EVERYDAY JESUS

WOUNDED FOR LOVE

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I am sure you know at least one person who has left the Church due to a hurtful experience within it. This individual, once identifying as Catholic, has abandoned their religion because of disappointment with a priest or with people in the Church. Perhaps they encountered a priest who was unfaithful to his vow of celibacy or was affected by the political stance of a clergy member. Alternatively, they may have become annoyed with their parish priest’s persistent and insistent fundraising tactics, causing them to stop attending Mass altogether.

These people are frustrated by the Church. They have been hurt, and many, if not all, continue to suffer from this pain. They refuse to go to Confession because they no longer believe in priests and will not receive Holy Communion, thinking that all who participate are hypocrites. These are the people who the Church has hurt.

These individuals are represented by Thomas, who was scandalized by the suffering of the Lord. Thomas was hurt and frustrated, in severe pain, and chose to distance himself. In Tagalog, we would call his attitude “nagtampo-malakas na tampo.” He thought he had put all his trust in Jesus, believing him to be the liberator of Israel. However, Thomas felt betrayed after witnessing Jesus’ death and experienced immense emotional pain.

Thomas symbolizes the segment of the Church that is frustrated by its representatives. How did Thomas help himself? How was he healed of this deep hurt? He asked to touch Jesus’ wounds, stating that if he could verify Jesus was alive, he would believe and be healed of his pain and frustrations. The Lord allowed Thomas to do so, and upon touching Jesus’ wounds, Thomas believed.

Now, two thousand years later, there are still people like Thomas— not doubting, but extremely frustrated with the behavior of those within the Church. This includes priests, bishops, cardinals, daily Mass attendees, communicants, active laypeople, and religious sisters.

We have hurt our fellow Christians and frustrated them with our scandalous lives. How can we bring back those who have strayed from the Church or those who no longer go to Confession? They are still hurting, and it is because of us.

What can we do for them? Just as the Lord allowed Thomas to touch His wounds, we must reach out to our former Catholic brethren and let them see our own wounds. Unfortunately, we may not have enough visible wounds to show, so they do not believe in us. We, within the Church, have not experienced enough pain through the love of service and forgiveness.

ASTONISHED

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In one short paragraph, Jesus astonished the people around Him for two significant reasons. Firstly, they were astounded by His preaching. Secondly, they were astounded by His healing.

Why were they astonished by His preaching? Because He spoke only the truth. Truth possesses its own power. It requires no sugar coating. It needs no techniques. When truth is conveyed as truth, it invariably carries a liberating power. When our words fail to astound others, could it be because we speak from fear or seek favors? Truth is fearless and does not pursue favors. Truth is truth, and that is its inherent value.

The second reason why people were astonished at Jesus is that He healed. He healed out of compassion. He healed from love. He was love incarnate. People were astonished because He was willing to go to great lengths to heal a man with an unclean spirit.

These are the two reasons why people were astonished by Jesus. He spoke the truth and lived with love. Truth and love, when united, possess infinite power. Truth and love, together, can liberate many. Yet, the first to be liberated, when truth and love converge, is ourselves.

ASTONISHED
MK. 1:21-28
LOVE LIKE JESUS

ASTONISHED

 30,817 total views

In one short paragraph, Jesus astonished the people around Him for two significant reasons. Firstly, they were astounded by His preaching. Secondly, they were astounded by His healing.

Why were they astonished by His preaching? Because He spoke only the truth. Truth possesses its own power. It requires no sugar coating. It needs no techniques. When truth is conveyed as truth, it invariably carries a liberating power. When our words fail to astound others, could it be because we speak from fear or seek favors? Truth is fearless and does not pursue favors. Truth is truth, and that is its inherent value.

The second reason why people were astonished at Jesus is that He healed. He healed out of compassion. He healed from love. He was love incarnate. People were astonished because He was willing to go to great lengths to heal a man with an unclean spirit.

These are the two reasons why people were astonished by Jesus. He spoke the truth and lived with love. Truth and love, when united, possess infinite power. Truth and love, together, can liberate many. Yet, the first to be liberated, when truth and love converge, is ourselves.

GOD DOES NOT LIKE MIRACLES

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By nature, we like miracles. When we hear about a miracle or read about it, we rush to the miracle site because we want to experience the supernatural through those miracles. Human beings probably like miracles a lot, but God does not like miracles. That is why miracles happen very rarely. God does not like them. God does not like miracles to be an everyday reality in our lives. What God wants is not miracles but faith. God enjoys receiving faith from us. It is not that God is stingy with miracles. It is this—for people who have no faith, they will be able to explain it and say it is not a miracle. Meanwhile, for people who have faith, there is no need for a miracle because they believe anyway. God is a God who does not like miracles. God is a God who likes faith. The stronger our faith, the more pleasing it is in the sight of God. When we have a problem, when we are face to face with a difficulty, when we are afflicted with sickness, do not ask the Lord for a miracle. Rather, ask the Lord to increase our faith so that our problem may have healing, so that our pains may be bearable. With faith, everything changes its color. God does not like miracles. God likes faith.

GOD DOES NOT LIKE MIRACLES
MK. 6:53-56
LOVE LIKE JESUS

DISBELIEF

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The story of Zechariah is our story as well. Zechariah received a blessing. We all have been blessed at one point or another in the past. After Zechariah received the blessing, his response was doubt. His response was fear. His response was disbelief. Isn’t that what we often do after we are blessed by God? We cannot believe that God can be so good to us. We cannot believe it and we become afraid. We ask questions like, “What will God ask from me later on?” And then what follows is the third phase. We go into dryness. Zechariah became deaf and mute.

He could not talk. He could not understand. He could not hear. He went into a period of dryness. He was left by himself. He was sort of isolated by God from others. That is why to speak with him, they had to use signs.

The story of Zechariah did not end with dryness. It ended with his conviction that God had truly blessed him. And even if it was counter-cultural, even if it was contrary to the custom, he said, “No, his name is John because God told me so.” That is called conversion. The story of Zechariah is our story too. First we are blessed, then we refuse, then we go into dryness, and finally, we understand. And having understood, we are converted. And having been converted, we enter into a new phase in our life which is peace.

Where are we right now? If we know that we are being blessed by God, let us not enter into doubt. Let us not disbelieve but trust. If we know that we are in a period of dryness right now because we have not believed God or we have doubted His love for us, let us be converted and say “Lord, I am sorry.” Believe me, when we enter into that realm of conversion, we will find the peace that we have been longing for.

We will be able to speak again of the glories of God.

INSPIRATION!

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Once in a while, we come across children who have plenty of toys and children’s books, and yet go to their parents and say, “I am bored.” We see college students shifting from one course to another, not knowing what career path to take, and then they say life is boring.

This attitude translates even to relationships, to marriage, and even friendships. We are at a party and deep in our hearts we want to say, “I am lonely.” What causes this feeling? What causes this feeling of boredom, this feeling of loneliness, this feeling of doing many things and yet not doing anything? We can relate to how Herod feels in the Gospel. The First reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes answers the question for us. Why do we feel lonely in spite of the crowd? Why do we feel bored in spite of the toys and the books and the games? Why do we feel that we are alone even if physically, there are so many people around us?

It is said in the First reading that two things are necessary. First, we must know who we are. Second, we must know where we are going. When we do not know who we are, we get bored! When life has no direction and we do not know where life is leading us, we also fall into the trap of loneliness. Herod was restless. He had all the power. He had all the money. He had a huge kingdom, and yet there was restlessness in his heart because he did not know who he really was. He did not know where his kingship was leading him. It is good to ask ourselves these questions: “Who am I now? Where am I? What moves me? What urges me on?” If we cannot answer these questions, we can fall into the endless cycle of loneliness, monotony, and boredom, again and again.

INSPIRATION!
LK. 9:7-9
LOVE LIKE JESUS

BLINDNESS

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The blind man could not see. That is a fact. Yet, he warns to me that even if he could sense or see with his being, he could not see with his eyes, but he could sense with his heart. That is why he immediately felt the disgust of the crowd. That is why he immediately felt the accepting attitude of Jesus. When God takes away our physical sight, experience teaches us that our other senses are sharpened. Such was the case of the blind man. He could not see with his eyes, but he could sense and see with the heart.

On the other hand, the crowd around Jesus, the Apostles following the Lord, could see, but they did not like to look. They were playing blind. They did not even like to set their eyes on the blind man asking for help. That is the sad reality. You and I sometimes catch ourselves with a street child, begging for food and money, and we say to ourselves, “Oh, these beggars are run by syndicates.” We rationalize that their parents abuse them, so we end up not giving them money.

But whoever told us that we are going to be diminished? Whoever said that the poor will be spoiled if we just glance at them with kindness in our eyes or give them a simple look of concern, charity, and compassion.

Who are the people we do not like to see? Who are the people we play blind to? There are so many people we put in this category. Let me tell you that talking with them, looking at them, and seeing with the heart has never caused anybody to be spoiled or destroyed. God gave us eyes so that we can see. God gave us a heart so that we can see better. Let us use them all the time.

BLINDNESS
LK. 18:35-43
LOVE LIKE JESUS

BE GRACIOUS

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In Grade 3, I learned a poem about good manners:

Hearts, like doors, will open with ease
With very, very little keys.
But don’t forget that two of these
Are thank you, sir, and if you please.

People who are grateful, people who know how to say thanks sincerely, win the hearts of people easily.

There were ten lepers. They were told to do something. They were healed along the way. The nine chose to be dutiful. They were obedient. What’s wrong with that? The Lord told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” They have not yet reached the priests and they got well. So they just said, “But the Lord told us to go and show ourselves to the priests. That is a duty. We are only obeying.” The other leper chose not to merely obey but to be gracious, sweet, and thoughtful.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should disobey. I am not saying that we should be lax in our duties. What I am saying is that sometimes, we must recognize the importance of being gracious.

Even if we are doing our duties; it is important to smile when we fulfill a duty, it is important to pause a while sometimes and say “Thank You, Lord.”

Sometimes, we take life too seriously. We fulfill one duty after another. We must not forget though these important keys to open the doors of people’s hearts. We must be dutiful but not forget to be gracious. At the end of the day, it is the smile on your face, and the graciousness of your heart that will win love and respect.

Today, we will have many duties to fulfill. Let us make sure we don’t sacrifice graciousness because we have so much to do.

BE GRACIOUS
Lk. 17:11-19
Love Like Jesus

WHY DO YOU GIVE?

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Why do people give? Why do people do good things for other people? Unfortunately, our motivations are not always clear and good. Unfortunately also, we are not always aware of the impurity of our motives. Why do people give and why do people do good things for other people?

The first motivation, unexpressed but very often unadmitted, is self-interest. We want to give because we want to get something in return. Investment, so to speak. We give something because we know that we will get something even more in return. It can come in business. Sometimes, it can also come in Church, in prayer. We say, “I will spend 30 minutes at Mass every day, and I know that I will receive blessings more than that, anyway.”

Another reason for doing things for other people is duty. We do it out of duty, without any fervor, without any tenderness. We just do it out of duty, as paid people.

Still another reason for doing good things for other people is superiority. This one is very bad because the beneficiary of the goodness ends up feeling so low, so destroyed because the giver wants to feel superior over the other. We can give but we can diminish humanity. We can give and we can say bad words. We can give and we can say nasty things. We can give and we can expect so much utang na loob from those who benefit from our “goodness.”

Why do we give? Some of our bad and impure reasons are unexpressed, sometimes difficult to admit. But today the Lord says to us that we must be generous recklessly. That’s the key word. Many of us can be generous but with generosity that is measured—generosity that makes sure that your cash balance is okay. But it is generosity that is reckless that is the example of Jesus Himself. Who is that British playwright who said, “With reckless generosity, the pauper can live like a prince?” In other words, the key to a happy, contented life is reckless generosity—generosity that throws its cares and concerns to the wind and allows God to provide for us, generosity that doesn’t care about how we could live, generosity that is careless, that is carefree, that is reckless. And we can live like princes because we can live without fear, and we can live in happiness.

WHY DO YOU GIVE?
Lk. 14:12-14
Love Like Jesus

CLAY AND POTTER

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Most of us are familiar with the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The prayer has been adapted by many rehabilitation programs for dependents on drugs, alcohol, gambling, and even for sex addicts and foodaholics, or those who cannot resist food. It speaks of the power to transform and the power to be transformed. The power and the beauty to be transformed and to transform others is what the Prophet Jeremiah speaks about in the First Reading, “the clay and the potter.”

But what I wish to call your attention to is that the power of the potter is not shown in the finished product. The power of the potter is shown as the wheel is turning, and as the clay is being formed. This is the case with us. The power of God is not only going to be made manifest at the end of time.

The power of God is not only seen on judgment day. The power of God is not only to be shown when the conclusion is nice and “triumphalistic.” The power of God can be seen at work even now despite the ongoing wars all over the world. The power of God is at work and can be experienced even now as we face broken families, broken commitments, and shattered vows. The power of God can be felt even as we experience terrorist attacks, violence, and acts of criminality all over the world. The power of God is present. The power of God has not given up on this world. People who give up are not the stronger ones. The stronger ones are those who persevere against all odds. God has given us that gift – the power to transform and the power to be transformed. As individuals, we might not be able to avert wars in some part of the world, but we certainly have the power to silence the wars inside of us. We have the power to make selfless love win against selfish pride. We can conquer impure motivations and let the power make it evolve into selfless service. If only we can emerge victorious in this interior battle and allow the power of God to transform our lives, then truly we will see the beauty and power of the MASTER Potter at work in us.

CLAY AND POTTER
Jer. 18:1-11
Love Like Jesus

RESPECTFUL GOD

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Children are expected to respect their parents. Younger people are expected to respect their elders. The laity are expected to respect priests. The priests are expected to respect their bishops. And the principle is—the higher, the more experienced, the older, the more deserving of respect.

If we follow the same principle, then God is not expected to respect anybody because He is the highest. He is perfect. He is the oldest, so to speak, although He is beyond time. Following that principle, God owes no respect to anybody because He is the highest, He is the most that can ever be. And yet here is God, respecting a lowly handmaid of Nazareth and asking that handmaid, “May I?” Here is God who created the world, who sustains the world, stooping and showing an act of respect to a teenage girl and says to her, “Will you please?” If God were using Filipino, He would say, “Puwede po ba?”

Such love! You know, if there is any lesson that the Annunciation teaches us, it is that respect is not only to be given to the more experienced, to the older, to the higher or the one with greater authority. Respect must be given to everybody and the mark of a real Christian is that we are able to give respect. We are able to reverence even those whom society considers lower than ourselves.

If the Annunciation is to be a meaningful feast for us, isn’t it time for bosses to be more respectful to the janitors and for the employers to be more respectful to the yayas, to the helpers, and to the drivers? Isn’t it an act of Christian faith that we do not only show respect to persons, but also that we show respect to a tree that has been there for years, to the plants, to the dog, to the cat, to any animal?

I feel in my heart that there is no peace in the world because we have lost our capacity to show respect for everybody and for everything.

RESPECTFUL GOD
Lk. 1:26-38
Love Like Jesus

PRAYER IS STRENGTH

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Prayer is our strength. Prayer is a strong tool. Where does prayer get its strength? The strength of prayer does not come from the one who prays. The strength of prayer comes from the one to whom it is addressed.

In other words, prayer does not become a strong tool because we pray. Prayer becomes strong on account of the God to whom we pray. We only become strong if we depend on God. Our strength does not come from within us. Our strength comes from outside of us, from the one we lean on, from the one we depend on, from the one we stand on.

When we pray, we become strong, not because prayer in itself is strength. We become strong not because of our own strength but on account of the one to whom we pray. Let us not forget that principle because sometimes we begin to think that when we pray, God becomes weaker, when we pray we have the power to change God. That is not the intention of prayer. The strength of prayer does not come from us. The strength of prayer comes from the one we rely on: God!

PRAYER IS STRENGTH
Mt. 7:7-12
Love Like Jesus

LISTENING AND SPEAKING

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What is more difficult, to speak for eight hours or to listen for eight hours? What is more difficult, to speak for eight hours without eating or drinking, or to listen, seated for eight hours without eating or drinking? I think it is understandable that the speaker has a more tiring job than the listener. If the listener has not had food for eight hours, then the same is true for the speaker.

Yet what is striking in the Gospel story is that the speaker did not complain and say, “Won’t you give me time to rest? Won’t you give me time to eat? Won’t you give me time to drink? I have been talking for hours now and here you are, still insisting that I talk and console you.” Jesus had done so many things for others. He endured many things for the people and his focus was always on the crowd that was hungry.

He kept preaching to people with empty stomachs. The people forgot the grumbling in their stomach because they were so touched, not so much by what Jesus was saying, but by what Jesus was for them.

That is the love of God for us. He doesn’t care about Himself. He only cared for those who were listening to Him. He did not care about His hunger and thirst. He only thought of the hunger and thirst of those who were listening to Him. He had every right to complain. He had every right to be frustrated and exasperated. But instead of frustration and exasperation, He chose concern. He chose compassion. He chose to forget Himself.

May we learn that lesson today. Today, there will be people who will pressure us. There will be people who will make demands of us. There will be people who will ask so much from us. Give, and like Jesus, look at their need, not our own.

LISTENING AND SPEAKING
Mk. 6:34-44
Love Like Jesus

ENCOUNTER OF HOPE

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Nowadays, we call leprosy Hansen’s disease. In ancient Israel, leprosy was a general term for all sicknesses of the skin. Whether it was pimples, acne, eczema, leprosy, psoriasis, or buni, all of those skin diseases were considered leprosy. Anything that is a blemish on the skin was considered leprosy.

Here was a leper. A leper was supposed to stay away from the community because he was considered dirty spiritually. He was also contagious physically. The leper prayed. How did he pray to Jesus? He prayed with awe, simply saying, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

In our Catechism of the Catholic Church, we say there are different types of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication or petition. The leper prayed with so much hope, prayed with so much faith, and his faith was repaid and rewarded.

That is the first lesson for the day: the prayer of hope. How did the Lord respond to the leper’s prayer? How did the Lord respond to that prayer of hope made by the sick man? The response of the Lord was also a response of hope. He did not only speak to the leper. He did not only come near the leper, but He touched the leper. According to the law, it was immoral, it was illegal, it would make you spiritually impure to touch a leper because a leper is impure. A leper is not clean, and by touching the leper, you incur uncleanliness, impurity on yourself. Yet the Lord broke away from all those beliefs and norms. He spoke to the leper, went near the leper, and touched the leper.

The second lesson for tonight is what the Lord did. What did the Lord do? He reached out with hope. He gave hope to the leper and said, “I do will it. Be clean.” The first message for the day: prayer of hope. The second lesson of the day: a gesture of hope.

What is the third lesson of the Gospel? It is a mission of hope. After the leper was made clean, his mandate was to go to the temple and pray. But before going to the temple, he met so many people along the way and he started talking. I understand him because when our hearts are so full, we can hardly keep quiet. When we have been so blessed, we can hardly hold our tongue. When we have received something that is immeasurable, almost incredible, how can we keep quiet?

It feels like we will die of a heart attack because of the joy that cannot be contained in the heart. That leper was so happy that is why he started talking. I can understand him because he had been given so much. We share that hope.

We have witnessed it: a prayer of hope, an action of hope, and a mission of hope, all because a leper had been touched by God. How does it apply to us? We are not lepers perhaps, but if we just remove the word “leprosy” and substitute “leprosy” with sin, then the whole story applies to us. We are sinners and we have cut ourselves from the Lord.

All we need to do is to make a prayer of hope, a prayer of total trust in God who is merciful. He wants to assure us that we will indeed be forgiven. God will give us new hope and give us new life.

It should not end there. If we have experienced the goodness of God, if we have experienced new life in God, we must talk, we must speak, we must proclaim how much God has done in our lives so that as we have received hope, we in turn will become messengers of hope for our troubled world, for our troubled neighborhood, for our troubled Church. We can go home tonight carrying only one word in our hearts: hope. That is why Jesus came—to give us hope.

Mk. 1:40-45
Love Like Jesus

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