Monthly Archives: September 2010

Future

Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:50-51

Where have you been? You answer this when you make your resume. This is the report of your resume. You detail your experience. You write your past work descriptions. You even try to sugarcoat some of the things you did so it can suit the vacancy. In the rat race called life, the employers emphasized the importance of your experience. Most of the time, they look into your past. They filter those whose past don’t fit into their future.

Thanks be to God, he is not an employer.

Before Jesus came face to face with Nathanael, the future disciple gave a forgettable rhetoric, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” He has not met Jesus yet. He has not seen Jesus yet. He has not heard Jesus yet. Yet, Nathanael has the bravado to speak like this?

Thanks be to God, Nathanael.  He does not mind if you spoke that way before you met him. He does not care if you made that judgment even prior to knowing him. He looks at you and accepts you even sooner than you looked at him differently. Jesus doesn’t focus in your past. Jesus looks into your future.

Note Jesus’ statements above, “you will see greater things than this…”, “you will see the sky opened…” You will.  Those words perpetuate the future. Those words are forward looking. And those words were spoken by the Son of God. He doesn’t ask us, “Where have you been?” He already knows that. Jesus is interested in, “Where are you going?” If you let go of our past, and decide to go with him, you will see greater things, you will see the sky opened.

Whatever your past is, you fit in God’s future. You will.

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Chances

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. Luke 9:55-56

I knew something was not right. As I sat down at the dinner table to inquire about my daughters’ day at school, Praise was disgusted as well as her mother. She forgot she’ll have a Math quiz this day that she did not get a remarkable score. Given her parents are both academicians, she failed at our expectations. We expect her to be at her best. We expect her to be prepared every time. We expect her to bring out those As. As my parents told us and as we always say to them, education is our legacy for them. It must have ruined my day or night. It must have planted anger in my heart towards her ways. But I know better. As I asked for her quiz paper, I turned and hugged her, “I love you and nothing’s change…” She deserves another crack. She has my heart for all the chances. As a father, I know at some point she will fail us again tomorrow or next week or next month, and I’ll be there to assure her “I love you and nothing’s change…” and to give her another chance and another and another.

Jesus does this to us. He gives us chances. He gives us opportunities to make it right. The Sons of Thunder knew the opposite. They wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable men and women of this Samaritan village where they are stopping over before going to Jerusalem. They might have the point, Jesus sent an advanced party ahead of them in this route (v. 52). Something was not right. They should have been welcomed but were not. Calling down fire from the sky is rationale. But Jesus knows better. He rebuked the brothers and went to another place. However, Jesus did not rebuke the village which has a bank-vault-like-closed door for them. They failed him yet he is giving them chances. He is giving them another crack. He gave them chances.

We may fail him again and again and again. And Jesus will be there to wrap his arms around us and will give us another chance and another and another.

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Not Easy

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:22

Shocked.

I am wondering if this was the reaction of the disciples with Jesus’ declaration of what will happen next. After Peter’s heavenly wisdom where he professed Jesus is the Messiah of God, Jesus enumerates his journey. Suffer greatly. To be rejected by church leaders. Be killed. He’ll be raised up. The twelve must have thought if Jesus is the Savior then what’s next might be a walk in the park. If he is the Messiah, life would be a piece of cake. It would be an uncontested lay-up. No hurdles along the way. Smooth sailing in the lake. Winds and waves will wear out. No storms in the coast. Life is like a Sunday morning, easy.

We know it’s not.

When you decide that you are a follower of God, when you declare you are a servant of God, when you claim you are a man or woman after God, what’s next will not be easy. You may have to face rejection of peers or even family. You might have to contend with suffering. You will get in the path of being harassed. Might not be to the extent of death yet it may drain you physically. We know it won’t be easy. Wind and waves come as we sail. Torrents will whirlwind in our day to day lives. It won’t be a summer day each day. I am not saying it will be all difficult hard fought life. Yet, this is one reality of declaring your heart and life are for God and of God. And yes, we know that at the end of this confronted journey, Jesus was raised up and so we will be. His grace will bring us to that conclusion.

We will be challenged. It won’t be easy.

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Line of Sight

But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Luke 9:9

Herod was trying to see Jesus. But he was looking for something else.

I was looking to serve. When we came to the US, I got acquainted with another prayer group. I was a trained charismatic catholic with full of experience for the past ten or more years. We came to their meetings and evangelization activities. After some time, I got to serve with them. However, I saw some different approaches that they were doing. It was not wrong yet I saw it was not the right way of doing things. Supposedly, they had the same spirituality as I am yet they handle and look at matters in a dissimilar perspective. As I got deep into their life, I had more negative feelings towards the group, the people, and their strategies to service.

I did not see Jesus for I was looking at something else.

I was looking to see Jesus. Recently, we went to this retreat where the approach to spirituality was entirely different. They were not charismatic, they were part of the Focolare movement. The speakers did not present talks or experiences with such pounding declamation and the usual craft of words. The sharers would speak about their not so exciting ordinary lives in their workplaces, homes and schools. They even spoke before us sitting and even read their scripts and magazine articles. Some old videos were also shown where their founder, an old woman by then, preached softly. It was entirely different. It was entirely inspiring and touching. It was entirely refreshing. I entirely saw Jesus.

If you are trying to see Jesus, have your heart and eyes on the right line of sight. And you will surely see him.

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Remembrance

There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them. Ecclesiastes 1:11

Each night, as I tuck my daughters to sleep, I usually tell them stories of my childhood. I share with the two cute girls how I walked with a back pack full of thick books everyday going to school. I once shared with them how I was serving as an altar boy during school days and afterward I had to walk from the church to school for about a good distance that would cost a public transport fare which was further more than my day’s allowance. I tell them about how I fell from a truck when I was trying to catch up with my friends which fortunately no car was following in the highway. I tell them how I was disciplined by my parents. I discuss sort of stories about me and my siblings.  I tell them how I won quiz bees. I tell them how I lost sporting games. I share to them our family’s trials and victories. After one story, each night, they fall to sleep.

Ecclesiastes reminds us to be reminded. The book is urging us to remember the lives of the men of old. The verse is calling us recall the defeats and triumphs of the men and women before us. It’s only right to remember, it gives us strength in the midst of weakness – “God gave them grace, He will give us the same grace.”  It’s refreshing to review the times of men of old, it brings us hope when darkness engulfed us- “They pass through tough times and we will do so.” It convicts us the conviction to be faithful in living the way of Christ- “Their faithfulness bore us, our faithfulness will have fruits.” It gives us the passion to bounce back- “They fell and they stood up, we can rebound.” We remember the legacy of men of old. We recollect the loyalty of men before us.

No wonder, we use the word remembrance or remember during the Eucharistic celebration. For there is power, there is strength and there is hope in looking back to God’s unwavering faithfulness through all generations.

Let there be remembrance of the men of old. Each night, I bet you will sleep.

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Routes

Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 1 Cor. 15:11

If you program a GPS to take the highway and toll booths, it will direct you to those passages for you the reach your destination. You can also enable your GPS not to take you through those routes and bring you to small streets, like wise it will bring you to your destination. Maybe different travel time, maybe different travel scenarios and maybe you will pass by different routes, however, you will reach the same destination. Different routes, same destination.

We specify certain routes in our Christian walk. Remember going to a mass expecting Fr. X to be the celebrant. When the Eucharistic ceremony begins and the priest walks in and its not Fr. X, you will be disappointed. Excited going to the community gathering and was looking forward to hear Bro. Y to preach after the worship. As you sat down and the speaker was called and its not Bro. Y, you get a bit sad. You look at this website where this church posts their preaching, you scan on the videos and pick only the ones where this Pastor/Book Author is the preacher. You will bypass other videos thinking you will be more inspired only with the said person.

Paul wrote to the people of Corinth, “whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” He was telling about routes to Christ. For Paul, it does not matter who will preach the Word. It may be Peter who will preach at the outpouring of the Spirit. John may come to proclaim the revelation of God. James takes the pulpit to bring us to action in faith. Give Andrew your one hour as he details how Jesus calls His disciples. Thomas holds the mic and pounds his, “My Lord and My God!”. Or Paul declares how he saw the gift of salvation as he was found blind along Damascus. It does not matter who the messenger is. What matters is that we believed the Word of God. What is important is that we put our faith in Jesus after hearing the message.

So, next time you travel a route, enjoy. For your destination is the same.

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Father

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. John 3:16

Last May, I had to bring my daughter Praise to the emergency room due to her red spots all over her body. She was vomiting and has multiple stints for vowel withdrawals for the past two days. I and her sister had to bring her at 2am in the morning for medical attention. She was given dextrose. The nurse and the doctor injected medicines into her. We were put in an emergency room for 4 hours. Look, this is not even at the border of life to death. But as a father, I was deeply worried for my child. As a father, I have this feeling I don’t want my child to be harmed or be stricken by illness. My day is not the same day when my child is sick. What more if my child dies?

Devastated. Crushed. Distraught. These words described my father when my brother died. As if, the whole world has fallen on his shoulders without ample preparation. As if, his heart has stopped pumping blood, as if his breath has stopped from pulling air. His son, who made him proud – a national board examination topnotch, is now dead. A son, who can’t make a mistake in following his orders, now lies bloody from fatal shooting. His son, who almost all of his life had his father’s favor, has eyes shut forever. The son, whom I remember gave him no headache or heartache, is about to travel and never to be seen. What do you expect from the father when his son dies?

Did God feel this way when He gave His only Son? Sometimes, we think because He is God, this is nothing for Him. It is not.

Was the Father’s day the same on that day His Son was breathless on the cross? The sun He created eclipsed on that day.

Was He devastated, crushed, distraught? I believe He is. We won’t call Him Father if He was not.

In Genesis, we read we were created in the Father’s image and likeness. We look like the Father. We have the innate nature of the Father. He feels what we feel towards our child’s death or injury. His breath stopped the moment His Son’s gasp halted. His world dropped the moment His Son’s head dropped. His tears dripped as His Son’s blood dripped. The Son who has His favor and love died and Jesus’ death was to express the Father’s love for His people.

My father has four other sons and he felt that way. Well, Jesus is the one and only Son and God is a Father.

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