Friday, March 1, 2013

We are Tenants

Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.


"God is the landowner. We are the tenants."

Indeed, It is not just the world that we live in but our very own lives that God gave to us as a blessing. He is expecting us to take care of the world that is why we were given a life that is full of freedom (freedom under God's will). 

"But what are we really doing?"

Young as we are today, violent is started now by the youth generation. Underage committing serious crimes are rising (and take note, immoral sins not just unethical). Vices is more dominant among youth (drunkards, illegal drugs, smoking). These youths do not even know what is moral or immoral. It is just about pleasure or suffer.

I am glad to be a part of a faith community as young as I am. I really can't imagine myself if I am one of the ignorants of this generation. So as early as now, I am proud to declare myself as a servant of my Lord. . a YOUTH for CHRIST. :)

Reach Out

Gospel, Luke 16:19-31

 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day.
 And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores,
who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man's table. Even dogs came and licked his sores.
Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace. The rich man also died and was buried.
 'In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace.
So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames."
Abraham said, "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.
But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours."
 'So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house,
 since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too."
Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them."
 The rich man replied, "Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent."
Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."
Lazarus was a man of humility while the rich man was a man of greed. The former had nothing to eat and was covered with sores and untidy clothes; while the latter was clothed in fine linen and had bountiful to eat. Everyday, we're given ample of chances to encounter someone like Lazarus to fervently ask from us something that could lift them up and ease their troubles. That Lazarus could be any members of our family, a former classmate, a friend, an acquaintance, or even an enemy. Meeting people like them tells us a message that we're here on earth to be servants of those in need in the name of the Lord and bring back the glory unto Him. As servants, we should not do the same thing the rich man did unto Lazarus. The moment we die, we don't want to hear from the Lord something like "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony." Right?
There is this person whom I really admire. I was moved when the knowledge came to me that from now on, he's going to sponsor the transportation expense of one of my co-working student in school who, really struggles a lot nowadays in spite having a full scholarship. That person made that decision without hesitation and with happiness in his heart because he is that humble and generous.
We all desire to be fed beyond what a mere food could offer us. We're all vying to be in Heaven and be with the Father. The challenge to us now is: when we meet people someone like Lazarus in our lives, how do we welcome them? Do we also let them long for food that drops from our table just like what the rich man did in today's Gospel? Or do we personally approach and invite them to dine with us?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Reward

Gospel MT 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way,

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her,

What do you wish?”

She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply,

You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?

They said to him, “We can.”

He replied,

My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said,

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.


Condemned. Mocked. Scourged. Crucified.

         Jesus warned us that following Him is not easy. He said that if we want to follow Him we must carry our own crosses. And in today's gospel, He even made it more intense by telling us that He, the One we're following, will be condemned, mocked, scourged, and crucified. And it's possible that we will experience the same thing because we are His followers.


         But Jesus showed us also how we can endure such pains. He want us to focus on the reward. That no matter how painful the words, the thorns, and the nails we're going to experience, we should stand still and firm and not give up, because we know that like Him who was raised from the dead, we will be raised and rewarded not only here on earth, but also in heaven.


          The reward is at the finish line. And yet, we're still not in the finish line. We're still running while enduring every hurdles and pains. And He doesn't want us to leave our road to that finish line empty. He wants us to fill our every steps. He wants us to leave traces of Him in every distance. He wants us to live for Him. He wants us to serve Him by serving His people. By pulling the lost back to Him. By enlightening the minds of confused. By helping the poor. By introducing Christ to people who doesn't know Him yet. By letting the whole world kneel before Christ.

         Endure. Live. And Serve. The reward is great.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Arrogance VS. Humility

Gospel, Matthew 23:1-12

"Then addressing the crowds and his disciples Jesus said, 'The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader headbands and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi. 'You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up."

Picture this - a world where people smile at each other; a world where younger people give up their seats to the older ones;  a world where people are not mocking and bashing each other; a world where people are not taking advantages to each other; a world where people are not thinking about their selves only; a world where people pray not just for themselves but also praying for the whole humankind.

I remembered the movie "Pay It Forward" (2000), which is a very great movie by the way, where a little boy was asked by his teacher what puts the idea of the "Pay It Forward" movement into his head and he answered, "Because everything sucks." His answer may sound rude and funny at the same time but come to think of it. Our Earth is now ruled by the worldly pleasures. Everyone is striving and craving for fame, money, wealth, prestige, and power. Almost everyone is fighting each other just to have the security that they will never suffer.

BUT... behind these grievous things that are seen here on Earth, behind every arrogance, there lies HUMILITY. It is when we humble ourselves and embrace the truth the there is God, the most superior of all, who is watching our every move. It is when we realize that the real happiness and security are only find in His arms. It is when we gave up craving for these worldly pleasures and realizing that He is all we need all along.

Isn't it nice living in the world where everyone is humbling themselves, the leaders are directing the country with honesty, and everyone is united with love and in faith in God? :) Just thinking about it makes me smile. How much more if it is really happening right now?

It'll bounce back!

Lk 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Whenever I get hold of a ball, the first thing that I will do is to dribble it. I used to do such thing when I was still a kid. I even remembered the first time that I started dribbling a ball; it was really hard for me to make it bounce for a long time. I would even get irritated at times when the ball slips from my hand and when I get hold of the ball again; I will start dribbling until such time that I will be able to make it bounce for a long time. Dribbling is a matter of using your muscles to thrust the ball forcefully down and expect the ball to quickly bounce back to your hand.

In today’s gospel, I am reminded on how the ball bounces back to your hand when dribbling. The bouncing of the ball depends on the level of intensity or force exerted by the person upon thrusting it. Dribbling a ball is like living your life: “What you do to other people will definitely come back to you.”  If you want to experience good things in your life, start doing good deeds now. In doing so, the Lord will also reward you.

Furthermore, let us always be reminded of the golden rule; “Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.” 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

God's Victors

Gospel: MT 5:43-48 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 

Don’t you find God’s ways absurd? Love your enemy. Pray for those who hurt you. Greet not only your brothers and sisters. These are always easier said than done. Besides, continually receding like that would make us look like losers. Yes, losers in the eyes of men but in the eyes of God, we are glorious victors. 

God doesn’t want us to lose in a fight with our enemies. He doesn’t want us to fight at all. Instead, He wants us to keep that peace of mind at the end of the day. 

Praying instead of hurting back those who hurt us is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength of our faith. It is a manifestation that God lives in us. It means we are compassionate towards our persecutors who probably did not know what they were doing. 

If we did love only those who love us, we haven’t truly loved at all. It’s like waiting to receive a gift before giving one. Then, who would start giving if we all wait to receive something first? If we all wait to be loved first, who would start loving? 

We become victors if we become the first to achieve peace; the first to show compassion; the first to love; the first to be holy just as our Father in heaven is holy. 

These words from Jesus are His way of teaching us to love deeply and truly. It is His way of making us holy and worthy to be called children of God. God’s ways are, indeed, absurd for it is not what we, mere humans, are used to. Absurd, yet, divine. 

“What may seem upside down to us
 is right side up to God.”