Friday, April 19, 2019

Are You Jesus’ Disciple?

“Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” John 18:16

Later this afternoon, in our community’s Good Friday service, I will read this one line. When we were practicing, I was told I had to place myself in the story. There is much emotion in the situation. An accused man is bound and brought to the High Priest. Simon Peter and another disciple followed but Peter was left outside the gate. The other disciple went to speak to the maid who was guarding the gate. When she let Peter in, she accused, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

She probably squinted at him in the darkness, the only light coming from the fire where the slaves and guards were warming themselves. She wasn’t merely curious. If she was in the employ of the High Priest, she was on his side, and anyone against him was suspect. What was this man, Simon Peter, about? He better be careful because she was watching him. 

But Peter’s immediate reaction was, “No, I

am not this man’s disciple!” What would our reaction be? If we were in the middle of a crowd of non- believers? If, like a friend of mine, we were invited to an unsavory place by an important client of our company? If, like my grandfather, we had the opportunity to choose any valuable property we wanted? He was a clerk in city hall, but he did not grab at the chance, knowing it was wrong. 

Everyday we are given the opportunity to show Jesus and the world that we are His disciples. To love or to be indifferent. To be kind or to be petty. To be generous or to keep what we have for ourselves. To stand up for what is right or to be silent in the face of injustice. To serve or to be selfish. 

If someone has to ask, “Are you one of Jesus’ disciples?”, that means we are standing outside the gate, wavering. Let us make sure everyone knows on whose side we are. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Beauty for Ashes

“ for ashes...” Isaiah 61:3

This is one of the most beautiful promises in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned 60 years and four kings. He lived through war and the destruction of Israel. But his prophecies were always about rescue and restoration. 

“ provide for those who grieve in Zion, a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he read these same verses from the passage of Isaiah. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down. “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

For hundreds of years, the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah. They expected a King in resplendent robes with a mighty army. Jesus came in peasant garb and sandals and a walking stick. Today He walks among us, and many people still ignore His presence. He may be the beggar with a misshapen face on the overpass. He may be the autistic child in the corner shunned by his classmates. He may be one of the 5000 prisoners in overcrowded QC jail. He may be anyone who needs us to bring him glad tidings and good news. 

Before Jesus left, He instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” If we obey, we will have the joy of giving beauty for ashes, gladness instead of  mourning, thanksgiving instead of despair. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Matthew 26:25

Each of the twelve disciples asked Jesus, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”, when He claimed that one of them would betray Him. They became deeply distressed by the thought. These days I am dismayed when those who profess to be Christians support our Philippine President’s way of fighting the drug menace in our country. Instead of rehabilitating suspected drug addicts, they are summarily killed. Obviously the strategy is so unsuccessful, even the President admits the problem is worse than when he took office. 

Aren’t those who approve of extrajudicial killings, and the President’s way of solving crime, a betrayal of Christ? Jesus’ way is love and He gave Himself for the atonement of my sin and the sin of each one of those who were killed in this unjust drug war. 

“God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) And that means each and everyone of us has an inherent value and dignity. We are not a a clump of dirt to be disposed of. We are not just atoms accidentally pulled together. God made us for a purpose, and He gave us freedom. Freedom to follow Him or freedom to betray Him. This Holy Week is a good time to reflect upon the ways, big or little, that we betray our God who made us in His own image and likeness. 

Lord, may You reveal Your saving power to each one of us, and help us realize in what ways we have betrayed You for the ways and thinking of the world. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Christ the Messiah

“ salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

God’s ways are indeed different than man’s ways. For centuries He prepared His chosen people for a Messiah that was to come and save them from oppression. He made many promises through the prophets. To David, He said, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever.” God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his offspring because Abraham obeyed His voice (Gen. 22:18). Among the many promises God gave Moses, He said that He would defend His people from all her enemies. 

Those promises and many more were all fulfilled in Jesus. The Jewish people rejected Him because they were expecting  a Savior to free them from the oppression of the Romans. He came to atone for all our sins and free all humanity from the bondage of the evil one. This week we can journey with a different kind of king, who puts others first before Himself, and who paid a huge price to save His people. Let us give Him a home in our hearts. He deserves nothing less. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fragrance Up to Heaven

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” John 12:3

Jesus liked visiting his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He went to see them in Bethany before proceeding to Jerusalem for His Last Supper. Martha served dinner, Lazarus sat at the table with Him, and Mary did something special for Him. She took a 12 ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and anointed Jesus’ dusty feet. She wiped His feet with her hair, and the whole house was filled with the aroma of this amber-colored essential oil. 

If we would like to do something crazy extravagant for Jesus, what would it be? He said that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Him. In the Philippines, we are surrounded by many children in the streets selling sampaguita. Perhaps we can invite them to a nice lunch? They will never be able to repay us. I know a man inflicted with the terrible disease of Arteriovenous Malformation. His blood is flowing in all the wrong places and his face is so malformed, he cannot work. Search “Buddy Cabural” on google if you want to help. Whatever we decide to do for one or two of the least of Jesus’ friends this Holy Week, we can be sure that the fragrance will reach up to heaven.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Ascent to Jerusalem

“Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” Luke 19:28

I was reading the spiritual reflection of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and he had this to say: “Being Christian is a path or, better, a pilgrimage; it is to travel with Jesus Christ, to journey in the direction He has pointed out and is pointing out to us. 

“But what direction is this? How do we find it? Our Gospel passage offers clues in this regard. In the first place it says it is an ascent. This has first of all a very concrete meaning. Jericho, where the last part of Jesus’ pilgrimage began, is 250 meters below sea-level: a climb of almost 1000 meters. But this external route is above all an image of the internal movement of existence that occurs in the following of Christ; it is an ascent to the true heights of being human. Man can choose an easy path and avoid every effort. He can also sink to the low and vulgar. He can flounder in the swamps of falsehood and dishonesty. Jesus walks before us and towards the heights. He leads us to what is great, pure. He leads us to that healthy air of the heights: to life in accordance with the truth; to courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevalent opinions; to patience that bears with and sustains the other. He guides people to be open to suffering, to those who are neglected. He leads us to stand loyally by the other, even when the situation becomes difficult. He leads us to the readiness to give help; to the goodness that does not let itself be disarmed, even by ingratitude. He leads us to love; He leads us to God.” 

Let us go with Jesus, up to Jerusalem, this Holy Week, and all the weeks of our life.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

My People

“I will make with them a covenant of peace, it shall be an everlasting covenant...” Ezekiel 37:26

What mighty, all powerful person will persist in making agreements with someone who has proven to be unreliable again and again? Only God. The Israelites continued to disobey God, worship idols from their own hands, complain against Him, and marry women from other peoples. God asked Moses to lead them to the Promised Land when they repented for the nth time, and said, “But I will not travel with you, for you are an unruly, stubborn people. If I were there among you for even a moment, I would destroy you.” (Exodus 33:3,5)

Yikes! I can imagine God saying this to me sometimes when I keep repeating the same sins. Or saying this to our whole country! “I will not walk with You because you are unruly, stubborn, disobedient and blind. If I were walking among you even for a short time, I will destroy you.” And who could blame Him?”

But just as He kept calling Israel to be His own, He never gives up on us. The whole Bible is His love song for us. It is not only His way for us to know His laws and commandments, but also His way for us to get to know Him and His love for us. 

“I will be Your God and You will be my people!” (Ezekiel 37:27) Yes, irregardless of how many times we have broken faith with Him! 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Mighty Champion

“But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion...” Jeremiah 20:11

We will never be able to grasp how high, how wide, how deep is our God’s love for us. He really is our mighty champion who never ever gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves for having failed in some way, or sinned, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. God waits always by our side. He doesn’t turn His back on us. 

I was singing these words from Hillsong this morning: 

“You were the Word at the beginning

One With God the Lord Most High

Your hidden glory in creation

Now revealed in You our Christ

What a beautiful Name it is

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a beautiful Name it is

Nothing compares to this

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus

You didn't want heaven without us

So Jesus, You brought heaven down

My sin was great, Your love was greater

What could separate us now”

When we see the vast scope of God’s mighty hand, from the Old Testament stories to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can’t help but marvel at God’s love written in large bold letters. The story of Moses and the Passover foreshadow Jesus, His death on the cross and the Eucharist. Jesus is the true Passover lamb who leads us out of spiritual bondage to a new Exodus. Just as the Hebrews who partook of the lamb as instructed by Moses, were spared from death, so too we who feed on Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist receive grace for salvation. The new Passover is Christ our champion delivering us from the bondage of sin, leading us to the true promised land of heaven! Nothing compares to this!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Covenant-Keeping God

“You and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” Genesis 17:9

Salvation history, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation is the story of God’s family. God told Abraham that He will maintain, continue, and establish an everlasting covenant between Himself and Abraham and all Abraham’s descendants for generations to come. In the sometimes exciting, sometimes boring events in the Book of Exodus, we see how God’s covenant family becomes a nation through Moses. Even if the Egyptian Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews, God kept His covenant promise and rescued them. 

God continues to keep His promises today. He is a covenant-keeping God. Are we a covenant-keeping people? That would mean we are faithful to Him even during difficult times. That we study how to please Him so we can become more and more like Him and value what He values. That we spend quality time with Him because He is first in our life. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

WOYWW: Believing and Obeying

I have not shown a picture of my messy desk recently. Here it is. 

I work out in our pocket garden and most of the time I have three cats for company! 

"Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up." Daniel 3:18

In the Book of Daniel we encounter a King who decrees that all his people worship his god, and bow down before a 90 ft. tall golden statue. Everyone obeys except three Jewish young men by the name of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The King gets furious and ordered their presence before him. "I will have you thrown into the fiery furnace!!!" The three answer that their God can rescue them, but that, "Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up."

How admirable that these young men put no conditions on obeying and loving God! Many people, even long time preachers, have stopped believing in God and obeying Him because God did not fit into a box of their own making. "I'm not going to believe in God anymore because what kind of a god allows people to suffer?" Or, "I'm not going to church anymore because the creation story in Genesis is b****”. The excuses can go on and on.

Twenty-one years after Charles "Chuck" Templeton became an evangelist, he declared himself an agnostic and he died an agnostic. He was quite a popular evangelist, and preached with Billy Graham. Many thought that he, not Billy Graham, would become the biggest evangelical preacher in history. Towards the end of his life, he was interviewed by Lee Strobel, the writer of "The Case for the Real Jesus". When asked about Jesus, Templeton became melancholy and said, "I adore Him. I miss Him." How sad that because Templeton couldn't explain everything in the Bible to his satisfaction, he turned away from his best friend! Lord, may I follow and obey You even during times of testing, and even when I have doubts!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Power of Thankfulness

“We have sinned in complaining against the Lord...” Numbers 21:7

Recently although I haven’t said them out loud, I have been guilty of complaining. When I think about it, there are a whole lot of things to complain about if that is what I choose to focus on. Yesterday my sister Peggy was with my dad. He is 92 years old and has been unhappy ever since he has been stuck in bed. So Peggy showed him a video of Nick Vujicic, a Christian evangelist born with no arms or legs. Daddy said he was better off than Nick. It matters a lot what we set our eyes on. 

In the 21st chapter of the Book of Numbers, the Israelites were tired and weary of their journey. They complained to Moses, “Why did you lead us away from Egypt, so as to die in the wilderness? Bread is lacking; there are no waters. Our soul is now nauseous over this very light food.” God was so displeased by their constant grumbling and whining that He sent serpents. When we complain, our burden gets heavier instead of lighter. When we grumble, our troubles increase. When we whine, nothing gets solved, we only displease God. 

Like the Israelites, who learned that complaining brings more bitter sorrow, we should turn to God and ask His forgiveness. Instead of focusing on what we lack or how difficult things are, we can count our blessings and see how our load gets lighter and we become wiser. Oprah Winfrey said it better, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Monday, April 08, 2019

Truth and Justice

“O eternal God, You know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be..” Daniel 13:42

The beautiful Susana is falsely accused by two lascivious old judges of having a tryst with an young man. She is condemned to death when she cries out to God. As she was being led to her execution, God stirred up the Holy Spirit in Daniel, who was still a young boy at this time. He lead the people back to court and questioned the judges separately. One judge claimed the young man was with Susana under a mastic tree, and the other claimed they were under an oak tree. Since both trees had a great difference in size, it was apparent to all that the two judges had lied, and they were both put to death. Virtue triumphed. 

It may seem today that God is sleeping, for there are a lot of lies being believed, and public money being stolen without punishment, big time criminals roam free and poor suspected drug addicts are murdered in the streets by the men supposed to protect them. 

My 92-year old father has been reminiscing a lot. He told me about his older brother, Dever, who was part of his church’ group of young men who wanted to spread the truth to combat the lies of the Japanese propaganda machine. They would listen secretly on the radio for news about the Americans and would mimeograph it. The Japanese would tell the Filipinos that the Americans were defeated and far away, when the real news was that they had landed in Lingayen and moving steadily to Manila. When found out, these brave young men were beheaded and put in a mass grave. Now my uncle Dever is honoured as a martyr in North Cemetery. 

God is searching for young men and women like Daniel and my uncle Dever who are brave enough to stand for truth and justice. Where are they today? We each need to stand for truth and justice so that God will fight for us. 

Sunday, April 07, 2019

No One Else Will Know

"Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."John 8:10-11

In John chapter 8, we meet a woman accused of adultery. Scribes and Pharisees lead her to Jesus. Can you imagine her shame, her self-loathing, how dirty she feels when they force her to stand in front of everyone?

"Teacher," they said to Him, "This woman has been caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses ordered such women to be stoned. (In the law, Dt. 22:24, both the man and the woman who sinned should be stoned. Where was the man?) What do You have to say?"

I imagine that I am one of the crowd. Do I condemn her and want to spit on her? Do I know her? Perhaps I knew her history and think, "Good! It's about time she gets her comeuppance!" Do I pity her? Do I continue to jostle the crowd to see what happens out of curiosity, in satisfaction, or in revulsion, my eyes glued to the scene like it is a suspenseful thriller? What did Jesus do? He bent down and started tracing the ground with His finger. How many have attempted to surmise what He wrote? Why didn't John write down what He wrote? The thing is, He wrote, not for a second or a few seconds. He wrote all throughout the persistent questioning of the Scribes and Pharisees. He ignored them and their questions.

Finally He straightened up and said, "Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her." Then He bent down and wrote on the ground again. Suddenly there is silence but for the shamed shuffling of feet. No one cast a stone, even if Jesus did not say DO NOT cast a stone in direct violation of Moses' law. I am one of the crowd, ashamed to have taken part in this poor woman's humiliation. I leave and do not know what happens next.

I believe when we sin, Jesus wants to meet us one to one. I like to think only the woman knew what Jesus wrote. Maybe John interviewed many and asked them if they knew what Jesus wrote. No one knew. But Jesus obviously thought it was important, as He spent much time writing it on the ground. Easily erased after the one it was meant for read it. When I sin, it is me and Jesus, against a condemning world. But Jesus did not come to condemn me, but to save me (Jn 3:17). When I sin, all I need is to stand, sit, kneel, or prostrate myself in front of Him. He will say, "I don't condemn you. Sin no more." And He will tell me words for me alone, no one else will know. 

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Save Me!

“O Lord my God, in You I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me." Psalm 7:2

Have we ever prayed to God to be saved from sinning? In this psalm, David implores God to rescue him from Cush who was a follower of Saul who wanted to kill him. David says that if God doesn't save him, he will be mauled like a lion's prey, and torn to pieces. Isn't it amazing that David felt like this, considering he was able to beat the giant Goliath? David obviously did not depend on his own strength but God's. 

We do not realize it but we have an enemy who hates us. We too should ask God to save us from this ancient foe, the one who has his eye on us, waiting to pounce. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are warned, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I think this archenemy looks for where we are weakest and wants to attack us right there. In Gen. 4:7 we learn that  sin crouches at our door. "Its desire is for you, to overpower you, but you must master it.”

Lord, I know, like David, that I am not strong or wise enough to fight this enemy on my own. Save me and help me to be master over sin. As a nation, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Lord, save us, we take our refuge in You, rescue us! 

Friday, April 05, 2019

Present in the Psalms

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted.” 

Psalm 34:18

Jesus is present in the Psalms, just as He is present in the other Books of the Old Testament. John the disciple who was with Jesus all the time said, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

In word and deed, Jesus was incomparable to any man. That’s why we should spend time to ponder His words. In contrast, what do we get out of scrolling through Facebook, watching a telenovela or gossiping with friends? Before anything else we need to be grounded on His Word, so we get to know Him and our love for Him will grow. 

We do not realize it but our spirits need His Word just as our bodies need food. We need His Word to battle our brokenness, hopelessness and feebleness. We need His Word to fight the wiles of the evil one, to find strength and comfort. Indeed, there is no book like the Bible.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Stand in the Gap

“Why O Lord should your wrath blaze up against your own people..." Exodus 32:11

God has emotions and He is not lukewarm. He is intense and gets blazing mad about disobedience. When the Jews were crazy enough to make a god out of gold and put an altar in front of it, He got infuriated with them. "I see how stubborn and rebellious these people are!" Moses had to plead with Him not to destroy them. 

"Turn away from Your fierce anger. Remember Your covenant with Your servants!" I think it is fascinating that the Lord relented after Moses' intervention. 

We can be like Moses too. There are spiritual battles going on around us. Is there strife in our home? In the neighborhood? In our country? Is God happy about the disunity, lying, cursing, corruption, and killings in our country? Throughout the Bible, God searches for people willing to put on spiritual armor and fight for righteousness and peace to prevail in the land. God said in Ezekiel 22:30, "And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found no one". Today, will He find us standing in the gap for our country like Moses?

If we think we are powerless, we need to realize that we have a greater intercessor than Moses at our side. Jesus is our intercessor. With all our sins and failings, Jesus stands between us and the Father, caked in blood, and His wrath is stilled. 

Thank You Jesus for being at our side always. I am more than a conqueror because You have conquered the enemy for me. And I can stand in the gap unafraid because You go ahead of me. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Never Forgotten

“Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

When we are suffering, undergoing a trial, in financial difficulty, plagued by an addiction, we call upon God day and night. We think, can He hear us? Why is He not answering? Has He abandoned us, forgotten us? 

C.S. Lewis wrote that pain is God’s megaphone. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God gets our attention through pain because we cannot rely on our own efforts to make things right. Sometimes when we are happy with our life, our hands are too full to accept what God wants to give us. All God’s gifts are worth more than the fool’s gold of this world.

Daniel Ritchie “stepped into suffering” at his birth because he was born without arms. He wrote: “God has shouted to me through my pain and reminded me of his truth. As the mocking words of men fell on my heart like an avalanche, God showed me that it is only His words that bring life (Psalm 119:25). It was in my brokenness that I saw God’s true strength as he carried me along. It was in seeing my shattered identity as a disabled boy that I could see the beauty of being a blood-bought son (Romans 8:15). God used my hurt so that he could clearly write the lessons of his grace on my heart and set my affections on him (Psalm 119:67).”

Yes Lord, engrave Your truths in my heart so even in the midst of trial and suffering, I may never think You have forsaken me.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Do Not Sin!

“Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” John 5:14

It is very clear from this passage that there is a correlation between sin and sickness and our general condition. We know that if we drink excessively, take drugs, indulge in extra marital sex, there are dire consequences. If we do not choose to forgive, if we gossip, lie, slander others, our relationships are put in jeopardy. 

Just last Saturday, I was listening to talks about narcissm. We all have manifestations of narcissm I suppose, especially in this day of selfies and preoccupation with taking pictures of our food, travels, parties, and putting it online. But there is such a condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is self-love gone awry, when we love ourselves inordinately. We can ask ourselves these questions: Do I have an excessive sense of self-importance that I have to be the center of any gathering or conversation? Do I exaggerate my talents and achievements and highlight little accomplishments? Do I require constant admiration? Am I offended when I am criticized? Our children can also become an extension of ourselves when we post their accomplishments on Facebook and feel bad if we don’t get plenty of likes and congratulations. 

I have read some posts or articles about how some feel sad or depressed when going through Facebook. FOMO or the fear of missing out drives people to Facebook to see what their friends are doing on Saturday night. Then they feel deprived when they see their friends having fun, traveling or eating out, while they are at home having a hard time. Envy is one of the 7 capital vices and we need to watch out for that as well as the other 6: sloth, anger, gluttony, pride, greed and lust. 

“Do not sin anymore”? After the list of capital sins and the talk about narcissm, it seems as if Jesus should have said, “Do not breathe anymore”. It seems just as impossible! And that is why Jesus came, to make the impossible possible. He is the only One who could make a way where there is no way for all of us sinners to enter heaven. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Prodigal Father

“How many hired hands at my father’s place have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving!” Luke 15:17

The “Parable of the Prodigal Son” is one of the most famous stories from the Bible. What is the meaning of prodigal? It can mean wasteful, extravagant, improvident, excessive, and reckless. We can say that this is the Parable of the Prodigal Father as well. The father in the story was sinned against by the younger son when the son asked for his share of the inheritance, in effect wishing his father dead. The father gave the son what he asked for and set him free. After the son “devoured his wealth with harlots”, he came back in remorse wishing only to be hired by the father. But no! The prodigal father welcomed him with a largesse of love and mercy. 

There are those who believe that President Duterte is God’s anointed for the Philippines, and that is why we should not criticize him and just support him in what he is doing. But in the story of the prodigal son, we see that God allows us to choose, He gives us the freedom to do what we want, just as He gave Israel a King when they clamoured for one, in effect rejecting Him as King over them. Here in the Philippines, when President Duterte was a candidate, 16 million Filipinos chose him disregarding all the signs that he would not be a blessing to us. Even he said it, “Don’t elect me as President. I don’t want to kill people.” 

Just as the father in the parable waited for his son to come back home (Luke 15:20), and was filled with compassion for him, so too our Father waits for each of us. He waits for our whole nation to realize our sins and frailties and our rebellion against Him. Just as the father in the story rejoiced, celebrated, and invited everyone to share in his excitement, our merciful Father will be over the top delighted if we see the light, the error of our choices and return to Him. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Not a Sinner

“God, thank You that I am not a sinner like the rest of humanity...” Luke 18:11

How sad we see this division even more today. People commonly detest each other. It does not even have to be sin. It can be political or religious choices. It can be color, sexual orientation, or even where you studied. Quarrels have erupted between fraternities and murders committed. 

When I see God face to face, what will He say to me? Will He applaud and commend me, “Good job! You are not a sinner like the rest of the world!” 100% no way! I may not have murdered anyone, but I have been peeved, irritated, felt entitled and angry enough to hit someone in the heat of the moment. I have no righteous garment to wear when I appear before the Father unless I borrow one from Jesus. 

Like the tax collector in Luke 18, I can repeat, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus promised that one who is humble, knows he is a sinner, and repents, he will be justified. “Everyone who exalts Himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

Humility is difficult in the me generation where thousands of selfies are uploaded in Facebook and Instagram every minute. We are told in different ways, “Just be yourself”, “Pursue happiness”, and we forget that selfishness produces apathy towards others. That is one of the reasons we have a broken world. We need more humility, a willingness to see others, and a readiness to sacrifice for others, because those “others” are us. Jesus prayed, “May they be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us...” (John 17:21)