Saturday, December 31, 2016

psalm 97: is god king? december 27

Today we read Psalm 97.  The same psalm was read on Christmas day at dawn mass.  In fact the 3 psalms read on Christmas were psalms 96, 97 and 98 and they are called enthronement psalms for they focus on God's eternal kingship.  Psalm 97, our psalm today, begins with the call, "the Lord reigns, the Lord is king let the earth rejoice."  When the magi too came to Herod they told him the purpose of their coming saying, "we have come to worship the king."
So, is God king?  Did Israel understand what kind of a king is God?  In our day, do we understand what kind of a king is Jesus?
I do not know if you are a fan of the movie the Lord of the Rings?  It is a novel by JRR Tolkien.  Tolkien is a Christian writer who wrote his novels using Christian metaphors.  The Lord of the Rings if you remember was a quest not to possess the ring but to destroy it.  It was a ring of power and dominion, a ring that can put peoples in subjugation.   Many evil and even well-meaning men wanted the ring so badly.  But even in the hands of Hobbits, those little powerless people, it was a great temptation to be had.  They can be great, people will no longer look down on them, they can overcome and even conquer and subjugate more powerful kingdoms.  But in the end the Hobbits discarded the ring, they turned their backs on what could have given them power and dominion.

psalm 31: death, sts. stephen and vicenta maria. december 26

Today we read Psalm 31.  Psalm 31 is a famous psalm because this must have been the psalm meditated upon by Jesus as he hung dying on the cross.  The same is true with St. Stephan, our Saint on this second day of Christmas.  This psalm must have been also in his mind when they were throwing stones on him and when, like Jesus, he too was in the brink of death.  Both Jesus and Stephen recited the fifth verse of this psalm saying, "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
Psalm 31 is a prayer of desperation, Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.
But at the same time its a prayer of confident trust, You are my rock and my fortress; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.  I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy..  "Into your hands I commend my spirt" is an act of surrender, never uttered in despair but always in confident trust. 

psalm 96: sing a new song. christmas in nocte

For the past several days, since I have been celebrating masses in different places and to different congregations, I find it necessary to explain time and again why I focus my reflections on the responsorial psalm.  It started as a way of reminding my superiors that I have been too long already in my present assignment in the seminary, I have finished reflecting on the gospels, and on the first and second readings of the mass.  Now I am reflecting on the responsorial psalm.  Should you hear me preaching the alleluia verse in the future, that's already a sign that things are becoming too much already.
This is the 3rd time I am celebrating Christmas mass in Carmel, and considering the other masses I have said here in all these years I would have wanted to greet the sisters at the beginning of the mass, I am tired of you, and they would have greeted me back, and also with you.  And we could tell the bishop that our feelings are mutual.  Of course, this is not true, at least with Carmel.  If there is one thing that glues my relationship with Carmel it is because Carmel makes the best bandi in the world – yes you heard me right, my joys in life are simple, they make the best bandi, nothings compares not even San Joaquin or even Antique, and it is worth the arthritis that usually follows.

Hannah's song: biased listening. december 22

For the past seven months, I have been reflecting on our responsorial psalm and so in this mass I would like to continue reflecting on the psalms. (it's not actually from the book of psalm but from Samuel - the canticle of Hannah.)
Our responsorial psalm when listened to carefully seems not to correspond to our expectations.   It does not tally with what our mind anticipates.  Allow me to illustrate this with a story.
A priest went to the bishop one day and asked the bishop to transfer him to another parish.  Why, asked the bishop?  The priest replied, "Because my parishioners do not like me anymore.  Every time I give a homily, they do not listen and many of them are sleeping.  So the bishop said to the priest, ""Not to worry Father, I will teach you how to give a homily so that your parishioners will listen to you.  This is what you will say to them:  "My dear brothers and sisters, I came to know of a beautiful woman, she is a mestiza, she has a beautiful nose, she has rosy white skin, and she has a lovely face.  Every morning I visit her, and every noon time too, in fact I also visit her every evening, and I would say goodnight to her before I go to sleep.  I am in love with this woman, and her name is Mary."

psalm 33: my plan & god's plan. december 21

As has been my practice in this chapel, I have for the past 7 months reflected on the responsorial psalm of the mass.  For those who do not known the reason why, I will repeat it again, but in an abbreviated form, short lang.  I am reflecting on the responsorial psalm because I have already finished the gospels – Year A, B and C for Sundays and also the weekdays.  I have also finished reflecting on the first readings of the mass Year 1 and 2, and I have also finished reflecting on the second readings of the mass.  Now I am in the responsorial psalm. 
Actually this is my way of telling my superiors that I have been already too long in my present assignment in the seminary and I need to be transferred, I need to be reassigned.  In fact I have already been too long here in Sto Nino Chapel every Tuesday bilang bahin sang akon seminary duty, I have been too long here already kon kaisa nagasulit-sulit na ang akon homily.  So kaina instead of greeting you kuntani the "Lord be with you," I would have wanted to greet you, "I am tired of you."  And then I hope you would have also responded, "and also with you".  That way we can tell the bishop and Fr. Boboy that our feelings are mutual. 

psalm 24: both seek and are sought 4th week advent tuesday

Today we reflect on Psalm 24.  I have already reflected with you some points in the psalm.  Today we continue our reflection on the same psalm going to that part which say this is the race that seeks you, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.  I think, this is just what I think – this is what Christmas is all about, this is how I would define Christmas, and these are the people who truly celebrate Christmas.
In a sermon to the monks St. Bernard of Clairvaux reflecting on this part of the psalm said, there are four kinds of people or races as the psalm calls them.  First there is the people who are unbaptized and who do not seek God.  Probably Bernard is referring to those who do not know God or Christ and because they do not know God or Christ they do not seek him.  There are also those who are baptized but they do not seek God.  These are people who were baptized but their Christianity does not make any difference in their life.  They are Catholics only in name.  They are Catholics because they have what we now call a baptismal certificate.  God found them during their baptism but they do not make any effort to find God in their day to day action, decisions and lives.   Gani nakita sila sang Dios pero wala nila ginapangita ang Dios.

lopez jaena: what makes a hero?

I come from the school where Graciano Lopez Jaena was educated.  I am an alumnus of the same institution and presently I am its rector.  As rector of the seminary and as a formator of seminarians and future priests what interests me in Graciano Lopez Jaena is not so much history but the kind of formation he received that made him the one and only Graciano Lopez Jaena we come to know in our history as a nation.  What made him a hero? And more importantly what makes a person a hero?
We are all born with a capacity to become anything.  And along the way we get shaped by our circumstances in life – our parents and upbringing, our life situation, the school we come from, the classmates and friends we had, the significant persons we meet in life - we were shaped by what was happening around us and in our country as we were growing up, and then we form judgements and outlooks, we reason, we allow ourselves to be swayed with either reason or emotion or with both and then we make decisions.  And thus a few of us become villains and fewer still become heroes and the rest of us become what is referred to as the rest in the bell curve.  There are studies about how villains come to be.  But there are still a lot to be done as to how heroes are formed.  There is nothing definite.   But more or less this is how heroes come to be:

christmas remarks, with the archbishop

As we go home tomorrow to spend Christmas with our families and in our respective parishes, we would like to thank you Your Grace for giving us even this short moment to spend with you to greet and to cheer you, our spiritual father, the head and the unity of our bigger family and community which is the Archdiocese. 
Today in our archdiocese we end the year of the family and begin the year of the parish.  However our pastoral office have insisted that we are not ending programs to begin another rather we allow the previous program to flow to the next.  And indeed it is only proper that after a year of celebrating the family we celebrate the communion of families which is the parish.  As you go home it is important to reflect and re appreciate these two pillars of the church and even of society.  That as you go home to your family you should not forget your parish, and as you enjoy parish life you do not forget your family.  You cannot appreciate one without the other for indeed a parish can never be without healthy and lively families, and the family can never be without the support of other families in the parish.

christmas remarks 2016

This is the third time this class, the first year college, submitted this program for my approval.  The first program was full of messages, 7 to be exact – an opening remarks, one message coming from each department, a message from the faculty, a message from the personnel, a message before opening the gifts and this message.  And to think that we just listened to a homily before coming down for dinner.  So I told them there should only be one message – it's either me or one of them. 
Then the in-charge of the greeting for the archbishop presented to me their program.  Again there are 4 messages including the bishop's and probably to please me they placed beside my name in parenthesis the word optional, which I understood as I may give a message or I may not.  The last time I was not given a part the bishop told me in passing, I thought you will still give a closing remarks.  It would seem that it has been standard practice which falls on the shoulders of the rector to say something before everybody disperses.  After my term here as rector I am going to publish a book and entitle it, Closing Remarks – I have so many already.

psalm 30: our experience of god 3rd week advent thursday

Many times the prayers in the mass are too intellectual, too theological, too heady it does not appeal to the heart.  In contrast the beauty in praying the psalms is that these are personal prayers coming from a broad range of experience – joyful, sorrowful, desperate, angry, in dire need, thankfulness, contrite, misery, hopefulness, deliverance, guilt – all of which are very human experiences. 
Psalm 30 is such a psalm.  It is one's experience of God - For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will.  At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.  Sing praise to the LORD, give thanks to his holy name.

kris and lainee

Frankly I dread this day, the day when our supposedly innocent, child-like, almost childish, budding, tender, fledgling, girlish, boyish, juvenile, fresh, blooming, untried, still developing, green, unripe nephews and nieces are lining up to be married.  I dread this day.  I practically listed down all the synonyms of the word young because the last time I saw them they were still in their school uniforms and very cute with their school bags in tow.  Now they have boyfriends and girlfriends in tow.  Now they are bringing them to the altar.  Have they even aged?  Does that mean that I have also aged?
Padre mapakasal ako is ordinary to my hearing, I am used to that, but I still have to get used to the sound of tito mapakasal na kami.   And now one of them is getting married.  The deluge is coming.  And we all know what's next.  We're going to be lolos and lolas in a year or two.

psalm 34: taste and see god. 3rd week advent tuesday

Our responsorial psalm today, psalm 34, is a personal testimony of David, his experience of God in time of adversity, how he was saved from his enemies, and how his life was preserved.  David was fleeing the wrath of Saul who is pursuing him wanting to harm him.  He came over to take refuge in Gath only to realize that its king Achish an ally of Saul recognized him.  So in order to disguise himself nagpabubang-buang sia kag wala sia nakilal-i.  This psalm is a thanksgiving for that event when David experienced for himself the love, the mercy, the protection and the care of God for him.  "When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves." This is David talking in the third person.

symposium: debate

There are certain things that struck me in the paper of Fr. Doming. 
First, quoting Husserl, Fr. Doming writes, "critique of knowledge would assist us in the ultimate completion of scientific knowledge."  Critique of knowledge is an essential part of a complete scientific knowledge.  Without this essential part no knowledge can be complete.  If it can withstand foundational critique then it can be called a science.
The problem however, Fr. Doming also noted in his work is the difficulty we have as Filipinos to critique each other's work for fear that the other may take it personally and will thus be seen as disrespectful and even insulting.

calle cuartero

Good evening..  Every year we give our seminarians their day on stage as dramatis personae.  We alternate this yearly activity with a stage play prepared by each class, and a major production prepared by the whole community.  Last year they competed by class usually producing original stage plays – from Grade seven to 4th year college in a two-day festival of plays.  You can still see the Theater Posters which they themselves made in the lobby of this hall with the winners having the privilege of being framed and displayed in the same lobby for two years. 
This year however the best among them have put their heads and acts together to come up with a musical entitled calle cuartero.  It is not a calle which you can pinpoint in google map. It can be any calle, it can be your calle, it can be mine, for calle cuartero is the story of one community struggling to become a Small Christian Community or a Magamay nga Kristianong Katilingban, an MKK.  Starting last November and in the year  to come in 2017, we will hear a lot of the parish as a communion of communities.  Calle Cuartero is just one small community in this communion of communities responding to the call of Jesus to love one another.

psalm 80: even if all else fails. jack and katrina anniversary

In this double celebration, the 5th wedding anniversary of Jack and Katrina, and the baptism of Vic Florenz and Maria Katarina Elia, I invite you to reflect with me on God's word, specifically on our responsorial psalm today Psalm 80.  This is basically a psalm of lament and it calls on God to do two things – to restore and to shine.
First, the psalm calls on God to restore.  To restore means to ask God to change the circumstances of his people, to change the bad to good, the unhappy to a more happy situation, the imperfect to something more perfect.  And more than just simply pleading for help from God, the word restore speaks of an incapacity on the part of man to do something about his situation.  There are situations in man's life in which man despite his power cannot do anything about.  Only God can do something about them, only God can restore.

psalm 80: take care of this vine... 2nd week advent saturday

Today we read psalm 80.  In this psalm God is depicted as a shepherd and a gardener.  We have heard a lot of times why God is a shepherd to his people, but why is he a gardener?  "Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted."  Israel, God's people is the vine and so God is the gardener.  I believe the college know what gardening is all about and what a gardener does to make the plant productive.  A gardener does so much to make the land fertile and to make the plant fruitful.  The gardener has to till the land, fertilize it, plant the seed, nourish it daily with water, be sure that it has enough sunlight, and guard it against pests and diseases.  The gardener does a lot.  God does all these things for us.  But the plant must also do its part, the seed must dare to grow, it should aim it roots down the soil and it leaves high above to reach the sunshine.  It must absorb the nutrients of the soil together with the fertilizer which the gardener cultivates around it roots.  It must cooperate with the sun and spread wide it leaves to absorb the sun's rays. Our relationship with God must also be like that.  St. Augustine once said, “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us."

baptism ... salazar

Today as we celebrate the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God does to ____ what God has done to Mary in the womb of her mother St. Anne.  This is the reason why this place in the church is also called the womb for this is where our children in the parish are given their second birth, this is where they become not just the sons and daughters of their mothers and fathers, not just the son of ____ and ___ Salazar, but the son/daughter of God, a brother and sister of Jesus, a child of Mary, a brethren to every man and woman on earth.
Baptism may be a short sacrament but it means everything to every person.  Allow me to explain why.

psalm 98: what is new? immaculate conception

Today psalm 98 is read to us.  The psalm exhorts us to sing a new song.  Why should we sing a new song?  What has prompted the psalmist to exhort us to sing a new song.  We sing a new song because God did something new.  A new reality must have a new song.  The new reality was something never heard before.  Jesus did miracles, he healed the sick, he cleansed the lepers, he even raised the dead.  So are these the new things needing new songs?  No.  These are not new.  The prophets of long ago also did these things.  So what was new?  Jesus multiplied the five loaves and two fish to feed a hungry crowd?  Is this new?  No.  The prophet Elisha also did that before.

psalm 103: what should we thank god for? 2nd week advent wednesday

Today we reflect on psalm 103.  This psalm calls us to bless the Lord.  To bless the Lord means to thank the Lord.  Now what should we thank God for?  The psalm says bless the Lord, or thank the Lord, forget not all his benefits - remember the good things God has done, don't forget what God has done.
What has God done for you so that you will bless him, so that you will thank him.   The psalm says, God pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills; he crowns you with kindness and compassion.  These are some of the reasons why we should thank God – God's faithful love.

psalm 96: a dangerous question to ask... 2nd week advent tuesday

Today we reflect again on psalm 96.  Today we are called upon to sing a new song.  If you notice as you grow older you like to sing old songs – the old songs that became a hit when we were in high school or in college.  And we call these songs our songs because we sung it then and we can sing them even now.  Last week when we had our alumni homecoming we hired a band that can sing our songs because we like their style and their choices of songs.
Today however our psalm is asking us to sing a new song, not an old one but  a new song.  This new song can only be understood in the context of the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 42 when the prophet also invited the people to sing a new song.  Why because in the verse before the invitation to sing a new song, the Lord said, “See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare.”  The former things have come to pass, we have become a new people, we have received a new identity, thus the old is gone and the new is here, thus we need to sing a new song.