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Lay Down

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday. In describing himself as the Good Shepherd, (cf s1S#28, Shepherd, 4/25/21), Jesus repeated in today’s gospel (John 10:11-18) the verb “lay down” (his life for his sheep) 5 times (vv 11, 15, 17, 18 x2). tithēmi (τίθημι), is a common verb meaning “put,” “set,” or “lay (down),” in the literal, mundane sense. But when attributed to the Lord, it specifically points to the gesture of Christ “laying down his life for his sheep”(John 10:15ff). The offer of his disciples to do the same is noted in John 13:37ff. The sublime nature of someone making such a sacrifice is described in John 15:13.

The shepherd/sheep imagery, already frequent in the Hebrew Scriptures, appears early in the gospel tradition (Mk 6:34; 14:27) and here in John receives a later and more explicit elaboration of Christ’s pastoral mission. Under two headings, Jesus is presented as the dedicated shepherd. First, he gives his life for his flock, something alien to the thinking of a hired hand. The latter’s mercenary interests are in no way comparable to the unqualified dedication of the true shepherd (vv11f). Second, the true shepherd is personally familiar with his own (vv14f). There is a mutual experiential knowledge between Christ and the Christian which is a reflection of the knowledge of the Father and Son. This motif of the mutual relationship between Jesus and the Father being extended to include the believer (the indwelling) figures prominently in Jesus’ later priestly discourse (Jn 17).

John’s gospel presents Jesus as the model shepherd in his spirit of dedication and willingness to surrender his life for his sheep. Let us always listen to him for he is the only way to the Father and in him alone is salvation. May we his flock one day reach where our brave Shepherd has gone before and share in the joys of heaven. Amen!

 

s1S#28 Shepherd

“…Pastoral language was used figuratively throughout the ancient Near East and in the Hellenistic world. The title shepherd was applied both to gods and kings, (e.g. Hammurabi, god Shamash, cf Nh 3:18). When used in the OT, ro’ēh ( רֹ֥עֵה ), it is interesting to note that it refers, most of the time to rulers of the people (like the king, royal officers, elders, and judges), in a negative way, since God is considered the true shepherd of Israel and the leaders as his subordinate herdsmen, they often fall short of God’s standards. Thus they were condemned for their infidelity and stupidity, for scattering and leading them astray, (cf Jer 10:21, 22:22, 23:1-4; Ez 34:1-10; Zec 10:3, 11:4-17)…

In the NT, the most explicit reference given about the fulfillment of the prophecy is in John 10:1-29 where Jesus refers to himself as the ‘the good shepherd, “poimēn” ( ποιμὴν ), who lays down his life for his sheep’, (cf Mt 26:31; Mk 14:27). Thus in the gospels Jesus claimed that his mission was ‘to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’, (Mt 10:6, 15:24), and seeking the lost sheep exemplifies his love, (Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:3-7; cf. Mk 6:34); while the separation of the sheep and goats by the shepherd was compared to judgment, (Mt 25:32). In the letters Jesus is called ‘the great shepherd of the sheep’, (Heb 13:20), ‘the shepherd and guardian of your souls’, (1 Pt 2:25), and the ‘chief shepherd’, (1 Pt 5:4).

Jesus is indeed ‘the good shepherd’, or practically, he is the model shepherd, as each one of us is called in the ‘service of shepherding’, be it in the religious or secular context or both. So it is incumbent on each one of us to imitate him. In a special way, we pray and call on our leaders in the government and the church that they may selflessly prioritize the needs of the flock…and not their personal and/or political interests. And that they, and every one of us, continue to listen only to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and not to the cacophony of voices peddled by hired men or mercenaries through social media…”

Homily April 21, 2024

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Homily April 21, 2024
4th Sunday of Easter Cycle B
Good Shepherd Sunday
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Acts 4:8-12 1 Jn 3:1-2 Jn 10:11-18

Taon-taon ang ika-apat na Linggo ng panahon ng Muling Pagkabuhay ay Good Shepherd Sunday. Maliwag ang sinabi ni Jesus sa atin ngayong araw: “Ako ang mabuting pastol.” Paano siya naging mabuting pastol? Siya ay mabuting pastol kasi kilala niya ang kanyang tupa, mahal niya ang bawat isa sa mga tupa niya, pinapangalagaan at ipinagtatanggol niya sila at inaalay niya ang kanyang buhay para sa kanyang tupa upang hindi sila mapahamak.

Kilala ni Jesus ang bawat isa sa atin. Magandang Balita ito kasi ngayon, numbers na lang tayo. Kaunti ang nakakakilala sa atin. Ang mahalaga ay hindi kung sino o ano tayo kundi ang ID natin at kung may pera ba tayo, o may card. Pero sa dinami-dami ng mga tao sa mundo, kilala ako ng Diyos at minamahal niya ako. Ganoon nga ang pagmamahal niya sa akin na kahit na ako man lang ang tao sa mundo, mamamatay siya para sa akin. Kilalanin mo at maniwala ka na mahal ka ng Diyos. Ibinigay ni Jesus sa iyo ang kanyang buhay at ginagabayan ka niya sa buhay na ito upang maging kasama ka niya sa langit. Ibig niyang ibahagi sa iyo ang kanyang kaligayahan.

Bilang mabuting pastol ipinagtatanggol niya tayo. Hindi siya tulad ng isang taong upahan na kung may panganib na, tumatakas na. Pagdating ng lion o ng asong gubat, sumisibat na. Hahayaan na lang na malapa ang mga tupa, basta siya ay ligtas. Ang mabuting pastol ay naninindigan at ipinaglalaban ang kanyang tupa. Noong nagpresenta ang batang si David kay haring Saul na kalabanin ang malahiganteng Goliath, sabi ni Saul na hindi mo kaya iyan. Bata ka pa. Sabi ni David na hindi ako natatakot diyan. Nahaharap ko nga ang mga lion at mga oso na lumalapit sa aking tupa. Haharapin ko rin ang higanteng iyan. Iyan ang mabuting pastol. Matapang at hindi nagpapabaya sa mga inaalagaan niya.

Bilang mabuting pastol gusto ni Jesus na tipunin ang lahat ng mga tupa niya, kahit na iyong wala pa sa kanyang kawan. Sinabi ni Jesus: “Mayroon akong ibang tupa na wala sa kulungang ito. Kinakailangan na sila’y alagaan ko rin.”

Ang pagiging mabuting pastol ni Jesus ay pinagpapatuloy ngayon ng simbahan, ang katawan ni Kristo. Nakita natin ito sa ating unang pagbasa. Napagaling ni Pedro at ni Juan ang isang tao na lumpo na mula pa sa pagkabata niya. Malaking himala ito at maraming tao ang nakumbinsi sa kapangyarihan ni Jesus na namatay ngunit ngayon ay muling nabuhay at may kapangarihan na magpagaling.
Naranasan nila ang kanyang kapangyarihan sa pagpapagaling sa lumpong ito. Higit na limang libong mga tao ang nagpabinyag noon. Pinatawag ang dalawang apostol ng mga leaders ng mga Hudyo. Nandoon ang mga pinuno at matatanda ng bayan. Bilang mabubuting pastol, hindi tumakas o nanahimik ang dalawa. Matapang nilang ipinahayag si Jesus, si Jesus na taga-Nazaret na ipinapako nila sa krus kahit na gusto siyang palayain ni Pilato. Buhay ngayon si Jesus na ito. “Siya ang bato na tinanggihan ninyo na mga tagapagtayo at namumuno sa bahay ng Diyos ngunit siya pala ang pinakamahalagang bato sa gusali ng Diyos.” Hindi lang ipinamukha ni Pedro sa mga leaders ang kanilang pagkakamali. Hinikayat din silang magsisi. Kay Hesus lang matatagpuan ang kaligtasan. Tanggapin na nila siya. Kahit na sila ang nagpapatay kay Jesus, sila ay mga tupa na kailangang pumasok din sa kawan, kaya sa kanila din ipinahayag ang Magandang Balita ng kaligtasan – magsisi, manampalataya at magkakaroon sila ng buhay.

Pero ang tawag sa atin ay hindi lang para maging tupa. Tinatawag tayo na maging anak ng Diyos. Kaya nga pinadala ng Diyos ang kanyang anak upang tayo ay maging mga anak din niya – at iyan nga ang magandang balita – anak na tayo ng Diyos. Nasa atin na ang buhay ni Jesus. Ipinagkaloob na sa atin ang kanyang Espiritu. Matatawag na natin ang Diyos na Ama ko! Magiging maliwanag ang ating pagiging anak ng Diyos kapag nakapasok na tayo sa pastulan kung saan tayo dinadala ng Mabuting Pastol. Doon mababago na tayo. Magiging tulad na tayo ni Jesus. Mapapasaatin na ang tunay na kaligayahan ng mga anak ng Diyos.

Maganda ang balita. May mabuting pastol tayo na gagabay sa atin sa pastulan, ang tahanan ng ating Ama. Hindi niya tayo pababayaan sa daan. Maganda ang balita na dapat ipaabot sa lahat. Pero marami, napakarami, ay hindi pa naaabot. Kaya napakinggan natin ang daing ni Jesus. Marami pa ang aanihin, ngunit kakaunti ang mang-aani. Kaya ang panawagan ni Jesus ay “Manalangin kayo sa may-ari ng bukid na magpadala pa ng maraming mang-aani.” Maraming tupa pa ang papastulin. Kailangan pa natin ng maraming mabubuting pastol.

Kaya nga ang linggo ng Mabuting Pastol ay siyang Linggo ng Pandaigdigang panalangin para sa Bokasyon. O Panginoong Diyos, magpadala ka pa ng maraming manggagawa sa iyong ubasan, mas maraming pastol para sa iyong kawan. Marami pa ang dapat abutin at marami ang nag-aantay at naghahanap ng kaligtasan.

Kailangan tayong magdasal, hindi dahil na hindi alam ng Diyos na kulang ang manggagawa, hindi dahil sa ayaw pa ng Diyos na magpadala, hindi dahil sa hindi nababahala ang Diyos. Kailangan pa tayong magdasal upang maging handa tayo sa mga ipapadala niya. Nandiyan na ang ipadadala niya. Hindi tayong handang tanggapin at alagaan ang mga manggagawa at mga pastol. Buksan natin ang ating puso, buksan natin ang ating mga kamay, buksan natin ang ating mga bulsa upang tanggapin at tulungan ang ipadadala. Marami po ang gustong magpare at magmadre, ayaw naman ng mga magulang o kamag-anak na sila ay payagan. Marami ay gustong mag- katekista, ayaw naman suportahan sa kanilang pamasahe at pangangailangan. Marami ay gustong pumasok sa seminaryo, hindi naman natin sinusuportahan ang seminaryo natin. Hindi naman tayo nagpapaaral ng magpapari o magmamadre. Kaya nga kailangan nating magdasal, kasi talagang kailangan na buksan pa natin ang ating puso upang suportahan ang mga tinatawag ng Diyos.

TRUE FOLLOWERS

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Gospel Reading for April 20, 2024 – John 6: 60-69

TRUE FOLLOWERS

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

————

Perhaps some of us react like the disciples of Jesus, when we hear him say, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16: 24). When troubles come, we just give up on him.

Hopefully, we will be like Peter, who had the wisdom to understand that Jesus was the best one to go to. When we understand fully well and experience what Jesus meant about denying ourself, taking up our cross, and following him, we too will respond as Peter did, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” If we are TRUE CHRISTIANS or TRUE FOLLOWERS of Jesus, we know that there is no one else to whom we can go if we are to live peaceful, happy, and fruitful lives through eternity.

Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life! You are the only one who can lead us to the Father!

Farm lots

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Kapanalig, usong uso na ang farm lots sa ngayon. Kapag sumilip ka sa social media, ang daming nagbebenta ng mga lupang agrikultural. May mga mahal, may mga mura. May mga rights lang na tinatawag, may mga may titulo o certificates. Madami ang nais bumili, kapanalig, kaya nga’t tumataas ng tumataas ang halaga ng mga farm lots. Dagdag pa dito ay ang dami rin ng mga developers na bumibili ng mga farmlands at kino-convert ito bilang commercial at residential lands.

Ironic ito kapanalig, dahil habang marami ang nagbebenta ng farm lots, marami ring mga magsasaka ang nanatiling landless hanggang ngayon. Para sa maraming bumibili ng farm lots, hobby lang o bakasyunan ang hanap, pero para sa maraming magsasaka, kabuhayan ito. Dahil sa trend na ito, para bang bumabalik ngayon ang dating panahon na ang maykaya lamang ang may hawak ng lupa, at etsa puwera ang maliliit na agrikultural na manggagawa. Ang ganitong pangyayari ay nagpapawalang-saysay sa agrarian reforms sa bayan.

Kailangan na natin uling masusing pag-aralan ang agrarian reform at ang land policy ng ating ating bayan. Unang una, marami sa mga nabibiyaan ng lupa dahil sa agrarian reform ay naghihirap pa rin – hindi nila kayang isustain ang produksyon dahil malaking halaga ang kailangan. Marami sa mga beneficiaries ay nakatanggap ng mahigit isang hektaryang lupain, at marami sa kanila, kulang ang kaalaman at kakayahan na mas pagyamanin pa ang mga lupang kanilang natanggap. Kailangan pang palakasin ang support services ng Department of Agrarian Reform upang hindi lamang nakatutok sa land disputes kundi pati sa technical, education, and marketing support.

Malaking tulong din sana kung ang private sector ay magbibigay suporta sa mga magsasaka sa pamamagitan ng partnerships- gaya ng pamumuhunan at access to finance para sa mga modernong makinarya at teknolohiya. Maari silang makipag-partner sa mga kooperatiba ng mga magsasaka upang hindi lamang paisa-isang beneficiary ang makikinabang. Kapag may mga ganitong kagamitan ang mga magsasaka, mas lalaki ang kanilang produksyon, at malakihang business ventures ang kanilang magagawa.

Malakihan at mabilisang aksyon ang kailangan nito mula sa ating gobyerno. Unang una, kailangang natin ng matinong national land use policy na magbibigay gabay sa pag-gamit ng kalupaan sa ating bayan at maniniguro na makatarungan ang pag-gamit nito. Kailangan din na mas malawak at komprehensibong support services sa mga magsasaka, na isa sa mga pinakamahirap na sektor sa bayan ngayon. Nasa 30% ang poverty incidence sa kanilang hanay.

Kapanalig, ayon sa Rerum Novarum, indispensable ang cultivation of land para sa lipunan. Sa mga gawaing gaya ito, ang estado o ang bayan ay umuunlad. “Justice therefore demands that the interest of the laborers – gaya ng ating mga magsasaka – should be carefully watched over by the government.” Malaking hamon ito para sa ating pamahalaan, isang hamon na sanay matapang at masipag nilang harapin.

Sumainyo ang Katotohanan.

A tale of roads and ways

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The Lord Is My Chef Easter Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Easter, 19 April 2024
Acts 9:1-20     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     John 6:52-59
Photo by Mr. Vigie Ongleo, Sagada, Mt. Province, 2014.
Lord Jesus,
today You tell us
how often You write
in straight crooked ways
that always bring us
to the right path in life.

Saul, stil breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him (Acts 9:1-4).

Of course,
we know by heart this story
of Saul's conversion
who became known as Paul;
but, what is so lovely in his story
is how he persecuted the early Christians
then known as followers of the "Way"
when on his way near Damascus,
You appeared to him, O Lord;
Paul eventually reached Damascus
not to arrest the followers of the Way
but found himself following You, Jesus
the only Way in this life!
Many times, Jesus,
we are blinded like Paul,
going on our own journey
and paths in life;
like the Jews in Capernaum
who were so blinded too 
that they quarreled 
among themselves
in their inability to grasp
what You meant by 
eating Your flesh.
Photo by Mr. Vigie Ongleo, Sagada, Mt. Province, 2014.
Dearest Jesus,
take away our blindness,
send us our own Ananias
who would guide us to You
like Paul;
thank You, Jesus,
in allowing us to follow
our own path even if it is
the wrong way only to let us
see eventually how blinded
we have been
as You slowly lead us back
to Your path
of faith in You
 to enable us to hope
 in You until eventually,
we end up serving You lovingly
in others whom we have crossed
path with as You wondrously
write straight our crooked ways
to meet You
in each other.
Amen.
Photo by Mr. Vigie Ongleo, Sagada, Mt. Province, 2014.

Wage Gap

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Kapanalig, ang ganda ng achievement ng Pilipinas pagdating sa gender equality in education. Sa larangan kasi ng edukasyon, equal na o pantay na ang access ng babae at lalake. Sana hindi natin masayang ito kapanalig. Malaking milestone na ito pagdating sa gender issues sa ating bayan.

Kaya lamang pagtapos makapag-aral ng maraming kababaihan, may kakaharapin pa silang hamon o obstacle na kaugnay sa kanilang pagiging babae. Dito sa ating bansa, nakakapag-aral man ang babae, sinasalubong naman sila ng gender pay gap – ang pagkakaiba ng sweldo ng babae at lalake.

Ang sweldo ng mga kababaihan sa Pilipinas ay 71.6% lamang ng sweldo ng mga lalake. Sayang naman kapanalig, hindi ba, na matapos harapin at tapsusin ang ilang taon ng edukasyon, ang matatangap pala ng babae ay mas maliit kumpara sa lalake.

Ang ganitong sitwasyon ay tila nagbabale-wala o nanliliit ng lahat ng paghihirap na pinagdaanan ng kakabaihan. Kailangan maibago ito dahil ang laki at lawak ng implikasyon nito hindi lamang sa mga indibidwal na babae na apektado nito kungdi sa buong lipunan.

Halimbawa, sa agrikultura, sa pisong kinikita ng male workers, 92 centavos lamang ang sa babae. Malaking dagok ito kahit pa sa double income households – malaki ang nababawas na kita para sa parehong trabaho. Ang kita na ito ay magagamit sana ng pamilya para sa araw araw nilang buhay.

Ang gender pay gap ay isa rin sa mga rason sa kahirapan ng maraming pamilya. Isipin na lang natin, kapanalig na dahil mas maliit ang kita ng maraming babae, minsan, kailangan pa nila magtrabaho ng mas mahabang oras para lamang sumapat ang sweldo. Kailangan niya iwan pa ng mas matagal ang kanyang pamilya, kailangang niyang magpagod pa, na bumabawas ng oras niya para sa mga gawaing bahay, pag-aalaga at pagtuturo ng anak, at minsan pati pag-aalaga ng elderly o seniors. Hindi lamang money poverty ang nararanasan ng babae sa ganitong sitwasyon, pati time poverty, pinapasan pa niya.

Ang gender pay gap din ay malaki ang impact sa buhay ng babae hindi lang ngayon, kundi hanggang retirement. Ang overall lifetime earnings ng babae ay nagkakaroon ng substantial reduction o kabawasan dahil dito, at pati retirement pay o pension niya ay magiging maliit. Hindi ito makatarungan, kapanalig.

Hindi ba’t pantay pantay ang ating dignidad sa mata ng Diyos? At ayon nga sa Gadium et Spes, lahat tayo ay magkakapatid, at nilikhang kawangis Niya. Pero bakit ang kapatirang ito ay hindi natin nakikita sa sweldo ng babae at lalake sa ating bayan? Kapanalig, kung nais nating tunay na maka-takas sa kahirapan, kung nais natin na tunay tayong maging pantay-pantay sa lipunan, marapat na unahin natin ito sa pagbibigay ng fair and just wages to all. Ang tunay na kaunlaran ay hindi nang-iiwan ng tao, babae man o lalake, sa kahirapan.

Sumainyo ang Katotohanan.

GREAT LOSS

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Gospel Reading for April 19, 2024 – John 6: 52-59

GREAT LOSS

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

————

Of course, the Jews would quarrel among themselves because none of them could understand what Jesus said. Even the disciples themselves who were with him for 3 years could not understand most of the things he said. The only difference between them is that the Jews could not just let go of something they could not understand from Jesus, while the disciples of Jesus were so used to just listening to him. As a matter of fact, there were many things they could not understand up to the very end of Jesus’ life and even after the resurrection, but with the coming of the Holy Spirit all that they heard from Jesus and all the things he did, became clear and understandable. If we are now able to understand and know better who God the Father is, it is because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, our evangelists would have had so much difficulty recording all that Jesus said and did. And even John himself, the evangelist who wrote the last gospel, says: “But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21: 25). Perhaps, without the evangelists, most especially the help of the Holy Spirit, we would not be benefitting from the Great Gift that is Jesus in the Eucharist! What a GREAT LOSS if that happened!

Thank you Lord Jesus, for the GREAT GIFT that you are to us!

Get up…

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The Lord Is My Chef Easter Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Third Week of Easter, 18 April 2024
Acts 8:26-40   <*{{{{>< + <*{{{>< + ><}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   John 6:35-40
Praise and thanksgiving
to You, God our most loving Father
in Jesus Christ our Lord,
our Eternal Priest
for Your gift of being a priest
this past 26 years!
It is pure mercy and love
from You, dear God
that we were called to serve
Your people,
to be Your presence
despite our sinfulness
and so many flaws and
weaknesses.
As we celebrate today
our 26th ordination to the priesthood,
one thing I ask of You
in Jesus:
like the Apostle Philip,
let me "get up" always to
follow You wherever You send me.

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” (Acts 8:26)

There were so many times
I have fallen due to sins,
disappointments and disillusions,
sickness and exhaustion,
sadness and loneliness,
griefs and hurts,
shame and embarrassments,
humiliations and failures,
betrayals and infidelities;
many times You knew it,
O Lord,
how I felt better laying face down
on earth and dirt,
about to give up
when You would go down too
just to tell me to "get up",
"raising" me up to 
keep on following You
even at the desert route
that was so difficult.
Thank You for always believing
in me, Jesus,
for always being patient with me,
for always trusting me;
O dearest Jesus,
You have given me with so much
and I have given You so little;
let me give more of myself,
most of all,
more of Your love
and mercy and kindness
to those around me.
Amen.
From left, Fr. Romi, Fr. Arnel, Fr. Len, Bp. Dennis, Fr. Ed, and me after our Mass on the occasion of our silver anniversary last year. Not in photo was Fr. Joshua who was sick at that time.

Education Equality

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Kapanalig, ang gender equality sa Pilipinas ay isa sa mga hinahangaan sa Asya. Itong 2023, pang 16 pa nga ang bayan sa 146 countries sa buong mundo pagdating sa gender equality, ayon sa Global Gender Gap Index Report. Pang 19 tayo dito noong 2022. Tayo ang pinaka gender equal sa Asya.

Apat na salik o factors ang batayan ng report na ito: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Isa sa mga pinakamatingkad o distinct na achievement natin ay nasa larangan ng edukasyon. 99.9% ang score natin dito – isang malaking achievement. Dati kapanalig, maraming kababaihan ang hindi nakakapag-aral dahil sa kahirapan, o di kaya kailangang unahin pa ang ibang mga kapatid at tumulong sa bahay. Ngayon patas na ang oportunidad ng edukasyon para sa lahat.

Ang laking bagay nito at kailangan nating kilalanin at icelebrate, upang mas ma-appreciate nating lahat. Ang edukasyon ay isa sa ating mga human rights. Sa pagkilala natin dito, binibigyan natin ng dangal hindi lamang ang kababaihan, kundi ang lipunan. Pinapakita nito na pinapahalagaan natin, bilang isang bayan, ang karapatan ng bawat isa.

Ang gender equality pagdating sa edukasyon ay kritikal sa pagwaksi ng kahirapan, hindi lamang ng mga babae kundi ng sangkatauhan. Kapag lahat ay ating binibigyan ng access sa pag-aaral, para bang hinahatid natin sila sa magandang kinabukasan. Lahat ay nabibigyan ng kaalaman at kasanayan na kailangan para sa ikagaganda ng kanilang buhay.

Pero kapanalig, ang pagtitiyak na ang mga kababaihan ay nabibigyan ng edukasyon ay hindi lamang dapat magtapos sa access. Kailangan din nating tiyakin ang na ligtas o safe sila habang sila ay nasa paaralan, papunta sa paaralan, at pauwi mula sa paaralan. Maraming mga lugar sa ating bayan ang remote, at kailangan pang tumawid ng ilog, ng mga kagubatan, at maglakad ng pagkahaba haba para lang makapasok. Isa itong malaking hamon para sa ating nasyonal at lokal na pamahalaan na kailangang mabigyan ng makabuluhan at mabilisang tugon.

Kapanalig, hindi lamang ang babae ang nakikinabang sa gender equality sa larangan ng edukasyon. Malaki rin ang pakinabang ng bayan dito. Ang edukadong babae ay mas maraming kaalaman tungkol sa mga bagay na makabuluhan at kailangan ng pamilya, komunidad, at bayan. Ang edukadong babae ay mas matatag at maliwanag na ilaw, hindi lamang ng tahanan, kundi ng lipunan. Mas malaki ang ambag nila sa kaban ng bayan, at most likely kapanalig, titiyakin din niya na lahat ng kanyang anak o magiging anak ay mabibigyan ng edukasyon.

Ang pagtitiyak na lahat ay may access sa edukasyon ay pagtalima sa prinsipyo na lahat ay may dignidad. Ayon nga sa Pacem in Terris, kung nais natin na maayos at produktibo ang ating lipunan, kailangan nating isabuhay ang prinsipyong lahat tayo ay may dignidad – may talino, kakayahan, karapatan, at kalayaan. Sa pagkakaroon ng gender equality sa edukasyon, ang ating bayan ay nagiging huwaran sa pagkilala sa karapatan at dignidad ng lahat.

Sumainyo ang Katotohanan.

GREAT GIFT

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Gospel Reading for April 18, 2024 – John 6: 44-51

GREAT GIFT

Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”

————

Nowadays, more and more people think that online masses are sufficient to fulfill one’s Sunday obligation, just because it was the practice during the pandemic. Unless we see the real value of the Eucharistic Celebration, we will see it as just an obligation. But of course, we are obliged to come to Church because the Church is not an individual, but the people of God gathered around the table of the Lord, together asking for forgiveness, together glorifying God, together listening to, and pondering on, his Word, together petitioning for the needs of the community, together receiving Christ’s body, and together thanking God for the countless blessings received from him each day. Hence, online masses are for those who are physically unable to come to Church, affording them a chance to take part in spirit.

Perhaps this attitude comes from not realizing the GREAT GIFT that Jesus gave us during the Last Supper: “Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. . .’” (Matthew 26: 26-28). Jesus made sure that although he had gone back to the Father, by sending the Holy Spirit, he will still be present among us. This is why lay ministers are sent off before the end of the Eucharist, to give communion to the sick so that their desire to receive Jesus in the form of bread may be filled despite their inability to come to Church.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this GREAT GIFT!

Bigyang-pansin ang pagpapabakuna

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Mga Kapanalig, ang inyong mga anak, gaya ng sabi sa Mga Awit 127:3, ay mga pagpapalang kaloob ni Yahweh. Bilang mga regalong galing sa ating Diyos, paano ninyo ipinakikita ang pagpapahalaga sa inyong mga anak? Siguro, ang pinakamadaling sagot dito ay ang pagbibigay ng kanilang mga pangunahing pangangailangan gaya ng pagkain, tirahan, at damit. Ayon sa Child and Youth Welfare Code, kakabit ng tatlong pangangailangan na ito ang karapatan ng kabataan sa sapat na medikal na atensyon at iba pang mga bagay na makatutulong sa kanilang maging malusog at masigla. Para sa inyo, kabilang kaya ang pagpapabakuna dito?

Sa unang tatlong buwan ng taong ito, binulaga tayo ng pagkalat ng pertussis o whooping cough. Ayon sa Department of Health (o DOH), bunga ang pagtaas ng mga kaso ng sakit na ito ng pagtigil ng pagpapabakuna noong lockdown dulot ng pandemya. Mahigit kalahati ng mga naitalang kaso ng pertussis ay mga batang edad 5 pababa. Ito rin ang edad ng 54 na namatay dahil sa sakit na ito simula ngayong buwan.

Sa kasagsagan nito, inilabas din ng World Health Organization ang kanilang 2024 Global Hepatitis Report kung saan kabilang ang Pilipinas sa sampung bansa na nag-contribute sa two-thirds ng mga kaso ng hepatitis sa buong mundo. Ayon kay Health Secretary Teddy Herbosa, ang mahigit anim na milyon na kaso ng hepatitis sa bansa ay dahil din sa kakulangan sa pagpapabakuna.

Ang mga sakit na ating nabanggit ay maiiwasan sana sa pamamagitan ng pagpapabakuna. Kaya naman, ipinaalala ng DOH na may libreng tatlong doses ng pentavalent vaccine para sa kabataan na maaaring makuha sa mga barangay health center. Ang pentavalent vaccine ay pumoprotekta mula sa limang nakamamatay na sakit, kabilang na ang pertussis at hepatitis. Sabi pa ni Secretary Herbosa, kung hindi raw mapatataas muli ang pagpapabakuna ng kabataan, iba’t ibang sakit na kaya sanang iwasan sa pagpapabakuna ang maaaring kumalat.

Ngayong masasabi nating back-to-normal na nga tayo mula sa pandemya, at nakikihalubilo na tayo muli sa isa’t isa, oras na siguro para makamit ang herd immunity, kung saan karamihan ng mga tao ay protektado na mula sa mga nakahahawang sakit. Dalhin natin ang mga na-lockdown na kabataan noon sa mga barangay health center ngayon upang makapagpabakuna. Huwag natin hahayaang manatili ang Pilipinas sa top five na mga bansang may pinakamaraming mga batang hindi bakunado.

Siguro naman ay sariwa pa sa isip nating lahat ang naging magandang dulot ng pagpapabakuna noong kasagsagan ng pandemya. Mula sa matinding takot, hawaan, at dami ng nasawi, ang pagpapabakuna ng karamihan ng populasyon ay nagdulot ng herd immunity at pagkakaroon ng back-to-normal na pamumuhay. Sa mga sakit na kayang-kayang iwasan sa pagpapabakuna, huwag na sana nating hintayin pang dumami ang mga nasasawing kabataan. ‘Ika nga, prevention is better than cure.

Mga Kapanalig, alagaan nating mabuti ang mga regalong kaloob sa atin ni Yahweh. Sa mga panlipunang turo ng Simbahan, binibigyang-diin ang pagtingin sa bawat bata bilang isang regalo. Sila rin ay may magagawang kontribusyon tungo sa kabutihang panlahat. Upang masuportahan ang kabataan sa pagkamit nito, tiyakin natin ang kalusugan nila sa pamamagitan ng pagpapabakuna.

Sumainyo ang katotohanan.

FLABBERGASTED

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Gospel Reading for April 17, 2024 – John 6: 35-40

FLABBERGASTED

Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

————

God the Father is our Creator. Therefore, we all belong to him. The wily one tried his best to snatch us away from the Father. For a while, while God’s plan of salvation started to unfold, he thought he was successful. Who else would sow in the minds of the chief priests, the pharisees and scribes, anger against Jesus? Who else would sow greed in the mind of Judas to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver? Who else would weaken the resolve of the 10 apostles to remain faithful to Jesus up to the very end? The evil one looked to be successful when the Son of God had to go through so much pain and suffering, and suffer a very humiliating death on the cross, or so he thought. Imagine how he felt at the Resurrection of Jesus! He was surely
FLABBERGASTED!

All of God’s actions are the best that can ever be, because he is God. Who can win against him? He loves us so much that he is unwilling to lose even just one of us 8,118,835,999. He sent his own Son to make sure of this. How very blessed are we not to be doomed to eternal damnation. We are all destined to go back to him to whom we belong, but then, our choices in life have to be geared towards this destiny. We should remember to follow Jesus!

Father God, thank you for your immense love for us! Thank you for your Son, Jesus!

Inclusive mobility

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Mga Kapanalig, simula ngayong linggo, bawal nang dumaan ang mga light electric vehicles (o LEVs) katulad ng e-bikes, e-trikes, at e-scooters sa mga pangunahing kalsada sa Metro Manila. Ang lalabag sa patakarang ito ng MMDA ay pagmumultahin ng ₱2,500. Kukumpiskahin din ang ‘di rehistradong LEV.

Hindi natin maikakailang dumarami ang tumatangkilik ng LEVs sa bansa. Sa harap ng matinding trapiko, nagsisilbing accessible at abot-kayang alternatibo ang LEVs sa hindi maaasahang pampublikong transportasyon, lalo na sa mga lungsod. Kung mapapansin natin, karaniwang gumagamit ng LEVs ay mga nanay, matatanda, may kapansanan, at mga magulang na naghahatid-sundo sa mga anak. Higit pa sa pagiging alternatibong mode of transport, ang LEVs ay nagbibigay-daan sa empowerment ng mga itinuturing na vulnerable at marginalized. Gamit ang mga LEVs, natutugunan nila ang kanilang mga pangangailangan, nakapaghahanapbuhay sila, at naa-access nila ang mga kailangan nilang serbisyo. Nakatutulong din ang LEVs sa pagkilos o mobility ng mga may kapansanan sa kalunsuran kung saan maraming bangketa ang hindi na nga naaayon ang disenyo sa kanilang pangangailangan, pinaparadahan o dinadaanan pa mismo ng mga kotse at motorsiklo. Ang LEVs ay nagsisilbing behikulo ng mga marginalized sectors sa pagkamit ng accessible, affordable, at inclusive mobility.

Ayon kay MMDA Acting Chairman Atty. Don Artes, hindi naman daw tuluyang ipinagbabawal ang paggamit ng LEVs. Aniya, nais lamang nilang i-regulate ang mga ito dahil sanhi raw ang mga ito ng traffic at road crash incidents o banggaan. Ngunit batay sa datos mismo ng MMDA, 2% lang ng mga banggaan sa Metro Manila noong 2022 ang kinasangkutan ng mga light vehicles. Mahigit 50% ay mga pribadong sasakyan ang sangkot habang mahigit 20% naman ay motorsiklo. 

Tama lang na may regulasyon sa paggamit ng iba’t ibang uri ng sasakyan upang masiguro ang kaligtasan ng lahat. Pero kung pagbabatayan ang nabanggit nating datos ng MMDA, hindi kaya mas dapat higpitan ang regulasyon sa mga tunay na sanhi ng banggaan at aksidente sa lansangan? Totoong mas malawak na ang bike lane network ngayon na maaaring daanan ng LEVs. Ngunit maliban sa kulang at putul-putol ang mga ito, talamak naman ang iligal na paggamit ng mga ito bilang fast lane at parking space ng mga de-motor na sasakyan. Inilalagay ng mga ito sa panganib ang mga lehitimong bike lane users. Pero sa inilabas na patakaran ng MMDA, mas nahihikayat ang mga taong gumamit na lamang ng pribadong sasakyan at motorsiklo. Mas dadami ang de-motor na sasakyan sa kalsada; mas titindi ang trapiko, polusyon, at init sa lansangan; at mas dadami ang carbon emissions na nagpapalala sa krisis sa klima.

Sa Catholic social teaching na Laudato Si’, binanggit ni Pope Francis na ang mindset o pag-iisip na walang malasakit sa kapaligiran ay kapareho sa pag-iisip na walang pagsasaalang-alang sa maliliit at mahihina lipunan. Ito ang tila ipinakikita ng regulasyong ito ng MMDA. Sa pagbuo ng mga patakaran, kailangang pakinggan ang boses ng mga karaniwang mamamayan, kabilang ang mga walang sariling sasakyan at umaasa sa mga LEVs. Kung hindi, nagreresulta ito sa mga patakarang pabor sa interes ng mga mas makapangyarihan at dominante kaysa ng mga maliliit, isinasantabi, at binabalewala.

Kung matatandaan, Abril noong 2023 nang mag-study tour ang MMDA upang pag-aralan ang inclusive urban mobility sa Netherlands. Isang taon matapos isagawa ang study tour, bakit tila kabaliktaran ng mga natutunan nila roon ang ipinatutupad ng ahensya? Maliban sa pagpapabuti ng pampublikong transportasyon, kailangang suportahan ng gobyerno ang integrated mobility sa sistema ng transportasyon. 

Mga Kapanalig, katulad ng wika sa Filipos 2:4-5, magkaroon sana tayo ng kaisipang nagmamalasakit at nagsasaalang-alang sa kapakanan ng mahihina sa atin.

Sumainyo ang katotohanan.

SATISFIES OUR SPIRIT

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Gospel Reading for April 16, 2024 – John 6: 30-35

SATISFIES OUR SPIRIT

The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger; and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

————

Indeed, that which the Jews called “manna from heaven,” like any other food, once consumed goes into the latrine, then after a few hours, we get hungry again, then eat again. But if Jesus is our bread, when we receive him in the Eucharist, it is not the physical hunger or thirst that is satisfied. It SATISFIES OUR SPIRIT, and this is the reason why we can keep going in life despite trials and difficulties.

We need Jesus, we need the Spirit, so we may continue to have faith and courage in the midst of a looming crisis in the South China Sea and in the Middle East. We need Jesus, we need the Spirit, so our world leaders may have enough wisdom to discern what is best for the whole world. We need Jesus, we need the Spirit, so our young people will not lose hope for a bright future.
Let us ponder on this song written by Suzanne Toolan, I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE –

I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me shall not hunger;
He who believes in me shall not thirst.
No one can come to me
unless the Father draw him.
And I will raise him up,
and I will raise him up,
and I will raise him up on the last day.
The bread that I will give is my flesh
for the life of the world,
and he who eats of this bread,
he shall live for ever,
he shall live for ever.
And I will raise him up,
and I will raise him up,
and I will raise him up on the last day.

The vanishing gesture of kneeling

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The Lord Is My Chef Easter Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Third Week of Easter, 16 April 2024
Acts 7:51-8:1   <*((((>< + <*(((>< + ><)))*> + ><))))*>   John 6:22-29
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, November 2020.
Lord Jesus,
teach me to bend my knees
before You starting today;
let me bring back those
vanishing gestures of 
kneeling and genuflection
almost unknown these days
among the people;
we live in a clapping culture
where we give so much 
emphasis on what our hands
can do that only end up
in manipulating everything
and everyone,
especially when we clap
senselessly or ridiculously
so often
especially in our
liturgical celebrations.
My dearest Jesus,
teach me to exercise my
powerful muscles
of the legs and knees,
to bend and kneel more often,
to get low to the ground
to remember my origins,
to be humble before You,
my Lord and my God.

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:59-60

Photo by Mr. Red Santiago, January 2020.
Help me realize,
dear Jesus,
that it is in being humble
before you like a child,
kneeling before You
when we truly find You,
when You truly answer
our prayers;
very often,
we come to You
without looking at You,
seeing only what You can give
like those in the crowd
who asked You to give them
bread from heaven
without realizing
You are the bread Yourself
whom we must receive.
Because they have forgotten
to kneel and bow low before
in order to find You.
Amen.
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