Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 21, 2012
by V. Romeo A. Almeda
Sharing God’s Message to Me

First Reading:               James 4:1-10     
Psalm:                         Psalm 55:7-11, 23     
Gospel:                        Mark 9:30-37      

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Caper'na-um; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

Draw Near to Me

But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. James 4:6-8


I guess when we are of two minds it means we are pulled in two opposite directions; one which wants us to be near to God, and one which wants us to draw away from God. Sometimes we are not aware that we are drawing away from God by the choices we make, choices that make us really busy. If I want to be physically fit, for instance, which is a good intention with no evil in it, then I have to spend hours for calisthenics and running regularly. If I wish to perform well for a board exam, I have to burn the midnight oil studying. If I wish to be updated and connected to my network of friends, I have to view their posts and pictures as well as add mine for them. I think it was Pope John Paul II who said, "It is amazing how the devil can put evil into the cleanest of intentions."

The only way to draw near to God is to be with Him in thought, deeds and words through prayer, Scripture, fellowship, teachings, and the Sacraments. If we balance our time properly to receive these, God will be with us while we run, while we study, even while we "connect."

LORD, let my two eyes see You, my two ears hear You, my two hands work with You and for You, my two feet go where I can proclaim You, but let my mind be only one, as You made it, and fixed on You. Amen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 10, 2012
St. Scholastica, Virgin (Memorial)
by V. Romeo A. Almeda
Sharing God’s Message to Me

First Reading:               1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19  
Psalm:                         Psalm 81:10-15    
Gospel:                        Mark 7:31-37    

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decap'olis. 32And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, "Eph'phatha," that is, "Be opened." 35And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."

33 He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; 34 then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) Mark 7: 33-34


Once, while horsing around with buddies, I asked one of them to hold my wrist firmly. I told him I could take off his hand without using force. I then moistened my two fingers with saliva and motioned to touch him with the wet fingers. Instinctively, he took his hand -- and I did not have to use force. Well, neither did Jesus have to touch the deaf man's tongue with his spitted-on finger (eww!)  because his word alone would have been enough. Even touching his cloak or the tassel of his cloak would have been enough to cause healing. Yet, Jesus used his finger. Why? My guess is that He wanted to test the faith of the deaf man; to see if the deaf man would be overcome with hygiene concerns or stuff like that.

In a figurative way, that Jesus had to say, "Ephphata!" ("Be opened!") is also a command to us to listen not only with open ears but also with open hearts. 

LORD, open my heart and enter in. Amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 09, 2012
by V. Romeo A. Almeda
Sharing God’s Message to Me

First Reading:               1 Kings 11:4-13  
Psalm:                         Psalm 106: 3-4, 35-37, 40   
Gospel:                        Mark 7:24-30 
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. 25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoeni'cian by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 28 But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29 And he said to her, "For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." 30 And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.

Have No Other God Before Me

8 He did the same for all his foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their Gods. 9 The Lord, therefore, became angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 (for though the Lord had forbidden him this very act of following strange Gods, Solomon had not obeyed him). 1 Kgs 11:8-10


There you go. The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord. Not for having many wives and concubines, although perhaps having too many of them was not right either. 700 wives and 300 concubines, none of our aging actors or ex-presidents can surpass that. But to be fair, concubinage was a common practice in biblical times. Hagar was the concubine of Abraham, with whom he fathered Ishmael. And God even protected both Hagar and Ishmael from the harsh desert when Abraham sent them away on Sarah's insistence. Polygamy was also common, as in the case of Elkanah having two wives: Penninah and Hannah (mother of Samuel). The point is that neither polygamy nor concubinage, taken in the context of biblical times, angered God. It was idolatry that angered God in this instance. 

Today idolatry takes many forms, and many, if not all, are centered on the self. Money is idolized by many, such that the more money we have the better. Money is not bad per se because we all need money to accomplish many things. But when money is the focus of our efforts, or the end that we seek, it leads us away from God. It leads us to materialism - for newer gadgets like cellphones, laptops to newer, bigger cars, and then bigger houses, all needing more money. It leads us to seek the vanity of honor - for a promotion to a higher rank, a higher title which receives more money. It leads us to the vanity of riches - so that we can buy Rolex oyster watch, that Louis Vitton handbag, that Bally pair of shoes, that Gucci tie and Hermes belt. Money for self, self for money. This is idolatry today.

LORD, let me have no other God but You, and my time consumed in You. Amen

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 08, 2012
by V. Romeo A. Almeda
Sharing God’s Message to Me

First Reading:               1 Kings 10:1-10
Psalm:                         Psalm 37:5-6, 30-31, 39-40
Gospel:                        Mark 7:14-23

14And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him." 17And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."

Let Me Change Your Heart

"But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile." Mk 7:20-23


What comes out of man are usually words, and these define the man. Crude words, crass words, or gentle, loving words give away a man's character for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks (Mt 12:34). From the list above, spoken words are used in blasphemy, arrogance, folly. Of course, they may be used in the others also. Aside from words, action also comes out of man. So we have what I call action sins - unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, licentiousness. But both words and actions do not come out before they are nurtured in the heart and developed in the mind. Thoughts also come out of man.

In an Opus Dei recollection, Fr. Javier de Pedro elaborated on how we sin in thought through bad thoughts, sinful memories, and evil desires. When we think of a person and wish he/she gets hurt, or gets fired from work, or is dumped by his girlfriend, we are guilty of bad thoughts. When we recall and relive the pleasure of an adulterous relation in the past, or the thrills of fornication before, or once more enjoy the thought of a previous cash windfall from having duped or swindled somebody, we are guilty of sinful memories. And if we glance or peruse pornographic material, even light porn pictures from FHM or light porn stories from Cosmopolitan (targeting the teeners, young ladies, and mature women!), or if we plan to get credit for a subordinate's work to gain a promotion, we are guilty of evil desires. Truly, good and evil battle in our hearts, and the one that'll win is the one we would have bred.

LORD, you know my heart and its ways, You who formed me before I was born. Change my heart oh God, may I be like You. Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 04, 2012
Anticipated Sunday Mass (Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (MSSP – Quezon City)
MSSP House / Mass for the poor

First Reading:               Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Psalm:                         Psalm 147:1-6
Second Reading:          1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Gospel:                        Mark 1:29-39

29 And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. 32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37 and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." 38 And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out." 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.er (M


From which book did we listen today the first reading?
Book of Job.

Job was a wealthy man who lost everything, even his family and in today’s reading we hear him complaining “ang buhay ng tao ay sagana sa hirap ... maraming buwan na ang lumipas, walang layon ang buhay ko...”

In his situation, Job is pessimistic and sees only sadness, forced work as he is a slave
Job represents us when the world around becomes heavy, when we lose our happiness, when we lose hope.
On the other hand we have the Gospel which presents to us hope, a good news.  We just read about Jesus who heals the mother in law of Peter and all the sick who went to him.

Jesus takes the problem of suffering very seriously.  He doesn’t just talk about it (like politicians) but dips himself in work.  In fact today we see Jesus
1.    Curing the sick
2.    Casting out devils

Jesus is not happy seeing suffering ... so why he does not eliminate it with just one miracle?

There was a Filipino who was complaining to God because of so much suffering in the world... so many people without food, without house, without money, without work.  In frustration, he asked, “Oh God, if you really are loving and powerful, why are you not doing anything to remove the misfortunes and alleviate the suffering of people?” And God replied to this Filipino, “In fact, I have done something already. I created YOU”

God created me and you to be instruments of his healing in the world.  He created us to carry on with his mission of proclaiming his Gospel of life and love.

How? First to be in solidarity with those who are suffering. Like St. Paul’s today “Sa piling ng mahihina, ako’y naging gaya ng mahihina upang mahikayat ko sila”

To be in solidarity means to do what the mother in law of Peter did today after she was healed... what did she do? “naglingkod sa kanila”.  To serve, to help others in their needs, those who live in your same house, to your friends, not only with money but with any talent you have.

The problem is that when I serve I get tired... and sometimes I stop serving.   So when I get tired I need energy.   And from where I get energy? From gin? from gatorade?
When Jesus was tired , he went up the mountain ... to pray.  Jesus needed prayer... and so do I when my life is heavy.
I need prayer.  I need the spirit of Christ otherwise I become tired, life becomes mabigat, boring...

You know why so many people lost the joy of living? Because they lost their hope and faith in Jesus.  Jesus can bring healing, joy and light to our lives... all he wants is
  1. PRAY: ibig sabihin: that we come to Him, talk with him, listen to him,
  2. SERVE : ibig sabihin : that we help each other and serve.
So let us today change our complaining into action and be instruments in God’s hand to bring healing and life around us.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gospel Reflection

February 04, 2012
St. Joseph of Leonessa, Capuchin, Priest (Memorial)
by V. Romeo A. Almeda
Sharing God’s Message to Me

First Reading:                1 Kings 3:4-13
Psalm:                          Psalm 119:9-14
Gospel:                         Mark 6:30-34

30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Pray for Means to Achieve My Ends

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. 11 So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right — 12 I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. 13 In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like. 1 Kings 3:10-13


This is one of my favorite stories. Over the last few days, by Godcidence, I cited this story first to my good buddy (a Protestant) and lately to a sister. This to me is the essence of prayer - first, pray to know God's will; and second, pray for what are needed (the means) to accomplish God's will (the end). God wanted Solomon to govern over His people (the end), so Solomon asked for wisdom to govern (the means). God being so pleased with this request granted Solomon more than what he asked for. The lesson to me here is that if we seek the means to God's end, God will gladly grant it and will generously give more than what we asked for. We can leave it all up to Him to decide what to give us but let us ask Him to make us good instruments or vessels or channels.

The LORD knows the desires of our hearts even before we pray for them. And we know that He has plans for us, for our welfare, not for woe; plans to give us a future full of hope. Is there really any point in asking the LORD to make me "a successful architect" when what that really means is the vanity of riches and fame? But if I ask Him to grant me the Holy Spirit's healing grace when I pray over a sick brother, is there any doubt that He will send me the Holy Spirit while praying? No, there is no doubt. If we who are wicked know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the heavenly Father grant the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Through the Holy Spirit, God may extend the life of one man if it is according to His will. If not, He may grant relief from pain or peace of mind or joy in passing, all still through the Holy Spirit.

LORD, make me a channel of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me bring Your love. Amen.