Sunday, August 31, 2008

Success, Maybe A Blessing Or A Curse

So many times have I heard of somebody who, because of success, had a change in way of life. Unfortunately, the change was not always for the good but at times was for the bad.

No, I do not mean that it is bad to be successful. I mean, success does not always lead to happiness, or goodness, or contentment. If not handled well, it can make one very proud, alone, and lonely. It can destroy relationships like marriages, families, friendship, and even faith!

There is always the tendency to work and work and strive so hard to produce and be successful. We always have that drive to excel. We always want more. "Strike while the iron is hot!" "Make hay while the sun shines." "Seize every opportunity. It may never come again." Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Hand in hand with success are temptations. Many opportunities are opened with new successes. Some of these opportunities are like "land mines" that may blow anyone who step on them. Success, when not handled and managed well maybe a curse and not a blessing.

I know of one doctor who lived a simple life before. He has a very happy family. He always had time with his wife and children. All of these changed when he became more successful in his profession. He became very capable financially, met a lot of new acquaintances, and got involved with some vices. Worst, he got a mistress. Since then, his whole life became complicated and miserable. He lost his wife, alienated his children, clients became rare, and he was remiss in his profession. The success that should have made him contented and happy made him deserted and sad.

This should remind us that temptations are always present all the time. Just like the devil who tempted the Lord Jesus on the mountain; after trying so many times, it stopped for a while and waited for the proper time. The proper time is when Jesus was weak. The proper time was when Jesus was in need to obey His Father. That is why it reappeared in the Jesus' agony in the garden. Jesus was making the decision to go through His death and suffering. The devil was trying to seduce Jesus not to go through it, i.e. disobey His Father's Will. Recognizing the situation, which was symbolized by the offer of the cup of wine, Jesus drank it in agreement to the plan for Him to suffer and die on the cross.

Each of us will always have that situation. We must imitate Jesus in not being seduced by the devil's offer but embracing God's  saving Will. In that way, everything in our life, specially successes, would be a blessing and not a curse.

Friday, August 29, 2008


A certain event witnessed by many people would be seen from different angles. Even news reporters, making an account of an event would have some differences in their stories. The Gospel writers were witnesses to the same Jesus-event, and yet, they had some differences in the details of their accounts. Even in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the same writer making an account of the same event of the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus (three accounts), gave different details. The substantial facts were however present. This is because each would see the event from their own perspectives. The vantage point and the condition of the reporter matter a lot in the construction of the story.

There is the story of three masons working in the construction of a church. The three were asked how they see their work? The first said that he was earning for his family. The second said that he was mixing cement. The third said that he was building a church. The first sees his work as money for his daily needs. The second sees it as work in which he is using his skill and strength. The third sees it as mission. Three people having the same work but seeing their work differently.

I remember when we were having our fund raising for our new church. There were a lot of donors. It would be good to know how they see their donations in relation to the church. What as their purpose n donating. One time, in our donation room, I chanced upon two ladies giving their donations. I saw that they were simple people. I learned that they were working as house helps in  one of the houses in the village. Interviewing them, I learned that they were donating a relatively big amount (500 pesos) per month! I asked them why they were doing it? I said that the amount is very substantial compared to how much they earn. They said that the amount is really very small compared to what it would accomplish They saw their donation not a loss ('kawalan") but as an opportunity to be part of the church's apostolate and salvific work "Father, I am consoled and excited by the fact that my small contribution would be a part in the construction of the church and therefore will make me a part of every Baptism, Marriage, Confirmation, Eucharist, reconciliation and other activities which would lead to the salvation of many. Just the thought of being a part of every ministry of this church is enough to make me make this sacrifice!" I was in awe hearing their answer. What a perspective! With due respect to others who donated with other noble purposes, this tops them all! Needless to say, I was moved by their perspective. I just hoped all who donated in the construction of our church would own or graduate to this excellent and correct perspective.

Our vantage point limits our capacity to see the whole event. This should make us humble. We must always be reminded that we only see part of the whole reality But it should not limit us to see things always in the right perspective. Seeing things with the right perspective inspires us to keep on going. It makes us feel at peace with what we are doing no matter how difficult and challenging they maybe. It It also assures us that we are being relevant, fruitful and meaningful.

Life is not about what you have but what you do with what you have. It is not just about accomplishing things but accomplishing them with the right purpose and the right way. It is not about feeling for what you are losing in giving but what you are gaining in the process of giving.

Perspectives...perspectives...perspectives...There are actually many. But only God's is the true one!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Iglesia Ni Kristo

Jesus founded the Church. Specifically, He founded it on the faith of Peter. He made Simon as the Piedra (rock) on which He will establish His Church. The Gospel this Sunday (21st Sunday Ordinary Time) says three things about this Church Jesus founded.

First, He claims it as His own, " Church". The Church is not by the Pope's, bishop's, priest's, or any believer. All of us belongs to the Church by virtue of our Baptism. We are, in fact, the Church, the Body of Christ. Because He is the owner of the Church, he determines its purpose and is being. We are His members and workers. What we do depends on what He wants. Our being Church depends on our obedience to Him. It is in this context that we must understand the actions of the leaders of the Church. The leadership is only in so far as proclaiming the Good News of salvation. Like the prophets (carrier of the Word of God), Church leaders should only share and preach the Word and Deed of Jesus. They must only be faithful to His message. His message, not the leader's, is what saves!

Second, Jesus meant to build this Church, " I will build my Church." The Church will be built through His Word and Deed. The Church will compose of the Baptized. The Kingdom is being built when people live God's Word and Deed. He guarantees that everything the Church needs to reach her destiny would be available. The Church on the other hand must cooperate and exercise constant obedience for her to reach her destiny.

Third, Jesus promised that nothing will prevail over it. He will protect His Church. No government, kingdom, movement, or any kind of threat can subdue it. His Church will prevail. History had proven this to be true. Since the foundation of the Church, she had proven time and again her stability and continued existence amidst crises and scandals. It does not mean that the Church tolerated them but that she consists of people who are limited and has weaknesses. Thanks to the martyrs of the faith, she had proven that even death could not destroy them. But she also is owned and guided by God who is always present in her. God's presence makes her holy. Human presence makes her capable of weaknesses. In as much as Jesus founded the Church in order to make available salvation which He wrought through His death and resurrection, He will protect and guarantees her existence.

This is the Church. This is where we belong. This is where we will find guidance and salvation. This is God's Kingdom here on earth. This is our community here on earth as it is in heaven! In spite of the limitations and weaknesses of this Church, I still love her because only through her can I find Jesus and benefit from His saving power. I love the Church. I love the Catholic Church because it is the Church of Christ!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Marriage, A Witnessing To The Love Between Jesus And The Church.

In most, if not all of the important decisions we make, we usually have or search for a guide. It is always wise to seek an inspiration or a model in order to increase the possibility of success. Knowing the example to follow makes our actions and lives meaningful and lived according to its true destiny.

Marriage is one of those important decisions in life. Marriage is the entry into a new way of life. Marriage involves the union of two distinct lives towards a goal. In the Catholic faith, it is geared towards God's Kingdom.

What is the purpose of the Sacrament of Matrimony? Who is its model? How can all Catholic marriages be lived by married couples? What determines its beginning, life, and end? Is it the union of Joseph and Mary? Joseph is considered the model of all husbands and fathers. Mary is the epitome of any wife or mother. Certainly, if you had made them your inspiration and model, you will not be far from the Kingdom. If you have your own parents as your models because of how successful they had been in their married life, it is very acceptable. If you say that your marriage had been inspired by a couple friend, it is very reasonable. But they or any other human marriages fall short of the true model of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Let me describe to you the model husband and wife of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The husband gave everything to his wife. The husband sought nothing but the welfare of the wife. He gave the best gift to his wife. No, not riches, fame, or power. Not anything in this world. He gave her happiness, eternal happiness. In our faith, it means salvation. In fact love is defined as wishing the spiritual goodness of the other. In the end, the husband, for the sake of the wife, accepted death, an excruciating and scandalous death. He loved her even unto death.

The wife on the other hand owed her existence to the husband. She tried all her life to respond to the unconditional love of the husband. She was willing to make sacrifices for the husband. She had some weaknesses and failures but the husband was always willing to forgive and give her another chance. All because of his love and want to save his love one.

Their love had been considered the greatest love of all. They are Mr. Jesus Christ and Mrs. Catholic Church. All over the wedding rite is stressed the true purpose of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Jesus is the husband and the Church is the spouse. Just as Jesus loved the Church, husbands must love their wives. Just as the Church loved Jesus, spouses must love their husbands. It is in this context that the Sacrament of Marriage is forever. Jesus loved the Church eternally. The Church must also love Jesus eternally. Marriage is done and lived always in the context of faith. Yes, the couple will have a family of their own, but even their very family is not meant for worldly purpose and ends alone. The family has salvation as its ultimate purpose.

Is this possible? Very possible! In fact, it is the norm. It is what is expected to happen. It is something that should happen to all marriages. All other conditions are exceptions! Mothers may know best, but God knows everything! With regards to marriages, He is the supreme authority because He is its author. He promised His constant and effective presence to those who will remain in His love. Couples may also draw inspiration from the many successful marriages all over the world. I had already officiated one 65th wedding anniversary. So many goldens and silvers. Rodney and Zhar, I know that you also have some fears about married life because of the experiences of some couples. While it is true that there are a significant amount of failed marriages, Much much in number are those who are successful. Many times, only those who had broken marriages get the limelight and get to talk about the futility of marrying forever. You can look around you and you can verify that marriage maybe forever as God designed it to be.
In a moment you will be exchanging vows. You will declare your love for each other for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better for worse, till death do you part.m In sum, it means that starting today, nothing can separate you except death. Because of your love for each other, nothing cannot be solved, agreed, and transcended. Their love will see them through! In the same way, it was God's love for us that He endured us and obtained salvation for us in spite of our weakness. In the same way, we, God's people, His Church, should love Him fully for our salvation.
To end this reflection, let us hear again the Word of the Lord Jesus to those who will be faithful to Him; "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in His love.I have told you this so that my joy maybe in you and your joy maybe complete." (Jn. 15:10-11)
(Homily given during the wedding of Rodney P. Dizon and Zharmagne G. Carbonell, August 16, 2008, San Antonio De Padua Parish, Forbes Park, Makati City.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Attitude And Action

Attitude has so much to do in the accomplishment of things. But having the right one does not yet make it complete. Its important partner is action. Even if you know what to do and believe you can do it, you have to find a way to execute it. Otherwise, it would just remain an idea and would be drowned by the attitude.

Last Sunday, I visited a parish. I was actually invited to celebrate in one of their novena masses which deals with ecology. Due to my position as Priest-Coordinator of the Archdiocese of Manila Ecology Desk, I accepted the invitation. Apparently, they had other reasons for inviting me. They had invited me to share on how we were able to raise the funds for the construction of our church. The parish priest told me that he heard our story over the radio in one of my programs. He caught me sharing the fund raising campaign (10-10-25) we did in our parish. He felt my enthusiasm and conviction while I was telling the "miracle" of our fund raising and construction. He decided that he would invite me so that his leaders would be encouraged and motivated in raising the funds necessary for their construction.

While having dinner, I related to them what we had done. He, together with some parishioners, listened intently and at times fired some questions to me. I saw in them the attitude to build and raise funds, but they seem to lack the action. I said this because they seemed to be overwhelmed by the difficulty of achieving their goal. I fully understand what they are thinking and feeling because I was in the same situation before. But I tried to show them the importance of determination and faith. The sincere quest to raise the funds together with their faith in their patron and God would make their goal possible. Still there were continuous questions and doubts. I felt that they are finding it hard to make that leap of faith over the chasm spanning their present situation and their goal.

The same apply in most if not all of life. I am a believer of the importance of having the right attitude towards things, persons and situations. But it is not enough. It must be put into action. We must be able to develop a way in which our attitude may be felt, seen, heard, or tasted. Acting on our attitude brings it to fruition! Attitude needs action in the same way that actions must come from right attitudes.

Monday, August 4, 2008


(Introduction given during the Seminar sponsored by the U.S. Embassy from July 25-27, 2008, Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City)

To give you an overview of the seminar, let me go back to the 18th century, during the advent of the Industrial revolution in Great Britain. The discovery and development of new implements and machines created major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. That "industrialization", however, was not just confined in Great Britain. It spread throughout Europe, North America, and later, to the world. The demands of industrialization resulted to more demands in the use of coal, a necessary element in the operation of the new machines brought about by the industrialization. Consequently, there was a gradual lessening of the use of water power, wind power, and firewood (existing renewable energies at the time). Also,, as a consequence, it was the beginning of a greater and more consistent emission of coal residue, carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Development of new implements and machines created major changes.

Two centuries later, i.e. today, reliable scientific findings say that the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases had produced a greenhouse effect on the earth, These GHG's (greenhouse gases) had formed a film in the earth's atmosphere and trapped emitted gases which resulted to global warming and climate change.

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level." (p.1, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report)

"Most of the observed increase in global averaged-temperatures since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. It is likely there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past fifty years averaged over each continent (except Antartica)." (p. 5., IPCC, FAR)

In 1988, in the United Nations, the delegate of Malta made a proposal to the General Assembly to address this global warming and climate change crises. The UN made a swift response by adopting resolution 43/53 recognizing that, "climate change is a common concern of mankind since climate is an essential condition which sustains life on earth", and determined that, "necessary and timely action should be taken to deal with climate change within a global framework...."

In December 1997, in the United Nations, in the Conference of Parties (COP), adopted the Kyoto Protocol and came up with the four building blocks to address climate change; Mitigation, Adaptation, Technology Transfer, and Financing. Member countries were encouraged to do their share in the reduction of carbon emissions by making a commitment. The world could not only rely anymore on fossil fuels to sustain energy demand. Alternative energy sources must be developed. Renewables again came into the picture. While there were countries that had not really stopped developing and using renewables, the need at present had become very significant and urgent. If we are to sustain the economy, technology, modernity, and development we have today without further endangering the existence of the earth, we must not only reduce our carbon emissions, but we must also find alternative energies that are GHD-less and are acceptably effective. The renewables; wind power, solar power, hydro power, geothermals, and biomass, which are constantly renewed by natural process, are our best friend if not our savior today. Indeed, they are the energies for the twenty-first century and if I may add, for all centuries!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Left Overs Are To Be Gathered And Honored By God In The End!

Leftovers from an American holiday meal: mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, turkeyToday's Gospel is about the miracle of the loaves. It was, for the early Christian community, a Gospel on  the coming Kingdom. A sort of a foretaste for the crowd present at the time. The Kingdom of God will fill everyone. No one will be hungry, thirsty, empty etc. The fullness of life will be experienced in the Kingdom.

Bishop Ambo David, in our retreat last June, pointed out that there is something more in the Gospel especially for priests. Actually, he meant for those who are generous. Those who, all through their lives had served generously and had left almost nothing for themselves. The Gospel had very interesting message for those who had given their lives for the Kingdom. They are the so called, "left overs", mga "tira-tira".

Thanksgiving comes from the recognition of graces. It begins with appreciating and treasuring what you have. The disciples did not appreciate what they were able to acquire; merely five loaves and two fish. Indeed they were not enough to feed everyone. But Jesus was different.He knew how to appreciate what He had. From that recognition of what He had, He thanked God for them. For the disciples, they may be meager, but for Him, they were enough, or as it happened, they were more than enough. Thanks too to those who shared them. Out of those meager supply, God made possible the miracle of feeding the crowd. With our generosity, God can do a lot, even feeding a crowd of five thousand men and some women and children. Miracles do happen when man's goodness and God's graces meet!

But a very interesting move from the Lord Jesus came after the feeding. "They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over-twelve wicker baskets full." Why would Jesus gather the left overs? If He is really "generous", why bother to gather the left overs? We may have many reasons, some practical and some traditional, for this action, but it also means that generosity is never taken for granted by the Lord. God can not be outdone in generosity. Left overs are gathered by God for Himself. He meant to give them due recognition. He meant to thank them for sharing themselves. Bread must be broken in order to be shared.  It is the only way it can fulfill its mission. In the process, crumbs and some pieces are left or spilled. The presence of crumbs and left overs are testimonies of the feeding. This is the EUCHARISTIC ATTITUDE; to be broken and shared for the feeding.

Who are the left overs? They can be the parents who had spent their lives rearing, educating, forming, and guiding their children. They are the "yayas", drivers, helpers who had spent most of their lives serving their amos, senoritos y senoritas. They are the teachers who had given and dedicated their lives to teach, share their experience, and transfer technologies to their students. They are the government officials who had served and offered their time for the sake of their citizenry. They are the company workers, from the rank and file to the bosses, who had committed to their work and treated their companies not anymore as a source of income but an opportunity to serve God through their God-given gifts. They are your priests, specially your parish priest, who had made themselves available for the sacraments and managed the parish so that God's graces may always be available.

To those who had become "left overs" in the world, in the end, God will take them with Him in His Kingdom, whole and full! The Church, the institution of left overs is a living testimony to the feeding of the people by God. God will gather the Church in the end, whether for recycling or another feeding, it depends on God. With God's love for left overs, who would be afraid of becoming one?