Steadfast

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How far can we hope for hope?

It’s all about changing paradigms – from pessimism to optimism. Changing paradigms to hope takes a lot of courage from what’s in us: mindset and attitude. These aspects may bring dramatic change to what we are hoping for. And it’s nice that we are still able to hold on to something – something that will keep us whole, something that tells us: ‘life is full of hope’.

Mindset. Yes, what each of us think conditions what lies ahead. Freedom, as one of the most feared yet precious gifts of the Lord, comes with great responsibility. We are free to think because we can imagine a lot of things. And the more we are acquainted to the way we think, the more and more they become real. Yet, it comes with responsibility of taking up the consequences not only personal, but also communitarian. Each mindset we incorporate, we actually say in a cosmic dimension. And it affects every aspect of our lives nowadays.

Attitude. Yes, another aspect which tells about how we feel ourselves and around us. Having a good day starts with a good attitude right after we wake up in the morning. In the same manner, having a better world begins with a good attitude from each of us. Are we discouraged? Disappointed? Distraught? Tired and helpless? Better change for better attitude. Then we get the fruits of personal and communal well-being.

That is why I propose that in this Year of Faith, as one with people celebrating it, that we begin a better world through a correct mindset and healthy optimistic attitudes which can steer every community from disunity to unity for good. The Lord now invites us to become steadfast – our response is to stabilize good mind-setting and healthy optimistic values.

And this actually says that there is a loving Lord watching over us, guiding us.

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Dream Big!

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What is your dream in life?

That’s awesome to ask! Dreaming big dreams counts a lot on what you value today. Just note what are your childhood dreams – and note which some of them persist today. Just how important these persistent dreams are? These guide our search for true meaning in life. The persistence of big dreams in life must not be resisted. Such big dreams persist because these tell something what our hearts desire – and it does not come out of the blue.

Dreaming big dreams starts on our awareness of being unique. All of us have been entrusted with an immense power to be the best. Now, what do we do with this power? We can be creative with it! Stop being hopeless, and start imagining and envisioning a better world. What do you see? How do you feel about it? How do you wish about it? Now, to the present – what can you do about it? What can you contribute to that better world?

Once you have a clear grasp of that big dream, pursue it. People who knew how to pursue big dreams do have a daring attitude of owning it by means of their values. They avoid living a double-standard life. Once you own your dream – it’s yours, it’s unique, and it’s nice. Keep that in mind, heart and spirit. Feel good about it; never resist it. Tell it as good news to a dear friend. Hope about it. Tweet it. Just make sure you see your dream in what you do today!

Let me give you an example. The Saints and the Sacred Authors of the Bible did dream big! Just read their stories. In their life, they kept a clear grasp and vision on what they desire. They pursued it because it preoccupied them, and it felt good for them. They felt it in their hands. They saw it as if it’s there. They too, hoped for a better world. People who recognized their inner desire even encouraged them – and it never failed them. Now, they serve as our examples.

And, don’t forget:  Jesus also dreamed a better world! (Luke 4:18-21)

“Shine forth, Lord!”


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Today, we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus!

Just what a “star” means to each of us? Stars may mean the celestial bodies of the universe, the celebrities we like and imitate, a symbol of award or trophy, and many meanings. Stars catch the attention of a viewer, and it means something to that viewer. Stars may be used to decorate apparel or home furniture. It is interesting that with these given meanings on what a “star” is, we may have a common attitude about it after all.

First, a star makes us look up and look forward. Literally, it’s true. You know it is a star when you look towards it. When we look towards it, our heads are titled upwards, not downwards. For those who have wild imaginations, they would even use hands to “touch” it, as if it really can be reached. Some would even jump like a kid, wishing that kid had a spaceship so that he or she can get it.

Second, a star evokes feelings of joy, excitement and ecstasy. Seeing a shooting star for the first time creates joy. Being able to handshake or tweet or have a picture with your favorite celebrity creates esteem. Being pinned with a star on a medal, or given a certificate or trophy with star on it feels being awarded and recognized. Scientists, astronomers and geophysicists feel amazed and awed what stars can do to a solar system.

Third, a star makes us do something. A shooting star makes us wish for something we like to have. Your favorite celebrity, especially when he/she is in a film, makes you look, act, speak and think like that celebrity (hard core fan?). Receiving a medal or certificate with a star on it motivates you to do more and better. The brightness, size and heat that the stars create made scientists launch probes and space missions to study them.

Just exactly what were the attitudes that the three Magi or wise men had when they saw the Star? I bet it’s the same with the observations we have above. And that Star did something wonderful: it drew the attention of people who care so much about its message. To some, it was mere coincidence or an astrological event. And that Star did something more: it has evoked faith! The star revealed something great! The intensity of the Star attracting the Magi and the shepherds was great yet sublime, especially for those who hoped for the great Anointed One.

God must have been really awesome to put that Star above in that “silent night”, shine its best, and lead others to see the Child Jesus – and pay homage to Him. Even now with faith, that Star evokes imaginations of a Bethlehem-experience, thereby creating an intense devotion to the First Christmas, and shares it to others through charity.

 

A blessed, Christ-filled Christmas to everyone!

Visions, Anybody?

I heard this conversation once at the start of 2012 (note: their names are aliased)-

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Imagine a year without any goal of yours and, just like Glenn, would have to stare blankly and just sighs. Well, in a way, Mark was correct to ask if Glenn is sick. Because it’s really being sick if one is empty of plans or goals for a year. There’s got to be a plan for a year, if not, a month, and if not, even in days or weeks. I wonder how people see life through their plans and goals. Interesting.

The beauty of having New Year’s resolutions is that “I want to feel better” or “I want my days to be meaningful”. Yes, again it is a search for meaning in life. But it all starts with simple things, such as listing our resolutions. We may start listing realizable resolutions in three items. Then, if we are able to do more, we can list about four to seven to ten things we can do. Making our 2013 right for us starts on what we want to become with ourselves.

Then, of course, plan of action. Well, resolutions such as “I want to save the world” or “I want to help alleviate poverty” really sound too general and might get loose of their plan of action because of their overwhelming premises. One may start with a long-term goal, but it starts with simple things. A resolution like “I want to finish my studies” would require  less unnecessary watching of TV, less games or Facebook or Twitter, read related literature in advance, create study groups, etc. Doing these will get you there without you knowing it.

So what do we value here? Every human person has a vision. I have a vision. You have a vision. We all have a vision. In our vision, we are part of being something better and more than what we were. We can imagine a lot of things, and if we keep on repeating them, they just become real. Well, we hope it’s for everyone’s better.

Picture this great visionary: When he was a child, he got lost from his parents. After some days of searching, he was found in a temple, sitting with other teachers. He was found to be asking them questions and learning from them. Perhaps, in the hidden aspects of his life, he might have thought, “Someday, I got to be like the teachers!” He grew some years then, and when the time came for him to share the good news with his neighbors, he said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)

And his plan of action? Proclaiming and teaching about God’s Kingdom.

#AndWithYourSpirit

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And now, our response during the Holy Mass is “hashtagged”.

It occurred to me giving a response from what I posted in #PeaceBeWithYou (one blog right below). And it is crucial to reaffirm the nobility of the human person – endowed with life. Yes, the Holy Mass also affirms the giftedness of human life “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)” by the Lord God. It’s in this moment that I also discovered the liturgical impulse of the affirming human life.

Primarily, I’d like to “hashtag” the response with the intention of constantly bringing into the human community and social media forum the beauty of human life. It’s like “Come on, let’s talk about ‘life'” or “You know, I have a lot of things worth discovering in my life” or “Right now, I see my life as….”. There’s more to be thankful, discover life and its meaning to you!

Searching for meaning in life begins with the “I” affirming his/her vision. This “I” is imbued with the gift of life. And yet, this “I” asks, “What do I really want? What do I want to become?” Hence, one’s search for meaning is having a clear vision of becoming. That is why life is aside from being static or stagnant. Life is dynamic. It is like the Spirit moving and leading us to the “greater scheme of things”.

What do we do next? We keep on dynamically repeating the discussion on “life” and the “I” in our respective circles until it clearly becomes a world agenda. The crucial step is to bring the discussion to where people converge and are preoccupied, like the social media. Then, have the discussion on “life” and the “I” as a proposal for dialogue. It takes time; we need not force it.

To begin, I’d like to tweet: “Life’s worth-living #AndWithYourSpirit

#PeaceBeWithYou

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What was your latest ‘tweet’ about?

Lately, I have been looking on my tweets as well as those whom I follow. They vary in humours and seriousness. They also vary in degrees on being ‘whateverness’ or ‘substantialness’. For every tweet of 140 characters or less, anybody can just shout out loud what they want to say. And say what? Also “hashtagging”. Just how these tweets change the course of one’s views?

Perhaps, one of the breakthroughs that our leaders in the Catholic Church had in the past year was to support and convince the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to publish his first-ever tweet (of course, the Holy Father gets some advises too…). Which for me says a lot about the purpose of bringing the ‘tweeters’ to Jesus and Jesus to the ‘tweeters’. I  tweeted him lately just before the year ended. I don’t expect him to reply me back. What caught my attention were some replies  on the Holy Father’s tweets – some were encouraging and assuring him of their prayers, some were insulting, some were disrespectful.

The point here is that every tweet shows a ‘tweeter’s’ values and views on life. Optimistic tweets mean a value of hope for one. Insulting tweets mean a pessimist one. Disrespectful tweets mean a bullying one. Really, just think about how you post your tweets. Those who follow you see your tweets – and they spell a lot about you. Now, what are they for you?

Just like Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites present a lot about our inner longings to connect with other people. The way we hashtag our chosen topics shows a lot how we can connect our thoughts and ideas with others who might share our sentiments. But since hashtags are random and unmonopolized, these can either unify or divide people and communities. Think again. How do you tweet? Do they unify or divide people (or do you not care after all?)?

I plan to have only one hashtag for the first months of 2013. I call it #PeaceBeWithYou. If I’d ever have a tweet, I include this so as to look for others who might share my sentiments. With the Holy Father’s message on New Year’s Day, it moved me to creatively use social media to encourage peace in the forum of nations and communities. It’s our immediate concern, a social concern.

And if we are aspiring for a more humane, humanly developed communities, why not start tweeting #PeaceBeWithYou?

Jump Start 2013

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How would you like to start your 2013?

There’s much to expect in 2013. And for me, I’d hope for the better. Basically, I’m a visionary – and I always look forward for what is best. I’d desire to seek what is nobler, higher and better. As I was writing this post, I already had in mind lots of endeavors to seek and to find meaning in them. I’m keen to find meaning in these endeavors. I’d find love in them!

In this Year 2013, I am inviting Jesus to journey with me again. At present, I am pursuing priestly and religious vocations in the Congregation of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus. My heart’s desire is to apply for the Novitiate – and I felt good about it. I find myself in it. I embrace it as my own. I love it. But of course, I need lots of prayers and support.

But every “jump start” starts with simple things we can enjoy in life!

>   How about a “smile” for 20 people you meet everyday?

>   How about saying “I am good!” at the start of your day?

>   How about a hug for someone whom you forgot to hug last year?

>   How about saying “Thank you, Jesus!” for every day you wake up?

>   How about blowing bubbles for 10 minutes and jump like a kid?

Kinda cool, huh! Simple things are meant to be enjoyed!

We’d want to start our year right, but God wants us to enjoy simple things in life. And it’s free.

Mama Mary, Mother of God

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Mary!

Yep, this is our greeting for our dear blessed Mother. We greet her deep inside our hearts for she leads us to the love of her beloved Son – Jesus Christ our Lord! For the first day of the Year 2013, I preferred making this simple image from Photoshop – with “Believe” as a powerful teaching from Mama Mary.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord…” (Luke 1:38)  –  Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because God knows who we are and what we are called to. She experienced lots of uncertainties (even suffered from them), but she remained certain that the Lord is there – He is in control of everything. He will always be there for us. As Mother of God, she teaches us to have faith in the Lord.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” (Luke 1:46)  –  Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because deep inside us is the image of the Emmanuel – “God-with-us”. She sang one of the greatest songs in the history of mankind – the Magnificat – from her spontaneous response of joy in the Lord. We are the image of a loving God. As Mother of God, she teaches us to give our best shot.

“Do whatever He tells you…” (John 2:5)  –  And Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because we can find our true fulfillment in Jesus. She knew well that Jesus brings true joy and peace to all, and so she leads us to her Son. What we need to do is perhaps to have a listening and a pondering heart like her. As Mother of God, she teaches us to say our ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call.

“Mama Mary, thank you for leading us to Jesus always!”

Witness to Service

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Yesterday, I was supposed to write a reflection about the life of St. John the Evangelist. It turned out, however, that it may take me my whole life to discover a lot about this great Apostle, Evangelist, and above all, the Beloved of Jesus. Of all the Gospel writers, John’s narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry may generally be seen in “mystical eyes” all probably because of its deep theological context. But, among all Gospel writers, it was only John’s narrative that the “Washing of the Feet” was seen. What seems to be interesting here?

Undoubtedly, Jesus’ ministry was a life of service to God and neighbor. All Gospels point out Jesus’ reaching out to the least and the marginalized. All Gospels point out Jesus’ preference to the poor. But John’s narrative of the Gospel creates a kind of cognitive dissonance, so to say, because of the striking aspect in the “Washing of the Feet”. During their time and even now, our feet may prove to be the dirtiest part of our body since almost all dust accumulates first from our feet. Yet what Jesus did was to actually wash the feet of Peter and the rest of the Apostles. He even calls that act a kind of “inheritance”. Interesting!

Hence, for John, being a witness to total service is to reach even the poorest of the poor. Total service is one’s dedication to reach to people who are ignored, neglected, society’s voiceless, avoided, ostracized, despised, and even those who are hated. Love is not only measured by one’s capability to show love to those who are lovable, but also to those who are unlovable and hateful. By this, we begin to have a fruitful encounter of Jesus who brings life to everyone!

To give it a Christmas taste, our calling as Christians is to bear witness to the Child Jesus, bringing Him to everyone, even to those whom we know we would not be treated so nicely in return. It’s like bringing joy and peace to hateful people, to those who will say to us: “You’re crazy!” and to those who threaten us. Service is reaching out to the dirtiest and darkest aspect of human life and reality – and “bringing it into light” (John 3:20-21).

A service-filled Christmas to everyone!

Imagination for Holiness

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Here’s one model who brought imagination for good – St. Stephen.

Christianity had its difficulty being welcomed by the people during the time of the Apostles – just after the Resurrection of Jesus. This so-called “religious movement” was approached with much criticism, and to such extent, persecution. Christians had to struggle being accepted – socially, religiously and politically. In particular, religious authorities kept handing them over to trial – and also to challenge their religious views.

Stephen was no stranger to these. In fact, many religious authorities sought to challenge his views not only from Jerusalem, but also from other cities (cf. Acts 6:9). Or to hear his wisdom? To those who heard him speak, some were not so happy at all. They were disturbed because of his unchallenged boldness. Witnesses, like St. Luke, mentioned that it was “the Spirit” that prompted Stephen for such eloquence (cf. Acts: 6:10) But perhaps one interesting thing here this: how was Stephen able to be an effective recipient of this ‘wisdom’ as prompted by the Spirit?

My personal take on this is perhaps Stephen’s docility to let the Spirit use his imagination. As such, one cannot ‘proclaim’ something if that ‘something’ is not vivid to him. This might explain Stephen’s boldness which penetrated and disturbed those who heard him speak. Stephen’s imagination of the glory of God became so intensely real for him that it was so impossible for those disturbed to stop him, so much so that they had to drag him and stone him to death. Stephen’s vision of Jesus glorified made him numb with the furious reactions of the disturbed because he was already filled and preoccupied in reaching God for what he actually saw.

And yet, another remarkable act on how Stephen imagined God’s glory is observed in his prayer: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (cf. Acts. 7:59-60). At the brink of his martyrdom he mentioned these words – still filled with imagination! He might have imagined once more that God’s glory is when forgiveness reigns. That apart from what others consider God as a “punishing God”, his prayer again affirms a forgiving God.

Hence, Stephen’s heroic virtues remains relevant today, especially for the youth. We just saw how powerful imagination can bring. Those who were infuriated (opponents of Stephen) also imagined – but they imagined without a listening attitude, being noisy at all (cf. Acts 7:57). Such imaginations proved to be life-threatening and destructive. On the other hand, Stephen, who used imagination for good welcomed the Spirit, gave him the vision of the glorified Jesus, and even became a witness of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

And I am beginning to reflect that perhaps, Stephen was martyred at the very ripe of his youth. Even now, his heroism resounds to the youth. That’s why he is a model to the youth! Young people today are perhaps obsessively imaginative. But, what are their imaginations? Good to know. If we have the premise of searching a meaningful life, then we say that if we keep vividly imagining a meaningful life, then we have this sense of hope, fulfilling life. But if we vividly imagine a meaningless life, then it would be easy to have a hopeless, throw-away life.

In a similar way, one becomes either a saint or a sinner because of imagination.

The First Christmas

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A blessed Christmas to all!

The First Christmas tells a lot about celebrating our faith in the Lord. And the reason why we celebrate this encounter is because of the Lord Jesus. In the First Christmas, we see the Lord Jesus born in the manger, with Mary and Joseph joyfully praising the Lord for experiencing His love for them and for humanity. Celebrating Christmas is celebrating our faith-experience in Bethlehem, where we see His coming among us in an unexpected way.

FAMILY – I was able to celebrate my Christmas together with my family, although my father is still working abroad. For many days now, I was able to stay with Mama and my brother and spent our time together. We went to attend the Novena Mass together, as well as the Christmas Mass in the evening. I prepared our simple Noche Buena by cooking spaghetti and ham. My Mama and my brother prepared barbecue and hotdogs. We had our special prayers together, thanking the Lord for the graces we received and the gift of family stirred by His love. We don’t have much, but for me it was a Bethlehem-experience – simplicity at its best.

FRATERNITY – Christmas would not be without brotherhood and charity. Part of my celebration of Christmas was to share the Spirit of Christmas through our Christmas Carols, Christmas Sharing with the children, Christmas Party with the youth, and Christmas outreach activity with the youth for the victims of the Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. Celebrating Christmas opened me to be part of charitable works – with the intention of bringing Jesus to all through sharing. It was also my Bethlehem-experience because seeing the manger reminds me well of Jesus’ oneness with our poor and suffering brethren.

FAITH – My early vacation from the seminary last December 10 made me prepare a lot in celebrating the Simbang Gabi. For the Novena Mass (or Dawn Mass), I served in our chaplaincy – and for me it was meaningful because I was able to keep track of my reflections as I listened to the homilies of my chaplain. My Bethlehem-experience was the past Holy Masses I attended – and it was a meaningful encounter of the Child Jesus. Such Holy Masses reminded me of my true identity as God’s beloved redeemed. The Holy Masses brought me back to the experience of the First Christmas. For this, I am happy and joyful to celebrate this Christmas!

And for all of you, I have put here my Christmas card exquisitely-made from Adobe Photoshop.

“How about you, my dear friend: what were your Bethlehem-experiences this Christmas?”

Simbang Gabi Chronicle #9: SANCTIFY

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Dearest Friends:

Wishes of a happy Christmas to all of you!

I have now come to end my Simbang Gabi Chronicles by reflecting on Zechariah’s Benedictus. In  simple terms, benedictus would mean “blessing” or “sanctify”. Zechariah made such praise after giving the name of his and Elizabeth’s first born child as “John”. Even now, the Benedictus is being recited in the Morning Prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours. But in our simple ways, we can be and are called to become Benedictus to others.

Here in the Philippines, it is customary to address our elders with a “mano po sign. This involves one approaching an elder with the hand and then putting the elder’s hand into the head of the one asking for the blessing. It is one of our esteemed gestures which we treasure and would like to hand-over to future generation of Filipinos. It creates an atmosphere or cordiality, respect, humility, sense of culture and sense of love.

One striking experience I have is among my priest-formators. Before going home for vacation or after arriving from vacation, I see to it that I approach the Fathers and ask for their blessing or the “mano po” sign. To me, it is a treasure that I admire having most. To ask for blessing is a sign of humility and respect. It creates in me a confidence and trust that the elders would wish me well – much as being intercessors in prayer. Sometimes though I tend to exaggerate it, with one experience that reminded me – after one Sunday Mass, I approached the celebrant to ask for the “mano po” sign, but then he told me: “Isn’t the final blessing enough already for you?” I told him: “Ah, Father, because I want more blessings!” This may sound childlike – but I like to have it as part of my vocation journey.

I also experienced imparting the blessing of “mano po” with the children entrusted to me in the Apostolate. Most of them, out from the blue, would run and grab my hand and would ask for blessing. One Sunday Apostolate, I could not yet rest because of so many children who asked for my blessing. I am not certain what they saw in me, but I hope they saw in me Jesus who desires to reach to the children. On another experience, I was able to witness the Baptism of the two youths whom I desired them to have many weeks. From that time on, they would approach my hand and would ask for blessing. My return greetings then would always be “God bless you!” as I have done with those whom I meet.

In this Year of Faith and in this Christmas, we are invited to look upon our Baptism. As we are welcomed in the Family of God, so too we undertake our three-fold ministry: priestly, prophetic and kingly. But all these ministries goes down to one important reality: we are called to be holy and let others discover holiness in them. All of us are created in the image of a loving, holy God. And that is why we need to revisit our identity as beings formed in the holiness of God. Though imperfect, we can be sanctified and sanctify others as well. Sanctifying others does not limit itself on the sacraments (since it would be on the ordained who does them), but also on being a blessing to others in simple things. When we think, speak and act with pure heart and love – this is already a blessing to others. Let us then be a “blessing” to others, leading them to God!

“Do I take time to say ‘God bless you!’ whenever I end a conversation, a meeting, a dialogue or a cordial chat with the people whom I meet everyday?”

Simbang Gabi Chronicle #7: MAGNIFICAT

ImageDearest Friends:

A blessed Christmas to all!

For our seventh day of our Simbang Gabi Chronicles, we listen to Mary’s sweet Magnificat. Out from her pure joy and gladness as she received the Lord Jesus, we hear Mary’s outpouring of praise to the Lord, with her visit to Elizabeth. Such spontaneity makes it so unique and resounds to all of us today – her firm faith is seen in her joy when she exclaimed the Magnificat. It tells a lot about us today – and we are invited to become Magnificat to others as well.

Personally, I have been freshly attracted to the Magnificat ever since I entered the seminary. There have been over seven renditions of the song of the Magnificat composed by our Filipino Artists which I put in my MP3 player. I would always feel goosebumps whenever I hear the song every now and then. It’s like even the song would flow rapidly in my bloodstreams, and then my heart would beat fast. Even when I munch the words of our Blessed Mother, it feels a new breath and a sense of joy to live in. I wonder how Mary was able to put those words in harmony and perfection – both in lyrics and in her spontaneity.

What makes the Magnificat  so unique is that it springs from Mary’s spontaneity and pure joy as she felt the presence of God in her life. She is so full of God, and with God’s presence in her came the joyful song. It is God’s initiative which made her outpouring of her innermost love for God and for all humanity. Definitely, she was not a Pharisee, Scribe, or other religious leaders during her time. But definitely, she is so full of God – in her humility and simplicity!

What does the Magnificat lead us to? It leads us to recognize the presence of God. And in our recognition of Him, let our outpouring become spontaneous and pure. It happens when we stop worrying and preoccupying ourselves with lots of things, and then we let the Spirit lead us to where He desires. Frankly, it is called “faith” – but that faith is a joy-filled faith. Today, it calls us to celebrate faith – not to die trying hard to be religious and righteous (isn’t that the same with workaholism?). Many thought that to obey the rituals would be enough (many died bitter and regretful because of this). Celebrating faith means our celebration of our true identity and uniqueness – and therefore, it has to be Spirit-led spontaneity. We have our God-given talents: why not spend time to discover, enrich them, and let it be God’s hand to let others discover His love? It’s way more than we thought it to be. Worth-pondering.

“When was the last time I used my talents to praise the Lord for His love?”

Simbang Gabi Chronicle #6: TELLING THE GOOD NEWS

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Dearest Friends:

Wishes of peace and happiness!

Last December 21, we are invited to gaze upon the faith that Mary proclaimed when she visited Elizabeth. One aspect which caught my attention was the manner how Mary told the Good News to Elizabeth. That scene captured a heart-warming and touching experience of what it means to proclaim and to share the Good News to others, especially in our challenging times. As we approach Christmas, it has to be our attitude of sharing the Good News to the people we meet because Jesus, born among us, is for all of us!

What makes “telling the Good News” so unique? Take it from our experience: getting good grades from major exams, miraculously passing a board exam, sweet greetings from our loved ones, successful undertakings, good health, being praised and esteemed by friends, and many more – all of these are worth-telling as good news. Perhaps the reason why we share such tales of joy because we are people of Christmas – we multiply the joy we have. Every joy we experience demands being spread – and it’s so natural and most of the time, spontaneous.

Aside from being called “Children of Easter Morn”, we are also called “Children of Bethlehem”. Yes, it is through our faith-experience of Bethlehem that we come to appreciate the joy of Christmas. Perhaps, one of the greatest ironies that we can share in telling the good news is that “there is a King born in the manger”. This could be mind-boggling because it creates a paradigm shift from our usual understanding of a “king being adorned in glory and splendor upon his presence”. Yet, it creates a unique joy because it makes each one wonder what sort of King this might be – and we feel attracted to it.

Hence, our Bethlehem-experience leads us to Jesus himself. The First Christmas may not have been so extravagant and exhibiting, but deep inside our hearts, Christmas is a divine encounter of a hopeful desire in reaching the goal of perfect joy and happiness – amidst this challenging world we live in. In spreading the Good News of our Bethlehem-experience, like Mary, may it bring forth a breath of hope to the persons whom we know are suffering and undergoing severe crisis. Yes, telling the Good News is charity itself. And “being a Good News” to others is charity enough.

“Have I been a Good News to others lately?”