Monday, October 31, 2016

The Only Treasure

"You should be pleased that they cannot repay you..." Luke 14:14

I am always struck by how opposite Gospel values are to the way of the world. Here Jesus teaches that we should look for ways to do good to people who cannot pay us back, or give us something good in return. This is exactly the kind of generosity God has shown to us. Giving without counting the cost and continuous openhandedness with us even when there is nothing we can give back. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were always on the lookout for people to be generous to? My brother-in-law is like that. He found a scruffy looking foreign couple in the streets. Apparently they were lost. He brought them home to stay the night. Then one time he noticed another foreign couple discussing whether to buy some peanuts. Apparently they did not have much money. He invited them to dinner at a restaurant and found out they were a missionary family from Sri Lanka. Another time he picked up some nuns who were getting wet because of a strong rain. 

And then there's Mang Urot who feeds hungry people in the street every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He and his family, and sometimes volunteers cook food for 80-100 people and serve it in front of Bank of Commerce along Quezon Avenue. Anyone can come and eat. 

"At long last, what is there left from life? What’s left to me? Strange as it seems, only that, which I gave to others…" (Vahan Tekeyan) Indeed, when we get to heaven, the only treasure we will have is that which we gifted others from our heart, with no ulterior motives! 


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jesus in Our House!

"Zacchaeus, come down quickly for today I must stay at your house!" Luke 19:5

The story of Zacchaeus is a favorite because of its comedy. Imagine a small stocky man waiting in a crowd of people. He wants to see so he cranes his neck, tries to crawl in between all the legs, but the crowd is thick and he is unsuccessful. He then runs to a Sycamore tree, a tree that can grow up to 100 feet tall. He can see Jesus clearly now as he is high above the people. And Jesus can see him! 

Are we willing to go to absurd lengths to see Jesus? I know fans of actors and actresses, K-Pop groups, singers who go to extreme lengths to see their idols. A rich fan covered his palace and car with pictures of Indian star Shah Rukh Khan. Another wrote a love letter in her own blood asking her favorite actor to marry her. And another tried to commit suicide so he could give his kidney to his idol! 

How wonderful is it that we don't have to climb trees, or write letters in blood or call attention to ourselves to meet Jesus? Every day all we have to do is go to some quiet place and talk to Him. If we want to get to really know Him, we can easily read the Bible and every single time, Jesus shows up. Thank You Lord that You delight in showing me Your heart. That there is nothing more You want than to come and meet me in my house! 


Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Lowest Place

"Go and sit at the lowest place..." Luke 14:10

If Luigi reads this, he will know I'm preaching to myself! Jesus in this verse is teaching the Pharisees and other guests at a Sabbath meal that they should be humble, and not try to exalt themselves and look for places of honor to park themselves. In the Bible, God promises a lot to those who are humble, and it is a very valuable lesson. If we learn to be humble, there will be less conflict in the world. Most of the clashes I've got myself in had pride at the very root of it. 

Humility is not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less. It is valuing, loving others more than myself. That's really radical, because the world will tell us that we have to love ourselves more than others. I think humility is really a stepping stone to loving others. We don't become wrapped up in our own little world feeling entitled because what I am doing is more important than what others are doing. We look for ways to build other people up, instead of ways to put ourselves front and center. We pay attention to other people and what they need instead of looking at our phones, or listening to music, not wanting to be bothered. We are not afraid to serve and help others and do menial things because we do not think we are above others. 
I still remember when SM Mall of Asia opened. There was a big celebration, lots of people, lots of food and drink. After all, it was touted as the largest mall in Asia. I saw Harley Sy, one of the owners, bend down and wipe some spilled water on the floor of Surplus Shop, one of their flagship stores. If it was me, I would have called someone to do it. 
Ric Warren tells of a time he and the CEO of Chik-fil-A were at a competitor's toilet and the CEO got a paper towel and wiped the sink clean. "Why did you do that?" Ric Warren asked. The CEO answered that they train their people to always leave a place better than how they found it. I guess that's a good thing to remember. To always leave not only a place, but a person, better than how we find him or her. If we paid attention to people more, what they need, how they are feeling, we will be able to show them that they are important, no matter who they are! Whether they be a Senator, a garbage collector, a telemarketer (my pet peeve!), a begging child, a drug addict, a prisoner, a CEO...each one matters! 


Friday, October 28, 2016

Hearing our Father!

"Jesus went out to the mountain to pray..." Luke 6:12

The continuation of that verse is, "spending the night in communion with God." When my son wants to spend time to talk with me, I am delighted. So too does the Father take pleasure in our company. He is so happy when we take time off, select a special place (doesn't have to be a mountain!), to spend time with Him. We don't have to have special words, a different more pedantic tone of voice to speak to our Father. We just have to be ourselves. We just have to be honest and open and willing to listen. 

In John 10:27 it says, "My sheep hear my voice." If we are His sheep, His child, part of His people, hearing Him is the default mode. A.W. Tozer said, “A person who does not believe that God speaks will discount it when He does speak, every time.” God does speak, but like everything in life, if we want to be good at hearing God, we have to take the time to DO IT! Do what? Get to know Him. Read His word. Spend time talking to Him. Listening to Him.
Lord, I know You want to speak to us! You did and are doing everything just so we, Your children, get to know You, and hear You. You even sent Your Son so He could talk to us and we have a means to really get to know You and what You value. Thank You that You put no limits to our intimacy with You. The more we know You, the more we will be able to hear You! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Put on the Armor of God!

"Put on the armor of God so you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil." Ephesians 6:11
Yes, the devil, our arch enemy, hatches so many schemes against us that we are not aware of. Small petty strategies that could wear us down like water wore down the limestone formations in Coron and Halong Bay. Then of course there are the grand war games against us that is like a life-long chess game. 

I've been praying about my impatience for some time now. And so far I've won little battles against being impolite against telemarketers on the telephone. Sometimes I even amaze myself, but yesterday I lost it again! A Bayantel rep called on my cellphone to tell me that my telephone bill was paid. I was super annoyed. Really? I'm so busy and you call me on my cellphone to tell me that? Of what earthy use is that to me? You can imagine what I said to him and my tone of voice. I immediately regretted it, knowing that I lost this little war. 

I realize that behind all my physical struggles there lies the spiritual reality that the enemy is in a battle to win my soul. The enemy knows he can form many weapons against me but I don't know if he knows it's not going to prosper (Is. 54:17). I don't know if he knows we are victorious in Christ, that we can be made competent and effective by His Spirit. I don't know if the enemy knows that we have power and authority he will never have access to.  I don't know if he knows about our secret weapons, the full armor of God! It's not MY business to know what the enemy knows or not. I think it's more important that I be convinced about MY power in Christ, MY victory, MY authority. I need to know that even if I lose little battles, I am for sure going to win the war, because God is fighting for me! 



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WOYWW: The First will be Last!

"And behold, some are last who will be first 
and some are first who will be last." Luke 13:30

This phrase can be found also in Matthew 19:30, Matthew 20:16, and Mark 10:31. 
And Jesus means exactly what he says. 
The thief hanging on the cross beside him must have done 
terrible things for him to merit the absolute worst punishment, 
but he received heaven's reward after he repented. 
That thief received the same fullness of life eternal 
that Saints Peter, Paul, and Timothy received. 
The thief just got through that narrow door! 
We will never know who we will meet when we get to heaven. 
(We're getting there not because of any good we've done 
but because God will finish the work He started in us!) 

We can try to think of the most evil person we know, the one who murders people, babies even, the one who goes to a crowded place and plants a bomb, the one who rapes, who deceives, who lies, etc. And then when we see Saint Peter, we can ask him, "Why is that person here? I served God, tried my best to be good, 
told the truth, and prayed every day! And that person, what did he do?" 
Saint Peter might answer, "He repented and asked for mercy!" 

It's the same as the workers in the vineyard in the 20th chapter of Matthew. 
Some worked a full day, others just an hour, and they all got the same wage! 
There can't, after all, be any more or less of eternal life. 
And NONE of us deserve the reward of heaven. None! 

Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the price of admission to our eternal home! 
We will never realize how amazingly incredible our inheritance is 
until we join you, like the thief beside You on the cross, in Paradise! 

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seeds and other Small Things

"The Kingdom if God is like yeast which a woman took to knead into three measures of flour until a whole mass of dough began to rise." 
Luke 13:21

Jesus liked to compare His Kingdom to small things, yeast, and seeds. Apparently there is not much fanfare or big signs point to His Kingdom. Yeast and seeds, especially the tiny mustard seed, are so small and insignificant. It reminds me of Mother Teresa who often compared herself to a little pencil.  "I'm just a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world." "I am a little pencil in God's hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more."

Jesus started with a little band of insignificant men and women like us. They weren't very intelligent. They didn't have Master's degrees from important schools. They weren't eloquent speakers at the start. They weren't even very brave. But just like a tiny seed which grows in the right soil, and yeast which makes dough rise, we too can contribute our gifts and talents, no matter how little, for God to use in the growth of His Kingdom. How wonderful if God would say to me, at the end of my life here on earth, that I was good seed, a usable pencil, living yeast! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Set Free!

"...she was badly stooped..." Luke 13:11
In Luke 13, we meet a woman who was bent completely forward and utterly unable to straighten up. She had been like this for 18 years, and scripture tells us, her infirmity was caused by a bad spirit. Jesus, when He saw her, said, "Woman, you are set free!" He laid His hands on her and she was instantly healed. 

"Anahwim", the meditation book I read everyday, says, "This woman represents us all. God has made us for higher things, but sin cripples us and keeps us focused on what is earthly. The whole human family is 'badly stooped' by the burden of sin. Our perceptions are distorted and our wills are weakened."

Indeed, many of us have damaged personalities, addictions difficult to get rid of, are messed up, rebellious, feeling rejected, etc etc. We need to straighten up. We need to dig into God's Word because only God and His Word can set us free. Joyce Meyer, the well known speaker, revealed that she was raped by her father more than 200 times until she was 18 years old. She never felt safe. He even wanted her to bring her classmates home for him to abuse!  Can you imagine how warped her personality became? But she was freed because she really dug into the Word of God, believed in it and applied it to her life. If there's anything we need to be freed from, to be healed from, never give up. Always know that we are loved unconditionally, and nothing is impossible with God! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lord, have Mercy!

"God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Luke 18:13
I doubt if many of us say this prayer the tax collector prayed, and that Jesus used as an example of a good prayer. I like reading stories of saints, and it is likely that a good number of them pleaded with God for mercy when they realized they were sinners. 

There's Saint Augustine who sired an illegitimate son with his long time mistress. He left her in the hopes of marrying an heiress. Saint Callixtus was a world class thief who became a Pope! Then there's Saint Olga who out of revenge buried people alive or burned them. Her grandson St. Vladimir was bloodthirsty and offered human sacrifices. Saint Mary of Egypt was a prostitute who seduced all the crew and pilgrims on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Blessed Bartolo Longo who started out as a satanic priest. 
But once they realized the enormity of their sin, they all turned to God, asked for mercy and forgiveness and changed their lives. Sometimes it's harder for us, who are not murderers or prostitutes, to realize how sin alienates us from our Father. Sin is sin, no matter how big or small. A red spot in an immaculate wedding gown can be seen from afar and will bother the bride. Lord, have mercy, for I am a sinner! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bearing Fruit!

"Perhaps it will bear fruit..." Luke 13:9
Yesterday my friends Lyan and Honeylou were telling me about Dodong Cacanando. He used to be an executive with HP until he resigned in 1998 after he received a word from God to start farming. Now he owns and manages Moriah Farms in Bukidnon. After using the Bible as his business manual, he turned the inhospitable soil into a thriving farm and has written 2 books about what he has learned about fruitfulness. I am eager to read his books to know more about what he has discovered through the years. He uses the plant as a model on how to be more fruitful in life, and profitable in business. He says that if we want to be fruitful, we shouldn't focus on the fruit which is a by-product of a healthy, purposeful life, in the same way that a business owner like me should not focus on the profit. 
In Luke 13, we find a man who is looking for fruit in his fig tree. Finding none, he wants it cut down. The gardener says that he will take care of it first, put fertilizer and see if it will bear fruit. If it still does not bear fruit, then he will cut it. Lord, thank You for Your patience with me! May I use the gifts You have given me, and bear fruit to bless others! 

Friday, October 21, 2016


" patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

To be a powerful, effective Christian, we just need to start with this reminder from Saint Paul to the Ephesians. "Be patient! Be forbearing." Carry one another's burdens. Listen to others with concern and empathy. Exhibit self-control in all situations. 

"You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."
--St. Francis de Sales

Every day we are given opportunities to learn how to love more perfectly. We need to learn because love is the currency in heaven! 

Thursday, October 20, 2016


"That is why I kneel before the Father..." Ephesians 3:14

How immensely blessed the Ephesians were! Saint Paul prayed for them, knelt down before God for them. So that what? So that "the Father would bestow gifts upon them in keeping with the riches of His glory." This was Saint Paul's prayer, which we can also pray for ourselves and others: "May God strengthen you inwardly through the workings of His Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. May you be able to grasp fully, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself."

What an important prayer this is, that we know, really know, deep in our being how God loves us, how He values us, how precious we are to Him. This is the very foundation of our life in Christ. And this is what the enemy seeks to destroy, our self image, the true knowledge of who we are. It is such a pity that sometimes we get bombarded with messages that we are not worthy, that we won't amount to much, that we are not enough. My sister tutors street children and she has to teach the parents first not to destroy the children's confidence by repeating again and again that they are not intelligent! The enemy finds all sorts of ways to deceive us about who we are. Let's go back to our Father's Word and reclaim our inheritance as God's precious sons and daughters! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WOYWW: Unfathomable Riches!

I have been busy
making these canvas collages.

I cut up an old sweater
and used the flowers and beads
in it to make these flowers. 

Now I am embroidering 
the stems and leaves with
crochet thread. 

"To me, the least of all believers, was given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ..." Ephesians 3:8

I like pondering that phrase, "unfathomable riches". In the Amplified Bible, we find "unending, boundless, incalculable and exhaustless riches, wealth, treasure of Christ which no human being could have searched out". When men find the pearl of great price, they sell everything they have to buy it and make it their own. No wonder many men and women have given their lives when they find out God's secret plan to make us co-heirs with Christ and sharers of the promises of God. Today is the feast day of 8 Jesuit missionaries who were martyred in North America. Saint John de Bréveuf was tortured by the native tribes he and his companions were trying to evangelize. He was "baptized" in boiling water, mutilated and scalped. The Iroquois also drank his blood as they wanted to 'capture' his courage! The Mohawk beat St. Isaac Jogues with sticks, tore out his fingernails, then gnawed the ends of his fingers until finger bones were visible. He managed to escape but he returned to the Mohawks, only to be captured and cruelly tortured again. Before he died, Saint Isaac proclaimed, "These tortures are great, but God is greater."
Today, we usually do not have to endure torture and suffering to possess the unfathomable riches Saint Paul is talking about. But each of us has our own mission, using the gifts and resources God gives us. Lord, may I be willing to do whatever it takes, big or small, to follow You, to do Your will, and make You visible in this world through my words and deeds. 

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!

I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Saint Luke the Evangelist

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few..." Luke 10:2
Today, October 18, is the feast day of Saint Luke the evangelist. In the letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul called him the "beloved physician". Luke is an excellent historian and story teller. He wrote both the Gospel of Saint Luke and the Book of Acts and he is the only Gentile to have contributed to the Bible. There are many stories in his gospel that are not found in the other three, like the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and the Prodigal Son. Luke also wrote about Jesus' mother Mary, the Annunciation, and her visit to her cousin Elizabeth. In Saint Paul's letter to Timothy, Paul writes, "I have no one with me but Luke." This letter was written during Paul's 2nd and final imprisonment in Rome, when he was in bonds, closely guarded and had few visitors. Luke had accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys and it is very likely that he took care of Paul when he was beaten and stoned, and very nearly drowned. 
It is said that Saint Luke may have been a slave. But he used all his gifts to further the spread of the gospel. Lord, the harvest is plentiful. May each of us do our part, and make use of our gifts, so that we can be evangelizers like Saint Luke, laborers in Your vineyard. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Keep Your Hands Up!

"As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight." Exodus 17:11

Almost all the Catholic readings for today are about prayer. Exodus 17:8-13 is about how Israel won the war against Amalek by keeping Moses' hands up. When Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur both held up Moses' arms so his arms remained raised.

Psalm 121 declares that our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth, and how He will guard us from evil. Luke 18:1-8 is about the parable of the widow who got the corrupt judge to give her justice because of her persistence. 
We face many challenges these days, and instead of complaining and grumbling, we should look to the Lord who neither slumbers nor sleeps. We may not see our enemy, like Israel saw Amalek who waged war against them, but we can be sure that there are forces arrayed against us. Our country, our Churches, our neighborhoods, our children, we are all in the line of fire. There is only one sure way to win against this enemy. We need to keep our hands up, and we need to be persistent. "Will not God then do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night?" Jesus promised in Luke 18:7.

Lord, thank You for Your many promises in Your Word. We look to You and keep our hands raised, for You our are help. Thank You for guarding our coming and our going, both now and forever.