Friday, August 31, 2012

Gospel Reflection

August 31, 2012
by Rev. Fr. Chris Habal
(Morning Mass at Edsa Shrine)

First Reading:               1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Psalm:                         Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 10-11
Gospel:                        Matthew 25:1-13           

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.


St. Paul portrayed in the Gospel the person of Christ, as the strength and wisdom of God. For St. Paul, the signs being looked for, being awakened for by the Jews were all fulfilled in Christ. The wisdom being searched for by the Greeks are all found in Christ. That's why he said,
"For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

So clearly St. Paul is presenting here, Jesus Christ - His teaching, His life, His person, His cross - as the power and the wisdom of God. It is the power and wisdom that comes from God, that brings us salvation. It is the power to save us - to bring us to eternal life. And it is a good reminder, my dear brothers and sisters, that our salvation, eternal life, and all we long for, is not simply a product of our own human strength. It is not simply a product or a result of our own human wisdom. It is always Jesus crucified - the strength of God, the power of God, the wisdom of God, that saves us.

That is why it is very important that we stay close to Him. That His life will live in our own life. It is very important that we are faithful to His teachings. It is very important that we follow the way of the Cross. Although at times, we may find the Cross foolishness or weakness, but with faith, we know that if we are united in Christ, we are strong, we are wise, not only on human estimation, but with the strength that comes from God. This is something very clear to St. Paul.

And when we turn to the Gospel, we are presented with the ten virgins - five of them were foolish, five of them were wise. What was the basis of their being foolish or their being wise? The foolish ones brought no extra oil for them. They failed to anticipate that the bridegroom whom they await might come late, that their oil might not be enough. But the wise ones anticipated all these things. They brought with them flasks of oil - extra oil, sufficient enough, even though the bridegroom might be late.

The Fathers of the Church explain this image, this symbol of extra oil, this lamp filled with oil and a light waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. The Fathers of the Church said that this image can be compared to faith. The oil, the lighted lamp that is sufficient to wait until the coming of the bridegroom, pertains to faith. And so we ask ourselves - are we really the five foolish virgins, or are we the wise ones? Is our faith in Jesus crucified - is our faith affiliation, identification to His teaching, to His Cross, enough to persist until He comes again? Is our faith in Him persisting, persevering, until He comes again?

Pwedeng mangyari na at the middle of it, mauubusan tayo. But let us be like the wise virgins - ready, and who have brought extra oil - sufficient oil. Let our faith be also sufficient, lasting, persevering - so that when the bridegroom comes, when the Lord Jesus comes again, He may find our lamps alive, our lives alight with faith. We pray for this grace. We pray for persevering faith. We pray for constancy in faith in Jesus Christ - the wisdom of God, the strength of God, Amen.

Food for Our Soul

You Are A Son And An Heir Of God    

Galatians 4:6–7
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 

Perhaps these questions have been popping into your head lately: “If you are a Christian, why are you sick? If your heavenly Father is so wonderful, why do you have so many problems? Doesn’t your God help you, His child?” 

And if you have been tempted to ask, “God, I am Your child. Why is this happening to me?” know that Jesus knows exactly how you feel because 2,000 years ago, the devil played the same trick on Him — “If You are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3) You see, the devil’s intention was to make Jesus doubt His Sonship, and the devil wants to do the same thing to you today.
He wants to destroy the Spirit of sonship in you and in the body of believers. He knows that once you really believe that you are a son of God, something happens — you begin to live life as “an heir of God through Christ”. 

As a son and an heir of God, you inherit all the blessings of God which Jesus died to give you, including salvation, healing, prosperity, wholeness, favor, intimacy with God and answered prayers. And Jesus rose from the dead to make sure that what He died to give you, you get. He is alive today to enforce this rich, blood-bought inheritance in your life! 

My friend, you are an heir of God through Christ. This means that you are joint heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:17) So His inheritance is your inheritance too! 

What is prosperity when you are an heir of God? All the diamonds and gold came from Him. What is provision when you are an heir of God? He owns every beast in the forest and the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10) What is healing when you are an heir of God? He is your Creator and the very breath of your life
Beloved, enjoy every bit of your inheritance in Christ, not because you deserve it, but because it was paid for by Jesus’ blood!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gospel Reflection

August 30, 2012
by Rev. Fr. Chris Habal
(Lunch Mass at Edsa Shrine)

First Reading:               1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Psalm:                         Psalm 145:2-7
Gospel:                        Matthew 24:42-51         

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.


The great theme, the great lesson of today's Gospel is vigilance, watchfulness, and being awake, for we do not know the day or the hour of the return of our Lord, of our Master.

Vigilance, watchfulness, staying awake - these virtues, these lessons are even more rooted in an even more basic reality of our lives. A basic truth of our being human beings - and that is, that we are only stewards. Because we are stewards, in the end, we are accountable to the true Master, to the true Lord, who is God. Let us always remind ourselves of that. Everything we have, everything we enjoy, the loved ones who we cherish, the properties that belong to us - all these things- the world we inhabit, the life we live, all these are just entrusted to us by God. We are stewards, not masters of this world. Because we are aware that we are stewards, we will be accountable to the One who entrusted to us all these good gifts.

Part of being accountable is precisely to be vigilant, watchful, and to stay awake. The next question that we should ask ourselves after becoming aware that we are stewards, that everything belongs to God, and that He has entrusted all these things to us is - how are we going to be vigilant?

The first word of Jesus is, "stay awake". In the Scriptures, napakayaman ng salitang "stay awake", especially when we read the Psalms - there is always the picture of somebody who "stays awake in the night", who "watches in the night", who "makes vigil in the night", to "wait for the coming of the Lord". This "staying awake" is closely related with a life of prayer - constant prayer. We are vigilant if we are always praying - If we have developed that life of prayer, that day after day, we recourse to prayer. Because when we forget prayer, we will develop that illusion that we are lords, that we are masters, that we are only accountable to ourselves and to nobody else. But the more we pray, the more we become in touch with God. The more we become aware of our ultimate accountability to Him. The more we pray, the more we become aware that all things we enjoy comes from the goodness of God and are only entrusted to us. The first step of being vigilant is developing that life of prayer - that habit of prayer. As if we are reporting all our affairs to our true Owner - to our true Master. As if we are asking help, sustenance, blessings from the One who gives us all these good things.

Secondly, a vigilant man - one who stays awake and waits for the coming of the Lord - is also one who lives in charity. Napakalinaw po noon ano. Kaya sabi ni Hesus, towards the end, "who is the unfaithful servant"? The unfaithful servant is the one who beats his fellow servant. He is the one who eats and drinks with drunkards. He is the one who thinks that what he owns what he has, really belongs to him, and therefore, abuses it. But the faithful servant, being aware that all things are just entrusted to him, takes care of it with accountability. He is good to all; he performs his duties with great care. The second sign that we are vigilant, that we are watching, that we are staying awake for the coming of the Lord, is when we live in goodness, in charity, in kindness.

And so my dear brothers and sisters, in this mass, we pray for the grace that at the end our lives, we may hear the voice of the Master welcoming us, telling us that we have been faithful, that we have been awake, that we have been watchful for His coming. In prayer, in charity and in goodness to our brothers and sisters, we grow in the spirit of stewardship, in the spirit of vigilance, in the spirit of watchfulness, for the coming of the Lord, Amen.

Food for Our Soul

The Heartbeat of the Home
Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Proverbs 19:27
     The birth of a child is not taken lightly by the Lord. Each one is significant. Each one is viewed by God as a transfer of love from His heart to the couple receiving the gift.

     God never wastes parents. He doesn't inadvertently "dump" kids haphazardly into homes. Nor does He deliver "accidents" into our lives. It is exceedingly important that families place the same significance on children that God does. Again, this is contrary to the mentality of many people in our society today. We are considered as somewhere between weird and ignorant if we have this kind of attitude toward children, especially if we have a large number of them . . .

     It is axiomatic. Healthy, well-disciplined, loving homes produce people who make a nation peaceful and strong. As the family goes, so goes the nation. When you boil it down to the basics, the pulse of an entire civilization is determined by the heartbeat of its homes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gospel Reflection

August 29, 2012
The Passion of St. John the Baptist (Memorial)
by Rev. Fr. Joel Jason
Dean, Graduate School of Theology
San Carlos Seminary
(Lunch Mass at Megamall)

First Reading:               Jeremiah 1:17-19Psalm:                         Psalm 71:1-6, 15, 17
Gospel:                        Mark 6:17-29    

17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Hero'di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." 23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer." 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.


Today, we hear and we celebrate in this Eucharist the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, who was beheaded because he spoke the truth. I don't think anyone of us hear will be beheaded, or anyone of us here will suffer a red martyrdom when we have to shed our blood, but you know, we are going there. Pope Benedict said that "nowadays, to be a Christian is to be ready to suffer a different kind of martyrdom. And it is called a "white martyrdom".

What is "white martyrdom"? It is to continue to hold on to the truth despite pressure all around us - pressure from the law, pressure from the mass media, pressure from many things all around us. We must be courageous and ready to stand up for what is true and to suffer ridicule, whenever we speak of the truth.

That is what happened in the Gospel. John the Baptist told Herod "It is wrong for you to live with your brother's wife". Herodias resented it. And Herodias had the opportunity when one day, on on occasion, when Herodias' daughter danced, Herold liked it very much that he promised the girl that he will give anything that she asks of him. When the daughter asked her mother, Herodias requested for the head of John the Baptist. And because of his promise, Herod ordered the beheading of John.

It was John the Baptist who lost his head. But when you come to think of it, it was actually Herod who lost his head due to vice. John the Baptist lost his head because of virtue. 

Siguro sa misang ito magandang tanungin ho natin - Do you still have your head with you? Of course, I am talking figuratively - wala naman akong nakikitang tao dito na naglalakad na pugot ang ulo. But do you still have your head up on your shoulders? Are you still in control of yourself, or are you a slave of vice? Because whenever we are a slave of vice, we are slowly but surely also losing our head and we are losing control. And it is in this context that the Gospel is challenging us that we should hold on to what is true, good and beautiful, in spite of what we have all around us. We must be ready to suffer a certain kind of martyrdom to hold on to the truth.

I received a text message which said, "Unless one has that which is above him, it will be very easy for him to fall or give in to anything that is around him". For John the Baptist, it was JESUS who was above him. Let that be the same for each and everyone of us. Let Christ and His teaching be that which is above us, so that we may speak the truth and be strong, despite that which goes around us, Amen. 

St. John the Baptist – Pray for us 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Food for Our Soul

Fight From Victory, Not For Victory
Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

God does not need you to defeat the devil today. Jesus has already done it and given you the victory. (Colossians 2:15, Romans 8:37) Your part is to enforce the victory by simply standing your ground, which is victory ground. In other words, you “fight” from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.

In Ephesians 6:10–18, the passage on spiritual warfare, the word “wrestle” appears only once (verse 12), while the word “stand” appears four times — “stand against the wiles of the devil”, “withstand in the evil day”, “having done all, to stand”, “Stand therefore”. (Verses 11, 13–14) Four times the Holy Spirit tells us to stand. Yet, many Christians are focusing on wrestling their way to victory! 

My friend, you are already on victory ground. You already have everything in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:21, 23) You are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3). The devil knows this. And that is why his tactic is to deceive you and make you think that you don’t have the victory. 

So when he attacks you by saying, “Look at that small sum in your bank account! How are you going to pay the bills?” stand your ground. Declare, “I am not trying to be rich, I am rich. In Christ, I am rich!” It doesn’t matter how much you have in the bank. You are rich because you are in Christ. And as the need arises, the supply will be there if you believe that you are already rich. 

It is the same with healing. The devil will try to attack you with symptoms in your body. He will try to put pain in your body, and make you feel weak here and there, so that you think that you are still sick. He is trying to make you believe that you don’t have your healing. That is the time to be conscious of Jesus’ finished work and declare, “I am not trying to get healed, I am healed! I am standing on the victory ground which Jesus has given me!” 

Beloved, it makes a world of difference when you fight from victory and not for victory!