Pentecost

When was the last time you truly surrender your life to God?

Tough question.

Difficult to answer.

Profound reflection for today’s gospel.

The “big message” for Pentecost Sunday that reverberated in the ampula of my pancreas was to be more selfless. Give up our own way and trust that God’s way is better.

When you put yourself last, God puts you first.

God’s will is always better than your will. You cannot see tomorrow, but He can. He wants you to be happy more than you want to be happy.

God’s will comes from living in a relationship with Jesus, and this relationship begins when you surrender your life completely to Him.

Pentecost

Jesus wants us to be more humble in how we recognize the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Lord is very clear that He will reveal Himself to us in recognizable ways, and so we have to look primarily at what’s going on inside of us. When we find ourselves capable of saying “I forgive” in the name of Christ; when we love those who oppose us and even make sacrifices for them; when we give of ourselves with delight and not grudgingly; all of these are sure signs that God’s Spirit is alive and active within us.

The word, Pentecost, comes from the Greek word for five, penta, meaning the fiftieth day. It was also called the Day of First Fruits, Festival of Weeks, and Shabuoth. In the Christian tradition, we use the color red, remembering the red flames of the Holy Spirit. It is a celebration of hope and renewal of purpose and mission.

If you have found that your Christian Faith is weak and not growing, you need to call upon the Holy Spirit. Whether it is a life-changing moment, or simply an ordinary moment when you need assistance, the Holy Spirit is there for you.

At that first Christian Pentecost, The Holy Spirit transformed uncertain, frightened, weak apostles and reconstituted the Twelve Tribes of the New Israel in the New Covenant. The flames that were unleashed that day continue to burn throughout the world in our day. The Holy Spirit can transform you too but you need to be more selfless.

It took Pentecost–and the power of the Spirit–to embolden the apostles to begin their ministry of preaching and baptizing. Conversions began to happen and the early church began to grow. And all of this took place without Jesus’ earthly presence among them.

We have to make way for the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We believe that through the Holy Spirit, God dwells within us and empowers us. We believe that even though we never walked with Jesus and the apostles, we are nonetheless accompanied by the same Spirit who is always available to us!

I will close with a wonderful and relevant prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola called the Suscipe:
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understandingand my entire will,

All I have and call my own. You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace.

That is enough for me.”

Let’s remember to pray for each other that we will achieve what Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Through the Holy Spirit, may we learn to yield more in God’s presence.

Grace

I was browsing Facebook when I saw this beautiful reminder about life and God’s grace.

It made me pause for a few moments and reflect on where my healing journey is heading to.

There are so many things that I am thankful for.

Please feel free to share it as well.

Graces

We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Photo credits to the owners.

Happy reading!

✍✍ *FOOD FOR THOUGHT* 📝📝

“`1. 👉No matter how beautiful and handsome you are just remember Baboons and Gorillas also attract tourists .
✌Stop Boasting✌

2.👉No matter how big and strong you are, you will not carry yourself to your Grave .
✌Be Humble✌

3.👉No matter how tall you are, you can never see tomorrow.
✌Be Patient✌

4.👉No matter how Light Skinned you are, you will always need light in Darkness ✌Take Caution ✌

5.👉No matter how Rich and many Cars you have, you will always Walk to Bed
✌Be Contented✌

Take Life Easy, Life is short.

WHAT A LIFE WE LIVE!

Have you taken note of the CO-INCIDENCE OF LIFE:

1. CHURCH has 6 letters so does MOSQUE.

2. BIBLE has 5 letters so does QURAN.

3. LIFE has 4 letters so does DEAD.

4. HATE has 4 letters, so does LOVE.

5. ENEMIES has 7 letters, so does FRIENDS.

6. LYING has 5 letters, so does TRUTH.

7. HURT has 4 letters, so does HEAL.

8. NEGATIVE has 8 letters, so does POSITIVE.

9. FAILURE has 7 letters, so does SUCCESS.

10. BELOW has 5 letters, so does ABOVE.

11. CRY has 3 letters so does JOY.

12. ANGER has 5 letters, so does HAPPY.

13. RIGHT has 5 letters, so does WRONG.

14. RICH has 4 letters, so does POOR.

15. FAIL has 4 letters, so does PASS.

16. KNOWLEDGE has 9 letters, so does IGNORANCE.

Are they all by Coincidence? We should choose wisely, this means LIFE is like a double-edged sword.

If you think it is your alarm clock that woke you up this morning, try putting it beside a dead body and you will realise that it is the grace of God that woke you up.

If you are grateful to God, forward this to all your friends to inform them that it is JUST BY THE GRACE OF GOD that we are alive.

Heart

I grew up in the artsy and historical neighborhood of Sta. Ana in Manila and Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM was our Parish Priest in Our Lady of the Abandoned back then.

I will never forget his informative homily and inspiring messages of hope.

He gave profound messages about the love of God and love as a verb in the light of the gospel.

Sharing his reflections, which was the main theme of the Gospel this Sunday.

Love one another, heart

Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM in action. My wife and I visits the historical Spanish architecture inspired church of Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in Sta. Ana, Manila last December 2017

During the early centuries of the Church, when Christians were being persecuted and martyred, some of them offered to die in place of others (just like St. Maximilian Kolbe did during World War II in the concentration camp of Auschwich). The pagans were amazed at this and remarked, “See how they love one another.”

Reading today’s papers or watching the news on TV, all we can say is, “See how they kill one another. See how they cheat one another. See how they insult one another.” (Wait till the electoral campaign begins.)

The great Mahatma Gandhi, when asked to express his views about Christianity, said: “ I have great respect for Christianity. I often read the Sermon of the Mount and have gained much from it. I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. However, the trouble is with you, Christians. You do not being to live up to your own teachings.”

Another Hindu monk who read the story of Jesus in the gospel said to a Christian: “If you can live what is taught in this book, you will convert the whole of India in five years.”

Of course, not everything is dark and negative about us.

There are also some good things going for us. Fr. Joseph Dau Vu, SVD, chaplain to Vietnamese refugees in Morong, Bataan, tells how the “boat people” were abused, robbed and even killed by fishermen from neighboring countries. But when Filipino fishermen spotted them, they offered them food and shelter. Why – they wondered? Because they are Christians. (Cf. Bel San Luis, SVD, Word Alive, Year C. p. 57)

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Jesus made this pronouncement in his farewell discourse, during the Last Supper. Hence, it is his last and most urgent wish.

As if he were saying: “I am going now. You might forget all the other things I did and said. Just don’t forget this one. This is the summary of everything I have told you.” And so it is indeed; for this is what our final “exam” will be about: Not about doctrines, not about catechism, not about the Bible, but about LOVE: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Etc.

Why is this commandment called new? What is new about it? Love of neighbor is found in the Old Testament: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev.19:18) All other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) teach about love also.

What, then, is new in Christ’s commandment? “As I have loved you,” that’s what is new. Our love has to be like Christ’s, that is, sacrificial. Not emotional, not romantic, but self-sacrificing – to the point of death.

Love means different things to different people. It is perhaps the most used and abused word in the dictionary. In the name of love, young lovers elope, or steal. In the name of a newly-found “love” some spouses abandon home and children. That might be passion, infatuation or lust; but certainly not Christ’s love.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ”We usually recognize people by their uniform or attire, by which we can tell whether a person is a doctor, a policeman or a security guard. In church we wear habits, pins or crosses.

We know well, however, that these external symbols can be quite deceiving.

We often hear stories about truants disguised as priests, policemen, collectors etc. whose sole purpose is to extort money.

Christ did not choose any external mark or symbol to identify his followers.

Love is, or should be, the mark of our identity, our uniform and our habit.

We may wear crosses or pins, recite rosaries and novenas, receive holy communions, etc.

If then we go home and abuse or insult our household help, our yayas, our drivers…we simply are not true disciplesof Christ. Discipleship is not a matter of external attire; it is a matter of a loving heart.

Ali

A riveting film about love, family and hope kicked off the PLM-SCA servant’s pastoral formation this summer. Ninang/Ate/Dra. Laarni “Let” Fajardo-Roque led the movie reflection activity with Kuya Chad Riobuya.

This must-watch film is an eye-opener for me to value what really matters in life.

Children of Heaven, a 1997 Iranian family drama film was written and directed by Majid Majidi. It deals with a brother and sister and their adventures over a lost pair of shoes.

Children of Heaven

Triumph prize winner at many prestigious film festivals, this uplifting, crowd-pleasing story of family and love was also moniated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film! When Ali loses his sister Zahra’s school shoes, this young pair dream up a plan to stay out of trouble: they’ll share his shoes and keep it a secret from their parents! But if they’re going to successfuly cover their tracks, Ali and Zahra must carefully watch their step on what rapidly turns into a funny and heartwarming adventure! A magical motion picture acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Children Of Heaven is a charming treat you’ll love, too!

He takes them to the cobbler for repairs, and on the way home, when he stops to pick up vegetables for his mother, a blind trash collector accidentally carries them away.

Of course, the boy, named Ali, is afraid to tell his parents. Of course, his sister, named Zahra, wants to know how she is supposed to go to school without shoes. The children feverishly write notes to each other, right under their parent’s noses.

The answer is simple: Zahra will wear Ali’s sneakers to school every morning, and then run home so that Ali can put them on for his school in the afternoon.

But Zahra cannot always run fast enough, and Ali, who is a good student, gets in trouble for being late to class. And there is a heartbreaking scene where Zahra solemnly regards her own precious lost shoes, now on the feet of the ragpicker’s daughter.

The tale of two children in the movie communicates to us a lot of interesting values that we can somehow say similar to Christian values.

We may be are different in religious beliefs but we are sure that all of us are aiming for peace and tranquility within our community and the whole world at large.

Though the movie is set in an Islamic country yet we share the same values. We, as Christians, may be are biased on looking at Muslim lives as reported by media as any terrorist attack is always associated to them. We should not create a hasty generalization in judging the acts of their fellow because they do not represent the whole.

Majid Majidi’s film has a wonderful scene where Ali and his father bicycle from the almost medieval streets and alleys of the old town to the high-rises and luxury homes where the rich people live. The father hopes for work as a gardener, but he is intimidated by the challenge of speaking into the intercoms on the gates of the wealthy. His son jumps in, with offers of pruning, weeding, spraying and trimming. It is a great triumph.

And then there is a footrace for the poor children of the quarter. The winner gets two weeks in a summer camp and other prizes. Ali doesn’t care. He wants to place third, because the prize is a new pair of sneakers, which he can give to his sister. My guess is that the race and its outcome will be as exciting for many kids as anything they’ve seen at the movies.

“Children of Heaven” is about a home without unhappiness. About a brother and sister who love one another, instead of fighting. About situations any child can identify with. In this film from Iran, I found a sweetness and innocence that shames the land of Mutant Turtles, Power Rangers and violent video games.

This movie has showed me a side of Iran that one cannot learn about in history books. The movie portrayed life in Iran through the eyes of a little kid and the struggles he faces.The movie also showed showed different aspects of Iranian culture such as family structure and value of relationships. The father was seen as the one responsible for providing food for the family. The little girl would help the mother with preparing food and taking care of the baby. I was also able to see the Ta’arof in Iranian culture through offering food to the old and sick neighbors, and even “pretending” to refuse money after the gardening services were offered. The father took the money only after the old man insisted on it.The wide gap between the haves and the have nots have been very beautifully potrayed.

The entire story revolves around one pair of lost pink color worn out shoes.

It makes me realize that each of us in the world is responsible when a kid suffers to get basic necessities of life.

Many a times we throw money frivolously and seldom realizing that there are millions of children dying from hunger with one set of clothes battling and surviving through life.

It’s a moving story about the universal bonds of family as well as the specific circumstances of a poor family trying to make ends meet in Iran. The climax of the film is exciting reinterpretation of the “comeback kid” sports movie, and it takes many unanticipated twists and turns.

This was the first Iranian film to earn an Academy Award nomination, and with good reason. The themes and characters are universal and the story is as exciting as it is poignant. Children of Heaven is one of those magical films that breaks down perceived barriers and differences between cultures, an enlightening and entertaining cinematic journey.

La Salle

I had a chance to visit my Ninang/Dra. Laarni ‘Let’ Fajardo- Roque in De La Salle University- Manila.

Inside the chapel and etched in the main altar wall, I was struck by this beautiful quote from St. La Salle:  “Iniibig ko nang higit sa lahat ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa akin.” 

Gods will

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. Together with Ninang/Dra. Let of PLM- Student Catholic Action and with Bro. Edward of our Light Group.

But what if God’s will for my life is not what I want? What if it involves discomfort, suffering and pain?

What if I don’t like it?

But, His will prevailed.

We are all living in a fast-paced, hard driven, “make it happen” world. Most of the time, I got distracted.

I find it difficult to see what He sees, hear the sound of His voice, and love and serve by the power of His Spirit within me.

I am still a work in progress.

Talking with Ninang Let today during my visit and also our sharing session with Bro. Edward during our Light Group, I’ve realized that:

We must migrate toward relationship with Him first and always! This is our only hope of real and lasting transformational change. Intimacy and presence is His power in you and through you.

We must examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and reflect back to us the things that we may not be aware of. Once revealed, our love for Him should motivate us to take the steps He shows us to get healed.

We must look at our daily activities and check and see if the actions please the Father or grieve the Father. We should decide today to be “Father pleasers.” How we treat our spouses, how we love our children, how we give without having to receive, how we become absorbed with Him and others, rather than self all matter much to God.

Talk to Him often, but mostly listen. Jesus only did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Jesus is always our model. Sometimes Jesus would turn away the crowd, the noise, the ministry stuff, to get away with the Father. So must we. He loves to hear from you and He is big enough to listen to the gripes and complaints. He is also big enough to show you that the gripes and complaints are insignificant in light of His eternal plans for you. Take time to listen often, He will give you what you need more often than what you want.

Just love. God is love. Everything about Him oozes love. Love does not mean we ignore truth and justice. His perfect love always includes truth and justice. But how our hearts move towards truth and justice often reveals where we are in His love. Love seems to gravitate towards healing and restoration, rather than judgment. Love within you will cause you to not focus on self and you will pursue loving those who have hated and rejected you. You will pray for your enemies and you will begin relationships with those who are different than you. If anything you do is not founded on Love, then it is not founded on God.

Walk humbly before your God and with others. When I write, I am writing these things to myself as well. I thank God for my evolving development, but wow, I have a long way to go, just ask my wife Jude. The more I know, the more I don’t know and the more it keeps me pressed into Him.

No matter where you are in your life journey, God is constantly working in and through you. He is working daily in all of us.

And one day the time will come when that light bulb inside of us will click. That moment when it all makes sense. When we see and understand God’s plan for us and why certain relationships never worked out, and why others did. We will understand why our ultimate plan was not God’s.

And that moment may not be right now, and that is okay. To be honest it probably isn’t right now for a lot of us.

That is because we have to trust God and have faith that He will show us direction in our lives. That he will close doors that are not meant for us and will present us with new opportunities and open other doors that are indeed part of His plan.

Pen

Who writes your life story?

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday the message of Bro. Audee Villaraza, The Feast Bay Area AM Session Builder was on Joseph in the bible.

He said, “Don’t be so focused on what God has taken from you that you can’t see or believe that God will do something through you and He will turn it into good.”

Those words hit me hard.

When confronted with suffering that won’t go away or with even a minor problem; when every day feels like an insurmountable struggle, and the details of the present are all-consuming, it’s impossible to imagine anything else is happening.

Pen

God sees how it’s all going to work out in the end. He has a plan and we are all a part of it. And when God writes The End, the story will be a masterpiece that will leave us in awe and bring Him glory.

Few years ago, I was in an excruciating part of my story. It felt like an unending nightmare. In fact, it was probably the hardest year of my life.

How could anything good ever come out of unimaginable pain?

I prayed, trusted and waited for the Lord to change my situation, yet nothing had changed.

It wasn’t the plan I wanted for my life. Or for my wife and for my family. I felt helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t see God working in any of it.

Somewhere, in the middle of all the pain, God became real to me again.

Those desperate years when the Lord was silent, he was not absent. He had been there all along.

He gave me strength and courage to face life one day at a time.

I am still a work in progress. I don’t know how things are going to turn out.

But we can trust that God is in the story. And he is orchestrating the tiniest detail. We may not understand why, but we can be certain that God has a glorious purpose to the pain we are enduring.

I’m still in the middle of my story. While none of us know the joys and trials we have yet to encounter, we do know that Jesus will be with us through them.

Who is writing your life story today?

In my life right now, I am embarking on a new chapter of my life. I am venturing this year to a new challenge soon. It’s scary. It frightens me and I often worry what the future holds.

What joys will I experience and what sorrows will I endure?

But when I do this, when I worry and fret what the next chapter holds, I get in the way of the One who is supposed to be writing my story for me.

So often we try to control the pen. We try to direct our own lives.

We need to give God control of our lives – to let Him write out our life stories.

He knows what lies ahead of us.

Through the whole story, the Author (our God) is with us. He isn’t just watching our story unfold; he is guiding it, moving it along. He is intimately a part of it.

Alleluia

Are you living as an Easter people of God or still in Golgotha?

As married couples, there are a lot of practical lessons that we can learn about relationship from the death and resurrection of Christ as shared by Fr. Mark Demanuele, MSSP during the Easter Recollection organized by the The Feast Bay Area Couple’s Ministry.

As a missionary, Fr. Mark shared his journey of challenges as an Easter person.

Easter people of God

The beauty of the cross is in the promise of Easter, where God shows His natures as a redeemer and restorer. If your marriage is in a time of stress and pain, put your hope in the one who sees past the immediate circumstances of your life and into a hopeful and wonderful future. It is very possible that God could use the current difficulty in your marriage to create something even more beautiful and enduring than you could ever imagine. As you celebrate Easter with your family this year, take some time to reflect on the meaning for your marriage. Allow the wonderful and powerful spiritual truths of Easter breathe new life into your relationship, and your bond will be stronger for it.

He pointed everyone to the powerful exhortation of St. John Paul II back in 1986:

“We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy”. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “Be it done unto me according to thy word”.

In particular if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up.

If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit.

Jesus resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.

Characteristics of Easter people as shared by Fr. Mark:

  • Easter people rejoice in Jesus’ death AND resurrection. (Romans 5:10)
  • Easter people preach the resurrection more than one day a year. (Acts 4:2)
  • Easter people long for their resurrection brought by Jesus as much as or if not more so than a temporary bodiless existence in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:7-11; Revelation 21)
  • Easter people long to see Jesus restore creation from the curse of decay. (Romans 8 )
  • Easter people speak up at great cost against the ‘principalities and powers’ of this world because Jesus is our risen King and he is king over them all. (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 2:7-9)
  • Easter people are willing to deny themselves and lose all things for the sake of Christ now because Christ, by the power of his resurrection, has promised to restore all things and reward his disciples in the ‘life after the next life’. (Matthew 19:27-28; Mark 10:28-31; Revelation 21:5)

As an “Easter People,” our response to the gift of forgiveness and eternal life compels us to try to live lives that reflect our new status. We are a people forgiven, healed and renewed by Jesus’ Body and Blood, and we are called to share that Good News with the whole world.

Our response can and should be rooted in love. As Jesus himself has told us, love for God and love for our neighbor is the foundation of Christian living. Because God first loved us, loved us so much that we were given God’s only son for our salvation, our response to this love is not only to love God as deeply and fully as we are able, but also to love everyone else as deeply and fully as we love ourselves.

As couples, our relationship with God matters most.

We need to nurture the loving relationship of husbands and wives like how Christ offered His life in the cross.

In this time of violence, strife, argument and disagreement, God continues to call us to love not to hate. God continues to call us to look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

What in a moment of anger or outrage might satisfy our pride is most probably not consistent with the loving future God wants for us.

It is not God who has created the turmoil that surrounds us; it is turmoil of our own making born from our love of self above our love of others.

This Easter, amidst the joy and celebration of our new lives in Christ, let us also celebrate the joy of new life with others.

Let us begin to set aside our pride and petty difference that not only separate us from each other, but also separate us from God.

Let us strive to become an “Easter People” who know and reflect God’s love through our love for one another as equals—equally beloved children of God.