Friday, November 24, 2017

Advent Preparations

“My house shall be a house of prayer.” Luke 19:46

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we learn that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and was given to us by God. We do not belong to ourselves. God bought us with a high price. So we must honor God with your bodies. How? Just as Jesus ejected the traders in the Jerusalem Temple, so too we should keep the temple of our bodies clean of anything that would anger the Lord.

I am reading Amy Tan’s ‘The Kitchen God’s Wife’, and in it, she described that before the Chinese New Year, a lot of cleaning, wiping, washing, and throwing out had to be done by the household. Not a single speck of dust from the old year could remain for the new year! As Advent approaches, now would be a good time for cleaning up the temple of the Lord. 

Here in the Philippines, we usually skip Advent and go straight to Christmas. But when we expect an important person to visit our home, isn’t it but natural that we take some time to look around and evaluate what needs to be cleaned, fixed or removed? That’s what Advent is, a time of anticipation and expectation certainly, but also a time of preparation. Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, which means ‘coming’. We prepare for the visitation of the Lord into our lives on Christmas, the special season of grace. We also await His second coming in glory. 

I have to admit it is hard for me to keep in mind that Advent is like Lent in a way. We are supposed to devote more time to prayer, scripture reading, lighting the Advent wreath, sharing our blessings, and even fasting. 

We can read in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (524): “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming.” 

So before we spend so much of our time shopping, wrapping gifts, partying, decorating our homes and cooking, let us first make sure our temple is ready for our Lord’s visitation. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Completely Lost!

“ have completely lost it from view!” Luke 19:42

When Jesus approached Jerusalem in the 19th chapter of Luke, He wept. I wonder what He saw that made Him lament, “If only you had known the things that would make for peace, but you have completely lost it from view!” 

What would Jesus say if He saw our country with thousands being murdered, so much corruption, made up news, posturing politicians, the poor used as pawns and people rah-rahing what they perceive as a path to peace and prosperity. 

The mind has been the subject of study for thousands of years and it has been discovered that our mind fools us all the time. What we perceive to be true can be the complete opposite. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The human mind is the most deceitful of all things. It is incurable. No one can understand how deceitful it is.” Should we depend on our mind and heart to lead us?

I am sure we have been in a situation where each person had a different version of a memory, or an event, or even, an accident. Put three witnesses together and you usually can’t come up with the exact same timeline of events. We focus on different things, give importance to different values. 

Where do we get our values? Sadly, today, most young people, without proper guidance, pick up their values from social media. We can be seduced by the values espoused in movies, magazines, Facebook, Instagram, etc. where looks, popularity, and wealth are all important. But all of this is opposite to what the Good Book says. All of these is fleeting, and it is short sighted to live our lives running after things that will not have a speck of value in eternity. 

Lord, may I go back to the source of good values and right thinking. My mind and heart may fool me, but You will keep me on the right path. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Just a Prayer Away

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss .

One little fabric bead on my work desk. I wonder what I will do with it? Make more and connect the beads with a chain? Attach a tassel to it? Will it become a pair of earrings? A necklace? A bag ornament? I am so sorry I have to leave it and go to work!

“Give ear to my prayer...” Psalm 17:1

This morning, I heard an amusing story about a woman in the US. She left her purse, phone and car keys inside her car and she was frantic because she needed to get somewhere urgently. After borrowing an old hanger from a store nearby, she realized she had no idea what to do with it. So she bowed her head and prayed, crying out to God in frustration. After 5 minutes, a huge burly tattooed man on a motorcycle roared to a stop beside her car. Noticing her troubled face, he asked if she needed help. In her desperation, she said yes. He was able to open her car in a few minutes! She hugged him, and still crying, thanked him profusely. “You’re such a nice man!” she kept repeating.

He answered, “No, no I’m not, lady. I just got out of prison for car theft.” The woman hugged the man again and exclaimed, “Thank You, Father, You love me so much, You sent a professional!” 

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in unexpected ways. We just need to pray. In a simplified metaphor, we can compare God’s power to electricity. There is no light if we don’t turn on the switch. The refrigerator won’t work, our computer won’t run, our TV will be blank, if we don’t plug the appliances on to the socket. If we don’t pray, talk to God or even be silent before Him, we won’t have any connection to the One Mighty Powerful King of the Universe and beyond. How privileged we are that He us just a prayer away! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

God-Shaped Hole

“Zaccheus, hurry and come down...”  

Luke 19:5

We must never give up on people, and we must never ever give up on ourself. Just one touch, one call from Jesus can change everything. No matter how bad, selfish, or proud, a person is, there’s a God shaped hole in them that only God can fill. Hurting people are those that most need Him, especially when they are intentionally mean, insensitive, or cruel. 

Zaccheus is a comic character. He was a chief tax collector in Jesus’ day and he was very rich. That meant that he was corrupt, and mean and insensitive to people’s plight. But that God-shaped hole inside him yearned for something, someONE! When Jesus was passing through his town, short Zaccheus ran on ahead and climbed a sycamore tree, the better to see Jesus. 

“Zaccheus, come down,” Jesus called, “I must stay at your house.” Did Jesus really say that? I must stay in your heart and fill that gaping hole where only I belong! You don’t have to go searching anymore for what you need. You don’t have to keep harassing people, and amassing wealth. I will teach You that I am your treasure. I am your joy. 

So if there’s anyone we know, insecure, grasping, cursing all the time, threatening, or bullying us or someone we know, pray. Get plenty of people to pray that Jesus will call him down from that lonely tree and fill his heart with what he needs. He may become like funny Zaccheus and turn his life around and follow Jesus! Nothing is impossible with God! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Shushing Crowd

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Luke 18:38

This was the shout of the blind man as Jesus was passing by on the road to Jericho. There was a crowd shushing him, telling him to stop shouting and calling out to Jesus. 

Is there anything or anyone stopping us from calling on Jesus? From praying? From reading His Word? Perhaps we wake up too late. We have too much to do or think about. We only want to do what is important and useful. Everything is all right with our world and we don’t have anything to ask God for. Nothing is right with our world and we think God can’t or won’t help anyway. What a crowd of shushers!!! 

But the blind man kept shouting and asking for God’s answers anyway, like the persistent widow in Luke 18, or Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. The Bible is one long long story of God answering His people’s prayers and He continues to do so today.  

When my son Josh graduated from Computer Science, he told me that all the good start ups were in BGC. That was a long way away, and would require 2-3 hours to just get there. I knew that nothing is impossible with God, and prayed. Now, my niece Elyse accuses me of praying too hard because Josh got a job with a really good company and he works from home! Thank You Lord for listening to our prayers and answering them! Thank You for having mercy on us! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Impossible Proverbs 31 Wife

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.” Proverbs 31:10

I literally cringe when I read Proverbs 31. The Proverbs 31 wife is far beyond my powers! But there is one verse that I particularly like: “She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.” The one thing I know which will bring my husband the ultimate good is prayer. And so I pray, and pray, and pray, like the persistent widow in Luke 18. I may not be the perfect wife, but I sure know how to pray! It comes from the conviction that all families have an enemy and that enemy has a strategy and a goal to destroy families. Why?

Marriage was instituted by God to be a billboard, a metaphor, a sign of God’s love for us. God chose us to be His bride, and gave Himself sacrificially for us. We respond to Him by submitting to Him, by loving Him, by serving Him, by entering into a covenant bond with Him. The devil absolutely hates the covenant of marriage. He hates families. So we may not know it, we may not see him in our homes, but he and his minions hang around and wait for every opportunity to bring evil into our families. 

The enemy wants us exhausted, bitter, miserable, ready to flare up at any small hurt. To bring good and not evil into our homes, to be a wife worth more than pearls, we need to be aware of the war going on FOR our marriage, FOR our family. We need to be aware of the arsenal we have at our disposal. We need to go inside our prayer closet, wherever that may be, and be like the persistent widow in Luke 18. “Will not God then do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night?” Luke 18:7

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

“Jesus told His disciples a parable on the necessity of praying always...” Luke 18:1

Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray, and never ever give up. They should not lose heart, never turn cowardly. Today is the Feast Day of a saint who did just that. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was given an affectionate nickname by the American Indians she was serving. She was called Quahkahkanumad, which means Woman Who Prays Always. The children who would find her praying, would put leaves on the hem of her black habit. The next morning, the leaves would still be there. 

Saint Philippine came from a very rich background. Her family lived in Château de Vizille, one of the most prestigious and important castles in the Dauphine region in France and it is now a Museum of the French Revolution. She left her privileged background against her father’s will to enter the Visitation Convent at 18 years old. 

In 1818, at 49 years old, Saint Philippine and other Sisters from the Society of the Sacred Heart set sail for the New World to become missionaries to Native Americans. They set up the first Sacred Heart School outside of Europe in the small remote village of St.Charles, Missouri. It was free and it was the first Catholic School in America. 10 years after, they had grown to six communities operating several schools.

In 1841, when Saint Philippine was seventy-one, they were asked by the Jesuits to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek. Father Verhaegen insisted that Saint Rose come along. "She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us."  Sure enough, Saint Rose found it difficult to master their language, and was unable to teach, but she would spend long periods in prayer. 

Sometimes we may be frustrated because we were unable to fulfill our plans, or we were not successful meeting a target. We need only turn to God in prayer like so many saints before us. Nothing is impossible with God. Like Saint Philippine, we can pray unceasingly over a map, a plan, or a picture of a person, and trust that God in His infinite wisdom and love will answer us in the best way. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

God Exists!

“The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1

There is no doubt that a Rolex was created by a great designer and master craftsman. No way can the intricacy of the watch be put together by flinging the parts on the ground or putting it inside a shaker and shaking it around. In the same way, the teleological argument or the “argument from design” states that we know God exists because we observe that the magnificence of space, the beauty of the flowers, the amazing wonders of the varied animals and even our human body, cannot have been put together by luck. There is an intelligent, and to me, caring, intelligence behind it. 

Just take our skin. I find it amazing that I paint, and glue, I clean and rub dirty things, and I can wash it off and my skin is as good as new! My fingers are awesome! Can you imagine if we didn’t have our thumbs? Or lacked one joint in our fingers? If we go through the human body, one part at a time, our hair, eyelashes, nails, nose hair, lids, the list goes on and on and on, and we will just marvel at the care and love our Master Potter lavished on us when He made us from mud and dirt.  And that’s just man! There are approximately 950,000 species of insects in the world! I can imagine God crazily putting together the most outrageous colors and shapes and configurations one after the other! I don’t think He’s finished enjoying Himself yet because 10,000 species of animals are discovered every year! 😉 I cannot put enough exclamation points when I think about the amazing plumage of birds, the awesome colors of fish, and the pictures we see from outer space!!! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!


Father, may I never ever take Your love for granted. You gave us a beautiful, awesome world! May we slow down, appreciate Your creation, breathe in Your goodness and be filled with gratitude always! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jesus at the Inn

“The Kingdom of God is already in your midst.” Luke 17:21

Many of the Pharisees were very curious about Jesus and would invite Him into their homes and ply Him with questions. One of those questions was: “When would the Kingdom of God come?” Then as now, people were preoccupied with the end of the world. So what, if we know when Jesus comes again? For each of us, there is an inevitable end, when God deems it is our time to leave earth. 

Jesus answered the Pharisees, “The reign of God is already in Your midst, it is within you, in your hearts, it is among you, surrounding you.” That’s a perfect description of where Jesus is. He was right there in front of the Pharisees, and today, He lives in the hearts of Christians everywhere. As Advent nears, it is time to examine ourselves. Is there a room at the inn of our hearts for Jesus? 

The world is starving for the immanent, the indwelling of God. “Entheos”, God within, is the root word of enthusiasm. Are we still inspired by God’s Word so that others  catch it from us? Do we get a fire in the belly such that we desire to know more and more, and have more and more of the treasure that Jesus said is within our reach? Do we wake up early in the morning eager to know what gifts God has for us each day? 

Holy Spirit, You are our teacher. Bring us to a place where we delight in Jesus, the Word made flesh. May we make more and more room for Him in the inn of our heart. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Taking the Time

“Praise God I am healed!” Luke 17:15

Jesus healed many, many people in various kinds of ways. Here in Luke 17, he met 10 lepers who asked Him to have pity on them. He instructed them to go and show themselves to the priests. They obeyed, and on the way, all 10 were healed. Only one of the lepers went back to look for Jesus to thank Him and give praise to God in a loud voice. 

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine?” Then he turned to the Samaritan man who was healed and declared, “Your faith has been your salvation.”

There are countless things to thank God for. A few years ago, I decided to number my thanks to God in my journal. This was after I read Ann Voskamp’s best seller, “A Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”. I am now in #6318. 

In her book, Ann writes, “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.... Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” 

It seems the nine lepers were in a hurry. Perhaps now that they were healed and whole, there were a hundred and one things they wanted to do. They wanted to see their families for sure. Being lepers, they were pariah, and they were supposed to stay away from people. Whatever it is, they did not take the time to go back and thank Jesus. Because they did not take the time to be grateful, they missed a most precious gift that only Jesus could bestow: salvation. 

In the midst of all my rushing, I need to take the time to slow down and thank God. My Father has all the time in the world for me. Silly, absurd, crazy me. He has time for me and my challenges, my rants, my idiosyncrasies. I should stop, savor His presence and love, and thank Him.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Broken and Redeemed

“As gold in a furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself.” Wisdom 2:6

According to Pliny, a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher and naval commander of the early Roman Empire, “gold is the only thing that loses no substance by the action of fire, but even in conflagrations and in funeral pyres receives no damage. Indeed as a matter of fact it improves in quality the more often it is fired, and fire serves as a test of its goodness.” That’s why when we undergo trials and challenges, we liken it to being purified, the fire of adversity melting away our many imperfections. 

But smelting is too painful to think about, and I prefer the image of us as clay in our Father’s hands in Jeremiah 18. He forms us, molds us, makes us, and all the time, He has to restore us, and transform us. God needs a perfect sacrifice, and as we are, we need a lot of work!

The Japanese have a beautiful way of redeeming broken pottery. This art form known as Kintsugi or “golden joinery” puts together the shards of the broken object with lacquer mixed with gold powder. There is a philosophy behind the practice which we can relate to. When we are broken, we need not think we are of no value to God and to others. God can redeem us in a way that our brokenness is part of who we are and we become more beautiful to Him. 

Father, thank You that You will do everything to make us beautiful in Your sight! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mother Cabrini

“Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5

November 13 is the Feast Day of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. It was very unlikely that Mother Cabrini as she is sometimes called, would become a super saint. She was born two months premature and her parents had her baptized right away for fear she would not survive. She remained fragile and sickly her whole life. Only three of her twelve siblings survived past adolescence. At 18, when she applied to become a nun, she was refused because of her poor health. But that did not deter her from continuing to serve in a girl’s orphanage, drawing many young women to the Lord.

She finally made her religious vows at the age of 27. When the orphanage closed down, she along with 6 other women founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. She had excellent administrative skills and used her gifts to establish 7 homes, a free school and nursery.

Her journey took an abrupt change when Pope Leo XIII sent her to the United States to care for the flood of Italian immigrants who fell victims to prejudice and were exploited by their bosses in sweatshops. Many were losing their faith. Church and family life were sacrificed at the altar for survival. This was the environment that greeted Mother Cabrini as she and her Sisters started work in the slums of “Little Italy” in America. 

It is amazing that in her lifetime of 67 years she established nearly seventy orphanages, hospitals, and schools, in eight countries in Europe, South, Central, and North America. Where did all this energy and passion to serve come from?

Mother Cabrini was a contemplative missionary and she was always writing and praying. She took every challenge and question to Jesus and she was confident that God surrounded her from when she was very young with His boundless love, “encircling me as the waters of the sea surround and enclose a fish.”

Lord, may we take the example of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. May we trust fully in You, and bring everything we do to You in prayer. Increase our faith that we may do great things for You! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Waiting for the Bridegroom

And the foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” Matthew 25:8

People believe what they like, and those who believe in heaven, believe they are going to end up there one day. Of course we all desire to end up in heaven if heaven really exists. But are we doing all we can to ensure that for us and for our children? 

If life was an adventure movie like Indiana Jones and there was a map to this awesome treasure that was more valuable than any unicorn 🦄, everyone would be searching for that map 🗺, wouldn’t they? But here and now, in our real life, the map is everywhere! In all the bookstores, sitting on our shelves even! All we need to do is sit down, open it up, and ask God to help us find our treasure and He’ll guide us through step by step! 

In the parable Jesus told about the 5 foolish virgins and the 5 wise ones, all 10 were waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. All of them were eager, expectant, vigilant. But alas! 5 of them did not have enough oil for their lamps and their flames were sputtering! They had to leave their waiting post and buy some more oil, and while they were gone, the Bridegroom arrived and they were left outside. 

The lamps may represent our spiritual life, and the oil everything that keeps our faith burning brightly. We cannot borrow prayer or studying the Bible from others. We cannot give it to our children. We have to have our own oil so we don’t run out. 

Father, thank You for the treasure You have reserved for each one of us. Thank You Jesus for pointing the way and leaving us the map. Thank You Holy Spirit for never leaving us alone as long as we take the time to listen and read Your Word. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Make Friends with Jesus

“What shall I do...?” Luke 16:3

Many times we find ourselves in a quandary about which direction to take, or what option to go for. The dilemma of the steward in Luke chapter 16 is he has been fired by his master for dishonesty. Instead of taking care of his master’s property, he has been dissipating it. Thinking quickly, saying to himself that he cannot go digging ditches or doing manual labor, he again uses his master’s wealth to exert influence on 
his master’s debtors so that they will be the ones to help him get through the future rough times. 

Jesus uses the example of this dishonest man to show us that just as the men of this world use wealth cunningly to get what they want, His followers should also use earthly things to get into heaven! 

“And so I say to you, make friends for yourself using iniquitous mammon, so that, when you will have passed away, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles,” Jesus instructed in Luke 16:9. It may seem strange but apparently Jesus is saying we can “pay” our way to heaven! 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) When we make friends with the poor, the stranger in our midst, the sick, the prisoners, when we are generous with what we have, no matter how little, we gain a passage to heaven because it is Jesus we have befriended! 

Yes, Lord, may we always look for opportunities to make friends with You wherever we can find You! 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

God’s Garden

“We are God’s garden.” 

1 Corinthians 3:9

Luigi and I are in Coron, Palawan, right now with Luigi’s brothers and sisters. When you take a boat out from the town, you can go to some of the most beautiful places on earth, like the famous Kayangan Lake. But there are so many other wonderful deserted places to visit, with pristine waters, fabulous corals, and breath taking rock formations. Two days ago, we just stayed in Dicantuman beach the whole day. No one else was around except the Tagbanuas taking care of the place. I could not stop taking pictures and marveling at God’s creation. Surely one can see how God meant the earth to be when one is out there in the bay. 

In 1 Corinthians 3:9, Saint Paul declares that we, each one of us, is God’s garden, His field. He means for each of us to be even more beautiful than those islands dotting Coron Bay. But like those beaches, we can become full of filth, if we are not careful about what we do, hear, see and enjoy. 

At Dicantuman, I saw the caretaker removing the dried seaweeds that had drifted up the beach. I suppose he did that all the time. His white sand beach was very clean of any kind of garbage. We too have to take time every day to see if anything we did made us “dirty”. Did I get angry? I should ask forgiveness. Did I read anything bad on the internet? Did I gossip? Did I wish something bad happen to anybody? Little things, big things. They can make a difference in our garden. Let us choose to plant good seed: God’s Word, love, faith, hope, peace and joy, so that when the winds come, these seeds will spread and maybe, sooner than later, our world will be the awesome garden God originally planned it would be. 


Here is my desk today. I am in the town of Coron, Busuanga, Philippines, a boat ride away from some of the most beautiful places on earth. 

A couple of days ago, we went to a deserted island. There was no one there except for the Tagbanua caretakers. 

We had a great time playing in the water, snorkeling, kayaking, lazing around and of course, eating!

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

Saint Paul puts it very simply and succinctly: He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. He explains that all the commandments about not killing, not stealing, not committing adultery and coveting, these are all summed up in a simple rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

So when we go about our day, whether at home, the office, an outing with friends, or an important meeting, we should ask ourselves, “How do I love this neighbor of mine? How can I show kindness, how can I help in any way?” There are people who are naturally like that, and we should observe them and emulate them. I find many brothers and sisters in my family and community like that. I, sad to say, fall short all the time! But as long as we improve, and get better at it, I think we will please the Lord. The thing about me is I never give up on myself. I know I am a work in progress, and I know that God won’t give up on me, until He finishes the work He has started in me! 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


“A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.” Luke 14:16

In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus instructed us that when we celebrate,  we should invite those who cannot repay us for our hospitality. We can invite the poor, the sick, the blind. We can go to the city jail and hold a party there. It does not mean all will come. In Jesus’ story in Luke 14:15-24, a man gave a dinner party and none of those invited came. He instructed his servants to go out quickly and bring in anyone the servants come across. “I want my house to be full!” 

Sometimes when we have a party, not all can make it. Some guests have valid reasons, some make feeble excuses. Some may be sick, some may just be lazy.

Each one of us has a special invitation to dine with the King. Each one has a special place prepared. Are we ready to come right now? We never know when the door opens and our presence is requested! Perhaps we are dawdling. I’ll be more serious about God when I’m older. I’m having too much fun now. I’m sure God will bring me in, He’s just too good to slam the door on me! I’m just to busy, I’ll leave all that to my wife! I can’t find the time to read the instructions on the invitation. 

Lord, thank You for Your invitation, and that You did all the hard work for me! All I need is to put on my white robe of righteousness and I may enter into Your Kingdom. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Celebrate Jesus’ Way!

“You should be pleased that they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14

I have my birthday coming up and it seems Jesus is giving me a hint in how He wants me to celebrate! 

“When you prepare a lunch or dinner, do not choose to call your friends, or your brothers, or your relatives, or your wealthy neighbors, lest perhaps they might then invite you in return and repayment would made to you. But when you prepare a feast, call the poor, the disabled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed because they do not have a way to repay you. So then, your recompense will be in the resurrection of the just.”

If you think about it, we are the poor, the disabled, the lame, the blind, the sick, that Jesus is inviting to His feast in His Kingdom. He is just asking us to do the same in a small way. But He is not just opening up His home to us in a lavish way, He is opening up His heart. What an amazing example He gives us! Why would He want to mar His perfect Kingdom with rabble like us? Why would He desire to hold a smelly, sinful, disobedient people close? Inconceivable! But just as Jesus’ heart is, so is our Father’s! When we see Jesus, we see the Father! (John 14:9) Thank You Lord for Your amazing, awesome love for us! 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Only Teacher

“Practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don’t follow their example.” Matthew 23:3

I can imagine if Luigi and I brought up our son in this manner: “Josh, do and obey everything we tell you, but never, ever follow what we actually do!” Or what if a teacher would instruct her students not to lie or cheat or steal, and they would catch her not telling the truth to their parents! How successful would a church be if the Pastor would preach powerfully about loving one another but the members would see him insulting the janitor repeatedly. How despicable is a man who tells his followers it is wrong to kill and when he turns around says he has killed many and promises to kill many more? The world is full of examples of how we should not follow the models of men. We need not look far. 

We have Bible Study in our office every Thursday morning. Our Music Ministry is composed of the most dedicated and passionate singers and musicians. One day, I caught them practicing past lunchtime, and they were so caught up in their singing, they could not hear my first reminder that it was time to work already. So I started to shout! Of course I had to apologize afterwards for my anger.

The only example we need is Jesus. “Only one among you is teacher,” Jesus said, “the rest are learners.” And so it is essential we go back to the source of good, of right and wrong. We need to learn from Scripture how to live rightly to please our Father. “To whom shall we go, You have the Words of everlasting life?” 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Yesterday I was making backgrounds as my husband and I are going out of town today, riding a boat to Coron, Palawan. I do not want to bring my Bible, too bulky. To make marks, I like to use all sorts of stuff like cut up rubber mats, bottle covers, carved styrofoam, corrugated cardboard, etc. 

“Go and sit in the lowest place...” 

Luke 14:10

Before the Presidential elections, we were invited to listen to prominent candidates speak about their platforms. Unknowingly my husband and I sat in reserved seats, and were asked to move to another table. The people who took our place were the family of one of the candidates and their entourage. Jesus said in Luke 14 that it is best to sit at the lowest place, to be humble and unassuming of your position, in order that we may avoid the embarrassment of being asked to transfer seats to make way for others perceived to be more important. 

By nature, we usually prefer to sit where we can see and hear clearly, but I know a man who always chooses to sit at the back, who always waits for others to eat first in a buffet. Many times there is hardly any food left for him to choose from. And sometimes, because he also prefers to be almost last in line for Communion, there’s no more blessed wafer for him to receive. 

Here again, we see God’s upside down economy at work. The last shall be first. Give and you shall receive. Reap that you may sow. Blessed are they who mourn, who are poor in spirit, meek, the persecuted, etc. Why? Perhaps because God’s treasures cannot be found by the greedy, the proud. They cannot be hoarded but must be shared. The more they are shared the more there is for everyone. It’s a hard lesson to learn in this competitive world, but there is a chance every day to practice it. 

I believe if we want to be more loving, more faithful, more generous, more humble, we must be on the look out every day, for opportunities to practice. If we are observant, more sensitive, less busy with our needs, and more present for others, we will be able to be what Jesus wants to teach us to be. Treasures of heaven are ours for the picking every day. Blessings fall from heaven every minute of the day if we listen to Jesus’ whispers.