Spy

NaHudas ka na ba?

Holy Wednesday of Holy Week: Traditionally this day was called “Spy Wednesday” because today before the crucifixion Judas conspired to hand Jesus over. For this he was paid 30 pieces of silver.

The betrayal of Jesus by His very own disciple is a powerful reminder of the horrific possibilities within every human heart. There is much to learn from Judas, a man who studied under Jesus Christ Himself and yet betrayed Him with the unmitigated gall of a kiss.

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Why was Judas able to do this to Jesus and betray Him for thirty pieces of silver? Did Judas really belong to Jesus? From all indications, Judas never belonged to Jesus. He may have verbally aligned himself to Jesus but never really believed and followed Him. His relationship with Jesus was very superficial. This is why it was quite easy for him to exchange Jesus for silver. Man may claim allegiance to God yet never submit his life and soul to Him.

What Judas witnessed to us reveals that one can be in Christ’s service and still not know Him and acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. When we seek Him for own purposes and attempt to make Him something we want Him to be, when we do not allow Him to prevail in our lives and when we make Him only as an afterthought, when the totality of the world’s possessions and treasures are more valuable to us than our relationship with Him, when we compromise our values and refuse to turn away from sin, we become a replica of Judas Iscariot and are destined towards total destruction

The story of the betrayal of Jesus still resonates in the hearts of men today, not only because of the audacity of Judas’ evil deed but it highlighted the weakness and wickedness of our flesh. We may attend church regularly and give Jesus intellectual assent but not our hearts, our lives and our total being. We could call Him King but only to assume our own thrones over His. We may approach Jesus with a symbolic kiss but never dare embrace Him. We may proclaim all our praises and worship and choose to be His disciple, yet not embrace a life of humble witnessing, self-denial and sacrifice. We may project to be loyal and faithful disciples but opt to be lukewarm and indifferent to Him when life becomes difficult and being loyal to Him becomes more of a burden than a way of showing love for God and His people.

Most of us say that betrayal is the cause for friendships to fail. Friends do not always have to agree but they have to be loyal to each other. The other disciples of Jesus failed Him in a lot of ways but they remained loyal to Him. But only one of them failed Him and had the imprudence to turn his back and sell Him. That was Judas Iscariot.

Jesus gave Judas every chance to reconsider his plans and redeem himself yet he could not do it. He could not get out from the stronghold of Satan which had its beginnings when he pilfered the money box of the apostles and later on reached its peak when he sold Jesus to those who wanted to persecute Him.

As friend and brother of Jesus, have we given some thought on how we have failed Him? Was there ever an occasion that we truly betrayed Him and turned our back on Him?

This Lenten season, Jesus wants us to examine our hearts and repent for all our sins. If we pray to Him with a contrite heart, He will never forsake us. He is our help forever and we will never be disgraced.

As we approach the passion and death of our Lord Jesus, let us all give time to our God by closely scrutinizing our hearts and examining how we have betrayed Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be truly loyal and faithful to You in Word and Deed. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Source: PagadianDiocese.org

Voice

Back in the 80s and 90s, observing the Holy Week was a totally different experience.

Lola Trining, my grandmother (father side) thought me the importance of the Lenten Season. She paved the way for me to participate in the Holy Week traditions. She modelled the importance of fasting, prayer and moments of reflection.

Voice

Have you ever wished you’d hear the voice of God? I know I have. I’ve had those moments in my life, where I just wish that, that a voice would boom out from the sky—would come down from the clouds—and tell me everything was going to be okay, or tell me what I’m supposed to do next, or tell me what I’m doing wrong.

Today, things are different. Families often prepare for the Holy Week early, trying to look for the cheapest airfare options and resort rates.

A lot of people use the Holy Week to get together with family and friends; to relax and enjoy some time away from work and the office.

We can’t really blame them, though. Maybe it’s really the only opportunity they have to relax and recharge.

Despite this, however, many still use the Holy Week as a time for reflection and renewal of faith. People still flock to churches during Visita Iglesia; many still hear Mass on Good Friday and witness the Seven Last Words and Passion of Christ.

Majority of the younger generation have a different understanding of how the Holy Week is celebrated, maybe because of the practices they were exposed to while growing up.

But, this is not to say that all is lost. Here in Cavite, for example, the streets are usually quiet beginning Maundy Thursday until the wee hours of Easter Sunday.

If you go to places in upland area or Indang, Amadeo, Alfonso and Tagaytay – you’ll see lines upon lines of people waiting for their turn at the Stations of the Cross. And this includes young people; teenagers and children. Some of them may be too young to fully understand why they’re doing what they’re doing; but at least they’re on the right track. Let’s just hope they don’t stray from that path later on.

There are also some people who do their best to make the best of both worlds work.

They go on an out-of-town retreat or on a staycation, while they also spend some time for reflection. They don’t actually go to different Churches for the Visita Iglesia, and neither do they join retreats. But, they try their best to spend time alone with their thoughts and pray.

They find time to do some reflection. Often, the sincerest prayers and reflections are those that are said in times of solitude.

This year, many will troop to the resorts and vacation destinations during the Holy Week.

But, many others will do their best to be faithful to their hearts and find some alone time with God.

And I think this is what’s most important; that we all find time to stop and reflect – on our relationships with family and friends, on how we have treated others, on our dreams and goals, on our doubts and fears; on our life.

It doesn’t matter whether you do this while joining a retreat, a recollection or hopping from one church to another; or while vacationing with loved ones in a secluded island. What matters most is the sincerity in your heart; that you know why we are here; that you know how and why we were saved.

Listen for the voice of Jesus this week. He calls out for us. He thirsts for us while he suffers for us on the cross. Yes, he will exhale a final breath on Good Friday but he will also draw the first breath of new life on Easter Sunday.

Do not be afraid to join Him on this journey. Embrace the passion of this Holy and heart-heavy week, grounded in faith that the story does not end in sadness.

Palms

I attended the Palm Sunday anticipated mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Tagaytay. The presider was a new ordained priest and he shared the story of Filipinos using the ‘palaspas’ as an amulet and a lucky charm to have more blessings in life.

He encouraged everyone to go beyond the physical presence of this symbol but develop a deeper loving relationship with God.

Let us take the palm branches to our homes and put them some place where we can always see them. Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives.

And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try to make time for Him in our daily life; let us be reminded that He is the One with Whom we will be spending eternity.

Let us be reminded further that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary.

Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives.

It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.

Palm Sunday

Can we face these questions on Palm Sunday? Are we willing to follow Jesus, not just to Church but in our daily life? Are we willing to entrust ourselves to Him even when the future is frightening or confusing, believing God has a plan? Are we willing to serve Him until that day when His plan for us on earth is fulfilled? These are the questions of Palm Sunday. Let us take a fresh look at this familiar event. We might be surprised at what we see. It could change us forever.

Palm Sunday is a day to fix our eyes on Jesus and His death on the cross.

It is one of the most important days of the year.

It’s a day to honor the One whose entire life was one of giving, not grasping, one of healing and restoration, not division and rivalry.

It’s a day to praise Jesus for overcoming sin and death through his act of pure, sacrificial love.

By his humility and obedience, Jesus has undone Adam’s prideful attempt to become God—and every attempt that all of Adam’s children have made ever since.

He has shown that the way to heaven is not by grasping for ourselves and striving against one another. It’s not something we earn, and it’s not a kingdom we conquer.

No, Jesus’ death on the cross proves that the way to heaven is one of receiving graciously instead of possessing selfishly.

This can sound so grandiose and heroic that we might think it’s out of our reach. But nothing can be further from the truth.

God sees every act of self-sacrifice, every decision to put someone else’s needs ahead of ours, every decision to empty ourselves.

When we give up time to help our child with yet another math problem, God sees it.

When we listen carefully to a spouse who tells us about her difficult day at work, even if ours was no better, God sees it.

When we put down our car window and offer some food or money to a homeless person, God sees it. He sees them all, and he rewards them.

Every single act of self-giving is a reflection of the cross. And because of that, every act of self-giving warms our Father’s heart and moves him to raise us up a little bit more—just as he did for Jesus.

So fix your eyes on Jesus today, and let his self-giving love move you to be more like him.

“Thank you, Jesus, for your cross! Lord, teach me to follow your path of love.”

Awe

Last year’s Lenten Season were spent at Pampanga for my radiation therapy. Back then, there were so many uncertainties, worries and fear but I held on to God’s promise of healing.

Lent this year was a testimony of God’s relentless love. I’ve done things, I thought I never could.

My heart overflows with thanksgiving. God is indeed awesome!

Awe

So when you approach your God today, come with humility, a profound sense of wonder, and a sober fear of displeasing him. For He is awesome in power and a fierce and relentless warrior on behalf of his people. Whatever your needs are, you have not exhausted his strength and power. Whatever your concerns, you have not run his emotional well dry. Whatever your situation, his hand is not too short to save, provide, lead, and fight for you. Whatever the depth of your offenses against him, he is not prevented from forgiving, releasing, and drawing near the truly repentant person. Nothing is too hard for him!

I would like to share this reflection on Matthew 14:22-36 by Santa Rita Abbey:

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once he spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.

Awe is a word that has been batted around so much these past years that it has lost a lot of its meaning. How many times have you heard or even used “awesome” in the simplest of circumstances?

And yet, maybe it isn’t so far from the truth, once you get down to the source of awe.

This Gospel passage speaks of awe at the presence and action of God in people’s lives. The disciples are scared out of their wits by what they think is a ghost. It appears to be Jesus, so Peter, at once terrified and irresistibly drawn, challenges the “ghost” to prove that it is really his Master, that he is really who he says he is. And Jesus responds simply, “Come” to Peter’s question of authenticity. You just have to love Peter in his humanness and his relationship with Jesus!

So Peter jumps out of the boat and starts walking. Then it hits him: “I’m walking on WATER.” Jesus is no longer the focus and motive of his action and everything unravels. The wind pushes him around as the waves try to knock him off balance.

He has the very human reaction of fear and yells, “Lord, save me!” Jesus takes his hand and they get into the boat. Then the wind dies down. Can you imagine the awe that filled those men? He IS all he says he is. Our master and deepest friend is the son of GOD!

Try to wrap your mind around that. You can’t.

It is only accessible by faith and the Spirit.

I think Jesus’ words to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” were not a slam for being human, but an acknowledgement that Peter was on the right track, and a life-lesson about what it means to have faith in Jesus and live from it.

The awe that they all felt opened them to see the very wellspring of awe: the presence of God in all that exists and his tremendous power exercised as love and goodness.

And this Presence can and will ask us to stretch our faith, love and trust in a God who fills everything and everyone by walking into circumstances where we must let ourselves grow and be stretched into discipleship as his friends and lovers.

We don’t have to wait for dramatic moments to arise to experience awe.

Every day holds many moments that can lead us to the same place. So, are they really “small” if they are filled with the enormity of God? Sunrise, sunset. A smile. A fawn with its mother.

An invitation to leave behind our selfishness to serve another in honest love.

I could go on and on, and I’m sure you can come up with a long list yourself.

The point is that we live in a world of nothing but awe and we can, like Peter, take the challenge to step out in faith in the Son of God who loves us and has given his life for us, and walk on the water of awe.

As Scripture says, “Truly you are an awesome God.” In the best and deepest sense of the word!

When have you been impressed, perhaps even overwhelmed, by the awesomeness of God?

Let us pray:

Help me to keep your awesomeness in mind even as I draw near to you. When I receive your fatherly embrace, may I realize just how amazing it is to have such a relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. When I come before you in worship, may I come with reverence even as I come with childlike openness.

All praise be to you, mighty, holy, awesome God!

Amen.

Waiting

March 6, 2015 was my first major surgery. Nine (9) hours of God’s embrace in the operating table. I surrendered everything and the rest was history.

Last Sunday, during The Feast at Manila Hotel, God’s big message was “I am bigger than you are. Trust me!”

Who am I to question God’s way in my life?

I may never know the reason why but I entrusted everything to Him.

I may have a lot of questions but God is bigger than all my worries.

Waiting

I used to have a habit of trusting myself. I formed this habit through years of trusting people, getting hurt and finding out I couldn’t trust them. This caused me to believe, If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. If you don’t ask anybody for anything or open your heart to them, they can’t hurt you. But this mindset just kept me from trusting God. It was a bad habit I had to break. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (NKJV). When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Spirit of God comes to live inside you. This is one of the greatest blessings of salvation: You don’t have to go through someone else to get to God. He dwells in your heart and you can learn to hear His voice.

Have you ever had to wait for something? I’m not very good at waiting, I’m not a very patient person. I don’t like waiting at the doctor’s office, I don’t like waiting for a table at the restaurant, I don’t like waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting in line to get on ride at the theme park. If I’m going to the doctor I want to schedule my appointment first thing in the morning. I will leave a restaurant if I have to wait very long. I love theme parks but refuse to go on weekends because I hate waiting in line. For me, waiting is a total waste of valuable time.

Yet, I have come to learn that there are times and periods in our lives when God says wait and through personal experience I have learned that when God is saying wait we need to wait, be still, be silent, listen, and let God do what it is that He must do. I have learned that if I will just serve Him while I’m waiting, worship Him while I’m waiting, and simply trust Him while I’m waiting; then when He has finished whatever it is He is doing in me, to me, through me, and for me is better than I ever thought or dreamed it could be.

If God has you waiting it is for Good reason and it is for your good. Be patient and let God do what only God can do in you, to you, through you, and for you. As you wait be obedient, surround yourself with the fellowship of other believers, be prayerful, search the Scriptures, and trust God to do exceedingly abundantly more in you and for you than you have ever dreamed he could do.

If God has you waiting this morning then you should simply say, “Lord, I’ll serve while I’m waiting, Lord, I’ll worship you while I’m waiting, Lord, I’ll trust you while I’m waiting. Lord, I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting on but I know it is for my good and your glory therefore I will wait upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised.”

I would like to share with you this praise and worship song from the movie ‘Fireproof’ entitled While I’m Waiting, an anthem for those actively waiting on the Lord.

While I’m Waiting

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will waitI will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

Heart

There is a tender revelation each time I am reminded that God loved me first.

Today, the children at the Awesome Kids Ministry were reminded about the unfailing love of God to man.

From a crown of heart, which symbolizes love – the kids felt God’s embrace on a Sunday afternoon.

Heart

God’s unfailing love – felt & shared ❤

On a deeper reflection, if I love God truly, I would also be loving towards everyone in my life.

I simply cannot really love God in the way that He loves me, unless I also love everybody else.

Do you say you love me? I hear Christ asking me. I want to say yes, yes Lord, you know how much I do. Yet I also know my brokenness, my pettiness, resentments, and judgements. I am aware of my sins, especially the ones that seem to recycle themselves.

God never once says, “You are a sinner? Leave my sight.”

No, he says, “You are a sinner? Follow me.”

He walks with me every step of the way, like a true friend and a dear father.

Christ teaches me how to love by showing me love.

The power of knowing we are loved makes all things possible.

God loves you so much ❤

Iniquity

Describing a world marked by signs of “the end of time,” including false prophets and cold hearts, Pope Francis urged Catholics to use Lent to counteract this “great tribulation” through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

This was his message for the 2018 liturgical season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, 14 February.

The theme of this year’s message is: ‘Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold’ (Mt 24:12). Below is the full text.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”. Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets

Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.

They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

A cold heart

In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?

More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments. All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.

What are we to do?

Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.

Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.

During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”, and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.

Source:
http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-02/pope-francis-lenten-message-2018.html