Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Make All Things New! : The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21: 3-5)

The last set of mysteries of the Holy Rosary deals not only with the past events but it is also about the realities we are facing today and the eschatological truth that we are longing.  The mysteries give us hope for our time and at the same time giving us a glimpse of the glory that we will receive later.  This set of mysteries shows us the glory of Christ given to him by the Father after his kenosis or self-emptying and oblation to the Father.  God has exalted him and bestowed on him the name above other names. (Philippians 2:9)

The first glorious mystery is the Resurrection of the Lord (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-2, John 20:1-10).  It was dawn on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and some women with her went to the tomb to anoint his body since Jesus died on Friday afternoon and they cannot do it on Sabbath.  But they were surprised that the large, heavy stone sealing the entrance to his tomb has been rolled away, the guards left and his body was nowhere to be found.  They met angels who announced that he has been risen. However, they cannot fully understand this.  Even those who heard the report wondered and even doubted.  It takes the appearance of the risen Christ for them to believe and have faith in him.

The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith.  If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith (1 Corinthians 15: 14)  If the resurrection of Jesus will be proven false, Christianity will fall into ruins.  The resurrection of Jesus gives guarantee to what we believe in and puts hope in strife and struggles in life.  I can say that this event has transformed the pagan world into a journeying community towards the fulfillment of God's kingdom on earth.

Let us ask Jesus to bless the catechumens and those preparing themselves to be baptized.  May they be able to find Christ as the fountain of life and joy.  May there be more conversion and reception of this sacrament by which all are given new life for God in Christ.  Let us ask Mary for the gift of faith that we may always see the world in the perspective of Christ.

The second glorious mystery is the Ascension of our Lord (Mark 16:19-21, Luke 50-53, Acts 1:3-11).  Within forty days after his resurrection, Jesus continually appears to his disciples, showing them proofs that he is alive.  When the time came, Jesus took them to a high mountain and commanded them to preach the gospel to the whole world and for them to do this, he promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit that will guide them in the work that they will be doing.  After saying these things, he ascended into heaven and there he is seated at the right hand of the Father.  Two men dressed in white said to the disciples that Jesus will come again in the same way that they had seen him ascended into heaven.

The ascension of Jesus is the reward of the Father to his Son for his fidelity while on earth.  He obtained his glory that he actually had from the very beginning.  There Jesus reigns while his kingdom is being propagated on earth.  From the Apostolic age until now, the mission of evangelization continues and the gift of faith has been multiplied to many parts of the world.  

Let us pray for those people in mass media and social communications that they may heed Jesus' commission to evangelize the world.  May they use the modern technology and mass media to reach out more people to hear the message of Christ.  May they never pollute the minds of the masses especially the young.  Let us ask Mary to obtain for us the gift of hope that in our plight and sufferings, we may always look forward to our glory.

The third glorious mystery is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-11).  Within nine days after the ascension of Christ, the apostles together with the women disciples, Jesus' relatives and Mary, the mother of Jesus, pray in the upper room in Jerusalem.  It was Penetecost, that is the fiftieth day after the Passover when on the room where they stay, a sound of a strong wind was heard and tongues of fire appeared and rested on their heads.  They speak in foreign tongues according to the inspiration of the Spirit.  Many wondered about what was happening to them but Peter began preaching the Gospel and his discourse converted about 3,000 people and were baptized in the name of Jesus. 

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as he promised.  That day was considered the birthday of the Church since it was the time when the apostles did not continue hiding and they proclaimed the Gospel beginning in Jerusalem until they went to the Gentiles.  Until now, the Holy Spirit continues to perform wonders to the Church.  thus, we can say that our generation is but a perpetual Pentecost since the Holy Spirit continues to descend upon us.

Let us ask Jesus to bless the lay leaders of the Church that they may be invigorated and strengthened as they help the clergy and the religious in building the Church.  Let us also ask Mary for the gift of charity that our hearts may always be set ablaze on fire with Divine Love for Him and to our brothers and sisters.

The fourth glorious mystery is the Assumption of Mary.  This mystery is not explicitly stated in the Scripture but is found in the Sacred Tradition of the Church.  It is proclaimed as truth by the Magisterium of the Church.  It is stated that Mary, after his earthly life was taken up to heaven.  The Assumption of Mary is likened to the Old Testament heroes like Enoch, who was taken by God; Moses, whose tomb cannot be found and Elijah who was taken to heaven in the chariot of fire.  It is the reward of Mary's close union with Jesus in the history of salvation and her perpetual obedience to the will of God.  

Mary's assumption is also our assumption because one day, if we also unite ourselves to Christ in his redemption and if we remain obedient to God's will in our lives, we will also be taken up into heaven.  Mary is just the first to obtain God's promise of salvation from Christ.  Mary remains as our inspiration as we look forward to obtain God's promise.

Let us pray to Jesus for all the migrants in foreign land that the Lord may be their strength as they live and work far from their loved ones.  May God bless them in their journeys and keep them safe.  May Mary obtain for us the grace of the desire for heaven as our ultimate goal and final glory.

The last glorious mystery and of the whole rosary is the coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of heaven and earth.   Mary was crowned by God as queen since Jesus is King of the universe.  Mary reigns beside her Son.  She is the crowning glory of human race since because of her, redemption was brought forth for man.  In glory, she begs for us there as we journey towards our heavenly Home.  

Let us ask Jesus for the peace to reign in our country and of the whole world.  Like Mary, may everyone have childlike hearts for them to gain intimacy with God and find joy in simple and ordinary events of their lives. May they live as brothers and sisters of the same Father. Because true peace can be obtained through these.  Let us ask Mary for the grace of closer relationship to her as our Mother with Christ, our brother; her as our Sister in being one with her in faith and her as our Queen with Christ as our King as we await the total fulfillment of his kingdom.

May the rosary be truly a part of our Christian life.  May in the mysteries we found learning and this devotion make us be absorbed in the life of Christ which he dedicated for our salvation.  The rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly a treasure chest of Christianity.  An indispensable devotion to Christ in the hands of Mary, his Mother and Cooperator in his act of redemption.

Monday, October 17, 2011

By His Wounds We are Healed: The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

In life, we oftentimes accept only the happy moments but we fail to accept pain and sorrow. In the rosary, we have sorrowful mysteries.  We are reminded here that in life, we have our own ups and downs.  We must also accept wholeheartedly those moments which we are asked to sacrifice.  Suffering is also a mystery.  We humans, do not fully know why there is.  But in the light of these mysteries, we see that the glory is already revealed in them.  We are asked by Christ to carry our own crosses and follow him in order to find True life.

I have reflected that the term "sorrowful" does not only apply to the feeling we feel for Jesus in these mysteries.  Rather, we are asked to feel "sorrowful" for our sins that made Jesus accept his cross.

The first sorrowful mystery is the agony in the garden (Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus, after the Passover meal, went to Getsemane like what he always do, to pray to his Father and with him are Peter, James and John.  He went a little father and he said to his Father that if he only willed it, he requests that his cup of suffering be taken away from him but let God's will be done.  In fear, he sweated blood and an angel appeared in heaven in order to console him in his agony.  He prayed longer in preparation for his Passion while his disciples slept not knowing the great events that will happen beginning at that moment.  There, Judas accompanied the temple guards who arrested Jesus.  His disciples left and Jesus was taken to the house of the high priest, Caiphas.

Let us ask Jesus to grant us a greater hatred for sin which separates us from our heavenly Father and from our brothers and sisters. May we also obtain the habit of prayer like Jesus.  Because prayer makes Jesus ready to face the Ultimate Sacrifice of  Man.  That is why Peter and other disciples felt weak and left Jesus because they were not disposed by prayer.  Let us ask the special intercession of Mary in this mystery, for those who are answering God's call in Holy Orders or in religious life.  Like Jesus, may they be able to heed the call of Christ and embrace the life of the Cross.

The second sorrowful mystery is the Scourging at the pillar (John 18:36-19:1).  The high priests Annas and Caiphas,after an unjust trial, decided that Jesus is to be killed saying that Jesus claimed to be God.  However, they cannot carry the sentence due to the restriction of the Roman authorities in the area.  They brought him to Pilate accusing him of subversion to Caesar and inciting a revolt to the Roman empire.  Pilate knew he was innocent and tried his best to release him.  But seeing how the chief priests, Pharisees and the people with them hate Jesus and wanted to get rid of him, he commanded Jesus to be scourged foolishly thinking that this would satisfy the blood-thirsty mob.

Jesus suffered obtaining wounds in his Most Sacred Body in reparation for our sins against our bodies.  He suffered for those people living impure and unchaste lives.  Let us ask him for the grace of chastity and purity that we may be able to respect our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.  Let us also ask him to pardon us from our sins of negligence of taking care of our bodies and for consenting to vices that give them harm.  Let us ask Mary to help those people committing sins against chastity that they may be able to be converted and find greater strength as they decide to reform their lives.

The third sorrowful mystery is the Crowning with thorns (Matthew 27:29-31, Mark 16:16-18, John 19:2-5).  After being scourged, the Roman brutal soldiers, who seems to be not yet satisfied with Jesus full of wounds all over his body, mocked him as the King of the Jews by placing a crown of thorns in his head, a reed in his hand and a dirty purple robe in his back.  They pretend to kneel before him, then they hit him with the reed he was holding.  When Pilate brought Jesus before the crowd, the mob even shouted that he should be crucified.  They even preferred a hardened criminal to be released instead of him.  Seeing how the authorities wanted Jesus to be crucified, Pilate gave Jesus to them and washed his hands, a symbol of him not accepting the guilt of his death.  

In this mystery, Jesus showed the great example of humility.  He suffered for our sins of pride.  He who is God decided to empty himself.  He is like a lamb who gently accepts death and never said a word while being falsely accused.  Lets us Jesus for us to be humble like him.  And let us ask Mary for those who have positions in the government.  May they imitate Jesus "who does not came to be served but to serve".  May their service to the people not be tainted with ambition and selfish motives.

The fourth sorrowful mystery is the carrying of the cross (Luke 23:25-31).  Jesus bore the cross as he is lead to his place of execution.  A Cirenean named Simon was forced to help him carry the cross since he is already tired and exhausted.  Jesus also met some women who cried for him.  Jesus said to them that they should rather weep not for him but for the sufferings that they will be experiencing later.  And according to a tradition, Mary followed him bearing the same pain as he is undergoing.  

Jesus shows us the example of human courage.  He shows us not to give up even though the cross seems too hard to bear.  He is there with us and helping us, saying to us that we are never alone.  Jesus also invites us to be like Simons of Cyrene to one another and like what he said to the women, we should also weep for the sufferings of the world and do something about it.  Let us ask Mary to help those who are sick, the poor, the sorrowing and burdened by various trials, that they may be strong and understand the benefits of the oneness of their suffering with Christ.

The last sorrowful mystery is the crucifixion and death of Christ (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19).   When Jesus reached Golgotha, meaning a place of skull, he was stripped and was nailed to the cross.  Jesus forgave his executioners for according to him, they do not know what they were doing.   Above his head, they was a sign that says:Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews written in the three most popular language of his time--- Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Executed with him are two thieves.  One challenged him to prove he is the Messiah but the other one repented of his sins and asked Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom.  Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief.  Jesus entrusted his mother to John, his beloved disciple.  And when time came, Jesus surrendered his spirit to God and he died.

This mystery is perhaps the center of the whole rosary because the rosary is but the contemplation of the mysteries of our salvation.  Adam and Eve brought chaos to the world through their disobedience by eating the fruit from a tree.  Now, in a "tree" without branches, leaves or fruits, Jesus together with Mary obeyed God and gave us the "fruit" of salvation. The life of a true Christian is actually centered on the Truth that God has so loved us that he gave his only Son and whoever believes in him will have eternal life. (John 3:16)

May we imitate Jesus' self-emptying and sacrifice by the continuous meditation of this mystery.  Let us ask Mary to help those who dedicated themselves in the service of others that they may remain faithful and accept sacrifices for others especially for the poor of this world. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Light of all Nations: The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

Thus says the LORD, "You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you the light of the nations, to carry my salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)

The next thing that comes after joy is light.  The mysteries of light expresses that the joy that we have in our hearts must shine for the world to see.  The joy must be shared and be a guiding light to the world and a glory for God the Father.

It was in October 13, 2003 when the late pope, Blessed John Paul the Great, in his apostolic exhortation, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary), introduced the new set of mysteries which he calls as Mysteria Lucis (mysteries of light).  This set of mysteries focuses on the main events in Chris'ts public life.  They were called as mysteries of light since the life on Jesus is primarily a "Mystery of Light". He says: "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12)  This new set provides a bridge for the mysteries of his coming and of his passion. 

The new set of mysteries is assigned every Thursday especially for those who pray the rosary once a day. But, it can be prayed on any day of the week and also recommended as a preparation before Gospel meditations and before the celebration of the Eucharist since this set of mysteries focuses on Jesus' preaching of the Word and as himself as the Bread of Life.

The first mystery is the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the river Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-33).  It happened eighteen years after the loss and the finding of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem.  So, both Jesus and John the Baptist were about thirty years old.  Jesus is known to be a carpenter from Nazareth and John as a nazirite, that is a consecrated Israelite from birth.   John gained popularity among the people as the Messiah but John dismissed thje idea and instead points out to the "one who is greater than him and is coming soon."  John was preaching about the coming of the Messiah when Jesus came to him to be baptized.  He protested since he according to John, he should be the one to baptize him.  But Jesus urged John to do it since it is according to the plan of God.  When Jesus was baptized, the heavens was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father proclaimed Jesus as his beloved Son and where his favor rests.

In this mystery of light, the Father proclaimed to the world that Jesus is his Son.   And he also revealed in a special way the mystery of one God in three persons, the Father (the Voice), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit (the Dove).   He revealed it at the inauguration of Jesus' ministry so as to show that the time has come for his light to be revealed on earth.

Let us pray to Jesus in this mystery to bless the Gentiles and those who are not yet baptized that they may be lead into the light of Christ.  Let us also ask Mary's intercession for us that we may be faithful to our baptismal promises.

The second luminous mystery is the Self-manifestation of Jesus in the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11).  When he together with Mary and some of his first disciples attended the wedding, the wine runs out.  Being a relative of perhaps the bridegroom (since it is in the Jewish custom that the groom's family prepares for the feast), Mary noticed the problem.  She approached Jesus whom she believes can do all things.  Jesus replied that it is not yet the time.  But Mary said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."  Jesus asked the servants to fill the six ceremonial jars used for ritual washing with water and to serve it to the feast.  And the steward (the person in charge for the party) saw the water is now wine yet he doesn't know that it was Jesus who did it.  The bridegroom's family was even praised for serving the best wine until the last.

Why is this miracle holding a special place in the rosary.  First, because it is Jesus' first miracle.  Jesus hesitated to do it.  Perhaps he wanted to begin performing miracles during his public ministry. But through the special intercession of his mother, he did it.  So secondly, this miracle is special because it shows the special role Mary performs in the history of salvation.  She becomes an instrument by which God's light is revealed to the world.  Third, because this miracle opened the eyes of Jesus' disciples and they believed in him.

Let us ask Jesus to bless our celebrations and the special occasions in our lives.  May we see Jesus celebrating with us.  May these celebrations lead us closer to one another together with him.  We ask Mary to grant us the grace of patience and persistence as we await the right time for God to answer our prayers. 

The third luminous mystery is the Jesus' proclamation of the coming of the kingdom of God and his call to conversion (Matthew 4:12-25, Mark 1:14-39).  This episode happened after John's arrest.  When the precursor or the one assigned to prepare the way for Christ was not in public, Jesus started to preach the kingdom.  He began in Galilee, where a large number of Gentiles and non-pious Jews lived. He calls his disciples and his disciples left everything and followed him.  The main topics of his sermons are the coming of God's reign, the need to reform lives and to believe in the Good News of Salvation. What is this Good News?  That is God loves the world so much that he sent his Son to save it and grant them eternal life.  The Pharisees, scribes and other learned men in his time failed to understand Jesus' message since they were pre-occupied with doing what the law of Moses requires.  For them Jesus is a false Messiah even though they see his signs since he is not doing literally what the Law says. But for Jesus, the Law is indeed important but what is more important is the love of God and neighbor which is its essence.  Jesus therefore says that the sinners will go ahead of the learned men since they repent their sins and followed Christ unlike the latter ones.

Let us ask Jesus to bless those who are sinners especially the stubborn ones that the Word of God may soften their hearts and lead then back to God.  Let us also ask Mary for the grace of the Love of God's Word.  like her, may we contemplate his word and fulfill what God requires. 

The forth mystery of light is the Transfiguration of Jesus in Mount Tabor Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36,1 Peter 1:16-18).  Because of Jesus' closeness to the poor, his continual proclamation of the Truth and him being a threat to the Romans, a group of Pharisees and scribes plotted to get rid of him. Jesus knew all this so he announced the coming of his passion.  The disciples failed to understand this.  They do not understand why he should suffer.  So, Jesus took the inner circle of his twelve apostles: Peter, James and John to a high mountain.  As Jesus prayed, his appearance changed.  His face shone and his garments become luminous white. Two Old Testament figures, Moses, the bearer of God's law and Elijah, a great prophet of God appeared and talked to him.  Peter after seeing this desired that this beautiful scenery not fade away but a Voice from a Shining Cloud says: This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. Jesus went back to his normal form and instructed them not to tell anyone until he rose from the dead.

The mysteries of light can perhaps be summarized into this mystery.  Jesus allows us to pray in silence as himself on the top of the mountain.  Jesus is seen as the light that gives us understanding.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and of the word of the prophets.  Jesus allows us to contemplate himself so that we can understand more.  And after praying, we must come down and share what we have learned into our ordinary duties.

Let us ask Jesus in this mystery to bless the skeptics, those who do not believe in his Church,  in him and in God that they may be lead into the light of Truth.  Let us ask Mary's intercession to allow us to contemplate Christ's face in concentration and with open hearts.

The last mystery of light is the Institution of the Eucharist (Matthew 26: 16-18, Mark 14:11-13, Luke 22:6-8).  Jesus knew that the time has come for him to leave this world and return to the Father. He also knew that Judas, his treasurer is now one with the chief priests and Pharisees in their plot against him, Peter will deny him and other disciples will leave him.  Yet, he love them to the end.  So the night before he suffered, on the celebration of the Passover meal, he washed their feet to show them how he emptied himself and took the form of a slave in order to serve them even though they were his Master. Then, Jesus took a bread, said a blessing and broke it, gave it to his disciples and ask them to partake it for it is his Body to be offered for their salvation.  Jesus also took a cup filled with wine, in the same way he said a blessing and gave them to his disciples in order for them to drink from one cup. Jesus said that it is his blood that will be shed for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus celebrates the Passover meal in remembrance of the New Covenant, when God delivered Israel from their slavery to Egypt through the blood of a lamb.  Jesus made it new.  He made it as a remembrance of him who was slain and offered for the salvation of the world.  He is now the lamb of God who lead God's people out of their slavery to sin into freedom as children of God.  He is now remembered every time we celebrate the Eucharist, which is actually a memorial of his suffering, death and resurrection. Every time we receive him in Holy Communion, we participate in his salvation and we become one with him.

Let us pray in this mystery for the sanctification of priests that in their frail humanity, may they become worthy of the sacrament they proclaim each time they celebrate mass. May they become living signs of God's presence in the world.  Let us also ask Mary to grant us the grace of greater love for Jesus in the Eucharist. And that may we see in our lives the fruits God's saving work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And the Word was Made Flesh: The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

The month of October is dedicated to the propagation of the Holy Rosary.  In this month, the Church highly encourages everyone to pray the rosary and for everyone to understand its importance in the Society, in the Church, in the families and in the personal life of every Christian. 

What is the rosary?  Literally it means: bouquet of roses.  Rosary is initially thought to be a Marian prayer.  It is true, but more importantly it is a Christ-centered devotion.  in the rosary, we meditate on the mysteries of Christ regarding on how he accomplishes our redemption.  The mysteries of the life of Christ are classified into four: his coming as man, his public life, his passion and glory.  The rosary without the meditation of the mysteries of Christ is likened to a body without a soul.  As we meditate on the mysteries of Christ, we join Mary who according to the Scripture, put all things in her heart. (Luke 2:19)  She is the perfect model of Christian meditation and contemplation.  We are asking her help that we might be able to know and understand Christ more and more and be closer to him.

The rosary is not a liturgy, that is the official worship of the Church.  But, it allows us to participate more in the liturgical life of the Church through the mediation of Christ's mysteries.  The rosary is not a Bible, but it helps us to mediate on the truths uttered by God in the Holy Scriptures.  The rosary is not a Creed, that is the summary of our faith,  but it contains the basic truths of our faith.  The rosary is not a Constitution of Morals, but in these mysteries lies the challenge for us to live in the virtues practiced by Christ and Mary.

The rosary is a prayer of meditation and contemplation of the life Jesus with and through Mary. We must never forget this as we pray the rosary.

The first series of the mysteries are called joyful since they speak of the coming of Christ.  "Joy" is different from "happiness".  Happiness is a feeling but joy is a deep realization in one's being that  the situation is happy although the situation may not be considered so. 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The first joyful mystery is the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she will conceive and bear a Son whom she will name Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).    The Lord surprised Mary that as a virgin, she will bring forth a son.  Mary was initially disturbed when an angel appeared to her and greeted her.  The angel wants to show Mary that she is chosen by God by which his Son will be brought into the world.   Mary doesn't know how will this happen so she asked.  Unlike Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, she did not doubt, she just wanted to know how will this happen.  The angel replied that it is through the Holy Spirit.  It is a new idea for the Israelites.  And being an ordinary Jewish girl, she doesn't have the knowledge of the scribes.  Yet she trusted in God's plan for her in spite of difficulties.  She might be misunderstood or be condemned.  She replied in faith: Let it be done unto me according to your word.  Then, a miracle happened, God became man in her womb.  After nine months,  God will dwell in the world he created.

This is a joyful mystery since Mary, although there is fear, felt joy knowing that she is a part of God's plan.  She doesn't know where doing God's will will lead her but it is enough for her to be happy.  She trusts in faith that God will take care of her.

 In this mystery, let us pray to Jesus for the awareness of the sanctity of life in this world wherein contraception, abortion, euthanasia and the like thrive.  Let us ask Mary for the virtue of purity because it is only in the bodies and hearts pure where God dwells.

The second joyful mystery is the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1;39-56).  After receiving graces, Mary did not remain in the house, she wanted to share the joy with her cousin Elizabeth who like her is in the period of grace.  Elizabeth conceived in her old age.  Truly, God has been gracious to both of them.  Her Son, Jesus and Elizabeth's son. John the Baptist will be God's chosen men to lead Israel back to God.  Mary was acknowledged by Elizabeth as "blessed among women" and as the "mother of her Lord".   Yet Mary, offered them all to God.  She acknowledges herself as nothing without God's favor.  And she continually thanked him for all the wonders he has done to her and to her nation, Israel.

In this mystery, let us pray to Jesus for the religious men and women that like Mary, may they be effective evangelizers through their word and the example of their lives.  And let us ask Mary for the virtue of genuine love and service like what she offered to Elizabeth.

The third joyful mystery is the Birth of Jesus in a stable at Bethlehem (Matthew 2: 1-12, Luke 2:1-20).  The emperor Augustus ordered a census that everyone must go back to their own respective towns.  Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth but their place of origin was at Bethlehem since they were descendants of David.  Having no place to stay, they were forced to stay in a stable.  There were no room for them in the inns.  There, Mary gave birth to Christ.  And the first ones to know his birth were the shepherds who keep watch over their flocks by night.  Angels appeared to them announcing that the long awaited Savior is born and a sign of an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and layed in a manger.   The shepherds after finding the baby praised God and became evangelizers. The baby was also found by the astrologers in the East after seeing and studying an unusual star.  They initially thought that the baby is King Herod's son but the same star lead them to the place where the baby was.  They offered their gifts of gold, fankincense and myrrh.  They never went back to Herod after learning from an angel that Herod actually wanted to kill the child thinking that it would be the end of his kingdom.

Let us pray to Jesus in this mystery to safeguard the children and the youth of today from the evils that threaten them.  May they be signs of God's goodness to the world.  May they never be looked upon as burdens but as blessings.  And let us ask Mary for the virtue of poverty and simplicity.  As God manifested his power in poor and simple ways, may we see him in the same paths.

The fourth joyful mystery is the presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2: 22- 40).  According to the Jewish law, a woman is ritually unclean within forty days after giving birth.  So, she needs to perform a ritual of purification by offering a lamb or two young pigeons to be sacrificed in the temple.  Mary with Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem, there they met Simeon, a just man awaiting Israel's redemption.  He knows that he will never die until he sees the long -awaited Messiah.  When he saw Jesus, in joy he carried him in his arms and blessed God thanking him and saying that he is now ready to die since he has seen the Savior.  Her prophesied the redemption of Jesus through his persecution and the sorrow of Mary.  Anna, a prophetess also seen Jesus and like Simeon, she rejoiced seeing the Savior.  Then they went back to Nazareth and there the child grew in grace and wisdom.

Let us ask Jesus in this mystery to help those who are poor who are awaiting help from God to see Jesus in the simplicity and ordinariness of their lives.  May they feel and recognize the presence of the Holy One who is always with them.  Let us ask Mary for the virtue of contemplation so that we can see Christ and feel his presence in our daily lives.

The fifth joyful mystery is the loss and the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2: 41-52). When Jesus was twelve years old, when it was his first time to join the caravan from Nazareth in pilgrimage to the Temple for the feat of the Passover,  he did not join his parents when they were returning to Jerusalem.  Noticing that Jesus was not with them, Joseph and Mary looked for him for three days.  They found him in the temple among the teachers, who were amazed at his wisdom in listening and asking them questions.  Mary asked him why did he do this to them.  But Jesus replied that he is just doing what his Father asked him to do.  His parents did not understand him but Mary contemplated these things in her heart.  Jesus obeyed his parents when they returned to Nazareth and became a good example to the young and was pleasing to God and men.

Let us ask Jesus in this mystery to help the families to be aware of their responsibility to the Society and to the Church.  Like the Holy family, may they be effective in looking for the lost and to let god be known to the world.  Let us ask Mary for the virtue of diligence in our duties.  That like Jesus, may we always be industrious in doing what God wants us to do in our home, in our studies, in our work and in our ministry.

Sa Hapag ng Panginoon

Muling sumagot si Jesus sa pamamagitan ng mga talinghaga. 2Sinabi niya: Ang paghahari ng langit ay katulad sa isang hari na nagbigay ng isang piging para sa kasal ng kaniyang anak na lalaki. 3Isinugo niya ang kaniyang mga alipin upang tawagin ang mga inanyayahan sa piging ngunit ayaw nilang dumalo. 
4Muli siyang nagsugo ng ibang mga alipin na sinasabi: Sabihin ninyo sa mga inanyayahan: Narito, naghanda ako ng hapunan. Kinatay na ang aking mga baka at ang lahat ng mga bagay ay nakahanda na. Halina kayo sa piging.
 5Ngunit hindi nila ito binigyang pansin at sila ay umalis. Ang isa ay pumunta sa kaniyang bukid, at ang isa ay sa kaniyang kalakal. 6Ang iba ay sinunggaban ang kaniyang mga alipin, kanilang nilait ang mga ito at pinatay. 7Nang marinig ito ng hari, siya ay nagalit. Sinugo niya ang kaniyang hukbo at pinuksa ang mga mamamatay taong iyon. Sinunog niya ang kanilang lungsod.

 8Pagkatapos, sinabi niya sa kaniyang mga alipin: Nakahanda na ang piging ngunit ang mga inanyayahan ay hindi karapat-dapat. 9Pumunta nga kayo sa mga lansangan at sinuman ang inyong matagpuan ay anyayahan ninyo sa piging. 10Lumabas nga ang mga alipin sa mga lansangan at dinala ang lahat ng kanilang mga natagpuan. Dinala nila kapwa ang masama at mabuti. Ang piging ay napuno ng mga panauhin.
 11Ngunit nang pumasok ang hari upang tingnan ang mga panauhin, may nakita siya roong isang lalaking hindi nakasuot ng damit na pampiging. 12Sinabi niya sa kaniya: Kaibigan, papaano ka nakapasok dito nang hindi nakasuot ng damit na pampiging? Ngunit wala siyang masabi.
13Sinabi ng hari sa mga tagapaglingkod: Igapos ninyo ang kaniyang mga paa at mga kamay. Dalhin ninyo siya at itapon sa kadiliman sa labas. Doon ay magkakaroon ng pananangis at pagngangalit ng mga ngipin.

14Ito ay sapagkat marami ang tinawag ngunit kakaunti ang pinili. Mateo 22

Sa bansang Israel at kahit maging sa kasalukuyan, masasabing ang kasalan na yata ang pinakaengrandeng selebrasyon sa isang karaniwang tao.  Noon, halos umaabot sa dalwang taon ang preparasyon para sa kasalan.  Sa kultura ng mga Judio, hindi lang basata-basata ang mga pagkaing ihahanda, kundi ang pinakakamatabang baka ang kakatayin at pinakamasarap na putahe ang lulutuin.  Pinakamahal din ang damit na sususutin at ang alak ang pinakamasarap.  Isang malaking kahihiyan kapag kulang ang alak o pagkaing naihanda o hindi gaanong nasiyahan ang mga bisita.  

Sa Ebanghelyo natin sa linggong ito, ang Hari mismo ang nag-imbita.  At ang ikinasal ay ang Prinsipe na magmamamana sa kanyang korona.  Subalit, wala man lang nagpaunlak sa kanyang imbitasyon.  Lahat ay may mga gagawin.  At hindi lamang iyan.  Sinaktan nila ang mga nag-imbita kung kaya sila ay pinarusahan.  At ang handaan ay binuksan para sa lahat.  Subalit, may isa ring hindi handa  na pinarusahan din dahil sa di tamang kasuotan sa kasal.

Linggo-linggo ay inniimbitahan tayo ng Hari upang makiisa sa "kasal" ni Hesus at ng Santa Iglesia. Subalit, katulad ng mga nasa parabula, hindi tayo tumutugon.  Ang mga dahilan natin ay maaaring mahati sa dalawa: trabaho ("Hindi muna ako magsisimba kasi may trabaho ako ngayon."  "Hindi muna ako magsisimba kasi may gagawin akong project". Hindi muna ako magsisimba kasi magrereview ako sa exams".), pamilya o relationships ("Hindi muna ako magsisimba kasi kailangan kong tumulong sa mga gawaing bahay." "Hindi muna ako magsisimba kasi kailanagan kong alagaan ang aking nakababatang kapatid". "May outing kami ng barkada".)  Pero kung iyon ang mga dahilan, sino pa ang tutugon sa panawagan ng Diyos?  Sino ba sa atin ang walang trabaho o walang pamilya?

Totoo ang kasabihan: Ang may gusto, maraming paraan, ang ayaw maraming dahilan. Mabuting suriin natin ang ating mga sarili, may dahilan nga ba tayo sa di pagtugon sa tawag ng Diyos?  Hindi lamang sa pagsisimba kundi sa patuloy niyang panawagan sa ting pang-araw-araw na buhay ukol sa kabanalan.  May dahilan nga ba tayo o simply ayaw lang natin?  Ano ba ang isa o dalawang oras na iaaalay natin sa Diyos?  Ano ba ang tira-tirang oras na ibibigay natin sa kanya sa kabila ng mga busyness natin sa ating buhay?  Kung sususriin natin, kapag ibang tao nag-imbita, madali tayong tumugon.  Subalit kapag ang Diyos, hindi.  At hindi iniintindi ng Diyos ang mga panahong tira-tira lamng na binibigay natin sa kanya gayong siya naman talaga ang nagbigay ng lahat ng bagay sa atin.  Malugod pa rin niyang tinatanggap kahit tila ba ibinibigay lang natin sa kanya ang ating mga bakanteng oras.

Ang panawagan ng Diyos upang makisalo sa kanyang piging ay panawagan din ng maayos na relasyon sa kanya.  Sa ating mga Pilipino, normal ang umalok ng makakain sa isang tao kung may pag-uusapan.  Meal is not all about food, it is about relationship.  Ibig sabihin, sa pag-aalok saiyo sa isang piging, nais ng Diyos na makipag-close o magkaroon kayo ng intimacy.  Sa patuloy nating pagtugon sa Diyos, nagiging masa malapit tayo sa kanya.

Subalit sa Ebanaghelyo,  may isang hindi nakadamit na nababagay sa okasyon, kung kaya't siya ay pinarusahan.  Ibig sabihin, hindi guarantee na naging close tayo sa Diyos kapag tumugon tayo sa pagsisimba o ligtas na tayo kapag tayo ay nabinyagan.  Kailangan ang kahandaan, kailangan na nababagay ang suot nating damit para sa "piging" ng Diyos.  Noong tayo ay bininyagan, sinuotan tayo ng puting damit, tanda na hinuhubad na natin ang lumang damit ng ating pagkamakasalanan at sinusuot natin ang damit ng kalinisan at grasya ng Diyos.  Kumusta ang puti nating damit?  Marumi na ba o gula-gulanit?  Kung gayon, isuot muli natin ang puting damit na tanda ni Hesus upang maging maayos tayong humarap at kumain sa hapag ng Panginoon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Listen to another parable, Jesus said. There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip. When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent his slaves to the tenants to receive his share of the harvest.  The tenants grabbed his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again the man sent other slaves, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.  Last of all he sent his son to them. Surely they will respect my son, he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, This is the owner's son. Come on, let's kill him, and we will get his property!  So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? Jesus asked.  He will certainly kill those evil men, they answered, and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest at the right time.  Jesus said to them, Haven't you ever read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all. This was done by the Lord; what a wonderful sight it is!  And so I tell you, added Jesus, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the proper fruits. (Matthew 21:33-43)

The gospel for this Sunday effectively tells us how much God trusts us.  If God entrusted his vineyard to the tenants, God is entrusting "his life" to us, how do we take good care of "his life"?

We are called to be stewards, which means, we are not the owner but we are just paid to take good care of the thing which we do not own.  The  tenants in the gospel, did not behave that way.  They behaved as if they were the owners.  They killed the servants and even the son of the owner in order for them to fully acquire the vineyard. Yet they failed.  

Everything that we own is from God.  Our life is from God.  It is not our own life that is why we cannot simply do what we wish with it.  We must take care of our life according to the will of its Owner.  That is why we must be contented with what we have.  We must not complain about the things Life gave us.  And everything must be thanked for.

If we have this attitude, we will not be distressed or fear much.  Instead we take good care of our life and of our relationships and treasures, so that God can be pleased and glorified.  If God owns what we have, we will be thankful and we will not wish to acquire more.  There will be no corruption, no fights, no wars.  We will not be too selfish to offer what we have in service of others.  We will see the world in a new way.  We see it as belonging to Christ and to God.  

When we serve in our ministry, we will not be too ambitious to gain power or authority.  Instead we will be happy that God gave a position and a role to us so that we can use this function to serve others.  And we will be strong a midst of the trials and challenges since we do all these things for God's glory.  When we speak or instruct others, we will not force them to much to be what we want them to be.  But we take into consideration what God would want them to be or what would please God for them to be.

There is one story of a priest who asked his sacristan to plant a seed on a vacant part of the garden.  The boy said "yes".  The priest waited after a week, and every time he wakes up, he always look at that part of the garden but he sees no sprout.  He put fertilizer on it and watered it everyday.  After another week, he sees no improvement.  Then he asked the sacristan, "What happened to the seed that you planted?  Maybe it died?"  The sacristan replied: "I am sorry Father. I forgot to plant the seed."

Like the boy, we are called to be stewards.  Do we forget this basic idea?   

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dalawang Pagtugon sa Pagkakataong Ibinigay ng Ama

Ngunit ano sa palagay ninyo? May isang tao na may dalawang anak na lalaki. Lumapit siya sa una at sinabi: Anak, pumunta ka ngayon sa ubasan at gumawa ka roon. 29Sumagot siya: Ayaw ko. Ngunit nagsisi siya at pumunta rin pagkatapos. 30Lumapit siya sa pangalawang anak at gayundin ang sinabi. Sumagot siya: Pupunta ako. Ngunit hindi siya pumunta. 31Sino sa kanilang dalawa ang gumanap ng kalooban ng ama? Sinabi nila sa kaniya: Ang una. Sinabi ni Jesus sa kanila: Katotohanang sinasabi ko sa inyo: Ang mga maniningil ng buwis at mga patutot ay mauuna sa inyo sa pagpasok sa paghahari ng Diyos. 32Ito ay sapagkat dumating sa inyo si Juan sa daan ng katuwiran at hindi ninyo siya pinaniwalaan. Ngunit pinaniwalaan siya ng mga maniningil ng buwis at ng mga patutot. Samantalang kayo, nakita ninyo ito ngunit hindi pa rin kayo nagsisi at naniwala sa kaniya. (Mateo 21)

Napakasimple lamang ng Ebanghelyo natin ngayon.  Dalawang anak na sinugo ng kanilang ama. Ang isa ay ayaw subalit nagbago ang isip at tumugon.  Ang bunso ay nagsabing gusto subalit hindi tumupad.  Ang kuwento ay nagtapos sa tanong na: Sino ka ba sa dalwang anak?

Ang sagot ko ay pareho silang kumakatawan sa akin.  May mga pagkakataon na nagsasabi akong sususndin ko ang Diyos subalit hindi ko naman siya sinusunod at may mga pagkakataon naman na kabaligtaran.  Kaya sabi nga ni San Agustin sa librong The City of God, naroroon ang pagkahati ng puso ng bawat tao sa dalawa--- sa pagmamahal sa sarili at pagmamahal sa Diyos.  Karaniwan na hindi balanse ang dalawang ito sapagkat sa sobrang pagmamahal natin sa ating sarili ay nababawasan natin ang ating pagmamahal sa Diyos at sa pagmamahal naman sa Diyos kinakailangan na limutin at "kamuhian' natin ang ating sarili.  Makikita natin ang pagkakahati ng ating puso sa dalawa, halimbawa, ang mas pagpaprioritize natin sa ibang bagay o libangan kaysa sa pananalangin at pagsisimba.  O mas inuuna natin ang barkada sa ating ministries kesa sa ibang tao na di natin close subalit kinakailangan nating pakitunguhan. 

Kung kaya't dapat naroroon ang ating pagpapasya sa dalawang pagmamahal na ito.  Hindi dapat palaging manatiling neutral.  Hindi tayo dapat maging maligamgam. Gusto ng Diyos na maging mainit o kaya malamig tayo sa kanya.  But the choice should be clear.  We must chose the good of course.

Karaniwang beses kasi, naririnig na natin ang tinig ng Diyos subalit dahil sa ating pagkamakasarili, hindi tayo tumutugon.  O kaya naman, dahil nahihirapan na tayong lumaban sa tukso, nagpapaubaya na lamang tayo.  O kaya mas nagiging mas madali sa ating bumalik sa ating lumang kasalanan kesa sa patuloy na gumawa ng mabuti. 

Ang dalawang anak ay binigyan ng pagkakataong gumawa ng mabuti.  Ang isa ay tumugon, ang isa ay hindi.  We should not let opportunities pass as by.  Malay natin na huling pagkakataon na iyon o kaya may merito tayong makukuha roon.  Bawat kabutihan ay may merito.  Pero kung sakaling matagal pa bago makuha ito, ang pagiging matapat at pagkakaalam na ginagawa natin ang kalooban ng Ama ay isa nang malaking merito.

Sa linggong ito ay tinatawagan tayo ng Diyos na magtrabaho sa ubasan.  Hindi bilang utusan kundi anak na nagtatrabaho doon alang-alang sa pagmamahal sa Ama.  Huwag na tayong mag-atubili.  Dali na at sundin natin ang kagustuhan ng Ama!