“Behold, I Make All Things New”

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April 28, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1
ACTS 14:21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2
REV 21:1-5A

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”

Gospel
JN 13:31-33A, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

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Christian Charity and My Funny Foibles

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Memories of my college days keep rushing back. My friends back then would always wonder at a very peculiar trait of mine. I could go to any place without money. It was not intentional, though. I would always forget my purse back in the dormitory and I would always travel around the campus penniless. Maybe, at a subconscious level, I was enjoying the charity of people who were very kind to help a poor, penniless girl. I could eat at a fast food place on a mere promise that I would later pay. It was not even a promissory “note.” It was on a mere verbal commitment to pay later. People were so trusting and I was enjoying every experience of people’s generosity.

One time, I made sure that I had my purse with me. There was a vendor on the streets selling native delicacies such as rice cakes which we call “puto” and “bibingka” in the vernacular. Then I took a jeepney which was plying round and round the campus. When I opened my purse, all I had left was a P500.00 bill. I had no small change. The driver asked me for a smaller amount. I told him I just spent the last small change I had on food. The driver quipped back that it was still early he had no change for a big bill. Having been used to generous and kind people with whom I dealt all the time, I offered as fare the rice delicacies which I just bought. The driver laughed at me like I was telling him a big joke. I was thinking of what to offer him next as a bargain. Then the guy seated next to me, himself a student, interrupted and said, “I’ll pay for her fare.” And he gave the coins to the driver. I was very grateful for the unexpected help coming from a student like myself. I was so touched I offered him likewise my rice delicacies, which he declined.

Even when I graduated already from college, started to work and got married, I have not shunned that eccentricity of leaving my purse at home and traveling penniless. Call it strange, but I had that funny feeling that when I needed money, I would always come across a generous soul. I on my part have imbibed that generosity shown to me by strangers that I in turn could spend my last centavo on my friends.

The Bible says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10) Knowing that God is the Owner of the Universe and that He would always provide for my needs, I never worried that He would not supply what I need when I need it. 

Money is no matter to God. When He needed it, He nonchalantly ordered Peter to catch the first fish and he would find the money to pay for His tax and for Peter’s as well. (Cf. Mt. 17:27) Never allow money to stop our charity. 

“The Not So Rich Fool”

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In the Gospel of Luke 12:13-21, Jesus told the “Parable of the Rich Fool” to a man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. The greedy rich man was struck down dead just when he thought he had all material gains ensured for himself.

Deviating a little from the parable, I was a fool many times in my life, but not as rich as the fool in the parable. I remember a time in college when I was so high and on fire with God. There was a parish church in the university campus and I and my friends would go to Mass everyday before lunch. The priests were so kind to the student parishioners and were friends to most of us. After the mass, the priest would hear confession in the confessional box.

One time, I felt moved to say my confession right after the Mass. I was very young and naive and all too trusting. The priest was inside an enclosed booth while I was outside the booth without any enclosures. It was a very fervent and heartfelt confession such that I kept my eyes closed all throughout that thirty minute confession through sobs and tears. After the priest gave me his advice and absolution, I opened my eyes and stood up with complete relief. I noticed right away that my bag which I placed in front of me when I was saying the confession was not there anymore. I was alarmed and asked the priest, “Father, where’s my bag?” The priest said defensively, “What bag? I did not get it.” Then I renewed my crying, “Father, my bag was in front of me when I was saying my confession. My eyes were closed I did not see who took it away.” We looked around inside the church and there was no one nearby inside except the two of us. I cried harder and said, “Father, all my things and money are in the bag. I cannot eat lunch.” The priest gave me some money for lunch and advised me to take better care of my things even inside the church. I thanked him for the money and promised to be cautious next time.

Being the victim of theft felt nightmarish. I could not get over it for almost a week. And I felt bad that it took place right inside the church when I was saying confession. Looking back now, I said to God, “That bag contained a Bible (Old and New testament), my rosary beads, my book “Why, Oh Lord?” on suffering, and all cards (stampitas) of my favorite saints. I would be happy if that man who stole my bag would have been converted when he saw the contents of my bag. My money inside that bag was only P200.00, it was not much for his material intent. Then I thought of Henri Pranzini, the first convert of St. Therese of Lisieux, who despite appearing impenitent at the point of his execution through the guillotine, turned back to the priest who was holding the crucifix and kissed the wounds of Jesus three times. It was the sign that St. Therese asked from Jesus if her prayers were working for the conversion of sinners.

In heaven, there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance. (Lk. 15:7)

“I Will Begin Anew Today”

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Historical Portrait Figure of St Teresa of Avi...

 

When I started this blog, I thought of sharing my very own experiences with God since I was a child up to the present. Being neither a theologian nor a bible scholar, I can only tell about what I personally experience about and with God. All my life, God has been my relief and refuge in all the vicissitudes of life. Thus, I had the utmost confidence of telling the world that only God can heal and give meaning to our life.

 

God must have the most profound sense of humor because I find that every time I venture into something that has got to do with Him, feeling smug and overconfident that I finally figured Him out, He would try something different on me that will completely foil my spiritual endeavors. Just when I thought I had all the mysteries of life and the human psyche figured out, God would again and again come up with something different to confound me with. It sounds very much like God, Someone I cannot put inside a box of my self-made images of Him.

 

Just lately, it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I have a very strong sense of right and wrong. But I could not get a handle on my emotions. I felt like a beggar, with no pride at all. I could not recognize myself anymore, like all my moral foundation was laid to waste. I felt terrible. I thought suddenly, this could go on forever, or I could choose to put a stop to it right now.

Like our spiritual mother St. Teresa of Avila said, “I will begin anew today.” I will do it. God help me.

 

“The Buck Stops Here”

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Popularized by former US Pres. Harry Truman with a sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here,” the phrase means the person owns the responsibility which is not passed on beyond that point.

The first reading in the Liturgy of the Word today is about the stoning of Stephen by the Jewish mob at the behest of the Jewish leaders, and with the approval of Saul. Before Stephen died, he said a prayer to God in a loud voice for his executioners: “‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60)

Evil is spirit that needs a human soul, mind and body to perpetuate itself. An aggression, violence, war, pillage, murder, etc. continues and is passed on from one person, family, clan, or nation to another, until it is stopped in its tracks. Violence may take on different forms, eras, and personalities but is basically the same face of evil.

What power can dissipate and dissolve evil?

Forgiveness. It is the only power by which evil is transformed and finally stopped in its tracks. It is darkness transformed into light.

By the prayer of forgiveness cried out by Stephen before he died, Saul was transformed into an Apostle for the Gentiles.

Sometimes, the greatest power is not strength. It is yielding through gentleness.