in Mary, His first disciple, we can also be formed in and with Her to be genuine Christians and children of God, with hearts beating as disciples of Jesus, becoming the salvific presence of God in the world.
Remember, Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother so that we can have a trusting relationship with her, and He gave Her to us so that we can have a more profound and trustworthy relationship with the Church.
God bless you all.
Question for reflection: What capacities and conditions in your life make you a living and salvific instrument of the words of Jesus: “Woman, behold thy son.” To the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
Fr. Tito Ayo April 14, 2017
5th: “I thirst.” (Jn 19:28)
Jesus is now in shock. After three hours walking through the city of Jerusalem, Jesus is now very tired and has been losing blood from the wounds inflicted by the soldiers in the crowning of thorns, scourging, falling on the ground while the heavy cross presses on His body, the nailing upon the cross. He is very thirsty.
He also thirsts for love of the Father and the love and salvation of the human race, for the conversion of sinners, and for peace in this world. This is His mission.
His Mother is there. He surely remembers the incident at the wedding at Cana, His first miracle in public, when Mary would alert Him that they have no more wine; and He gave them an abundance of wine miraculously from water. Now on the cross, Jesus would be given vinegar to drink, to drain more profusely all the liquid in His body. From His side would flow blood and water; and despite His physical death He is the rock from which flow the waters of salvation and the blood of redemption of mankind. This is very important to God and to us. He thirsts for us, but many people would thirst for worldly things. He thirsts for our love, and many would thirst for love of worldly pleasures. He thirsts for our response to His call to follow Him, and many would thirst to do their own will and proclaim their authority. His death is God’s will that brings about our life. Thus, He himself would fulfill what He said to His disciples: “Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:12-13). And, yes, Mary stayed with Him, suffering with Him, now painfully realizing that everything is happening because He is doing His Father’s work.
So, what do we want? What can we do? How can we quench the thirst of Jesus for our response to follow Him and to be with Him? Our Lady, in one of Her apparitions at Fatima would say to the visionaries: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (Memoirs of Sister Lucia, I, p.162).
Jesus, on the altar of His cross, is now crying for our response, our presence with Him in this world. Many people have succeeded putting up altars of their selfishness, their pride, their arrogance, their ideologies, their violent subjugation of the weak, the poor, the minorities and the marginalized. Have they really?
Again, I invite you to bring to the whole world the mercy, forgiveness and peace He desires us to receive, and to live out the spirit of the thirst of Jesus burning for the love and salvation of all. Pray, and pray hard. Perform the works of mercy generously. Visit the Blessed Sacrament more often; pray there with Mary, His mother, and with the whole Church. Pray for an end to violence of any kind in any situation. Seek strength in silence, not in arrogance and from this noisy world. Be faithful to your responsibilities and to your families. Pursue truth; avoid lies. Say only the good things your neighbor needs to hear, and stay away from gossip and disrespect of any kind. Trust in God, and be God’s strength that your brothers and sisters need.
Then, He will satisfy your thirst for Him as you drink from the rock of salvation; and the prayer for mercy, forgiveness and peace of Jesus, will remain in you now till He takes you to Paradise.
Fr. Tito Ayo March 25, 2016
6th. “It is consummated.” (It is finished) (Jn 19:30)
Today’s frustration of people lies in the fundamental truth that they have rejected the reality of the cross. They fill themselves with temporal substitutes and things that make them empty and unsatisfied. Instead of learning of the mysteries of God, the heavenly realities and religion, they cuddle with murder and espionage mysteries on television. Instead of reflecting on the silence of Jesus and His compassion, they talk so much and are critical of people, their looks, behavior, religion, etc. Instead of practicing self-denial, discipline and reflectiveness, they get consumed in themselves in pride, gossip and greed. Instead of cultivating the love and respect for humanity, many have chosen the path of violence, terrorism and war, bringing fear, anxiety and destruction to the innocent and to the whole of society. They have not actively used the “hour,” the gift of the present time, to grow and to improve themselves and others mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. With these considerations, we note that it is only when we surrender ourselves to Christ and become open to the plight of the needy, whom Jesus loves, that we become receptive to Him, and so He can open His heart and hands to extend the graces we need for others and for ourselves as well.
In the Book of Hosea, God as the lover lures His people back to Himself when He said: I will allure her now; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak persuasively to her. . . There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as on the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. . . You shall call me “My husband,” and you shall never again call me “My baal.” I will remove from her mouth the names of the Baals . . . I will give them rest in safety. I will betroth you to me forever: I will betroth you to me with justice and with judgment, with loyalty and with compassion; I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall know the LORD. . . and I will have pity on Not-Pitied. I will say to Not-My-People, “You are my people,” and he will say, “My God!” (Hosea 2:16-25).
What does God want of us in return?
- Obedience to His word and His commands, because it burns and eradicates pride and arrogance. God provides sufficient graces to whoever He sends for whatever He wills.
- Generosity in works of charity and alms giving, because it burns and eradicates selfishness and greed. God loves the cheerful giver and rewards him graciously and abundantly for He cannot be outdone in generosity.
- Openness and docility in prayer (listening fervently to Him), because they burn and eradicate apathy and egoism. God works in us and through us. He is in-charge of everything in His creation.
- Participation and involvement in the life and works of His Church, because they burn and eradicate individualism and isolation. God calls us, not only as individuals, but more so as family and community. He is our family.
- Respect and love for humanity, because they burn and eradicate racism and the selfish and directionless sense of self-sufficiency. God made only one human race, created in His own image and likeness. What we consider races in the world is only a matter of pigments on the skin of each individual. God is one. There is only one human race, created and loved; and God wants to redeem what He created.
- Mercy and forgiveness of the faults and weaknesses of others, because they lead us to God Himself, as He has forgiven us and has been merciful and patient with us. These bring peace to our hearts. Without the virtues of mercy and forgiveness, we cannot enter His kingdom, and there will be no peace in our hearts and in the world.
We cannot be lost in the world or in ourselves, if we walk in the path of Jesus, in His command to love, to forgive, to be merciful, to find the way to our neighbor. The things that we do or say do not end in themselves or in ourselves. They should flow to Jesus. Let Him finish them with his blessings.
Yes, it is finished. It is consummated. Jesus brought God to us and He brought us to God. His work of redemption is done, complete; and He brought that “marriage” to completion in His Church. It is now our obligation to respond to His call to be one with Him at all times and in every situation, as He promised to be one with us always; so He can provide us with His promise of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
A prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours expresses this unity and marriage of God with mankind until we come to the heavenly marriage feast: When you took on flesh, Lord Jesus, you made a marriage of mankind with God. Help us to be faithful to your word and endure our exile bravely, until we are called to the heavenly marriage feast, to which the Virgin Mary, exemplar of your Church, has preceded us.
Reflect on the following questions:
- How profound is your confidence in Jesus that He will pursue and complete all that He has started in and through you?
- How do you participate and get involved in Christ’s work of redemption in His Church?
God bless you all.
Fr. Tito Ayo April 14, 2017