Saturday, September 2, 2017

psalm 139 - to whom do you listen - 21st week tuesday - passion of john the baptist

Today let us reflect on psalm 139, one of the most beautiful psalms, a subject of so many beautiful hymns in the church.
Psalm 139 speaks of two qualities of God – omniscience and omnipresence.  God knows everything and God is present everywhere.
God knows everything.  In just one stanza he uses the verbs – you probed me, you know me, you understand my thoughts, you scrutinize me, I am familiar to you.  That’s how God is to each one of us.  He knows us intimately. God is omniscient.
God is also present everywhere.  He is always with us, always there by our side.  God will always be there for us.  God is omnipresent.

psalm 145 - st bartholomew

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles of our Lord.  Bartholomew comes from two Hebrew words Bar and Tolmay, meaning, the son of Tolmay, the son of a ploughman.  It is some kind of a family name.  His first name is Nathaniel.  In the gospel Nathaniel was introduced to our Lord by his friend Philip.  Bartholomew is considered the apostle to India because it is said that he reached far away India in order to bring the message of Jesus to all.  He died a martyr’s death when the enemies of the faith flayed him alive - ginpanitan.  If you are familiar with the Michelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgement in the Sistine chapel you will see there a curious figure, Nathaniel or Bartholomew carrying his skin.

psalm 21 - desire and prayer go together - 20th week wednesday

Our Psalm today psalm 21 has several lessons.
It begins, "O LORD, in your strength the king is glad; in your victory how greatly he rejoices!" Very simply this psalm tells us that the king wins because he prays.  He wins not because he has a great army, he wins not because he has superior tactics and high-powered weapons, he wins not because his enemies are weak    Rather he wins because he prays and because he prays God gives the king victory.  "You have granted him his heart's desire; you refused not the wish of his lips."
Whatever you do, bisan ano ka ka sako always find time to pray.
Second the psalm also teaches us that the desires of his heart are granted by God.  What would life be without desires?  May ginpamangkot ako nga bata – ano ang luyag mo kon magdaku ka?  Sabat niya, wala.  Ano ang luyag mo nga ihatag ko sa imo?  Wala.  Ano ang luyag mo nga kurso pila ka adlaw?  Wala.  Ay ano man ni man, wala gid sia luyag.  Ang tawo nga wala luyag, wala desire mahimunong na gid lang, pa-anod-anod na gid lang, wala bugsay, wala timon, wala gana sa kabuhi, wala direksiyon.  And more than this you cannot also pray.  How can you pray when you do not have desires for yourself? 

psalm 85 - queenship of Mary

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Today we celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Mother – Mary is Queen of Heaven and Earth.  In the entire year we have celebrated so many privileges, so may honors and titles, so many tributes to our Blessed Mother.  Why is she so honored, why is she reverenced to the point that some have already called Catholics absurd in our attitude towards the Blessed Mother?  Why.  Because of what is narrated in our responsorial psalm, psalm 85.  It begins in saying, "I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD–for he proclaims peace."  Psalm 85 says, I will listen, I will hearken to what the Lord will say.  Mary listened.  That is the greatness of our Blessed Mother.  This is why we honor her so greatly because she listened.  She listened to the angel, she said yes to what the Lord was asking from her, she followed although there were obviously things she could not fully understand.  She offered herself generously.  She was afraid yet she continued to trust that the word of God would be fulfilled in her.  God was allowed to do so many things in our world for our salvation because Mary listened, Mary heeded the call and the challenges of God.

psalm 84 - I will hear - the root of queenship - Queenship of Mary

Today we celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Mother – Mary is Queen of Heaven and Earth.  In the entire year we have celebrated so many privileges, so may honors and titles, so many tributes to our Blessed Mother.  Why is she so honored, why is she reverenced to the point that some have already called Catholics absurd in our attitude towards the Blessed Mother?  Why.  Because of what is narrated in our responsorial psalm, psalm 84.  It begins in saying, "I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD–for he proclaims peace."  Psalm 84 says, I will listen, I will hearken to what the Lord will say.  Mary listened.  That is the greatness of our Blessed Mother.  This is why we honor her so greatly because she listened.  She listened to the angel, she said yes to what the Lord was asking from her, she followed although there were obviously things she could not fully understand.  She offered herself generously.  She was afraid yet she continued to trust that the word of God would be fulfilled in her.  God was allowed to do so many things in our world for our salvation because Mary listened.

psalm 67 - celebrating god's blessing activity - 20th sunday A

We often see especially in protestant bookstores, or in taxis owned by protestants, instead of a rosary or an image of a saint, we see instead stickers, quotes from the bible and prominent among them is "Jesus saves!"  True indeed God came to save us.  God rescued Israel from the slavery of Egypt and from its enemies, Jesus became man so that he can lead us back to the Father, saved us by his passion and cross and granted us eternal life by his resurrection.  God saves and Jesus is our Savior.  And we celebrate these in a big way in Christmas for example or in the celebration of the Holy Week.

psalm 16 - nobody nobody but you -19th week saturday

When I read Psalm 16 the first thing that came to mind was a song that became popular in 2008 when I was in the cathedral.  The song is entitled Nobody, Nobody but you.  Whatever event I attended, whatever program we organized, one always got an earful of the song with its trademark wagging of the index finger during the refrain nobody, nobody but you, clap, clap, clap.
This is psalm 16 – you are my happiness, you are my portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.  SO its nobody, nobody but you.  This is a song of the levites, the tribe of priests.  They are the only tribe among the 12 tribes nga wala gintagaan sang bahin sa promised land.  Land is income, land is security, land is stability in life.  The Levites don't have land.  Instead they live dependent on the charity of their brothers for their only portion, their only concern, their only joy is in the service of the Lord, their only happiness is the Lord.

psalm 136 - enduring forever - 19th week friday

Today we reflect on Psalm 136.  In the psalm we hear the words his mercy endures forever, his love endures forever.  This is the problem when the Hebrew word encompasses so many meanings – love, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, loyalty, steadfast love.  What is common however in the many translations is that this kind of loving, this kind of kindness is faithful and steadfast. Thus correctly translated it should have been "your faithful love endures forever" which could not be admitted in English because the sentence is redundant.  Daw pareho lang nga ginsaway ang mga pari nga naga-swimming dira sa Vianney nga kontani indi sila mag-night swimming kon gab-i.  Ngaa may night swimming kon aga haw?  Ngaa may faithful love that does not endure forever?  And yet that is the phrase repeated like a broken record in Psalm 136.  God's love is a committed love.

psalm 66 - a horse for a kingdom - 19th week wednesday

Here is a well-know very short poem you have probably heard a thousand times:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost,
For want of a rider the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the Kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
This poem supposedly refers to the death of King Richard III during his defeat in the Battle of Bosworth Field.  Shakespeare would immortalize this battle when he had King Richard say – “A Horse! A Horse! My Kingdom for a horse!”

psalm 45 - beauty tips - assumption of the BVM

Psalm 45 speaks of inner beauty and if this psalm is prayed on the feast of the Assumption, it is because our Blessed Mother who personifies what we could become, is the beautiful bride herself.  She is the image of the church, the bride of Christ.  Our Blessed Mother embodies what each of you, what each of us can become because of Jesus.  Mary is beautiful, tota pulchra es Maria.  Not just beautiful outwardly but tota pulchra, totally beautiful.  And we can also be beautiful like her.
Today psalm 45 reveals where this beauty is coming from, why the bridegroom is so attracted to her, why the king, her Lord, desires her beauty?

elijah's retirement - 19th sunday A benediction

Let us reflect now on our first reading.  The problem however with today's reading is that it only tells the middle part of the story and omitted the beginning and the end.  So let us supply them for the sake of knowing how Elijah, the great prophet after Moses himself, ended as a prophet of God. 
Elijah was hiding inside a cave on a mountain.  Then the word of the Lord came to him asking, Why are you here Elijah?  And Elijah answered, "I am moved by zeal for the LORD, the God of Hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put Your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they are out to take my life." Very well said, but what he really menas is ari ako diri sa kuweba kay nahadlok ako.
Then the word of the Lord called him, "Come out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD."  And this is now our reading today – Elijah came out at the entrance of the cave.  Then the Lord passed by - There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks; but the LORD was not in the wind. then an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. Then, fire; but the LORD was not in the fire. Then -- a soft murmuring sound.  Elijah covered himself and stood at the entrance of the cave. 

ohana

I believe you already have a lot of ohana in mind – you first heard about it as it was played to you almost every morning as you wake up from bed, you watched the movie – part 1 and 2; you drew it based on your understanding and what touched you the most, your class redrew it again collating the many ideas into one drawing, and then the community further collating everything else drew it one more time, this time thanks to Sir Pogi and Renzl as a turtle who will always find its way home.  And now I get to speak about it.
I don't have to restate what has been already stated and so I would share with you my take on the story and how it made me appreciate our theme Ohana.  I call these the 3 things you might have missed in the movie Lilo and Stitch.

psalm 18 - i love you, lord - 18th week saturday

Psalm 18 is a prayer very personal to David.  It is a prayer that reveals to us David's knowledge and experience of God.  David begins with the phrase I love you O Lord.  The word that David used for love is not the usual word used for God, it is not the special word used to describe one's love for God.  The word he used is ordinary it actually means to fondle, to caress, to wrap ones arms around God, not in a formal embrace we usually see in formal occasions, but a coddling, like a baby wrapping his small arms around daddy's big legs.

psalm 77 - the storms - 18th week friday

Psalm 77 our responsorial psalm uses the storm as a metaphor of the many difficulties we encounter in life.  The part which speaks of the storm however was not read in today's psalm – it speaks of the clouds that poured out rain, the skies thundered, lightnings flashed at every side, there was the crashing of thunder with lightnings lighting up the world and the earth trembling and shaking.  And yet amidst all these troubles the wonders of God are revealed, and this is what is read to us this morning in our responsorial psalms, "what great god is there like our God?  You are the God who works wonders; among the peoples you have made known your power."

psalm 129 - happy the man - 18th week thursday

Today we reflect on Psalm 129.  In this psalm we hear a beatitude – blessed or happy is the man who fears the Lord.  What does fearing the Lord mean?  The psalm gives immediately the definition – those who fear the Lord are those who find joy and happiness in observing the commandments of God.  They find happiness and contentment in the observance of moral law, their conscience is at peace. 

psalm 106 - thankfulness - 18th week wednesday

Our responsorial psalm today begins with an admission of sin:  "We have sinned, we and our fathers;  we have committed crimes; we have done wrong." 
And where did these sins come from? Psalm 106 says, "Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders . . . soon they forgot his works."
Psalm 106 invites us to a life of thankfulness, to develop an attitude of thankfulness.  How do we develop an attitude of thankfulness?  First, we need to consider the wonders God in our lives, that is, to be sensitive to the workings of grace in our day to day lives.  Be thankful.  When I was a little kid living in a farm my grandmother use to point out to two animals to remind me to be thankful.  Look at the chicken she said.  Every time it drinks water it looks up to heaven to thank God.  And look at the carabao, before lying down on the ground it would bend its knees first as if to thank God for the privilege of rest.  There are so many things to be thankful to God for, so many they outnumber our needs.  Just be sensitive to the good that you have.

psalm 51 - the reluctance to accept sin - 18th week tuesday

Psalm 51 is a prayer of a sincere person who committed sin and in the presence of God with a broken and contrite heart the first thing that he did was to call sin a sin.  He did not use euphemisms like "O sorry a wrong was done and mistakes were made." He simply said, I have sinned. 
The reluctance to accept sin is not a new problem.  It is as old as Adam and Eve.  When Adam was confronted by God, he rationalized saying the woman that you gave me, gave me the fruit and so I ate it.  He wanted to lessen his culpability.  When the woman was confronted by God she also pointed to another culprit, the snake, thinking that again she can lessen her guilt.

psalm 81 - listen - 18th week monday

Central to psalm 81 is the middle verse which is the first line in our responsorial psalm, the melancholic cry of God, "My people heard not my voice, and Israel obeyed me not; if only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways." Psalm 81 is a reflection on this central command of God to Israel – the shema.  Shema means to listen.  It is the very essence of our relationship with God.  Listen.  Many times, shema is also translated as accept – to accept because the listening in shema is immediately followed by doing and acting.
In psalm 81 we come to know the consequences of not listening.  For refusing to listen, God says, "And so, I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts; and they walked according to their own counsels." 

psalm 97 - easy to understand, hard to believe - 18th sunday A

The Lord is king, let the earth rejoice.  In other translations, it is translated as, the Lord reigns.  And God's reign is not just in Israel, God's kingship is not just with his chosen people.  It reaches as far as the many islands, reaching as far as the farthest corner of the world.
Psalm 97 is easy to understand – the Lord reigns.  The problem is it is hard to believe.
Does the Lord indeed reign over all the earth; does he rule at all; is God in control; does he direct the course of world events; does he govern the world as the psalm says sitting on a throne whose foundation is justice and righteousness?  Is there really a God who reigns?  Can anyone here feel that God's reign has any impact at all?  Or is it stifled and overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds us from disasters to diseases, from war to hunger, from normalized corruptions then, to normalized killings now, from our struggles with our weakness with our own personal faults and hidden sins.  Does God reign?

psalm 84 - to live in proximity to god's temple - 17th week thursday

To dwell in the house of the Lord is one of the constant yearnings of the psalmist.  To be in God's temple day and night, to work within its hallowed walls, to sleep and eat and work in close proximity to the place where God dwells.  The psalmist even envies the sparrow and the swallow which build their homes and raise their young in the beams and ceilings, in the nooks and corners, on the rooftops of the temple.  IT is a yearning to be always in close proximity with God.
I do not know if you are also happy with this thought of making your dwelling within God's temple, to be involved more closely in God's work, in the apostolate, to be in close proximity to the chapel, to be so involved in the activities that bring people closer to God.  I do not know if you are fulfilled and happy with these realities.  I remember when I was a seminarian I was more at home here than at home.  Here I have more opportunities in serving the mass, in visiting parishes, I have more opportunities talking to priests and knowing more closely their work.  Probably that was a sign of a vocation when I find more fulfillment doing God's work in the church than doing other things.