Sunday, March 2, 2014
FASTING HEALS OUR MIND
Why did Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, the forbidden fruit? Were they hungry? Were they starving? Were they deprived?
Far from that! Our first parents would seem to be the most fortunate of all human creatures. Look at the first reading (Gen 2 and 3). They had everything they needed – food, animals, and an opulent space in the garden of the Lord. They certainly were not deprived of anything, let alone of nourishment and food.
Adam and Eve were not hungry. No, they were greedy! Once they learned from the serpent the secret of the tree of life, the tree of knowledge, they were desirous of possessing it, even if they had not need of it. They were greedy for power, for recognition, for more!
At the start of Lent, we are reminded of a trait we have all inherited from our first parents, that of greed. Most important of all, we are given the solution God proposes to counter this negative and destructive trait. In Genesis, we see two people who want more, even if they do not need more. In the Gospel, we see the Lord Jesus hungry for forty days and yet refusing to transform the stones into bread. “One does not live on bread alone…” (Mt. 4:4)
The solution to our greed is fasting. Fasting heals our mind for greed starts in the mind and not in the stomach. Our body needs only as much as it truly takes to survive. But our mind tells us that we cannot be completely happy with just the basics.
We need that extra burger. We want that extra rice. We must have the latest Iphone. We must possess the newest Ipad. We must consume our energy on computer games, cell phone texting, movie marathons and buffet banquets. We must have all these pleasures in order to be happy. But do we really need them? We don’t. It’s plain for all to see. But our mind is commanding us to crave, to salivate for more.
In the fasting of Jesus, we see that even a hungry person can say no to the most delectable feast if the motive is not right, if the occasion is not proper, if the act will run counter to the will of God.
Fasting is therefore not a punishment of the body, a deprivation, a self-inflicted penalty. Fasting is a remedy to correct the mind and to teach us to desire only what is good, necessary and helpful for our neighbor and ourselves.
As we begin this Lent, let us join Jesus in his fasting. Let us ask ourselves what food, item, commodity or activity, consumes us most and makes us burn with unhealthy desire of greed. Like Jesus, may we ask the Father to give us the grace to say no to these things that make us slaves, so that we can say yes to freedom, love and service.
KAILANGAN NG ISIP NATIN ANG “FASTING”
Bakit kinain ni Adan at Eba ang bunga ng ipinagbabawal na puno sa gitna ng halamanan? Gutom ba sila? Salat ba sila? Naghihikahos na ba sila?
Hindi po! Malayong malayo dito. Sila na ang pinaka-suwerteng nilalang. Ayon sa Genesis 2 at 3, lahat ay ibinigay na ng Panginoon sa kanila – halaman, hayop, isda, at magandang tirahan sa kanyang hardin. Wala silang kulang o kailangan dahil nag-uumapaw ang biyaya sa kanila.
Hindi gutom si Adan at Eba. Sila ay sakim! Nang malaman nila ang kapangyarihan sa likod ng puno at ng bunga nito, ginusto nila itong makuha kahit hindi nila ito kailangan. Sakim sila sa kapangyarihan, sa pagkilala, sa mas marami pa!
Sa simula ng Kuwaresma, paalala sa atin na may minana tayong katangian at ugali mula sa ating unang mga magulang – kasakiman, katakawan. Subalit mas mahalaga pa diyan, paalala sa atin na may iniaalok ang Diyos na lunas at remedyo sa masamang ugaling ito – pag-aayuno. Sa Genesis, dalawang tao ang kumain kahit hindi gutom. Sa Mabuting Balita, ang Panginoong Hesus, sa kabila ng pagkagutom, ay tumangging gawing tinapay ang bato at kumain (Mt. 4:4).
Ang lunas sa kasakiman at katakawan ay pag-aayuno o fasting. Ginagamot ng fasting ang ating isip at hindi ang ating bituka dahil sa isip nagmumula ang kasakiman at katakawan. Alam ng katawan kung ano lang ang tamang kailangan. Pero ang isip natin ang nag-uudyok na higitan pa at sobrahan ang pagnanasa.
Gusto ko ng isa pang burger. Kaya ko pa ang isang extra rice. Dapat akong magkaroon ng bagong Iphone o latest Ipad. Dapat gugulin ko ang lahat ng oras sa computer games, texting, DVD films at eat-all-you-can. Kailangan ba talaga ito ng katawan natin? Siguradong hindi! Pero ang isip ang nag-uutos na masarap at magandang mapasaakin itong lahat.
Sa pag-aayuno ni Hesus, kitang kita natin na kahit ang taong gutom ay maaaring tumangging kumain kung hindi tama ang panahon, kung hindi tama ang layunin at kung ito ay labag sa kalooban ng Diyos.
Ang fasting ay hindi parusa sa katawan. Ito ay remedyo para sa utak ng tao upang turuan tayong naisin lamang ang mabuti, mahalaga at kapaki-pakinabang.
Sa pasimula ng Kuwaresma, samahan natin ang Panginoong Hesus sa kanyang fasting o pag-aayuno. Ano kayang pagkain, gamit, gadget o gawain ang kumukuha ng aking isip at puso at nagdadala sa atin na maging sobra, sakim o matakaw. Katulad ni Hesus, hilingin natin sa Ama ang biyaya na tumanggi sa sobra, at umayon sa tamang-tama lamang para sa ating buhay at sa kabutihan ng iba.
Friday, February 28, 2014
PRAYER BEFORE USING THE INTERNET/ PANALANGIN BAGO MAG-INTERNET
Dear God, my Heavenly Father, my Shield, my Protector, my Fortress.
I ask You to fortify me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit while I dwell in the web of wires and connections, that is the internet.
Direct my hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to You.
Help me to treat with love, charity and patience all those whom I encounter.
Make my computer more than a machine, render it:
• A tool of growth, learning and spiritual development,
• An altar for thanksgiving and blessing,
• A conduit for faith and fellowship.
In the name of Jesus, I pray,
(From the blog of Fr. Z)
Isang panalangin bago pumasok sa internet:
Diyos na makapangyarihan at walang hanggan,
na lumikha sa amin ayon sa Iyong imahen
at nagtagubiling hanapin
ang lahat ng mabuti, totoo, at maganda,
lalo na sa banal na persona
ng Bugtong Mong Anak, ang aming Panginoong Hesukristo,
nagsusumamo kami na Iyong tulungan,
sa pamamagitan ni Santo Tomas de Villanueva,
sa aming mga paglalakbay sa internet
na akayin lamang ang aming mga kamay at mata
sa nakalulugod sa Iyo
at pakitunguhan nang may habag at tiyaga
ang lahat ng kaluluwang makikilala.
Sa pamamagitan ni Kristong aming Panginoon. Amen.
Mula sa Latin at English prayers ng isang banyagang pari na may blog, na kilala lamang sa taguring Fr. Z.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
At EDSA love of God and love of country came together’
(Homily delivered by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines during the Mass for the 28th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution on February 25, 2014 at the Mary Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA Shrine.)
Father Nilo (Mangussad, rector of EDSA Shrine) did not invite me tonight. I volunteered. I sent him a text message and I asked him for the schedule of 5:30 (pm) on February 25 and he said it would be Father Benjo. So I texted Father Benjo and I said, “May I say mass on February 25 at 5:30?” And both of them said “Yes” and gave me permission.
EDSA People Power is 28 years old and so is my priesthood. I am 28 years a priest. I’m as old as EDSA People Power. When the Church sent me to Bataan each time I looked back at EDSA, I looked back at EDSA with gratitude, with happiness, with joy, and with pride. And now in Dagupan I still remember EDSA People Power with so much fondness and someday when I’m old and wrinkly I will sit down and write my memories about EDSA 1986. But I have mixed feelings today. On one side I am happy and grateful to remember, but on the other side I am sad and lonely and I ask myself, “is this all that is left?” After 28 years is this all that we can gather to thank the Lord for an event that made Filipinos 10 feet tall in the family of nations. I cannot resist returning to the Gospel, and returning to the question of the Lord after he cured 10 lepers and only one returned, and said, “Where are the other nine?” But I am not here to accuse you. I am not here to make you sad. I am not here to contaminate you with my sadness and loneliness. I am here to bring you joy, the joy of the Gospel, the joy of the Lord.
So with remnants like us and a bishop coming down from the north to be with you and to celebrate and to make sure that the EDSA spirit is not forgotten, then I ask myself, “What is EDSA about?” The celebration of the EDSA anniversary has taken many faces, it has taken many forms. For some people, they celebrate it on the 22nd of February, the focus is the military. For some people they celebrate it on February 25, evening, because that was the time when the former president fled. For some people it is noontime of February 25 because that was the time when the first Lady President took her oath. For some people it is salubungan; for some people it is confetti. For some people it is picnic. For some people it is being offered a boiled corn by a beggar. What is EDSA really about?
Brothers and sisters you can approach EDSA from any angle but just don’t forget one component. You cannot tell and retell the story of EDSA without God. You can tell the story of Tita Cory but don’t forget that she prayed the rosary with us. You can tell the story of Cardinal Sin but do not forget that he was first man of God and the Church before being a man of the streets. You can tell the story of the military, of the businessmen, of the professionals, of the soldiers, of the nuns, but please remember all the time, that the soldiers, the nuns, the businessmen, politicians, cardinals, bishops and priests, all of them will be nothing if God did not walk with us on this hallowed ground in 1986. Sometimes we forget, and sometimes we claim the honor that belongs to God as our own.
Tita Cory has passed on to eternal life and so has Cardinal Sin, and so has many EDSA heroes, but my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how you retell the story of EDSA, I plead with you on bended knees, do not forget the rosaries you prayed; do not forget the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart that we put on top of tanks. Do not forget the bibles that we read. Do not forget the concrete pavements that we knelt on, into midnight, into the morning, praying the rosary for deliverance from slavery. There can be no EDSA story without God. But it seems God is so used to being set aside. Even if we set him aside he continues to bless us, it seems. But our country, our government cannot move on if it continues to ignore God. I am not even talking about Church. I am just talking about God. Muslim or Protestant, Buddhist or Hindu, Christian, Iglesia ni Kristo, whatever, we must always remember that our lives are in the hands of God.
But what did we do in EDSA 1986 that made it so extraordinary? It is this. Our faith in God got married with our love for country. At EDSA love of God and love of country came together. That love of country is not alien to somebody who follows the Lord. And love of country would be empty unless it is grounded on the love of God. Through the years after EDSA 1986, the spirit has been manipulated, abused, raped, prostituted. But we must always return to it. EDSA was a gift from God and it will always be so. Can we do it all over again? I don’t know. Do we have to do it all over again? I hope not because 20 years of dictatorship and four days of EDSA should be more than enough for us never to repeat the mistakes of history. Shall we live it again? God forbid no more because if we have to do it again it will only mean we have not learned our lesson. Cardinal Sin used to say, tongue in cheek, “to err is human; to forgive is divine; but to repeat is stupid.”
Let us allow EDSA to make us wiser. Let us allow EDSA to keep us vigilant. In EDSA 1986 we told the whole world, God is with us. At EDSA 2014 the question I throw to you is, “Are you still with God?” The issue is not God is with us. The issue is: Are with God or have we strayed from the path of God.
I will return to Dagupan but I leave with you one request. Please take care of this hallowed ground. This church, this place minus Megamall, minus Robinsons Galleria, this place is sacred. Please take care of it. Even if you are only one of the ten lepers who would thank the Lord, take care of it nevertheless. Even if you are only a handful remnant remembering our moment of glory, stand on this holy ground nevertheless. You know why I asked Father Nilo for permission to say Mass tonight? It is because I need the spirit of EDSA. I will return to Dagupan strengthened, invigorated, energized because this church is special; this hallowed ground will always remain holy. Take care of it, against all odds. And please tell your children and your children’s children that EDSA is holy and it is people that will keep it holy, and that is you.
If they want to celebrate EDSA in Cebu; if they want to celebrate EDSA in Baguio; if they want to celebrate EDSA in Mindanao, let it be. But for you, EDSA Shrine community, stand on this ground because here on this ground, you and I and God had a brief loving encounter for four days and history cannot be changed anymore. On this hallowed ground, for four sacred days the blessed Virgin Mary walked with us; the Lord of Peace walked with us. Keep it sacred, no matter where you go, because here you will always find the living God.
Monday, February 24, 2014
IWANAN ANG ALALAHANIN SA BUHAY
“Tingnan ninyo ang mga ibon… pinapakain sila ng Diyos… at ang mga bulaklak… dinadamitan sila ng maganda…” (cf Mt. 6: 26, 28). Ibon ba ako? O bulaklak kaya?
“Huwag kang mag-alala kung ano ang iyong kakainin, iinumin, isusuot…” (cf. v.31). Bakit kaya sinasabi ng Panginoon na huwag mag-alala? Paano ako mabubuhay? Sino ang mag-aasikaso sa aking pamilya?
Naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga tanong na ito matapos kong mabasa ang Mabuting Balita ngayon. Tila bawal mag-alala at tila gusto ng Diyos na ituring ko ang sarili kong tulad ng mga bagay sa kalikasan. Magandang pakinggan subalit hindi yata praktikal.
Pero habang nagninilay muli, naunawaan kong hindi naman tayo pinagbabawalan na mag-ala sa buhay. Sa halip inaanyayahan tayo ng Panginoon sa isang mas positibo at mas mainam na pananaw sa buhay. Ayon sa Panginoon, anuman ang ating pangangailangan, at maging ang ating buong buhay, ay naka-ugnay sa Kaharian ng Ama. Ang Kahariang ito, kung tunay kong hahanapin, ang magbibigay liwanag sa mahalaga man o simpleng bagay ukol sa ating buhay. “Hanapin muna ninyo ang Kaharian ng Diyos…” (cf v. 31).
Hindi naman sinasabi ng Panginoon na maupo na lang ako sa bahay at maghintay ng pagkain, inumin at damit na ide-deliver sa akin. Kailangan kong magsikap din bilang kontribusyon ko sa paglago ng Kaharian ng Diyos sa mundo. Pero bilang taga-sunod ni Kristo at anak ng Diyos, ang dapat na unang pakay ko ay ang mapabilang sa Kaharian ng Ama, maging bahagi ng isang pakikipag-ugnayan na nag-uugat sa kanya na aking Ama. “Malilimutan ba ng ina ang kanyang anak… hindi kita malilimutan…” (cf. Isa. 49:15).
Tiyak na hindi kinakalimutan ng Diyos ang kanyang mga anak. Pero, tayo, kapag napalibutan ng pag-aalala at takot, nakakalimot tayo sa ugnayan natin sa Diyos. Nalilimutan nating sino ba talaga ang panginoon ng buhay natin. Kapag marami tayong pera at bagay, nakakalimot tayo. Subalit ang Diyos ay hindi nakakalimot. Siya ang Amang mapagmahal sa lahat, maging sa anak, na matigas ang puso at suwail. Sa ating mga agam-agam, hindi tayo nakakatulog, umiinit ang ulo, apektado ang kilos. Kahit minsan makuha natin ang ating gusto, tila kulang lagi at malungkot pa rin.
Kay Hesus maririnig natin ngayon ang lihim ng tunay na kapayapaan, kagalakan at higit sa lahat, tiwala sa Ama. Kung sa materyal na bagay ang tuon ng ating puso, hindi natin ito matutuklasan. Kailangang maalala nating hindi lang tayo aksidente sa mundo kundi bahagi ng pamilya at Kaharian ng Diyos. Salamat at ipinaalala sa atin na bago ang lahat, tayo ay anak ng Diyos.
Panginoon, narito ako sa harap mo taglay ang lahat ng takot at alalahanin tungkol sa sarili, pamilya, pera, kalusugan at mga ugnayan ko. Alam mo po ang lahat ng aking kailangan. Alam mo din ang laman ng aking puso. Magsisikap ako pero mas higit akong magtitiwala sa Iyo at sa ugnayang alay mo sa akin… dahil ikaw ang aking Ama. Amen.
“Look the at the birds of the sky… God feeds them. Look at the flowers of the fields… God clothes them” (Mt. 6:26, 28). But Lord, I am not a bird, and surely not a flower either.
“Do not worry about what you are to eat… to drink… to wear” (v. 31). Why are you telling me not to worry, Lord? In this world, I cannot survive without worrying. If I don’t do that, who will keep me and my loved ones afloat in these trying times?
These thoughts raced through my head as I read today’s gospel. Here Jesus seems to be prohibiting us to worry and to start acting like objects in nature. This may sound very pious but it is not practical and workable.
Reflecting more, I realized that the Lord is not telling me, and all of us, not to worry at all. The Lord is inviting us to something even more positive and great. He is telling us that all our needs, in fact, the whole of our lives, are connected to the Kingdom of the Father. This kingdom, if i seek it sincerely, will illumine even the essential and the trivial things about me. “Seek first the kingdom of God…” (v. 31).
God is not giving me a license to slump in bed and watch television while waiting for food and clothes to be delivered right outside my door. I must work for that because it is my share in the Kingdom, my contribution to a productive world.
As a Christian, as a follower of Christ and a child of God, my goal is first of all to belong to the kingdom of God, marked by a great relationship that originates from my heavenly Father. “Can a mother forget her infant…” (Isa. 49:15).
God certainly does not forget his children. But I, enveloped by worry and fears, forget that relationship. I forget my real master. I forget when I just accumulate things and riches. But God does not forget. He is an eternal Father who loves even the stubborn, wandering child.
We worry too much that we suffer sleepless nights, bad moods, and tantrums. Even if we get what we want, don’t we feel empty and unsatisfied?
Jesus is teaching us the secret to peace, joy and most specially, trust in the Father. If I am only focused on material needs, I will not discover these things. I need to recover a sense of being not just an appendage to nature, but a special member of God’s family and of his kingdom. I thank you, Lord for reminding me that I am first of all, God’s child.
Lord, I come to you today with worries for my self, my family, my health, my finance and my relationships. You know what I need each day. You know my heart. I will work hard for all these things but only after I offer myself to you and renew my relationship with you… for you are my Father. Amen.