Saturday, January 22, 2005

Fools for the sake of Christ

Mk 3,20-21

"When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind."

Jesus was called "mad", "fool","crazy", "out of his mind". I wonder what made these people call Jesus mad. I wonder what pushed them to conclude that Jesus was crazy.

Was it because what Jesus did and said were not the usual words and actions expected from '"sane" people? Was it because Jesus' claim that He was the Son of God? But what about the many miracles he did? Were they seen as actions coming from a mad man?

The SVD fathers administered the Mary Help of Christians Seminary in Binmaley, Pangasinan for more than three decades. When I was a freshman in that seminary, two of their conferes were declared "blessed" by the Church. They were Arnold Janssen and Joseph Freinademitz (I am not sure about the spelling). A book detailing their lives was mandatory reading for us. The title of the book was "Fools for the Sake of Christ".

Fools. Mad. Crazy. Not very good adjectives for anybody. Yet, those two "fools" for Christ's sake are now saints. With God. In heaven.

When the world sees a person acting, speaking, living differently from its ways, he is labeled as "mad", "fool", "crazy". It is crazy to give up wealth for the sake of Christ. It is madness to be powerless for the sake of Christ. It is "out of this world" to forgive. The world says so. And the world ridicules these crazy "fanatics".

Fools for the sake of Christ. Jesus was called mad. I'd rather be called as such by the world than be a "genius" in the ways of the world. And lose my life. Away from Christ.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



San Fabian, the town has been in a celebration mode for the past several days! It is fiesta time! In honor of the patron saint of the town, St. Fabian, a fiesta is celebrated every year. This year, the celebration has been going on for thet past 10 days: parades sponosred by different groups and associations, as well as nightly dances and programs at the town plaza, also sponsored by different groups and associatons. Every night, "queens" and "princesses" are crowned as "beauties"! There was the "Palengke Queen", together with her "royal consort", "Palengke Princess"... Suddenly, we have royal blood all over the town!

Special guests are coming over. One comedian senator came over to crown the "Palengke Queen". Everybody thought that the Palengeke Senator would be coming. Instead, we settled for the comedian.

There are special numbers every night. A group has been practicing at the Parish Center for almost a month to perfect the "Rigodon". They do this only to bring joy and happiness to their townmates! It is fiesta! We all want everybody to be happy, even for a while!

The plaza is full of games and rides! The cacophony of loud sounds every night has made me lose precious sleeping hours! But, the plaza is always full of people! Bernard and Gary, my two boy-Fridays, went to the Plaza Carnival last night. They tried the Ferris Wheel, and saw the "Snake Woman", a girl holding a huge snake, probably a python. Then, off they went to the "Horror House". They debated whether to see the "Turtle Woman" or buy "balut", instead. "Balut" won over the "Turtle"!

Fiesta time! What a grand time!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Parish Renewal Experience (PREX)

The parish held its 7th Parish Renewal Experience weekend last 14-16 January. The PREX, as it is popularly called, is a formation program that hopes to bring renewal to the parish by bringing about a stronger commitment and promoting an active participation among the parishioners in their own parish. Rev. Fr. Frank Ungria, a native son of San Fabian, but now ministering in the Archdiocese of Manila, introduced the PREX program in the parish last March 2004. Since that time, he has been helping out in facillitating in the PREX weekend seminars held in the parish.

For the priest-speakers, the weekend experience can be very taxing but the fruits reaped from this weekend formation program are immeasurable in terms of renewed faith, rediscovered and reconciled relationships, conversions and deeper love for God and His Church. Truly, God's grace can never be measured nor limited by time nor place and people. God's outpouring of His mercy to us is truly immeasurable as it is unfathomable.

The parish hopes to continue this formation program for the adult members of the parish. Next March 2005, for the PREX Class 8, it will be our one year anniversary. I pray that we may continue holding this seminar for the coming years, bringing inspiring conversions and renewal among our parishioners!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Opposition and Wonder

Mk 2, 1-12

"..some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,
"Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy!"

Jesus did something good. He cured a paralytic. He restored his health. It was a good deed for somebody in need. A lot of people saw it. Some were "amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" They saw the goodness in what Jesus did. And they glorified God!

There were others who saw otherwise. They looked for something bad from the goodness in the work of Jesus. They looked at what was wrong, what was lacking, what was not according to their line of thought. Anything that went against their thinking was bad, out-of-order, and therefore, a source of conflict and opposition.

Were these scribes so envious of Jesus that they could not appreciate the goodness that He had done? Were they so insecure about the authority of Jesus that they could not bring to acknowledge his power over evil and all diseases?

There are always people like that. They could not bring to see for themselves the good things that other people do. No matter how good a thing is, there is always something wrong with it. They could only see the little black spot over the beautiful colors of a painting. They can never say "Thank You", nor look in wonder and amazement at things they see.

We have a God who does wonderful things for us. Let us pray that we may learn to appreciate them, and look at them with amazement. So that we may glorify our loving, merciful God!

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Mk 1, 40-45

"A leper came to him
and kneeling down begged him"

Several times in the year, some people of the Hansenite Association (or, similar group) would visit the office and ask for some financial help. (Although, it is not clear where the donations would actually go). These people are already cured of leprosy, but the scars are still very visible: the missing fingers, scarred face, scars and more scars. The reactions of people when they would see them are expected: moving away, talking loudly so that these Hansenites would not go near, giving anything so that they can move on fast, and away from the "normal" people.

A leper must be living a lonely life. Shunned by society (and even by family members), they feel that they do not belong. Hence, alone.

My sister who is a Dermatologist once diagnosed a girl of having the early stages of leprosy. The family decided immediately that it was best for everybody that the girl would be sent to another place. Nothing would be mentioned about the disease, ever.

A lonely life for a leper.

I once heard somebody complained, "I felt like a leper. Nobody wants me. Nobody listens to me. I am nobody. Have nobody."

When the leper was touched by Jesus, he must have felt that he belonged once again. Touched by somebody, he knew that he was still wanted, needed, loved. He was not alone anymore.

We can make others feel like lepers by our indifference, prejudices and biases, by our discriminatory words and actions. We can make lepers out of our friends and family members. We can make them very lonely, and so sad. Like lepers.

Let us touch them once again with our presence. With our words of encouragement. With our listening ears. With our helping hands. Visit them. Then they will feel they belong. Once again. Loved and appreciated. Again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Mk 1, 29-39

"...they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons....
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons."

Jesus performed many miracles. He cured many diseases, and drove out demons. To the many who brough out the sick to him, and to the many he cured, Jesus was the miracle-worker, the wonder-worker. And there were so many who came!

Jesus once told a group of his audience that he would cure a blind man so that the glory of God might be manifested and might be known. And then he would say to those he cured, "Go and sin no more!"

Miracles were done by Jesus for one reason: that the glory of God may be manfested and be known. And when this has been recognized, so that all may believe in Him.

The fruitfulness of a miracle does not come from the cure or the healing, but on the renewal and the repentance that come with it. So that the glory of God may be manifested in the life of the one who has received the miracle. In turn, he becomes the miracle himself!

Monday, January 10, 2005

It is who I choose...

Mk 1, 14-20

Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they left their nets and followed him.

A friend asked her son if it is possible for him to consider the priesthood. Considering his good nature, his readiness to understand and to emphatize with people, his mother has always thought he would become a good priest.

His response? "I am the most unworthy for that vocation!"

His mother replied, "We are all sinners. And nobody is worthy of God's love. But the Lord does not consider our sinfulness and weaknesses. But Jesus is telling us, 'IT IS NOT WHO IS WORTHY BUT WHO I CHOOSE."

Lord Jesus, we are most unworthy of your love. But your mercy for us, sinners, is unfathomable. It is your grace that transforms us. It is your grace that makes us less unworhty of your love. Lord , help me that I may love you most dearly, and follow you nearly, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Youth Pilgrim Cross

The Youth Pilgrim Cross was given as a gift by the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Msgr. Oscar V. Cruz, DD, to the youth of the Archdiocese last 1999. The Youth Pilgrim Cross is about 8 feet tall made of old wood taken from the old St. John Cathedral church. It takes 4 people to carry it. Seven (7) youth usually carry it in a solemn liturgical procession. That is how heavy and big the Youth Pilgrim wooden Cross is!

The cross stays for one year in the Parish chosen to host the Archdiocesan Youth Day. The AYD, as it is usually called by the youth, is a gathering of the youth of Archdiocese. For four (4) days the youth from the different parishes of the Archdiocese celebrate the call of the Lord and their response; share their youthful idealism and proclaim their love and commitment to Jesus.

The Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, has been blessed by the Lord for having been chosen as the host for the AYD 2005! The AYD 2005 will be celebrated on 20-23 April 2005. Its theme is "We wish to see Jesus (Jn. 12, 21)". Since April of last year, the Youth Pilgrim Cross has been with the Parish of St. Fabian. Since June 2004, it has been going around the different barangays of the parish. It is now in Barangay Inmalog Norte. This is the 21st barangay that the Youth Pilgrim Cross has visited. This barangay visitation will go on until all the barangays will have been covered.

The youth accompany the cross to the barangays. For a week, the cross is carried to the different homes and houses in the barangays. There have been tremendous outpouring of joyful and grateful responses from the barrios! Almost all the homes and families welcome the cross. For a few minutes of its stay in a particular home, the family prays the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy after which, it is carried again by the youth to the next house until so many houses have been visited by the cross.

A two day "KALAKBAY" seminar is given to the youth of the barangay as one of the activities of the YPC visitation.

Yesterday, we were in Sitio Cosait, Inmalog Sur, to celebrate the Mass as a culminating activity for the visit of the Youth Pilgrim Cross in their barangay. The small chapel was filled with so many people, including the youth and little children. Bro. Tony spoke about the two Archdiocesan celebrations that the Parish will be hosting this year, the Archdiocesan Pentecost Celebration on 14-15 May 2005 and the Archdiocesan Youth Day. In all our masses in the barangays for the visit of the YPC, the mercy of God is always emphasized, manifested in the meaning of the Cross of Christ.

While we were celebrating the Mass, the lights went out in Cosait! It was already around 6:00 PM, and thus it was pitch dark! We had three small candles to light us. But the people stayed on, and prayed and celebrated God's gift of love and mercy!

The light of celebration in each of the peoples' hearts shone brightly in the darkness of the world!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Completed Joy

Jn3, 22-30

So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.

In his homily on the occasion of his installation as the new parish priest, the new pastor said to his congregation, " I am here to be with you and to be your servant. I am here as an instrument of God. As your servant, I am for you. I am here to be used even by you for God."

The greatest joy a servant can ever have is to see his master happy, satisfied and contented with his work. His is a life for his master. As long as his master remains happy, the servant's joy is immeasurable! And his joy is made complete by his master's sucesses and glory!

This is the same joy a teacher would feel when a student would shine in his career. This is the same joy I would feel when I would concelebrate for the first time in a Eucharistic celebration with a former student, now a priest.

My work is being completed, as my joy; let him who I have served grow and take his place!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Lord, if you wish...

Lk 5, 12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
"Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him,
and said,"I do will it.

Be made clean."

We want to be in control. Always. It gives us a sense of security. And a sense of power! That is why mistakes are hardly tolerated, especially in our world today. Mistakes, especially the ones which can be prevented, do not speak well of our capacity to have control over our life and destinty. That is why sicknesses deflate us. They make us lose control, even of our bodies.

When I sprained my ankle I felt so helpless. It was very frustrating. There were things I wanted to do but could not. I had to rely on a cane. And on somebody to help me walk. Or get some things for me. Or do some things for me. I became more frustrated, and even irritated when I insisted on doing things myself. It was difficult to give up control.

The leper in our Gospel gave up control, and put everything in the hands of Jesus. "Lord, if you wish.." The leper was saying: "I have nothing. I am helpless. But I let you God take control of my life. I am yours!"

And Jesus took hold of him. And cured him.

When will we give God control of our life? How much do we trust God that we are able to let God take control of us? We can have only so much control. But when we put everything in God's hands, we are able to be more free. More happy. The future looks brighter.

"Jesus, I trust in you!" A beautiful prayer!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Visible Love

1 Jn 4,19-5,4

"We, for our part, love God, because he first loved us. If anyone says, "My love is fixed on God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen."

Love is not just a concept; it is real. Unless it is shared, it does not have any value. Unless, we stretch out our arms and give a helping hand; unless we go out of our way to care for a forgotten, desolate sick friend; unless we visit a grieving mother, and a confused teen ager. Unless we manifest how much we care for others can we be called true LOVERS.

I was called to visit a sick friend at a hospital. He was brought there by another friend who found out that he had been sick for several days without anybody knowing it. An ambulance was called by my friend.

This friend spent time with him; looked for the best doctor to care for him; spent much money for his medicine and other needs. When I arrived at the hospital, Kuya Nick was already resting. The doctor was examining him. There was a look of peace in my sick friend's face and my "good Samaritan" friend's face, too.


God has loved us first. It is because of this love that we are able to love truly and fully. Visible love urges us to listen with our hearts, see with understanding, touch with gentleness, talk with respect to people. It enables us to forgive. And to pray for our persecutors.

In doing so, we are actually loving our God, too!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It is I, do not be afraid

Mt. 6, 45-52

... they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid."

Fear is part of human experience. We fear because of a perceived harm that may come our way. We fear for the things that we cannot understand. We fear when we feel helpless. We fear for the things that we cannot control. These may harm us and hurt us!

Fear is removed when we are able to find courage. Courage comes when we are able to find support -- from within and outside of us.

As children we were afraid of "ghosts". Spirits which lurk in the dark corners, ready to pounce us! When we became terrified over these things, we ran to our mothers. And the protective embrace and the soothing words of our dear mothers would give us courage. And we fear not anymore.

"It is I, do not be afraid". Words of our Lord Jesus. Words to comfort us. To give us courage.

Truly we fear. But let us have courage in the presence of Jesus in us, and in our midst. Let us trust in Him. Let us take courage in this: that our Lord is greater than all our fears. His mercy will protect us. His will is always for our good.

When we fear, let us take courage in our God. In Him we find our strength. Trust in God's mercy!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Give them some food yourselves

Mk. 6, 34-44

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat. He said to them in reply,"Give them some food yourselves."
God has given us everything we need: eyes to see the world around us, and the people in need, dying, lonely and the desitute; the ears to listen to cries of pain and loneliness; the heart to understand these pains and the joys of people around us; the arms and the legs to go to them... We have everything.

But it is a lot easier, however, to just dismiss the "crowd" --- people who come to us for help. And a lot easier to just point to others to do the "helping". By recommending somebody, we feel that we have already done our part. These are the most practical things to do for us. But the practical things may not always be the best answers! Let us rather look for the compasionate and merciful responses. They are more Christ-like.

The Lord says, "Give them some food yourselves!" The Lord has given us for others. Let us be one for them!

(Diary, 163: St. Maria Faustina Kowalska)

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breath, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all Your attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, come to pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears might be merciful, so that I might give heed to my neighbor’s needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I may never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself will feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who I know will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful heart of Jesus. I will bear my own sufferings in silence. May Your mercy, Lord, rest upon me. Amen.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.

Readings of the Day

Who are the poor? By definition, the poor would be those who have nothing, those who can hardly help themselves ... Materially and financially, it is so easy to show who are the poor. And in the Philippines, they are getting more and more and more.

But for those who "believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ" (from the first reading), a promise from God would serve as a great consolation for a great majority of us. "I will give you all the nations for an inheritance." Because we trust in God's mercy, and believe in His words, because we serve Him and love Him, we have for our reward and inheritance "all the nations". Then we are not poor! For those who trust in the mercy and love of God, who follow his commandment of "loving one another", we can never be poor!

Yesterday, after the afternoon mass, I was called to administer the Anointing of the Sick. She was 76 years old. She had difficulty standing up; she was resting on a lounge chair. She could not open her eyes, or refused to open her eyes.

I sat down to talk to her as I held her hands. She took a strong grip on my hand. I heard her confession. Then, administered to her the sacrament.

Beside her was her husband. A man of 84 years of age, but still quite strong for his age.

I looked at both of them , and saw a couple rich in love. I was called because they believed in the mercy and love of Jesus. And because, there was still that enduring love both shared after all these years.

This is one inheritance the world cannot give!